The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Joe Sarno Day


‘Joe Sarno bridged the gap between the nudist and nudie-cutie films of the late 1950s and early 1960s and the hard-core genre that developed after sexually explicit films like Deep Throat came on the scene in the early 1970s. His early films were straightforwardly, even single-mindedly erotic, although flashes of nudity came only intermittently and the sex act took place outside the frame. Shot in a self-consciously artistic style, films like Red Roses of Passion (1966) and Odd Triangle (1968) explored the anxiety-haunted, tentative steps toward sexual liberation of middle-class suburbanites born too early to experience the uninhibited self-expression of the baby-boom generation.

‘“He was one of the pioneers of the American sexploitation film and a driving force in the sexual revolution of the 1960s,” Mr. Bowen said. “The films were gritty, down to earth, with a very distinctive style. At their best they were very dirty — they just did not have explicit sex.”

‘His film career began when the Navy, mistakenly believing that he had filmed bombing runs during the war, asked him to direct training films. He accepted the offer and then headed off to buy a book on cinematography. Over the next several years he made dozens of training films for the Navy and industrial films for military contractors. His first venture into feature films came when an independent producer approached him to write the screenplay for an erotic film, Nude in Charcoal, which was released in 1961 and shown, like all of Mr. Sarno’s films, in grind-house theaters.

‘Mr. Sarno wrote the screenplays for all 75 of the 35-millimeter films he made over the next 15 years, and for his subsequent hard-core films. The first film for which he received sole directing credit, Lash of Lust (1962), was never released. Atypically, it was an erotic costume drama about Gaul in the time of the Romans, shot in the forests of upstate New York. With Sin in the Suburbs (1963), Mr. Sarno hit his stride. His glimpse into the sex lives of bored suburbanites was commercially successful and helped kick-start the sexploitation genre. “I went for the ragged, realistic look more than anything, and I was more interested in psychology and character development than most of the other filmmakers at that time,” he said in a 2006 interview for the Torino Film Festival.

‘Mr. Sarno began shooting in color with Moonlighting Wives (1966), about an ambitious suburban housewife who organizes a prostitution ring to solve her money problems. In 1968, seeking to capitalize on the success of I Am Curious (Yellow), an avant-garde Swedish film whose sexual content had made it an international hit a year earlier, he traveled to Sweden to film Inga,  a sexual-awakening story. Its success, and the thrill of filming at a studio used by Ingmar Bergman, inspired Mr. Sarno to make an annual trip to Sweden to film with Swedish crews and actors for the American market.

‘In the early 1970s Mr. Sarno made some of his most joyous and accomplished films, notably Confessions of a Young American Housewife (1974), Abigail Lesley Is Back in Town (1975), Laura’s Toys (1975) and Misty (1976). But the onrush of hard-core films eliminated the market for his style of sex film. After 1977 he made dozens of explicit sex films, all shot on video and none under his real name. Although he had filmed Deep Throat II, a soft-core sequel to Deep Throat, in 1974 and worked with some of the hard-core industry’s biggest stars in films like All About Gloria Leonard (1980) and Deep Inside Annie Sprinkle (1981), he had virtually no interest in simply filming sex acts.

‘He stopped working in 1990, but as younger film scholars and filmmakers rediscovered his early films, he became the subject of tributes and retrospectives in the United States and Europe. He re-entered the sexploitation arena in 2004 with Suburban Secrets, a film that harked back to his glory years. Many of his films from the 1960s and early 1970s have been reissued by companies like Something Weird Video.’ — William Grimes





Joe Sarno @ IMDb
Joe Sarno’s films @ Something Weird
Joe Sarno’s films @ Mondo Digital
‘The Divine Joe Sarno’, a film by Virgile Iscan
‘Peggy Sarno on life with her husband Joe, the “Ingmar Bergman of porn”‘
‘The Sultan of Sophisticated Smut: Joe Sarno (1921 – 2010)’
‘Joseph W. Sarno est mort’
‘Joe Sarno & the Good Works’
‘Sin in the Suburbs: Deceased Artiste Joe Sarno’
‘Joe Sarno, Tamer of “Wildcats”’
‘”Dirty Movies”: a porn world love story’



Trailer: ‘Joe Sarno: A Life in Dirty Movies’

Joe Sarno on his early erotic features

In Memory of Joe Sarno


Interview: Michael J. Bowen on Joe Sarno
from Moonlight in the Gutter


I know you the most from your extraordinary work documenting and writing on Joe Sarno but can you tell us about some of your earlier work as a film historian and writer.

Michael J. Bowen: Historical research is essentially tedious and empirical. The first few times you phone up an old film personality and conduct an interview, it’s kinda fun, but ultimately the real work is 80% document-based. I’m sure I’ve ruined my eyesight reading through thirty years’ worth of Variety and scanning old film ads on microfilm, but that’s were you collect most of your data. In rare instances some of my interview contacts have preserved records that they’ve been kind enough to share with me – always very exciting – but that’s an exception. I’ve often said, documenting the careers of low-budget outsider filmmakers (as opposed to “big names”) is like the difference between eating crabs and eating lobsters – no tail meat! But over time I’ve been able to pull together lots and lots of scraps of information that are gradually beginning to add up to some sort of a “big picture.” In truth, I’m probably more of an archivist than a writer by nature; I enjoy building my dossiers and databases and think of books and articles as just a means for delivering the info. That said, I hope the interpretive aspects of my writing speak in some meaningful way to the films I engage with: that’s where writing really trumps evidence.

How were you first introduced to the cinema of Joe Sarno and how did you first come into contact with him?

MJB: first saw Joe’s films, like many people, on Something Weird videotapes. The day we met was memorable because it was September 10, 2001, the day before the World Trade Center was attacked. At any rate, I just thought Joe was the most extraordinarily kind and sincere guy – and I fell in love with Peggy right off the bat – so we just sort of became friends. Then I realized that Joe’s career needed to be documented badly. So I guess you could say that my installation as Joe’s biographer was kind of an outgrowth of the fact that I liked the guy so much and was always enthused about the prospect of foraging in new fields. Since so many of his films were missing or dispersed or difficult to find at the time I met him, it probably took a couple of years for me to actually get to see the majority of his work.

To my eyes Sarno is one of the key filmmakers of the sixties and seventies. For folks who are just being introduced to his works what film would you recommend as an ideal introduction, and do you have a personal favorite you would like to share with us?

MJB: Overall, I’ve always felt that Joe Sarno fans are very self-selected: there’s a certain rhythm to his work that not everybody is able to groove with. My favorites of Joe’s films tend to reflect my own interest in cinematic minimalism, films where Joe simply lets a situation build and is not primarily focused on the mechanics of technique. I usually weed out the Sarnoites from the tourists by suggesting that they watch Vibrations (1968): if that doesn’t strike you as one of the best fucking movies ever made, then you probably aren’t going to get too carried away by the rest of his work. For me, Vibrations is Sarno in crack form… one light, agonizingly tight framing, oodles of repressed desire. Perfect.

Among his earlier efforts (and don’t forget that several of his mid-Sixties films are still officially “lost”), I really like The Sex Cycle: it’s so naïve yet so engaging it literally makes me high: it’s like a dream I want to remember forever. And in terms of his later soft-core work, Abigail Lesley and Misty (if you can find a bootleg) are so melancholy and sincere that I feel they ought to be counted among the top 100 films of the 1970s.

Your liner-notes that have graced Sarno’s DVDs are extremely insightful and informative. Do you have plans in the future on perhaps releasing a full-scale biography?

MJB: Sometime in the next few years (but please don’t hold me that that!), there will be a major Joe Sarno biography. Joe had an extraordinary career and it has to be accurately documented. I also spent many, many hours interviewing him on audiotape a few years ago, so there are lots of observations he made that I want to get out there.

I know you have had the great fortune to meet and interview many of Sarno’s key collaborators and actors. Is there someone in particular that has proven elusive that you would like to sit down with?

MJB: Yes. Her name is Patricia McNair and she starred in many of Joe’s seminal sexploitation classics of the mid-1960s under the name Lorraine or Laurene Claire. She was an extraordinary presence in Joe’s films and someone I have never been able to track down.

Before he passed away you helped Sarno on the extras of his extraordinary Abigail Lesley is Back in Town. I think the film is a masterpiece and the DVD that came out earlier this year became an instant favorite. Along with the incredible commentary and interviews you got to go back to Sarno’s hometown of Amityville with him. Can you talk about this mini-doc a bit as I find it incredibly moving?

MJB: Since Joe shot most of Abigail Lesley in and around Amityville, we wanted to go back and find some of the locations he used. We had, in fact, not planned to interview him in the car on the way out there, but I am so grateful that my extraordinary cameraman, Scooter McCrae, thought to start rolling while we talked. Then, of course, we were lucky enough to have had access to the house where Joe grew up since his childhood friend Henry Marcley now lived there – a wonderful guy! So I wish I could say that I had the prescience to plan everything that happened that day, but it just kind of fell together – as it turns out, less than a year before Joe passed away. I’m very glad we got it on tape.

The late Jamie Gillis also was on hand for the film’s extras. What were your impressions of him and did you get the sense that he was happy to have some of his work recognized as important? Jamie was an extremely sincere, intense, thoughtful guy the few times I met him and he seemed to think the world of Joe as a director. I believe he was very happy to receive recognition for his work as an actor – not just a porn star – during his last few years.

By the late seventies, Sarno was working fairly actively in the adult film industry. How did Sarno feel about his time in that industry and did he have any favorite performers from the era he worked with?

MJB: Joe was a director’s director: if he wasn’t making a movie, he didn’t know what to do with himself. So I know he put his heart and soul into making explicit, X-rated films as well. That having been said, he also frequently observed that he felt there were inherent limitations to what one could do with a film with hardcore content, so it wasn’t his favorite way to work. But given the vagaries of the adult film market, he was very grateful to have the chance to stay in production and was proud of every film he made.

In terms of his favorite actors, Joe got along with 99% of his actors famously, so I doubt he privileged one over the other. He was very fond of Tina Russell, Georgie Spelvin (a great lady!), Jennifer Welles, Annie Sprinkle. He and Peggy were very close to Rob Everett (Eric Edwards) and Harry Reems. Joe managed to get the best out of everyone he worked with: the actors trusted him because he was intensely sincere about his work.

One thing I greatly admire about you is your dedication to filmmakers who are so often ignored and sometimes greatly maligned. Have you had a lot of opposition from certain film elitists who don’t see the value in directors you admire and find important?

MJB: The “opposition” one encounters to the kind of work I do usually takes the form of silence. And it comes more from academics than from contemporary film critics, most of whom, I have found, have a very soft spot in their hearts for the labors of filmmakers like Joe and Doris. The problem that academic intellectuals have is that most films of this nature do not naturally lend themselves to textualization: in other words, most interesting “outsider” filmmaking lacks a certain self-consciousness, an explicit aesthetic agenda, that most intellectuals look for and try to translate textually into articles, etc. So the silence of the films tends to inspire silence in the scholars – and believe me, if anybody abhors silence, it’s academics! So I guess I see myself as a little bit of a fish out of water in this respect, but it has always been a reflex of mine to respond to naiveté and spontaneity in art. Most intellectuals want art-makers to be intellectuals too. I don’t.


21 of Joe Sarno’s 143 films

Flesh and Lace (1965)
‘Absolute tosh of course but it always looks great and is always watchable and, being a Joe Sarno film, is full of surprises, including at one point, wind-up toys! True, the performers seem often to just stand around waiting to deliver their stupid line as flatly as possible but despite this Sarno keeps the movie moving forward in it’s weird and wonderful way, as if it had a life its own. The presentation is much helped by an absolutely fantastic b/w print, being the perfect showcase for plenty of flesh (and lace and also stockings and suspenders etc etc!).’ — Chris Underwood



The Love Merchant (1965)
‘If THE LOVE MERCHANT sounds slightly similar to the film INDECENT PROPOSAL, it’s because Sarno’s basic premise was lifted wholesale for the 1993 box office blockbuster. But where that film relied on big-name stars and its sleazy scenario quite heavily, Sarno, as usual, has produced here another sophisticated sex film, with emphasis on the film over the sex. Sarno balanced his films between two philosophies: sex as a healing formula, or sex as a destructive force. The latter is the thinking behind most of his 60s outings, including THE LOVE MERCHANT, with lust ruining a marriage and leaving Harvey feeling empty and lonely. The last line, “She’s right. You’re all sick!” is almost spoken directly into the camera, aimed squarely at the 42nd Street audience expecting more tits and ass, not the sudsy soap opera playing before them. Which is what makes Sarno’s films so refreshing in the first place. They were well written, exceptionally acted, and production values top-notch.’ —



The Naked Fog (1966)
‘Film preservation organization Film Media announced today it has begun restoration on a 35mm print of Joseph W. Sarno’s 1966 film THE NAKED FOG. Once restored, HD assets for THE NAKED FOG will be scheduled for theatrical screenings, DVD / Blu-Ray and Digital release. Previously considered a “lost” film, little information about THE NAKED FOG is available online.’ — FPT



The Swap and How They Make It (1966)
‘With Mona’s husband too busy for love, and after Karen’s fling with a college kid fizzles, they decide to take a neighbor’s advice and “trade the old model for a newer one” when they join a group of wife-swappers called “The Exchange.” But when that college kid threatens to expose THE SWAP AND HOW THEY MAKE IT, he’s allowed to joing the club until a cruel joke makes his swap especially sick…So be the first on your block to savor these scintillating, stylish and surprisingly intelligent skinflicks from director Joe Sarno….And be sure to invite the neighbors!’ — Something Weird



Moonlighting Wives (1966)
‘A disgruntled housewife turns her newly formed steno service into a lucrative prostitution ring. Her appetite for the good life leads her on an exciting and glamorous journey of blackmail, wife swapping, and just plain spicy nightlife as she cavorts with the country club set. But as the shrewd business gal and her right hand Lordess of Discipline rake in the dough with the help of the local playboy golf pro, home life goes down the tubes when the Queen of Sex and Shorthand’s hubby falls into the arms of their nubile babysitter.’ — Something Weird



Ride the Wild Pink Horse (1967)
‘Bored and sexually frustrated, two housewives become pawns of the mercenary leader of a bohemian commune.’ — BFI


My Body Hungers (1967)
‘MY BODY HUNGERS was written and directed by Sarno between his Peyton Place rip-offs PASSION IN HOT HOLLOWS and DESIRE UNDER THE PALMS, and starred many from his regular rep company – Gretchen Rudolph, Patricia McNair, John Aristides, Tammy Latour – in a hot-blooded crime mystery thriller. Hitching to New England to reconnect with her estranged older sister Janet at the roadhouse she works in, Marcia (NAKED FOG star Rudolph) learns her sister has been murdered; strangled to death with a black lace garter belt, no less. Investigating the circumstances around the killing, Marcia uncovers a seamy catalogue of sordid scandals in high places that puts her life in peril too.’ — Alan Jones



Inga (1968)
‘Joe Sarno isn’t a name that gets thrown around very much these days; I don’t really know if it ever did. But in those wild and woolly days of grindhouse filmmaking, he was the classiest director on the block, taking the charm and decidedly non-American comfort with nudity and bringing to his native shores. Inga was Sarno’s early masterpiece. Sarno was much more concerned with faces and situations than he was with gyrating bodies and this really is no better displayed than in Inga. Marie Liljedahl is absolutely stunning in the title role and, though her talents were somewhat marginal and she didn’t last very long in the business, her youthful charm and beauty make the star more than memorable. The story is a quiet family tale with some sex thrown in. It doesn’t make a ton of sense, and Aunt Greta trying to pimp out her niece to some guy is pretty creepy, but it remains an innocent piece of entertainment. Also of interest, the theme song for this film and is one of the earliest recordings by the band who would be ABBA. If you like ABBA, maybe this will thrill you; I have no way to judge what sounds basically like murder to me.’ — collaged



All The Sins of Sodom (1968)
All the Sins of Sodom is a striking feature by Joe Sarno that displays to the full extent his skills in high-key black and white lighting, effective mise en scène, and casting and directing actors. The series of models parading in and out of fashion photographer Henning’s life and bedroom (in a not so subtle reference to the film BLOW UP), offers the perfect opportunity for a cinematic and erotic exploration of the ideal male fantasy, which is total artistic and sexual command of a stable of beautiful and willing women. The nymph who enters his life, occupies his spare room, and slowly turns his ideal setup upside down is yet another component to this fantasy, at at least for the viewer, as it allows for girl on girl scenes in which the models are further dominated sexually, and in which there is more sexual variety and kinkiness at play. Sarno’s use of the female face captures the erotic more fully than many films which are fully graphic, and the psychological components of sexual desire are both varied and realistic.’ — Anna’s Blog


Joe Sarno Speaks on ALL THE SINS OF SODOM


To Ingrid, My Love, Lisa (1968)
‘Lisa (GUNBRITT OHRSTROM of The Daughter: I a Woman Part III, billed here as “Gun Falck”) is a successful but unhappy fashion designer, repressing her loneliness and lesbian tendencies with heavy drinking. On the weekends, Lisa leaves the big city to relax at her country house, and meets her neighbors and their fresh-faced daughter, Ingrid (GUNILLA IWANSON). Lisa is immediately taken with the beautiful blonde and invites her to Stockholm, where Lisa suggests she could possibly become a model. Ingrid allows Lisa to take her under her wing. Having been disappointed with her first clumsy sexual experience with a small-town boy, Ingrid is eager to experience all that Stockholm has to offer, including the men. Lisa sets Ingrid up on a date, but becomes jealous when she stays out all night. Being young and carefree, Ingrid continues to go out and sow her wild oats, picking up one guy after another, leaving Lisa feeling frustrated and yearning for her. On the way to their inevitable tryst, there are swinging sixties parties, groovy nightclubs, and the high fashion world circa 1968′. — Something Weird


Vibrations (1968)
‘When her extroverted sister comes to town, aspiring poet Barbara is forced to confront her conflicted sexual desires. An early classic by sexploitation director Sarno, Vibrations is “classy and sophisticated, beautifully shot, a juicy script, filled with wonderful performances and sexy as hell”.’ — Film Media



Caresses interdites (1970)
‘Katja vit seule avec son père veuf. Ils ont une profonde affection l’un pour l’autre. Lorsque son père se remarie, cette relation idyllique vole en éclats. Lorsque Katja surprend son père et sa belle-mère au lit, elle est sous le choc et s’enfuit. Abandonnée par tous ceux qui lui sont chers, Katja envisage de regagner l’attention de son père en jetant le déshonneur sur sa belle-mère. Jusqu’où ira-t-elle?’ —



The Seduction of Inga (1971)
The Seduction of Inga doesn’t dwell on what happened to the title character, she just tells us in narration that she’s older now and wants her old love back. It takes Inga out of the country and into the city for another set of frisky adventures. This one is far less interesting than the original. There is a little more sex than Inga, but neither the camerawork nor acting are close to as good. Liljedahl shows a little more talent, but this was also her final film and it’s easy to tell that her heart really wasn’t in it.’ — DVD Verdict




Young Playthings (1971)
‘They’re the toys of the mindless generation… trapped in a never-neverland of distorted practices.’ — Iron DVD

Joe Sarno on his cult movie “Young Playthings”



Le Château des Messes Noires (1973)
‘ la suite d’un accident lors d’une nuit d’orage, un groupe de jeunes gens vient se réfugier dans un château lugubre. Il abrite toute une communauté de jeunes filles effectuant d’étranges rites mêlant le sexe et l’occultisme. La maîtresse des lieux est en fait la descendante d’une baronne vampire, mise à mort il y plusieurs siècles par les villageois pour vampirisme. Elle cherche à venger son ancêtre en éliminant les familles des tortionnaires.’ — artus films



Sleepy Head (1973)
‘A fascinating, if relatively unknown, offering from legendary director Joseph W. Sarno, Sleepy Head (1973) is an admittedly minor work but it is well-worth seeking out for fans of the much-missed director. Starring adult icons Georgina Spelvin and Tina Russell, and featuring Jamie Gillis and Marc Stevens in supporting roles, Sleepy Head was Sarno’s first full foray into hardcore filmmaking and, while it is a far cry from his greatest works, it is a worthwhile edition to his filmography, even though it is often just afforded footnote status in his career.’ — Moon in the Gutter



Deep Throat Part II (1974)
Deep Throat Part II has long been one of the most obscure entries in the pantheon of sexploitation cinema — while a handful of fans are aware that there was a sequel to the most famous (and infamous) of all 1970s porn features, Deep Throat Part II was an R-rated comedy with no explicit sex (or even full-frontal nudity), and thanks to negative reviews and poor word-of-mouth it was a box office flop that quickly and thoroughly disappeared, very rarely revived and never released on video in North America.’ — collaged



A Touch of Genie (1974)
‘Anyone who has watched DEEP THROAT PART II can be forgiven for thinking that Joe Sarno simply has no place in the comic genre. A misfire in just about every way, the only novelty to be found in DT2 is enjoying the over-the-top comic performances of its who’s-who cast of New York porn; even the legendary lost hardcore footage couldn’t possibly save the mess. Keeping in mind Sarno’s mishandling of comedy material there, one may go into TOUCH OF GENIE with some natural caution. So how does TOUCH OF GENIE stack up in the grand scheme of Sarno’s oeuvre? Quite well, actually. The comic script is a vast improvement over the hodge-podge storyline of DT2, combining the male fantasy of “I Dream of Jeannie” with the imagination and whimsy of WALTER MITTY, and while there are no visual flourishes so typical of Sarno’s work throughout his career, it’s clear from the overall atmosphere on-screen that everyone involved with the production is having a ball. This is not the film to introduce you to the world of Sarno, but anyone who already adores his work of both the 1960s and 1970s will definitely enjoy this excursion into the absurd from a man known for his singular melodramas.’ — DVD Drive-In



Abigail Lesley is Back in Town (1974)
‘When Abigail Lesley returns to her old fishing village hometown, it sends a sexual tidal wave through the small community that has both men and women knocking on her door. One of Sarno’s last soft-core features before the advent of hardcore, ABIGAIL LESLEY is a soul-searching study of small-town sexual politics and unrequited passion. Sarah Nicholson’s gutsy, intuitive performance is well supported by fellow cast members Jamie Gillis, Jennifer Welles, Eric Edwards, Sonny Lanham, and the late, great Mary Mendum. Shot on location in Sarno’s hometown of Amityville, New York. Steamy!’ — Alternative Cinema




Confessions of a Young American Housewife (1974)
‘New York sophisticates Carole and Eddie spice up their sex life by swapping partners with their close friends, Anna and Pete. An unexpected visit from Carole’s young, attractive and recently widowed mother Jennifer throws a temporary wrench into their plans, but the quartet are soon back in action after Pete tries and fails to seduce Jennifer in the kitchen. Intoxicated by life and lust, Jennifer begins a May-December romance.’ — Film Media



SS Operation Wolf Cub (1983)
SS Operation Wolf Cub is an absolutely baffling attempt at an action thriller and touchy-feely drama about neo-Nazis in Sweden. Heading the cast is none other than Deep Throat star Harry Reems as a former commando and “counter-insurgency expert,” Captain Bryant, sent to a cabin in the woods where neo-Nazis are training a bunch of people how to become assassins. He’s offered a thousand dollars a week to join his cohort, Muller (Göran Löfgren), to stop these terrorists gunning people down around the country. Also joining them is a rather stern-looking female operative, Marie (the boss’s wife), who of course winds up in bed with Harry. People go skinny dipping, chintzy synthesizer score drones on the soundtrack, several women try to sleep with Harry, allegiances shift, and everything climaxes in a gesture of unexpected pacifism. Sarno wisely doesn’t stress the action here too much after a frenzied opening showing the terrorists blasting away at random targets around the city, executed with a maximum number of highly unconvincing squib effects. The focus here is more on an ideological clash with the infiltrating team coping with a mindset different from its own, and once again, many of the actors clearly have a minimal grasp on the English language.’ — mondo digital




p.s. Hey. ** JM, Hi. Good good, about the progress and cemented plans. All the very best in the meantime. Well, and after obviously. Take care, bud. ** Shane Christmass, Thank you, Shane! ** wolf, Wolfster! Oh, yeah, I don’t know what would be right under the circumstances. I do really like, and hope to preserve, the fact that this place isn’t a mere context for people to stress out and pontificate in typing form 24/7 about the American hell. I like that it’s an oasis dedicated to something else. Thanks about the blog. What it has generated boggles me. Anyway, thank you so much, my dear comrade, and tons of love from so strangely wonderful (again) Paris. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Thank you, sir. Everyone, FaBlog responds to what’s going on via a thing called ‘Phone Call From Der Phooey’ over here. ** Dominik, Hi, D! So great to see you!!! Thanks (entirely) to Mr. Hester. I just exist in regards to it. I think, granted from afar, that it’s a fantastic plan to move to Amsterdam, even with the current uncertainty about the living situation there. I’m sure you guys will sort it out. I always hesitate to judge situations in countries I don’t personally know, but, from what I read, there is some serious oppression going on with your government, and I certainly love the idea of you being freed of that. Zaandam! Huh. Yeah, I remember Zaandam being pretty cool even all of those years ago. Your worry is understood, but it really does sound like an exciting change and move for you. I’m very happy to hear about all of that, and I look forward to hearing how the transfer goes when the time comes. I’m good. Today we get more reopening — cafes, restaurants, a few museums, … The amusement parks start opening in two weeks, and I fear that’s then most exciting thing to me. But, yeah, all seems to be going well. It looks like France has had the right approach to the pandemic, so far and hopefully. I might even dare to go see if Chipotle is open today since now that it would be seriously weird if it isn’t. How was your day? Have a fantastic one, pal! Ha. Love like a prison made of dark chocolate, me. ** _Black_Acrylic, Ghost story. So many possibilities. What is a ghost? Are your sorting one (or more)? ** Tosh Berman, Hi, Tosh, thanks a lot, man! ** Bernard, Mr. Welt! I like what’s on your table. Obviously. I love Padgett more and more as time goes on. What seemed so slight has grown so ripe. I hope the presentation goes really well and that I wouldn’t be snoring or dreaming of being killed or something when it happens. I can’t remember what brought ‘Magic’ into the equation. Gisele swears by it. Or by the dummy’s part. I’m sure Gisele knows that ‘Dead of Night’ sequence but I’ll query. Big love to you, old chum. ** Schoolboyerrors, It’s the man! Oh, fuck, the dreaded and utterly mysterious invisible comments problem. I understand that, once the post in question is archived, that problem can go away, so maybe you can see the comments starting now? Thank you, D, biggest time! ** Ferdinand, Hi, F! So nice to see you! Yes, harsh lights on everything. But also a ton of hair-trigger cancel culture going on as a response. Ugliness fucking everywhere. And then there’s reawakening Paris, which is so peaceful and even full of cheer. It’s very strange. Anyway, it’s always a treat to see you. You good despite it all? ** Misanthrope, Hi. Self-promotion is not my strong suit, it’s true, god love me? I will never forgive Canongate for taking that cover off the boring looking ‘MLT’ paperback for utterly bullshit reasons. Oops. LPS oops. And, yeah, ugh. Growing lad. Growing brain? Let’s hope so. ** Bill, Hi, thanks, Bill. Yes, I’ve read and very much liked ‘Negative Space’. And he has yet another novel coming out soon, I believe. You read it? I don’t think it’s much like my stuff, but it’s nice of Blake to have said so. ** Jeff J, Thank you. I do believe in my heart that having this place be an oasis from that which it can neither improve nor harm is a good thing. I was quite mixed on ‘An Elephant Sitting Still’, perhaps like you. I do want to revisit it at some point. I don’t know. I was not convinced, but I don’t know exactly why I wasn’t so far. I’m still awaiting Zac’s thoughts on the script -> fiction thing. I read it over the other day, and I don’t think it works at all in its current form, actually. But I do think there’s something there, real potential. Hopefully Zac will have an idea of where that potential leads. You writing, working, … ? ** Steve Erickson, The future is unknowable. I think it’s half full. Everyone, If you’re curious what Steve Erickson thinks of the new Lady Gaga album, wonder no more, and if you want to hear a song he wrote yesterday called “Nursery Rhyme (For Children Under Siege)”, voila!. ** kyler, According to the news, you had a curfew last night. Glad to see you sounding upbeat amidst all of this. ** h (now j), Thank you, thank you! ** Corey Heiferman, Hi. Uh, hm, learned something. Logically I must have. I learned what it’s like to have my work viewed from a viewpoint that I don’t have on my own work. That was interesting and, yeah, instructive. Nice about the reading. We’re not there yet, I don’t think. I think readings outside are probably possible now, but not indoors. Paris feels more back all the time. It’s quite exhilarating, I must say. May it continue. ** tender prey, Hi, Marc! How are you doing, pal? How’s the art and the life and everything else? Biggest love from me. ** Right. Someone, not a commenter, asked me if I would do a post about exploitation director Joe Sarno, and that person’s wish turned out to be my command, and it’s fun. Check it out. See you tomorrow.


  1. Dominik


    It’s always so very nice to read your words because you seem to just naturally look at things from the most positive angle possible. Thank you. I’m trying to concentrate on my love for Amsterdam/Zaandam too and of course, on the fact that I’ll be living with my brother – the idea of spending more time with him fills me with absolute happiness. And, sadly, you’re right about our government. This article pretty much sums the situation up from a point of view near and dear to me, obviously: here. A bitter shame. What’s going on in the US is also heartbreaking and infuriating beyond worthy words.
    So after all this, it’s really great to hear that things seem to be going pretty well over there! Looks like we can tentatively say the strict quarantine was worth it…? Was the Chipotle open?
    Did you have any special plans for the day? (Besides counting down the minutes ’til all the amusement parks start reopening too!)
    I’ll have a session later today so I’m mostly preparing for that but I’m planning to sneak in some SCAB work too. I think I finally managed to establish the habit of posting and promoting on social media, mostly instagram, and I have the feeling that the new issue will be extra delicious.
    Oh, does gurochan work for you? I can’t access it and I’m not sure if the site’s down or if it’s something on my end.
    I’d voluntarily go to that prison made of dark chocolate, hah! Love getting too fat to wear its once-perfect fishnet crop-top, D.!

  2. David Ehrenstein

    Very nice to see this tribute to Joe Sarno — who takes up from where Leonard Bernstein left off on “Trouble in Tahiti” and John Cheever in is novels, all of which might well have been called “Sin in the Suburbs.” Sarno comes from a “more innocent time” when “Sexploitation” meant overheated melodrama withpenty of Tits and Ass on view. Hardcore wiped this all out, and it’s a shame supposedly “serious” filmmakers didn’t follow Sarno’s lead b making films about sexually unsatisfied middle=class women.

  3. kier

    hey rhododendron! really nice day, i didn’t know joe sarno, but i love christina lindberg so young playthings went straight on my list. and inga for the abba thing, wow!! sorry i haven’t written in so long. i assume you’ve assumed that our paris trip got cancelled for obvious reasons, which it did, sadly. we’re gonna try to come in october or thereabouts if everything aligns to make it possible, i really really hope we can. do you have any plans around then btw, like la for halloween etc? i hope whenever we come we might overlap with the TIHYWD run in paris, fingers and toes crossed. how are you?? how’s the next film project going? i’m good, corona-lockdown has been relatively painless for me since i live in a house with a garden and some of my best friends, but school’s been shut down which was very frustrating, and my upcoming shows have been postponed indefinitely. two weeks ago i got (limited) access to studio at school again which has been amazing, so now i’m back to reading the blog first thing in the morning before i get to work. norway’s starting to open up again too now, movie theatres and some galleries have opened already. i only have my studio til the end of this month unfortunately. usually we get summer studio access but not this year. i have no summer plans except maybe hopefully go visit my friend in her hometown in sweden, if they open the borders. she comes from a little island near-ish göteborg so we were hoping to also go to lisseberg (i’ve never been! actually i’ve never been to sweden), you’ve been there right? i thought there was no chance they’d be open, but you and paris have given me hope! i’m still working on my hospital-related project which i might have mentioned. i attached a link to some research sketches/drawings if you wanna see. big huge love to you and to paris xxxx

  4. KK

    Hey Dennis!

    Wow, it’s been a while.

    I’d been meaning to catch up but i’ve been very preoccupied lately.

    I have a lot to tell you but mostly just want to see what you’re up to, how you’re doing. I think the last we talked you were feeling pretty low, at the height of the lockdown sitch. Hope you’re feeling better, able to move around and such.

    I graduated college. Didn’t think i’d get there but it finally happened. I don’t feel much different except maybe an ease of breath, or something. Now onto whatever else. Maybe grad school, but i’m less psyched on the idea lately. We’ll see.

    I got into Bud Smith’s workshop. I haven’t been writing much lately and I think the workshop will kickstart something, hopefully. I’ve just been reading and getting into video games. I’ve started Metro Exodus, which has been great. Have you played Disco Elysium? Also good. It’s mostly dialogue, but one of the more ingenious rpg’s i’ve ever played.

    Oh, and congrats on the bio! I’m going to order my copy next paycheck.

    I just finished ‘With the Animals’ by Revaz. Really good. Now I’m starting ‘Machines in the Head’ by Anna Kavan. This’ll be the first book of his I’ve read, might go for ‘Ice’ next, which seems to be the obvious starting choice.

    I’ve been playing a lot more chess lately. A friend and I want to create a noise performance project using chess and contact mics. Kinda like that Cage and Duchamp exhibition, but with really harsh noise. Should be fun. I want to make a tape where we record the last games played by grandmasters who were killed in the holocaust. Dasa Drndic’s book ‘EEG’ gave me the idea.

    I haven’t been watching many movies lately. I was on a western kick about a few weeks ago, but not much recently. What about you?

    I’ll leave at that for now. Have a good day!

  5. _Black_Acrylic

    I have a fondness for this kind of thing but Joe Sarno’s oeuvre doesn’t seem like family DVD viewing. Maybe after lockdown is over, though.

    I did eventually come up with a ghost story for my writing group. A cherubic blue-eyed boy appears at the narrator’s bedside each night, or is the narrator just hallucinating on the strong tranquilisers they’ve got him taking? That makes it sound better than it is. Little Mervyn is an honest first attempt but I can’t see it being submitted anyplace in its present form. Maybe one to be worked on in the future?

  6. Ferdinand

    Paris… mhhhh 🙂 I remember the last coffee or beer in paris before leaving and I still just have that impression of how Grand everything is 🙂 fond memories and much walking, notre dame as compass and still getting bit lost anyway…. wasnt that many months ago. Hoping that we can return to Belgium by September…. Dennis we have a sigarette ban in place here in S.A which they are keeping in place right till the end, whenever that is. Our alchohol ban in shops atleast got lifted yesterday not that Im doing any smoking or drinking… altho im the one who goes scoring sigarettes on the black market for mon petit mari +
    mon grand frère. I feel like saying to my brother ok I did something illegal for u now u do something illegal for me haha. Despite the despite the .. should be fine if I take a break from the screen “the monitor outside for the people inside. “ Havent really written anything in last 6 months or more.. Im awaiting some gadgets / gear to build a little music setup around the ipad… I had no idea one could make music on ipad but one can and im looking foward to complete the snipbits Ive got.. So Ive got that to look foward to : messing with the Korgs and the rolands.. thats sort of whats got my interest atm.. I want to be the girl with the most gear 🚺 theres a term for this GAS gear accumulation syndrome but no im really just assembling the basics in order to play , record and playback. The Drummachine and synth thing..

  7. Ferdinand

    Oh Dennis, Bruno Dumont.. Is he any good? “TwentyNine palms “ was in my basket I just checked out with along with some cds..

  8. Ferdinand

    Another item in the digital check out basket : Inferno (1911) with music by tangerine dream. Its said to be one of the first ever full length Italian films and obv based on Dante’s inferno..

  9. Bill

    Can’t say Sarno has been on my radar, Dennis! I’m a big fan of some of Russ Meyer’s movies though.

    I’m about 100 pages into Negative Space. Quite enjoyable so far.

    Just saw this:

    Very nice, reminds me of the earlier Lanthimos, maybe meaner and darker.

    Welcome back Kier!


  10. Steve Erickson

    The scene from a Sarno film I remember most vividly shows a woman masturbating while crying. That sums up the tone of his work pretty well.

    I’m doing a guide to LGBTQ films streaming on the Criterion Channel for Gay City News, since Pride month has arrived and they’ve just added MY OWN PRIVATE IDAHO, MAURICE, several Gregg Araki films, the complete Cheryl Dunye filmography, many Chantal Akerman films, etc. for the festivities. I know you don’t have it, but I hope it’s useful to someone stuck at home during this time.

    I just watched Brian De Palma’s OBSESSION, for the first time in at least 20 years. What a strange film! The tone of swooning romanticism, with misty cinematography and wall-to-wall Bernard Herrmann score, comes close to parody. As much as De Palma gets likened to Hitchcock (and this film is a blatant remix of VERTIGO), what he does with that influence here ultimately made me think of Fassbinder’s Sirkian melodramas around the same time, especially Fassbinder’s remark about love being the most effective form of manipulation. It’s one of the few De Palma films Jonathan Rosenbaum likes – he put it on his list of his 1,000 favorite movies – and I’d be curious to read his thoughts on it.

  11. Misanthrope

    Dennis, I think a lot of people aren’t natural self-promoters. Me, I love the hell outta some attention, but I really don’t want to promote myself to get it, you know what I mean? Like, yes, please read my book…but um, I really don’t want to have to whore it out. (And I know it’s not your book but about your work.)

    LPS not only broke his TV, he broke his light. Had to get a new one today. I’m sure he’ll learn. In about 50 years.

    So he and this one friend who I’m getting more and more down on have been stealing. Or I think they have. They come in with these steaks and lobster tails all the time now. No bag, no receipt. Always grinning when I grill them. LPS kind of admitted tonight that said friend had stolen the food they came in with tonight. I’m telling you, they get caught, they’ll be in a world of trouble, especially if they’re stealing from this one place we think they are. Read: Mafia. Not joking. They’ll break their fucking fingers before they’ll call the cops.

    Anyway, everything else is fine.

  12. Count Reeshard

    Thanks, D.C., for this commemoration of Mr. Sarno’s work. And to think, were it not for the indispensable Re/Search text ‘Incredibly Strange Films,’ I might have missed him altogether. By the way, the two poster combo – was that sampled from my radio show’s site? (One of our — nonexistent — sponsors, The Madison Theater, ran a Sarno double feature of those films early last year.) No problems, though: We’d be proud to be sampled by the ever-impressive D.C. blog.

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