Weekend Erotica: The Lickerish Quartet

An Unseen Clip of Auteur Radley Metzger’s Warhol-Endorsed Classic

A wealthy Italian matriarch finds an unlikely object of lust in the form of a mysterious blonde visitor in this never-before-viewed scene from Radley Metzger’s 1970 erotica film, The Lickerish Quartet. Metzger created R-rated movies with widescreen ambition and Lickerish marked the high point of his fusion of sensual camp and European-influenced storytelling. Scored by Stelvio Cipriani, it was filmed partly at the famed Cinecitta studios and on location in a town called Balsorano in the Abruzzi Mountains. “Beautiful! Ripe with incredible color, décor and movement,” The New York Times’ wrote of the movie, while Andy Warhol called it “an outrageously kinky masterpiece.” Silvana Venturelli stars as ‘the Girl’, the fantasy woman for a wealthy Italian family: husband and wife (played by Frank Wolff and Erika Remberg) and their teenage son (Paolo Turco). In this alternate version of the film’s atmospheric climax, Metzger achieved his goal in filmmaking. “The films that I had made up to this one had done very well so I could suddenly do whatever I wanted. I didn’t have to try and convince anyone else that it was a good idea,” he says. “I always wanted to do a movie about people who watch movies.” We caught up with the cultish 84-year-old director to get the lowdown on filming a steamy romp in a small Italian village.

What was filming Lickerish like?
Radley Metzger: It was very intense—there were no distractions because it was a very little town. The next town over was called Sora, where Vittorio De Sica was born. The star, Frank Wolff, was a very nice guy and full of life and the evening meals were very jolly. We imported a carnival and the locals came and were extras in the film. 

How did Andy Warhol discover the film?
RM: There is a photo of us together. He was a big fan of my films and whenever we had an opening he would come. He gave us a wonderful quotation at the premiere of The Lickerish Quartet to use in the publicity. It was very good of him because while it was very flattering, it was also very commercial.

During the mid-60s and early 70s did you feel you were riding a wave of erotica and popular culture merging?
RM: I think it was part of a general cultural shift at the time. There were many influences that allowed for the relaxation of [censorship laws]. One of them was Playboy because people always talked about community standards and community could be as small as a little village. When Playboy came out the community became the entire country so it was very hard to apply a standard to any particular city or village or state.

How did you get into film?
RM: I started out in editing, the only area in which there was any employment because there were no features being made in New York at that time. I was very lucky to get with Janus films, which is now Criterion. I edited trailers for Ingmar Bergman and Francois Truffaut. To hold the film of those great geniuses was like going to school—it was an education by contact. 

The Lickerish Quartet is beautifully restored and released for the very first time in the UK on Blu-ray and DVD from February 11.

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Conversations (1)

  • Mozartmike
    Given the time in which the movie was released,the unseen clip of same sex attraction was scandalous.Today ho-hum.

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    Erin Wasson in L’Intruse

    The Model Steps Forward as the Roguish Heroine of a Surreal Desert Tableau

    Sauntering down a desolate highway in opaline pasties and pink latex knickers, an otherworldly Erin Wasson enacts an unexpected domesticity in this short by filmmaker Columbine Goldsmith, shot in California’s Mojave Desert. Wearing spring/summer 2013 looks from the likes of Fendi, Bottega Veneta, Chanel and Alexander Wang, Wasson walks the line between the real and the extraterrestrial as an apathetic housewife tending to a fantastical plot of American soil. “The landscape doesn’t reveal time or place, so I wanted to imbue the protagonist with a more defined character: an old-fashioned housewife in 60s and 70s silhouettes who also has something discernibly futuristic about her,” says Goldsmith. Referencing the bleak landscapes of Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura and the humanoid alien of The Man Who Fell To Earth, the film’s title comes from a serendipitous moment: during the shoot at Joshua Tree National Park, Goldsmith noticed a plaque on a nearby boulder that read “La Intrusa Piedra” (The Intruder Rock), an unexpected and welcome nod to Wasson’s outsider status in the film. Below, the Texan supermodel, veteran of the pages of Vogue and the runways of Balenciaga, Gucci and Lagerfeld, and muse to the likes of Ellen von Unwerth, steps out of the sand to reveal her chill-out preferences.

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    At Home with Mike Mills

    The American Director Waxes On His Love of Thoreau and Forestry in Wilder Quarterly

    Photographer Nicholas Haggard shares this unseen contact capturing artist and filmmaker Mike Mills meandering stoically amid the flora and fauna of the Silver Lake garden he shares with wife Miranda July. Known for feature films Thumbsucker and Beginners, Mills’s eclectic and restless creativity has seen him collaborate with Marc Jacobs, produce music videos for Air and Pulp, and even try his hand at forestry. Shot for the second issue of gardening journal Wilder Quarterly, Mills splits his time between L.A. and his conifer-surrounded high Sierra retreat bordering the National Forest near Lake Tahoe. Acquired 12 years ago and located on the site of an old hydraulic gold mine, the property requires regular clearing of manzanita to prevent the shrubbery “choking” the forest. “Mike is a great role model for conservation,” says Wilder publisher Celestine Maddy. “He discovered it slowly, immersing himself and then taking thoughtful action. More importantly he’s an explorer spending a great deal of time outdoors just watching the wild.” In addition to Mills’s backyard musings, Wilder’s winter issue features the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway, and the floating gardens of Xochimilco in Mexico. In this excerpt from CBS News Radio host Rich Awn's feature for Wilder Quarterly, Mills reveals the unlikely connection between forest stewardship and punk music.

    What sparked your interest in conservation?
    I was a back-to-the-land, join-a-commune book junky. That influenced me to buy [the property]. Over the years you end up learning all this shit you never would have thought. You learn from walking around. Thoreau wrote beautifully about walking. He used to walk four hours a day and often in the same place, because he thought you needed repeat viewings, especially in a forest, to have a real understanding of it. I find that to be especially true in a conifer forest. There are different seasonal things, weather things. Trees fall over, things shoot up, things die––a very dense city of processes going on.

    What have you learned through living in the woods?
    It's made me more sympathetic to the people who do timber harvesting. It’s a classic thing: a city person moves into the woods and becomes a really annoying environmentalist. People that live in mountainous areas tend to be much more pragmatic: shoot guns, use chainsaws and cut down trees. I've met so many nice, super-intelligent people that live [out there] that my views have gotten much more broad than the average conservationist, to be honest.

    How has your relationship with land affected your work?
    It would be really hard to trace how it's influenced my work, but for sure it has. I do a ton of work there, writing and graphics. I just finished a bunch of new posters that I did up there. But it's not obvious. It’s a space that just allows… well, it's so fucking quiet. It's quiet but at the same time really busy––not with the internet or magazines or whatever, but with wind blowing through trees, the sound of deer cruising around. That creates a weird energy. 

    Do you find new direction and inspiration at the retreat, away from all the distractions of the city?
    The older I get, the easier it is to tune out the different radios: the internet radio or the “worrying about your career” radio. You just get tired of doing that. I'm good at being anxious, but less and less so. In the middle of the woods you just forget about everything. It’s overwhelmingly alive and real and happening in front of you, sort of enveloping. That's a really profound thing that's beyond description.

    Can you give an example?
    [American poet] Gary Snyder writes about this idea that there's no better way to get better connected to the wilderness than to be afraid of a mountain lion or a bear. That really reprioritizes our lives in such a radical way. It unravels this world of the internet that we're all stuck in. Any time something prompts you to dissolve our world, a world that pretends to make sense––the world of images and mainstream stories––suddenly they stop making sense. Any time you break out of that, it’s sort of a “punk” moment. When I'm worried about an avalanche or getting lost or which way that bear was going, it’s not unlike when I saw Public Image Limited play for the first time in Los Angeles in 1980––just breaking apart what you thought was the most important story.

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