Contrary to popular belief, the glory hole is not a modern invention. The glory hole made its mark upon society long before modern-day perverts began drilling holes in public toilets, adult bookstores and gay bathhouses.
The Glory Hole in the Ancient World
Gay historians have traced the first appearance of the glory hole all the way back to Ancient Egypt. According to Edgar Pooplar, Dean of Gayness at Brighton University and author of “Gays in Space: A Visual Guide,” Egyptian hieroglyphs quite clearly show the glory hole in use. Many historians have highlighted the following glyph sequence as a prime example of the glory hole in Ancient Egypt:
As trade increased between European, Middle Eastern and African nations, so too did the prevalence of the glory hole. Ancient Greece, a well-known haven for gay sex, bum banditry and hairy women (characteristics that still define Greece today), was quick to adopt the glory hole.
Members of Greek high society embraced this new sexual fetish with great glee. Hetaerae — independent, influential and educated prostitutes — were the first to place glory holes in toilets.
In the image below (Fig. 1a), you can see a representation of a Greek hetaerae urinating into a skyphos (a large wine-cup) while engaging in an act of fellatio via an ornate glory hole.
Such glory holes were very common during the era, as was a gleeful celebration or urination.
Below (Fig. 1b), you can see an elaborate glory hole plug from Athens c. 460–425 BC.
Glory Holes in Asia
Intriguingly, it is believed that the glory hole developed in Asia independently, suggesting a deep rooted need for clandestine, non-committal hole sex within the human psyche.
Below is a contemporaneous image of Wakisaka Yasumoto, son of Wakisaka Yasuharu (1554–1626), feudal lord of Awaji Island. Yasumoto’s leopard skin crack-flap (a type of loincloth) hangs unfurled between his legs, exposing his behind to a typical Japanese glory hole to his rear. In his right hand, he holds a decorative cock-swatter.
Below is an upper-class Japanese bathhouse for women. Here we can see a variation on the glory hole: the glory hatch. Japanese walls are built from bamboo, a material with a high splinter-rate. Hastily carved circular glory holes were notorious for causing severe injuries to male members, making a smooth-framed hatch more appropriate. In this instance, the plebian servant in the room to the rear acts as both cook and cock for the bathing women (food goes through the food hatch and cock goes through the glory hatch).
In the image below, you can see a uniquely Japanese combination of sport and functional sex. Sumo wrestling events often lasted for days without pause, making the glory hole a practical addition to the arena environment. Ticket holders in the expensive seats were entitled to stick their schlongs into holes surrounding the Glory Chamber, a room housing the most talented male and female servicers in the region (two walls contained female-operated holes, one wall male operators, and one wall was typically a lucky dip). Notice how the holes are located at different heights for ease of use. Gentlemen in the cheap seats, meanwhile, could get their thrills in the less glamorous Glory Galleries.
Glory Holes in Europe
The glory hole reappeared in Europe during the 16th century. It was particularly common in alleyways, bathhouses and toilets located in major port cities and trading towns. Below you can see male merchants (two of whom are cross dressers) waiting their turn at a glory hole situated in the docks of Antwerp, Belgium. One lucky merchant (second from right) is already getting his jollies. Notice the small purses held by the two non-cross-dressing merchants — glory hole activity was free, but monetary tips or exotic candies were often poked through the hole as a reward for excellent work.
Unlike the glory hole’s reputation in 21st century society (dirty, sick and wrong), glory holes in the 16th century were seen as good, clean, harmless fun. Even elegant ladies from noble families enjoyed a good shafting or a mouthful of dick from an anonymous cock in a wall.
The two ladies pictured below became quite famous for touring Europe in search of the continent’s best glory holes. Lady Nelly Bellinger (left) and Lady Constance Gobbington (right) sampled a grand total of 3,787 glory holes in 17 countries before being set upon and murdered by Sicilian pirates.
Glory Holes Across the World
With the rise of the British Empire, the glory hole soon spread across the globe, to India, Australia, Canada, Iraq and the Falkland Islands. By 1950, glory holes had appeared in every country in the world.
In 2007, research carried out by the International Glory Appreciation Group (IGAG) found that the USA, Japan, Germany and Vatican City had the highest amount of glory holes per capita.