Is there something strange in your neighborhood? You better hope it’s not Il Masturbatore!
A bizarre lecture at the Morbid Anatomy Library in Gowanus called “Sicilian Sex Ghosts” will cover the sexual appetites of supernatural beings who reside in Palermo, Italy, including the story of an 18th century monk whose mummified corpse has been known to haunt men in their moments of weakness.
“There’s one called Il Masturbatore, the Masturbator,” said speaker Dr. Paul Koudounaris, who is a morbid art expert and author of “Empire of Death.”
“He’s kind of the patron saint of why not to j— off.”
The Palermitani monk was well known in his day for chastity and restraint.
Unfortunately for him, the devil fiendishly forced the monk upon himself in his last moments alive. Members of the order found him skirt up in his study with an expression of ecstasy upon his face, and stiff with rigor mortis — a countenance his mummified remains bear to this day.
“He was known for his life of piety, but as an old man they claimed the devil got a hold of him and forced him to masturbate,” said Dr. Koudounaris.
Whether the holy man thus earned his title of Il Masturbatore — or whether it was forced upon him — his story became a cautionary tale about playing with yourself.
But one randy lad of Palermo not only ignored this warning, but openly challenged the ghost of Il Masturbatore. According to Koudounaris, this poor soul had a marathon of autoerotic pleasure, all the while beckoning death and cursing the monk of masturbation, for two days straight.
On the third, a ghastly specter dropped in on the young man.
“He was about to j— off, and he felt this cold bony hand grab his d— from behind, whirl him around and it was Il Masturbatore,” said Koudounaris.
As the legend goes, Il Masturbatore dragged the boy by his manhood to his niche in the monastery, where he squeezed the boy’s privates until the pain became so unbearable the boy passed out. He later found himself to be completely sterile.
“The kid himself later became a priest, and preached to others the evils of masturbation,” said Dr. Koudounaris.
That is merely one legend among more than a dozen that haunt the Sicilian city of Palermo — an apparent nexus of paranormal sexual tales, including the story of Pene Grande, who’s been known to possess poorly equipped men amidst the act of coitus, and endow them with supernatural abilities.
To explain the strange mix of morbid eroticism, Dr. Koudounaris turns not to the dead, but the living.
“The thing is, everything in that society is so permeated with sex and violence. When you get down to Sicily, on one hand it’s a stereotype, on the other hand it’s true,” said Koudounaris. “It’s just a reflection of that society and the values it held.”
“Sicilian Sex Ghosts” at Morbid Anatomy Library (543 Union St. between Bond and Nevins streets in Gowanus, (718) 243–1572, morbidanatomy.blogspot.com). Dec. 11, 8 pm. $12.
Reach reporter Colin MIxson at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4514.