REVIEW / Holding a candle to sex addiction
Monday 27 June 1994
Another interviewee confided that his initiation into the more ragged fringes of sexual activity had come at the hands of a couple in Gravesend, who had advertised for partners in a pornographic magazine. He responded from his boarding school and soon found himself with his penis encased in gauze bandages and candle wax. The couple lit the wick and he saw the light, entering on an apparently happy life as an exhibitionist (the vocation borne out by his cheerful presence on the screen and a pair of shorts so tight they looked life-threatening). Layla, the gigantic star of Fat Chicks, confessed to sleeping with 33 men in one night, though the uncharitable thought occurred that at least some of those must have been operating the winch.
Vikram Jayanti's film was at pains to point out that, disparate as these experiences were, this was not just a freak show. 'What they all have in common is their compulsion,' noted an admonitory title at the beginning, 'and that they are people just like you and me.' Come again? Shouldn't there should be a comma in there somewhere? 'That they are people, just like you and me,' for instance. I think my sympathies can stretch that far. But no, Jayanti appears to mean exactly what he says - that only an accident of history separates every viewer from the man describing how he ran up dollars 8,000 of debt servicing his S & M habit or the jolly couple who lay back in bed and displayed a stained towel which formed a dessicated record of their sexual tourism.
This is in keeping with the whole idea of sexual addiction; the medicalisation of activity which would conventionally be subject to moral judgement. 'It's a progressive disease - from what we know,' said one 'victim', as if he had caught his compulsive sexual activity off a toilet seat and might end up in intensive care if not treated quickly.
Clearly some of these were damaged people, but I cheered out loud when Layla turned down the absolution on offer - 'I don't think of myself as being a victim because I deliberately did things . . . I had to learn, and education is so expensive.' She was talking about emotional cost but the stack of self-help books which piled up on screen at one point and the existence of specialist sex- addiction clinics revealed that others have found a way to turn that into harder currency.
Under the Sun (BBC 2) exercised the jaw muscles even further with 'Dream Girls', an account of Japan's Takarazuka Revue, an all-women song and dance troupe. Competition to enter the academy is fierce and the training makes the Von Trapp family look like a bunch of ill-disciplined hippies. Dressed in para- military uniform, the new recruits spend an entire year on general self-abasement and cleaning duties (polishing the piano key-hole with Q-tips, that sort of thing). I'd never actually seen cringeing adulation before but that's what the top stars receive from their exclusively female fans - scurrying in to deliver love letters and expensive presents. It was a fascinating study of erotic obsession and, like all good anthropology, reminded you that there are people not just like you and me.
TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success
tvU2’s latest record has been accused of promoting sex between men
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 2 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 3 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 4 Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
- 5 Uploading pictures to find out how old you are gives Microsoft the right to post them wherever they want
Daredevil, Netflix, TV review: Marvel wins first fight in bid for television domination with Charlie Cox's superhero vigilante
London art exhibition features portrait of Iraqi migrant shot dead in Iraq after being refused UK asylum
Grace Dent on TV: Peter Kay's Car Share made me genuinely LOL
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
London Marathon: Best running songs from Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar to 'Uptown Funk'
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
Indonesia executions live: 'Hysterical' families heard prisoners being shot dead by firing squad
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds