Monthly Archives: September 2008

What makes European erotic films of the seventies “euro chic” variety particularly interesting …

Giulio Romano 3


Monamour, fresco footage at :10

“I had never heard of Tinto Brass until the late 1970s when I read an interview he gave to Gideon Bachmann in The London Times (Wednesday, 3 August 1977, p. 13). His remarks sufficiently intrigued me to begin a decades-long search, a search that for many years turned up almost nothing apart from tantalizing articles in trade papers. Since the autumn of 2000, though, thanks to friends in Italy, on-line overseas shopping, and eBay, I’ve been able to locate a fair number of Brass’s creations. I had been expecting at least a few of his earlier films to be excellent, but I wasn’t expecting them to be quite as good as they actually turned out to be. –RJBuffalo, a pseudonym of Ranjit Sandhu

This I read in the early 2000s when I discovered the site, a site hosted at Yahoo/Geocities, of which the author says it was “deleted without notice or explanation. They deleted all my email messages too.” I believe him. Yahoo did the same to my site in 2004.

Last week, I found the same site, back online, now hosted under its own domain name,, a pleasure for the eye and the brain.

Brass is one of Jahsonic’s canonical filmmakers. Researching him today brought footage of Monamour, in which Marta visits a museum, I presume in Mantua and admires  scatological (see comment 1) frescoes by – again I presume – by Giulio Romano in – presuming further – the Palazzo del Te.

Giulio Romano

Palazzo del Te frescoes

Giulio Romano 2

Palazzo del Te fresco (detail)

As Sholem Stein has noted: “What makes European erotic films of the seventies “euro chic” variety particularly interesting is the fact that Europe has the scenery, and the best cinematic euro chic erotomaniacs (Tinto Brass, Just Jaeckin, etc…) have put it to use. There is a reason why Radley Metzger came to Europe in the seventies to film his softcore visual extravaganzas.”

Cinema of Obsession

[FR] [DE] [UK]

Researching Dominique Mainon of the previous post brought up Cinema of Obsession: Erotic Obsession and Love Gone Wrong, which came out at Limelight Editions in 2007. An instance of thematic literary criticism studying l’amour fou and other cases of obsessive love.

Of the cover images I can only identify La dolce vita. The bottom right photo is of Barbara Steele, I’m sure, but which film? The man behind the camera is not Peeping Tom, I think. Anyone up for identifying the other films?

New @ Creation Books

Future Fiction is an imprint about to be launched by Creation Books.

Its earliest releases will include Hillary Raphael Ximena and Clarah Averbuck Cat Life.


Unidentified cover photo to Hillary Raphael‘s Ximena

Regular Creation Books author Stephen Barber calls Ximena “a sensational new delicacy” and Dominique Mainon says it’s, “a sublime journey”. Clarah Averbuck‘s Cat Life will be the Brazilian author’s first translation into English.

Romy Schneider @ 70 and spiked fences

Spiked fence on the Herbouvillekaai

Spiked fence on the Herbouvillekaai


Spiked fence on the Herbouvillekaai

Spiked fence on the Herbouvillekaai

Spiked fence on the Herbouvillekaai

A tribute to Romy Schneider.
Music by Eric Satie, “Gnossienne No. 5,” played by Pascal Rogé

You are very young and it is a Sunday afternoon. Your parents pass off one of the films in the Sissi trilogy to you as a guilty pleasure.

The “spiked fence” scene is at 4:27

You’re older now. You see a spiked fence in the Hitchcock/Dali film Spellbound. You are – of course – unaware of the Dali connection.

You’re seventeen. Your mother tells you the sad story of Romy Schneider who killed herself after her son David-Christopher had accidentally been killed by trying to climb over a spiked fence.

The”spiked fence” scene is at 2:38

Still older. The spiked fence again. This time in The Virgin Suicides.

Romy Schneider would have been 70 today. Her son 41. Click the images to see the YouTube footage.

One of the most hateful and disagreeable female characters in fiction


Bette Davis is Mildred Rogers

As noted in a previous post[1] I’ve been reading Of Human Bondage last week. I was particularly piqued by the female protagonist Mildred Rogers, a thoroughly unsympathetic character. One contemporary critic described her as one of the “most hateful and disagreeable female characters in fiction.” After finishing reading (I cried big tears towards the end) I wanted to find out if Mildred was inspired by a real-life love of Maugham, which is only fair given that the novel is auto-billed as semi-autobiographical.

Darragh O’Donoghue over at Senses of Cinema has provided me with a clue on how Maugham achieved such accuracy in describing the bleakness of the human condition in Of Human Bondage, pointing to Maugham’s homosexuality.

“The character of Mildred, according to Maugham’s intimates, was an amalgam of rent boys and lovers: she is often described in masculine terms, while descriptions of female sexuality are coloured with disgust; the narrative of cross-class, unconsummated, elusive desire can be read as a story of thwarted gay love. Some of this is retained in the film, such as the contrast between “abnormal” (because physically maimed), “sensitive” Philip and the raucous sexuality of his friend Griffiths (Reginald Denny), to whom he effectively pimps Mildred, unable to bed either of them.” —Darragh O’Donoghue [2]

Why is it, and I believe I asked this before, that gay men and to a lesser extent women, are so proficient in painting the human condition. Is it because their lenses aren’t “pinked” by images of “knights in shining armor” and parenthood. For examples see for example films like Ozon‘s Water Drops on Burning Rocks and Fassbinder‘s The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant.

The Human Bondage wikipedia article provides another clue:

“Maugham’s homosexual leanings also shaped his fiction, in two ways. Since, in life, he tended to see attractive women as sexual rivals, he often gave the women of his fiction sexual needs and appetites, in a way quite unusual for authors of his time. Liza of Lambeth, Cakes and Ale and The Razor’s Edge all featured women determined to service their strong sexual appetites, heedless of the result. Also, the fact that Maugham’s own sexual appetites were highly disapproved of, or even criminal, in nearly all of the countries in which he travelled, made Maugham unusually tolerant of the vices of others. Readers and critics often complained that Maugham did not clearly enough condemn what was bad in the villains of his fiction and plays. Maugham replied in 1938: “It must be a fault in me that I am not gravely shocked at the sins of others unless they personally affect me.”

Aside from these attempts at analyses, I cannot recommend Maugham’s writing (my first exposure was the filmed version of The Razor’s Edge by Jahsonic fave John Byrum when I was in Portugal in the mid eighties) highly enough. Maugham missed critical acclaim by his contemporaries because he wrote in a time when experimental modernist literature such as that of William Faulkner, Thomas Mann, James Joyce and Virginia Woolf was gaining increasing popularity and winning critical acclaim. In this context, his plain prose style was criticized as “such a tissue of clichés that one’s wonder is finally aroused at the writer’s ability to assemble so many and at his unfailing inability to put anything in an individual way” (Edmund Wilson, quoted in Vidal, 1990). Another author who equally suffered (but not at the box office), was George Gissing, the hero of The Intellectuals and the Masses.

Charlotte Roche on wetlands and damp areas

Feuchtgebiete by Charlotte Roche

Stern read it.

Feuchtgebiete by The Infatuated

It’s waiting to be read (and translated)

Feuchtgebiete by herruwe

She’s reading it too.

Feuchtgebiete is Charlotte Roche‘s debut novel. Semi-autobiographical, it was first published in German in 2008 by DuMont and was the world’s best-selling novel in March 2008. For supporters it is a piece of erotic literature; for critics it is cleverly marketed pornography.

The title, which might be translated as “wetlands” or “damp areas,” here refers to a woman’s nether regions, i.e. her vagina and anus.

Charlotte Roche is featured in this clip:


Tip of the hat to Ineke Van Nieuwenhove, the Belgian journalist who recently did an article for Goedele on plastic surgery for vulvas, less-well-known as labiaplasty.

Gratuitous nudity #11 and Icon of Erotic Art #32

sophie dahl by modelvancouver

Sophie Dahl, i-D, 1997

Sophie Dahl first came to my attention with her Opium (perfume) ad[1].

Today, following a link that started[2] at Trevor Brown‘s blog, which celebrated Takashi Itsuki‘s acrotomophiliac eroticism, which backlinked[3] to the new magazine Coilhouse (amazing new magazine, started as a blog in Aug 2007), I arrived at the photography of Nick Knight. On his site, one finds this image[4] (first published in i-D, 1997), which frankly, leaves me sick with desire. Just what is it that brings on this sickness? It’s the softness of her skin, the presumed quality of her fatty tissue, the pot belly and the pear-shaped breasts. And the nails. Amen.

This is a first for my series, where an image is both an instance of gratuitous nudity and an Icon of Erotic Art.

Jean-François Bizot (1944 – 2007)

Remembering Jean-François Bizot

The obituary to Hector Zazou led to my much belated discovery that French tastemaker Jean-François Bizot died one year ago on the same day as Zazou (that’s how I found out). If your new to Bizot, and you have money to spare, go to an online shop and buy the book Underground, l’histoire and the accompanying cd Underground Moderne.

On Zazou, Bizot said:

“In England they have Peter Gabriel, in America they have David Byrne, in France we have Hector Zazou.” See my theory of equivalents and synchronicity.

David Byrne’s obituary of Bizot.

“Later, in the 80s, [Bizot] and some others started Radio Nova. At various periods, it might have been the best radio station in the world. No joke. They played alt-rock before there was such a thing, Raï, African pop music, Chanson, Latin American music, hip hop, and experimental music. We all wanted to hear it, and this was where we could. Finally.”[1]

The Independent‘s obituary.

Jean-François Bizot had an enormous influence on the cultural life of France over the past 40 years. Between 1970 and 1975, and again between 1979 and 1994, he was at the helm of the counter-culture monthly Actuel. This started out as a French take on the underground press, not too far removed from the Village Voice and the Los Angeles Free Press in the US, or Oz and the International Times in the UK, but eventually evolved into required reading not so much for the hippies as for the hip crowd.”[2]

From the CD Underground Moderne (with YouTube links where available)