Lock Up Your Daughters

Like a lot of tract homes in Sun City, Stanley Lescewicz's house is littered with Hummel figurines and cute snow globes and framed photos of a dozen different grandkids. But Stanley -- or Nasty Stanley, as he likes to be called -- has something none of his oldster pals can claim: a pile of custom-made chastity belts. Stanley makes them (and sometimes sells them) himself, from stainless steel, solid copper, and a lot of thrift-store costume jewelry. Stanley swears that today's chastity belts are worn mostly for fun, but each of his shiny, fur-lined contraceptives comes with its own lock and key and a hand-lettered, 11-page instruction booklet on what Stanley calls "the prevention of eating hair pie."

New Times: What is a chastity belt, exactly?

Stanley Lescewicz: It's a preserver of your chastity. You wear one and you're still a virgin, you haven't been touched. I've been making these for 45 years.

NT: Why?

Lescewicz: It's something to do. Just a hobby. I got into this back when I was in the heating business in Chicago, and we always had sheet metal lying around on the floor that we used to make heating ducts from. There was a barbershop next door, and this guy came in with a chastity belt and I thought, "Hell, I can make something better than that." I hand-cut them out of stainless steel or copper, and then I pound them into shape and I add costume jewelry from the Salvation Army. Then I personalize them with little messages punched into the metal plate.

NT: Here's one that says "Sorry, Martha." What's that about?

Lescewicz: That's one for Martha Stewart. Because if that's the only lock-up she's gonna get, she's lucky. Here's one that says "No putting." That's for a golfer. This one says "Sorry, mate," because it's for a sailor's wife. Here's one for ex-president Gore.

NT: It says "Gore stopper." Well, that's pretty offensive.

Lescewicz: I made one for President Bush that says "No bushwhacking."

NT: I don't doubt it. But who buys a gem-encrusted chastity belt these days?

Lescewicz: People in taverns. And I used to sell them at the flea market. And you know something? It's mostly women who buy them. They're conversation pieces. Here's a copper one that comes in its own little box. Go ahead, open it up.

NT: (Opening box.) How come there's a little bag of pubic hair in here?

Lescewicz: No, no, no. That's a steel wool pad to polish the copper.

NT: I've read that chastity belts were first used by warriors gone to battle. They locked up their wives while they were gone. But what about the guys who didn't return?

Lescewicz: Well, you left a key with a chambermaid, and when the wife had to pee, the maid would unlock her. You know, there's an old joke about a knight leaving for war, and he gives his wife's chastity belt key to his best friend. And as he's riding away from his castle, his best friend calls out to him, "You left me the wrong key!"

NT: Hey, that's funny. But, I mean, do people actually buy these for their daughters?

Lescewicz: Yep, yep, yep. I was advertising in the Tribune, and I sold about 40 of them to guys with teenage daughters. I call my company "Chastity Belts by Nasty Stanley." They keep a virgin from becoming an un-virgin.

NT: What's this Nasty Stanley thing?

Lescewicz: Back in Chicago, I'd stop in at a burlesque place after work, and there was this hefty woman, and she said she wanted a fitting for one of my chastity belts. I said, "Honey, I'd get lost in your folds!" And she said, "You're nasty, Stanley." And it kind of stuck. They always called me Nasty Stanley after that. Here's one I made for the Phoenix Suns. I put their logo on it, even though I worry about copyright infringement.

NT: I'll bet you moved a lot of that one. Is there such a thing as a chastity belt for men? Do guys ever buy them for themselves?

Lescewicz: It happens, but I don't dwell with that gay period or anything like that. It's strictly a thing for women. The belts for men are long metal tubes with a wire cage around the end, and I don't make those. The ones for women are better, because they're fur-lined or leather-lined. Some of them I line with imitation leather.

NT: Seems like that would cause chafing.

Lescewicz: Well, you wouldn't wear that one. These are mostly for jokes. They're novelties. Or say when the wife is having her monthly period and she doesn't want to be touched, her way of saying so would be to hang one of these chastity belts on the knob of her bedroom door. It means, "I'm locked up. Don't touch me." Get what I mean?

NT: Well, of course. Are chastity belts a form of fetish wear?

Lescewicz: Possibly. I never discuss with those queers what they're gonna do with the chastity belt when they buy one. In Chicago we sold a lot of them at striptease clubs, though, I do know that. The girls like them with a lot of jewels and chains on them.

NT: Can I get one with the jewels on the inside?

Lescewicz: No. Why would you want that? I could make one like that, but it would be expensive. But I don't see why you'd want that. It would rub you kind of raw.

NT: Would the teen pregnancy thing be a different scene if we just sort of forced our daughters to wear these things?

Lescewicz: Yes. Absolutely. I was going to send a box of these to the chairman of Planned Parenthood. "Here, this is what you need." Because a good chastity belt can also prevent abortion. Have your daughter wear one of these, they have all kinds of practical uses. Save her virginity. Use these, instead of a rubber or what have you. Because the Planned Parenthood people, they could use a little laughter. They're all a bunch of busy-busies, you know?

NT: I couldn't agree more. Does your wife wear a chastity belt?

Lescewicz: No. She doesn't like them. She said, "Well, you were making them before we married, so I can't make you stop. Just don't get into anything pornographic." She's a born-again Christian. I'm Catholic, so I don't sell these at porn shops. But I'm going to be 77 years old this month, and I figure, what the hell? I have to have something to do around the house. I have prostate cancer, so I don't get out much these days.

NT: I'm sorry.

Lescewicz: Oh, hey, don't be. I've lived my life. I just want to get rid of these chastity belts. I hope one of my belts ends up in the Smithsonian. I sent one to Dear Abby, because she's always talking about the prevention of pregnancy and so forth. I figured, with a note from her, maybe one could get into the Smithsonian. I made her one out of copper with "Dear Abby" hammered into it, and I just told her to donate it to the Smithsonian when she leaves her things to them.

NT: Do chastity belts set off security alarms at the airport?

Lescewicz: Oh, yeah. You'd have to take it off and give it to the guard. Of course, you don't see a lot of that these days. You'd better make sure you pack the key, though, if you're going to be setting off the metal detectors. Because you'd really hold up the line, otherwise.

NT: How about a Chastity Bono belt?

Lescewicz: Who?

NT: Chastity Bono. She's Cher's daughter.

Lescewicz: Who?

NT: Never mind. It's been nice talking to you.

Lescewicz: Yeah, you, too. You mean Cher, the singer Cher? I've never made one for her. But she'd look great in one of these belts. I'd make a chastity belt for Cher. I did make one for Dame Edna, but I never heard from her. Now, you help me pick out one of these belts to take home with you.

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Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela