CINEMA.

BETWEEN THE CHANNELS WITH EMMANUELLE
[posted 02.28.2005]

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CHANNEL 100 WAS THE first cable film network when I was young. By chance, we had a Zenith television, state of the art, which like a radio allowed one to tune between channels. So whenever my parents left the house, I removed a panel, tuned to something like 48.5, and soon enjoyed R-rated movies. If I was lucky, that movie was Emmanuelle. I wonder how many 13-year-olds “learned” that sex involves no entry but only a kind of skin sailing in glaze? I am certain that behind the success of Victoria’s Secret lies another secret, one involving Emmanuelle and a boy’s first glimpse of quasi-sexuality, laced and bowtied.

I don’t remember the story, but like almost all pornography, hard and soft, it had one, a plot but not a point, distant relative of mainstream films with their endless plot points. To remind myself of the story, I checked Amazon.com, which provided this description from the DVD’s back cover: “Sylvia Kristel became an international star as a result of this French screen adaptation of Emmanuelle Argan’s controversial book about the initiation of a diplomat’s young wife into the world of sensuality. As the pretty wife of a French ambassador in Bangkok, Emmanuelle discovers a burning sexual passion she has previously repressed. Under the tutelage of the wise old Mario, and with her husband’s complicity, Emmanuelle discovers the joys of eroticism and lets herself slide into pleasure.”

Ah, I remember now. There was a point, but that took place off screen, detached from the story, separated by the intermissions which the story supplied. So there you have it, the reason pornography bothers with plot at all: a breather. Meanwhile, last I saw, Mario had found a new role, as a videogame character. He’s still hopping, but in a different way.

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paul toth lives in michigan. his novel fizz is available from bleak house books. fishnet, his second novel, will be published in july 2005.