Film can be a wonderful teacher. Through the medium we can learn all about different aspects of human nature and behaviour. As you can imagine, as a young teenager the sex part of this proved particularly intriguing to me.
There was enough proper porn to educate my friends and I during the school holidays (thanks largely to someone’s dad who possessed a Larry Flynt-esque volume of shoddy, mostly unwatchable Betamax and VHS), but those weren’t the sort of films you could borrow for home use. I watched the mainstream products to educate myself, although there were a few distractions along the way:
I remember my sister, around six at the time, walking in on the scene with Richard Dreyfus banging the maid (rather enthusiastically I may add) in Down and Out in Beverly Hills. Being in my early teens, it was still an awkward age for me to try and explain what was happening on screen, although any worries soon dissipated as my sister quickly deduced that the two were in- fact 'doing exercises' to which I wholeheartedly agreed.
My dad once recorded Rita, Sue & Bob Too for me to watch when I was 13. I don’t know if this was some kind of half-hearted attempt on his behalf to stealthfully introduce me to the old birds and bees, or maybe he just genuinely thought his son would like to see what grubby sex could look like. Whatever his intentions, it was certainly an eye-opener. I’ve actually grown to really appreciate and embrace this film (anyone who says they don’t like it is being snobby) but the disturbing image of Bob’s ass frantically bobbing up and down, mid-coitus in the front seat of his Ford Cortina, has been forever seared into my brain. This was made by the late revered British film-maker Alan Clarke and it’s still the funniest and most realistic depiction of sex I’ve seen in a film.
If there was ever a need for a remote control which could magically rewind or fast-forward events in the actual real world, it would have been particularly useful for one evening in my childhood when I settled down to watch Risky Business with my Mum present. To give you an idea of how young I was, I didn’t think to read the synopsis in the Radio Times and it was probably past my bedtime anyway. I’m not even sure my Mum knew what was on until she peered up from her newspaper about 20 minutes in to witness The Cruiser groping an semi-naked Rebecca De Mornay from behind, and then shluping her in all different positions and areas around his parent’s house, including the oak staircase.
It was one of those moments when any sign of movement on my behalf would have acknowledged the acute and overbearing embarrassment I was feeling. I think I actually held my breath for a couple of minutes before limply excusing myself. Was my Mum unaware of the torture that I was going through at that moment? - probably not. Situations like that are much more heightened when you’re at that age.
I think I was around the age of 14 when my parents (with my Mum's involvement this time) handed me a copy of an old (and very dated) 60’s sex farce called Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush they’d recorded off telly the night before. It had been a film they had watched as a young couple (shudder) and for some reason, I guess they felt that this was something I might learn from or maybe it was their way of providing some kind of anthropological snapshot of their own teenage years. Whatever they intended, the film wasn’t sexy nor enlightening. It was shit.