Just who IS this chick?
speak of Maria Palentini (apparently not her real name), co-star
of the 2009 'reimagining' of Fire in Her
Bed, one of the films in Retro-Seduction's Sex,
Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll Triple Feature collection.
As of this writing, she doesn't have an IMDb page (nor does
the movie) and Googling her comes up with nothing. She's an
enigma. A complete mystery.
And hella sexy.
Very loosely inspired
by the 1972 Nick Philips film of the same name (it has virtually
nothing in common with that pic), Fire
in Her Bed is the story of two young women and their
kinky lesbian relationship of dominance and submission, mistress
and slave. Palentini plays Ivy, a vivacious young college art
student with a steady boyfriend (Peter Pistol) she has been
dating since high school. Her life radically changes when she
meets the assertive and aggressively self-confident Vera (Angelina
Dekker). A sensualist, Vera lives according to a Sadean philosophy.
To her, romantic love is illusory and inevitably disappointing
— only the unapologetic pursuit of physical pleasure, the kinkier
the better, reveals the true beauty within people. She sees
Ivy as unformed clay to be sculpted into just such a decadent
beauty, but only if the girl totally surrenders her body and
will. Vera seems to instinctively know Ivy's every weakness,
her darkest, repressed desires; that her protestations ("I'm
not like that... I was experimenting!") do not reflect
her innermost feelings. Ivy is surprised to experience fulfillment
as Vera's obedient sex slave. Even when her mistress is emotionally
and physically abusive, deliberately humiliating her, Ivy's
role as a complete submissive turns her on like nothing ever
has. The longtime boyfriend, whom Ivy once dreamed of marrying,
can have no place in this new paradigm the women create.
A stimulating slice
of minimalist erotic cinema, Fire in Her
Bed was shot almost four years ago (in and around Seattle,
over a span of six days) but not released until now. Writer-director
Brion Rockwell hews to the Joe Sarno school of softcore, which
posits that intense eroticism is to be found as much in the
faces and expressions of lovers caught in the throes of passion
as it is in writhing, naked naughty parts. (Don't worry, there
are still plenty of those on display.) For a microbudget
production it's nicely lensed and edited, marred only be some
occasionally bumpy sound recording. Since there isn't much plot
or dialog to get in the way the majority of the film is concerned
with Vera and Ivy's lengthy sex sessions, in which the former
establishes the rules and boundaries of their kinky relationship
while the latter discovers things about her carnal persona she
never dared imagine.
According to the liner
notes booklet that comes with this set, Palentini and Dekker
were cast when they answered an ad on Craig's List. Neither
had any professional acting experience, certainly never appearing
in a sex film before, and are supposedly straight. If this is
indeed the case then I'm compelled to give these ladies some
serious props. They're both quite good; aside from some awkward
voice-over narration by Palentini the performances are very
naturalistic and uninhibited. These women ignite some genuine
erotic heat, sharing a palpable physical chemistry... Softcore
sex films rarely succeed as wood inducers (or, if you prefer,
stroke fodder) without some kind of 'it' factor, a special quality
that draws the viewer in, and in this case it's our lead actresses
playing off — and with — one another. Dekker, a pale, willowy
blonde, radiates a maturity and sophistication well beyond her
19 years, making the seduction and domination of the Ivy character
believable. (Had the roles been reversed the film wouldn't have
worked.) As for Maria Palentini, she's a pert, nubile combination
of a barely legal Ashley Judd and Sarah McLachan. Even her shoulder
tats and demure little nose stud are cute. I couldn't take my
eyes off of her. Scrumptious.
mentioned, the two-disc set contains three films: both versions
of Fire in Her Bed (Disc 1) and Where
the Air is Cool and Dark (1997), also written and directed
by Brion Rockwell (Disc 2). All three are presented in their original
fullframe AR; the '72 Fire and Where
the Air is Cool and Dark were shot on film whereas the
2009 Fire is digital video. Given
the extremely low budget nature of these movies I don't have any
serious issues with their respective A/V quality. (The Philips
film actually looks considerably better than his other surviving
works from that period.) The set's title is kind of misleading,
though, in that there's really not much "Rock 'n' Roll"
involved... but thanks to Ms. Palentini and Ms. Dekker, at least
there's plenty of sex. (Where the Air
provides the drugs.)
brief notes about the co-features: The short 1972 Nick Philips
film of the same name is much like his porno features of the period
(Les Chic, Dr.
Christina of Sweden), except that the sex is purely softcore.
Essentially it's an hour-long montage of jumbled images, trippy
music, bullshit stream-of-consciousness narration and generally
unattractive hippies toking, drinking and shagging on some particularly
The film is completely skippable unless you're even more of a
masochist than Ivy is. Where the Air is
Cool and Dark (88 min.) is a character drama about drug
use and rehab set in the Twin Peaks logging country of
Washington state, a fairly accomplished piece for a first-time
director working with little money and many amateur actors. It's
earnest if a bit dull.
Extras: Of most interest on Disc 1 is a selection
of seven scenes deleted from the final cut of Fire
in Her Bed '09. Among these is a languid tryst in
and one of a nude Palentini getting dressed
in stockings, panties
and garter belt. The first disc also contains
a massive 20 skin-filled trailers, divided into Joe Sarno and
Retro-Seduction categories. Disc 2 offers a further 15 trailers,
rather incongruously from the horror-themed Shock-O-Rama vault.
aforementioned liner notes discuss all three films.