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November 10, 2013

Movie Review: The Sexualist (1973) + Wendy's Place (1971)

Directed by Kemal Horulu

Review by Greg Goodsell

This double bill of Seventies pornography – one hard, the other soft, is the best such pairing by Vinegar Syndrome yet. The Sexualist, which also went under the far wordier title of The Sexualist: A Voyage to the World of Forbidden Love, shows unprecedented ambition for a film of this type. The action is up close and very personal, but it has a bit more on its agenda than poontang. Wendy's Place? Not so much.

To begin the review proper: The Sexualist details the efforts of an overbearing hippie porno film director Jeffrey Montclair (Dale T. Fuller) to make an astrological skin flick. Pompous narration over hardcore footage describes the various leanings of certain men and women of astrological bent are then presented in time-treasured “white coater” fashion. We learn that Taurus women “make great business executives” amid all the people making nookie nookie. The chief story involves iconic porno performer Jennifer Welles. growing dissatisfaction with the project at hand. She picks up and seduces rich brat Shana O'Neal pedaling 52 miles to New York from Staten Island – who in turn is then cast in the porno film. That's it for real plot, as The Sexualist meanders all over the place with terribly unfunny comedic skits.

The film is very politically incorrect. Welles berates a black male porno performer with racial epithets. A subplot involves a homosexual gorilla (guy in a suit) who can't perform in the film-within-a film's bestiality scene. Two garish drag queens beat the odds and have nothing witty or ironic to say in a lengthy scene. Rivalry erupts between Welles and O'Neal, so O'Neal hightails it out of there with Welles' porno novel writing brother, and Welles gets to do her “big scene” – in an abrupt ending typically NEVER found in adult movies.

The Sexualist was probably as good as hardcore pornography got back then: there's Jennifer Welles, Tina Russell in a small role, some laughs, a knee-jerk story and brightly lit, in-focus photography. Vinegar Syndrome's restoration is beyond stellar: Other than a scratch running down the right hand part of the screen during a filler scene of O'Neal riding her bike, the presentation is FLAWLESS.

Wendy's Palace, on the other hand, is strictly soft-core and utterly out-of-date by the time it debuted in 1971. The titular character Wendy (Mary Poey)walks New York City's tough streets in an ugly blonde wig. In a bit of entrapment, vice cop Vince (Henry Mills) takes her to an ugly hot-sheets hotel, fucks and then arrests her. Spending three months in the slammer, she receives an inheritance from a relative and decides to open her own brothel. Approaching Lola (Rose Dunn, in an even uglier brunette wig) to take her high-rise cat house off her hands, Lola agrees to round out the deal with some hot lesbian action with Wendy. Incredible bad acting ensues: all the actors seem more intent on fleeing the scene than having sex.

Running into Vince time and again, who further rips Wendy off and abuses her, Wendy, in a story turn that comes from 1950s era lesbian novels, decides to forgo sapphic charms and – MARRY VINCE AND SETTLE DOWN. Lola is justifiably perturbed. Whatever ...

Overall, there's fun to be had in seeing such relics of a bygone era. Both The Sexualist and Wendy's Palace are altogether harmless and look exceptionally good. It's by far the best of Vinegar Syndrome's adult titles, which for this reviewer, has been pretty unwatchable until now. 

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