The Good Old Naughty Days
We just got back from seeing The Good Old Naughty Days (link is to imdb Polissons et galipettes). For those of you who don't already know it, the film is 12 shorts of silent 1920's (mostly) porn. It's hard viewing.
You might recognize the actors in the films as family members of the, well, usually, mostly, women of the "naughty" postcards you can buy at the beach. Actually, given the dog on human sex short, naughty seems a little understated, but anyway. I was struck by how vulnerable, how fragile they looked. For the most part, the actors are thin -- WWI/WWII thin -- and lacking in contemporary bone density and muscle. Even where there is significant abdominal fat, the women seem fragile and bony on the rest of their bodies -- their fat is an odd add-on feature of their midriffs, not, for example, of their faces or arms. This fragility was emphasized by the jerky cinematography -- yeah, I know, it's a feature of all films of the era.
The sex acts were hard viewing because of the jerky touches, too. Imagine sex at the speed and with the quality of those early silents. Part of their comedy was the awkwardness of the movement. Fucking and tea drinking shared the same jerky, flat quality. But "awkward," as the film itself calls its shorts, has a whole different feel in porn: It didn't look like anything they did could possibly have felt as amazing as the acting suggested it was supposed to -- an effect of the cinematography? almost certainly, Particularly when it came to the anal pleasure moments; the kind of knuckle jerking, stabbing swivel the ladies practiced on their men looked like a neat but uncomfortable maneuver.
I was surprised about how little has changed in our imaginings of what seems erotic and desirable -- mainstream porn seems to be a direct continuation of this stuff. Designed for the straight male gaze, the films had a clear formula: girl-on-girl (spank, lick, spank, nipple twist, suck, finger, tongue -- the only sex toy for a woman was in an animated short). Girls interrupted/caught/joined by guy. Massive penises galore. Oral sex. Fucking and then cum shots. Some ironic humour about ED and also, surprisingly, a fair number of guy-on-guy moments, considering this is het-cis porn. The massager that brought one of the older guys to an erection (at last! he can cum again!) looked interesting. The men looked like they enjoyed it; the women frequently looked bored or blank.
Notable absences: the women performed oral sex on the men and on each other, but I didn't see the men fucking the women in the mouth. Penetration was either vaginal or anal or both, depending on the scene: the more actors the better? the riskier? the hotter? And unsurprisingly: no recognition of any other kind of sexuality as existing in its own right: any lesbian or gay sex was quickly "corrected" with the participants reverting to straight sex almost immediately. There was an Asian fantasy, full of the usual Orientalizing stereotypes (based on the Madame Butterfly story), but no Africa-themed plot.
The Wizard and I talked about the risks of being a porn actor/actress in those times. Not only was contemporary culture absolutely disapproving, there must have been a pretty high risk of pregnancy (the social shame could have been hard to navigate) and STI.
Who were these beautiful, fragile people? How did they get involved with these films? What did they think about what they were doing? DId they perform elsewhere on stage? Were they sexworkers? Or did they just slip back into ordinary anonymous lives?