The Rape Films of Porn’s Golden Age

Today’s “gonzo porn” includes many categories of women subjected to brutal sex.  But these are cheap and dirty “wall-to-wall (sex only, no story)” videos.  They can’t compare with the big-budget 35-millimeter epics of the 1970s and early 80s that featured elaborate production values and intricate stories that involved debasing women in the grossest possible ways.

The audiences for these theatrical films were angry, sexually-frustrated men who comprised a large portion of that era’s “raincoat crowd.”

My duties as film and tape manager at VCX, Inc., included supervising the transfer of these films to videotape.  Among these pictures were the following “classics”:

(Passages from SKINFLICKS are in italics.)

In Alex DeRenzy’s Pretty Peaches (1978), real-life mental patient Desiree Cousteau plays a car accident amnesia victim who’s raped by the men who hit her. A quack doctor treats her amnesia with enemas. She’s gang-banged at a job audition.

At Compact Video, I supervised the transfer of Defiance, with underaged (16 year old) Jean Jennings gang-raped by the staff and inmates of an insane asylum; Expensive Tastes, in which a prostitute plays decoy to help bust a gang of rapists; and The Seduction of Lyn Carter, in which future rock singer Andrea True plays a housewife with a compulsion for further and further debasements from kinky sex researcher Jamie Gillis.

A Dirty Western (1975) featured a gang of outlaws raiding a ranch and raping the owner (Barbara Bourbon) and her daughters.

In Waterpower, Jamie Gillis (You want kink? He’s your man.) played an enema rapist.

After I left VCX, my new business partner Joe Loveland (a nom de porn) gave me a tape that his S and M protege Stephanie Bonds wanted to emulate:  The Mitchell Brothers’ Never a Tender Moment starred Marilyn Chambers suspended by wrists and ankles while butch lesbians beat her with whips; hung upside down while they insert all of a dildo the size of a baby elephant’s leg in her rectum.

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Serena (Blaquelord) in All the King’s Ladies

Before she appeared in my video feature All The King’s Ladies, Serena had retired from porn after a shoot that nearly led to her death. In Mai Lin Versus Serena (1982), a filmed contest to see which actress could take on the most men, the compliant masochist was penetrated not only by forty or more studs but by the microbes they carried. “My doctor said the germs ganged up,” Serena told me. “My belly swelled up like I was pregnant.” Delirious from septic shock, she spent months hospitalized with severe pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)–epidemic in the wake of the libertine ’70s. The filmmaker didn’t even send a get-well card.

“It’s a unique irony,” wrote the historian (Jim) Holliday in the 1990s, “that under Nixon’s presidency adult films were rougher than they are currently.”

Yet, even after home video brought an influx of female viewers in the mid 1980s, there remained an audience of disgruntled men who made best-sellers out of videos like Biff Malibu’s Gang Bang Girls series.

Today’s misogynist porn can’t match the budgets of yesteryear, but it’s just as brutal.  Anti-porn academic, Gail Dines, rails against this gonzo genre, blaming it for corrupting the sexuality of all American men.  Dines has produced one of the most inadvertently hilarious jeremiads against porn that I have ever read.

Next post: Pornland by Gail Dines: A Primer for Perverts

 

 

 

HOW TO THINK LIKE A PORNOGRAPHER AND WHY YOU SHOULDN’T

Ron Jeremy had a great idea for a sex scene.  As he described it in Hustler:  “I’d like to do a hang-gliding scene in an X-rated film.  I see this great shot of me standing on a hill with my dick sticking straight out, hard as a rock.  Then I take off and start gliding downward.  There’s this gorgeous girl at the bottom of the hill pointing her little butt right at me.  The master shot would look as if I’m going to dive right into her ass at top speed.  But the final shot would cut to a camera zoom of my dick making a safe rear-entry landing right smack in the middle of her pussy.  I’d like to see James Bond do something like that.” (excerpt from  SKINFLICKS: The Inside Story of the X-Rated Video Industry)

As absurd as Jeremy’s scenario sounds, it is indicative of how pornographers think.  In SKINFLICKS, I detail such pornographer’s brainstorms as sex in a vat of spaghetti and in a tub of chocolate; three-somes balancing precariously on toilets; prosthetic penises mounted in unusual places (Paul Norman’s Cyrano and Edward Penishands); scenes featuring octopus tentacles and snorkel cameras; and gang-bangs with one woman taking on up to one hundred men. When I produced E.X., I used my special effects generator to show aliens with three-foot-long members performing double-penetration on Lilly Marlene.

Why do pornographers go to such extremes?  Because they have to.  Psychologist Neil Malamuth of UCLA said, “Our research shows that every time there is a satiation of themes, people to some degree lose their ability to be aroused by it.  Therefore, newer themes are introduced, breaking new taboos.”  The late porn director Alex DeRenzy put it more simply. His biggest problem, he said, was “beating audience boredom.”

Regardless of how resourceful they are, pornographers are stuck with the fact that all sex scenes come down to the same half-dozen positions.  If the chemistry isn’t there, no director, regardless of competence, can make a scene sizzle.  On the other hand, when performers are hot for one another, even the dimmest of directors can end up with a great scene. Being at best skilled documentarians, pornographers hasten to proclaim their uniqueness.  (This was especially true when an avalanche of new titles descended upon the industry during the “smut glut” era of the late 1980s and early ‘90s.)  Thus, Scotty Fox, director of Ass Backwards and My Bare Lady, became porn’s “King of Comedy.”  The late Henri Pachard, famous for staging sex on bathroom fixtures, was dubbed “The King of the Commode.” With Shape Up for Sensational Sex, Gail Palmer declared herself “the Jane Fonda of porno.” The late Anthony Spinelli had no interest in directing sex, which he turned over to cameramen such as myself while he took a nap. Spinelli became famous for the miraculous acting performances he managed to wring out of even the most unmotivated of cast members. At Superior Video, my co-director Joe Farmer and I took pride in making low-budget videos look like more expensive ones (that special effects generator sure helped).

The downside of thinking like a pornographer is when it comes to dominate your outlook—especially when you’re cranking out one sexvid after another.  As veteran pornographer Bill Margold observed in a 1982 Adam magazine interview, “You can only live in a fantasy land just so long before it starts driving you crazy.”  When real life runs counter to that fantasy land, disaster beckons. “Pornographer’s disease” is another name for impotence.  My friend Ace Walker said that after he quit shooting and acting in porn, it took him two months before he could enjoy a normal sex life.  Actor Cal Jammer was not so fortunate. Said to obsess about his erections, he couldn’t recover from bouts of penis limpus. He wasn’t the only failed stud to commit suicide.    

Thinking like a pornographer extends beyond those directly involved in production.  Superior Video’s receptionist Alana told me, “I can’t read Vogue (magazine) without thinking of the commercial possibilities.” She provided the idea behind our video Diary of a Bad Girl.

Bristling with erotic visions, pornographers frequently clash with performers pushed beyond their limits. As actor/director F. M. Bradley said about bombastic little porn impresario Jerome Tanner, “If you can take four cocks at once, Jerry will want five.”

A constant battle in the world of pornography is the often rancorous, push-pull negotiation between porn directors and cast members. After weathering one struggle after another, both sides come to the set prepared to go to war.  But that is the subject of a future blog entry.