She’s the interstellar traveller of love.
An alien spacecraft (which looks uncannily like a ball bearing) lands in 70s London, and out steps a nude alien (Monika Ringwald, ten years before a similarly nude Mathilda May in Lifeforce), who embarks upon a fact-finding mission which encompasses nude saunas, sex shops, seedy laundrettes and tedious dinner parties. In less capable hands, a film like The Sexplorer could have been a series of soft porn scenes strung together with a flimsy excuse for a plot. Instead, writer and director Ford (who was responsible for most of the high points of the 70s British sex film – Commuter Husbands, The Wife Swappers, Diversions, etc) gives us a series of soft porn scenes strung together by a genuinely funny script, aided by Ringwald‘s deadpan (more unkind reviewers may say ‘wooden’) performance and the sights and sounds of a long-gone Soho – chock full of live sex shows and private clubs.
Nowadays, hardcore pornography is available to anyone with an internet connection but during the seventies, before the advent of video, if a guy wanted to watch a bit of Swedish Erotica, he had to masturbate in a cinema full of raincoat-wearing perverts, all merrily ejaculating into socks or bowler hats. There’s a scene early on where Ringwald happens upon a porno cinema, where she promptly, er, mirrors what is happening onscreen with a cinema patron (The Playbird‘s Tony Kenyon). The looks on the faces on the other wankers (one of whom I’m sure is Peter Glaze from Crackerjack) is a sight to behold, as they sweatily congregate around the couple. Its difficult to imagine these days, but forty years ago, it was much more difficult being a pervert than it is today – wanking in a room full of blokes must be much trickier than in front of XHamster on the laptop.
Emotionless and naive, Ringwald wanders dispassionately through London’s seamier side, repulsing one potential lothario with an electrified fanny, and being arrested for abducting a baby (who she thinks of as deformed due to its small stature). Interestingly (for fans of Grange Hill), she is examined at the police station by Bullet Baxter! Eventually, Ringwald cannot resist the heady flow of the cream of 70s manhood, and breaks her programming and begins to touch herself up (in a scene similar to, but far more graphic, than the one in Galaxina, where Dorothy Stratten becomes a porno version of Pinocchio and seduces Stephen Macht).
The film itself is little more than a time capsule of horrendous fashions and a pre-video sex scene. What makes it work is the almost constant dialogue between Ringwald and her unseen controllers on board the ball bearing. The exchanges become increasingly exasperated as Ringwald jettisons her intended duties as an observer (or Surveyor as she’s called in the film) and screws a guy in a bath full of green water. The idea of a naif abroad is nothing new, it has to be said, but The Sexplorer uses the cliché well, and supplies a good deal of humour, as well as the prerequisite bare tits. There can’t be too many sex comedies where a naked blonde girl is supposed to be Mark Twain, and fewer still with an aborted sex scene in a room full of balloons. Ringwald‘s short film career ended soon after this, and she decamped to the heady heights of wearing fishnet stockings and being chased around a tree in The Benny Hill Show.