As previously noted, us girls got no Swank. So, how did we first stumble upon sex, if not in the pages of a mislaid porno mag? If memory serves, we had to go looking for it – and look we did, so desperate were we for a glimpse of what this world was like. Some random recollections:
Wifey (Age:10) – The adult novel by Judy “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret” Blume, and the most popular book in Mrs. Posivy’s grade six homeroom class. Explicit, to be sure, but also profoundly depressing, as its protagonist is a married mother of two who has a wrenching mid-life crisis, and, predictably, a series of dour extra-marital affairs. All I remember is one awful passage: “Wifey” starts to bleed during a particularly rough sexual encounter with her husband, and although she derives absolutely no pleasure from the act, she positively revels in the guilt her husband feels afterwards. Ugh, no thanks.
China Girl (Age:12) – The year was 1983, the album was Let’s Dance, and the song was inescapable. There were two versions of the video: one for music television, which was heavily edited, and one for nightclub play, which was not. Both featured the politically confused spectacle of David Bowie’s obsession with the “China Girl” of the song’s title, but one featured a little something extra: an homage to the love scene between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in From Here to Eternity, complete with setting sun, rolling surf, and Bowie’s fully naked ass. Ahh, that’s better.
The Hunger (Age: 13) – Bowie again, this time in a vampiric ménage a trois with Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon. In my view, this film should be required viewing for every sexually curious thirteen-year old girl, for obvious reasons. The film also featured Bauhaus performing “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” a scene that inspired both my appreciation of the band’s music and my rampant lust for its lead singer, Peter Murphy. File that one under "guilty pleasures."
Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles (Age:14) – Again with the vampires. Lots of neck-biting, strong hints of male bisexuality, and a subtle thread of female voyeurism. Not exactly hardcore, but when the only alternative is Chris Makepeace grinning like an idiot in the pages of Playgirl, you’ll take it.
Betty Blue (Age:15) – Jean-Jacques Beineix’s wildly-acclaimed film, based on the novel 37°2 le matin, about a relationship between a frustrated writer and his certifiably crazy admirer. Notably, this was one of the first erotic European films to get past the newly rechristened Ontario Film Review Board (formerly, the Ontario Censor Board) intact, as well as an entire generation’s first encounter with filmed sexual intercourse. Of course, after Betty gets herself off, she is for some reason compelled to gouge out her own eyeball, which rather dampens the mood. Still, the sex scenes were good, and the music was infinitely more tolerable than the dreck that accompanies most porn videos.
OK, so it ain’t Swank, but it was the best that was on offer at the time.