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Jennifer Solow

Sex In The Movies

Letís just say I got felt up for the first time at the movies. It was 1977 or 78 or at some point during the post-Rocky, pre-Mad Max seventies. I had only been wearing a bra for about two years, a beige one-size-fits-all contraption that my mother picked out at Newmanís Childrenís Store and frankly there wasnít much going on in that general region of my body. Upon feeling them up myself once or twice, they were really nothing to write home about. But it didnít matter, it was the movies, the room was filled with strangers, there was a back row and I got felt up. It was actually the point of going to the movies back then. It was why we were there. To feel up. To get felt up. To feel something other than oneself.

Stewart and I had been going out for exactly, well, actually we hadnít been going out at all. We had exchanged one Carmex-laden kiss in the parking lot of the Rodef Shalom Synagogue after a Sunday-School ice-skating party. Apparently he liked me and I liked him and he thought I was cute and I thought he was cute and his friends told mine and my friends told his and there you have it. In that particular portion of the seventies one Carmex-laden kiss with a minion of friends watching from the back of a school bus constituted going out - at least for Stewart and me. (For the record, it should be noted that Stewart was spelled "Stew" and should not be confused with the post-Blood Simple pre-Repo Man boyfriend, Stuart with a "Stu".)

Thus Stewart (with a Stew) and I had been going out since the Rodef Shalom ice-skating party and we decided it was appropriate to take the next step - the only next step one could take in Pittsburgh without a driverís license. Stew and I walked silently down Wilkens, made a left on Murray and down the eight blocks to The Squirrel Hill Movie Theater - ostensibly into the unknown world of the next level of our relationship.

Movies at The Squirrel Hill punctuated all the major life events in the microcosm of our neighborhood. Our innocent years flew by gaily in Technicolor with The Love Bug, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Sound of Music. "How do you solve a problem like Maria?" was a major dilemma in this sheltered existence. If there were any other sort of predicaments in the world, ones that Dick Van Dyke or Kurt Russell couldnít fix in a jiffy, at The Squirrel Hill we were blind to them. Over the years our cozy womb was pierced by The Exorcist, scandalized by midnight showings of Deep Throat, grief-stricken by Fiddler on the Roof, traumatized by Jaws but eventually lulled back into harmony by Grease and later ET.

So, was Julia a good movie for getting felt up? Letís just say it was as good as any. Besides those were the days of one (yes, only one) movie per theater and Julia was that one and only movie. As far as the actual film goes, I recall a train, I recall Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave yabbering on about something, I recall large hats and long skirts and I recall recalling enough to report back to my mother who was impatiently waiting back home for my commentary from the young-dating front: "Jane Fonda was yíknow, good. So was Vanessa-whatís-her face. It was kinda depressing. Yeah, I had a pretty good time. Yes, we had popcorn. No, I paid for my own ticket. Iíll be in my room."

Unbeknownst to mom, the highlight of the afternoon was of course, not the critically acclaimed Oscar-winning movie but the feel-up itself - an enthusiastic event not easily forgotten. While the film is often described by critics as intelligent, fearless and haunting, it takes a thesaurus to properly excavate the array of descriptors evocative of the main event of the day: clumsy, inept, ungainly, awkward, bungling, ham-fisted, ham-handed, inelegant, all thumbs in other words, maladroit.

The poor guy didnít really have his technique down, but neither did I. Then again, according to all the movies Iíd seen depicting feeling-up at the movies, neither did anyone. It was a common scene played out again and again: boy yawns, boy puts arm around girl, girl stares straight ahead, boy stares straight ahead, girl eats popcorn, boy reaches for breast, girl stares straight ahead, boy squeezes breast in a compress-and-release type motion as if inflating the thing, for, like 187 minutes. Thatís a lot of yabbering from Jane and whatís-her-face.

Now I have since had various forms of sex in the movies. Who could blame me really? Itís dark, itís already sticky, beverages and napkins abound. And itís still gratifying in its own simple way to get ham-handed and bungled during The Importance of Being Earnest for example. I myself have even been known to bungle a thing or two during the dull parts. My life still gets punctuated in this way. Ask the guy who sat behind me during Amelie, ask the old couple one row ahead at The Lord of the Rings, ask the zitty kid at the Larkspur Landing taking tickets for The Royal Tenenbaums. It is still perhaps the point. It is still perhaps why weíre there. To feel something other than oneself.


Editor-In-Chief of Core, The Dirty Magazine For Smart People, Jennifer has made the exploration of relationships and sex a personal mission. As an advertising writer, she was responsible for the original Snapple campaign . She is currently finishing a novel Ju-Ju-Be, which continues to delve into sex, women, Jews, advertising and humor.

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