Virgin and the Lover (1973)

  • Scene 1. Nancy Marshall, Eric Edwards
  • Scene 2. Helen Madigan, Julia Sorel, Jonathan John, Marc Stevens
  • Scene 3. Leah Marlon, Jonathan John
  • Scene 4. Darby Lloyd Rains, Jennifer Welles
  • Scene 5. Darby Lloyd Rains, Eric Edwards
  • Scene 6. Olinka Podanny, Jonathan John
  • Scene 7. Susan Sloan, Eric Edwards
  • Scene 8. Darby Lloyd Rains, Jennifer Welles
  • Scene 9. Leah Marlon, Eric Edwards

An erotic entertainment entrepreneur of Turkish descent, Kemal Horulu was still testing the waters as to just how permissive above ground adult movies were allowed to be when he made VIRGIN AND THE LOVER, like THE SEXUALIST and ALL ABOUT SEX OF ALL NATIONS before it a soft-core/hardcore hybrid still strongly bearing the imprint of his simulated (s)exploitation beginnings with the notorious 1968 “roughie” SOME LIKE IT VIOLENT. Pretty permissive as it turned out and Horulu would never look back, putting together a mere handful of fairly ambitious adult projects over the decade that followed. Although not a particularly potent filmmaker, in an era dominated by the likes of Gerard Damiano and Chuck Vincent (not to mention the in a class of his own Radley Metzger), he continuously strove to make serious sex films surrounding real or perceived psychological problems, be it the good girl/bad girl dichotomy portrayed by Lesllie Bovee in BLUE ECSTASY IN NEW YORK or Victoria Jackson and John Leslie attempting to avoid the pitfalls of their open marriage in NEVER SLEEP ALONE.

Although it only qualifies as an embryonic effort by comparison, VIRGIN AND THE LOVER takes a similar approach, delving deeply into the mind and motives of a cross-dressing filmmaker (earnestly played by the ever reliable Eric Edwards) with often unintentionally laugh out loud results. Chief culprit for this hilarity is the unbelievably florid voice-over monologues swamping the half-baked screenplay by Kenneth Schwartz, allegedly adapting a “French novelette” (as per credits) of which not a single trace can be found. Schwartz, best known for producing and co-directing (along with severely testing his patience) Shaun Costello’s big budget Fiona ON FIRE and Dracula EXOTICA, had carnal credentials stretching all the way back to bankrolling the idiosyncratic Eduardo Cemano’s early ’70s fleetingly explicit FONGALULI and THE HEALERS but his writing would have made even Ed Wood blush.

An interesting realization comes with the fact that the acting by cast members fearlessly letting it all hang out is far superior to that of those only going through the motions. One exception being Jennifer Welles, strictly simulating Sapphic splendor with Darby Lloyd Rains two years prior to taking the pornographic plunge in Howard Ziehm’s HONEYPIE. This lesbo liaison appears as part of conflicted protagonist Paul’s cinematic “exploration” of alternative lifestyles, imaginatively entitled “Two Women”, mirroring his own latent homosexual tendencies as he can only achieve arousal with a female partner in male drag vis à vis the only vaguely feminine garment he seems to own, a tatty floral print house dress.

Frequenting Dr. Tracey (one Reggi Defoe) to work through his hang-ups, the handsome Paul catches the eye of perky receptionist Julie (one shot soft-core starlet Leah Marlon) who tries her darnedest to get him to ask her out on a date. Fly in the ointment is her obnoxious boyfriend Andy (THE SEXUALIST’s Jonathan John), a wholly improbable Hollywood hunk (no way !) with a bevy of groupies in his bedroom. Unwilling or incapable of going all the way, John scurries for the exit when his aggressive partner (Julia Sorel from Ziehm’s SEXTEEN) demands the deep dish treatment, understandably turning to Helen Madigan and Marc Stevens for consolation.

Exhibiting impressive production values, highlighted by Horulu’s own capable camera work, the flick occasionally overcomes the sheer ridiculousness of its twisted narrative with some creatively crafted carnal encounters. If the simulated stuff fails to rise above the unimaginative ploy of having naked people very cautiously rubbing their loins up against each other, save for the aforementioned girl on girl gambit, the graphic groping shows both enthusiasm and budding expertise. Particular attention should be paid to cult favorite Susan Sloan (billed as “Patty Steinberg”, she never used the same moniker twice) as Paul’s former squeeze Sandra, making a welcome re-appearance in his fruitful fantasy life.