The Rialto Report recently came across a selection of unseen slides taken on the sets of the 1979 adult film ‘The Ecstasy Girls‘, and its 1985 sequel ‘The Ecstasy Girls 2‘ – two movies directed by former Orson Welles cinematographer, Gary Graver.
The first film featured Jamie Gillis, Serena, Georgina Spelvin, John Leslie, Paul Thomas, Lesllie Bovee, Desiree Cousteau, Laurien Dominique, and Frank Hollowell, while the second saw the return of Jamie Gillis, John Leslie, and Paul Thomas and also starred Bionca, Stacey Donovan, Kristara Barrington, Tish Ambrose, and Joanna Storm.
‘The Ecstasy Girls’
Friend of The Rialto Report, Dries Vermeulen, wrote the following review of ‘The Ecstasy Girls’ (which contains spoilers):
Do you remember, as a kid, how you made fun of old codgers waxing nostalgically about old movies, claiming “they don’t make ’em like they used to anymore” ? I did, anyway, and now I’m on the other side of the fence, saying the same thing…about porn ! That’s right ! Gone are the days of (relatively) huge budgets allowing for lavish production values and ample shooting schedules, when adult movies were “real movies” rather than a series of sex scenes in search of a plot. Yep, I get misty-eyed whenever I recall the splendors of the genre’s “Golden Age”. Thankfully, because of the miracle that is DVD, all of us old farts (and the young upstarts who think we’re just full of it) get to revisit many of the period’s finer achievements whenever we want, without the disadvantages of trying to fend off the amorous overtures of the raincoat-clad geezer two seats down as was often the case at one’s local porno palace. First among equals must be this wonderful Harold Lime production, THE ECSTASY GIRLS that came hot on the heels of his similarly superb DESIRES WITHIN YOUNG GIRLS, the finest film the erratic Richard Kanter (a/k/a “Ramsey Karson”) ever made. Sexy and sophisticated, it stands head and shoulders (first of the young’uns to crack a dandruff joke will have to chow down on my fist !) above all other attempts at carnal comedy. Little wonder when you realize that the people behind it had a film-making experience that stretched all the way back to the sexploitation heyday of the ’60s. Lime had made the early nudie classic NOT TONIGHT, HENRY as “Ted Paramore” while director Gary Graver (“Robert McCallum” on triple X features) churned out many of the finer simulated sex dramas including the recently redeemed SANDRA: THE MAKING OF A WOMAN.
Generally regarded as the best of the Lime/Graver collaborations (among them such comparable classics like AMANDA BY NIGHT, INDECENT EXPOSURE and SOCIETY AFFAIRS), this follows the exploits of struggling actor Jerry (Jamie Gillis) whose sideline as “escort to the stars” is proving far more profitable than his professional efforts. In fact, so successful is he at seducing members of the opposite sex that he catches the eye of devious investor J.C. Church (late character actor John Alderman a/k/a “Frank Hollowell”, sole male star of Chris Warfield’s excellent LITTLE MISS INNOCENCE) who hires him on the spot, not for an upcoming movie but to lure his sister and four nieces. Come again ? J.C.’s dying brother Edgar owns the really big chunk of the Church family fortune and he’s such a bluenose that he would promptly disown his daughters if they were exposed for being as sexually liberated as they secretly are, as well as their aunt Madeleine (Georgina Spelvin) for covering up their exploits over the years. Jerry’s job is to catch the women’s indiscretions on film, so that J.C. will appear like a choirboy by comparison, assuring him of the full inheritance. With film-making pals George (John Leslie) and Archie (Paul Thomas) in tow, Jerry schemes to trap all five women. Twins Nancy and Diane (both played by Serena) provide a classic contrast of naughty and nice, illustrated by “their” very different scenes with Gillis (her real life boyfriend at the time) in a dank dungeon and caught in the rain on a romantic picnic. Sports fanatic Constance (lovely Laurien Dominique, who sadly passed away from cancer in 1986) rewards Leslie for his perseverance with a roll in the hammock and self-centered Barbara (Lesllie Bovee) has the intricate “hall of mirrors” encounter with P.T. Spelvin proves yet again that you can’t beat an older woman for erotic appeal and expertise by shedding her inhibitions among the African art in my personal favorite among the film’s perfectly realized sexual set-pieces. Lime could never resist tagging a little life lesson onto each of his carnal creations, so Jerry has a last-minute change of heart via the redemptive powers of true love and J.C. gets a proper comeuppance. It’s a tribute to the skill of the filmmakers that this message doesn’t feel the least bit cloying.
More youthful dirty movie devotees may roll their eyes skyward, but as far as I’m concerned ECSTASY GIRLS stands out as perfect porn. Every aspect of production smacks of pure professionalism. Lest you feel the urge to interrupt, yes, I hereby include the irresistibly dated Ronny Romanovitch soundtrack (sort of an unholy mix between disco and Vegas style lounge-core) replete with schmaltzy theme song. The plot moves along at a brisk pace with cute dialog and strong characterizations by a superstar cast that delivers on both thespian and fornication front. Rarely called upon to carry a film, Serena comes through with flying colors – subtly differentiating between both parts – and somehow manages to work in her (slightly toned down) S&M specialty bit as part of the proceedings. Bovee once more proves her mettle as a vastly underrated comedienne (check out her dazzling performances in Chuck Vincent’s MISBEHAVIN’ and Chris Warfield’s CHAMPAGNE FOR BREAKFAST) and no one past or present could ever hope to better the delightful Desiree Cousteau in the airhead sweepstakes. The latter’s athletic bedroom workout with Gillis remains both a funny and horny highlight. Just in case identification poses a bit of a problem, the girls in the movie’s most memorable opening threesome are cute Stacy Evans (also in Lime’s previous DESIRES) and Nancy Suiter, a flawless blonde who has garnered a bit of a cult reputation (Reason ? Just look at her !) and starred in Jaacov Jaacovi’s popular TAXI GIRLS. I dare any one of you to come up with an adult movie of recent vintage that generates the joy, nay, the undiluted exhilaration of this untouchable classic.
‘The Ecstasy Girls 2’
Bionca, Stacey Donovan, Jamie Gillis
Kristara Barrington, Jamie Gillis
Paul Thomas, Jamie Gillis
Jamie Gillis, Heather Wayne