Exploitation Videos 2

published in Video Age, Augiust 1985, Melbourne

Sex! Sex! And more sex! The object of a million desires and the subject of a million movies. It's the meaning ot life and the stuff that dreams are made of. It also happens to be a major concern in the wide and wonderful world of Exploitation, so this month we're going to talk dirty, watch hard and breathe heavy. You've seen the covers —but have you actually seen the videos? Or are you too embarrassed by titles like Swedish Sex Service and Teenage Jail Bait? True — it can be embarrassing; but don't forget that the video store is more interested in your money than your taste in videos. Your only real problem is in finding those sex videos with that "something extra" which can transform pedestrian porn into eccentric erotica.

But firstly, let’s explain all the terms used to categorise sex videos. ‘Pornography’ is the word you use when you want to be clinical, cold and nasty about the subject. ‘Adult’ is a tag designed to attract kids, teenagers and other non-adults who shouldn't be watching such films. ‘Erotic’ really means "porno" but it allows you to appear progressive and liberated whilst retrogressively salivating as you watch the films. ‘Soft-Core’ is the opposite of ‘Hard-Core’ and both refer to what performing state the actors and actresses are In. And ‘X’ actually means ‘erect penis’ (Latin: erexum penus) but since some people (mainly men) are offended by such language, they had to abbreviate it to "X” (it also tells the censor where to start snipping, as in “X marks the spot"). And finally, ‘Triple X’ simply means that the film's advertising is three-times more desperate to get your money. So now that we understand all that, let's have a look at these videos.

The most accessible and successful breakaway from the predictable and restrictive style of "skin flicks' and "nudies" (as established in porn from the mid-'50s through to the early 70s) can be found in the magazine-format utilised in the Electric Blue series. Notching up 17 issues to date, their combination of sex, humor, action, novelty and interviews presents an enlightening picture of pornography as it is today. Electric Blue has also put out Electric Blue Special, Electric Blue: The Movie and the newly-released Big Ones, which is like a Ripley's Believe It Or Not of rippling breasts.

Another recent release, Girls Of Penthouse, uses the magazine format but this time more in the guise of a set of pop video clips and scripted vignettes. Although obviously aimed at the up-market connoisseurs of erotica through its pastiches of Helmut Newton (yeuch!) and David Hamilton (double yeuch!), this type of "upwardly mobile porn'' can be entertaining if only to laugh at its delusions of grandeur. Girls Of Penthouse closes with an interview with heroic stud and editor of Penthouse, Bob Guccione, which is both repelling and compelling. Other magazine-format sex videos that lie somewhere between the aspirations of Girls Of Penthouse and the celebrations of Electric Blue and the series of Playboy On Video, Red Tape and Shades Of Blue.

Nestled near the magazine-format sex video is the sex documentary. These videos can be quite tedious, being no more than documentaries of tired striptease artists {e.g. The Great British Striptease, Girls' Night Out, Bad Taste Video No. 1, etc.}, but sometimes they can be wacky and perverse counterparts to what In America is known as "reality programming" (shows like Believe It Or Not, You Asked For It, Real People, That's Incredible, etc.).

Discover how far the debauched sports fanatic can go in the recently released Battling Beauties, which could go great in sports-obsessed Australia — it features female mud-wresiling and girls covered in oil boxlng with giant red gloves! And if you like Battling Beauties you'll simply love Female Mud-Wrestling and Jello Wrestling. And don't forget the ultra-realism and super-suburbanism of Electric Blue’s Nude Wives Extravaganza – the title says it all. Other documentarles available: Sex Maniacs' 'Guide To The U.S.A., Sexual Freedom U.S.A., Sex Aides And How To Use Them, Let Me Die A Woman, Pornography In Hollywood and Nude Miss America.

Many people are probably familiar with such seminal porn titles as Deep Throat, The Devil In Miss Jones, Insatiable, Wanda Whips Wall Street and Debbie Does Dallas. The notoriety of these and other famous porn films, however, is due not to their artistry or origlnality but more to how far they went for their time — both in terms of graphic depiction and their distribution. One must not forget that the porn industry is always at pains to promote single films out from among a genre known more for its sameness than its originality.

The fact that the above-mentioned X-rated films (and R-rated films, like the absolutely dull Emanuelle series, the incredibly unfunny Confessions Of series and the pseudo-shocking and over-stylised blandness of films like Story Of O and The Night Porter) can garner attention testifies both to the rampant mundanity of the erotic genre and to the extremes of hyperbole which seem to arbitrarily promote some films above others.

It should also be noted that things aren't all that different in the promotion of "mainstream" cinema. Misconceptions of film and video porn mostly stem from many people not having seen a broad selection of the material available.

All the films just mentioned here are worth checking out for "historical value," but otherwise they are not very exciting at all. In preference, I would recommend films like Tanya's Island (a poignant love affair between a model and a full-grown ape); Island Of Perversion (a ludicrous morality tale which systematically breaks every possible social taboo in the most blunt fashion); New York Nights (an in-depth look at the decadence — yawn — of New York high-life, with lots of incredibly crass disco music); The Case Of The Smiling Stiffs (a sex-spoof of Dragnet that blows The Blues Brothers away) and ... well, there’s plenty more where they came from, so stay tuned in the months to come for reports on other gems like Satan's Cheerleaders, The Switchblade Sisters, The Big Bird Cage and Love Camp 7.

In closing I'd like to whinge about the unforgiveable lack of Russ Meyer material on video. Russ Meyer Is the undisputed king of way-out sex films — yet only Fanny Hill (one of his worst movies) and Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls (a fantastic ode to sex, drugs and rock'n'roll) are available, plus an interview with the king on Electric Blue No 2. His films (all 24 of them) are widely available on video throughout Europe, the UK and the States so how about Australia? One Vixen is worth a million Emmanuelles — and there are a million Emanuelle, but only one Vixen.

Text © Philip Brophy 1985. Images © respective copyright holders