Eduardo Cemano – Madame Zenobia (1973)
Director Eduardo Cemano is one of the visionaries of adult film. A former commercial artist he segued into pornographic features in 1971, just as New York City (and 42nd Street) were about to be flooded by a wave of “one-day wonders”, cheap sex films from the West Coast shot in a day, edited together and distributed to makeshift cinemas and sex shops. Cemano was fascinated by the possibilities of including explicit sexual imagery into a narrative feature – or, more specifically, introducing plot and character into an explicit sex film – and when approached by nudist-movie legend Doris Wishman to make some original one-day wonders in New York to compete with the material sent over from California, Cemano eagerly directed two of the first porno feature films to emerge from New York: Millie’s Homecoming (aka Lady Zazu’s Daughter) and The Weirdos and the Oddballs (aka Zora Knows Best). From improvised screwball comedy shot for $1000 in one day to luxuriant, thematically complex adult drama, Cemano’s films played to enthusiastic audiences throughout New York, making him the most inventive, dynamic and complex adult filmmaker on the East Coast during the early 1970s. Working with some of the finest talents in the industry, Cemano swore only one thing: in his pornography, there would be no suggestion of rape, force, coercion or the demeaning objectification of women. To him, pornography was a visionary new genre, free from moral restraint and offering women a true and empowering liberation from Patriarchal constraint!
This is the story of a beautiful young Widow (Marcia) who is unable to find sexual gratification with her newly acquired fiancee, due to her continuous love affair with the “Spirit” of her late husband. (John)
Our story opens as we see a beautiful slow motion sequence of John and Marcia romping through the woods. The music, the flowers, the kisses, caresses, the gentle petting all create a mystical ballet that follows our lovers to a secluded clearing and unveils their passionate, ultimate embrace.
The sun sets and the slow motion unreality dies away as we fade up on a much grayer reality. We see a man searching around the grounds of a stately mansion calling for “Marcia!” He eventually finds her brooding in her secluded tower as though she were dreaming the scene we had previously witnessed. They discuss the fact that it is Sunday and Marcia must visit with John again. Eric (Her fiancee) protests that unless Marcia cuts off her relations with John
(the audience does not yet know that he is dead) they will never be able to experience the ultimate sexual euphoria that lovers who are about to get married, should.
He drives her to a cemetery and waits for her as she visits the grave of her late husband. A dramatic scene takes place as we see Marcia open herself passionately to the spirit of John. This strange but beautiful love scene climaxes and we see Marcia, relieved of her tensions skip happily toward Eric, the limousine, and their fireside at home. The love scene by the fire is very romantic but in spite of Marcia’s skill and Eric’s passion they cannot experience mutual ecstasy. Eric leaves Marcia, claiming all to be hopeless as long as she contiunes to love John.
That night Marcia has a dream in which she envisions John in heaven with another girl. She calls out to him and as though hearing her, he interrupts his heavenly lovemaking and flies down to earth into the arms of his heartbroken widow. Marcia engulfs the handsome ghost with her warmth and a surreal, bluish, mystical love scene unfolds that carries the two lovers into a great dual-climax. The moon fades and the sun greets a tear-filled Marcia, once again alone in her bedroom.