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On Language: A Brief History Of 'Golden Showers'

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The term "golden showers" is now trending internationally on Twitter after BuzzFeed dropped an explosive report speculating that Russian intelligence officials may or may not have planned to blackmail President-elect Donald Trump with evidence of him allegedly hiring a couple of sex workers to perform "golden showers" in front of him.

But what exactly is a "golden shower" and where did the term come from?

According to the Encyclopedia of Prostitution and Sex Work, golden showers—also known as "piss play" or "water sports"—is a slang term for "urolagnia," or erotic gratification associated with urine. More specifically, a golden shower refers to the act of peeing on another person for sexual pleasure. The scientific term for sexual gratification derived from fantasies or acts involving feces is "coprolagnia," fwiw.

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Though Sex and the City may have brought the terminology to a far wider audience, golden showers as a sex term has been around since at least the early 1940s.

According to The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, the definition of golden showers as "a shared act of urine fetishism; the act of urination by one person on another for sexual gratification," dates back to 1943.

Cassell's Dictionary of Slang also reports that "golden shower" (and its sister term "golden rain") have been in use since the 1940s. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, however, didn't add the term's definition ("the act of urinating on another person, usually as part of a sex act") until 1968.

By 1972, former call girl Xaviera Hollander had enshrined the act in her best-selling memoir The Happy Hooker, writing:

One famous television producer wants to pay through the nose for what girls do through the bladder—which is otherwise known as "the golden shower."

The act was concurrently becoming popular on the big screen, or at least a certain kind of big screen. In his 1977 Film Maker's Guide to Pornography Stephen Ziplow (as quoted by Partridge) wrote that "another large percentage of the pictures have to do with urination or, as we call them, 'golden showers.'"

Two years later, the sex act further solidified its position in the pop culture lexicon when it was name-checked by Frank Zappa in his 1979 song "Bobby Brown Goes Down." (I can take about an hour on the tower of power / as long as I get a little golden shower.)

For what it's worth, Zappa wasn't the only musician to reference golden showers in a song. In their 1993 song "Bust a Nut," Luke and the Notorious B.I.G. famously crooned "Fuck for about an hour, now she want a golden shower."

The sex act and its corresponding nomenclature, as anyone with an HBO subscription well knows, went full-zeitgeist in the year 2000, when it appeared as a subplot on the Sex and the City episode "Politically Erect."

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Here's a quick refresher (mildly NSFW, but fine if you are wearing headphones):

In the intervening years, pop singer Ricky Martin has proclaimed his affinity for the sex act in a 2006 interview with Blender magazine and the performance artist and sex educator Annie Sprinkle has also made them a seminal part of her oeuvre. And now, they might just be coming to the Oval Office.