Sunday, 29 May 2016

Soft Porn Sunday: Valerie Baber & Luke Anthony

Despite the things I love about soft porn (and I do love soft porn; despite any indications to the contrary, I really do!), there are problems with it - as there are with any porn, or any form of media. While I prefer it over mass-produced porn for many reasons, one problem that persists with soft porn is that it can be incredibly sexist.

Yeah, porn can be sexist. Someone call the media.

In softcore, it works both ways. Stories with male protagonists often objectify men by showing them as brainless, but loveable, adventure types with muscles that could be used as a washboard, and women as feisty but ultimately submissive, with a strong knowledge of blowjobs involving hair and thighs that could double as a nutcracker. Those with female protagonists often take the latter and make them more savvy, more self-assured and witty, reducing men to the role of wiser older guy, comic foil, fish-out-of-water-with-whom-to-have-sex or villain.

Whichever way you have it, at least one gender ends up slightly belittled, and shows that have it either way (Bedtime Stories and Co-Ed Confidential leap to mind; I genuinely can't think of any others) are rare. Add that to the fact that you get very little LGBTQIA+ representation (every single female character being bisexual probably doesn't count...) and there's something of an ethical pickle one can get into when talking about this sort of thing.

Which is what I'm doing.

Among the softcore pantheon that does the thing in a slightly more inclusive way is the Emmanuelle series, although in many cases it also tends to mess up. The original Emmanuelle series has its moments, but I think the male characters are too strong. Emmanuelle 2000 has plenty of admirable female protagonists, but all the men are stupid (even in Emmanuelle Pie, in which the narrator is a young guy); one wonders why anyone at all would want to have sex with them. In fact, the ones with most balance tend to be Emmanuelle in Space (where they're aliens, so their brainlessness is justified and adorable) and Emmanuelle Through Time (which is a comedy). Mostly, though, for a feminist series (feminist insofar as the main character is an independent, hedonistic female - it doesn't go any further than that), there isn't a lot of equality in Emmanuelle, mostly at the expense of men, who are often seen once, have sex and then never spoken of again.

Or get turned into vampires.

Appearance: Emmanuelle vs. Dracula (2004)
Characters: Jennifer & Bruce

This is the first of two Emmanuelle films featuring vampires (the other is Sexy Bite, which comes later, although they are both by the same writer). This is from the lower-budget end of the scale - Emmanuelle's Private Collection - and it's... well, it's not good. It's not the worst, but it's... not... good. It's not even fun - well, some bits are, but very few. It doesn't even have the weird snake goddess from the previous film in the series.

But, yeah, vampires.

He's a vampire.
So. This scene takes place quite late in the film. There isn't a lot of sex in the first half; there's a plot, of sorts: Emmanuelle (Natasja "there's a paycheque in this somewhere" Vermeer) is attending the hen night of her best friend Lucy (Mollie "how did I end up in this film" Green). While the rest of the friends - Mary, Susan and Jennifer - bicker and laugh at inopportune moments, savvy (and suddenly psychic! WTF?!) Emmanuelle manages to notice that Ernesto Perdomo's character - "Robertson", allegedly a stripper, although real strippers turn up later - is in fact a vampire, and proceeds to do absolutely nothing about it, even when he manages to turn Lucy, Mary, Susan and Jennifer into vampires - and even then she has to have sex with Dracula (who turns up at the end) before staking him through the heart!

What is this, True Blood?

For an Emmanuelle film, there really is a lack of simulated penetrative sex in this one. There's a fair amount of nudity; some odd fashback bits; there's even attempted lesbian fumbling. But, in terms of full sex scenes, there are two.

Red like blood! Blood for the vampire!
Jennifer's sex scene with Bruce takes its time to manifest. She leaves the living room with Bruce (who's an actual male stripper, although he's a man, so he's been turned by this point) at 48:21, despite Emmanuelle's warnings, which don't quite amount to "he's probably a vampire!". At 49: 23, they eventually find their way to a bed, at which point Jennifer says, "if I'd have known this was what private dancers were like I'd have started ordering them a long time ago!" - probably the best line in the movie. There's some disrobing behind a lace curtain and kissing with FANGS ON SHOW (because he's a vampire), plus some occasional boobs for him to caress (and suck on, because he's a vampire), but it's not until 51:39 that we actually get the start of the scene.

That's three minutes and a half before the sex starts. Shocking.

Once it gets going, though, it's actually okay. Jennifer has an odd, but kind of sultry, voice while Bruce is a vampire. There's more kissing and showing off but, quite soon after that, something approaching sex happens, Bruce lying on top of Jennifer with her legs wrapped around his hips (a good indicator). While it is true that we don't get to see a lot apart from their top halves - sex for the YouTube generation! - he eventually kisses down her chest, giving us some boob shots, and by 56:19 he's happily thrusting away, Jennifer making some nice sex noises incorporating giggles, moans and the sound you make when you're clearing your throat.

Make the most of it; you won't see any more than this.

From that point in, it intensifies. We got some full-body shots of the two of them, more vocalisations from Jennifer (nothing from Bruce, though, because he's a vampire) and even a couple of staccato pushes-forward on his part accompanied by a strangled cry from Jennifer - very nicely done! This is followed by a jumple of mix shots of limbs and other body parts, overlaid by a "generic sex noises" soundtrack. It ends at 57:49, where - SPOILER although not really a spoiler - he bites her and she gets turned into a vampire.

Because he's a vampire.

48:21 to 57:49. Nine-and-a-half-minute sex scene? Have my prayers been answered?

Boo! Er... boobs.
Well, no, because he's a vampire, and vampires don't answer prayers. The entire sex scene here is intercut with temporary vistas of what's happening to the other girls. Lucy, who's a vampire, is attempting to turn Emmanuelle; Susan is being caressed randomly by the other stripper, who's also a vampire, and Mary is having sex with Robertson, who - as I may have established - is a vampire. I'm focusing on Jennifer here for the simple reason that she's hot, and the fact that Baber is attempting something approaching acting makes me a little more invested in her storyline than that of the dreamlike Emmanuelle or glam-rock outcast Robertson.

There really isn't much more to this. Everyone becomes a vampire, Emmanuelle kills Robertson, at which point Dracula rocks up; Emmanuelle has sex with Dracula, and then kills him; everyone turns back into a human and nobody remembers a thing.

At which point Bobby comes out of the shower talking about how terrible a nightmare he had.

While Valerie Baber is very attractive and Luke Anthony is a vampire, I do honestly think they could have done more with their sex scene than have them behind a veil and intercut with other, less appealing, sex scenes. The music that accompanies Jennifer's squeaks and moans is straight out of an 80s video game: repetitive, good background noise but with nothing to really recommend it. You genuinely can't see much, which is frustrating, because there is a lot to be said for the hot peripheral character without clothes on. Short though it may be without all the cutaways, I'd much prefer to see a full sex scene with one character followed by another one with another character. This is just annoying!

So is this a scene I'd recommend? Well, I kind of would, were it not for the rest of the film that's wrapped around it. It is, however, perhaps the best sex scene featuring vampires in the Emmanuelle canon (that's a more impressive statement than it sounds...), so it has that to its credit. And, after all, by 2004 Emmanuelle's done everything else. Dracula was probably next on an ever-diminishing list.

Bruce is a vampire.

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