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With his first feature film, Emmanuelle (1974), director Just Jaeckin spawned a new wave of sexploitation and more variations on the theme of his sex-wild character than a Nobel Prize-winning mathematician can compute.

For the next ten years he went on to define the erotic genre with the kinky classic The Story of O (1975), the lusty literary adaptation Lady Chatterley's Lover (1981), and his swansong, the bawdy adventure Gwendoline (1984), based on the dirty cartoons by noted fetish artist John Willie.

Since the release of Gwendoline over twenty years ago, Jaeckin has been in semi-retirement in Normandy, France, but thanks to the good people at Severin Films his randy, rollicking Gwendoline is finally back in print, with an unrated director's cut DVD, featuring audio commentary by Jaeckin, as well as an onscreen interview with the director, an interview with Willie, plus a hot photo spread of star Tawny Kitaen (Picture: 1 - 2) from Lui magazine.

Jaeckin spoke to Mr. Skin from his French estate, where the conversation covered his decadent decade of work uncovering some of the hottest actresses ever to show skin onscreen. The former fashion photographer discusses his ability to find tomorrow's sex star today, the controversy and worldwide success of his early productions, and why he believes Gwendoline is the perfect kid's movie.

Let's start at the beginning with Emmanuelle, one of the most influential films of its kind. How'd it come about?
At that time it was hard to be a director. In France you had to first be an assistant before becoming a director. I came from a new generation, from advertising and commercials. When my producer proposed for me to do a feature film it was a dream for me. Emmanuelle wasn't exactly what I wanted to do, but it was an opportunity to show what I could do. I accepted it because it was an opportunity to do a feature film.

Did you expect it to become the huge success that it did?
Of course not, we came to Thailand without permission to shoot the film. It's like Easy Rider; it was a small film with friends.

What compelled you to cast Sylvia Kristel (Picture:1 - 2 - 3 - 4) in the lead?
I was not known, except as a photographer. I was a photographer for Vogue and all those magazines. I had a good reputation for quality photography, but none as a director. I just had done some commercials and something small for TV.

All the French actresses at that time wouldn't do an erotic film. Erotica, at the time, was forbidden for all the actors. All the French actresses said we'd love to work for you except it's an erotic film.

I was involved with a Dutch producer. He said why not go to Amsterdam because the girls are freer in their minds. I went to a casting call there and I saw a girl who was not part of the casting call, and she was opposite from what I was expecting to cast. I saw Sylvia with short hair, and she wasn't what I expected for the role. I don't know why I said, "That's the girl." It was an instinctual choice.

You followed Emmanuelle with an adaptation of one of the most notorious books every published, The Story of O. How controversial was this in 1975?
I wrote a book about all this and explained that L'Express, a French newspaper, said it was a great film. But there are so many critics of the film who thought it was dirty. It was a nightmare for me. It was a huge success, though, and unfortunately I was really trapped in erotic film.

Continuing your cinematic exploration of sex, you filmed Madame Claude, which was about prostitution. Was it the sex that interested you as a filmmaker or are you saying that you were pigeonholed?
Madame Claude was not an erotic film. It was a story about a very high-class prostitute ring, but really a thriller. For me, it was the first step to escape eroticism. It was the time I worked with some really famous actors, Klaus Kinski, Francoise Fabian, Maurice Ronet.

Then I did Playmate, or The Last Romantic Lover [Le Dernier amant romantique], it's my own story and I wrote the script with Ennio De Concini [nominated for an Oscar for Divorce Italian Style (1961)]. It had nothing to do with eroticism. The critics killed it, a disaster, but fortunately it was a huge success in Canada. In France it wasn't popular. After I did a small film called Girls, the story of four young girls that again had nothing to do with eroticism.

I wanted to ask you about Dayle Haddon (Picture:1 - 2), a former Disney star, until she posed for Playboy. What was it that attracted you to cast her?
She had a part in Madame Claude. I wanted to write a script for her.

You reunited with Sylvia Kristel in Lady Chatterley's Lover. Had the two of you been looking for another project together?
No, The Last Romantic Lover was not a huge success. [Producers] Yoram and Menahem Golan said they wanted to do a film with me and I accepted to do Lady Chatterley because I liked the script. Then after that I did Gwendoline, which I think is a film for kids. In France it was a huge success for sixteen-, seventeen-year-old kids. It came out in 1984, so the kids who saw it then are now in their mid-thirties. Every time I meet one they say for us it was like a dream. For kids, it's very sexy, funny. I'm very proud of the film, but it was only a small success in America.

It got cut up a lot before it played here, but that old wrong is being righted with the new deluxe DVD reissue from Severin Films.
They cut out all the crazy things.

Right, all the funny scenes that made it like a sexier Indiana Jones adventure.
I was so surprised that they cut all the funny scenes. For U.S. audiences a woman slapping a man is not acceptable. It won a big award in Italy. I'm very proud of it. I think it's my second best film behind Last Romantic Lover, because I wrote that story and it's the story of my own life.

You have a great talent not only as a filmmaker, but as a casting director. Gwendoline stars Tawny Kitaen, who went on to mainstream fame as an MTV video vixen. To what do you attribute this eye for finding future sex symbols?
I cast many girls, but Tawny had this na?e quality that I liked. I try to find actresses that are na?e, because those people are able to go certain places without fear. Gwendoline is the story of a young girl trying to find her father. I needed a naive quality, you're so naive you go somewhere you wouldn't go otherwise, because you just don't know.

Is that wide-eyed characteristic what attracted you to Tawny Kitaen's co-star, Zabou (Picture:1) ?
I needed Zabou because she was so funny. She originally had a much smaller part in the script. When I wrote the script she was only a maid. But everyday I wrote her more scenes because she worked so well with Tawny.

Why'd you stop making movies after Gwendoline?
I was exhausted. Stupidly I went back to commercials, like a lot of directors. Afterwards the movie industry changed. I didn't like the people involved. Perhaps I lost the chance to do something better, but life is like that.

Do you have any plans to bless your audience with a new film?
No, not really. I have a fantastic house with horses, my daughter is twelve--I want to take care of my family. I worked for thirty years. I'm a selfish man. I need to take care of my roots.

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