Memories of Marilyn Chambers

Good girl gone very bad.

Good girl gone very bad.

Jump into the way-back machine.  The year is 1976.

I was sitting in the apartment of the woman who would one day become my wife chatting with and her girlfriend and the conversation came around to X-rated movies and had they seen any.

“Sure,” Sherry replied.  “I’ve seen Emmanuelle.”  Sherry was both shorter than Vanessa and supposedly more world-wise.   For a grizzled, old porn movie pro like me though she might as well have said a Bugs Bunny cartoon.

I sneered, “Emmanuelle?  That’s softcore shit.  C’mon.  I’m going to take you to a real skin flick.”

Off of the campus of Ohio State University there was a second-run movie house that had given up midnight showings of Eraserhead in favor of XXX-rated movies.  Usually you didn’t find a lot of couples in these joints, but that was beginning to change with the advent of “classsier” porn like Deep Throat and The Devil In Miss Jones.  These movies made the attempt to throw the bare bones of a plot and some production into the hardcore screwing.

To watch those movies now is to underwhelmed all over again by the non-acting of Linda Lovelace  and the over-the-top babbling of Miss Jones’ Georgina Spelvin.   This may have been the Golden Age of Porn, but it wasn’t because the movies were very good.  These flicks put the “X” is “sex” but they starred some really unattractive people.

Chambers brought clean, fresh looks to a dirty business.

Chambers brought clean, fresh looks to a dirty business.

Linda Lovelace was nothing special and she not only looked used up and beat up, she was beat up by her boyfriend/manager/pimp Chuck Traynor.   Look at Deep Throat and you can see some obvious bruises from ass-kickings by Traynor.  Georgina Spelvin was just plain as  hell with an ugly body.   Spelvin had more acting chops than Lovelace who could barely deliver a line, but her near hysterical moans and yelps during the sex scenes makes watching  The Devil In Miss Jones tough going without muting the sound.

That’s why Marilyn Chambers was different.  She was not only a very attractive woman, she had a presence on the screen that made her one of the few porn stars to get a shot at a mainstream movie, Canadian director David Cronenberg’s 1977  horror flick, Rabid.

But we weren’t going to The World thinking about Chambers’ post-porn future.  We were going for a double feature of  The Resurrection of Eve and Behind the Green Door.

My experience with women is under the right circumstances they are just as up for trying something new as any guy and sometimes even more than any guy.    And porn flicks definitely qualify.

I didn’t watch the movies.  I watched Vanessa and Sherry.  They were way more interesting (besides I had already seen the movies).

There’s nothing like watching girls who think they’ve seen sex in a movie see some real raw and up in your mug hardcore sex and while I don’t remember Resurrection of Eve very well, I do remember Behind the Green Door and it was totally off the chain.   I won’t bore you with a synopsis but think of a sex club and a camera and almost no dialogue and that’s about all there is to it.

You don’t need much more.   I do recall Vanessa and Sherry leaning forward and gripping the seats in front of them during the scene where Chambers gets nailed by Johnny Keyes in what was one of the first interracial sex scenes filmed.   It’s a really off-the-wall flick that goes places today’s porn lacks the imagination to go.

When Chambers died at the age of 56, I didn’t experience a wave of nostalgia for our misspent youth.   Vanessa and I have seen more than our share of skin flicks, but that’s just another memory of a time past.  The thrill is gone.  We aren’t what we used to be and sex flicks aren’t either.

You can get out of porn, but youre in it forever.

You can get out of porn, but you're in it forever.

Chambers never was able to leave her porn star past behind her and break into mainstream Hollywood movies.  She stopped making X-rated flicks and appeared in B-movie softcore crap that occasionally pops up on Cinemax in the wee hours.

In 2004,  Chambers gave an interview to The Montreal Gazette and said,  “I would have loved to move on.  I’ve been stigmatized, and it’s something that’s very difficult to get out of.”

Really though, what did Chambers expect?  Get naked in front of a camera and be filmed having sex with multiple variations of men and women, Black and White, hardcore and explicit and that’s going to go away?  For better or worse, she was always going to be the Girl from the Ivory Soap box that made skin flicks.

It’s not a glamorous way to make history, but Marilyn Chambers gave a lot of folks a good time.  Most of the time in the nude and doing things in front of a camera a lot of people wouldn’t dare to do behind closed doors.

I feel a little bad for her that she never could quite get out of the biz.  At the time of her death she had signed on to star  off-Broadway in , “Deep Throat–the Play”  (if you can believe it).

She had also finished a movie with Ron Jeremy (ugh!) called, “Porndogs: The Adventures of Sadie.”   Fortunately the aging porn stars had no sex scenes together as they were providing the voice overs for the dogs being used in the the live-action film.

Porn never forgets.