Public Doman photo taken by Glenn Francis
“Never underestimate the powers of a woman.”–Kay Parker, speaking as the title character in the adult film “Lorelei.”
I was saddened to hear recently of the death of Kay Parker, an adult actress, author and spiritual adviser who made a true mark of distinction in the industry. A glamorous, articulate and endlessly elegant woman, Parker is remembered also as a genuine sweetheart with a heart of gold and a body of bronze.
As a feminist porn historian, I have seen many of Parker’s titles and find much to like about her cinematic legacy.
“Cinematic legacy?” One might scoff at this point. “Come on, Feminist Sexpert. We’re talking about porn here.”
Noted. The fact is, though, that Parker was a trained and gifted thespian who actually made her debut in a non sex role, in the picture, V: The Hot One. Also distinctive is the fact that Parker was over the age of 30 when she made her debut. Furthermore, this sophisticated lady–a native Englishwoman who rocked an accent to die for–always portrayed educated woman exploring and enjoying their sexuality.
An investigative journalist in The Health Spa. A doctor in Dracula Sucks, Erotic Radio: WSEX, and Desire. An executive in Champagne for Breakfast. A Shakespeare-quoting tutor in Private Teacher, a film she also co-wrote. A fashion designer in Lorelei. A club owner in Dancers. A Broadway star in Chorus Call. Get it, Girl!
And speaking of Dancers–well this chronicle of the ribald adventures of a male strip troupe easily qualifies among the first femme porn features. She starred in L’Amour, the rare ’80s film written and directed by a woman–industry powerhouse Marga Aulbach, who also produced Dancers. And she starred in 1978’s Health Spa, one of the first adult features directed by a woman (Clair Dia) and written by a woman (Marlene Burns).
Outside of her dramatic efforts, Parker gave several interviews in which she credited female porn viewers with demanding better quality, better written adult films that spoke to their desires. And she conducted a series of sisterly interviews with other adult stars, asking them about their careers, lives and personal fantasies. Yep, Folks–she did it before I did!
And then there’s Parker’s first adult hit, Taboo.
“We were wondering when you would get to that one, Feminist Sexpert,” one might be thinking.
Again, noted. But see, it’s films like Taboo that rather serve to complicate Parker’s legacy. Now in her portrayal of Barbara Scott, Parker does indeed portray a strong woman who survives divorce and abandonment to embark on a successful career as a secretary–and on a passionate affair with a gorgeous, nurturing young man. And the film was written by a woman, Helene Terrie. So what’s the problem? The younger man just happens to be her (just barely) adult, natural born son.
Yep. Taboo, one of the most popular and controversial adult films of all time, is a story of mother/son incest. And in the film Taboo 3, when her first son leaves, she goes and has an affair with a younger (still an adult) son.
In numerous interviews, Parker admitted that she expressed misgivings about taking the lead role in Taboo–but said that she did so because of the quality of the script, and the fact that her character was very loving toward her lover. Who is her son.
Um….O-kay. So I know that the MILF genre is mighty popular. However, the mother that the guy would just love to ef is–in general-not his real mom. Thankfully.
One of Parker’s other big hits, Sex World, is also problematic, in that her character complains that her husband is not sufficiently aggressive, and that she wants to act out a rape fantasy. And, as my sister feminist porn critic Yoga Grrl concernedly pointed out in her review of the film, her character seems genuinely distressed towards the end of the scene and has no safe words to ensure her continued consent. That’s a nope. Another Parker title, Kate and the Indians (I’m so sorry to have to even type that title, Folks), also featured rape scenes.
Outside of her films, Parker insisted in several interviews that she was not a feminist, and that she never understood as to why feminists were so angry. Rewatch Kate and the Indians, Kay.
Having said all that, Kay Parker was an undisputed goddess of adult film–and one helluva woman. Rest in Power, Kay Parker.