Naughty begins like a live-action Bob Godfrey cartoon, as dirty mac archetype Horace (played by one C. Lethbridge Baker) wanders around Piccadilly Circus on his way to do the Soho shuffle. Sad DeWolfe instrumental music plays as Horace peeks in on dirty bookshops, porn cinemas and strip clubs. Horace starts getting the jitters, the narrator notes that material Horace once had to look hard for is now right there staring back at him from shop windows, "if it were all that bad they wouldn't allow it" Horace reassures himself. Horace's Soho shuffle comes to an abrupt end when a man of bouncer appearance ushers him into a basement cinema, Horace secretly hopes he's finally going to see something harder, but instead its just the same old soft sex dreck. The basement cinema resembles an opium den. Horace sits there miserably in the dark, imagining some far away sexual Utopia where "I bet girls throw themselves at you".
Naughty along with companion piece On the Game, were two of Stanley Long's post Wife Swappers productions that mixed present day documentary with historical re-enactments. Subtitled a "a chronicle of prostitution" On the Game plays like Long's version of The Nine Ages of Nakedness but without the overbearing music hall elements. Not unentertaining it offers up the novelty of seeing glamour stars like the late June Palmer and the ubiquitous Nicola Austine cast as infamous trollops through the ages. Krays associated nude model Flanagan does a character piece playing a modern day pro telling a councillor about her con tricks, run ins with the law and dealing with a Night After Night type pickup who just wants to pray at the end of her bed. The jolly, striptease heavy tone is occasionally broken up by jolts of nastiness like the Witchfinder General fashioned torture segment and a slideshow showcasing venereal diseases.
Naughty, or rather 'Naughty- a report on pornography and erotica through the ages', to give the film its full title and M.O. holds more documentary worth, its part 360 degree snapshot of the early 70's off Piccadilly sex industry, part re-enactments of the goings on of their Victorian predecessors and part report on the world's first pornographic film festival held at Amsterdam a year earlier.
The 'do as I say don't do as I do' attitude and hypocrisy of the Victorian era is examined via Papa, a terrifying, Bible-bashing patriarch. A man leading a double life, Papa reads pornographic literature under a copy of The Times and gives ridiculous speeches about how self-abuse can lead to lunacy to his son before popping out to a whorehouse. Although its specifically addressing the Victorian era this segment contains many nuggets of truth regarding the British attitude to sex. Don't be fooled by the stiff upper lip stereotype the great British public will gobble up smut at any opportunity whether it be McGill seaside postcards, tabloid bust models or Come Play with Me, yet its as British to deny enjoying such things, or wear a beard of disapproval - its behavior true of anything from British sex film directors who claimed to hate filming sex scenes but turned out hardcore on the sly, to cranky dirty macs harassing snap happy tourists in Soho with "ere mate, you didn't just take a picture of me, did ja?" wanting no record of their Brewer Street antics. Naughty gets much comic mileage out of the Victorians but then throws it back in the audiences face by suggesting things may not have changed that much. Is the Victorian street hawker who stuffs porn up his sleeve when plod comes along a million miles from the sex shop owner the Naughty crew encounter who keeps some of the 'hard stuff' in a back room? Or hardworking 19th century nude photographer Henry Hayler to the similarly one man band operation of blue movie maker John Lindsay? Lindsay is seen filming his ten minute opus Sex After School. While Sylvia, the black star of Sex After School who later did TV work under a different name, gives off a naive vibe with statements along the lines of 'the body is a beautiful thing', her two co-stars are from a much tougher school of drifting, careerless people who've ended up in vice. The girl playing a pseudo-teenager seems on a depressive trip- she's interviewed still naked, nervously dragging on a cigarette and looks down allot, a vulnerable mess of a girl. In her interview she cites money as her sole motivation, she's been in this game three years and remembers having to get drunk to cope with getting through her first blue film, she describes herself as "not happy, but I'm not sad, just indifferent" you worry what became of her.
Just as Horace notes the difference in the openness in Soho compared to few years earlier, so there is a considerable jump in attitude from The Wife Swappers to Naughty. While The Wife Swappers bends over backwards to morally justify its existence, and as a result is now rich in unintentional comedy, Naughty is a much less hysterical piece of work, one that manages to name check or depict just about every kink worth mentioning in 1971 without resorting to finger pointing moralising. Granted it may not be as radical as the some of the outlaw characters on display like Lindsay but in Long's humorous way Naughty does at least quietly question why Britain shouldn't be allowed the same freedoms as Europe, whilst poking fun at moral guardians past and present. The film's pre-credit claims of being a neutral take on the subject at hand being only slightly called into question by its own press book which actively encouraged cinema owners to tip off their local version of Longford and Whitehouse about when and where the film is playing, "their predictable reactions through the local media can only boost its business potential even more".
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