Golden Goddesses

Golden Goddesses
Front Cover: Serena

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Graphic Thrills by Robin Bougie - Review

Eight years ago, after having been intrigued and inspired by a couple of films, my life took a sharp detour. I became a part-time writer. As my husband has jokingly pointed out on several occasions, I didn't choose to write about birds. Far from it. My subjects -- considered by some to be unprincipled and deviant, are women and men that decided to take a similar u-turn from a linear life track, to form a community of people that would eventually define the golden era of erotic films. By choosing to become a part of an erotic film society, these individuals dared to embark upon a career that was creative, rebellious, illegal, titillating and enduring. More than forty years ago, many believed that films depicting sex would not sustain the test of time, or hold infinite appeal for those outside of niche groups. No one could have predicted the longevity these films have enjoyed, or the lasting connections made between fans and the various stars. 
     The personalities and players identified and branded by the X-rated film industry have inspired not only burgeoning biographers like myself, but also professional writers, reviewers, academics, filmmakers, historians, journalists, porn archeologists, curators, preservationists, documentarians, illustrators and graphic artists. People such as my co-author and friend Jennifer Sugar, who started her own ball rolling back in 2004 when she decided to pen the very first 'serious' biography profiling a legendary porn star. There are others: Heather Drain, Ashley West, Laura Helen Marks, Jeremy Richey, Denise LaFrance, Adam Wilcox, Mike White, Rob St. Mary, April Hall, Lee Jones, Casey Scott, Steven Morowitz, Dimitrios Otis, and many more have left indelible marks by continuing to honour and pay tribute to these talented artists through various mediums. In a symbolic way, a new tribe of outcasts has risen up to reclaim, document, provide commentary and preserve the integrity and vistages of one of the most significant and compelling eras in cinematic history.
     Last year, it came to my attention that fellow Canadian, comic artist, former writer for Fox and Screw magazines and long time creator and publisher of Cinema Sewer magazine, Robin Bougie, was in the process of developing a coffee table pictorial. Bougie's project was promoted as a paperback dedicated to the X-rated theatrical movie posters designed to attract audiences to pornographic releases. With his focus centering on the golden years between 1970-1985, I was excited to see the finished product. In January of this year, GRAPHIC THRILLS American XXX Movie Posters 1970 to 1985, was published by FAB Press, located in England. I am delighted to share the news that Robin Bougie has produced a remarkable work.
     In his book's introduction, Bougie provides an engaging, informative, and thoroughly researched back story behind the evolution of the erotic film industry, which serves as an excellent Porn 101 crash course, not only for scholars, but also for those who are new to the genre. Robin has incorporated an amalgamation of insights and analyses from various people who were there, and whose recollections are invaluable. Bill Margold, Bob Chinn, Carter Stevens, Paul Johnson, Vanessa del Rio, Jody Maxwell, Veronica Vera,Shaun Costello, and several other notables from the golden era have furnished Bougie with anecdotes and dialogue, which serve to enhance the select films highlighted within the book in the provision of behind-the-scenes information and inspiration.
     The genesis and meat of the publication of course, are the film posters. Each page is a glorious gift, an artistically crafted and beautifully illustrated original artwork. Layouts are themed to articulate sensual and sexual promise using succinct and inventive designs. The exquisitely decorated posters, shown in vibrant colour, practically swallow an entire page. Bougie has supplemented accompanying text; his own evaluation of the films portrayed, often incorporating explanations and offerings supplied by his interviewees to augment the synopses.
     The posters' titles and subtitles deftly communicate an atmosphere of passion and pleasure, insinuating insatiable odysseys and erotic journeys in the company of bad girls, dirty boys, nymphos, girls-next-door, studs, well endowed ladies and well hung men. All parties appear eager and ready to embark on an unforgettable and arousing adventure enticing observers to come along for the ride.
     These are the overriding messages emblazed and embedded within the imagery of the original artwort that mostly depicts sexy, scantily dressed curvaceous women (sometimes, but not always, the stars themselves) beckoning movie goers to dare to go beyond the realm of sexual boundaries.
     Some of the art designs for the films are more subtle, with illustrations of sensual, sinewy female figures peeking out seductively from behind a veil or reclining in a suggestive pose, intimating an aura of mystique and mystery as the unsuspecting and curious awaits. Other images are more explicit, forgoing all pleasantries to encourage movie goers to get down and dirty, along with the stars. 
     Interestingly, but not surprising, is Bougie's revelation that many of the original artists --those affiliated with the movie posters and/or films are unknown or deceased. Others were uninterested or unwilling to be approached to offer their stories or impressions about their involvment with the productions. That's unfortunate, but the concern to potentially comprise one's reputation by going public about having participated in the evolution of an industry still considered taboo by society is consistent with what many authors, documentarians and historians have found. Paradoxically, the forbidden element and renegade allure associated with golden age filmmakers and adult performers stimulates fans, and provides a muse for writers and artists alike.
     "Graphic Thrills" is a major contribution and undertaking. The amount of work, put forth by Bougie in order to bring this project to fruition is commendable and worthwhile. It is obvious from spending time with the publication that a book of this magnitude could not have materialized if it weren't for Bougie's own dedication, respect and passion for the era that is concisely and visually portrayed in the book. I would encourage those with even a glimmer of interest in this fascinating and compelling cinematic period, or with a genuine appreciation of exceptional art expression exemplifying two revolutionary decades of film, to order a copy of "Graphic Thrills." 
     Signed copies of the limited hardcover edition of the book can be purchased here: FAB Press The softcover version can be purchased here: Graphic Thrills Amazon This is the link for Robin's online store: Cinema Sewer
     Congratulations, Mr. Robin Bougie.