Director: Matt Cimber
Vinegar Syndrome

Vinegar Syndrome's latest Peekarama double bill showcases the white-coater efforts of Matt Cimber.

Modeled after racy Scandinavian imports by couched hardcore pornography in an educational context, THE SENSUALLY LIBERATED FEMALE and HE & SHE were two of five hardcore effects theatre producer-turned-filmmaker Cimber mounted in collaboration with producer/pornographic publisher Marvin Miller before moving on to R-rated fare like THE WITCH WHO CAME FROM THE SEA. Although both films have some valid points to make about sexual self-knowledge and it's relation to physical and emotional health, their reason for being is capturing full-frontal nudity and unsimulated sex for the big screen. Based on scandalous 1969 bestseller "The Sensuous Woman", THE SENSUALLY LIBERATED FEMALE – also known as THE SEXUALLY LIBERATED FEMALE – finds GRAVE OF THE VAMPIRE's dulcet-toned Lindis Guinness comparing sexually naïve and repressed American women to those Swedish, Danish, French, and Italian broads returning American males returning from the wars brag about. She covers the various double standards that encourage boys to explore and sexually active and girls to be modest and prize their virginity, and suggest that the guilt and shame resulting from that can actually result in the physical numbness of the female erogenous zones to pleasure. Citing Masters and Johnson and Simon (sic) de Beauvoir that the female sex drive is equal if not greater than that of the male, Guinness then takes the viewer through the processes of re-educating their bodies and "enjoying the pleasures which are your birthright as a woman." Exhaustively covering manual stimulation and penetration by everything from vibrators, dildos, Ben Wa balls, to makeshift substitutes like vegetables, fruit, and douchebags (the nozzles, not the sketchy guys who are sometimes the reason for female sexual dysfunction). After plenty of gynecological close-ups of women with bad tanlines, the discussion turns to pelvic exercises for beginnings and the more athletic (with a Belly Dancer's performance meant to suggest that the American males' fascination with them betrays a desire for a partner with such fluid control of their own bodies), and then to exploring the male partner's body with the knowledge gleaned from their own self-exploration. The lessons proceed at an increasingly faster clip, moving from licking to oral sex (including some experimentation with chocolate sauce and whipped cream), and then to vaginal and anal sex, all in the interest of encouraging the newly-liberated woman to "think of her sex life with the same depth of imagination she gives to her wardrobe."

A follow-up to Cimber's first hardcore film MAN & WIFE, HE & SHE – after an interminable scrolling screen of quotations from several sex experts, psychologists, and philosophers – follows a young hippie couple demonstrating the fine art of seduction (pretty easy when you have a revolving bed against a colorful cyclorama), focusing on those opening notes in the symphony of love: foreplay. Intercut with hardcore vignettes between the photogenic couple (narrated by an academic type who cannot even correctly pronounce "fellatio") are scenes of them romping around the city being whimsical and then letting it all hang out in the countryside. With the film's definition of foreplay as everything that comes before orgasm, the film covers various kinds of touches, caresses, manual and oral stimulation, and devotes equal time to exploring oral-genital contact by both partners. Through the magic of cinema, the narrator tells us, the audience can enter the mind of an individual engaged in sexual intercourse and observe the montage of mental images that occur during the act, images conditioned by childhood trauma and experience. What we get here is not simply "absurd" as the narrator tells us it might appear, but outright laughable (although perhaps appropriately Freudian), associates oral sex with licking ice cream cones, images of the woman as a little girl with her father and then as an adult running in slow motion across a field into the arms of her husband, and the like.

Long thought lost after its successful theatrical release through Terry Levene's Aquarius Releasing, THE SENSUALLY LIBERATED FEMALE comes to DVD in progressive fullscreen from a 2K scan of a 35mm archival print. Cheaply and quickly made, the film is fairly grainy throughout with hairs and debris in the gate often seeming to reach in and tickle the bare flesh. Colors in the awful art direction are fairly rich and stable, and the transfer does what it can with the patchwork photography. Also released through Aquarius, HE & SHE had a life on videotape through Something Weird Video, and Vinegar Syndrome had access to a 35mm color reversal intermediate for their 2K scan. The studio scenes look slicker, but even the various scenes of romping around the city look quite good if a little grittier with only the incredibly underexposed ending dance club scene looking harsh and grainy. The Dolby Digital 1.0 audio tracks are both in good condition. There are no trailers for the film but Cimber himself appears in a short interview (12:49) in which he talks about directing plays in New York and on Broadway, how Mansfield convinced him to go to Los Angeles and get into filmmaking (expressing an interest in appearing in an episode of the play he was directing THE WALKUP which would become her last film SINGLE ROOM FURNISHED). He discusses his association with Miller who obtained the screen rights to "The Sensuous Woman", the Life Magazine coverage of the shoot, and the litigation that followed from the publisher who felt they had turned the work into a comedy. (Eric Cotenas)