Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Ed Wood Wednesdays, week 62: 'Swedish Erotica' (ca. 1973)

Standard logo for the Swedish Erotica loops of the 1970s.

Jinny: Would you like a beer? 
     Howie: I'd like something else. 
Jinny: Now what in the world could that be? 
     Howie: I'll show you. 
-subtitled dialogue from "The Virgin Next Door (Part One)"

Hindenburg over the Hudson: Early inspiration for Ed.
There's a common element you'll find in seemingly every biography of a famous filmmaker born in the 20th century, from Grade-Z schlockmeisters on up to Hollywood royalty: the story of getting that all-important first home movie camera. From those old, hand-wound 8mm jobs right up through VHS camcorders, the story is always pretty much the same. A kid would get ahold of one of those magical devices, and synapses would start firing in his brain. He'd get ideas, man. "That could be my movie playing at the local bijou," he'd think. And pretty soon, he'd start rounding up the neighborhood kids to start acting in his little pint-sized Westerns and war pictures, shot on location in the backyard. In his book The Big Lebowski: The Making of a Coen Brothers Film, writer William Preston Robertson devotes several amusing pages to documenting the early filmmaking experiments of Joel and Ethan Coen, siblings who grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis in the late 1960s. Joel, the elder Coen, decided that he and his brother should mow lawns and use the proceeds to buy a Super 8mm home movie camera and film stock. Eventually, the plan succeeded, and the Coen boys did actually purchase a Vivitar camera and some film. The historic purchase did not immediately yield cinematic greatness, as Robertson details:
"Their earliest explorations were, to be sure, uninspired, if not disgracefully lazy. Setting the movie camera up in front of the television, they simply let it run -- filming, at least in part, a Raymond Burr jungle movie. It was an act of artistic lethargy that shamed even the boys, and they soon carted the Vivitar outdoors to see what might be worth filming there."
Eventually, the Coen boys did become more ambitious with their Super 8 extravaganzas, especially once they'd found a neighborhood star their own age, one Mark "Zeimers" Zimering (later an endocrinologist in East Orange, NJ), and crafted around him such homemade epics as Zeimers in Zambia and the serendipitously-titled Ed... A Dog, their surreal update of 1943's Lassie Come Home. This era of the brothers' lives culminated in what Robertson deems their "pinnacle": a surrealist mini-epic entitled The Banana Film.

A Kodak ad from 1934.
Though he started nearly four decades previously and half a country away, Ed Wood's "origin story" was not too different from that of the Coens, minus the dogs and bananas. Edward Davis Wood, Jr.'s earliest films in his native Poughkeepsie were just as humble as what young Joel and Ethan were doing in the suburbs of Minneapolis. In one of those fortune-shifting accidents of history, Ed Wood happened to be born during an era when affordable home movie cameras were first being made widely available to the general public. Though little Eddie did hold down several jobs in his hometown as a youth, the fateful movie camera which changed his life -- ultimately for the worse, it sadly seems -- was a gift from his postal worker father. In his 1994 Ed Wood-based musical, The Worst!, singer-songwriter Josh Alan Freeman attributes the cinematic gift to Ed's mother Lilian instead. The camera and young Eddie's obsession with it form the basis for a plaintive song called "Kodak City Special." Sample lyrics: "Look at me, Ma! I've got a camera! What in the world have you given your son? Let us pray!" A couple of interviewees in Rudy Grey's Nightmare of Ecstasy speak with a certain amount of knowledge about Eddie's primordial work. A witness named Fred Robertson, seemingly a friend of Ed's father and quoted nowhere else in the book, makes a tantalizing statement:
"Years ago I had some of Ed Jr.'s films, 100 foot, 16mm, that he took himself. Scenes of him playing G-man with cap pistols, black and white, the typical thing that a kid would have taken -- a couple of guys playing cops and robbers, just clowning around, about four minutes."
Meanwhile, Kathy Wood, Ed's wife of twenty-plus years and perhaps the person who knew this unknowable man best, shared the following info with Grey:
"His dad bought him this movie camera ... and the Hindenburg was coming down the Hudson, on the course where it crashed in New Jersey and went up in flames ... and Eddie filmed it, he said it was thrilling, exciting, he was so proud that he shot it before it crashed. He was always so proud of that. [...] Ed would stage plays in his backyard, all the neighborhood kids would join in, he would stage them, write little stories and then film them. He was always filming things ... and that's all he wanted to do from the time he was four or five. He'd run around taking pictures. That's all he wanted to do."
Kathy's account gives you some insight into the life and mind of Edward D. Wood, Jr. Simply put, the boy was camera-crazy. He never got over that gift from his dad. It must have seemed like magic. But he was hardly unique in that respect. Like I said before, the "my first camera" story is one I've encountered in lots of biographies of directors. I doubt, though, that such tales will crop up in the life stories of future filmmakers, who won't actually be using film in their endeavors. In the age of YouTube and the iPhone, the humble yet all-important camera has lost its mystique. So, too, has the moving image, I'm afraid. It's now a magic trick any idiot with a smartphone can accomplish.

I'm dredging all this up because, this week, we are discussing perhaps Eddie's least-prestigious work: the pornographic, hardcore loops he made in the early 1970s. By this point in his life, Ed was making his extremely meager living from a typewriter, not a camera. His only steady, reliable source of income during those dark years was Bernie Bloom at Pendulum Publishing, for whom Ed wrote novels, short stories, non-fiction articles, all manner of pseudo sex manuals and tawdry textbooks. Kathy Wood was fine with this arrangement. Money's money, after all. But Eddie couldn't deny his first love, cinema, and was determined to stay in the motion picture game in any way he possibly could, no matter how lowly the assignment.

That's a constant theme throughout Eddie's thirty-year tenure in Los Angeles, actually. When he couldn't get a feature film going, he'd do what he considered "the next best thing" or "the next best thing to the next best thing," be it commercials for Wesson Oil and Pyequick, unsuccessful Western and horror pilots, bone-dry industrial films for Autonetics Aviation, local TV programs like Criswell Presents and The Sam Yorty Show, and even sports shows -- the latter despite Ed's seeming lack of interest in athletics. Anything that would keep him behind a camera. As Ed Wood worked his way down the Hollywood ladder, from horror and sci-fi to to nudie cuties to outright porn, the "next best thing" gigs he took between pictures also declined in prestige.

Which thus brings us to...

  S w e d i s h   E r o t i c a   ( ca. 1 9 7 3 )  

Hi-dilly-ho, censor-inos! Linda McDowell greets John Holmes in this bleeped scene from "The Virgin Next Door."

An online directory of porn loops.
Alternate titles: None that I know of, but this is a tricky issue. These films are known collectively as Swedish Erotica, but the individual loops within the series are known by their own individual titles as well, like episodes of a sitcom. A thorough catalog of Swedish Erotica loops is available here. You might find these films posted online under their individual titles, such as "The Virgin Next Door" or "Behind the Ate Ball."

Availability: As of this writing, I am not aware of any official DVD, VHS, BluRay, or digital releases of Ed Wood's Swedish Erotica films. But several, including some of the ones I'm discussing in this article, have been posted to adult sites like Porn HubX Videos, and X Hamster. Additionally, there is an entire, now-dormant blog devoted to Swedish Erotica and additional SE content posted to a blog called Retro Loops. So the material is definitely out there. As for how to get it, take your pick. And if there are, in fact, commercial releases of Ed's Swedish Erotica films, please let me know about them. I'd love to be able to link to them.

The backstory: Okay, here is what we know for sure. Edward D. Wood, Jr. most certainly worked on short, silent, basically non-narrative pornographic films called "loops" for an undisclosed period in the early 1970s. But just which films he made, when he made them, and where to find them today is up for debate. We'll have to tread lightly this time, dear readers. Here is what Rudolph Grey's Nightmare of Ecstasy: The Life and Art of Edward D. Wood, Jr., still the closest thing we have to a definitive work on the director, has to say about the topic:
"Wood made an unspecified number of hardcore, 12-minute films in the 1970s for Swedish Erotica. Inasmuch as these films are uncredited, Wood's output in this area is unlikely to be documented. Some of the films he may have directed: Massage Parlour; Girl Friday; The Jailer."
Not terribly promising, I know, especially the "unspecified," "uncredited" and "unlikely to be documented" parts. That's a lot of "un"s in one place. But hold on, readers! Another Wood historian, Philip R. Frey, is on the case, and he has a page from his Hunt for Ed Wood site devoted to the Swedish Erotica films, too. There, he lists 19 titles that Ed Wood "apparently wrote and directed" for the long-running series. Frey's list actually corresponds to a catalog of Swedish Erotica films at a surprisingly-clinical Dutch website called the Adult Loop Database (hereafter, ALDb). These 19 films would be the first of over 500 made under the Swedish Erotica banner from 1973 to 1984, meaning that a venerable porn institution began with Ed Wood himself at the helm.

The ALDb lists no Swedish Erotica films with the titles Rudolph Grey describes. Frey speculates that these films might belong to another series of pornographic loops called Cinema Classics, on which Ed also toiled in the early 1970s. I searched through the database of loops and found no titles, under any series, called The Jailer, and while there were several loops set in massage parlors, I couldn't find any actually called Massage Parlour (or Massage Parlor, for that matter). Meanwhile, Girl Friday is the name of a genuine loop from 1970, but it was made in London, England by the Mayfair Film Society and has no connection whatsoever to Ed Wood.

John Holmes in "Big John Part I."
Here, then, is a list of the first nineteen Swedish Erotica films, the ones supposedly directed by Edward D. Wood, Jr. The ones marked with asterisks are linked to online streaming videos which you can watch for free. The others link to vintage advertisements from a mail-order catalog. The hyperbolic, panting plot descriptions below come directly from those advertisements as well. Along with some purple prose, these advertising blurbs give you some idea as to the content of the loops. The casting information comes from the ALDb.

  • The Virgin Next Door (Part One)* - Starring John Holmes and Linda McDowell. "Howie has a thing going for him. He's bored a hole in the wall so he can see into the next apartment ... the apartment of a luscious, vivacious broad ... he likes to watch her undress and jerk off at the same time ... but then he becomes brave enough to visit her ... finds she is a virgin, but willing to try sex with him ... and here he teaches her all he knows with his vast resources of experience ... she takes everything to her head."
  • The Virgin Next Door (Part Two) - Starring John Holmes and Linda McDowell. "The girl, Jinny, has much to learn, and through her virgin attributes Howie is right there to eat her pussy, get her completely turned on, and to show her what else to expect from the sexual world.... She finally learns many of the techniques and devises a few of her own ... and the entire blow off of this twenty-two minute film is the cum scene whereby she uses the cum to wash her own body."
  • School Girl - Cast unknown. "While at the school library, Janice picks up her book and on the way out she meets one of her classmates. After they sit in the park, they decide to go to her apartment to do her homework. She learns more about sexology than she could ever learn at school. See these school kids in all their perverted ways in this film."
  • Western Lust* - Cast unknown. "Duke, watching this voluptuous redhead from the underbrush sneaks up on her and pulls out his weapon and forces her to his shack. At the shack, perversion and lust take over. Put this reel on your projector and see it all."
  • Love-Mates - Cast unknown. "A beautiful woman desires sweetness and tenderness in her lovemaking but lust and passion take over. Look on as she is discovered in her bath and her encounter with her love-mate. This is a film you will want to see over and over again."
  • Wet & Wild - Cast unknown. "Picture Joyce and yourself meeting and going back to her apartment together. Once there, you boy enjoy the lust and savagery that sex can offer. This is an overwhelming and exciting film you will never forget."
  • Park Lovers - Starring John Holmes. "While at the zoo, Debby meets more than she can handle. After looking at the animals her new acquaintance takes her to his apartment where animal lust swings all the way. Unknown to her, he likes it one way; and that is bottoms up."
  • Girl on a Bike* - Cast unknown. "Tina Loves riding her bike after class. Meeting new people is her thing, so hop on while she shows you what love and sex is all about. Leaving nothing to the imagination, this spicy film is a must for your collection."
  • Lusty Neighbor - Starring Cyndee Summers. "Bill, driven by forces he could not resist, goes over to his neighbor's house for a drink. Tantalized by the idea of her in the shower, he cannot control his desires. When Audrey comes down and he sees her beautiful body, it excites him to the point of no return."
  • Hollywood Starlet - Starring John Holmes. A sequel to Park Lovers. "After their meeting at the zoo last week, Debbie is anxious for another date, this time at her home and on her terms, which is to be stripped and made love to slowly and with tender loving care. One of the great action films of all time."
"Two Hot to Handle"
  • Morning Walk - Starring Luther Worth. "After giving her dog a good brushing, Ginger takes it for a morning walk. While out, she meets Mike and Sharon, who are out for a drive and invites them to her house for a visit. Once in the house, all Mike and Sharon have on their mind is to take advantage of Ginger anyway they can. This is a fantastic film and a must to the connoisseur."
  • Big John Part I - Starring John Holmes and Barbara Barton. "This is a top-notch movie where a poolman interrupts a beautiful starlet while she is taking her morning swim. The footage on this film will hold you captive until the very last frame. If you liked Part I, you'll love Part II.
  • Big John Part II - Starring John Holmes and Barbara Barton. "Part II picks up where part one leaves off. While still swimming in the morning sun, flesh and fury erupt. Look in while John and Bridget leave nothing to the imagination in this exotic film. Bright and clear close-ups make this film a winner."
  • Devil Cult - Cast unknown. "Devil cultist Peolzig captures this young virgin and while she is at the altar, her flesh is taken with lust. She was given a potion which sends her into the depths of passion where there are no bounds to the imagination. This film is a must to add to your collection."
  • Behind the Ate Ball Part I*  - Starring John Holmes and Barbara Barton. "Roger brings his naive girlfriend to his house to play a game of pool, but pool isn't the game he really has on his mind. The action is so hot and torrid, you'll need to fan your screen. This film is a must for those who love indoor sports."
  • Behind the Ate Ball Part II - Starring John Holmes and Barbara Barton. "After the game of pool, there is no place to go but into the room of mirrors where all acts are viewed from all angles. Watch her tease his big cue, and rake her fingers over his body. See this young girl ravished, and ohhhh, how she loves it."
  • 15" Commercial - Starring John Holmes and Cyndee Summers. "When Vicky & Tom turn on the TV, they find it is out of order. So Tom decides to turn on Vicky with his 15-inch commercial. Watch these two people as they satisfy their innermost needs. Watch as she goes wild after she sucks down on every incredible inch he gives her."
  • Wives at Play - Cast unknown. "Bright sun and blue water make for an outstanding background for this most unusual sensuous film. Lovemaking between three outstanding females makes for the most stimulating and exciting film ever. Unbelievably sharp close-ups that will make this film your favorite."
  • Two Hot to Handle - Starring Luther Worth. "Two young roommates out for a ride are spotted by a rugged well-hung guy who follows them home. While looking through the bathroom window, he sees the girls making it with each other in the tub. When they finally spot him, they invite him in for an evening of exciting lovemaking. This is an unusual film guaranteed to give you pleasure."
Hot and bothered yet? As you may have guessed from those descriptions up there, with their numerous references to collecting, the Swedish Erotica films were not intended for theatrical exhibition. Rather, they were aimed at erotic hobbyists with their own projectors and movie screens. You were supposed to order these films out of a catalog, have them discreetly shipped to you (in plain brown wrappers, one wonders?), and then play them in the privacy of your own home. In a way, that makes them predecessors of the infinitely-more-convenient VHS tapes of the 1980s which helped to usher in the so-called "home video era." The ability to rent rather than purchase videotapes was a major favor in their popularity, but this was not possible with the Swedish Erotica loops. These you had to buy. Obviously, the major advantage of the Swedish Erotica loops was the privacy they afforded viewers. If you screened these stag films at home, you didn't have to risk being recognized or maybe even arrested for viewing them in a public place.

The disadvantages? Well, price for one. A single Swedish Erotica reel would have cost you $50 in 1978. That's over $180 in today's money -- quite an investment. Though music has been added to the current digital versions, the original reels were totally silent, meaning that you couldn't hear the actresses' moans of ecstasy. Any expository dialogue would have to be conveyed via clumsily-added subtitles. Later Swedish Erotica films did include sound, but not the original loops made under the direction of Ed Wood. And, of course, projecting 8mm or 16mm movie reels in your own home could be a labor-intensive, frustrating process for the wannabe thrill-seeker. In order to enjoy these forbidden little films, you'd have to know how to thread and focus a film projector and pray like hell that your very expensive $50 loop didn't unravel, break, or, worse yet, melt against a white-hot projector bulb. But the series obviously had some staying power. According to the ALDb, Swedish Erotica lasted from 1973 to 1978, with additional titles produced -- seemingly by a different group of people -- in 1984.

I Am Curious (Yellow)
As near as I can tell, there is nothing particularly Swedish about the Swedish Erotica movies either. The ALDb identifies the series as US-made. The actors are manifestly American, including porn legend John Holmes, and the loops appear to have been filmed in familiar old Los Angeles. That's a good 5,327 miles away from the native land of IKEA, meatballs, and Tor Johnson. To understand the meaning of the series' title, we have to venture back almost half a century to a time when American cinema was much more prudish than it is now and when American movie-goers were chomping at the bit for some dirty thrills wherever they could find them. In the 1950s and especially the 1960s and 1970s, European art films were more frank in their depiction of human sexuality than contemporary American films, and word of this definitely reached the States. People would eagerly attend European movies and sit through the "boring parts" in the hopes of seeing a little skin. Schlock American filmmakers even talked of adding extra nudity to their own movies for the "European versions." Swedish cinema gained a particularly strong reputation for scandal in 1969 because of Vilgot Sloman's infamous I Am Curious (Yellow), which was decidedly more sexually adventurous than mainstream American films of the era. Yankee audiences flocked to the somber art film to see its much-ballyhooed full-frontal nudity and simulated sex scenes. The film's financial triumph -- a true succès de scandal --  brought on the expected legal woes, but the American distributors of I Am Curious (Yellow) managed to beat the rap in court by maintaining that the film had artistic value beyond mere titillation. Roger Ebert, for one, was unimpressed, giving the film a one-star review in the Chicago Sun-Times in September 1969 and warning his readers that Yellow was "a real dog." As for the film's censorship problems, he was unsympathetic:
"Perhaps the legal defense should have given us warning. The usual parade of literary and movie critics stood up in court and testified (A) that the movie had redeeming social merit, and (B) that, speaking as a healthy adult -- honest, judge -- it didn't do a thing for me. That's easy to believe. I Am Curious (Yellow) is not merely not erotic. It is anti-erotic. Two hours of this movie will drive thoughts of sex out of your mind for weeks. See the picture and buy twin beds."
Mr. Ebert's misgivings aside, Curious was a smasheroo which made a lasting impression in the minds of lustful moviegoers. From that point on, Sweden was synonymous with sex. And did the sleaze merchants in America take notice? You bet they did, mister! Throughout the 1970s, the word "Swedish" was opportunistically slapped on any number of softcore and hardcore erotic films: some made domestically, others imported. I again refer you to Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver (1976), in which the title character ill-advisedly takes his mortified date to see Swedish Marriage Manual (1969). And the hits kept coming: Sweden: Heaven & Hell, Love Swedish Style, Maid in Sweden, Anita: Swedish Nymphet, and more. Ed Wood's final novel from 1978? Swedish House. Reverberations of the "Swedish invasion" of the 1970s could be felt for years in pop culture. In 1991, for instance, advertisements for Old Milwaukee beer featured a group of scantily-clad, vaguely Scandinavian-looking women dubbed the Swedish Bikini Team. As late as 1993, Homer Simpson could make his wife, Marge, hysterical with grief by telling her he was going on a tour of Sweden with his barbershop quartet. Although the phenomenon may be unknown to younger Americans, "Swedes-ploitation" was a crucial part of 20th century Americana. Swedish Erotica was just one part of a much larger trend.

Speaking of larger trends, Swedish Erotica was hardly the beginning and end of Eddie's career in pornographic loops. In fact, he was incredibly, almost heroically prolific in this field. According to Bob Blackburn, co-heir of Kathy Wood's estate, Ed's personally-curated resume lists a staggering 716 movies made between 1971 and 1973 alone! These amount to 16 full pages of double columned titles. And all of this while he was turning out stories, articles, and novels by the dozens. Surprisingly, though, Bob could not find the Swedish Erotica films listed among these voluminous credits. Below, please enjoy a mini-gallery of related images which Bob has allowed me to share with you on my blog. Among these are:
  • A page of Ed's directing resume with some of his short films listed, such as Dick Claims To Be A Stud, Transplanted Lesbian, Clean It Up Good, and Bruce Of Muscle Beach. That last title seems to indicate that Eddie may have made some gay-themed loops, too.
  • A brief excerpt from a Wood-penned article about the pornographic film industry called "That's Show Biz. Note the sly double meaning of "show." (A similar pun is made in Nympho Cycler. "I'm about to show my business.")
  • A couple of pages of advertisements for loops from a 1975 issue of Ace. Bob tells me this magazine had an article by Ed entitled "A Tax on Sex."



A typical Swedish Erotica title screen.
The viewing experience: Not nearly as depressing or off-putting as I was expecting. Especially compared to the sometimes-troubling "skin flicks" Ed made with Steve Apostolof and Joe Robertson, not to mention Ed's own, somewhat unappetizing attempts at directing X-rated features, the Swedish Erotica loops are lighthearted, largely cheerful in tone, and even fairly fun to watch. The always-generous Philip R. Frey, who previously supplied my copies of The Lawless Rider and Mrs. Stone's Thing, sent me a DVD containing several of the existent Wood loops: The Virgin Next Door (both parts), School Girl, Love Mates, Park Lovers, Morning Walk, Behind the Ate Ball Part I, and 15" Commercial. So I can say I've seen about half of Ed's purported work for Swedish Erotica. I'd still like to see Devil Cult, though, as it sounds a lot like Eddie's short stories, "Hellfire" and "I, Warlock." (Both are anthologized in Blood Splatters Quickly.)

In films of this length, there is not much time for exposition or character development. And, true to form, Ed gets right down to business here. After all, the customer just spent half an hour setting up his 8mm projector and home movie screen, both of which he probably had to drag out of the hall closet. He doesn't want to wade through a lot of preliminaries. The formula for a Swedish Erotica  loop is simple: boy meets girl(s), boy has sex with girl(s), boy achieves orgasm, the end. That's about it. The indoor scenes are brightly-lit, and the exteriors are shot in broad daylight. I wonder if this was done because of the limits of home movie projectors. The ads for Swedish Erotica make a big deal of their films being sharply focused and including lots of close-ups. That's to be expected when the viewer, projectionist, and exhibitor are one and the same.

Unlike Ed's feature-length adult movies, which tend to offset the eroticism with disturbing anti-sexual content, there is no undercurrent of darkness in the Swedish Erotica loops I screened for this article. The sex is (generally) depicted as consensual and mutually enjoyable for the men and women. Traumatic rape scenes are not in evidence here. A couple of the actresses have to be coaxed -- gently, by the standards of adult films of the era -- into having potentially-painful anal sex with the famously-endowed John Holmes, but there is no violence or brutality here, as there might be in a Joe Robertson or Steve Apostolof film. Ed Wood's own predilection for necrophilia, an erotic fixation on death and the dead, is also mercifully absent in the Swedish Erotica loops. But that is not to say that these films completely lack any of Ed Wood's trademark kinks and fetishes. Several of the actresses wear the lacy, frilly nightgowns and black stockings which Ed so adored and coveted, and there are plenty of fuzzy pillows, blankets, and rugs nearby, too, which correspond neatly to Ed's lifelong love of angora and other soft materials. In one episode, furthermore, Ed Wood even includes some scratchy-looking footage of a NASA rocket taking off as a visual metaphor for an orgasm, so his penchant for stock footage was not limited to his science-fiction and horror films.

Look familiar? An owl painting in Swedish Erotica.
For Ed Wood fans, however, the most amazing detail to be found in any of the Swedish Erotica loops occurs right in the very first one: The Virgin Next Door (Part One). Before John Holmes pays a visit to neighbor Linda McDowell, he first spies on her through a hole drilled in the wall and masturbates while watching her undress. (Ed Wood does some crude, not-entirely-coherent intercutting to indicate that Holmes is fantasizing about the woman.) On Holmes' side of the wall, the hole is covered by a painting of a bull -- a properly macho symbol for this well-hung ubermensch. But on McDowell's side, there is a very familiar-looking painting of two owls, and the peeper can look through the eyes of one of the owls into the woman's bedroom. This is a device imported directly from Wood's previous feature film, Necromania: A Tale of Weird Love. From what I can see, it's the exact same prop, merely being recycled! This is crucial to me, because it indicates that Ed Wood really did direct The Virgin Next Door and, in so doing, worked with one of the most famous male porn stars of all time, John Holmes. In case you had any doubts, Holmes' famous appendage -- as impressive for its Coke-can girth as for its length -- is showcased frequently in the Swedish Erotica shorts. The phallus is clearly a star, and the director lavishes upon it the kind of admiring close-ups once afforded to Greta Garbo. As for the man to whom it is attached, Holmes appears very young and naive in these films. He was in his late twenties at the time and had only really been making X-rated films for a couple of years by then, though he'd already played his signature role, lascivious detective Johnny Wadd, at least twice by then. He is tall, thin, and almost goony-bird gawky. While some have said he looked like Leave It To Beaver's Ken Osmond, leading to a silly urban legend that Holmes actually played Eddie Haskell, the actor reminds me more of an undernourished Donald Sutherland, circa Invasion of the Body Snatchers or Animal House.

If nothing else, the Swedish Erotica films have a kind of time-machine quality to them, since the then-trendy-now-tacky decor, clothing, and hairstyles of the early 1970s are all on abundant display here, along with all the exposed flesh. Here, you will see towering bouffant hairdos, shag carpeting, avocado-colored furniture, wide collars, and unsavory-looking porn mustaches. This will sound counterintuitive to many of you, but I detect some innocence and naivete when I watch the Swedish Erotica loops. They seem to be relics of a less-savvy time in our nation's history when, in order to even watch ten minutes of uninterrupted porn at home, you had to send in fifty bucks and wait six to eight weeks for delivery!

Thanks as always to Phillip R. Frey and Bob Blackburn for their invaluable help in assembling this article.

2 comments:

  1. a beautiful picture is worth a thousand words

    Amazonas

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  2. I actually have the 8mm films Behind the Ate Ball parts One and Two, Western Lust, Lusty neighbors and Girl on a Bike. The Girl on a Bike you have linked is not the right film, it's a much later film with actor Mike Ranger. Girl on a Bike, Lusty Neighbors and Western Lust have very similar shots, weird camera angles, and they reek of wood, right down to the set dressings. For some reason, Behind the Ate Ball is a tad different because a lot of it involves the pool table, and the cum shot is repeated in both reels. Behind the Ate Ball 1&2 are already on a John Holmes compile I have called Holmes-The Wonder Years 1975-78 over at Cinefear.com . The others I will transfer and make available shortly....

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