Love, sex and interminable pop-culture references

Soft Porn Sunday: Angelica “Venus” Costello & Burke Morgan

When Channel 5 launched in 1997, it quickly gained a reputation as “the porn channel”, even though it didn’t really show anything that could be broadly categorised as porn. It did show, on Friday evenings, the occasional erotic thriller (which teenage ILB translated as “plot with sex”) or erotic drama (“less plot, more sex”), usually carrying nothing more than a two-star rating.

A lovely vista of a city with two naked people blocking the view.
Is this what counts as censorship in 2004?

It stopped doing so after five years. Had it not, it would have shown this, hands down.

Appearance: Passionate Encounters (2004)
Characters: Cassandra & Doctor Jenkins

So, here’s the tea. Passionate Encounters is billed as a drama, but we all know what it really is. The female character Cassandra is played by hardcore porn star Venus; Jenkins by softcore stalwart Burke Morgan (although in this case he isn’t playing the ‘slightly older non-sexual thingy’ that Surrender had him booked for in the early ’00s). There is, in fact, a plot: two psychologists start an experiment… which is meant to explore various people’s behaviour towards each other.

It soon turns to… okay, I don’t need to finish this sentence, do I?

The first thing that I need to talk about here is Burke Morgan. I’m aware of his work in Virgins of Sherwood Forest (in which he plays the viceroy) and Dungeon of Desire (in which he plays the wizard Marcus). I’m also aware that he’s in Friend of the Family and Scandal! On the Other Side (and LA 7 with S Club), but as things stand, up until this point I can’t really recall seeing him have sex.

Here, he presents as being in possession of a short, stubbly goatee (black with grey streaks)… and a mullet.

The scene takes place he has a mullet in an apartment he has a mullet with a city-scape outside he has a mullet at night he has a mullet with beautiful, younger girl he has a mullet Cassandra he has a mullet (played by he has a mullet Venus). He does appear to be markedly older than her, but maybe that is the point – Dr Jenkins is a clever professor, after all – and it doesn’t make a lot of difference to the proceedings, either.

Half-naked girl with cityscape behind her, plus mulleted grey idiot.
Did the camera operator faint? This is at a weird angle.

We start with classic softcore disrobing, although to the scene’s credit most of Cassandra’s clothes come of after Jenkins has started licking her out. There’s actually quite a lot of soft porn cunnilingus here, actually, accounting for a quarter of the scene, and it’s not badly done, either: Venus is making all sorts of noises, and it has a sort of “I must lick, now, right now” urgency (I feel you, doc) that I like. Waste no time, start with the pleasure. Impressive.

At 01:16 we mix to a different shot, and this is initially of Cassandra just bouncing up and down (making the same noises she was making in the previous shot!). This is sex, clearly – and yes, we cut to a wider shot of sex – bouncy sitting position sort of sex – on a sofa with the city twinkling behind them.

Half-naked girl in front of a brown curtain atop a grey idiot.
That’s either a brown curtain behind them or abstract photography. Either’s fine, really.

A note on the city, then: this is the backdrop for the entire scene. It’s remarkably simple – lights of an urban area at night – but it works, insofar as highlighting the grandeur of the place in which their warm room is a tine part and offsetting their cosy arrangement with a bustling metropolis that never sleeps. It’s a remarkable piece of mise-en-scène that I’m fairly sure I’m the only one to have noticed. Nice to see these things.

Anyway, is there sex still happening? Ah, there it is.

There is a fair amount of energy in the scene, as well – even if there isn’t a lot of variation in the sex position. There’s quite a lot of bounce – standard bump’n’grind – but Venus’ facial expressions and constant soundtrack underline how much fun Cassandra is having. Jenkins he has a mullet isn’t seen much, but when he is, he appears a little overwhelmed, maybe by the sex itself, or the beauty of the lady he’s having it with, or how his hairpiece went out of style two decades earlier. It’s good acting, anyway, and done with adequate amounts of enthusiasm.

Massive head, grey beard, mullet.
Welcome, watchers. Pause a while, for here’s adventure, dungeon style…

At 04:43 there is an interesting up-close bum shot. It’s a transition between sex positions, but it’s very close and very apparent for about a second. Thought I’d mention that.

Cassandra spends the rest of the scene riding Jenkins in the more classic front-on “cowgirl” astride position. As with before, there are plenty of noises, a fair amount of bouncy energy, and of course plenty of skin (by now she has fully disrobed, so we get boobs as well).

And then they kiss, which is kind of gross, before a pan to the city through the window once more… and fade out.

So, the big question: do I like this scene? Well, sort of. I like the set-up well enough, and the aforementioned urgency leading to the fun energetic sex make for a good scene. Both characters are clearly enjoying themselves here, and the fact that they’re not doing anything other than enjoying themselves also helps. Sex is presented here as just a break from doing anything else… AS IT SHOULD BE!

Beautiful woman in profile.
Venus is hella pretty, so here she is, in all her glory.

A special note goes to the soundtrack. As I’ve mentioned before, Venus moans a lot, and you can even hear their bodies slapping together (making the dull thud, you know the one). There’s a piece of music undercutting the whole scene, which is reminiscent of both other softcore scenes from the period and video game boss fights, but it’s at no point intrusive or distracting.

In fact, the only thing (other than Burke Morgan, who has a mullet) this scene does for which it can’t be reasonably excused is go on for too long. The whole thing is more than seven minutes and comprises of oral sex, riding in one position and then riding in another position. In real life this wouldn’t be wildly unrealistic; in soft porn, however, it genuinely seems like too little variation in too much time. It’s odd, and although genuinely hot, it does kind of drag after the first five minutes.

This is good; can you do something different, please?

ILB’s Brain at 05:13

Having said that, there’s nothing too wrong with this. Morgan, who does seem very old here, is okay, and Venus is gorgeous, so it’s easy on the eye… and, as I’ve mentioned, the contrast between the warm room and the dark city outside adds a bit more depth and dimension that there otherwise would be.

There could just be a little more done in a little less time, really, and due to the fact that I’m a big fan of longer scenes, that genuinely is saying something!

With thanks to friendly reader SA, who recommended the scene to me.

1 Comment

  1. Jaclyn Parker

    Very erotic and really enjoyed while reading this story.

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