Saturday, April 22, 2006
Private Lessons - Then and Now
It was 25 years ago...an independent film entitled Private Lessons opened starring soft sore superstar Sylvia Kristel as Nicole Mallow, a French maid who seduces 15-year-old rich boy Philly Fillmore (played by 15-year-old actor Eric Brown). Not a particularly good film, Private Lessons caused an instant buzz and quickly developed a cult following of teenage boys -- all of whom wished they were Philly. In fact, the poster for the film suggested as much -- "What happened to him, should happen to you." Sure! It was every 15-year-old boy's wet dream! The film opened in the "Reagan Era," which is generally considered to have been a move toward more conservative thinking in the country. Yet, ironically, even though in many ways the film is tame by current standards, Private Lessons would not be able to be made today (especially as Congress attempts to crack down on even simulated sex scenes in mainstream films), and certainly not with a 15-year-old lead actor participating in the overt sex sequences of this film -- including watching Kristel undress (a la The Graduate); bathing with a nude Kristel; massaging her breasts; removing her panties under the table at a French bistro; and undressing together for a night of lovemaking. Also, in the 25 years since this film's release, real life "private lessons" cases, involving attractive female teachers, have made the news. Debra Lafave, a 24-year-old middle school English teacher in Tampa, FL escaped jail time for having sex with a 14-year-old student. (Critics claimed being a beautiful blonde helped her avoid jail.) Beth Geisel, a 42-year-old writing instructor at Christian Brothers Academy -- as well as a mother of four, and wife of a bank president -- according to police, had sex with a 16-year-old student inside her own home, located in Colonie, NY (near Albany), as her own children slept downstairs. In 1996, Mary Kay Letourneau -- once a respected elementary school teacher in Washington state -- was 34, married, and the mother of four, when she began having sex with her 12-year-old student, Vili Fualaau. She was pregnant with their first child when she was arrested in March 1997. After pleading guilty, her seven-and-a-half year prison sentence was reduced to just six months (on the condition that she enter a treatment program, and have no further contact with the boy). Would there have been a reduced sentence if it had been a 34-year-old male teacher and a 12-year-old female student? Upon her release, however, she continued to have sex with him, and conceived a second child. She was sent back to prison to complete her original sentence. When she was again released on August 4, 2004, she and Fualaau married. Interesting what a difference 25 years makes.