THE LIFE AND MOVIES OF EROTIC CINEMAS
MOST EXPLOITED FIGURE
... to make everybody feel a bit more at ease, we started with a few outdoor shots of Bodil riding her stallion on the beach and along a gorgeous country lane flanked by beautiful, blooming yellow mustard fields. We had her dress in her own spanking white riding breeches, jodhpurs, knee-length riding boots and duck-billed riding cap. In cutting, we used this footage for the opening of the Bodil sequence to make the contrast with the later animal sequences all the more striking, while at the same time saying: Took, here is a girl who not only makes porno films with animals and lives in a filthy, smelly house, but who can also dress up nicely, is a good rider, and is just as nice and sensitive as any other girl.'
-Phillis and Eberhard Kronhausen, The Sex People (published 1975)
Bodil Joensen was born in a small Danish village in 1944. In March of 1969, whenDenmark passed revolutionary anti-censorship laws unconditionally freeing all pictorial representation from legal restraint, she was born again porno celebrity.
The 1969 legislation had two related effects which made her eternal fame possible.
First, it gave legal sanction and economic impetus to the newly forming Danish hardcore porno industry, officially anointed soon after with Sex-69, a sex trade fair in Copenhagen that proved so popular that over 1,000 people had to be turned away daily. By the early seventies, pornography would rank second after agriculture as Denmark's leading export commodity. Now, suddenly at the moment when all Western societies seemed to be questioning the sexual status-quo, here was a country with 'no holds barred' - unlike America where explicit erotic cinema was constrained by a confusing patchwork of local obscenity statutes and a pervasive sense of Anglo-Saxon guilt.
Secondly, like its fellow Scandinavian countries, Denmark was blessed with an abundance of good-looking women, and now, with the Freedom Law, the rest of the world began to idealise it as some sort of paradise of sexual liberation. Danes were seen as open and natural, free of the repressions and hang-ups that inhibited the Germans and Americans who would quickly become the biggest buyers of Danish product.
Whether or not all this new freedom was due more to typical Danish indifference than to liberated attitudes, Denmark was suddenly hot property. People were curious.
Throughout 1969, 1970 and 1971, a swarm of sex-researchers, documentarians and adventurous independent film-makers emboldened by this new freedom descended on Denmark looking for an erotic utopia. With them came professional pornographers looking for subject matter, product, and exposable flesh.
Bodil was to be their most exotic find.
They larded their 'studies' of Danish sexual freedom with noble talk about liberation, enlightenment and tolerance - while Bodil herself went about it all with the naive enthusiasm of a small-town girl about to become the most exploited 'actress' in the history of cinema.
And one of the most enigmatic.
Bodil was born in 1944 in Hundige, a suburban village south of Copenhagen. The name, pronounced BO-dill, is a common girl's name in Denmark. (The Danish equivalent to the Oscar film award is called "The Bodil". Her father was a shipmaster from the Faroe Islands and was often away from home. He lived the loose life of a free-spending hard drinker who often stayed over in Copenhagen with other women when not at sea. He needed half a bottle of schnapps and two beers to wake up in the morning, he would alternately boast and confess.
Her mother, by all accounts, was violently puritanical and sadistic. Bodil had a sister, two years younger than her who would be married by age seventeen due to an unplanned pregnancy. She would have seven kids, pretty much one after another, and be held up to Bodil by their mother as an example of what womanhood should be about. Her younger brother, characterised by Bodil as an imbecile, was doted over by their mother.
Her parents divorced when she was twelve and she moved from place to place with her mother, attending eight different schools before dropping out after the 71h grade.
One day around the time of the divorce, Bodil became intrigued as she watched two dogs coupling. She also had early and vividly recurring memories of a male horse "covering" a female horse. These were the only sexual images available to her in a household ruled by a despotic mother who, she claimed, would beat her if she tried to read a book or hold an idle conversation with a boy outside the house; a mother to whom any talk of sex was violently taboo. Bodil began to focus her love and physical desire on one of the dogs attached to the household, who gave her a tingle one morning by licking her crotch.
A turning point in her young life came soon after this when she had an enlightening conversation with a pervert/pederast who told her all about "men, animals and sex" - topics she had never heard about and that fascinated her.
They just talked. The pervert never touched her. However, someone reported their meeting to Bodil's mother who called the police. They came and collared the pervert, searched him and found a bottle of chloroform which earned him a short prison sentence.
Her mother beat her savagely when she got home from the police station, locking her away in the attic for several days and bringing food up to her. Assuming that she'd been assaulted, her mother judged her to be a vile slut who was not fit to dine with the family.
Bodil reacted with shock followed by hysterical defiance. I said to mama that when 1 grew up I'd fuck boars. 1 couldn't think of anything more naughty. She was so shocked that she thought 1 was allied with the devil."
Bodil got a job on a farm, and later at a breeding centre for boars - not so hard in Denmark, a country full of pig farms.
When not at work at the breeding centre she was fond of going for long walks in the forest. It was while an one of these idyllic, sun-dappled strolls that she met a married logger. He had a bottle of schnapps, got her drunk on it and had his way with her, taking her virginity. Bodil never saw him again. She was fifteen. Two years later she fell in love with a married man with whom she had 'normal' straight sex, but this affair was short-lived.
Bodil liked her work at the breeding centre. She saved her money and at seventeen rented a farm and a truck, and started her own operation with a boar named Rascal she bought for 400 crowns. She now, as her mother might have envisioned it, was consummating her relations with the devil.
Bodil enjoyed work (and play) on her farm. She liked to be surrounded by her animals, which fulfilled the need for companionship and physical intimacy she had never found with people. She never viewed her sexual relations with the animals as cruelty or exploitation, but figured she was sweetening their lives, and that it was all part-and-parcel of living with them and being around them.
Eventually articles started appearing in newspapers and magazines about this pretty farmgirl who merrily went about helping boars into sows and considered the work completely normal. Marriage proposals as well as vulgar sexual propositions started to arrive in the mail, Bodil said no to all of it, but people started to get ideas about her. Neighbouring farmers thought they could fuck Bodil while her boar fucked their sows, but they were quickly put straight.
Nonetheless her reputation blackened, and she found herself particularly reviled by the farmer's wives. All of this helped to put a hex on the finances of her fledgling breeding centre and mire her in constant debt. When her mother saw some of the articles, she phoned Bodil to scold her. Bodil told her off in no uncertain terms.
Bodil wanted to become a veterinarian but her lack of formal education prevented it. Her other dream was to become an accomplished horsewoman, travelling to all the Derbies. But one day came along when she couldn't find the money to pay the rent an her farm and truck - let alone cigarettes - and she went to Copenhaqen to answer an advertisement seeking porno models.
Her start in pornography was strictly homosapien if not strictly heterosexual. She now found herself in a studio obliged to make love to a white man, a negro, a girl, and a dwarf with a huge cock. She earned well for a time and had no inhibitions about the work. It was like "washing dishes" she would recall. Photo sessions became more infrequent, however, due to the publisher's need to present an ever revolving cast of new faces and bodies to their public.
It was Bodil's own idea to enter into the heretofore strictly underground world of animal pornography, and she did so in early 1970 in a welter of hastily produced magazines and 8mm films. Despite the Freedom Law, they were devoid of publisher or production credits for fear of legal reprisals.
She also performed live sex in at least three different sex clubs with her collie dog, Lassie, and a shifting array of other partners. As soon as the ever ready and horny collie heard their theme music strike up (the naughty French pop song, 'Je t’aime') and saw the stage lights go on, he would storm the stage in eager anticipation and wait for Bodil to come out, sometimes naked and sometimes in a soon-to-be-discarded bra and panties.
Ever the ham, Lassie once stole a plate full of cakes intended for the audience - much to the hilarious laughter of all present. Over the years "Denmark's best lover", as Bodil dubbed him, fucked over twenty-five women but no-one knows if he ever fucked another dog. The only one who could throw a wet towel on him was an agent of the Animal Protection Union who put an abrupt halt to Lassie's participation in the live sex shows.
At this point in time, in 1970, Bodil also had a boyfriend, Knud. With his own small farmhouse and stables nearby, Knud helped Bodil transport animals and engaged in bestiality himself. He shared porno modelling assignments with Bodil and also worked as a guard at a nearby prison. They had normal heterosexual relations with each other, as captured in some of the films and photo-plays of the period, and from Bodil's accounts their love life was almost shockingly staid.
With regard to Knud, Bodil preached sexual bromides of the type that one might read in any newspaper advice column: that it wasn't the size of a man's penis that was important but the time and attention paid, and that one must always be considerate to one's partner. Bodil always broke off fellatio before Knud climaxed. I don't know why, but 1 always stop before he comes."
By mid- 1970, Bodil, at age twenty-six, was a solidly built, buxom woman with a broad-faced beauty that lent itself at times to a certain wildness and at other times to a childish insecurity.
She was now at the peak of her 'career', politely welcoming TV and film crews from as tar away as America and Japan, and her notoriety-quotient was about to soar. Kinky couples were showing up at her farm: the woman wanted to try out the stallion while the guy wanted to try out Bodil.
Bodil claimed that initially her neighbours accepted her activities out of a combination of typical Danish easy-goingness and a sympathetic understanding of her financial needs. One early magazine article noted how the friendly local butcher would give her bones to take back to her dog.
Yet within a very short space of time Bodil would become the most ostracised and controversial of alt European porno stars, perpetually rumoured to be feeble-minded, in prison or dead from suicide. She became the focal point of fear and hatred in the neighbouring countryside that took on an almost medieval resonance, as if she were guilty of witchcraft.
Sex researcher, Eberhard Kronhausen, would recall stopping at a nearby country restaurant over the course of his visits to Bodil's farmhouse in Odsherred to shoot his film, Why Do They Do lt? The elderly Danish women who ran the restaurant, aware of his purpose in the neighbourhood, "looked us over thoroughly as they waited on our table, as if wanting to make sure we didn't have hidden horns and cloven hooves." Rumours of Bodil's relationship to her animals (which were certainly by now more than rumours) permeated the countryside like a kind of folklore, and the hostility of locals forced her to relocate periodically from one humble rented farm to another.
Bodil was featured in numerous films produced in the busy 1970-1972 period - everything from full-crew 35mm productions to amateur shorts shot with hand-held 16mm and Super-8 cameras. She performed with her animals and also in tandem with other practising bestiality performers - recruited by strictly commercial pornographers, like the Danish company, Color Climax, who would exploit her most ruthlessly.
But all was not deadly serious in this basically absurd line of work. "Once we shot a movie with a man and a cow," Bodil would recall in a 1980 interview. "He was standing on a wooden box behind her. She chewed her cud as he fucked her. Suddenly the box collapsed and he ended up lying in the filth underneath her. She looked back with surprise as it to say, what a brutal orgasm!
As was generally the practice in hardcore film-making during that period, footage was widely bought, swapped and stolen and mixed into any number of other productions, rendering any attempted 'definitive' filmography of Bodil's output futile if not irrelevant.
THE MOVIES I
BODIL, A SUMMER DAY IN 1970
The most sincere and in-depth treatment of Bodil is rendered in the film, Bodil A Summer Day in 1970, a twenty-minute documentary shot in a single day in June, 1970. It was made by Ole Ege, a Danish sex magazine photographer and 8mm porno producer, and Shinkichi Tajiri, a Japanese-American sculptor who dwelled in a Dutch castle and taught at the Art Academy in Berlin. Tajiri had already made a short 16mm film entitled The Viper, which had won a prize at the Cannes Film Festival. A Summer Day would itself go on to win the Grand Prix at the first Wet Dream Film Festival in Amsterdam in 1970 and acquire the lustre of an outré porno classic.
Tajiri met Ege in 1970 and suggested they shoot a film about Bodil. Ege related in 1993 that he was repulsed by sodomy ("bestiality" in English application), but that Tajiri managed to sway him. They drove out to Bodil's rented farm in Odsherred, Northwest Sealand - a two-hour drive out of Copenhagen - where she lived with two rabbits, seven dogs, a dozen pigs, some cats, a guinea pig, a mare and a beautiful black stallion named Dreamlight.
They paid Bodil 2,000 Danish crowns (about $350 in current conversion rates). Ege filmed and Tajiri was sound man. The sound equipment malfunctioned so the planned live sound dialogue was replaced with classical music: Beethoven's 'Pastorale'.
Ege recalls the filming that day:
Tajiri and 1 drive around with Bodil, who has a sperm supply central, to the farmers in the neighbourhood. Her truck has a sign reading, 'Dreamlight Covers Odsherred'. The boar or the stallion is in the back. The farmers give a hand at the mating and Bodil enjoys the activities, burning one cigarette after another. When she plays her erotic game with the dog or horse, it is not only a sexual curiosity - it is an erotic play with animals she loves and who are devoted to her.
Ege, like many others who dealt with Bodil, found her genuinely likeable - although today he seems unable or unwilling to offer much illumination as he sits behind his desk at the Copenhagen Erotic Museum, which he co-founded in 1992. The first half of A Summer Day is replete with scenes of Bodil coaxing and wrestling with her charges, while her skimpy work dress rides halfway up her bare ass. This is intercut with shots of her nude, riding her horse around a green field billowing in the Summer breeze.
Her past is explored as the camera's eye floats over family portraits and photos. We see pictures of Bodil as a child and a schoolgirl, Bodil with brother and sister, with her parents and group shots with classmates. These are of course the kind of images - revealing her innocence, vulnerability and humanity - that would quickly kill the standard porno fantasy which demands a personal detachment. There are several b&w photos of a young Bodil with her favourite collie dog, standing apart from the other people.
In a shocking yet somehow natural turn, the second half of the film depicts Bodil engaged in explicit sexual acts with her dog, boar and stallion.
The classical soundtrack gives the film a feel that ranges variously from melodramatic to poetic to just plain bizarre. It impels the viewer to draw impressions based on the images alone, while at the same time affording us the luxury of viewing the shocking proceedings from an emotional distance that might be shattered by live sync-sound. The music slightly softens the impact of the sordid sexual acts and serves as a bridge between different segments of the film.
The hand-held cinèma-vérité photography is set against the pompous abstraction of the music, and imparts the raw authenticity of a home movie in sequences such as the one where Bodil drives her truck down country roads. Ege, sitting next to her in the front seat, aims his camera with all the shaky artlessness of a doting American husband on a car trip vacation.
It is a film of seemingly irreconcilable contradictions: a sympathetic treatment of what most people consider abhorrent and perverted; a non-exploitative take on a subject loaded with exploitative potential. It's a profile of a porno performer that includes explicit sex acts but is not a porno film per se. To appreciate
A Summer Day ages well, unlike the plenitude of pseudo-scientific sexual documentaries of the period that now seem so dated, artless, transparent and, well, pornographic.
Whatever distaste for bestiality Ole Ege personally harboured was more than mitigated by the praise, success and financial dividend A Summer Day had reaped, and he made another trip to Bodil's farm soon after to shoot part of his upcoming feature film, entitled Pornography. Ege scored the film with a (no doubt unauthorised) jazz soundtrack by Dexter Gordon and brought a loose, underground style approach to bear on each of the four portraitures that comprised the whole, one of which starred Denmark's now infamous 'Boar Girl'. The Girl and the Boar was another short film Ege shot with Bodil. He recalls that Bodil wasn't hard to find in those days. "Lots" of film-makers used her and she became something of a cottage industry within porno. She performed a well-rehearsed repertoire of sexual acts with a largely unchanging cast of animal companions, and there was little variation from film to film. The 'film-makers' more or less just set up and shot. That Bodil needed no direction or encouragement was fortunate for the film-makers and crews, many of whom would find Denmark in themselves viscerally effected and rendered speechless or near faint by the proceedings.
In 1996, film-maker Torben Skjodt Jensen made a seventy-eight-minute documentary about Ole Ege himself, entitled Naughty Boy. It was broadcast in 1997 in Britain on terrestrial television (BBC2), drew high ratings and constituted something of a comeback for the Danish porn pioneer. But Bodil was the real star of the film, and the only girl he ever photographed that anyone would remember. Thirty years later it appears that Ole Ege's 'career' has boiled down to that one little film. Like pilgrims approaching one of the disciples, people ask him, "What was she like... ?"
THE MOVIES II
To appreciate the unique accomplishments of A Summer Day, it should be seen side-by-side with its dark twin, Animal Lover, very possibly the most offensive exploitation film ever made.
First spotted on the West Coast porno mini-theatre circuit in 197 1, Animal Lover was the purposely controversial creation of San Franciscan, Alex de Renzy, who had helped to pioneer the American hardcore scene in late 1969. Since his visit to Copenhagen for the Sex-69 trade fair, de Renzy had contacts in Denmark and an interest in Danish product. At that time half the porno films playing in American seemed to be set in Denmark or have Denmark in the title: Sex Seeing in Copenhagen, Sexual Freedom in Denmark, A Day with Ilse, Dagmar's Hot Pants, Wide Open Copenhagen, Pornography in Denmark, Sex in Copenhagen, Pomo: Made in Denmark, etc. De Renzy's first major success in fact had been Censorship in Denmark: A New Approach, which contained vox pop interviews and examples of the Danish product.
Animal Lover was actually a ragged conglomeration of several films in the pirate tradition of hardcore porno cinema. The core footage is a self-contained forty minute film produced in Denmark in 1970 by Willy Borgstrom and Grondahl Films, directed by Freddy Hansen and photographed by Paul Moller. (It should be noted that many respectable Danish film people worked in the porno industry at that time, and these people were not necessarily 'pornographers'. It's a small country and a small industry and there was not the stigma attached to such involvement that one would expect to encounter in America.)
This Danish production opens with an introduction by a host who identifies himself as Svend Nielsen. He then proceeds to interview "our little farm girl", as the two sit on chairs outdoors with Bodil flanked by her beloved collie, Lassie. Nielsen questions Bodil in Danish and gives somewhat different answers back to the camera in English translation, occasionally mixing up the two languages. Nielsen's command of English is little better than Bodil's which appears to be non-existent. Nielsen concludes the interview with a hokey and awkward plea for personal freedom and tolerance, citing the 1969 Freedom Law and then promising viewers they are about to see things they have never dreamt of in their wildest imaginations.
They then proceed to the barn and later to the house, and Bodil performs with boar, dog and horse. Apparently de Renzy needed to stretch the film out to feature-length and so tacked a twenty-minute lecture/interview session onto the beginning. The 'lecture' is delivered by a sleazy looking "expert" who attempts to convince us that sex with animals has a long, proud tradition dating back to the Greeks and is something that most women think about from time to time. To one reviewer he looked as though "he'd been yanked off the street and pressed into service when the real actor panicked and failed to show. It looks like he's been on the skids for ten years running." Appearing to be about fifty-five, he could better pass for a seller of junk automobiles or a coathanger abortionist. He proceeds to serve up one of the most inept performances of fraudulent expertise ever filmed.
Aimlessly citing facts, figures, and examples from history, he emerges from behind his desk in thick glasses, dark suit and a red polka-dot tie to recklessly ad lib. He unravels, he digresses. He rambles on the verge of incoherence, repeats himself, loses track, stares into the camera glassy eyed while mispronouncing words at an amazing rate. He refers to the episodes of "the film you're about to see", and it seems to be a different film entirely. He turns a failed performance into a masterpiece of the bizarre.
This introduction somehow wraps up. We find ourselves in a different room, but the settings are always swathed in shadows and are completely unidentifiable. It could be a kind of studio or it could be somebody's living room. Our host is now interviewing a young lady who is introduced as a secretary from San Mateo, California, a suburb south of San Francisco. He sits side-saddle on a sofa, socks exposed as his polyester pant legs ride halfway up to his knees. She sits in a chair, her face hidden in carefully arranged shadow.
She talks about her recent trip to Marrakech. Strolling alone at night, she is snatched off the street by sadistic Arab man, enslaved in a sex compound for months and is brutally raped by "whoever wanted me". She witnesses a girl raped by dogs. She relates how the girl bled to death while the dogs lapped up her blood. A few moments of appalled silence follow.
"... Did you have sex with dogs?" the interviewer prods as she quietly begins to sob at the recollection. "Did the dog climax in your mouth?" he indelicately continues. She chokes on her anguish... admits in a weak, trembling voice that she made love to dogs orally. Then she describes how she was eventually freed and dumped penniless and nearly naked on a desolate desert road, making her way to the city where she had to resort to prostitution in order to purchase a ticket back to America.
This woman certainly plays the role of victim far better than our host plays the role of scholarly expert, but it is surely an enacted role nonetheless - no matter how effectively the charade produces feelings of genuine revulsion in the viewer.
The misfortunes of 'fallen women' have proven to be big at the box-office ever since the White Slave Trade scandals provoked and fascinated moviegoers back at the turn of the twentieth-century. But apart from an actual snuff film, this segment of Animal Lover must rank as one of the most misguided, ghastly and hideous attempts at titillation ever. It's such an amateurishly rigged piece of overkill that one suspects it might even be the handiwork of some religious organisation, in the same mould es Reefer Madness (which was produced by a church group).
Thus far in the film we have seen no sexual acts nor even any naked flesh, and yet most viewers already feel covered in filth.
Animal Lover then inexplicably cuts into the start of the Danish film with full opening credits even though no mention whatsoever has been made of Bodil Joensen thus far. De Renzy further lengthened this core film with four on-the-street interviews filmed in Copenhagen, probably shot during his trip to Sex-69, in which the interviewer (de Renzy himself?) asks passers-by - half of whom turn out to be American tourists - what they think of pornography.
Denmark's rotund largest producer of pornography' is interviewed in his book shop, and Gitte, an attractive blonde clerk is verbally prodded into showing the cameras a sampling of hardcore magazines between embarrassed giggles.
In the second half of the film we're treated to Bodil's stock assortment of sex acts. Every second seems like an hour as interminable close-ups of Bodil fellating the collie play on the screen in bright, lurid colour. Close-ups and clumsy zoom-in shots characterise the camera work which is otherwise static. Shots of Bodil in compromising positions, staring up at the camera and appearing somewhat blinded by the bright arc lamps, are frequent.
It is simply pure pornography distilled to its essence, made for a porn audience, shorn of any 'scientific' or artistic merit and rendered all the more obscene for its pretensions to such. For the merely curious it becomes a relentless, almost brutal experience.
Today in San Francisco some people still remember Animal Lover's short theatrical run in November of 1971. The show was reportedly shut down by an outraged public two weeks after its opening. This in America's most liberal city in an era of almost radical permissiveness.
The local sex tabloid of the period, The San Francisco Ball, sent reporter T Randohl down to check it out and see if it was for real. Arriving at a newly opened mini-porno theatre in the Tenderloin that had just been built out of the ruins of a fire-gutted bar, Randohl made his way into the pitch blackness after arguing the ticket-seller down from eight bucks to four.
Randohl would describe the cathartic effect the film had on the small audience whose reactions by mid-point in the show he could no longer manage to ignore. The hippie couple had fled, the two loner guys closer to the front ("advanced cases") were jerking off, the two guys in back who would soon bolt were now doubled over with laughter and one man in the far corner was crying like a baby and would vomit by the grand finale but never leave. In his review Randohl predicted that politicians would soon be "raising an outcry" over this one.
Animal Lover played elsewhere on the expanding, product-hungry circuit of West Coast porn theatres. Kenneth Turan and Stephen Zito reported in Sinema, their 1974 book on sex movies, that the film had been "successful in finding at least a limited audience". But Animal Lover had resonance beyond mere numbers like playdates and box-office grosses and would soon become the stuff of underground legend. That such a film could ever play theatrically seems unimaginable today.
Bodil also starred in the Danish-produced feature, Sex En Gros (Sex Wholesale), while other films appropriated footage of her for shock effect, such as Sexual Liberty Now which used only the startling and rumoured-to-be-dangerous scene of her awkwardly coupling with a boar.
In fact sex with a boar could be dangerous. In her interview with Tajiri, Bodil recounted attempting the act a second time with the same big 220 lb boar. "The boar was aware of what was happening. This time I laid on my back and this I shouldn't have done. It became quite wild, threw itself over me and began biting me all over. It was impossible for me to throw it off, the only thing 1 could do was let it finish."
The best known film to feature Bodil was Why (Hvorfor Gor de Det was its full original Danish title, translating into Why Do They Do lt?). It was produced in 1971 by American Sex researchers, Phyllis and Eberhard Kronhausen, who were living in Denmark in the early seventies. Prior to this the Kronhausens had produced an anthology of twenties and thirties hardcore stag films entitled Porno Pop. They would also became known for their exceptional collection of erotic art on display in San Francisco through the mid-seventies (at the San Francisco Museum of Erotic Art, which can be seen pictured in the 1974 hardcore film, Sip the Wine), and in 1975 they would publish a book, The Sex People.
Why Do They Do lt? explores "the psychology and sociology of the Danish live sex show business as it flourished in 1970 and 1971", as the Kronhausens describe it in The Sex People. The first segment deals with an interracial lesbian couple, the second presents simultaneous copulation by two married couples in front of bleacher stands full of students, and the third segment focuses on Bodil.
Bodil's scenes were again filmed at the familiar rented farm in Odsherred. She insisted on greeting every member of the film crew with an awkward handshake, and to the Kronhausens, her appearance - the customary headband and Cleopatra-style eye makeup -heightened the bizarre impression and gave her a kind of 'little-girl-playing-movie-star' quality. In the locket that she wore on a chain around her neck was a photo of Lassie.
Bodil then proceeded to (attempt to) perform with Sofus, her bull, Lassie, and Dreamlight, the stallion, whom she could only fondle to ejaculation due to the impossibility of human-to horse copulation. "You can't do it with a stallion, he'd split you apart," she sighs. Bodil found it necessary to feed Sofus and Lassie an aphrodisiac of Yohimbene, widely used as such in its root form in Africa. She kneaded soft bread into a ball into which she placed two pills and fed it to the animals. At least in the case of the dog, this produced successful results. She finished off by copulating with her boyfriend Knud. As with A Summer Day, there is some attempt to understand her as a person.
The Bodil presented to us in the films and interviews of 1970 and 1971 - her 'fifteen minutes' - is a beguiling tangle of contradictions. Here was a simple hard-working farm girl who tells Svend Nielsen that her only desire in life is to buy her own farm and live quietly with all her animals around her. Yet in the next breath she attempts (unsuccessfully) to feign a hard, experienced tone and boasts that she's been in the porno business a full year now.
She clearly welcomed attention and offers from commercial pornographers - not just for the income she was ever in need of and not just as an act of ongoing rebellion against her mother. She seemed to be simply and innocently proud of it all.
She became an accessible and willing hardcore model who would do absolutely anything, and yet she was anything but a jaded, decadent porno star in the usual mould. Raised in an atmosphere of total shame, she seemed incapable of feeling any shame at all. Her biggest shame was to be seen in a magazine spread with dirty feet! On the other hand she seemed oblivious to the flies crawling on her when she was messing around naked in the stalls. She seemed to lack that minimal protective layer of vanity that makes us people, or at least allows us to decode the actions and motivations of our fellow man. Somewhere along the line with Bodil, the wires were crossed.
The workmanlike and enthusiastic willingness she displays in her films comes across as raw naiveté or a pathetic simple-mindedness to some, while to others it-betokens a certain innocence unbound. Most who met her describe her as a sweet if strange young lady.
It is Bodil's direct, diligent and unaffected approach to performing the most taboo of sexual acts that shocks people as much as the acts themselves, and defines her films as something other than the mere displays of pornographic perversion they inevitably were. Bodil defies the basic porno stereotypes: she isn't playing the virginal Little Bo Peep act, nor does she mug steamy fake orgasms at the camera in the time honoured and brain damaged tradition.
She wasn't an actresses in any sense, but some people probably wish she was acting. That would spare them from any deeper soul-searching, which is not what most people want when they go to a pornographic movie. "Who is this woman!?," the viewer is forced to wonder, which gives her an instant individuality disruptive to the anonymous, hypnotic fantasy that is integral to pornography as an interactive discipline.
Pornographers are always looking to find or create the true - to borrow a term from Rick James - 'super freak'; a woman who will not only do absolutely anything but who actually loves to do it. With Bodil, as long as they could confine her into the two dimensions of the printed page, they had found their kinkiest super freak. She was not only a porn model but a news item. As soon as she acquired three dimensions she assumed a disturbing humanity. But in the dark sub-cult of porno called bestiality, where most of the identity-less performers come across as mildly retarded farm hands or gullible, drug-addicted prostitutes, Bodil became a star.
And she even seemed to be enjoying it. Here arose another problem for some viewers who were put off by her aggressiveness. They wanted to see the girl get raped by the animals - not the other way around. Of course, as many visitors would remark, the animals didn't seem all that turned-on by her.
The sum result was part freak show, part porn performance and part surrealistic grotesquerie that Dadaists like Dali or Bunuel would have appreciated. The bizarre nature of this whole business was impossible to overlook. In one scene from Animal Lover, Bodil lies naked on her living room floor embracing a huge, hairy, grunting boar who seems less than interested by the goings on. The scene is classic Rabelaisian more than anything else, harkening back to the Middle Ages when people and their animals often did live in the same house.
TEN YEARS LATER
International interest in Bodil dried up by the mid-seventies. She herself had a baby daughter sometime around late 1972 or 1973.
She had always received plenty of personal offers, which indicated there was some money to be made in prostitution. Sometime in the mid- to late-seventies she got herself a massage parlour and a 'klinik' (a one woman flat traditionally in a seedy low-rent part of town) and became a prostitute in Copenhagen while maintaining residence in a derelict cottage in Grevinge Hills, ten miles north of the city.
Here in this cottage, without running water and missing half its roof, she lived with her (unidentified) man and daughter. Newspapers began to report that she was mistreating her animals, and eventually they became the property of the man she was living with at this time. She was no longer to have anything to do with them.
Her massage parlour attracted people with special perversions. After all, what perversion was so shocking that it could not be confided to Bodil? One man wanted to play dog. He stripped naked and Bodil put a collar on him and walked him down Vesterbrogade, in the Red Light District, on his hands and knees, He pissed on the pavement. A police car pulled up and followed them for a while.
“I thought we were going to be arrested for indecent behavior" recalled Bodil. 'I definitely felt like running away. I looked cautiously at the officers. Obviously they didn't know what to do. Suddenly they started laughing and drove off. 1 was relieved. And my dog gave me a thankful lick."
The dizzying flush of sexual liberation that had left the Western world breathless in 1970 seemed, ten years later, like an aberration from a long forgotten past.
By 1980, Bodil was once again broke, but she no longer had the financial asset of a buxom young body. She was thirty-six now but seemed much, much older. A chain smoker and heavy drinker, she was sixty pounds overweight with grossly swollen legs. Her teeth were rotten and her hair was thinning and frequently unwashed.
She was simply mentally and physically unwell. She was used up, played out and embittered that she had received almost nothing from the millions which were made, and are still being made, from her images. And she was largely forgotten. Many people were under the assumption she had committed suicide years ago.
"Look at me!" she would exclaim to reporter Svend-Ove Kjeldgaard between gulps from a bottle of schnapps. "There aren't many man that get wild looking at me. In my situation it's very hard to turn down even the most disgusting propositions. For me, staying alive in the hooking business is hell."
Regular customers from 'the good old days' would come by to see her. They would pay just to talk and then leave without touching her. This was an affront to her feminine vanity, but she could understand why, considering how her looks had degenerated.
Bodil was shrouded in a very dark karma. The end seemed near.
This writer could find no obituary or any hard evidence of Bodil's death, but the rumours of her suicide seem to have assumed an immortality all their own, impervious even to her own real death. Various sources supplied me with a plethora of suicide dates that stretch from the early seventies into the nineties. Hell, maybe she's still to be found loitering along Istedgade behind the train station.
But while she herself is gone, the money to be made from her is limitless. To this day her glossy colour images are still being reprinted and sold in porno shops in Copenhagen, Amsterdam, New York City and just about everywhere else, as if the calendar still reads 197 1.
She still remains 'the Global Queen of Bestiality' almost thirty years on. She's even experiencing a kind of digital rebirth on the Internet, despite the fact that bestiality remains illegal in many parts of the world.
Yet somewhere beneath the eternally marketable world-class porno 'product' that launched a thousand magazine spreads, and somewhere beyond the myth that enshrined her as some sort of pagan deity, was a human being. It was this human being that Shinkichi Tajiri was trying to find when he made the film that ironically established Bodil as a porno superwoman. Although he spoke about this on record little more than a year after he made A Summer Day with Ole Ege, his comments serve, so to speak, as the last word.
Accepting the 'Grand Prix' at the first Wet Dream Film Festival was the worst mistake we made with out film, but we were too flattered by the response at the time to realize it. Today it is referred to as an 'underground porno classic' and 'porno' was precisely the label 1 was trying to overcome in making a tender documentary about a very special person.
[From the start] the porno leeches gathered around her and were ruthlessly exploiting her as a sex curiosity. In the film, I wanted to leisurely investigate and give human depth to a person who was being abused as a two-dimensional sex phenomenon, but lack of time, funds and the announcement of the upcoming Wet Dream Film Festival pressed us to complete the film. We didn't think we could ever show it publicly and this seemed the ideal opportunity. Bodil has become, in spite of out efforts, porno's 'superstar', but she remains more than a historical/political/revolutionary personality: she is a fragile and precious human being.
PS: Contrary to rumors of suicide that reach me regularly every month or so, and must be indicative of a disturbed society that cannot come to terms with her, Bodil lives!
-Shinkichi Tajiri, January 1972
(From: Jack Stephenson (Ed.): fleshpot – Cinema’s Sexual Myth Makers & Taboo Breakers. Manchester: Headpress 2000)