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My parents are sound sleepers, which is why I was able to get away with watching some seriously mind-warping cinema at a very young age. While they snoozed blissfully in back bedroom, their nerdy little son was partaking in all sorts of inappropriate nonsense on Showtime and Cinema. Never mind the empty-headed erotic thrillers and brainless adult comedies — I was more interested in the darker, more disturbing fare, though nothing I’d see had really introduced me to things I didn’t already know. Sex, drugs, and violence? Been there, done that.
And then I happened upon Ken Russell’s “Whore”.
It was the first NC-17 movie I’d ever seen, and it blew my tender young mind all over the living room wall. Theresa Russell stars as Liz, an unscrupulous and extremely foul-mouthed prostitute with absolutely no morals whatsoever. To a virginal suburban nerd, the film — which is presented in mock-documentary fashion — was ugly, strange, hideously sexual, and, of course, thoroughly engaging. I vividly remember telling my friends about the movie, though some of them honestly felt I was full of shit. Why they’d think I’d make up something so outrageous is beyond me, but I am flattered that they believed I was capable of imagining such twisted scenarios.
Although Russell’s more popular offerings will rightfully take center stage as fans, friends, and colleagues mourn his recent passing, I do hope that there are others out there who will take a moment to fondly remember “Whore”. This revoltingly bizarre motion picture played a very large role in defining my taste in cinema. Thank you for that, good sir.