Pornography is abundant on the internet, that’s no secret – but what’s harder to find is quality soft core erotica.
Personally I’ve always been a bigger fan of the tease these films and shows present. The breathless titillation of the ultimate climax. The kind that you find late at night on Cinemax and HBO and the like – and perhaps it’s because it was all I had during my formative sexual years. Back then, the internet was in it’s infancy and outside of magazines and pornography (which was all held out of reach for most teenagers) – there were few other places to see naked women or sexual situations other than these late night films on the crazy high cable channels.
These shows and films were rarely well produced. Most very exploitative, but all sharing an important thread by design – the tease of nudity and sexual situations stretched over the course of the media. The buy in for these are always high. They’re story driven and padded, and thus nigh-intolerable by today’s society where media is served through instant gratification. Anything you want, you can dial into a search and see instantly. I’m not sure if a young audience has the patience to watch something through for the pay off when they can just see a page of Gifs of the reveal instantly. What’s lost in that translation though, is the sexual rise these can give. It’s the difference between watching a well crafted, sexy, and hilarious burlesque routine and having a fully naked woman come out on stage and strike a pose – then leave when you’re finished looking at her. There’s more than just a loss of entertainment in that exchange. There’s the loss of dignity of the performer. It renders the woman (or man) nothing but an object for sexual gratification and nothing else. It’s easy to lose sight of, especially in the world of today’s media – the societal normalizing of objectification. But perhaps it just takes to bring about change is educating folks to make them realize the sexual power of the performance of long-form tease.
That’s where I come in.
Marc Levie Visuals is a (now nigh-defunct) production company that crafted a series of short erotic films under the banner of Série Galante. For films shot between 1989 and 1998, they are remarkably modern in format. Each is only 8 minuets long – a rather perfect internet video length. They all are nigh silent films – and although technically “foreign” they don’t need subtitles and can be enjoyed by any viewer. Most are lavishly produced with full sets and costumes and the like – as the hook of the series is that they all take place in a nebulous 1920’s timeframe. But what really sets these films apart, is the stories each produce.
All are humorous stories in which women sometimes lose their clothes – but what makes these films remarkable is that the women NEVER LOSE THEIR DIGNITY. These are all stories of bold and beautiful women that are clever, smart, and commanding. These women take what they want, buck the norms of society, or justly fight back. These are all charming and sexy and passionate films that are both exhilarating and joy to watch.
Take for example the rather simple comedy setup of Don’t Touch.
In this piece, the lead is a Paper Girl – a wall paper hanger. It goes about as smoothly a Laurel and Hardy misadventure, but what’s cool is that although she ends up losing every last stitch of clothing, she does so mostly to make makeshift tools to aid in her escape from her sticky traps.
As you can see – although the film lacks a direct male gaze, even in it’s last moments she’s spared a bit of dignity thanks to her hat.
Another great example of the Série Galante films is Le Chasseur et la Baigneuse.
In this gorgeous piece, the lead this time is shared between the voyeuristic gaze of a hunter, and an unwitting bathing beauty.
What makes this one so cool to me, is that the man isn’t shown as overtly buffoonish, and the woman is shown as compassionate and runs to the aid of the man (even in her embarrassing state) and ultimately gets even for the man’s peeping and theft.
La Jolie Bricoleuse is another piece that features no direct male gaze, but what I like about it is that the female lead bucks the trope of the helpless girl.
As you can see she alone is driving her own car, and when it breaks down, she tries to repair it herself – instead of flagging down a man to do it for her.
In Ballerina, the lead IS the lead in a production of Swan Lake. Unfortunately for her, on the night of a packed house, a pair of jealous ballerinas rig her costume to tear.
What I love the most about this one, is that the lead is never shown as a jerk or an enemy that’s getting her “just deserts” for her misdeeds. And what’s more, she faces her jealous pranksters, bravely pushes away embarrassment, and just says “fuck it” – tearing away her entire costume and then being the best damn ballerina ever. Even the crowd applauds her badassness!
Cabine is another masterful piece that blends humor and sexiness to it’s utmost. It’s my favorite of the series, and it’s the same for most who watch it. The plot of this is simple – the female lead is out for a day of fun at the beach, when a young boy makes off with her clothes after she disrobes in a changing cabin.
Not only is this ride the sexy thrill of wondering how she’ll escape the embarrassment of being caught nude outside of the cabin, but she never gives up. She is shown as clever and ingenious, crafting plot after plot to escape – and ultimately escapes with her head held high.
These films are so damned sexy, and I’m glad they exist in a way that allows new generations to watch them with ease. There were 27 (I think) in all – and most are online.
I’ll update this post with more of the episodes as I can find them, as well as links to DVD printings if any exist.
Until next time, stay sexy.