Daughters of Lesbos (1965)

Own it!

review by Scott Hamilton and Chris Holland
See also:

Cruel Intentions 2

Foxy Brown

Embrace of the Vampire

Daughters of Lesbos

Lava Lamp

Our rating: one LAVA® motion lamps.

Paging Dr. Freud!
Gay men are flaming hot. A quick check of the magazine rack at the local bookstore reveals that Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and other TV shows are giving gay men tons of media exposure, so long as they don't try to have sex or anything and stick to fun topics, like fashion and cuisine. But what about lesbians? Other than the occasional shower scene and the long-since-gone sitcom Ellen, where are their TV shows and movies? Looking for the answers, we investigated some serious lesbian stories. The film that caught our attention was Daughters of Lesbos, a cinematic treat from 1968 that tells it like it really is with those sisters of the Sapphic persuasion.

Madame X chairs the secret society that calls itself the Daughters of Lesbos, "a lesbian organization dedicated to the proposition that women are superior beings." The first section of the film (about 55 minutes of the feature's 62 minute running time) is ostensibly an introduction to our cast, and it explains how each of the girls became a lesbian.

The first story is that of Madame X herself. Sadly, she doesn't have mutant powers or head a team of superheroes, unless you count her posse of booze-swilling sexual predators. X used to hang out at the kind of bars that make an airport bar look classy. One night she decided to tease a lumpy business traveler by going back to his hotel room and withholding the promised sexual favors. Her plan goes awry when Lumpy slips her a Mickey, then forces himself on her. "I promised myself one thing," she narrates, "I would have my revenge."

Hitler's master race gets
off to a false start.
Next up is Helga. Notice that her name invokes Sweden, the source of all lesbianism, at least according to the nudie flicks of the 1960s and 70s. (And why would nudie flicks lie?) Helga likes to (ahem) fly solo, sexually speaking, and apparently she even becomes aroused while brushing her own hair. But one summer at band camp . . . oh wait, that's a different smutty movie. Helga is a camp counselor at a regular old summer camp one year and discovers her lesbianism with Monica, another counselor. "It was cool in the glade but Helga felt a blush of warmth spreading through her. She knew what would happen. It was no longer a matter of if, but how soon." Madame X actually explains that it was an open secret at the camp that several of the counselors were gay, adding just a touch of paranoia for those right-wing parents in the audience.

"Dear Penthouse..."
In the subsequent biographical tale, Maxine (described by Madame X as "a female stud" and "forever the butch") picks up a hippie hitchhiker and has sex with her in the car. We know that we were supposed to be enjoying the sight of two attractive women going at it, but we spent the entire segment being distracted by two things. First, Maxine wears an incredibly ugly outfit that melds stripes and a checkerboard pattern. You don't have to have a queer eye to know that that's wrong. Secondly, these two full-grown women have sex in the front seat of the car, a feat you wouldn't attempt in modern car unless you're a member of Cirque de Soleil. Not only can these two women lie down in the front seat and thrash around, apparently the cameraman can fit in there too. Maybe he's sitting in the glove compartment, which, considering the size of this car, is probably the size of a refrigerator. For all we know, this car may even have a helipad on the roof. Those were the days, eh?

Dominique models the
X-Men's new uniform.
Just when you're thinking that Daughters of Lesbos is nothing but a series of lurid biographical sketches, a plot is revealed -- in the form of another lurid biographical sketch. This time, we are introduced to Dominique, a woman who enjoys savoring her sexual conquests with private little trips down memory lane before she goes to sleep. During one such libidinous nightcap, Dominique is attacked by a Peeping Tom who can no longer satisfy himself with mere peepage. Dominique, knowing that the police will do little to punish the man, goes instead to the Daughters for justice. Naturally, it's the sort of justice that makes every man in the room cross his legs.

Something Weird Video released Daughters of Lesbos together with Chained Sisters, an exploitive "documentary" in the same vein as Ed Wood's Glen or Glenda. The two films on the DVD differ greatly in tone -- Chained Sisters purports to be a scientific (or at least sociological) look at lesbianism, while Daughters admits to being sexploitation fantasy -- but both films paint the same picture of lesbianism. That picture has a few basic points:

1. Lesbians are angry, man-hating sexual vultures just waiting to swoop down on unsuspecting hetero girls.

2. Lesbians are made, not born.

3. Lesbians are smokin' hotties, except for the really butch girls, who look vaguely like Ralph Malph.

4. Lesbians have complicated secret rituals, including weddings (usually presided over by a gay man!) and initiations. While it seems silly that anyone would believe that lesbians have secret rituals, the idea exists in both films.

5. Lesbians feel a lot of shame about their "condition," and are more likely than "normal" people to commit suicide.

6. Lesbians feel absolutely no shame at all about their "condition."

Yes, Chained Girls isn't afraid to contradict itself. It does so often -- consistently even. Between that and the completely bogus statistics that are flashed on the screen every few minutes ("Among Teen Age Girls 40% Have Lesbian Desires... and Experience!" "25% of College Girls Have Had a Lesbian Expierience!" "24% of Single Girls at Age 30-35... Are Lesbians!"), you might think you're watching George W. Bush's economic advisors in action.

In any case, we're pretty sure that a successful TV show could be made on the model of Daughter of Lesbos. It could be a group of girls who sit around and do nothing but talk about their superiority to men and brag about their sexual conquests.

Hey, wait. Did we completely miss the point of Sex and the City?

Own it!

Review date: 08/26/2003

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