History's most artistic porn movies

In honor of a Tribeca spoof about an adult-industry artiste, one local XXX director names the highbrow smut that inspires her.

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Tribeca Film Festival movie reviews

Candida Royalle, a self-described "pioneer of sensuality," broke into the flesh-on-film trade in the halcyon days of the mid-'70s when, she says, pornography was more about "exploring art by exploring sexual imagery." After appearing in about two dozen dirty flicks herself, Royalle stepped behind the camera to create couple's erotica—titillating tales that appeal sufficiently to women so that they might be welcomed into the bedroom instead of banished to a seedy basement.

When we read about this year's Tribeca entry The Auteur, about an Italian porn director with lofty artistic aspirations, Royalle seemed the perfect lady to ask about real-life blue movies that have distinguished themselves aesthetically.

1 The Opening of Misty Beethoven (Dir. Radley Metzger): "Metzger did some really beautiful work in the late '70s and early '80s, which was considered the golden age of adult films. He worked under the name Henry Paris, and Misty Beethoven was his most famous title. I remember seeing a show recently in San Francisco where they'd assembled unusual clips from what they felt were better adult movies. Some of Metzger's stuff was in there, and it was really quite impressive."

2 Blonde Ambition (Dirs. John and Lem Amero): "This was a hysterical effort by the Amero brothers, two gay guys who did straight porn. It was a takeoff on the early Marilyn Monroe, Jane Russell type of movies that was just unusual and funny. They had a scene where these two people were on roller skates making love. It was a riot."

3 Dinner Party (Dir. Cameron Grant): "There have been sequels like Dinner Party 2 and 3, but it’s the original you want; the scenes are really beautiful. There’s one scene between these two women in the kitchen where they just put food all over each other and it's so pretty and erotic. The other scene that really stands out introduced me to an actor named Mark Davis, whom I proceeded to put in about three of my movies. The scene just depicts this man standing alone, and all this water is flowing down and he's caressing himself. When we watched it, me and my friend Patti were swooning like teenage girls."

4 The Dog Walker (Dir. John Leslie): Like me, Leslie was an actor in the late '70s and early '80s who went on to become a very well-known adult-film director. Some of his stuff is very rough and extreme, but he’s really one of the smarter, more talented guys. This one is filmed like a war movie. I remember one scene with this pretty blond woman—she had short pixie hair and looked very cool, not like your typical porno bimbo. She and this beautiful black man see each other thru a window and proceed to make love through a pane of glass. Very sexy."

5 The Search (Dir. Annie Sprinkle): "I had a series called ‘The Star Director Series,’ in which I invited a group a women to direct for me. One of those was directed by my friend Annie Sprinkle. It's a short story about this very slutty girl who discovers tantric sex. It’s got humor and great editing, and the erotic scene is about as far from the typical formula as you can get. She meets this master and he teaches her how to breathe with him and do all these things to go through the process of sex. It’s almost as if they’re floating in space."

6 Central Escape (Dir. Candida Royalle): "I have to include one of mine, of course! But it's really artistic, I'm not kidding. It's actually two short stories, one of which, ‘The Tunnel,’ was actually shot at the Tunnel, the old nightclub downtown. It's an interesting film, with music by Gary Windo, who had worked with the Psychedelic Furs and all these other people. The scenes are hardly even explicit, just spacey and different."

The Auteur screens at the Tribeca Film Festival starting Apr 25.

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ragun
ragun

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