In writing a post recently on hapa actresses from Southeast Asia I came across the name of an Indonesian-Dutch hapa actress whom I had never heard of, Laura Gemser.
In the 1970s, Gemser made a series of Italian softcore sexploitation films known as the “Black Emanuelle” movies.
One of these films was set in Thailand and was called “Emanuelle in Bangkok.” I decided to take a look at that movie to see how it depicted Bangkok/Thailand at that time.
Emanuelle is an American reporter in this film and she travels (by boat!!) from Europe to Bangkok. She meets an archaeologist on the boat and they make love, but then they go their separate ways once they arrive in Thailand.
There is then a great scene of Emanuelle riding a taxi to her hotel, and various Bangkok landmarks are shown – Wat Saket, the Democracy Monument, etc.
Emanuelle then arrives at this hotel. What hotel is/was this?! It’s amazing!!
Emanuelle travels to Thailand because she wants to take some pictures of the king. She has a contact, a somewhat mysterious prince by the name of Prince Sanit, played by Ivan Rassimov, an Italian actor of Serbian descent who was famous as an actor in horror films. . .
Once they meet, Prince Sanit avoids talking business, and is vague about his relationship to the king.
Instead, the prince takes Emanuelle on a tour of Bangkok on foot and by boat.
The two of them are impeccably dressed and look fantastic wherever they go.
At the end of this outing, Prince Sanit drops Emanuelle off at a soapy massage place, where she is given a massage by a woman (Gee), whom Emanuelle then befriends.
The archaeologist then returns, and Emanuelle, Gee and the archaeologist meet an American couple, and together they spend a day seeing the sites.
They ride elephants.
Watch muay Thai and cockfighting.
See some traditional Thai dancing.
And explore temples.
This is all followed by an orgy, after which the American guy and his wife split up, as he has decided that he is in love with Gee. He confesses this to Emanuelle right after she has just seen Gee and the archaeologist making love back in her hotel room. . .
So there is a complex love plot, but there is also sinister political intrigue in the background, and this eventually makes things difficult for Emanuelle, so she decides to leave Thailand for Morocco, where the archaeologist has gone.
I have to admit that for a softcore sexploitation film, this film provides quite a bit to think about and examine, from the way that the monarchy is depicted, to the way that Americans are portrayed.
It’s also interesting to see how the contours of a certain tourist experience were already in place at that time, from exploring temples to visiting Patpong sex shows
Oh, and as for the love scenes. . . yes, Laura Gemser is a very attractive woman, but I have to wonder how people in the 1970s could make love to the music that apparently always came on at that time: