Q: I’m just starting to get into comics, and a guy at the comic-book store told me that not only was Wonder Woman from Westchester but that originally she was into all sorts of kinky sex. Can you weigh in on this? (Sorry for not giving my name.) –Anonymous, Yorktown
A: That’s okay; we have other ways of finding out who you are.
And don’t be ashamed about getting your nerd on. Comic books have gone mainstream, and with it comes a healthy curiosity about their history.
Wonder Woman, aka Princess Diana of Themyscira, was created by a Westchester resident—and an interesting one at that. William Moulton Marston was a psychologist, an inventor, and a resident of Rye. He’s responsible for the systolic blood-pressure test and the polygraph. In 1941, he debuted Wonder Woman in All Star Comics #8.
While “kinky sex” might be overstating some of Marston’s themes, the early Wonder Woman did seem to have a proclivity for bondage, with her frequently tying up bad boys or being tied up by them. There were also spanking parties involving children. Some scholars who study such things suggest Wonder Woman’s powers derive from her ability to enslave men through her sexuality. Her powers included a “Lasso of Truth” and “Magic Bracelets” (which sound like products I saw in the backs of magazines I had to hide from my parents when I was a kid).
Marston lived with his wife, their two children, and his research assistant, who bore a striking resemblance to the original Wonder Woman. In fact, many believe that the Marstons had a polyamorous relationship. So, kinky sex? Perhaps not, but bondage and spanking by a beautiful, scantily clad woman wielding a golden lasso and shiny magic bracelets suggest Marston had his own ideas of what superheroes—and women—could be.
To Coin a Phrase
Q: I’ve lived in Port Chester my whole life and never understood what the National Collector’s Mint Company actually does. Can you help me? – Kelly Veesh, Port Chester
A: Based in Purchase, the National Collector’s Mint often runs infomercials in the wee, wee hours of the morning for their coins and other collectibles. The company doesn’t make coins that are legal tender in the US, and it has no official relationship with the US Mint. This fact can get muddled because sometimes the NCMC acts as a retailer for legitimate collector coins that are legal tender.
The company had itself a public-relations nightmare back in 2004 when it issued the Freedom Tower Silver Dollar. It created a $1 coin to honor the building of the new Freedom Tower and the tragedy of the World Trade Center Towers. The advertising claimed the coins were struck from silver from the fallen towers, a fact that was rather tough to verify.
The commercials for the coin came to be viewed as not only in bad taste but actually misleading. At least that was the determination of the New York State Supreme Court, which ruled the coin’s advertising was deceptive and ordered the company to stop using the language.
Q: I really enjoyed HBO’s Show Me a Hero, about segregated housing in Yonkers. There’s a statement in the closing credits that reads: “the public housing theories of Oscar Newman are now widely accepted.” Is that true? –AJ Sabatino, New Rochelle
A: It depends on whom you ask.
In a nutshell, architect Oscar Newman’s theory about public housing was that the tall, multistory public structures of the ’60s led to the crime and violence associated with inner-city housing because the buildings had very little space for the occupants to take pride in or responsibility for. “The projects” that sprung up around urban areas in our country tended to put those in the lower socioeconomic strata in one area of a city. The structures were seen as efficient in that they housed many people at low cost. (It was also an effective way to segregate your city.)
Newman’s critics claim it wasn’t so much the structures that caused the problem but the decline of well-paying industrialized jobs in urban areas, the changing tenant population, or how poorly run some of the subsidized housing was. Most experts now agree that it is far more than the height and structure of a building that is to blame for the poor housing concerns. One theory suggests that the ratio of adults to teenagers and children is a better predictor of crime and chaos in a public-housing space. Studies indicate that where the young people outnumber adults, there is more crime and social problems because there are fewer adults to informally oversee the property.