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The Secret Life of a Happy-Ending Masseur and the Women Who Swear By Him

[] The scene: a warehouse adjacent to a church in Jonesboro, about 18 miles south of Atlanta. COVID-19 is raging, and a bouncer with a forehead thermometer checks people’s temperatures at the door. But the pandemic precautions are primarily for show. This is a bacchanalia, and the hundred or so women inside the warehouse are mostly unmasked, downing...

The One-Eyed African Queen Who Defeated the Roman Empire

[] The legendary Roman emperor Caesar Augustus was on the Greek island of Samos, preparing for an important expedition to Syria, when he received envoys from the Kingdom of Kush, in present-day Sudan. Journalist Selina O’Grady records in her book And Man Created God that the ambassadors presented Augustus with a bundle of golden arrows and relayed this...

The Undercover Anarchists’ Secret Construction Collective

[] It was 1 o’clock in the morning on a Friday in early June, and Hayward Gatch was trespassing in what used to be a neighborhood, before it was razed to the ground by the government. Gatch kept a swivel head, with his hair tied back, as he crept through a towering sea of mugwort, wielding wooden pallets and a circular saw. All the while, he wore a...

I Woke Up From a Coma and Couldn’t Escape the Guy Pretending to Be My Boyfriend

[] The first thing I can recall clearly was sitting in a hospital room in the dark. I knew something was wrong — that there was something wrong with me — and yet, I couldn’t tell exactly what. I realized the left side of my face was numb. Hanging on the wall in front of me was a television, but there was something wrong with it too. A ghostly copy...

The Teenage King’s Historically Bad Sex Education

[] It was around 1535, and 23-year-old King James V was engaged in a rap battle — or the 16th-century Scottish royal court equivalent of it. King James was in a public insult poetry battle with his lifelong tutor and companion, Sir David Lyndsay. James’s poem accused Lyndsay — a married man approximately 26 years his senior — of being impotent, while...

The Weird, Wacky and Wild Ride of Captain Cartoon, Father of Bat Boy

[] The origin stories of many superheroes involve something like a bath in toxic waste or being born on another planet, but the origin story of Alder-Man, champion of local politics and civic duty, was a little less flashy. One day in the late 1970s, a young man named Dick Kulpa bounded into city hall in Loves Park, Illinois, wearing a red, white and...

The Writer Lifting the Veil on the Real Russian Experience

[] It might not be usual for refugees to move back to their homeland, but Narratively contributor Margarita Gokun Silver is not your average daughter of Soviet Jews. In this Narratively contributor’s debut essay collection I Named My Dog Pushkin (And Other Immigrant Tales), Gokun Silver details her experience pushing her family to leave the Soviet Union...

The Hollywood HIV Doctor Who Was Secretly Peddling Eternal Youth

[] At 2:35 p.m. on the afternoon of June 8, 2019, agents from the Austrian Federal Police’s elite Zielfahnder (target investigators) unit arrived outside of a rental apartment in the city’s expensive First District. Normally tasked with tracking down and arresting hardened gangsters on the lam, the Zielfahnder were working in tandem with a representative...

The Writer Sharing the Untold Stories of Female Climate Activists

[] Over the past decade and a half, Jill L. Ferguson has published 14 books. She works largely as a co-author, collaborating with authors and academics to write, edit, and publish books as a duo. Jill is the founder of Women’s Wellness Weekends, and also works as a writing coach, ghost writer and author. She frequently covers nature, women, and animals:...

The Bank Robbers Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight (Or Do Anything Right, Really)

[] The American gangsters entered the British bank at three minutes to closing time on a Friday afternoon. Three men — two brothers and an accomplice — arrived outside, wearing black masks and gloves, horn-rimmed glasses, and narrow-brimmed trilby hats pulled low over their foreheads. They were armed with two revolvers and an automatic pistol. It was...

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