Paul Raymond’s Erotica – Low Rent Pleasures With Upmarket Aspirations

Paul Raymond’s final film is a gloriously trashy and breathtakingly unerotic vanity project.

In the 1970s, Paul Raymond was Britain’s most successful porn impresario – an almost respectable figure who had, in previous decades, revolutionised the striptease industry and now ran the Raymond Revuebar, published several softcore magazines, promoted sexy stage shows and produced films – usually starring his mistress/muse Fiona Richmond.

In 1981, he combined all his interests in an extraordinary vanity project, the grandly-titled Paul Raymond’s Erotica, in which French porn queen Brigitte Lahaie played a journalist examining the sexy world of the Revuebar and Raymond’s glamorous lifestyle. Directed by Brian Smedley-Aston and designed to be several cuts about the usual British sex film of the era (a genre that was already on its last legs), Erotica instead is a mix of egomania, extraordinarily down-market softcore (one sex scene takes place in a refrigerated meat truck) and footage of the Revuebar, in which bored punters – in reality, Paul Raymond Publications staffers – watch dead-eyed men and women simulating sex amongst extravagant sets, in scenes that have all the erotic appeal of a trip to the morgue.

The film has heavily hyped, and – perhaps hoping to cash in on the success of The Stud and The Bitch – came complete with a soundtrack of instantly forgotten disco hits. It had moderate success on video, and European releases had more explicit sex scenes inserted. But the film then vanished – by all accounts, the increasingly reclusive Raymond refused point-blank to allow the film to be re-released after its original VHS edition, finding the whole thing deeply embarrassing. Almost a decade after his death, the film remains unavailable in legal form, though there is a poor quality bootleg US DVD and an extended French edition for those unconcerned about the English dialogue.

Also of interest, from the same era – Electric Blue‘s A Night at The Revuebar.


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