THE SEX FILES: R.I.P. Radley Metzger
New York native and porn filmmaker great Radley Metzger died just recently (at the ripe old age of 88) and I feel he needs to be recognized. Born in The Bronx, a graduate of City College, recognized by both MOMA and The Film Society of Lincoln Center (and just having died in Manhattan) this New Yorker was a filmmaker of seminal talent, a top in the field of “artful erotic cinema” and directing in general.
Metzger, who used the pseudonyms, Jake Barnes, Erich Farina and most famously Henry Paris, spent lots of his childhood in theaters watching movies, staying inside to keep his allergies at bay. In Korea, he was assigned to the 1350th Photographic Group, then came to work as a film editor in the 1950’s for Janus Films, a distributor at the time of foreign films by the likes of giants Michelangelo Antonioni, Ingmar Bergman, Jean-Luc Godard and Federico Fellini. In the middle of that decade, Metzger worked on one of the most mainstream erotic films of the time, And God Created Woman, starring Brigitte Bardot.
In the 60’s, Metzger began working in earnest on his own films. He began to emerge as an auteur to be recognized in the adult erotic film genre. Often shooting in Europe, and adapting his films from books, he directed L’image, and The Lickerish Quartet, which Andy Warhol called “an outrageously kinky masterpiece,” to name a few of his works at this time.
In the 1970’s and under the name Henry Paris, Metzger produced plenty of softcore movies during a decade considered by many to be the Golden Age of Porn. The films he made during this time, like The Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann, and The Opening of Misty Beethoven, are considered classics.
As Metzger said in a 2014 Interview magazine piece:
“When I was coming of age, eroticism was always in films, but eroticism was punished. The promiscuous girl never got the leading man, the woman who sold her charms, always had a bad fate. The “good girl” always achieved ends the bad girl never did. As a reaction to that, I tried to do the opposite. You could have a free attitude and behave in a free way and not be punished. A parallel to that is that it could also be light. It didn’t have to be tragedy. You could look at [sex] in a fun way. That was a personal thing, to work against the clichés in cinema when I was growing up.”
In the 90’s, prompted by the death of his partner Ava from cancer, Metzger turned his filmmaking talents to creating videos in alternative healthcare and homeopathy remedies.