Herbert the Hoover
|Herbert the Hoover|
President Hoover sucked.
August 10, 1908|
October 20, 1964 (age 56)|
Yukon Ho, Alaska
|Other names||Herbie, Kuntschlurper|
|Occupation||Vacuum cleaner, President of the USA|
|Known for||Sucking hard, doing blow|
His election in 1929, just months before the Wall Street Crash, is seen by some as a prime example of the cultural arrogance that came with the financial prosperity of the Roaring Twenties. Other people still think it's funny.
Herbert was built in 1908 by namesake Herbert William Hoover Sr., who famously said: "You can have him in any color, as long as it's red."
The choice of a red face was thought to be a tribute to the industrialist's wife, Grace Louise Hoover, who was widely known to turn a deep crimson as she labored over an act of fellatio.
Hoover released the model later that year, drawing attention to Herbert's cheerful face in the advertising campaign, which carried the slogan, "Ladies, when you see how hard our latest Hoover sucks, your smile will be wider than Herbert's!"
Entry into politics
America was having the time of its life in the 1920s: prohibition had made drinking cool again, new labor-saving devices made household chores a cinch, the increasing number of citizens with telephones meant phone sex was sweeping the nation, and it was all conducted to the background of lively jazz standards. Israel was still a British problem, Osama bin Laden was just a twinkle in his daddy's eye, and Communists were a curious Slavic invention who seemed to be mostly concerned with long-term farming plans. Life was grand.
Into this cauldron of apathy and cockiness stepped F. Scott Fitzgerald. Returning from one of his wild New Year's Eve parties in early March, he was asked to propose a candidate for the Republican Party, and slurred, "Well how's about Herbert the Hoover?"
The quote, while originally treated as a joke, caught the imagination of the drunk and nihilistic upper classes, and a real campaign began. The New Yorker acquired a Herbert the Hoover, and asked in-house writer Dorothy Parker to be head-writer for what would be arguably the Republican party's least credible presidential candidate for 52 years.
“Two cars in every garage, and a good suck for every home-owner.”
Parker capitalized on the contemporary tendency to associate vacuum cleaners with sexual pleasure.
Parker launched an electoral campaign like no other, one which was free of any kind of political statement and comprised almost entirely of witty puns and double entendres. On the campaign trail, Hoover was voiced by Charles Curtis, who would later be rewarded for his work with position of vice president.
The Democrats, faced with what many might consider to be the easy task of defeating a domestic appliance in a political election, floundered. Instead of focusing his campaign on the ridiculousness of his opponent, candidate Al Smith disastrously chose to emphasize his own seriousness, and proposed a series of unpopular measures, including reducing the length of baseball games, changing the spelling of "beer" and raising duty on kitten purchases.
The final straw was a radio debate in which Smith threatened Hoover, saying, "I'm gonna wipe the floor with you!" to which Curtis ad-libbed, "With a Hoover, you don't need to wipe the floor!" The American public laughed and laughed and laughed, and Hoover swept to a landslide victory.
Smith was a broken man, and apparently refused to allow his wife to use any kind of vacuum cleaner until his dying day, when she duly celebrated by having her late husband cremated and hoovered up.
First Hundred Days
The first 100 days of the Hoover presidency were marked by confusion. Vice President Curtis later remarked, "Despite all the crazy momentum that went with the campaign, we never really took the whole thing seriously until we set foot in the White House. Then, when we got there, we didn't know what to do, so we just ordered a dozen crates of absinthe and lined up all these jazz bands and black whores to come over and entertain us. I'm not gonna lie; a lot of titties got sucked those first 100 days. And not just by Herbert."
That is not to say that Hoover never left the White House. In his first 120 days in office, he held more regular and frequent press conferences than any other President, before or since.
However, due to his drug intake, they were often rambling, with one reporter writing: "The President, or Vice President — they claim to always speak in unison these days — talk more quickly than anyone I have ever met. The press conferences take in a range of emotions and always feature a certain amount of crying, but also many moments of almost uncontainable joy, and bursts of hyperactive energy."
The most notable act to be passed in this period was the SuckerBall Act, in which Hoover attempted to popularize a sport he had made up in the Oval Office on the rest of the nation.
It was best described as a combination of tennis and volleyball but one which, crucially, required a human to have the sucking power of a vacuum cleaner. It never managed to oust baseball as the nation's favorite game, although it was briefly more popular than ice hockey.
The Wall Street Crash
During the 1920s, share prices had increased so irresistibly that traders stopped checking their portfolios, and simply paid their clients whatever they asked, while they sat in their offices and chewed cigars and had affairs with their pointy-breasted secretaries. It could not last.
On October 29, 1929, during a rowdy week-long party at the stock exchange, one trader, Thomas W. Lamont, was performing a comedy routine punctuated with bursts of wet flatulence, which he called the Wall Street Splash. Reaching about himself looking for something to resemble toilet paper, he happened upon the long neglected ticker tape and realized the stocks had fallen 11% since anyone had last checked.
Lamont screamed and soiled himself on the spot, and began selling all his shares. His drunken colleagues, some in jest and some in earnest, began copying him, and by the end of the party on Sunday, the US had had 23% wiped off the value of its economy, technically promised its northern forest land to Canada, and sold the rights to potatoes to Russia. This was to be the defining week of Hoover's presidency.
The Great Depression
The economic fallout of the Wall Street Crash led to the Great Depression, a period that lasted for over a decade in which the U.S. had trouble sleeping, never shaved, and hardly wore anything except for an old t-shirt and some sweatpants.
The Hoover administration was left completely paralyzed by the crisis. Their most significant move in the aftermath of the crash was to have Herbert play Danny Boy on the bagpipes, which he sucked at.
The performance was met with bemusement which quickly turned to anger, as more and more Americans lost their jobs and found themselves being press-ganged into taking part in the Dust Bowl, the annual SuckerBall championship game. The Dust Bowl was a grimy predecessor to the Super Bowl, which left competitors filthy and humiliated, although admittedly it resulted in less brain injuries.
Hoover's image suffered greatly during the following years. As if the depression itself wasn't a significant enough obstacle, Herbert had made himself a powerful enemy in William Randolph Hearst after an unfortunate incident at the 1930 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner in Washington.
Towards the end of the evening, an unusually emotional Hearst was recounting the tale of the day his beloved snow-globe, Rosebud, slipped from his hand and smashed. Hearst remembered how he spent months trying, fruitlessly, to piece Rosebud back together. During an awkward silence, Curtis is alleged to have put his arm around Hoover and said, "A broken snow-globe? Somebody hoover that shit up!"
Hearst immediately attacked Hoover, attempting to stamp on his dust nozzle, and although the pair were separated and Hoover was wheeled to safety, Hearst swore revenge.
So began a vicious three-year campaign in which Hearst used his newspapers—notably the New York Morning News and the Washington Herald—to claim Hoover was a political puppet under the control of a sexually deviant Jewish-Communist Hollywood sect led by Orson Welles and Charlie Chaplin.
Drug addiction: Hoover Damn
By 1932, the severity of the depression was taking its toll on Herbert and Curtis, and both developed a serious cocaine habit.
Herbert's (well, Curtis's) penchant for crying, "God Daaaaaamn!" after a bout of snorting led to the popularization of the expression 'Hoover Damn' among Washington drug addicts, as a way to refer to a hit of cocaine, due to the powerful image it created of Herbert literally hoovering up the drug.
Herbert's drug habit was kept away from the public at the time, but rumors began circulating at the end of his presidency.
It did considerable harm to his already tarnished reputation, and in 1961, he was officially declared only the 14th American President to have a drug habit.
Loss to Roosevelt
In 1933, Hoover lost the presidential election to Roosevelt, who had emphasized his humanity by pointing out he was so mortal and human he couldn't even walk properly.
Much was made of Hoover's 1932 gaffe, "Prosperity is just around the corner," when a more sober man might have admitted that 1932 America couldn't have found prosperity if it had had Google Maps to play with.
To his credit, Hoover persevered with his "around the corner" predictions, including: "I do not believe another war is around the corner" (1938), "I think German defeat is right around the corner" (1942), and "I think a Red Sox World Series win is right around the corner." (1951).
The New York Times noted that Hoover had "entered the White House in a blizzard of publicity and exited in a blizzard of yeyo," and Roosevelt himself had an ignominious encounter with his predecessor on his first day as President.
In his memoirs, Roosevelt recorded: "I entered the Oval Office and found President Hoover careering around the room desperately vacuum cleaning the carpet. At first I thought it was a kind gesture, that he was doing a last minute clean of the house for us. It turned out that he was scouring the carpet for the last traces of cocaine. I noted to my aides that the President had a drug habit and a rug habit - and everyone laughed uproariously and told me I was a natural comedian."
Life after the Presidency
Hoover and Curtis relocated first to New York and later to Los Angeles where their drug addictions continued. Hoover would often leave his latest paramour a note saying that he was "going fishing" as a euphemism for what could be days or weeks away on a drug-filled bender.
Hoover and Curtis liked to drive cars, often in the wrong direction on busy highways, and go on wandering journeys, heading up to the mountains, or deep into the woods, to go "fishing" in relative solitude.
In his private time, Hoover began to write Fishing For Fun — And To Wash Your Soul, a work that went unpublished in his lifetime, but which has since been proclaimed as a strong influence on beat poets and Gonzo journalists for its evocation of a lost America, its harrowing and naked depiction of drug abuse, and its almost bafflingly detailed descriptions of floor hygiene in contemporary USA.
Hunter S. Thompson wrote in the foreword to the 30th anniversary edition: "People talk of The Edge... Herbert the Hoover not only went over the edge, he went around all the corners and got in all the nooks and crannies."
Although many of his friends and supporters called upon Hoover to speak out against FDR's New Deal and to assume his place as the voice of the "loyal opposition", Hoover did not do so, not least because he was a vacuum cleaner.
The Midget Sex Episode
Following World War II, Hoover became friends with President Harry S. Truman, who even managed to have the less-than-beloved Hoover's face printed on the 20-dollar bill.
In 1946, in what he would later ruefully describe as an attempt to focus his predecessors' minds and distract them from drugs, Truman selected Hoover and Curtis to tour Germany to ascertain the food situation of the occupied nation.
Initially propped up by a stash of cocaine they had brought with him from the US, Hoover turned to schnapps, prostitutes and strip clubs to satisfy his hedonistic urges, after finding local drug dealers hard to come by. His fondness for giving prostitutes orgasms earned him the nickname Kuntschlurper, a term so notorious that it is still used today in Germany by the younger generations to refer to visiting American sex tourists.
On May 21, 1946, they entered the Achtung Baby stripclub in Frankfurt where, among others, midget sex performer Franz Pippenheimer was performing.
Herbert, who had begun the night "moderately intoxicated" according to special service agents, spent 4 hours drinking and fraternizing with the female performers of the club, before both he and Curtis became increasingly vocal in their abuse of Pippenheimer.
Obsessed with the potential size of Pippenheimer's penis, which the performer insisted on keeping hidden under his kilt, Curtis slurred, "If you get it out, he will suck it." At the time, the idea of a US President being associated with oral sex was something of a novelty.
Pippenheimer obliged, and the resulting photo, taken by an enterprising stripper, was published the next day, and became the enduring image of President Hoover.
President Truman, who had long admired Hoover's way with the ladies, immediately banned him from appearing at any governmental event, and asked for all Americans to draw President Andrew Jackson's face on the 20-dollar bill until the Federal Mint was able to replace the note permanently.
Charles Curtis never made it back from post-war Frankfurt, and was last seen in drag performing with an all-girl cabaret troupe in June 1946.
Retirement and death
President Hoover was brought back to the U.S. by his team of agents, and then subsequently withdrew from public life, dying in 1964 at the tender age of 56.
Little is known of his last years, except that they were spent in the wilderness in rural Alaska.
He lived his final days without any human company, and the police found him lifeless in his cabin. He lay in his bed alone, apparently having finally got himself clean.
- It's not a good idea to step into a cauldron.
- The US entered a Freudian analysis, but it turned out some alternative Japanese medicine in 1941 was what did the trick.
- This number has since risen.
- "I do not believe a widespread war is at all probable in the near future." See https://www.nytimes.com/1938/03/19/archives/hoover-sees-war-unlikely-after-his-european-tour.html