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Plot: the raunchy Schulmädchen are here. Hilarity ensues!

In the late sixties something interesting happened in German comedy. Franz Josef Gottlieb released his faux-documentary The Miracle Of Love (1968) wherein the sexual fantasies of a supposedly-but-not-really married couple were explored in pseudo-scientific manner through a number of tantalizing vignettes. Its companion piece The Ideal Marriage (1970) is lousy in comparison and Hermann Schnell’s Anatomy of an Orgasm (1970) actually goes out of its way to be scientific and supposedly educational. A trait that all three share is that they were white-coat erotica, a particular strain of sexploitation that filled grindhouses before the advent of hardcore pornography. White-coat erotica in turn gave rise to the much more popular and widely known Report-films, a series of pseudo-documentaries chronicling the sex life of whatever their subject happened to be (schoolgirls, housewives, nurses, et al.) The Report films were a lewd spin on educational films (Aufklärungsfilme) since television was still a fairly novel concept. They were a decade-long, mostly German phenomenon that happened parallell with the raunchy Tiroler sex comedy getting more bawdy as sexual mores became more liberated and permissive in the late sixties and early seventies. From 1975 onward the Schoolgirl Report series took a dip as sex cinemas became popular but would continue to exist into the early 1980s until they no longer were deemed profitable.

Schulmädchen-Report: Was Eltern nicht für möglich halten (or Schoolgirl Report: What Parents Don't Think Is Possible) was the original and is historically important for exactly that reason. It’s now almost a relic from a much more innocent time. Loosely based on the non-fictional Schulmädchen-Report by sexologist Günther Hunold the Schoolgirl Report from Ernst Hofbauer professes to take a scientific look at the sexual lives of girl students. Schoolgirl Report was something of a gathering of West Germany’s comedic talent. Not only is Ernst Hofbauer directing, Walter Boos was in the editing suite and co-directed. Producing was none other than Wolf C. Hartwig. On their own each man carved out a place in German comedy and their bundling of forces could only result in something that would revolutionize the German comedy for years to come. The timing couldn’t have been better too. In 1968 French existentialist Simone de Beauvoir released her two-volume treatise The Second Sex concerning the treatment of women through out history. The tomes are considered a major work of feminist philosophy and the starting point of second-wave feminism. The Italian mondo documentaries were in full swing. At the same time the sexual revolution swept over the United States and the wider world. Conservative sexual mores, once sanctified, became archaic relics of yore, as permissiveness became the norm. Across the world people were looking for a more egalitarian society and the dominant ethos was that of varied and flexible gender roles for women. What better time than now to capitalize on the sexual escapades of those wicked and wild schulmädchen?

A delegation of eminent figures in the fields of psychology, sociology and science are called upon by concerned parents and faculty members alike when a schulmädchen is discovered in the throes of passion with the busdriver on a schooltrip. As parents and educators are mystified what to do with the situation, and whether or not to expel the girl for her transgressions, the school dean (Wolf Harnisch) is more than willing to hear the informed opinions of the scientific community, among them sociologist Dr. Vogt (Helga Kruck), as well as respected local municipal gatekeepers. Even the girl’s psychologist Dr. Bernauer (Günther Kieslich) is allowed to defend the girl’s case. The panel is moderated by a reporter (Friedrich von Thun) shooting a documentary about the case. Intercut are candid “on the street” interviews with people across age brackets and demographics and confessional vignettes following a dozen or so Püppchen as they go about their lives and talk about their sexual fantasies or – misadventures Schoolgirl Report tries its darnedest to be a serious dissertation of what it considers an alarming new trend among the German youth, the practice of free love. The libertine and promiscuous lifestyle of their daughters has their repressed and conservative parents in a state of disbelief and shock. Erwin C. Hartwig and Ernst Hoffbauer had their finger at the pulse of youth counterculture when the sexual revolution of the late sixties swept Europe. Once controversial and incendiary 50 years later Schoolgirl Report is incredibly tame by any standard. That half of the interviews were faked only adds to the exploitation authenticity. Unbelievably well over 6 million people went to see Schoolgirl Report im kino. Schoolgirl Report caused a stir in the old Bundesrepublik and made Hartwig a millionaire.

There are no big stars in the first Schoolgirl Report. Only Jutta Speidel could be nominally considered the name-star as she was a regular in Germany comedy. It wouldn’t be until the sequels before domestic – and international starlets as Claudia Fielers, Christina Lindberg, Ingrid Steeger, Shirley Corrigan, Katja Bienert, Uschi Karnat, and Karine Gambier made their debut in the series. As these things tend to go there were regulars among the schulmädchen with the likes of Karin Götz, Ulrike Butz, Puppa Armbruster, and Christine Szenetra returning for many later episodes. The first few Schoolgirl Report movies also tried to maintain a veneer of respectability and hid behind pseudo-science to validate their existence. Later installments became increasingly wild and concerned themselves less with a semi-realistic depiction of youth sexuality.

If anything the Schoolgirl Report series was a spiritual precursor to the Girls Gone Wild brand (1997-2013) and roughly had the same objective. That’s to say, exposing nubile young women in flagrante delicto and preferably with not much in the way of clothes. In its native Germany (well, West Germany, to be exact) Schoolgirl Report was a box office smash that ended up inspiring not only 12 official sequels (lasting all the way through the seventies into the eighties) but also spawned a legion of domestic imitations as Wedding Night Report (1972) (with Christina von Blanc), Early Awakening Report (1973) and Keyhole Report (1973). Even infamous and prolific Spanish sleaze merchant Jess Franco didn’t shy away from getting in on the action with his Virgin Report (1972) and the Erwin C. Dietrich co-directed Around the World in 80 Beds (1976). Not bad for a cheap sexploitation romp masquerading as a taboo-breaking and controversy courting “youth of today” exposé, itself a thinly-veiled excuse to show as much naked mädels as possible while trying to maintain a veneer of respectability.

In the ensuing decades since the moralizing, the prude mindset, and the surrounding hypocrisy concerning teenage sexuality haven’t changed in the slightest. In any medium of your choosing teenage – and adolescent girls remain a fixture for fetishization and sexualization. Schoolgirl Report was progressive for its time and it has all but admitted that the “documentary” framing device was merely there to avoid the kind of censorship that movies like this usually endured. Very much like Ruggero Deodato’s Cannibal Holocaust (1979) almost a decade later Schoolgirl Report posits that it does not condone the promiscuous excesses its hedonistic minxes engage in, yet in the same breath goes well out of its way to shoot every transgression in loving detail. Whether its same-sex couplings, polyamory, nude photography, father-daughter and/or brother-sister incest, prostitution (either voluntary or via coercion), rape, or teen pregnancy no topic was ever too controversial or taboo for the Schoolgirl Report franchise.

A recurring theme is that many of the mädels are attracted to much older men, often authority figures or clergy. Girls corrupting clergy was one of the standards of classic sexploitation. Here the girls in question just happened to be schulmädchen. It always were the mädels who were aggressively instigating the trysts and various sexual permutations. Each vignette serving as some kind of male wish fulfillment scenario or as a cautionary tale, if the Report had honorable intentions. In true seventies fashion the men typically were victims (self-agency apparently exclusively a female trait) or sacrificial lambs in many of the more tragic (and, sometimes, abusive) scenarios. The earlier episodes obviously were far more innocent than the later, much more outlandish sequels as the series desperately tried to remain relevant increasingly finding itself competing with the new sex cinemas. What remains a constant is that Wolf C. Hartwig never had any trouble finding ample of German mädchen willing to get naked for him. To think that Lindsay Lohan refused to get naked for her supposedly sleazy thriller I Know Who Killed Me (2007). The old adage never rung truer. They truly don’t make ‘em like this anymore.

Plot: high-class escort Sarah Asproon moonlights as a novelist researching a new book

Let it be known that Joe D’Amato can never be accused of not completely milking an idea while it was still profitable. A year after Eleven Days, Eleven Nights (1987) old Joe returned to New Orleans for Top Model (1988), a sequel of sorts to his earlier Nine 1/2 Weeks (1986) knockoff. Back again is ravishing Luciana Ottaviani and in what would be her swansong in the franchise she's given every chance to show off that impressive body of hers. With a screenplay from Rossella Drudi and Sheila Goldberg (as Gloria Miles) Top Model does have an unexpected romantic undercurrent. Which still doesn’t make it anything more than a bog-standard inexpensive soft erotic potboiler for late night cable. At least a Joe D’Amato soft erotic feature isn’t as heinous and painful as some of his infamous horror movies.

The success of a soft erotic movie is relative to the willingness of its star to shed clothes and cavort around naked. Ottaviani, to her everlasting credit, doesn’t shy away from either – even though she’s hardly what you'd call an actress. Ottaviani is exactly what Laura Gemser was in the 1970s. Gemser, three years away from announcing her retirement in 1991, will not be shedding any garments but she still looks rather dashing at 38. The cast is nothing but unknowns. James Sutterfield and Lin Gathright were in Killing Birds (1987), one of the many unofficial sequels to Lucio Fulci’s often imitated Zombie (1979). Gathright would resurface in the series American Horror Story (2014). Jason Saucier had guest roles in Dawson’s Creek (1999) and One Tree Hill (2004). Top Model was Laura Gemser’s first venture as a costume designer and unfortunately she never transcended beyond D’Amato and his ilk. There's something inherently ironic about Gemser, famous for getting out of her clothes for a living, making sure that other actors stay in theirs.

After having engaged in a brief but steamy affair with a dopey construction engineer the year before alleged novelist and present high-end escort Sarah Asproon (Luciana Ottaviani, as Jessica Moore) is working on a new book about high-class prostitution. To legitimize her efforts Asproon and her publisher Dorothy Tipton (Laura Gemser) set up a call-girl agency. Tipton adopts the alias Eva North while Asproon calls herself Gloria. To maximize efficiency and to keep track of customer information and appointments receptionist Sharon (Lin Gathright) and shy programmer Cliff Evans (James Sutterfield) are hired. One of Sarah’s clients Peter McLaris (Ale Dugas) threatens to expose Asproon to the police, which would ruin her career as a novelist. Despite the threats Sarah continues to work and finds herself falling in love with Evans, who initially remains reserved towards her advances. Jason (Jason Saucier), Cliff’s apparently homosexual friend, competes for Sarah’s affection after she properly rode him. Spurring Jason’s advances and foiling McLaris’ blackmailing Sarah and Cliff choose each other. Asproon bids her life of prostitution farewell and focuses on her new career as a novelist. The two move to another city to start anew.

The dreary, humid New Orleans locales ooze with all the depravity and sleaze you’d expect of a Joe D’Amato movie. The men that circle Asproon come from both ends of the spectrum. Cliff and James are regular guys confused why a sensual vixen like Sarah would take an active interest in them, let alone a sexual one. Peter the blackmailing toy factory owner is a sleazebag of the highest order that it makes you wonder why he wasn’t played by Gabrielle Tinti or David Hess. Asproon’s clients are the usual variety of reptilian abusers, including an exploitative photographer, a profusely sweating toned African-American that should have been Fred Williamson, and the client that books Sarah for himself and requests that her friend Eva North rides him like a bull. An entire subplot is dedicated to the sexual dynamic between Cliff and James, who are obviously attracted to each other, sensual Sarah cures both men of their confusion by mounting and riding them, seperately. In fact Sarah rides James to such an extent that he becomes straight. Cliff, feeling merely sexually inadequate in Sarah’s presence, is mounted creatively into self-confidence.

It’s hard to believe that Top Model was helmed by the director that gave the world Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals (1977), the gothic horror-slasher hybrid Buio Omega (1979), and the splatter classic Anthropophagus (1980). There's an inherent sweetness to the entire thing that you'd earlier find in Bitto Albertini's erotic potboilers. Luciana Ottaviani wasn’t much of an actress, and she was cast in movies mostly to take her clothes off, but she never deserved to dwell in the muck that she did. Ottaviani had a body similar to Serena Grandi, Donatella Damiani, and Debora Caprioglio, and it’s nothing short of puzzling that she never appeared in a Tinto Brass production. Ottaviani had junk in the trunk and Brass loves a baby that got back as much as Sir Mix-A-Lot. That she somehow never entered the sphere of Jess Franco is a miracle in itself. It stands to reason that luscious Luciana was tainted by her exploitation beginnings, and she would never ascend to the A-list erotica of, say, Bernardo Bertolucci. Not that she would be able to carry such a movie by herself, mind. Top Model is curiously low on dialogue for a reason and that the plot is moved forward by every other character that isn’t Sarah Asproon should clue anybody in exactly how much of an actress Ottaviani really was.

After Top Model Ottaviani moved on from the franchise and D’Amato continued with new lead Kristine Rose, who prior to acting appeared in Playboy (August 1991, February and April 1993 – never making it to the cover). Rose starred in a further third sequel confusingly titled Eleven Days, Eleven Nights 2 (1990). Like in much of his 1980s output Laura Gemser has only a supporting role, and unlike in The Alcove (1985) she refrains from shedding fabric. A year later Moore would be starring opposite of Pamela Prati, Loredana Romito, Laura Gemser, and Gabrielle Tinti in the erotic potboiler Reflections Of Light (1988). That one did give her a chance to act. After her tenure with D’Amato Rose made appearances in the actioner Total Exposure (1991), the Charles Band production Demonic Toys (1992) and the Zach Galligan-Corey Feldman comedy Roundtrip to Heaven (1992). Rose has filmography so depressing that she played second fiddle to latter-day Andy Sidaris regulars Julie Strain, and Teri Weigel. Not exactly something to be very proud of, or at all.

That Joe D’Amato’s voluminous softcore output is far more enjoyable (and often technically superior) to the many and maddeningly wild exploitation – and horror movies that made him famous was a foregone conclusion. What is also evident is that D’Amato’s direction is technically solid, workmanlike, and indifferently professional, even when Ottaviani is naked and in the frame. D'Amato doesn't exude any kind of the artistry, individuality, or thematic follow-through that made Tinto Brass such a revered household name. Luciana Ottaviani is given enough flattering angles whenever possible and D'Amato will let his camera glide across her curvaceous canvas every chance he gets, but isn’t nearly enough to make Top Model anything more than a bog-standard erotic potboiler marginally better than late night skinflicks headlined by the likes of Shannon Tweed, Julie Strain, Lisa Boyle, Sherilyn Fenn, or Tanya Roberts. Joe D'Amato was infamous for a reason, yet Top Model isn’t nearly as grime and sleazy as you’d expect. In fact it's stoically demure and unrepentantly utilitarian. Everything works and everything is where it should be, yet if this was meant to be Luciana's star-making vehicle, it missed the mark.

As part of his prolific 1980s period, a decade wherein D’Amato concentrated almost exclusively on soft- and hardcore pornography, Top Model is an unassuming and ultimately forgettable exercise in softcore tedium were it not for the illuminating and arousing presence of Luciana Ottaviani, the embodiment of curly 1980s sassiness. The score consists of pulsating electronic music from Piero Montanari, René de Versailles, and Jacob Wheeler. This should have been the Black Emanuelle series for the eighties. Ottaviani's premature departure deflated the franchise before it could begin, and that was very unfortunate indeed. Eleven Days, Eleven Nights never recovered from the exit of its original and biggest star, and the numerous in-name-only sequels only made that more obvious.