Hi! Welcome to the Internet, where everything that can be used for sexual purposes is and already has been exploited by our genitals. To a horrifying extent. But the same thing happens in reverse: Lots of products you thought were the exclusive domain of your down-there areas are in fact used in some surprisingly practical ways. So next time you’re admiring the toy collection in your sex dungeon, take a minute to remember that …
#5. K-Y Jelly Makes Movie Magic
You’re on a movie set and the director hands you a bottle of lube, ordering you to slather it all over that terrifying latex-coated monster in the corner. No, you’re not some sort of indentured porn-slave — those days are behind you. Now you’re just making a horror movie.
K-Y Jelly, your grandmother’s favorite lube, is a standard tool for movie special effects.
Alien had a lot of subtle and not-so-subtle sexual imagery laced throughout, but one piece of sex paraphernalia you probably didn’t notice was the veritable ocean of K-Y Jelly it took to make the film.According to cast and crew in the making-of documentary, everything from puppets to people was absolutely covered in a thick, dripping layer of bone-lube. If you were scared of Xenomorphs as a child, you might be relieved to learn that their disgusting toxic spit was merely the result of some special effects guy dumping the entire contents of a tube of K-Y into its mouth. You may actually be less than relieved to hear that, now that we think about it.
But it wasn’t just Alien. Remember the glowing neon-green blood from the Predator franchise? That wasn’t a post-production effect — Predator blood is a simple combination of K-Y Jelly and the liquid in glow sticks. The glow faded fast, so they kept cases of K-Y on hand to keep that movie magic rolling. And in John Carpenter’s The Thing, virtually every monster was slathered in K-Y, giving the film its unsettlingly wet look. If something in a movie is gooey, slimy, and terrifying, it’s probably K-Y. Hey look, K-Y — a new tagline for your commercials! You can thank us later. Via cash.
K-Y is also an essential product in the makeup artist’s kit, since it makes fake wounds look fresh and removes expensive latex prosthetics without damaging them.
K-Y is so ubiquitous on movie sets that it’s even used when common sense would dictate otherwise. Near the end of Titanic, Kate Winslet’s character spits in her evil fiance’s face. They went through so many takes that Winslet’s mouth dried out, and rather than just give her a bottle of water, they put K-Y on her tongue and had her spit that all over those perfectly arched, villainous eyebrows instead.
If spitting sex lube onto Billy Zane was not already a bizarre niche fetish, it sure as hell is now.
#4. Spermicide Your Way to a Clearer Complexion
You’ve got a big date tonight, so obviously you bring along protection. But right as you’re about to head out the door, a quick mirror check reveals an unsightly pimple ruining the work of art that is normally your face. You sigh, reach into your wallet, tear open the wrapper, and start rubbing your condom all over your forehead.
There are a few stipulations to the above:
1) It should be a lubed condom,
2) That lube should contain a spermicide, and
3) You must have purchased it outside the U.S.
But if those conditions are met, then yes, spermicide can help clear up acne. Benzalkonium chloride (oralkyldimethylbenzylammonium chloride, when its mom is angry), is used in acne treatments like Neutrogena and OXY. It’s also one of the world’s most popular spermicides. Although benzalkonium chloride is no longer sold as a spermicide in the U.S., it is still used for that function in many other countries, including France, Russia, and Hong Kong. That explains why, in 2008, Cambodian women started rubbing lube on their faces as a cure for acne. Well, either that or they were dressing up as the Predator for Halloween.
Incidentally, alkyldimethylbenzylammonium chloride is also the active ingredient in many Lysol products, which, as you may recall from a previous article, started life as a douching agent and was a (perhaps unwisely) preferred form of birth control from the 1920s to 1950s. And you thought the days of squirting oven cleaner up your crotch were over, ladies!
#3. Vibrators Cure Constipated Tortoises
It finally happened: Your mother, poking around in your closet, has discovered your collection of gold-plated vibrators. It happens to the best of us, and only the best of us. Before she can get a word in edgewise, you cry out: “No, you misunderstand! They’re not for me — they’re for my constipated tortoise!” And in a sense, you are telling the truth. (In another sense, you’re totally not, though.)
Let’s get real for a moment: Pooping is awesome. At least in the sense that not being able to poop is not awesome. And yet it is a common situation for tortoises, who often wind up snacking on the detritus at the bottom of their tanks. That means a lot of small, indigestible pebbles. If enough rocks are consumed in a short amount of time, they get stuck in the intestinal tract. It’s called rockbiter’s colon syndrome, or at least it would be, if stupid science would ever read our emails. For a long time, surgery was the prescribed treatment for such blockages, but in 2011, vets at a London animal hospital came up with a different solution. Instead of cutting the animal up, they improvised a non-invasive treatment: taping a vibrator onto the tortoise’s stomach.
The idea is that the vibrator’s reverberations help break up the particulate that forms inside these unfortunate critters. Massaging constipation away isn’t an unheard of idea — abdominal massage is used on humans to reduce pain from chronic constipation — but because of the tortoise’s hard belly shell, that kind of massage was impossible. So vets strapped on a strap on, and presumably started placing bets as dozens of tortoises vibrated about the lab like air hockey pucks.
#2. Condoms Are for Gun Care
You’re a World War II soldier about to storm a muddy, Nazi-filled trench. You look around at your fellow men, falling by the dozen, their weapons jamming because of the dirt, water, and debris of the battlefield. But not you. You’re not dying here today. Because you came prepared. You have … a condom.
No, you’re not going to fuck the Nazi war machine into submission — you’re going to protect your weapon. Your literal weapon. During World War II, U.S. troops were fighting a war on three fronts — in Europe, in the Pacific, and in their pants. Venereal disease was a huge concern, to the point where the Army started handing condoms out to GIs and promoting them with everybody’s favorite sexual authority, Donald Duck.
But not everyone used the condoms for their intended purpose. Some ingenious soldiers stopped wrapping them around their love guns and instead put them on their real guns. Dirt and water getting into gun barrels was a huge problem for soldiers, since it could cause the mechanisms inside to malfunction or rust. Condoms, distributed plentifully by an army fearful of VD, were a simple, effective way to keep the barrels clean and the guns in working condition. Rifles wrapped in dick finery helped soldiers carry out their amphibious missions without worrying about damaging their second most important shooting tools.
The technique was reprised during Operation Desert Storm, this time for sand instead of dirt. Virginia-based condom company Safetex sent over 2,000 condoms overseas during the Gulf War to serve as gun protection, and there was so much talk of American GIs using condoms to keep sand out of their guns that shares in Japan’s largest condom company rose 10 percent.
But that’s not their only alternate use: Condoms are also frequently used in show business, and not in the way you’re probably thinking. Rubbers are commonly wrapped around microphones to waterproof them when inclement weather hits. According to late author Douglas Adams, this is standard emergency waterproofing practice for the BBC, and other sound technicians use it as well. For the sake of your reputation, they should only be used on microphones the audience won’t see.
#1. Write a Secret Letter in Semen
It’s 1944, and this time you’re a British spy. God, you are so cool. This really makes up for the time your mom found your dildo collection, right? Anyway, spy stuff: You need to get a message to your contact, but you know it will be intercepted by the enemy. They can detect invisible ink. What do you do? What would Jason Bourne do? What would James Bond do? And then you have your answer: You start furiously masturbating.
It’s true — one of the British’s secret spy weapons was whackin’ it.
Semen, it turns out, is a very effective invisible ink. Like other invisible inks, semen is undetectable when it dries out, but it has one big advantage over its competitors — it doesn’t react to iodine vapor. Since iodine vapor was the main detection method for invisible ink during the war, writing code in semen meant that even if a message was intercepted, its secrets most likely wouldn’t be revealed. For a male spy, at least, it was plentiful, easy to transport, and always available. Female spies probably preferred to take their chances with the iodine.
This technique was actually used in the field, where only one flaw was found — its distinctive smell. While fresh “ink” apparently didn’t give off too malodorous a scent, one spy in Copenhagen stored his jam in jars, causing his letters to “stink to high heaven,” and was told that a “fresh operation” was necessary for each communique. “Fresh operation” is easily our favorite World War II slang for jerking off, beating out “doing my bit for the war effort” and “loosing the soldiers on the beaches of Normandy.”
Oh, and the guy whose research lead to the discovery of semen as invisible ink? His name was Cumming. History: It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
This article first appeared on Cracked.