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.
Jean Clark, Desiree Cousteau, Frank Hollowell
Serena (with producer, Harold Lime (right))
Frank Hollowell, Georgina Spelvin
Jamie Gillis, Georgina Spelvin
Desiree Cousteau, Georgina Spelvin, John Leslie
Georgina Spelvin, director Gary Graver (aka Robert McCallum)
Desiree Cousteau, Jamie Gillis
‘The Ecstasy Girls 2’
Bionca, Stacey Donovan, Jamie Gillis
Kristara Barrington, Jamie Gillis
Paul Thomas, Jamie Gillis
Jamie Gillis, Heather Wayne
Interesting to see the shot of Gary Graver on set with the actors. I’d love the Rialto to do a feature on his involvement… if anyone can, you guys can!
Any insight into whether Orson Welles helped edit of the pornos that Graver was involved in…..? I heard that he had a hand in 3AM for example. Is that true???!
Congratulations on your involvement in the Deuce by the way. Love the pilot.
It wouldn’t surprise me if that fact turned out to be true,considering how anti-Hollywood(and anti-Hollywood establishment) Orson Welles became in the latter years of his career(and his life).
The rumor was that Welles edited the Georgina Spelvin shower scene in 3AM, while waiting to get Gary to go shoot some scenes for his never finished film, The Other Side of the Wind. Netflix is going to finish that film in the next year or so with the help of Welles’ protégé, Peter Bogdonovich at the helm. Shot on 8mm, 16mm, and 35mm, it was shot over many years whenever Welles could raise money from acting gigs, and had famed director John Houston as the lead. Gary Graver did the majority of the photography. The film elements were recently released by Welles’s widow.
Just when you thought there couldn’t be more , The Rialto Report brings you More More More !
So how do you like it, how do you like it? 😉
One of the first adult movies I saw and one of the few I own, albeit in a crappy extended play VHS copy. Thanks to the script, direction and performances, it was also one of the few I saw at the time that showed me the possibilities of what adult movies could accomplish. Loved Laurien Dominique in this and definitely one of the highlights of Serena’s career.
I also would love to see more on Gary Graver! A man of many talents.He met his beautiful wife while filming “The Student Body” here in Kansas City. Both of them taken far too soon
Oh, man. Nancy Suiter…. She made a DEFINITE impression on me back-in-the-day. What a beauty! I’m sure you’ve tried to find her for an interview… What a “get” THAT would be…
In the photo of Desiree Cousteau standing on top of the boxes , she is wearing watermelon colored dress with writing on the side. Did anyone else notice that Jessie St James wore that exact same dress in her scene from Talk Dirty To Me when she is listening to John Leslie’s phone call?
In the Ectasy Girls 2 picture, is that Karri Foxx with the blue hair and blue tank top?
In a word, yes. 😉
Oh man, Heather Wayne. I loved her.
Nuff said (except stellar work, as always, RR).
Whoo! Those girls are hotpants smokin!
The busybody do gooders shut down all the porno theaters locally and that was years ago.
Wouldn’t want someone somewhere to be experiencing any pleasure as they might end up in hell.
My brother gave me an old dubbed VHS tape with Bad Girls on it and some other early 80s titles.
I don’t think it is part of Bad Girls but there is a scene where John Leslie’s lumberjack character puts the lumber on two gorgeous babes in the woods that is extremely hot.
A beautiful brunette watches this threesome and later John catches up to her in the woods for some epic action!
There is another scene where a photographer makes good sweet love with the model he is shooting that is just on fire!
Bad Girls is a classic, the beautiful brunette you are talking about who has sex with the photographer is the stunning Victoria Knoll. Victoria only did a handful of films in the early 80’s but was in just about every porn magazine that came out between 1980-1984. She really did look like a mainstream model. I was surprised reading Andy Warhol’s diary book that he once met Victoria at a party and hung out with her. Would love Rialto to do a piece on Victoria
And the scene with Leslie as lumberjack is, indeed, from Bad Girls as well.
Great photos and Kristara looking breathtaking as always.