In 2019 Emma Stone performed in a Saturday Night Live sketch titled “The Actress.” She’s overly invested in her performance as a cheated wife in a gay porn. The sketch is funny but there was indeed a time when the industry took scripts seriously. Let’s take a trip back to the “Golden Age of Porn” when producers marketed erotic films to mainstream critics and audiences. The following films were adapted from other material, a novel and a play, and emphasized story over sex. One aimed for easy targets and scored. The other flew high and fell hard.
Curious? Then read my spoiler filled, mildly censored, recaps.
“Song of the Loon thus becomes interesting when put in the context of its time, namely the dawn of the explosion of gay subculture in metropolitan centers.” ~ Primal Scenes
This gay softcore Western is a bizarre mess. Hunky Native Americans send a blonde city boy on a drug fueled vision quest. Sex and rambling conversations ensue. The vague story was inspired by a series of erotic novels set in the American wilderness of the 1870’s. Free from society the men could live and love who they saw fit. The frontier setting gives it a unique flavor but the film feels incomplete. One Letterbox critic claims the directors were fired midway through production. That would explain the hasty resolution.
Setting: The American West. 1870
GOSSIPY NATIVE AMERICAN: OMG. This one guy tried to pay me for a dance and I was all no ways! My tribe believes in free love! Amirite Daddy?
DADDY: Totes. Are you wearing redface makeup?
GOSSIPY NATIVE AMERICAN: Oh look! A blonde twink! (Exits.)
TWINK: I’m on the run from my abusive ex.
DADDY: You smell like a skunk city boy. Let’s go take a bath.
TWINK: Okay. (They swim naked. Then dance a little two-step.)
EVIL EX: We’ve been rowing this canoe for days. He must be close.
HENCHMAN: Stop chasing your ex. I’m the one that loves you.
EVIL EX: I’m filled with internalized homophobia. That’s what comes of living in the city instead of the wilderness.
DADDY: Cover your tracks. We’ll hide while your ex rows past. (They do.)
TWINK: I still don’t actually know if I’m gay.
DADDY: Running Bear can help you.
RUNNING BEAR: Strip naked, take these drugs and go on a vision quest.
(Twink runs naked through the woods laughing. He tangos with Dream Daddy. Dream Evil Ex pulls a gun on them. Daddy shoots the Ex with an arrow. Twink awakens.)
TWINK: That was just like the dream ballet in Oklahoma!
DADDY: Did you find your answer?
TWINK: Yep. I’m super gay. I’ll stay here with you.
(Suddenly a wall of text appears)
WALL OF TEXT: TWINK and DADDY broke up and something something loon.
SOUNDTRACK: “I’m gone much too soon. Follow the way of the loon.”
DADDY: Wait wait wait. What the heck does that mean?
WALL OF TEXT: Look, we’re out of money. Go read the books.
“When I was coming of age, eroticism was always in films, but eroticism was punished… I tried to do the opposite.” ~ Director Radley Metzger.
Dangerous Liaisons meets Rocky Horror when a swinging couple seduces a pair of newlyweds. It’s based on an Off-Broadway play. The story is predictable but there are genuine laughs and a sex positive attitude. The porn performers are clearly enjoying the chance to act, though some fare better than others.
Setting: A House by the Sea.
SOUNDTRACK: “Where is the girl? Where is she?”
WIFE: I’m tired of our orgy guests. I want to seduce our Mousey Catholic friend.
HUSBAND: If you don’t have her by midnight, I’ll take her Twunk husband.
MOUSE: How did you get so confident?
WIFE: Practice. Watch. (Cuts her TV wire. Makes a call.) Please send someone over to fix my television.
REPAIRMAN: Knock knock. Sylvester Stallone played this role Off-Broadway.
WIFE: You, sir, are no Stallone. Let’s dance.
(WIFE and REPAIRMAN rumba. MOUSE watches, then flees.)
TWUNK: Thanks for inviting us to dinner.
HUSBAND (dressed as a sexy sailor): It’s a costume party!
WIFE (dressed as a sexy nun): Pick an outfit!
TWUNK: Oh, I don’t know.
MOUSE: PUT ONE ON YOU SISSY!
(Twunk dresses as a sexy cowboy. Mouse dresses as… something? It’s basically just underwear.)
(Later that night. Husband takes Twunk to the basement. Wife takes Mouse to the upstairs bedroom.)
MOUSE: My marriage isn’t working. He never wants sex.
WIFE: My husband would shag a porcupine. Let me teach you some tricks.
(They share a pas de deus.)
TWUNK: My marriage isn’t working. She always wants sex.
HUSBAND: My wife would shag a porcupine. Let me help you relax.
(They have hardcore sex. No euphemisms this time. This is, allegedly, the only scene in these two films where the actors actually shagged.)
(The next morning.)
MOUSE: I guess I’m a porcupine.
TWUNK: Me too.
WIFE: Fancy a foursome?
REPAIRMAN: Knock knock.
MOUSE: Forget these geezers. Let’s take the Repairman home! (They do.)
WIFE: We’ve created monsters.
HUSBAND: Let’s go to a restaurant and bring home a waiter.
SOUNDTRACK: “Where is the boy? Where is he?”
Right In Front of My Salad?
The naïve twunk in Score was played by porn star Casey Donovan (aka Calvin Culver). He had risen to fame after starring in 1971’s Boys in the Sand. The dialogue-free film followed Donovan through a summer on Fire Island. He hooks up with men who appear suddenly and vanish into thin air. There was a smidgen of social commentary but the focus was on the sex. Culver’s charm and an ambitious marketing campaign led it to success.
Song of the Loon and Score are different beasts. Both involve the seduction of nervous youths by confident lovers but neither contain actual sex. The love scenes are poorly lit and choppily edited to disguise the fact that little is happening. The men of Score were having sex but the footage was cut out of the film so that it could play in mainstream theaters. You read that right. They cut the sex out of a porn. The film is now available in censored and uncensored formats.
How would you compare Score to the Doris Day/Rock Hudson “bedroom comedies” of the 1960’s? Or the Eating Out films of the 2000’s? Who’s writing sex farces today? And is there anything to compare Song of the Loon to? It’s no Brokeback Mountain but it’s a lot less depressing.