Thom Dibdin checks out the
non-stop prophylactic action in films
In the ﬁlm Skin Deep, two men, clad in nothing but luminous condoms indiscreetly placed over their engorged members, have a ﬁght in the darkness of a motel bedroom. The fact that all you can see of the men is two glo-in-the-dark trouser snakes and that the ﬁlm is directed by Blake Edwards makes for an extremely funny set-piece, but it remains i one of the very few condom moments from the cinema where you actually see a condom in its proper position. Let alone two at the same time. ‘The main problem is the erection rather than the condom,’ says Guy Phelps, assistant director of the British Board of Film Classiﬁcation. ‘One doesn’t get long, lingering, close shots, certainly. A brief shot in a justiﬁed context is not usually a problem.’ In Lizzie Borden’s Working Girls, which is about a student working in a New York brothel, there is a shot of a prostitute putting a
condom on her client.
Besides context, audience age and prevailing attitudes of the day are important factors. ‘Condoms are much more acceptable than they were ten years ago,’ says Phelps. ‘We cut a shot, I remember, in Howard the Duck, of Howard producing a condom out of his pocket, for (PG), but we certainly wouldn’t cut that now.’ Working Girls, made in 1986, the same year as Howard the Duck, was classiﬁed (18). ‘In those days, contraception was not thought suitable for broaching with young children, but now the majority of people would take the opposite view.’
But should the actual item, in all its latex glory, be up there on the silver screen? Ian Sellar, director of this year’s Prague, a (12), chose not to show one in the scene where Sandrine Bonnaire tells Alan Cumming to take it off as she wants a baby. ‘The thing is that it is comedy and it’s quite nice what people can imagine, and imagination is often more interesting than reality. I leave it to the audience’s imagination,’ he says. However, condoms were used on the set, ‘to help the actors,
as they say’.
Showing a naked condom on television is no problem either, as aﬁcionados of The Word might remember. But they can not be shown in adverts, as Peter Martin of the Leith-based advertising
agency Smarts found out when producing an
[ T’S THATCONDOM M0
advert for Le Condom. ‘In the guidelines for condoms there are four things that are important,’ he says. ‘You can’t show an unwrapped condom, it has to be in good taste, it has to be discreet and you can’t encourage promiscuity. ’ These rules do not leave much room for manoeuvre.
The advert uses Antoine de Caunes of Rapido fame to say a few words about, ‘what zee styleesh man in Europe eez weareeng’. Obviously, it is Le Condom, by Segamy. Original versions of the script had Antoine saying what the stylish man about Europe is wearing. ‘They interpreted the phrase “man about Europe” as meaning “man about town” which suggests Jack the Lad, which suggests promiscuity, and we had to remove it,’ says Martin. ‘We had a line in the original script which said “the brand that is chosen by Europe’s best undressed men and women”. Again, that could be interpreted as encouraging promiscuity and we had to remove it.’
Smarts also produced an advert for the National
PRETTY WOMAN: A condom moment missed? Alter getting $100 irom Richard Gere, Julia Roberts otters him a red,green or yellow condom. But she hasn't got a purple one and he just wants totalk.
AIDS helpine in which cartoons were added to the Right Said Fred video of ‘Don’t Talk, Just Kiss’. : The cartoons featured trains and planes going into condoms with strap lines like ‘catch the train, nothing else’, and ‘what ever you do, come prepared’. ‘They are not restrained, not in good taste,’ admits Martin. ‘Show an unwrapped product and‘the whole thing promotes promiscuity.’ But as they were made to be shown at video clubs around the holiday resorts these issues never arose.
‘Whether it is a contradiction or a paradox or ; hypocrisy is another matter,’ says Martin. ‘The ' official line is that one is supposed to encourage the use of condoms amongst the sexually active, not to encourage sex among the young. And I think that there is a fine line there and how successfully you can tread that fine line in advertising is a moot point. But when 75 per cent of under 225 who are sexually active aren’t using condoms there is a lot of scope for action.’
A FASHION FOR PASSION
Condoms have climbed out at the medicine cabinet and onto the catwalk. People are prancing around in nothing but their “not guaranteed tor serious use’, super-stylish, sell-standing, thick-as-hell, ‘novelty' condoms. There are the hand-painted ones, the tiger-skin ones, the ones that glow in the dark, or those that have rhinestones and mini musical boxes inserted in the
© sm rundown
I i ,4 _' |
But the real iashlon opportunity comes with containers tor labulously functional rubbers. Companies are
best people to go to lor
cottonlng on and packets are getting prettier, but we still need good places to putthem, places with maximum accessibility, maximum aplomb, and not places they will shoot out oi
Condomanla stocks all manner oi receptacles ior its receptacles - condom keyrings, lozenge-shaped cases in designer malt black and, at £95 each, hallmarked silver ones that look like cigarette lighters. Customised condom earrings may be tetchlng, but at £5.50 a pair, they’re lor emergency use only— better the boxer shorts with a pocket tor every day oi the week. The
condom-friendly clothing are the Pussy Posse. Every garment in their new boutique (opening soon in London’s Soho) will have a condom pocket, including jumbo sensible knickers ior
Butthe specialists have no monopoly on pertect pockets. What about all
9 those pendants slung round the necks at hip Clubbers? A condom has to be the essential love token tor the modern locket. Fashion victims who've never been near a chisel finally have a reason tor a well-hard tool belt— what better use iorthe capacious pouches either side of that protective leather llap? nght on Don Juans could try stocking a holster: ‘I make love not war, ma'am'. Then there’s those harmonica walstcoats with a pocket lor each key— or each llavour, colour, texture . . .
But none at these compares to an item at gear that dangles only in Scotland. Who says you have to wear the check skirt to enjoy that great, provocatively slung piece at Scottish ; leather, the sporran? it’s stylish, on the ; spot, and something only the most ‘ iavoured ioreign lingers would tiddle with — in tact, it’s the ultimate condom i holder. (Catherine Fellows) : Condomania, 071 287 4540 ior a mall
14 The List 20 November — 3 December l‘)()2