Monday, December 9, 2002

That's Sexploitation!

Been reading That's Sexploitation!: The Forbidden World of Adult Cinema. What a sweet little book, and it has lots of great pictures!

At age 14, I started collecting 50s pin-up art. My "sexploitation" collection peaked sometime during my mid-20s, at which point I had 100s of pictures, magazines and films. In my first-year Women's Studies class, I wrote a paper on how feminism killed the pin-up and opened the door for high-porn beaver shots. I got an F.

But I love this stuff - burlesque, cheesecake, Irving Claw films, sex education and hygiene movies... And the book is full of little gems. Like Marriage Forbidden from the 1930s, a movie that told a tale of weakness and punishment: An upper-class young man and woman - George and Henrietta - are about to be married. At his bachelor party, George has sex with the dancer and contracts VD. When Henrietta's father learns of George's "condition" he forbids the marriage. But George's mother takes full blame for not telling her son of "life's greatest pitfall" and begs Henrietta to still marry her son. In the end, Henrietta and George's first baby is born a "weakling" because its blood was "tainted with the result of George's final bachelor night of love." LOL.

The movies from this era were particularly moralising - "shocking" medical footage of vaginal and cesarean births, and close-ups of VD-ravaged genitalia, were combined with footage of girls in bras and half-slips (perhaps prostitutes and always fallen women) and some super-sleazy guy, and then wrapped up as tales of perversion and consequence. And there was always the element of spectacle, if not in the film itself, then in the showing - first in carnival sideshows or grindhouses. And I'm fascinated by the early connections between Mondo-style film ("real" violence) and sex.


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