A dark and deep dive into the secretive, sexual and seductive world of Nunsploitation.
Naughty nuns: the appeal is obvious. Cloaked in the magnetic mystery of her thick twill tunic, the solid walls of the cloister, and the impenetrability of her spirituality, the nun is a walking embodiment of the original injunction against looking. This regulated interiority has made of the nun a potent figure of fantasy from the earliest days of organized Christianity, and on into the present day. What better medium could there be for plumbing her tantalizing depths than film—an all-seeing eye whose very nature is to reveal, and to capture in the visible world the signs of the ineffable?
The family-friendly cinematic investigations of these dark and devoted corners finds its most wholesome expression in the reverence of Henry King’s The Song of Bernadette (1943) or the moral righteousness of Robert Wise’s The Sound of Music (1965), Haylee Mills’ innocent insouciance in The Trouble with Angels (1966), or even Whoopi Goldberg’s pop-music posturing in the 1992 summer blockbuster Sister Act. But the underside of the veil has produced a plethora of dirty books and lascivious pictures as well—after all, the more unspoilt the bride of Christ, the greater the temptation to explore her uncharted territories, a sort of violent male manifest destiny capable of the most deliciously sinful proportions. (It’s worth noting that a little ditty called The Nun’s Story is thought to be the first stag film with a cum shot; efforts to find much information about this particular film are complicated by another with the same title, released in the same decade, starring none other than the incorruptible Audrey Hepburn.) On the silver screen, this trend found particular popularity in the 1970s and 1980s in the rich and raunchy sub genre known most euphoniously as nunsploitation.
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