“There’s very little sex in Hollywood movies in 2022. I wanted to try to figure out why that is — or what has changed — by looking at that period, beginning in the 1970s and ending around 1999, where sex was such a vital part of popular culture.”
-Karina Longworth, episode 269 of Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso
Film historian Karina Longworth is the host of You Must Remember This, a podcast exploring the forgotten histories of Hollywood’s first century.
This week she joins us to discuss her new series, “Erotic 80s” (4:48), the seismic shift created by films like Last Tango in Paris and Deep Throat (7:58), the way in which these movies sold a distorted view of “female sexual liberation” (11:58), and how the cultural perception of these X-rated pictures evolved as the public learned of the abusive conditions in which they were made (13:24). As the 1980s took hold, Karina outlines how Hollywood capitalized on sex in the movies (16:50), making a film like American Gigolo (16:35), which transformed Richard Gere into a “distracting” sex symbol (21:27) and lead to an “MTV aesthetic” in films like Flashdance and Risky Business (27:42).
On the back-half, we wrestle with the legacy of director Adrian Lyne’s work (27:30), the way cinema has drifted away from the center of culture (35:27), why Karina continues to make You Must Remember This (39:50), and a refrain she shares with 1930s actress, Kay Francis (45:44).
To submit a question, comment, or reflection for our mailbag episode, write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Listen to “Erotic 80s” Part 1 on You Must Remember This.
- Follow Karina Longworth on Twitter and Instagram.
- For similar conversations, hear our recommended talks with Cate Blanchett, Werner Herzog, Questlove, Laura Dern, Brian De Palma, Steven Soderbergh, Julie Delpy, and Janicza Bravo.
- Order your Talk Easy mug in cream and navy or our vinyl record with Fran Lebowitz.
Illustrations by: Krishna Shenoi.