‘X’ploder: A Place Beyond Shame (1980)

‘X’ploder: A Place Beyond Shame (1980)

Adult cinema sensation Seka (The Seduction of Cindy) stars in this x-rated feature, co-produced and co-directed by New York smut icon Fred J. Lincoln (Serena: An Adult Fairytale) and prolific actress Sharon Mitchell (The Devil in Miss Jones Part II) for Cybercraft in one of the latter years of American pornography’s Golden Age. The screenplay, credited to Lincoln, actor Roger Caine (Abduction of an American Playgirl), and the mysterious Dr. Z (!?), offers a competent blend of terse drama and pop psychology babble, and finds same-named computer programmer Seka in a sorry state indeed.

In¬†A Place Beyond Shame the smouldering sexpot’s flame has waned, leaving her not only disinterested, but repulsed, by any degree of sexual attention. Her relationships a shambles, with no respite in sight, Seka heeds the advice of friend Diana (Lori Blue,¬†Sensual Encounters of Every Kind) and makes an appointment with a therapist (veteran X actor turned prolific X director Paul Thomas, Dracula Sucks).

What follows is a cavalcade of sexual fantasies and flashbacks, propelled by the power of hypnotism and surprising quantities of small erotic sculptures (credited to New York’s Erotic Gallery), as Seka works feverishly to get her groove back.

One would be forgiven for finding¬†A Place Beyond Shame a little thin on plot – it is. What story there is unfolds mostly within the first half hour, with the occasional necessary physical interruptions, but it dissolves almost entirely into sweat and undulations and arcing jizz once Seka’s therapy begins. Luckily the scenarios here, a mix of outright fantasy and autobiographical flashbacks, are well-realized for the most part and bolstered at any rate by an enthusiastic cast and their better-than-average production value.

There are some real gems to be had among¬†Shame‘s wealth of scenes, chief among them a callback to Seka’s teenage years, in which she essentially fucks a motorcycle vicariously by way of its brutish owner (Milton Ingley, Taboo).¬†Brunette and be-braced Sonya Summers features as a young pre-platinum Seka (the two actors were, amusingly, born the same year), who affectionately grinds the cycle’s gas tanks before lapping at its handlebars with her tongue mid-fuck. It’s a bizarre sequence, but in the best tradition of the erotic films of the time. The other flashbacks are less sensational, but competently realized – a scene of post-wedding sex by a former lover and his new wife (Bonnie Holiday, Hot Lunch), and a brief three-way between a pair of beaus and Seka’s nymphomaniacal mother (Very Knotty, Jail Bait).

The culmination of it all is quite ambitious, and rather better than the sum of its parts. Nearing the end of her treatment, Seka’s therapist orders her to go to a place of “pleasure without guilt”. She complies, in spades, inspiring herself towards much-needed self-love through no fewer than three simultaneously imagined fantasies. While the scenarios taken individually are of no special note; a pair of sex workers (Mai Lin and China Leigh) tag-teaming a rambunctious john (Billy Dee), a confoundingly Russian (da! da! da!) Aaron Stuart in a strictly vanilla fling with Diana Holt (Sadie), and a cowboy (Jesse Adams) / cowgirl (Lysa Thatcher) engaged in some fervent anal; that they play in locking montage with Seka’s double-handed masturbation lends them a palpable visceral heft. It’s a hell of a scene, clocking nearly a third of the film’s running time, and unique among the orgiastic excesses typical of the genre at the time.

That’s not to say that everything’s to love about A Place Beyond Shame. It’s sexual politics and power dynamics will rub some the wrong way, particularly when Seka’s therapist invites himself into a fireside fuck with her, and the filmmakers couldn’t seem to resist perpetuating degrading Asian stereotypes via Mai Lin (whose off-putting¬†Full Metal Jacket-esque dialogue blessedly evaporates into impassioned groans once her scene is underway). Still, my caveats are limited, and¬†A Place Beyond Shame remains well in advance of most of its type and time. It’s an all together satisfying adult entertainment with some distinctive weirdness all its own, and overall I dig it.

A Place Beyond Shame · 1980 · Cybercraft · Color · Vista · directed by Fred J. Lincoln and Sharon Mitchell · starring Seka · Lori Blue · Don Fernando · Paul Thomas · Very Knotty · John Martin · Lysa Thatcher · Ken Scudder · Jessie Adams · Bonnie Holiday · Diana Holt · Mai Lin · written by Dr. Z, Roger Caine, and Fred J. Lincoln · production design by Sharon Mitchell  · photography by Joao Fernandes · available on restored DVD from Vinegar Syndrome or via online streaming through Exploitation.tv

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