Performing sex in Spanish erotic films of the 1980s
in Performance and Spanish film
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The chapter considers the importance of acting and performance in the ‘S’-rated sex films that peppered the late 1970s and 1980s in Spain. It explores the question of what precisely constitutes ‘performance’ in films which showcase ‘real’ sex between its actors; that is, if a lead actor has an erection in a scene, how much of his physical response might be considered acting? Focusing on one film in particular, Con las bragas en la mano/ Panties in the Hands (Julio Pérez Tabernero, 1981), the chapter argues that the lines between eroticism, pornography, and cinema were blurred by the explosion of sex films in Spain at this time. Finally, in turning to the career of the film’s lead actor, Emilio Línder, the chapter discusses the attempts to legitimise these films and the performances they contain, and whether or not they may have a space in Spanish cinematic history.

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