Doing it with more than just one sweetheart’s been trending strong for centuries. Here are some of the most famous ménage à trois ever recorded and how they changed history.
5. Voltaire, the Marquise Émilie du Châtelet, and the Marquis
Émilie du Châtelet was a bit of an eighteenth-century French prodigy who was fluent in five languages by the time she was twelve, was a skilled fencer and horseback rider, and whose idea of a summer job was devising mathematic strategies that paid off big time in gambling. In short, to a nerd like Voltaire she was a real life Winnie Cooper, and the duo spent fifteen fun-filled years together at her fabulous mansion at Cirey-sur-Blaise. Even though, you know, she was kind of married at the time.
Best. Girlfriend. Ever.
What it resulted in: A mini-Renaissance. It turns out that being the person who encouraged Voltaire’s earliest interest in Issac Newton is like being the person who taught John Lennon how to play guitar or introduced Babe Ruth to baseball.
Or, in this case, these two geniuses to brainy-sex.
Voltaire was one of they key players of the Enlightenment, and he pulled off his earliest research into history and science in Émilie du Châtelet’s enormous library in between their enormous cramming secessions. Émilie, meanwhile, accomplished quite a bit as well. Her translation of Newton’s Principia Mathematica introduced his work to the European continent and effectively standardized it for all time.
So, for all you future Noble Prize laureates out there, take a note from Voltaire and Émilie du Châtelet: Keep your mind as open as your marriage and people will start writing books about you.
If these two had lived to see the Kama Sutra, they probably would have discovered time travel.
4. Henry Miller, June Miller and Anaïs Nin
Quick question: What happens when you put together an unsuccessful novelist, a daring, bisexual wife with a proclivity for live-in lady lovers, and an ‘other’ woman who makes Glenn Close from Fatal Attraction come off like a Disney princess in comparison? If you’re thinking a talking rabbit boiling on a stovetop, well, you are way, way off because Anaïs Nin was apparently more obsessed with June Miller in this super-sexually charged relationship:
At a tête-a-tête in her home, Anaïs asked June, “Are you a lesbian?” The latter dodged, then complimented her host on her lovely rose dress. Anaïs became excited by June’s surprising timidity… She admired her full body and wanted to see her naked… Saying adieu in a taxi, Anaïs kissed June. “The love between women is a refuge and an escape into harmony,” she told Henry when afterward they walked into her garden, puzzling over his wife like two Cabalists with an obscure text.
Of course, by ‘puzzling,’ we imagine he was just trying to figure how all their bodies would fit together.
What it resulted in: Tropic of Cancer, one of the greatest novels of the century. (Also, the 1990 movie, Henry and June, with Uma Thurman.)
While June’s prior relationship with her live-in lover Jean Kronski figured prominently in Henry Miller’s appropriately-titled autobiography Crazy Cock, Anaïs played an instrumental role in personally financing Henry’s most famous work. According to Conversations with Anaïs Nin, “she went without clothes and shoes herself to buy shoes, curtains, books and writing paper for Henry Miller; how she sacrificed her own typewriter to him (which he pawned to buy liquor) and finally financed the publication of Tropic of Cancer.”
The book then goes on about “how she loved Miller’s mysterious, duplicitous wife June…”
Not too surprisingly, their story, as told in the film Henry and June, also resulted in the world’s first NC-17 rating.
3. Gustav III of Sweden, Sophia Magdalena of Denmark and Adolf Fredrik Munck
In 1775, King Gustav III of Sweden was faced with one hell of a problem: Not only was his wedding to Sophia Magdalena of Denmark rapidly approaching, but he suffered from a condition perhaps better known to Swedish cartographers as “hilarious.”
All this time, Finland was teabagging the Baltic states on your World History textbook.
Since failure to get laid was a matter of national security in the late eighteenth century, Gustav supposedly hired a stable master—seriously, that was his job—named Adolf Fredrik Munck af Fulkila to assist in the matter; no doubt thanks to his pitch-perfect pornographic profession. According to Adolf Fredrik’s own account of the scene, he was present with his saucy squeeze, the queen’s chamber maid Anna Sofia Ramström, we’re guessing to show the royal couple what baby-making looked like when a stable master is directed it. If that failed–or better yet, succeeded spectacularly–the sex coach was empowered to aid the royal couple by ‘touching’ both Gustav III and Queen Sophia physically to assist in their, um, procreation. Which he did.
What it resulted in: A freaking king: Gustaf IV Adolf, the production of King Gustav, Queen Sophia and the freaking stable master.
Apparently, shit like this is in the non-fiction section of Sweden’s archives.
As a reward for his epic coaching, Adolf Fredrik’s was rewarded 50.000 Swedish wing wangs, a knighthood, a governorship, and the titles of Baron and Count, and, just in case we didn’t illustrate how well things went, a diamond-encrusted portrait of the queen. Sure enough, people started to wonder whether their future king was the product of their sexually-inexperienced monarch or the freaking cock-master Munck, who at this point was being referred to by the real-life title of ‘Master of the Horse.’ The ensuing scandal was one of the causes of the downfall of the House of Holstein-Gottorp in 1818. However, Adolf Fredrik would likely continue to receive high-fives for his contributed to Swedish history until his death in 1831.
The eighteenth-century equivalent of the grassy knoll shooter.
2. Sir William Hamilton, Emma Hamilton and Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson
Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson was a hero of the Napoleonic wars whose frequent victories made English ladies like Emma Hamilton a little hot to hoist his flagstaff, if you get our drift.
Either Admiral Nelson or Beethoven in a convincing Halloween costume.
After the Admiral’s exploits in the Mediterranean, he promptly ditched his wife to enjoy a full-on, out and in the open ménage à trois with Emma and her husband Sir William Hamilton. It was the 19th century equivalent of Han and Leia having an open relationship with Wedge Antilles following victory at the Battle of Endor, and it blew the collective minds of the British Empire like a goddamn Death Star.
Nineteenth-century England upon being introduced to the concept of sex.
What it resulted in: A little game of doctor that might have saved the Admiral’s life, and some of the most spectacular victories of Admiral Nelson’s late career. After falling ill with malaria and exhausting following the Battle of the Nile, Emma personally nursed Nelson back to health with a steady diet of ass’s milk—which we’re guessing she fed to him the most creative way they could imagine. Emma became a key ally for Nelson, enlisting support from friends and personally rescuing the royal family of Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies.
Also, judging by how their affair caused in a massive media sensation that eventually went straight to Emma’s head right down to financial troubles, gambling and weight gain, it could be argued that Emma and Nelson simultaneously invented the modern day entertainment media as well.
1. William Moulton Marston, Elizabeth Holloway Marston and Olive Byrne
William Moulton Marston was an interesting fellow who started his professional life with a PhD in Psychology from Harvard University. Among his many accomplishments was his development of the systolic blood-pressure test, which became a key component in the modern polygraph due to its ability to detect deception—more on that later. Interestingly, William probably never needed to worry about one of these baddies ever being used against him because he was one of those lucky bastards with a wife down for a polyamorous relationship with one of his students from Tufts named Olive Byrne. According to his son Byrne Marston: “It was an arrangement where they lived together fairly harmoniously. Each woman had two children, and my brother and I were formally adopted by Elizabeth and Bill somewhere along the line.”
William Moulton Marston, either an inspiration to us all or the inventor of the Jedi mind trick.
What it resulted in: In addition to what we can only imagine was an incalculable number of high fives around every office he walked into, a little bundle of joy better known to the world as Wonder Woman.
We’re guessing one of his special ladies had this outfit stashed under their bed.
It turns out that Wonder Woman was not only based on the two women William shared his one roof with, but was also the physical embodiment of strong, sexually liberated, and all-around wonderful woman he considered his wife Elizabeth to be. And honestly, we don’t blame him.
The things one man and two women can do…
Oh, and the best part: You know that golden lasso Wonder Woman ties people up with in order to get them to tell the truth? That was based on William’s systolic blood-pressure test, which we’re guessing he, Elizabeth and Olive generously slipped into some serious bondage sex.
Of course it’s not all the memory of times past with love triangles. If you wish to celebrate your own Charlie Sheen-style ménage for three, and you happen to be in the UK, check out this luxury Lake District hotel combo pour trois. The hotel, Windermere Suites, even provides breakfast for three-in-a-bed.