Sylvia Kristel was the queen of soft porn movies. She died after a long battle with cancer.
Kristel was the face of sexuality for a generation. In the late 1970’s there was a pay television service called ON TV. It was a cheap way to get cable-type service, but without having cable. (Chicago didn’t have cable until 1981).
We had a bootleg ONTV box that my father got from a co-worker. It opened up the world of bad cable movies to my family. This was years before high definition, of course, and all the movies were fuzzy and had a lot of hiss over the soundtrack. (Actually, ONTV’s claim to fame was that it was the first place STAR WARS was shown on television. It might have been my first viewing party.)
Every night at midnight, the system would switch to a different frequency and they would show adult soft porn films, for an extra charge if you were paying for the service. On regular television sets without the box the picture would scramble and occasionally you would be able to catch the briefest shot of a breast or a love-making scene. Sometimes a word or two would float over the static noise. Everyone knew about this. I recall going to parties where scrambled ON TV movies were on, and people would gather and giggle.
After my parents would go to sleep, I would sneak in and turn on the television set; As a 17 year old, it was as if the gates of heaven were opened up. I watched such classics as THE WORLD OF HARRY PARIS, THE EROTIC ADVENTURES OF PINOCCHIO
They were terrible, terrible movies. Except for a boob or butt shot, and lots of humping, they were pretty tame by today’s standards. Among these movies, the ultimate star was Sylvia Kristel. She was the epitome of sexuality, every boy’s dream of what a woman could be. Soft focus, the warble of strings.
EMMANUELLE was the film that started it all. It was porn for the masses, not graphic like DEEP THROAT, but quiet and sensual.
Kristel could never break away from this role, even though she did get some main stream pictures such as AIRPORT 79 and THE LOVE BOMB. She was always the sex symbol.
I recall seeing PRIVATE LESSONS at The Brighton Theater when it came out. The theater would show a cartoon at 1 pm, two PG rated films at 3 pm and 5 pm, and then an R-rated film at 7 pm. I would stay all day. This movie was every teenage boy’s fantasy come to life.
It makes me sad she has passed away so young. She brought class to sex.