The web has a ton of porn review sites, but most of them are run by porn aficionados that have a certain set of expectations for their porn that are largely beyond our own.
The flick Private Lessons, for instance, got much lower marks around the web than we would have given it because critics thought the star Jessica Drake isn’t doing the sort of down and dirty stuff she used to do before she joined Wicked Pictures, a studio that places a high emphasis on writing, plot, and set design. We would never fault a porn studio for that. In fact, Wicked is one of our choice faves just for that reason.
Mind you, it’s not that we don’t like our sex down and dirty from time to time. But we can’t deny the certain allure of films with actual plot lines, either — especially when these are solid.
The premise behind Private Lessons is simple: Seth, played by Rocco Reed, is one of those boomerang kids that moves back in with his mom after college — assuming he ever went to college. We don’t have a whole lot of information about him other than that he lives with a single, strict but coddling stay-at-home mom, who looks great for her age, that he has a job, doesn’t have a car, and is still a virgin.
One morning, he wakes up to find a sexy, older woman has moved in next door. She’s blonde and absolutely stunning. Unbeknown to Seth, whose mother would never allow him to watch porn, his neighbor is Jessica Drake, an award-winning porn star. Jessica wastes no time settling in, immediately getting her game on with one of her movers. When she catches Seth spying on them, she blackmails him into doing chores for her around her new house.
Eventually, she shows mercy to the poor kid and tells him that she will coach him in the art of pleasure in exchange for his hard work.
It’s a simple, but entertaining premise, that promises a fine array of sexual situations. The first sex scene is guy-on-girl (between Jessica Drake and Barrett Blade) with voyeurism on the part of peeping tom Rocco Reed: the scene involves various positions, including doggy and cowgirl; oral; and culminates in a facial. The next scene is girl-on-girl (between Jessica Drake and Marie Luv) and it involves individually serviced of oral sex and 69, and some anal play. Third up is a threeway featuring blonde Brooke Banner and brunette Andy San Dimas and a muscle man, with voyeuristic and exhibitionist overtones as Jessica Drake and Rocco Reed watch. Pop shot on Andy’s ass. The next scene is guy-on-girl (between mom Devon Lee and a delivery guy — go suburbia!) with some variance in positions and culminating on a pop shot on Devon’s ass. The final scene is another guy-on-girl (between Jessica Drake and Rocco Reed, of course) beginning with oral and working all the way to vaginal sex, with varying positions and some very light anal play.
All in all, we only had one problem with this film: the scene where Seth discovers his neighbor’s identity:
“That one is my favorite,” the mysterious neighbor says looking at the DVD on top of the stack Seth holds in his hands. The kid drops them, startled. He hadn’t realized his neighbor had come in. She’d told him to go to her house and make himself at home until she arrived, but somehow he still felt guilty.
Jessica walks toward him and picks up one of the DVDs he’s dropped, “and this one was my first. I was so nervous it took me two hours just to get my robe off.”
She pauses for a moment, then looks at the kid again. “I know,” she says. “You think I should have told you.”
“Yeah, you should have,” he responds.
“People just look at me so funny. I mean — they think I’m a nympho or something.”
“Well, aren’t you?” the kid asks, stupidly.
“No. I like sex, just as much as anybody else does. But I don’t hide it. And I kind of share it with the world.”
“I can see that,” Seth responds. “But why me?”
“Well, you didn’t know me and you looked at me in a way I haven’t been looked at in a really long time,” Jessica says, hinting at a certain apathy in the industry. “I didn’t wanna spoil that.”
“Why the lessons?” the kid asks.
“Come here,” Jessica tales him to the couch. “Sit down. I just figured — who better to teach you than me? I mean there are so many guys out there who have no clue how to please a woman. So I thought I’d use what I’d learned so that one day when you do find that really special girl, you’ll know how to please her.”
The kid sighs.
“Yeah, I understand if you don’t want to talk to me anymore. I’m used to it.”
Suddenly, it hits you. She caught him not just peeping, but videotaping her. If you were an award-winning porn star, wouldn’t you immediately assume the little shit was going to post the vid on the web? What made her think he didn’t know who she was?
That’s the first thing. The second thing is that the relationship between the sex icon and her audience is a pendulum that swings wildly between appreciation and derision. At it’s best, it’s heart-warming and fulfilling but at worst it’s oppressive and soul-crushing. Anyone with any understanding of what it means to capture the desires of any significant number of people would be grossly dissatisfied with the blatant oversimplification and laughable self-pity conjured by the scene.
More credible than a statement about how she understands if he never speaks to her again would have been a concise but violent statement about how he will probably idolize his idea of her now instead of living the experience purely, for the sake of pleasure alone. That at least has some relation to truth. You know what they say about fiction and facts. The more fiction sticks to facts, the easier the suspension of reality. So it is.
Overall, the story serves the purpose. The sex scenes work within the theme, the acting is polished, the quality of the film is excellent, and the music doesn’t disrupt the imagination’s flight into the land of fantasy.
If any studio could execute the one porn flick we would kill to watch — that which manages to fuse incredibly high-brow theorizing with raw sex — it’s Wicked. Given what they have shown us with Private Lessons, we humbly suggest director Marcus London read Rameau’s Niece.