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Pauline Oliveros, The Composer Who Created A Porn Score Based On Female Ecstasy

12 de enero de 2018

María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards

Can music have a real impact on our desires and passions?

The nineties were definitely a weird time in history, great but odd. I found that oddity amazing and what made that decade one of the best ones ever (I know, my millennial spirit is talking right now). It was a time when people were exploring their own freedom. Yes, there was no social media, but at the same time, there weren’t these current inquisitorial attitudes that are ending with so many great things. You could sell tapes intended to teach women how to fully explore their sexuality without people ranting and backlashing it without knowing what’s all about. I mean, probably there were many detractors, but at least they ranted by themselves, so the ones who liked it could enjoy it without listening to their hateful comments. So, before I pour all my hatred towards lame people on the Internet, let’s go to the subject we’re dealing with today.



We’re going to talk about a great composer who created a new and original score for a porn film. But before focusing on her, let’s talk about the film itself. The so-called porn film is (in my opinion) not precisely porn. Created by Annie Sprinkle (who also hosts it) and Maria Beatty, The Sluts and Goddesses Video Workshop or How To Be a Sex Goddess in 101 Easy Steps (quite a title isn’t it?) is precisely that, a video workshop that intended to show women how to explore their own bodies and sexuality to reach the ultimate orgasm based on what they want and need. This was quite a revolutionary project that took the format of the highly popular exercise tapes of the time to teach women, step by step, how to discover sexual pleasure.


We’re talking about a time when this was still a taboo subject. I mean, even when we have become way more open on the subject, it’s still considered controversial in some places, not to say forbidden. So, despite the fact that it wasn’t so well received (it even appeared at the TV show World’s Dumbest) and actually got the label of porn, I believe it’s an extremely revolutionary film we should all take a look at, regardless of gender. At the end of the day, despite the visual quality and format that mimic these tutorial tapes, the movie is filled with salacious, humorous, affectionate, open-minded, and inclusive language. To wrap it all, there's, of course, the protagonist of our discussion: the music.



If the movie was all about breaking paradigms and patterns in sexual entertainment, music had to be revolutionary as well. In porn films music is, in general, composed by some “sexy” bass tunes that invite and inspire you to the act of love. Well, you won’t find any of this in the film. On the contrary, the composer, Pauline Oliveros, an important musician and central figure in the development of experimental electronic music, was so inspired by the message of the film –allowing and showing women that female pleasure exists and that it’s as important as anyone else’s– that she went for a more vivacious, funny, and innovative score.


So, the more you dive into the narrative of the film, the more the music transforms not only in terms of the mood, but also in the intention regarding the subject. The film wants you to realize that the standard ideas of eroticism are all BS. Therefore, the music that accompanies it breaks as well with all the idea of the sexy, romantic, and almost melodious music attached to the genre. While the creators show us the diversity of womanhood and their sexuality, Oliveros also teaches us how music is as diverse as we are.



In general, Pauline Oliveros' music was empowering and a great example of innovation. Although she wasn't very famous, her work changed the music panorama of the post-war scene, making her one of the first pioneers in experimental music. All her talent and trajectory can be seen in this particular film, where her work is so liberating and so focused on the female experience that it turns the film into a very powerful product we should look at every once in a while.


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Here are other stories you might like:


The Show About The 70s Porn Scene That Will Draw You In To The Glory and The Tragedy

5 Films From The Golden Age Of Porn That Will Show You The True Meaning Of Sensuality

Does Watching Porn Make You Like Bad Movies?

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Images by @dustinhollywoodophoto

TAGS: porn Music History
SOURCES: The Guardian Filmmaker Scoop Annie Sprinkle

María Isabel Carrasco Cara Chards


Creative Writer

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