The Cocoa Poodle bar is the favorite meeting place of the inhabitants of a suburban neighborhood; it is the haunt of a bizarre and bohemian customers. One day the model Janet, who is jealous of how popular her mentor, the artist Tanya, is with men, is approached by a gypsy. The woman, who seems to sense Janet’s frustration, gives her a pair of magic earrings. Whenever the girl wears them, she will have the power to dominate and seduce anyone she wants. Inebriated by her new power, Janet soon meets up with a fatal destiny.
Director Joseph W. Sarno was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1921. His father was an Italian immigrant who worked for a time as a bootlegger; his mother, a Jewish labor organizer. A stellar athlete, Sarno was recruited to play football for New York University in the late 1930s, where he began to study Psychology. His education was interrupted, however, by America’s entrance into the Second World War, in which he served as a naval airman in the South Pacific. Upon returning to civilian life, Sarno found work as a freelance journalist for various publications. A chance assignment during the war on a naval instructional film led to an offer to direct training films and, during the 1950s, Sarno went on to direct dozens of training, industrial and documentary short subjects. In 1961, Sarno was approached to write the screenplay for a New York-based low budget feature designed to compete with the mildly titillating “adults only” film fare then arriving from Europe. A life-long movie buff with a great affection for the European art cinema, he soon wound up assuming direction of the project himself. The outcome – Nude in Charcoal (now lost) – would be the first in an unparalleled series of erotically-oriented dramas intended for distribution in the proto-pornographic “sex-exploitation” (often abridged to sexploitation) film market of the 1960s and 1970s. Although his name was little known beyond the “grindhouse” cinema circuit that generally exhibited his product, Sarno came to be a favored “gun for hire” (as he now describes himself) among a coterie of itinerant producers hoping to cash in on the sexploitation craze. To date, Sarno has written and directed over 50 low-budget sex-exploitation features, each of which bears his unique aesthetic and psychological stamp. His better-known titles include Sin in the Suburbs (1964), Moonlighting Wives (1966), Inga (1968), Young Playthings (1972) and Confessions of a Young American Housewife (1974). Stark, chiaroscuro lighting, tight framing and scenic minimalism typify his efforts in general, as does a central focus on female sexual angst. Although a self-proclaimed “realist,” there is also an appealing expressionism to much of Sarno’s work, giving his films a glimmer of transcendence rarely encountered in sexually-oriented features. The constraints of low-budget production no doubt contributed to Sarno’s look, but within the context of the hundreds of other no-budget “quickies” produced for the sexploitation genre during the 1960s and 1970s, Sarno’s abilities as a visionary filmmaker stand out in high relief. Throughout his long career, Sarno remained devoted to the notion that eroticism lay as much in the unseen as in the spectacle of sexuality itself. Although he would go on to direct a number of “hardcore” features under various pseudonyms during the 1970s and 1980s, he remains a champion of soft-core erotica. Now in his mid-eighties, Sarno and his wife and long-time collaborator, Peggy Steffans-Sarno, divide their time between their home in New York and a summer residence in Stockholm. Although semi-retired, Sarno most recently wrote and directed a new soft-core feature in 2004.
Lash of Lust (1962), Sin, You Sinners (1963), Sin in the Suburbs (1964), Warm Nights and Hot Pleasures (1964), Pandora and the Magic Box (1965), Naked Fog (1965), Flesh and Lace (1965), Step Out of Your Mind (1966), Skin Deep in Love (1966), The Sex Cycle (1966), Red Roses of Passion (1966), The Love Merchant (1966), The Swap and How They Make It (1966), Moonlighting Wives (1966), The Bed and How to Make It! (1966), Scarf of Mist Thigh of Satin (1967), My Body Hungers (1967), Anything for Money (1967), Come Ride the Wild Pink Horse (1967), The Love Rebellion (1967), Vibrations (1968), Odd Triangle (1968), Desire Under the Palms (1968), Deep Inside (1968), Inga (1968), All the Sins of Sodom (1968), Kvinnolek (To Ingrid, My Love, Lisa, 1968), Wall of Flesh (1968), Marcy (1969), The Layout (1969), The Indelicate Balance (1969), Karla (1969), Passion in Hot Hollows (1969), The Young and Erotic Fanny Hill (1970), Horn-a-Plenty (1970), Daddy, Darling (1970), The Seduction of Inga (1971), Young Playthings (1972), Every Afternoon (1972), Love in the Third Position (1972), Sleepy Head (non accreditato/uncredited, 1973), Der Fluch der schwarzen Schwestern (1973), Deep Throat Part II (1974), Baby Love (1974), A Touch of Genie (1974), The Switch or How to Alter Your Ego (1974), Laura’s Toys (1975), Butterflies (1975), Abigail Lesley Is Back in Town (1974), Slippery When Wet (1976), Hot Wives (non accreditato/uncredited, 1976), Confessions of a Young American Housewife (1976), Misty (1976), The Trouble with Young Stuff (1976), The Honey Cup (come/as John Parkham, 1977), Inside Jennifer Welles (non accreditato/uncredited, 1977), Kärleksön (come/as Hammond Thomas, Love’s Island, 1977), All About Gloria Leonard (non accreditato/uncredited, 1978), Fäbodjäntan (come/as Lawrence Henning, Come Blow the Horn!, 1978), Tigresses... and Other Maneaters (come/as Peter Verlon, 1979), Inside Seka (non accreditato/uncredited, 1980), Deep Inside Annie Sprinkle (non accreditato/uncredited, 1981), The Erotic World of Angel Cash (non accreditato/uncredited, 1982), Wolf Cubs (1983), Stray Cats (come/as Erik Andersson, 1984), Inside Little Oral Annie (come/as Kenneth Morse, 1984), Dirty Blonde (come/as Eric Anderson, 1984), Hot Stuff (come/as Erik Anderson, 1985), A Taste of Pink (come/as Louis Roman, 1985), Shacking Up (come/as Jeff La Touch, 1985), Little Oral Annie Takes Manhattan (come/as Curtis Hollingwood, 1985), Suburban Secrets (2004)