American Gigolo - The SSL Review

American Gigolo
I've always in the back of my mind somewhere wanted to see American Gigolo, and when I saw it on my (brother-in-law's stolen) HBOGo, well, I had to check it out, and can I just say one thing? Not as sexy and fun as you'd think, and a bit racist and homophobic (but I mean, not necessarily more than most other movies in 1980). I mean for this being a movie with Richard Gere in his prime as a high-class gigolo, it's just not that hot - and takes itself just a little too seriously. I feel, similar to how I felt about the first Magic Mike, there's a desperate need for the male filmmaker to try (and I will emphasize try) to make the movie as a whole be deep and weighty so as to assure themselves and the men watching it that it's absolutely not just a fun hot romp with a sexy male sex worker. It's sooo much deeper than that. It just strikes me as male filmmakers(and eventually male critics) frantically trying to be totally cazj about watching or making a movie with male sexual objectification front and center, so they latch onto any and all other 'important' things that can make the movie worthwhile. It's kinda sad and all the more gross because the stink of desperation-for-deepness permeates the movie (and  many of the male-written critiques - which sadly is most professional critiques) about it...but the truth is, it's just not that good of a movie - particularly because of how forced the drama is. But, you know, that's just like...my opinion, man. Let me get on with this. (but p.s. The second Magic Mike was hella on point though btw)

SSL Review
As you may already know, an SSL Review is the critique specifically of the depiction or discussion of female orgasm, female masturbation, or the clit. I'm particularly looking for the level of realism and for how the depiction/discussion fits into the larger cultural discussion about female sexuality and orgasm. Sometimes I comment on other aspects of the movie. Sometimes I don't.

As always, you can check out all the SSL Reviewed movies HERE and the SSL Reviewed TV shows HERE.

The Scenes In Detail
The Rough Trick
So Julian (Richard Gere) is doing a favor for a pimp he's done some work for in the past (now he tends to work for himself or this high-class pimp lady that I guess taught him everything he knows). He gets there. It's a rich couple. Julian is skeptical. He says he doesn't do couples, but the dude just wants to watch. They go into the bedroom and the woman is lying naked in bed under the sheets. She seems a little listless - drunk or high maybe. Julian seems skeptical again, but he takes his jacket off and starts undressing as he walks over to her.

Richard Gere talking to the women in the couple

Hello Judy. You're a very sexy lady, a very good looking woman. A very pretty woman. You'll like me.
Julian sits on the side of the bed next to her continuing to undress.
Julian: I can tell, 'cause I like you. 
He leans over and touches her face gently.
Julian: I like you. So just relax and close your eyes
She does.
Julian: Just relax and let your mind run free. Don't worry about anything. I can take care of you. I know what you want.
He leans in and gently kisses her on the face and mouth
Julian: That's right, close your eyes. (whispers) Forget about him. This has nothing to do with him. This is just you and me.
Husband: no, no, no. From behind. It has to be from behind.
Julian: (reluctantly) Okay baby, just flip over onto your stomach.
She does, and he rubs her back.
Julian: Just relax. Don't worry. Leave everything to me, 'cause I'm gonna take care of you. I'm going to take care of you. I'm going to get you wet. I'm going to get you very wet. I know how to do this.
Husband: Now slap her.
He looks back, like 'what the fuck, dude?'
Husband: Slap that cunt.
Scene ends...he's telling his pimp dude that it was a rough trick.

*You can check this full scene HERE...probably a NSFW site

Older Ladies.
So, Julian is in bed after sex with a woman - for love not money. She starts asking him questions about himself, and he's all cagey. Then she asks him why he sleeps with older women....and he gives her a monologue. Also he stands up, and you get to see just the tiniest bit of side dick.

Richard Gere in American Gigolo during monologue (minus the side dick)

I prefer older women.
Michelle: Why?
Julian: What's the use of bringing some highschooler to climax? Some silly teenager gets wet in a the movies and goes home to masturbate. No challenge. It has no meaning.
The other night, the night I met you at the hotel, I was with a woman, somebody's mother. Her husband didn't care about her anymore. This woman hadn't had an orgasm in maybe ten years. It took me 3 hours to get her off. For a while there I didn't think I was gonna be able to do it. When it was over, I'd felt like I'd done something, something worthwhile. Who else would have taken the time? Who else would have cared enough to do it right?
The Review
rough trick scene - I'm of two minds
Okay the first 'rough trick' scene is not strictly SSL review eligible since it doesn't specifically discuss masturbation, orgasm or the clit, but it sets a tone that I think is important. Julian is supposed to be a dude that knows how to make women come. I have two minds about this.

First - I'm absolutely behind this because he's a goddamn gigolo. If he doesn't know how to make women come, then he's bad at his job. Too often I see men in movies and TV who are supposed to be like the shit with women, and they just fuck like normal and for some reason (usually because he has a big dick - see Hung) they're like way better at it than most dudes. It's silliness. In my estimation, a dude that would really get women sprung (a great gigolo), would be a dude who joyously and selflessly works to arouse a lady and them make her come, and that's gonna entail doing shit other than fucking her (since penises in vaginas don't orgasms make...well, don't female orgasms make, it makes male orgasms all day all night, but gigolo-ing shouldn't be about his orgasm, should it?).  A great gigolo is gonna need to work that clit with excitement and reverence, and he's not gonna worry if he gets off. I'm gonna assume that's a big part of Julian's deal, but honestly there is nothing to show us how he does this. So, I'm going to assume he does it right.

And I will say that in this scene he does tell ol' Judy that he's gonna get her real wet, and I kinda like that because it acknowledges that

1. Lubrication means a woman is getting aroused (which a necessary first step towards orgasm) and
2. He's ready to do what he needs to do to make that happen.

I mean, a woman getting wet is basically the same as a dude getting hard. It should be first priority for the sex worker in a job like that. I mean, we see this in movies often enough, when a man is having a hard time getting hard with a sex worker, she or he changes shit up and does what needs to be done to get him over the hump to erection land. We should think of women and wetness the same way, and I like that this scene does that.

Secondly, I also feel like this scene is slightly gross in that he's being a bit creepy and strangely controlling about telling her how good he is at sex. Like, don't talk about it, be about it, dude. It feels like this is just a lame way to quickly make him out to be ultra-lover-dude. It's fine, like I said above, he should be that, but I also think there is a tendency for men to think they can come into sex and just control the situation into giving their partner amaze-balls orgasms. That's a problem in my opinion because mostly men get terrible advice about how to make a woman come and how to make her have a good time during sex, so they think they are controlling it well, but they're actually just arrogantly pushing shit sex on her. I feel like a good lover of any gender, and certainly a good gigolo, would come into the thing without ego, paying close attention to her cues, flexible to the particular situation, and ready for on the fly collaboration. This scene didn't convey that intuitive flexibility that i think a good partner should probably have.

the monologue scene
Okay so, then to his monologue about older women. I'm in the same boat about this one. I like it, but have misgivings about it too. I again love that he cares about getting women off. He should. It's the main part of his job. Again, I don't know how he is physically trying to do this, but at least I know he's gonna make sure they're wet, amiright? I hope he's touching and licking her whole body, working that clit with his mouth, and maybe bringing some hands and a vibe into the situation, slowly and gently - always keeping his enthusiasm and her arousal at a high level.

That's what I would hope, but for all I know this fictional character fucked that poor old woman for 3 hours, and she finally faked it so he'd get off of her - knowing it wouldn't stop till he thought he'd made her come. I hope not...that poor fictional old lady's vag :( - it'd probably be chaffed like a motha fucker.

I can also see this monologue construed as arrogant - like, 'I'm the only one that would put the time into getting these old bitches off. Who else would want to hit that? I'm fabulous at it and soooo selfless.'

But...I tend to have a more optimistic view of it and see it as a tenderness and empathy for women, who let's get real - do often get a shitty deal in the sex department, that have had to forgo their orgasms and sexual desires to make their way in our male-centered sexual culture. He may be a bit arrogant about it, but if he really is creating situation where women can be orgasmic with him, you know, be arrogant - and get that cash-money-millionaire. You deserve it for doing your job well.

The Vulva Rating
So I really do like that Julian, being that he is a gigolo for women, keeps a focus on women's pleasure and specifically their orgasm. I think the movie generally has the right sense about what would actually make for a good gigolo and acknowledges that women actually do, in fact, want to have orgasms when we have sex. We ladies are not really just in it for the love and emotional connection. It's just that since orgasm is so rare and often seems so out of reach in hetero partnered sex, we just tend to praise and cling to the parts of sex that are worthwhile (at least that's my opinion of that whole thing).

I also like that he talks about getting his partner wet. It acknowledges that as the important indicator of arousal that it should be acknowledged as. (And please don't let that start another Lube-gate 2015. We all know about how there are situations where some women just don't get wet but they're still aroused. Yes, that's true. It's true for men and hardness too, but most women will get wet, even if it's not super wet - or wet enough for intercourse, just like most aroused men will get a little hard even if it's not suitable for intercourse). I think, unlike men and hardness, people are kinda unaware about how women show arousal, and I think overall it's kinda important to keep bringing up that a woman should be wet during sexual interaction. I think we can do that without shaming women who need to use some extra lube - because yes, of course, adding extra lube is nothing to be ashamed of, and in fact, can be quite fantastic.

Oh and he also had a quick acknowledgement that a high school girl might go home and masturbate. I say any time we speak of women and girls masturbating, we make it seem more normal, and that's a good thing.

Yes, Julian's a little arrogant and a touch controll-y, but I'm going to be all glass half full like I spoke about above. In all, this obviously wasn't the most orgasm equality progressive movie I've seen, but it's not too shabby either. I give it 4 out of 5 vulvas.


**oh - and I found this overview of American Gigolo at the website Tits and Sass run by a variety of sex workers. It's a fab site. Check it.

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