With this title Jess Franco launched his own personal Spanish Sex Star System of the 1980s. Lina Romay would be the Queen bee of this system, both in Clasificada S films and later hardcore titles, EL MIRON Y EL EXCIBICIONISTA (1985) being the most interesting example of the latter.
Watching Lina Romay as “Candy Coster”in this film thrusts us into a Jess Franco conundrum. Ms. Romay, credited as Candy Coster, playing “Candy” who is acting out a script based on a non-existent memoir by Candy Coster, INTIMATE CONFESSIONS OF AN EXHIBITIONIST, adapted by one “D. Khunne Jr.” one of the numerous beards of Jess Franco, whose name doesn’t appear in the credits. Candy Coster is the director of credit and the film could be considered, among other things, as a feminist reconsideration of the value of sex work and the recognition of the emotional energy such a performance requires.
Lina Romay was a talented director, editor and competent assistant to Jess Franco, as well as being his most frequent lead actress and the leading lady in his life until her all too early death in 2012. CONFESIONES INTIMAS DE UNA EXHIBICIONISTA is a complete collaboration between Jess Franco and Lina Romay, an essay on the “Candy Coster” persona and the Clasificada S and X genres in which they were forced to work at this time.
Candy (Lina Romay) narrates the action and it opens with a shot of a naked man lying prone on the strip club stage as the camera pans up to reveal her looming over him. He is just a prop in “her” show. It’s all about her show, which is also her life as we flash back and away to various scenes in which her persona is explained and differentiated from her real self. Both merge into the image of a performer satisfied with her role.
Jess Franco’s central theme is always “performance” and the dynamic between performers and the viewers, both in the film and those who are watching the film. How many of his films open with an erotic stage show? This film even quotes the famous opening of his 1967 NECRONOMICON. But the show wouldn’t exist without the audience and in the Franco universe the audience becomes a sort of collective character. He makes films for an audience but he also makes films about the expectations, fantasies and reactions of the audience. His films and entire filmography are consistently interactive. We’re always aware we are watching a film, and the initiated are aware that they are watching a “Jess Franco Film,” a unique classification with its own recognizable, predictable signs and parameters.
Candy’s affair with a psychoanalyst (Antonio Mayans) is illustrated as is her subsequent affair with Katy (Jasmina Bell, rn. Elisa Valero). In between Candy participates in various twosomes and threesomes until she reaches a sort of sexual apotheosis, which might also be mere exhaustion. For a film which is pretty much all softcore situations, extended into lengthy simulated sex encounters, CONFESIONES is not really very erotic. Franco is there with his telezoom to record all the fleshy details for the real, Clasificada S audience who have paid to see a “sex” film. Also noteworthy is the luminosity of the individual images, a quality which is present in all of his Golden Films Internacional productions (cf MIL SEXOS TIENE LA NOCHE-1982).
One can only admire the enthusiasm and elan which Ms. Romay brings to her presence in these scenes. She really appears to be enjoying herself. Stylishly shot glimpses of Alicante and Ricardo Bofill’s LA MANZANERA sometimes interrupt the “action” and I found myself wanting them to last even longer rather than cutting back to the softcore play. But there’s a through-line resulting in Candy attaining full Selfhood as an independent woman and artist while at the same time recognizing her dependence on others, including the members of the troupe who are involved in the logistics of the show.
- Finally there is a NECROMONICON (1967) style S&M interlude in which Candy tortures two of her partners, who are bound in a symbolic crucifixion scene . Is it another show? A fantasy? Or an alternate reality? It all turns out to be a show, within the show which is being presented. The show of Candy’s life which she performs twice each night for the appreciative audience. The troupe takes a bow, taking in the applause. FIN.
(C) Robert Monell, 11/5/15