“Fräulein Leather” (1970)

Like the men who attended his sex films, Nick Millard started soft and got hard. He crossed over just as pornography really took off. It was a burgeoning industry back then. Sure, it had been around since the early days of the medium. Wikipedia hosts a 4-minute video reliably dated to 1907 of a man dressed as the Devil 69ing and fucking a woman in the woods. After these “stag films” were “loops”. But, it wasn’t until about 1970 that full-length semi-narrative pornos were shown theatrically.

“What the change was, was an obscure film that came from either Denmark or Sweden called I am Curious Yellow.” Deep Throat director Gerard Damiano recalled during an interview with Ashley West of the Rialto Report. “It was a political film about the politics that were going on in Denmark or Sweden at the time. There was one scene where she went down and kissed his penis. And because of that scene it was banned in New York and they couldn’t play the film, but the owners of the film sued. They went to the Supreme Court. And when they looked at it, the Supreme Court Justice said there’s nothing wrong with this film. It has socially redeeming value, it has a message, and it has its artform. So, if it has any one of these things, in a free country, you have to allow it. And because of I Am Curious Yellow, all of a sudden, we said, whoa, it’s like being a little bit pregnant. You could kiss a penis just for a second, but if you could do it for a second, you could do it for an hour and a half, as long as you had socially redeeming value. The whole problem to me was, why did we need socially redeeming value in a free country?”

Excellent question, Mr. Damiano, one I don’t think we’ll ever have a satisfactory answer for. Wikipedia used to say Mona the Virgin Nymph was the first of these sexually explicit films to receive wide release. Now it’s pushing Andy Warhol’s Blue Movie. Whatever the case, Millard was there at the forefront with Fraulein Leather, Gunilla, Pleasure Spots, and more! Three, four years later, he quit the game and went straight, the births of his children and implications of Miller v. California, which redefined obscenity in broader terms, being possible reasons. Though he enjoyed making sex films, Millard stated later in life that he viewed them as stepping stones to bigger and better things. Ironically, they’re considered his best work, his legacy. I’m excited to learn more about the golden age of porn in a feature I’m calling “Sweatin’ to the Oldies”. This will be the inaugural post. Join me on my ill-conceived journey.

I found Fraulein Leather by searching Millard’s old movies, many bearing the names of their bisexual subjects, with Google and clicking the “videos” tab (to maximize your results, put the title in quotes, include the year, and add “porn” at the end). I half-expected a Nazi exploitation flick based on the title. At the very least, BDSM. What I pulled up was a ponderous carpet muncher about a married woman exploring her deepest desires. If you should decide to take things to the next level, remember, use protection. Antivirus.

In the Tootsie Roll font!

A quick title card transitions into a montage that would have been perfect for opening credits were it not for the fact that Millard chose to cut that expense. There was no upside to creating credits anyway. The legality of pornography was still very much in question. Screenings were frequently shut down. Film reels were confiscated. Distributors and even actors were prosecuted.

The camera zooms into the sun, then back out, then back in. We see a lamp, a suncatcher, and various objects positioned around Millard’s living room. Leather boots are shown against a shag rug. I’ve always loved 60s décor. A studded choker, strap-on dildo, and panties balance atop scratchy, yellow-orange pillows. A vibrator rests on a glass table. It looks like the same exact one from Millard’s other pornos. I don’t know what proper sex toy etiquette is, but sharing them with strangers seems gross. The juices would get all… mixed up. Do you throw them in the dishwasher, or use once and destroy? The communal vibrator moves to a pillow. Millard zooms all the way in. He really wants us to see the on/off switch. A hand flips through the Fall, 1970 issue of Cinema magazine for a minute straight.

Suzanne Rogers is brushing her teeth in Millard’s bathroom. Most of the scenes were shot in his home with the blinds drawn. Like a few early pornos I’ve seen, it’s silent, except for sibilant first-person narration and music. There’s not even moaning. It sounds like the main actress snacked on the microphone. All her Ss and Ts crackle. Her Ps pop. Lots of Ps poppin’ here, if you catch my drift. Suzanne tells us her husband flew to Denver for business and is due back that evening. He’s a junior executive type who she suspects is hiring hookers on his trips. She really despises and/or distrusts him. She reads philosophy in bed and smokes by the phone awaiting his call.

The music never stops and could be mistaken for one continuous jam. However, a careful listen reveals that it’s several pieces stitched together. The first of them is rather playful and flutey. Others are loungey and psychedelic.

Her recording her lines.

If the handles on that headboard are attached to doors that slide open, my mom had the same one.

The phone eventually rings. Suzanne answers. Her mouth moves. We can’t hear it. She and her husband exchange banalities, as she puts it, and hang up. She climbs back in bed. “That night, I had the most beautiful erotic dream.” Suzanne says. “For a number of years, I’ve been successful in concealing my lesbian tendencies from my husband. Occasionally, my subconscious would say to hell with him. This was one of those times.”

She drifts off to sleep and appears by the ocean wearing a dress with the biggest, goofiest shoulder pads ever designed. “I dreamt I was on a beach.” she continues. “A grey, sunless, cold beach. A symbol of the drab, unsatisfying life I lived.”

She spots a woman in the distance. It’s Fraulein Leather. She comes running, excitedly waving her arms in slow motion. There’s nothing overtly German about her. The only leather she has on is a coif and boots. The camera circles Suzanne. She angrily mouths unheard dialogue. I can make out “Get out of here.” Fraulein Leather just smiles and licks her lips.

“I put on a mask and immediately grew indignant.” Suzanne says. “Indignant as only an American virgin can be… I shouted ‘You pervert! You filthy, degenerate, dirty lesbian!'” Suzanne runs away in slow motion.

Although Millard was born in New Orleans and spent the majority of his life in the Western US, he uses “American” as a derogative. Again, he was heavily influenced by European cinema. He wanted to be seen as an intellectual, and tried hard to make this movie artistic and thought-provoking. He denounces close-mindedness, repression, and censorship through his dialogue, which serves as his socially redeeming value.

Discontentment and self-loathing are common themes in his early work. His tortured characters believe their urges are wrong, yet act on them all the same. They have holes in their hearts that need filling, but concentrate on the physical ones. Most if not all of them are attracted to leather footwear. They literally worship at the feet of their sexy female partners. Russ Meyer was a breast man. Nick Millard found that barking dogs seldom bite.

Suzanne answers a door butt naked. Fraulein Leather walks in, still licking her lips.

“I buried my troublesome American conscience under millions of war dead, under six million Jewish victims and thousands of slaughtered American Indians.” Suzanne declares.

What does that have to do with anything? It sounds so unnatural. Nobody talks like this. If I didn’t know any better, I’d guess Millard was raised in a bomb shelter beneath civilization. Some of the stuff he came up with here is quite clever, but most had me laughing out loud.

Suzanne reluctantly grabs her guest by the hand and leads her to a room overlooking Millard’s driveway. She kneels before Fraulein Leather, undoes her skirt, and starts eating her out. On my initial viewing, I still hadn’t realized this was a porno. I was very surprised to see Suzanne’s tongue come in contact with Ms. Leather’s fur pie. This is as graphic as it gets, folks. Objects are later inserted. One thing I like about these old films is the pubes. Real women have pubes. I’m pretty sure that’s a John Waters quote, too. One thing I dislike about them is the general lack of enthusiasm. The women rarely seem to enjoy themselves. They just close their eyes and leave their bodies. Maybe it was the drugs. Maybe they were only gay for pay.

“She was a saucy bitch, hot and fully ripe and sensuous.” Suzanne narrates. The actress’ husky, breathy voice is arousing, but it can’t save the ridiculous dialogue. Language evolves with each generation. Maybe this sounded more normal back then. I’ll ask my grandparents. The camera zooms all the way in as Suzanne goes to town on Ms. Leather’s clit. The real Suzanne smiles in her sleep. Ms. Leather rests a foot on a table and spreads her legs for easier access, granting us a better view.

Suzanne caresses her lover’s pussy. “My hot kisses made her vagina throb.” she purrs. She teases Ms. Leather with her tongue and her nipples. After a moment, she switches to licking her boots 😋

Suzanne’s lines are instant mood killers. This is a 12-year-old virgin’s idea of erotica. If a woman said this kind of stuff to me, I’d finish up cos I’m DTF, then never call her again. Ok, who am I kidding? I’d call. There are many long takes and stretches of narrative silence. Fraulein Leather is now lying down on the table. Suzanne mispronounces clitoris while orally pleasuring her. Millard provides more extreme gynecological close-ups.

Suddenly, we’re looking at a couch half-submerged in a pool of water. Suzanne is once again on the beach in a messily styled wig. Fraulein Leather and two of her friends come running up from the distance. Suzanne serves them wine back at her place. The fantasy women are all wearing leather boots. They each extend a foot forward. Suzanne gets down on all fours and slobbers away. The second half of the film is their orgy. Overall, it’s majorly skippable.

Since there isn’t much going on besides the sex and the dialogue, I’ve combined them for you. The screenshots below are for purely educational purposes! Continue reading