There used to be a small hotel in London by the name of Blake’s. It had a celebrity clientele and was known for being complete discreet about who was staying there. It also had an ‘on premises’ liquor license which meant that you could have a drink in their small bar long after public hours had passed.
The people who worked there were totally at ease around any level of movie star or rock icon. They had pretty much seen it all come and go so nothing got them excited.
Except . . .
One day I was passing through the lobby and noticed that the young women at the desk were craning their necks to check out the sidewalk. Obviously, something very important was in the works. Other women came out of the back and whispered, “Is she here yet? Have you seen here?”
OK, I’m certainly curious about who it might be that has the staff at Blake’s so completely unhinged. I walked to the desk and asked, “Are we expecting someone important?”
She looked away quickly and then looked back.
What? Who? Where? How could there be such excitement about a name that I had never heard.
“Who is she?” I asked. “Is she an actress?”
The young woman stared at me and her face was red with embarrassment.
She looked passed me to check the doorway again.
“She makes . . uhh . . sex movies, you know? She is the most sexy animal.”
OK, now I have gone from mild curiosity to complete rapt attention from just those words.
I leaned forward and spoke in a low voice, “An actress by the name of Emmanuelle makes sex movies?”
The answer came quickly.
“No, No .. . this woman . . . she is Emmanelle.”
The door opened and two bell hops came in pushing luggage carriers. They were filled with very expensive French luggage including hat boxes, shoe boxes and cloth containers for gowns hanging from their hooks.
A woman with a denim jacket, thin black jeans and boots that reached above her knees came striding across the lobby. Whoever she was, is was star time, baby . . .
She stood by the desk without speaking while the man accompanying her picked up the room keys and then they headed for the elevator, baggage attendants close behind.
And that, for better or for worse, was my introduction to the world of Emmannelle . . .
Her real name was Sylvia Kristel and she died yesterday at the age of 60 after years of fighting cancer.
She made the first “Emmannuelle” in 1970 and this low budget film shot in Thailand became a sensation in Europe and then spread around the world. It was the story of a sexually voracious woman whose husband encouraged her to seek satisfaction for her desires. She had her way with men of all size, shapes and ethnicity. She was an equal opportunity sexual buffet, there for the taking.
No wonder that young woman everywhere were in awe of her. Oh, to be as free as Emmannuelle.
The first film was such a sensation that it was “Emmannuelle II” and then “III,” “IV” and you take it from there. All the films seem to have been shot in Thailand but, who knows, they could have been shot anywhere since bedrooms were the basic scenery.
I never read anything about Ms Kristel’s personal life away from her libidinous screen character. But perhaps that all for the better.
Sometimes all you ever want to know about a movie star is the way that people act when she walks across a hotel lobby . . .