'Precious' the Neanderthal and Caveman Nookie

From the archive: 2010

It's been a big year for Neanderthals, with the latest revelations being that they had 'Popeye-like arms.'

What struck me, though, is the equally cartoonish image of a Neanderthal striking a sensitive pose, reminiscent of Rodin's Thinker.


That's not science; that's make-believe. I think they should call him 'Precious.' 


Earlier in year, a study argued that there's a little Neanderthal in most of us.

Scientists claim to have found traces of Neanderthal genes in modern DNA after studying nearly 2,000 people from around the world.

That can mean only one thing: homo sapiens had sex with their supposed evolutionary inferiors. ‘This is not what we expected to find,' says Jeffrey Long, a genetic anthropologist at the University of New Mexico who led the study.

Maybe not, but I get extremely skeptical when scientists start talking about the prehistoric past.

One thing I've learned in writing The History of Sex is just how little we know about the past 3,000 years of ‘known' history, let alone the past 300,000 of prehistory.

And all joking aside, research like this inevitably causes people to question whether some groups might be more ‘Neanderthal' than others.

Sure enough, here's the first message on the comment boards:

‘I have always wondered if Basques, which are known to have striking differences in the frequency of blood groups and the form of the skull from the rest of the European population could not be such a population,' writes one Jacques Lerin. ‘I do not mean to be offensive in anyway...'

Offensive? Surely not.

Now if we could just prove that Neanderthals knew how to make bombs...


How to Look Ab-Hijab-ulous

From the archive: 2010

At first, I thought this article was a spoof: a 'liberal' paper giving fashion tips to Muslim women who 'need' to cover up.

'For me, clothing needs to cover everything but the hands and face, and be loose enough to hide my body shape,' writes a Muslim fashionista in Britain's Guardian.

One of her fashion tips?

Harem pants.

'Hijab-friendly' harem pants? 

Apologies if this seems sooooo last millennium, but hey - women's oppression is timeless, right?


I've previous written about a demographer who's predicting that Muslims will make up 10-15% of the population in high-immigration countries like Britain, Germany and France by 2050.

That compares to just 3-4% now in the UK.

So if the Guardian article is anything to go by, you can expect big changes in years to come.

Europe may not turn into the 'Eurabia' that conservatives fear, but I reckon Islam will have a far bigger impact on modern European culture than many liberals realize.

So if you don't know your burka from your chador, here's a neat little primer from a few years back.

I used it while writing about a French producer of Muslim porn, whose 'actresses' wear a headdress -- and nothing else...



Top University Offers Pole-Dancing Classes

From the archive: 2010

Britain's Cambridge University is offering pole-dancing classes in the same room that once hosted the likes of Winston Churchill and Desmond Tutu.

The Cambridge Union Society says the classes in the Blue Room will be for females only, and it's even wheeled out a gender turncoat to deny that pole-dancing objectifies women.

'The lessons are a way of empowering women, as well as being a fantastic way to exercise and have fun together with other women,' said press officer Rebecca Bailey.

'To suggest the union is in some way guilty of condoning chauvinist attitudes towards women would be as insulting as it is ridiculous.'

Why? Because she says so.

To which one wag replied, paraphrasing Orwell: 'If you want a vision of the future, imagine a high-heeled shoe, stamping on the face of feminism, forever.'


Polanski gets off -- and this time, not by raping a little girl

From the archive: 2010

So they almost got 'im.

The Swiss have decided against extraditing Roman Polanski to the US, where the director might have been imprisoned for being a pedophile.

Or not, as the case may be

Unfortunately, this is one of those stories where media squeamishness actually makes it easy for sex offenders. 

For instance, all the mainstream media are reporting, very primly and properly, that Polanski pleaded guilty to ‘unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor.’

But you really have to dig to find out that his 13-year-old victim claimed he subjected her to oral, vaginal and anal sex—after doping her and photographing her topless (usually glossed over as simply a ‘photo shoot’).

I also didn’t know that his assault was allegedly interrupted by a knock at the door by Anjelica Huston.

Or that the 1977 crime occurred in an LA mansion owned by Jack Nicholson, the star of Polanski's Chinatown.

In a case of life imitating art, one of the key plot twists in that 1974 movie involves the molestation of a minor.


If you find yourself swayed by Polanski’s defenders, here’s an excellent article by Sady Doyle on why he should be held accountable.

While writing The History of Sex, I was surprised to discover the seedy, pedo side of the Sexual Revolution, dominated by men who tried to normalize having sex with children.

A European 'sexpaper' called Suck published articles from parents who slept with their children: 'Friendly Families Fuck Together Free-quently (Parts 1, 2 and 3).'

Perversely, its founder, Jim Haynes, is now the face of After Eight mints.

The main forces that stopped the child-sex movement of the Sixties and Seventies were anti-porn feminists (as opposed to pro-pornistas like Germaine Greer, who co-founded Suck)… and Christian activists.

With few modern feminists willing to take a stand against porn, though, there’s every chance that laws against child sex will be eroded by the likes of Polanski and his defenders.

To cite a quote often used in reference to the Holocaust: ‘All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.’


Victorian Shocker: Ladies Liked Sex!

From the archive: 2010

Here's another knock for the myth that the Victorians were a bunch of prudes: a little-known survey that shows ladies of the era actually enjoyed sex.

In fact, one woman said she chose to sleep apart from her husband 'to avoid temptation of too frequent intercourse.'

Dr. Clelia Mosher began interviewing American women about their sex lives starting in 1892.

By 1920, she'd compiled 45 profiles.

Her results—which predated Kinsey's studies by a half century—showed that although most women entered marriage ignorant of sex (some admitted that they'd learned by 'watching farm animals'), most of them came to love it.

'Of the 45 women, 35 said they desired sex; 34 said they had experienced orgasms; (and) 24 felt that pleasure for both sexes was a reason for intercourse,' according to an excellent article in the Stanford Alumni magazine.

As one respondent, born in 1860, put it: 'My husband and I… believe in intercourse for its own sake—we wish it for ourselves and spiritually miss it, rather than physically, when it does not occur, because it is the highest, most sacred expression of our oneness.'


In The History of Sex (But Not As We Know It), I note one of the ironies of the Sexual Revolution: we may very well be having less sex than our ancestors.

I also argue that we should learn from the early campaigners for gender equality and ignore the sex-obsessed celebrity feminists of the Sixties.

Compared to them, Mosher looks like an unsung heroine who spent her career trying to prove that women weren't inferior to men.

Dr. Mosher in her Red Cross uniform

In her day, people thought that women breathed from their chests rather than their diaphragms, but Mosher showed that this supposed biological difference was probably the result of tight corsets.

She also developed abdominal exercises—'moshers'—to counter menstrual pain, arguing that debilitating periods were partly due to a lack of exercise and the common practice of confining women to their beds during 'that time of the month.'

'Equal pay for women means equal work; unnecessary menstrual absences mean less than full work,' she wrote.

Mosher apparently lived quite a lonely life – again, the Stanford article is well worth reading – but she envisaged a day when life would be different for intelligent women like her.

'Born into a world of unlimited opportunity, the woman of the rising generation will answer the question of what woman's real capacities are,' she wrote in 1923. 'She will have physical, economic, racial and civic freedom. What will she do with it?'

Fortunately, Dr. Mosher didn't live to see 'Girls Gone Wild.'

Let's Talk About Sects, Baby

From the archive: 2010

Will the religious inherit the earth?

Apparently so, according to an article in The New Humanist, 'the magazine for free thinkers' (so long as they think like we do).

Sorry, I added that last bit in.

Editor Caspar Melville features the work of American political scientist Eric Kaufman, who's written a book called Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?

'Kaufmann is arguing that the secularisation thesis, the assumption that modernity leads inexorably to a lessening of religious belief and a day when we are all rational humanists, is wrong...'

'Further, he is saying that there is something about our current form of liberal secularism that contains (here's another headline) the seeds of its own destruction.'

'Since the birth rate of individualistic secular people the world over is way below replacement level (2.1 in the west), and the birth rate of religious fundamentalists is way above (between 5 and 7.5, depending on the sect), then through the sheer force of demography religious fundamentalism is going to become a much bigger force in the world and gain considerable political muscle.'

'Literalist religious conservatism is being reborn, and we secular liberals are the midwives.'

They have to be carefully taught:
'Secular Baby' by Martin Rowson
for The New Humanist

By 2050, Kaufmann projects that:

  • Israel will be mostly Orthodox Jewish (Haredi). 
  • America will still be more 'religious' than Europe, though slightly more secular than it is now, with the non-religious portion of the population plateauing at about 17% versus 14% now. 
  • Mormons will displace Jews as the third-biggest religious group in America (and Muslims will be fourth, pushing Jews to fifth; I'm guessing that Protestants and Catholics will stay at numbers one and two). 
  • Europe won't quite be 'Eurabia,' but Muslims will make up 10-15% of the population in countries like Germany, France and the UK. 


Unfortunately, neither Kaufmann nor Melville make much distinction between religions: they seem to think they're all equally delusional.

But it's notable that humanism has its roots in Christianity. Even the word 'secular' comes from the Church. 

And while non-Christian, secular 'new humanists' wonder why 'fundamentalists' are winning the 'battle of the babies,' it seems the answer is, well, fundamental.

In What's So Great About Christianity (not at all biased, that), author Dinesh D'Souza turns around the old evolutionary question of 'why has religion survived?'

He imagines two tribes, one religious, the other secular, asking: 'Which of the two tribes is more likely to survive, prosper, and multiply?'

'The religious tribe is made up of people who have an animating sense of purpose. The secular tribe consists of people who are not sure why they exist at all.'

'The religious tribe is composed of people who view their every thought and action as consequential. The secular tribe is made up of matter that cannot explain why it is able to think at all.'

'Should evolutionists... be surprised, then, to see that religion is flourishing?... It is not religion but atheism that requires a Darwinian explanation... It seems perplexing why nature would breed a group of people who see no higher purpose to life or the universe.'

And when you put it like that...

You can read the rest of D'Souza's book here.

Defend Buttman? You're Not a Liberal, You're a Libertarian

From the archive: 2010

The trial of 'Buttman' in our nation's capital shows just how confused many self-styled liberals are about porn.

For those without sphincter fixations, John Stagliano is the porn mogul who's arguably done more than anyone to popularize anal sex among heterosexuals.

Toward the end of the last century, Stagliano spotted, well, a gap in the market and cast himself as Buttman, a sniggerworthy alter ego who not only sodomized women but also pioneered forms of exploitation that are now routine in the porn repertoire. 

The success of his Evil Angel outfit--and the fact that society tolerated it--inspired established porn players to follow in his fetishistic footsteps, creating what has become, quite literally, a 'race to the bottom.'

As one of Stagliano's porn allies in LA told me while I was researching The History of Sex: 'Back in the early Nineties, (anal sex) wasn't rare, but it was like a step up from normal porn. Now it's kind of almost normal, because with the sex business, you gotta keep ratcheting up.'

'It's kinda like violence in movies. People get inured at a certain point—it's gotta be more, greater, nastier. Filthier.'

Buttman is HIV positive -- as is his porn star wife
(thankfully, their nine-year-old daughter is negative)

In the People v. Buttman case, Stagliano faced up to 32 years in prison on obscenity charges, but the judge threw out the case on technicalities

Bizarrely, throughout the proceedings, many so-called liberals parroted the same clichés used in Stagliano's defense: consenting adults… their own privacy… First Amendment… freedom of speech… yadda, yadda, yadda.

But if you think there's anything liberal about supporting or tolerating porn, chances are 1) you don't know how hardcore it's become or 2) you have a vested interest in the industry.

Stagliano, for instance, is renowned for pioneering 'asshole milkshakes' and 'ATMs' ('ass-to-mouths'), in which women are not only subjected to anal sex but induced to swallow the ejaculate, thereby tasting their own feces.

And if you can tolerate that, here's a sample of the dialogue from Milk Nymphos, an Evil Angel video that was played to the court, as cited by a local paper.

'One of the female performers repeatedly refers to her male co-star as a "nigger," declaring, for example, "Come on, you nigger, fuck me in the ass," and imploring the other female performer to "look in his eyes when you suck his nigger cock."'

True liberalism holds that we're all in this together: that what I do has an impact on my fellow human beings, and if I see someone being exploited or treated unjustly, it's my duty to do everything in my power to help them.

That's why so many of the early liberals--not least Nonconformist women--fought to regulate porn and prostitution.

Libertarianism is almost the exact opposite, a kind of rabid conservatism that's perverted the American Dream.

Libertarians like Stagliano believe they should be free to make a buck any way they see fit unless the law can stop them.

In their twist on history, they'd have us believe that George Washington and his boys were eating their boots at Valley Forge so that centuries later, Buttman & Co. could get rich by degrading women for money.

Sure enough, one of Stagliano's media defenders was a research fellow at the DC-based Cato Institute, a group with the lofty-sounding ideals of promoting 'individual liberty, free markets and peace'.

In reality, it's a libertarian thinktank that thought nothing of taking Buttman's money.

If you want to proclaim the Buttman trial as a victory for free speech, then go ahead: that's your right.

But please: don't call yourself a liberal.


The History of Sex: Paris and Provence -- The Sadeian Dream Made Reality -- (Chap. VII, Pt. 31)

Grinning, Milukman shifts the small desk where the tax inspector has been doing her dirty work to open a cabinet and show me les fucking machines, including 'Le Pump'—an oxygen mask that clamps onto a woman's privates—and the electric bread knife that's been converted into a double-headed dildo.

He also produces the black headdress that the women wear, and agrees to let me photograph him in it—if he can get it on, that is.

'I don't know how to do this,' he says, fumbling with the strings.

Milukman sex history muslim porn

After camping it up on the futon where the beurettes take their pleasure, he takes a seat at his laptop next to a poster of Scarface to show me the one Internet flick he's actually proud of.

'It was very funny to do.'

The sadistic premise of No Fixed Address centers on a not overly attractive woman who arrives in a business suit saying she's willing to do anything to work in porn. 

'Anything?' the director asks off camera.


So the filmmakers decide to test her by luring a homeless man off the streets—the skinheaded actor from Beurettes Rebelles in a dodgy wig and makeup—and hauling him into the studio, where the woman is waiting blindfolded.

'She can't see!' Milukman chuckles.

The filmmakers remove the blindfold, and the woman's so disgusted, she starts to walk out, but the men talk her into having sex with the tramp.

She kneels in front of him only to find that his penis has gunk on it.

'We put cheese on his dick to make it look dirty!' Milukman laughs.

Cut to the homeless man hurriedly washing his penis in the sink.

'Reality,' the director turns to me to make a Very Important Point, 'That's something the Internet can provide: reality.'

In reality, I don't know what he's talking about.

The clip progresses from oral sex to fisting and screwing, climaxing with a 'facial,' to use the trade term.

And throughout all this, the porn impresario is laughing and cackling: if you couldn't see the screen, you'd think he was watching Chaplin's Little Tramp being hit with a cream pie rather than a tramp coming on a woman's face.

Maybe that's the Sadeian dream made reality. In the new age of porn, people don't know when they're being sadistic; cruelty just comes naturally.

* * *

The History of Sex: Paris and Provence -- Muslim Porn: Behind the Scenes -- (Chap. VII, Pt. 30)

Likewise, I don't want to sound libelous, but it would be a scandal—and more than a little ironic—if the secretive entrepreneur behind Beurettes Rebelles were actually a racist enriching himself by exploiting French-Arab women.

And the more time I spend with him, I get the impression that Milukman doesn't hold France's North African population in the highest esteem: maybe it's because he's a Parisian from the upper crust or because his father had to flee Algeria in 1962 and remake his life after the revolution—Milukman still calls De Gaulle a 'traitor' for surrendering Algeria to the Algerians.

None of that makes him inherently racist, of course; in certain circles, it would just prove he's a good Frenchman.

But imagine the outrage if Milukman turned out to be a good Frenchman whose work just happened to rot the minds and reproductive relationships of immigrants to keep both them and their numbers down.

As Milukman says, though, he doesn't see it that way; it's a 'social service.'

Le Drilldo: one of Milukman's tools

'So are you planning to work in porn for the rest of your career?'

'No, no.' He shakes his head vigorously. 'If I want to have children, and they knew I was working in porn, that would be impossible for me. Maybe it's my Italian roots, but when I'm older, I can't look back at my life and say I did sex and porn.'

With that, Milukman offers to show me his studio nearby.

Instead of a professional film set—or even a photographer's studio—the woodbeamed atelier looks like a student's bedsit or, more romantically, an artist's garret, with a small skylight, a futon and a disheveled mattress, as well as DVDs of The Saint and The Da Vinci Code scattered around the TV and stereo.

The walls are decorated with postcards of tasteful nudes—there's nary a nipple in sight—in contrast to the hardcore scenes that are filmed right here.

On one of the Beurettes Rebelles DVDs you can glimpse the postcard nudes in the background—as a veiled woman with a C-section scar sodomizes herself with a massive black dildo.

The History of Sex: Paris and Provence -- 'I Don't Want to Sound Racist, But...' -- (Chap. VII, Pt. 29)

I'd rather not.

With all that and more under his belt, it's not surprising that Milukman views classic erotica like Emmanuelle as risibly tame.

'I'm from the new generation of producers. There's a gap between Emmanuelle and what I do,' he tells me, by which I think he means that old-school filmmakers tried to hide behind a fig leaf of artistic pretension, whereas his naked ambition is all about money shots.

But that's not what he's getting at.

'People of the old school did it because they loved it,' he explains.

'They were perverts—cochons—pigs. The new generation does it only because it's business. When we get together at meetings, we talk about links and partnerships, not about fucking.'

'You see webmasters who look like choirboys. There are a lot of men like me who didn't think they would work in sex, but sex came to them via the Internet.'

One glorious day I turned on the computer, and lo and behold, sex had come to me via the Internet! 

Likewise, Milukman rejects any notion that he enjoys degrading women, much less that he's a sadist.

'My job is as a businessman. This is just a business opportunity.'

'So if you could make the same money selling potatoes—'

'—then we would do that!' he smiles triumphantly. 'I want to show that you can do porn on the Internet without being a pervert.'

Which sounds perversely puritanical.

And while your mind's reeling from that, I should point out that I have no idea whether the makers of Emmanuelle were cochons.

When I mention another elder veteran of the French hardcore scene, though, Milukman is scathing: 'He's obscene, a pervert. His life is porn. My life is not porn.'

And like a canny drug dealer—or a carb-conscious purveyor of spuds, for that matter—Milukman doesn't partake of his own product.

'I never watch my own movies on the Internet. Except for one. It was very funny to do—I'll show it to you later.'

'What about the beurettes? Do you ever sleep with them?'

'Never.' He rears back. 'When I meet one of the girls, I don't even kiss her. I shake her hand. When you're on set, you're in a business mindset. Also, I have a fiancée.'

'Does she know what you do?'

'Yes.' He grimaces. 'She doesn't like it, but she accepts it. When we're with friends and family, I'm not allowed to say what I do.'

'Also, she knows that I'm not attracted to that kind of woman. I don't want to sound racist, but when you've already fucked that kind of girl, you realize that things will always be complicated with them and their families, and they're hard to put up with.'

The History of Sex: Paris and Provence -- Muslim Porn: 'A Social Service'? -- (Chap. VII, Pt. 28)

And just as Sade disowned most of his work and was ostracized by polite society, Milukman says he's been shunned by some old schoolmates because of his career in porn.

'Do you ever worry about the impact it has on society?'

'We often give the excuse'—I think he means 'justification'—'that we give pleasure to people,' he says, before echoing the ancient sex-as-safety-valve point of view.

'It's better to have boys jacking off in front of a computer than to have them raping girls in a gang-bang in a banlieue. It's a public interest thing.'

He laughs, but he's serious. 'It's true. I really believe that.'

'What about the women? Don't you think it's degrading to them?'

'Yes, it's degrading, but the girls who do it have a choice to do it. This sort of thing has to exist,' he adds. 'It's like prostitution. It's a social service.'

A true public service:
A poster in the Paris Metro for Ni Putes Ni Soumises
(Neither Whores Nor Submissives):
a French feminist movement that fights violence against women
in the banlieues and ghettos where many of France's Muslims live 

Again, he's smiling—but he's not joking.

The closest he comes to showing regret is when he mentions a girl who suddenly asked him to remove all her films from the Internet.

'A lot of Arabian girls say "I want to keep my face hidden. Because if my brother or father sees me, I'm dead." And it's true—they would be dead.'

Unfortunately for the girl in question, her boyfriend was a subscriber to the site.

'And he recognized her body, even though her face was hidden.' Milukman rolls his eyes.

'Is she okay?'

'I don't know,' he laughs. 'I can't really call her to find out.'

'How do you feel about that?'

'I removed the movies. It was her choice.'


He finally musters up some token remorse. 'I feel bad because the girl needed the money, and for me, it wasn't so bad because it was just a funny film.' He shrugs. 'She did something very hard—that may be why her boyfriend didn't like it.'

May be.

'Hard' involves household appliances fitted with sex toys: 'fucking machines' with names like 'Le Drilldo' and 'Le Breadbang.'

'We put two dildos on an electric thing you use to cut bread—'

'You mean an electric knife?'

'Yeah. Bzzzzhh!' he's laughing now. 'And she took it in the pussy and the ass at the same time. Can you imagine?'

The History of Sex: Paris and Provence -- Muslim Porn and Darwinian Capitalism -- (Chap. VII, Pt. 27)

Apart from my word to the wise, though, Milukman says his tip-offs have come from Arabic subscribers—not outsiders.

'But surely if you care about Allah and the Dome of the Rock, you're not going to be surfing Muslim porn in the first place?' I suggest.

'All that is about hypocrisy.'

As for himself, Milukman's mother is from Naples and his father French; 'Milukman' is a meaningless nickname, and his heritage has made him a fully indifferent Catholic.

'In my mind, I'm Italian; in my way of being, I'm French,' he says. 'I'm a Christian, but that is not a problem.' 

If anything, like so many people I've met on my journey, Milukman comes across as a Darwinian capitalist, a man whose belief system consists of one brutally simple credo: 'survival of the richest,' with little if any concern for what was once quaintly called the common good.

Superficially, he's as charming as you'd expect a Franco-Italian to be and far more handsome than the stereotypical Nethead.

Fundamentally, though, he must be a pretty nasty piece of work.

Milukman made his first fortune by starting a vengeance website back in 1998, claiming that it was one of the few Internet concepts to originate in Europe and be copied in the US rather than the other way round.

On the site, jilted lovers get their own back by posting compromising photos of their exes, alongside explanations of why they want revenge.

'For me, it was a very funny idea,' he recalls. 'I never believed it would be as successful as it was.'

Now in his mid-thirties, Milukman says he's made enough money from porn to never have to work again.

I have no way of verifying this, but when he mentions that an ongoing tax inspection may cost him €150,000, he doesn't look worried at all.

'My father had a big business,' he says, adding that he didn't know anything about France's slums until he started Beurettes Rebelles.

His dad wanted him to join the family business, but Milukman rebelled. That's how he got into porn.

'It's the best business to make money in,' he shrugs.

The History of Sex: Paris and Provence -- The Dome of the Rock, Muslim Porn, and Mohammed's Child Bride -- (Chap. VII, Pt. 26)

I ask him about a Web report I've seen that claims one of his sites featured a 'photo of an Arab woman fingering her anus in front of the Dome of the Rock.'

He sighs.

'Yes, it was a mistake.'

That montage was mounted on a US version of the site by his designer, who wanted to use images that were evocative of the Middle East.

So apparently a woman diddling her rectum next to Islam's holiest of holies sprang to mind.

'And immediately people emailed me to tell me it was dangerous.'

The Dome of the Rock was quickly excised, but the beurette and her butthole are still there (or at least they were when I spoke with him), alongside a couple of veiled but otherwise topless women, some palm trees and… a scattering of decorative oil derricks.

Mistake or not, Muslim fundamentalists have harassed and killed people for less.

As we speak, rioters in the banlieues are fighting the police.

And not so long ago, protesters around the world were demanding death for a Danish cartoonist.

Not surprisingly, Milukman is keen to distance himself from those examples.

'I never speak about Allah, and I never speak about Mohammed,' he says. 

Well, except for that one time.

'My designer once put some Arabic writing on the body of a nude girl, and immediately people emailed us that some of the writing contained the name of Allah. It was an honest mistake.' He shrugs. 'How were we to know?'

Possibly by doing some basic research in the first place.

But one of the most surprising aspects about Milukman's potentially life-or-death pastime is just how little he (and his designer) know about Islamic culture.

At one point, I ask him if Aïcha, the half-Moroccan billed as a 'superb brunette' on his site, deliberately based her porn name on the Prophet's beloved child bride.

He looks genuinely shocked—and not a little worried. 

'Aisha was the name of Mohammed's wife?'

I nod.

'There are lots of Aishas in the banlieues,' he mumbles pensively. 'Maybe we'll have to change that on the site.'

Salman Rushdie was ayatollahed for less.

The History of Sex: Paris and Provence -- Provoking Muslims -- (Chap. VII, Pt. 25)

Now, I'm no expert on Islamic headgear, but this seems disingenuous at best, not least because the veil on Milukman's site isn't of the colorful, bellydancing variety but a somber black headdress that covers a woman's hair with a cap and most of her face with a long rectangular piece of cloth, leaving only her eyes exposed.

It looks to me like a close cousin of the hijab known as a niqab.

And given that France is the only major Western country where girls are banned from wearing headscarves in school, wrapping naked Muslim girls in black veils for porn shoots seems deliberately provocative, not least because their usual partner is a young white Frenchman with a shaved head.

Milukman gives me a cagey grin. 'It's not a religion-provoking site—officially.'

Nevertheless, for photos, he insists on hiding behind a veil of his own: sunglasses and a handkerchief.

He hit on the idea of using the veil as the unique selling point for a website in 2003.

'I wanted to do something that had never been done—and something to shock,' he says, emphasizing the last word by fisting the air.

I ask if 9/11 and the Iraq War had anything to do with it.

'I can't officially say Beurettes Rebelles had something to do with terrorism or politics.'

He uses his hands to show the divide between his website and those issues.

'But for me, it is a provocation,' he admits. 'In order to keep the site running, though, I have to say it's about Scheherazade and The Thousand and One Nights.'

The disclaimer on Milukman's site
(courtesy of Google's auto-translator)

Remarkably, Milukman claims he's never had any death threats.

'I've never received even one hate mail,' he says, dead-eyed and earnest. 'I think Arabian people are clever enough to understand the difference between my site and religion.'

In fact, he estimates that 80% of his subscribers are Muslims.

'Chiefly Arabian boys from the banlieues. In France, it's sexual misery for these men. The only way for them to see girls is the Internet, and it's not that expensive for them to pay one to two euros to see a full sex scene online.'

So long as it doesn't offend their religious sensitivities, naturally.

And Milukman—a self-styled 'Web subversive'—has had some close scrapes...

The History of Sex: Paris and Provence -- Milukman and Muslim Porn -- (Chap. VII, Pt. 24)

In analyzing the adventures of the 'new Tintin,' an arch-conservative journalist (and Flemish separatist) noted that the case was the latest in a series of sleaze scandals.

'Morality has gone berserk all over Europe, but nowhere to the same degree as in Belgium,' he claimed. 'If Europe ever "belgianizes", i.e. becomes a state without a real nation, it will end up as the same moral cesspit that Belgium is today.'

As entertaining as Belgium-bashing may be, I'm sure there are plenty of Belguel types in other countries: I've even arranged a rendezvous with one in Paris.


'I think that Belguel guy was mad,' my contact says, though many people would say he's not so sane himself. 

The mystery man across from me is known to hordes of adoring wankers only as 'Milukman,' the founder of websites specializing in what some Westerners refer to as 'Muslim porn'—a deeply offensive term in its own right, especially when pornographers make puns on the word 'submissive' in the S&M sense and the literal meaning of Muslim as 'one who submits.'

Milukman's flagship site is Beurettes Rebelles, a beurette being any French-speaking girl of Arabic or North African extraction, particularly if she hails from one of the immigrant sink estates, or banlieues, on the outskirts of Paris.

For around €350 (less than $500), Milukman's French-Arab 'rebels' willingly subject themselves to varying degrees of humiliation: some masturbate in close-up—with or without the aid of 'fucking machines'—while others limit themselves to oral and anal sex (saving their vaginas for their loved ones), and a hardcore group of wannabe porn stars put their every orifice at the director's disposal.

But all the 'rebel beurettes' have one thing in common: they start off wearing nothing but their birthday suits… and a black veil.

'The veil is my brand—it's my marketing,' Milukman explains.

However, it's not a hijab, he adds.

Although it may look like sacrilege, Beurettes Rebelles features a disclaimer declaring that its inspiration is the (misogynistic) classic, A Thousand and One Nights, in which a courtesan tells a king a cliffhanger each night to avoid execution in the morning:

'Thus no religious character should be attributed to these veils,' the site states.

In fact, Milukman claims the beurettes' black headdress came from a costume store.

'It's a veil like Scheherazade wore.'

The History of Sex: Paris and Provence -- The 'New Tintin' Unmasked -- (Chap. VII, Pt. 23)

While scrupulously blotting out his own belle gueule, he made no attempt to hide the women's faces, leaving them easily identifiable in his before-and-after photos.

This became a temporarily diverting topic for his fellow 'mongers' online, men with nicknames like Spurter, MeatMan and XXL whose idea of an ethical debate usually consisted of whether or not to tip for oral sex without a condom.

'He gets my vote for poster of the year!' gushed one, though another warned: 'These girls are Muslims. They live in a Muslim country. You are exposing them to grave danger.'

When the forum moderator suggested covering up the women's eyes, some members countered that there was no need: their faces were already covered in semen.


Belguel's images soon began making the rounds in the local souks, and in 2005, the fiancé of one of the women recognized his betrothed on a black-market CD.

Despite the obvious question of why he was watching porn in the first place, the Moroccan did the me-so-macho thing and beat up the woman, an otherwise respectable schoolteacher.

Rejected by her family and friends, the woman tried to report Belguel to the police; tragically, she was arrested instead: in Morocco, it's a crime to pose for explicit photos.

The disgraced teacher was fined and sentenced to a year in jail, while the police tracked down the other women on the CD.

At last count, thirteen had been sent to prison (two reportedly tried to kill themselves) and several others had disappeared: presumed suicides or the victims of 'honor' killings.

It turns out that the true criminal in the case had been caught with porn pictures and questioned by the Moroccan authorities the previous year.

'The police kept me in for eighteen hours, but they released me because Morocco has good relations with Belgium, where I am a well-known person,' Belguel crowed later.

With the cooperation of the Belgian police, though, he was eventually unmasked as not just a run-of-the-mill perv but a baby-faced member of the country's media elite: Philippe Servaty, the chief economics correspondent of Le Soir, Brussels' most influential newspaper.

Although he apparently hadn't committed any crime under Belgian law, Servaty was forced to resign: not for abusing the women… but for making 'racist' remarks about them.

He's since gone into hiding with a bounty on his head.

The History of Sex: Paris and Provence -- Islam and the Pretty-Faced Sadist -- (Chap. VII, Pt. 22)

With their emphasis on 'safe words' and sex 'play,' most self-styled sadists today are anemic imitations of the real Marquis.

Like their namesake, genuine sadists probably wind up in prison—though more than a few walk freely among us.

In the maiden years of the new millennium, a modern Sade began posting Internet photos of his holidays to Morocco humiliating Muslim women.

Styling himself 'Belguel'—which sounds like 'pretty face'—the Francophone sex tourist boasted that he hadn't even had to pay the women for their services.

The girls he picked up on the streets of Agadir willingly submitted to being sodomized (and worse) because they believed he would whisk them to Europe.

'These sluts are so naïve. If you promise to marry them and take them with you to Brussels they do whatever you ask,' he wrote, alongside a photo of one of the eighty or so women he'd conned into posing for him.

Many of his unwitting victims were single (though some were married) and most were plain.


In a typical sequence, one of Belguel's prettier victims, a dark-skinned woman with a sweet face, smiles shyly for the camera in a stonewashed jacket and denim skirt.

Before you know it, she's bent over a sofa with her skirt hitched up and her knickers around her knees, spreading her backside.

And that's just the beginning.

In the next photo, she's kneeling naked with a bondage gag in her mouth and her hands tied behind her back.

Belguel has wrapped a rope around her neck, chest and groin and clamped nipple clips on her breasts.

He stands over her, gripping the tail of the rope like a dog lead, having removed his trousers and underpants. He then proceeds to urinate in the bound woman's face (having placed a metal pot in her lap to protect the furnishings).

In another shot, she's wearing a hijab and silk gown, leaving only her face exposed while she kneels and the white man masturbates to completion in her eyes.

In the original series,
the face of Belguel's victim is clearly visible
(I've edited this photo)

'Look at this girl, her face is covered with two liquids. She didn't like it very much, but she said she was open to learning anything new from the West,' jeered the anonymous correspondent.

In an entry reminiscent of Sade and his era's fascination with nuns, Belguel bragged: 'There is no better drug than to ejaculate on the veiled face of a woman.'

The History of Sex: Paris and Provence -- The Bee Gees and the Terribly Nice Sadists -- (Chap. VII, Pt. 21)

I should point out that all this is taking place to a surreal, disco-riffic soundtrack of ABBA, Barry White and the Bee Gees.

Next door, a greyheaded man has lashed his partner to the X-shaped cross of St. Andrew.

She's pantyless and facing the wall, the taut skin on her face contrasting suspiciously with the flaccidity of her backside—if only they did Botox for buttocks.

As the old boy flails her with twirls and whirlybirds and other tricks of the whip, she gasps 'Oui! Oui!' and even 'Encore! Encore!' while the 'Walrus of Love' croons 'Let the Music Play.'

One voyeur starts grooving in unison—before stopping self-consciously.

Steve and Fanny have disappeared from the bar, and I wander upstairs to see if they're still here.

I turn the corner to have a look in the bedroom and—whoa!—see more of Sex Action Man than I ever wanted.

Steve is naked, kneeling with his butt to the doorway, while Fanny whips him between the legs… and gazes over his shoulder at me.

I shrink away.


By now, the air in the club is the usual Metro stew of alcohol, sweat, smoke and garlic, plus a queasy soupcon of bodily secretions.

Over in the ob-gyn clinic, the bulbous woman with the trussed tits—she of the hot-waxed nipples—is lying on the examination table, her feet in the stirrups.

'Le Marquis Noir' guides a rotund blonde into the room and positions her between the patient's legs.

She begins administering cunnilingus, while the black woman's fat, ponytailed boyfriend kisses and fondles her and the usual crowd gathers round.

One of them starts humming along with the lush melody winding its way up the stairs.

(To answer that timeless question posed by the Bee Gees, I'm guessing the lickee's love is about six inches deep.)

Out in the hall, I've been cornered by a little guy with porthole glasses and a tubby sidekick wearing a toupee that wouldn't fool a blind man.

The elderly fellow in specs pauses to put on a tight leather glove, as if preparing for a rectal probe.

'What's that for?' I ask.

He blinks at me obviously and nods toward the blonde. 'For ze lay-dee.'


Back in his shiny fetishwear, Sex Action Man materializes out of the funk, ready and more than willing to assist in Operation Ecstasy.

Steve's standing behind the kneeling woman with his arms at the ready, and at some mysterious signal—maybe it's a nod from the Marquis, maybe it's the beginning of 'Too Much Heaven (Nobody Gets Too Much Love Anymore)'—Steve sticks his fingers up the latex expanse of the fat woman's skirt.

She doesn't balk—then again, her tongue's otherwise engaged—so he enlists another guy to lift up her skirt with a plastic snap! and Steve's hand disappears up her bottom.

Despite the black woman's moans of ecstasy, after many minutes of lap licking, it becomes clear she can't muster up a crowd-pleasing climax.

Her boyfriend asks the blonde to stop.

'I'm doing my best,' she protests.

'Thank you, but I think she's had enough.'

And with that, the Terribly Nice Sadists disperse.

* * *

The History of Sex: Paris and Provence -- The Chanel No. 5 of Coition -- (Chap. VII, Pt 20)

Drink Three 

It's taken me a while (maybe I'm not so clever after all), but I finally realize: the Marquis' Tea is basically a sex club with spanking—lots of spanking.

I've been driven out of the writer's room by a couple of old folks who look better suited to sunshine and grandchild-dandling than black leather and shagging in public.

Maybe they're the last big bang of the Baby Boomers, the generation that turned youthfulness into a religion.

As I left, gramps was spasming against granny—Forever young!!!!!—while a younger voyeur with bulgy eyes played with himself in his leotard.

Over in the bedroom, someone has taken up the fellatee's offer and is taking his girlfriend from the rear while remaining fully clothed himself.

He's pounding her so hard she's grunting 'Ooh! Ooh! Ooh!' with each impact: it's a wonder the guy on the bed isn't crying 'Teeth! Teeth! Teeth!'

I'm standing right next to the paunchy love machine, but no matter how close I get (close enough to know he's wearing a condom), it's decidedly unsexy.

Mind you, I've never been one for spectator sports.

He and the girl are giving it their porn-star best, with him going 'Unh! Unh!' and her going 'Ooh! Ooh!'—except it comes out as Mlmooh! Mlmooh! because she's moaning with her mouth full.

Maybe it would help if I faked interest, too: Go on, my son! Allez! ALLEZ! ALLEEEEEEEEEZZZZZZ!

But I don't want to throw them off their stride, if only for the sake of the guy with his bits in the sharp end.

And I doubt the Mexican wave would go down well here, either.

The Frenchman at the rear finishes with a rather subdued groan, orgasming in public with the old Unh!-Unh!-UNNNNNNHHHHHHHHH! combination—a classic, that; the Chanel No. 5 of coition—and the black girl collapses with a whimper, pawing at her master's chest, while the other white guy winkles the rubber off his winkie.

Some time later, the girl and her master emerge from the den.

She's surprisingly young and pretty; not so surprisingly, she's a little unsteady on her feet.

'So how did that turn out?' Steve asks me down in the bar.

'Put it this way—it's a miracle she can walk.'

He leans across Fanny's fanny to speak with me, man to man.

'Did you—did you see if she took it up the ass?'

I stare at him dumbstruck. 'I—I honestly couldn't say.'

So much for me and my eye for detail.

The History of Sex: Paris and Provence -- 'Most Other Clubs Are Sordid' -- (Chap. VII, Pt. 19)

To spare you the literal blow-by-blow—and in homage to the Marquis' love of theatre, I'll call what follows Les Cochons et Moi: A Farce in Three Drinks.

Drink One

In the dingy, red-lit room, a couple of men are beating some faceless woman's backside.

At first, I think she must be wearing tights—I'd certainly want padding—but she's actually black, and while her bare behind is being abused, she's simultaneously going down on a white guy stretched out on the worn, satin bedspread.

The main spanker is beating not just her gluteus maximus but also everything inbetweenus, like a man who can't tell a pussy from a cat-o'-nine tails.

Meanwhile, his compadre is thwacking his penis against the girl's butt to try to get an erection.

And behind them, a gaggle of us are crowding around somberly, in a scene that somehow reminds me of an old oil painting of medical students receiving a lesson in human anatomy: Masters Thumpcock and Witherdick Demonstrating to Esteemed Gentlemen How to Give a Slag a Bloody Good Hiding.

I bump into Steve on my way out.

'It's really good here, isn't it?' he says. 'Most other clubs are sordid.'

Drink Two

Down in the bar, Fanny has a special request for Oda: she wants to borrow the red whip from behind the bar.

'I'd really like to try this on you,' she tells me, her smoke-cured chords doing their best approximation of a purr. 'I like to dominate clever men—not stupid, rubbish men. Men who have something in their heads.'

To which I guess I'm meant to clap my hands to my face and gasp: Well, golly! Seeing's how you've flattered my intelligence, I suppose I could let you take out your anger toward men by whaling on me! But not to a pulp—I'm not stupid, you know!

In the upper room, most of the men are massaging their limp appendages—or maybe they're just really small; it's hard to tell in this light.

One has managed to ejaculate across the black girl's back (note to self: avoid puddles), but she's still noshing away on the white guy and being paddled by all comers.

Even a shy Asian guy gets in an occasional slap, in between spanking his own privates.

On the bed, the recipient of the world's longest blow job lifts his head languorously to address the strangers: 

'Does anybody want to fuck her?'

The History of Sex: Paris and Provence -- Fanny, Sex Action Man, and a Taste of the Marquis de Sade -- (Chap. VII, Pt. 18)

Noting my discomfort, Oda introduces me to a regular from London who lives in Paris.

He's clad in a shiny shirt-and-trousers ensemble made of black plastic-leather.

Blonde and square-jawed, Sex Action Man has a habit of cocking his arms on his hips.

'Hi, I'm Steve,' he says.

Of course it is.

'And this is Fanny.' A French dominatrix with wispy hair, stained teeth and leathery skin.

I tell them I'm writing a book, and Fanny mentions that she was invited to the award ceremony last night for the Prix Sade, a literary prize founded in 2001.

Apparently a gay snuff novel from America won (I'm so proud).

Fanny makes it clear that she and Steve are merely acquaintances; he has a live-in girlfriend.

'But she's not really into this,' he adds vaguely.

After some more perfectly pleasant small talk—they're terribly nice, these sadists—I excuse myself to have a look round.


The cubbyholes next to the bar have a torture-lite theme, with a leather sex swing and assorted shackles, handcuffs and pulley contraptions, as well as a dildo-equipped chair and a Cross of St. Andrew.

Upstairs, the mood moves from the inspirational (a room with an old-fashioned writing desk and quilled pen) to the clinical (a tiled 'doctor's surgery' featuring an examination bed with gynecological stirrups) and even the ham-handedly comical (a toilet with penis-shaped taps) before reverting to ye-olde dungeon theme in the main room.

A couple of middle-aged blondes are taking it in turns to be spanked and tied to stocks hanging from the ceiling, and in the corner, a topless black woman with ropes around her breasts—a kind of bondage support bra—is mashing mammaries with a white kinkster while her fat, ponytailed boyfriend drips candle wax on their saucer-sized nipples.

Both women are loudly sucking in air, licking their lips and flicking their tongues to let it be known to all and sundry that the hot wax is exquisitely painful.

To me, it just looks painful. 

But I soon spot the real attraction: a little curtained-off bedroom in the corner—the black hole of male lust that keeps the regulars coming back for more.

A couple of men are perving in the doorway, drinks in hand, transfixed by the grimly sexual scene inside.

Not knowing what to expect—though the spanking and sucking noises should be a clue—I take another swig of my drink and peer into the darkness.

The History of Sex: Paris and Provence -- 'Are You More Dominant or Submissive?' -- (Chap. VII, Pt. 17)

But it turns out that boogie-'n'-bondage is all part of the very special ambience.

Though hardcore by night, every Friday the club hosts an 'afternoon tea' billed as Les Goûters du Divin Marquis: 'A Taste—or Smack—of the Divine Marquis.'

'At night, we play heavy, techno music, but for the teas, we play this to get people relaxed,' explains Philippe's partner, Oda, who's working behind the bar in some sort of corset contraption.

Given her vaguely Teutonic name and frankly Wagnerian proportions, Oda reminds me of an opera singer—the one they wheel out when the show's about to end.

Her cleavage is casting a shadow over a selection of fruit, biscuits and gummy chews on the bar, alongside a bag of body clips.

Thoughtfully, there's also a dispenser of hand sanitizer nearby—though if your average bowl of cocktail peanuts has a bazillion bacteria in it, imagine what's floating around this joint.

'The teas are for new people to the S&M scene,' Oda's explaining. 'They bring together the libertines and the S&M crowd, something no one's ever done before.'

Before I can ask if 'libertines' are the same as 'swingers,' Oda stumps me with a question of her own.

'Are you more dominant or submissive?'

And to think we're barely on fake-first-name terms. 

After some preliminary spluttering, I confess that I've never really thought about it. 'If pushed, I guess I'd rather beat than be beaten,' I smile weakly, though it's akin to asking how I'd like to kill myself: frankly, I'd rather not die at all.

Oda informs me she used to be a dominatrix until she met Philippe, who's now her master.

'I like to dominate men psychologically,' she says, staring hard at me and tapping her temple. 'Especially travestis—that's my game.'

I flap my lips like a fish out of water. You've got to wonder how hard it is to mess with a man who can't even decide whether he's male or female.

More importantly, what kind of creature would get a kick out of confusing him further?

The History of Sex: Paris and Provence -- BDSM, ABBA, and Me -- (Chap. VII, Pt. 16)

Nevertheless, I've had some doubts about coming here, not least because I wasn't sure what to wear.

I don't really have the body for bondage, and when I consulted my kinky oracle—Lena the Latin South African—her less-than-helpful suggestion was a monosyllabic chant: Gimp! Gimp! Gimp!

Fortunately, the club's dress code has saved me from looking like a big-'n'-tall medicine ball.

Dark clothes are de rigueur, but a good suit will do, so I'm wearing the best one I own—an old Pierre Cardin, as it happens.

The former wine cellar has been converted into a cozy setting for Sadeian fantasies, complete with candelabra, plush furnishings and bondage films projected onto the half-barrel ceiling.

Sadly, the club's habitués don't look anything like the models pouting in patent leather on the ceiling—I'm not even sure they belong to the same species.


The average age in here must be around forty-five and the body-mass index knocking on a hundred.

Not for the first time, it occurs to me that the obesity 'epidemic' has been a boon for BDSM.

Before coming here, while searching for gear for myself, I came across a woman's website listing 'goddess' sizes, including petticoats for a 54-inch waist (I clicked away when she mentioned dressing like a goddess-sized—or was it Godzilla-sized?—Japanese schoolgirl).

Sure enough, a table of corseted vamps in the corner are gobbling their way to deification, alongside a stringy blonde whose voice is so deep I can't tell if she's a pre-op tranny or a post-meno Frenchwoman.

One obvious travesti is a travesty indeed: he's got a weathered, man-of-the-land face, but he's wearing lipstick, a blonde wig and a maid's outfit with chains and BDSM trinkets tied around his waist.

He wanders past a mostly naked man who's kneeling and facing the wall with his hands tied behind his back and a ball-gag in his mouth. And overhead, the sound system is blasting out ABBA.

Which—if you think about it—may just make his humiliation complete.

I mean, if the guy on the floor is into the submissive thing, willingly trussed up in all his flabby luminosity, then he's probably fantasized about the soundtrack being dark and sinister; not the bright aural bellbottoms of ABBA.

You can imagine him eagerly submitting to being bound—oh yes, mistress!—and gagged—moh myef, miftreflbf!

And then, when he's powerless to stop her, the cow turns on 'Dancing Queen.'

The History of Sex: Paris and Provence -- Cochons, Defloration-Mania, and the City of Light -- (Chap. VII, Pt. 15)

Ironically, despite the current bondage boom, S&M clubs are virtually nonexistent in the land of the Marquis.

So I've decided to go to Paris in search of a latter-day Sade—or at least a real, live, squealing cochon (slang for 'pervert').

The City of Light sealed its illicit reputation in the century after the Marquis' death, when pornography became mass market and consumerism fueled the notion that both people and goods could be disposable.

The English had popularized the term 'shopping' during the Marquis' lifetime, while 'defloration-mania'—the sale of virgins—became the rage on both sides of the Channel.

In 1855, a French playwright came up with a new term for the decadent 'half world' that thrived beyond the bounds of prudish 'respectable' society.

Fast-forward to the present, though, and le demimonde could easily describe tout le monde.

In keeping with stereotypes, sex and swinging clubs are as common as poodle muck in Paris, but surprisingly there's only one venue devoted to BDSM.

Cris et Chuchotements—'Cries and Whispers'—is tucked away where the red-light spillover from the Pigalle meets the chi-chi respectability of the seventeenth arrondissement.

Don't believe the hype:
They wish they were this sexy

In fact, the S&M site sits right behind the local town hall and just down the street from a police station and an elementary school.

The kids' laughter is echoing down the street as I approach the dungeonesque door, marked with a flickering candle encased in a glass. It seems fitting that the nearest Metro stop is Rome.

Inside, the entrance is predictably dark, contrasting with the flash of white flesh that greets me.

A chubby blonde is peeling off the last of her street clothes to squeeze into something a little less comfortable, and from what I've seen (without wanting to), I reckon she's at that age just before the physical slide turns into an avalanche.

The guy who takes my coat, on the other hand, is a buff gym bunny who I've been assured is a serious S&M player, despite the friendly lettering on his T-shirt—Philippe—and his codename—Le Marquis Noir—which probably sounds more menacing if you twirl a fake moustache and pronounce it with a villainous stage cackle:

The Marquis Nwah-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

The History of Sex: Paris and Provence -- The Real-Life Exploitation of 'Emmanuelle' -- (Chap. VII, Pt. 14)

Interestingly, Emmanuelle's liberating degradation—or degrading liberation—parallels that of the film's button-nosed star, who was actually Dutch.

Like most female porn pioneers, Silvia Kristel wound up a casualty of the industry, thanks to drink, drugs and bad decisions.

In her autobiography, she writes that she wanted 'a seminal film'—she certainly got that—'a springboard that would fling wide the door to the movies and the life of my dreams.'

And X has never been the same since...

Her first inkling that it wasn't going to turn out that way came when she was about to fake-fellate an actor and forgot her lines.

'Say whatever you like,' the director told her. 'You'll be dubbed anyway.'

Kristel also clashed with Just Jaeckin on the rape scene that's part of Emmanuelle's 'education;' she says she insisted on pulling faces to make it look unpleasant rather than erotic.

'But it was very hard to explain that to a male director. It was a very humiliating scene, and very difficult to me.'

Mind you, she may have got off lightly.

Jaeckin had lobbied hard to cast the skinny actress in the first place. 'I have a hunch,' he told Yves. 'She's so pure. Pure like her name—Kristel. You could rub shit on her face and she'd look clean.'

But why on earth would you want to? 

To this day, Rousset-Rouard defends Emmanuelle as an example of female lib, arguing that the source novel was reputedly penned by a woman.

At the same time, he somewhat paradoxically appears bemused by the cinema that films like Emmanuelle helped beget.

'I never produced pornographic movies, and I never produced violent movies. Today there are too many violent pictures, and it's difficult to do a movie without a rape scene or something like that. It's awful. But curiously, in the imagination of the people, Emmanuelle is probably much more important than a lot of pictures today, and probably more… pornographic.'

While Yves went on to produce Emmanuelles II and III, Jaeckin directed The Story of O, based on the 1950s novel about a woman who willingly becomes an S&M slave.

The author later admitted that she wrote it to please her Sade-obsessed man.

'I was not interested at all in that,' Yves sniffs. 'Because Emmanuelle is the freedom of a woman. The Story of O is completely the contrary. L'histoire de O is a story of slavery. Emmanuelle is a story of freedom—of liberty of a woman!'

'So you've never been tempted to film the story of the Marquis de Sade?'

He looks appalled.


* * *

The History of Sex: Paris and Provence -- Emmanuelle and a Most Awkward Threesome -- (Chap. VII, Pt. 13)

Funnily enough, Biblical themes are one of the few titular permutations the franchise hasn't exploited, even after seven films, countless ripoffs and an ever-copulating number of pay-TV spin-offs.

For if Debbie mainly did Dallas, Emmanuelle has done the world and then some (viz: Emmanuelle in Space, Emmanuelle vs. Dracula and Emmanuelle Goes to Hell).

In case you're not one of the 300 million or so who've seen the 1974 original (circa 650 million, counting videos and DVDs), Emmanuelle is the story of an ingénue's induction into the decadent world of French expats in Bangkok.

At the time, the movie was billed as a tale of a young wife's sexual liberation, though that claim seems disingenuous in extremis when you watch it now.

If anything, the film is just a groovy Seventies spin on a theme that was hoary even back in Sade's day: the joy of corrupting innocence, particularly if it leaves the corrupted gagging for more.


In the movie, Emmanuelle is initially repulsed by the predatory men and women around her, but she eventually succumbs to her peers, has a lesbian fling and—at her husband's urging—puts herself in the hands of the local sexpert, a super-experienced roué called Mario (played by the washed-up matinee idol, Alain Cuny, who grimaces throughout as if he's perfected the art of holding his nose without actually touching it).

As he smokes in the shadows and spouts platitudes, Mario offers his protégée up to be fondled by a drunk soldier, raped in an opium den and shagged from behind by a Thai kickboxer—all in the same night.

Upon awakening, Emmanuelle declares in a ludicrously girlish voice: 'You know how I feel? Like when I became a grown woman at the age of twelve. Only I'm a real woman now. I spit on those others—those who think sex is a dirty word! Yes, now I am a woman!'

At which point, Super Mario sweeps her into his arms, takes her back to his place, gets her tarted up, and—with the help of his houseboy—has the most awkward threesome ever committed to celluloid.

Roll credits.

Roger Ebert -- what were you thinking?

The History of Sex: Paris and Provence -- 'Emmanuelle: God Is With Me' -- (Chap. VII, Pt. 12)

'I produced many other very important pictures in France—cult pictures,' he continues. 'Emmanuelle is over. That does not interest me anymore.'

At first, I wonder if his reluctance doesn't have to do with his new career: he's now a politician, and a conservative one at that.

Currently the mayor of Menerbes, the village that Peter Mayle made famous, he was previously a member of Parliament.

Anywhere else, of course, having a skin-flick on your resume—as well as a cult film called Santa Claus Is a Shit (Le pere noel est une ordure)—might present something of a problem for a politico.

But in France, there's no shame in having created one of the most famous erotic films in history.

In fact, Rousset-Rouard reckons his box office success helped him at the ballot box.

One time, on a visit to Japan with Chirac, he told the former president: 'You know, Jacques, I've won more voters with Emmanuelle than you have.'

The mayor's office is festooned with photos of him and dignitaries from around the world, including the Emperor and Empress of Japan, and Chirac and his successor, Sarkozy.

Despite their political differences, Yves claims he's good friends with both, and I don't doubt it.

With his long nose and crafty eyes, there's something vulpine about Yves; he could flatter the red off a rose. 

With some blandishments of my own, though, I manage to get the old fox talking about Emmanuelle, and it turns out he is indeed proud of having produced one of the most successful French films of all time.

It happened like this: Yves was casting around in the Seventies for a project that would enable him to leap from advertising to feature films.

While flying to New York, he got talking to a guy who said: 'You must do Emmanuelle.'

'I had never read the book,' he admits.

When he got back to France, he met with the publisher, who tried to discourage him, telling him the film rights to the 1959 novel were renewed every year by a big production firm.

Yves asked the man to check just in case, and the publisher was shocked to find that the option had actually lapsed fifteen days earlier—'when I was on the flight,' Yves beams triumphantly.

'At that moment, I said, Emmanuelle: God is With Me.'

The History of Sex: Paris and Provence -- The Man Who Made Emmanuelle -- (Chap. VII, Pt. 11)

That said, reading Sade for the philosophy is like watching porn flicks for insights into life in modern California.

The Marquis owes his reputation as a philosophe mainly to the fact that his work was banned for decades and rediscovered just as sexology was taking off.

For years, the manuscript of 120 Days of Sodom and Gomorrah was thought to have been lost during the Storming of the Bastille in July 1789.

It wasn't until over a century later that one of the pioneers of sex studies, Dr. Iwan Bloch, managed to track it down and publish the first limited edition of the book—in German—in 1904.

And now a transplanted Irishman is hoping to do his own bit for the Marquis' myth here in his terre native.

Finn wants to open a shop that would highlight Sade's work and philosophy.

'But I want to do it non-profit-making. I want to do it for de Sade. I know sex sells and all that, but I don't want to get into this fetish-sadomasochism stuff because that shows a bad side to him. I think there's a whole other side to de Sade.'

* * *

Ever since the troubadours, the nobles of Provence have had a reputation for churning out porn, and one notable absence at the premiere of Sade is a former pornographer himself.

Of course, Yves Rousset-Rouard balks at this description, but as the producer of Emmanuelle (plus two sequels) and the founder of the world's first Corkscrew Museum, you can't help but suspect he's obsessed with screwing.

Inevitably, the collection of tire-bouchons on his vineyard five miles from Lacoste includes some naughty bits, such as a range of nineteenth-century 'erotic' corkscrews endowed with spread-eagle handles and male and female genitalia.

Nevertheless, Rousset-Rouard is reluctant to talk about his more famous world first: the softcore crossover that made erotica mainstream.

'I produced 35 movies in my life, and just three Emmanuelles,' he protests.

In case you're counting, that's three more than Spielberg, the Weinstein brothers, or Yves' friend, Ridley Scott.


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