Sex Education: Private Teacher (1983)

Gary Graver teaches Dave how to mix shagging and Shakespeare.

“I was born in 1961, so right about the time when my hormones started raging, it was the Golden Age of Porn. I used to go into theaters and watch John Leslie and Jamie Gillis and think that it was a great way to make a living! I got into the whole of the business – who the directors were and who the main actors were. I’d sit in the middle of the theater, just fascinated by the whole process and I knew that one way or another, one day, I’d be doing that. And I did. A few films put me on the map, but Private Teacher was my first big role where the story centred around me.” [1]

Despite a fleeting appearance in Private Moments (1983), where Honey Wilder crawled through his window and popped his cherry, it was indeed PRIVATE TEACHER that launched the career of the porn star who holds the record for being the actor with the most credits on the Adult Internet Film Database, Tom Byron [2]. Here he plays Jimmy: a horny teenager who lives under the guardianship of his Aunt Diane (Wilder again). Diane is growing increasingly concerned about how withdrawn Jimmy has been, specifically the lad’s desire to lock himself away in his bedroom. Naturally, the real reason behind Jimmy’s reclusive behaviour lies in a telescope and the carnal adventures of the two stewardesses (Joanna Storm and Laurie Smith) who live across the way. Thankfully, before Jimmy’s pecker drops off from his overzealous tugging, Diane stages an intervention with the help of Miss Lilian Foxworth (Kay Parker): a tutor who hopes that a bash at The Bard might take some pressure off the young voyeur’s burned-out bishop.

If Orson Welles had made a porno, then this might be the result. With Private Teacher, Gary Graver has delivered the ultimate tip of a wide-brimmed hat to his mentor, while integrating the usual flourishes that you’d associate with him. “This is the promised land. Los Angeles, California” begins the opening narration, as Graver lavishes us with a pictorial history of his adopted home, his lens cascading over a host of biographical landmarks that pertain to the director himself: from The Beverly Hills Hotel, where Graver first made that infamous cold call to Welles in 1970; to a shot of a Pussycat Theatre, the shadow of which loomed large when the B-movie maestro was starting out [3].

In terms of sex, Private Teacher isn’t necessarily Graver’s finest work. A couple of scenes outstay their welcome (particularly the stewardess’ foursome with Marc Wallice and Blair Harris), and others seem all too brief. This in turn creates a slight imbalance, most notably with Jimmy’s character arc which, irrespective of it being the spine of the picture (and the best part), feels a little neglected. Besides, who wouldn’t want to savour more of the regal elegance – and distinctly Wellesian trope – of Kay Parker reading Hamlet? Because it’s here that Graver’s script caters both to the hot to trot and to the ardent cinephile, the latter of whom will no doubt marvel at the way the filmmaker weaves in Shakespearean dialogue to echo the on-screen intimacy.

Private Teacher joined the Caballero Classics Collection and made its way onto DVD at the turn of the millennium, boasting – justifiably – that it was shot on 35mm film. All that’s missing is a credit for the deity who created it.

USA ● 1983 ● Adult ● 84mins

Kay Parker, Honey Wilder, Eric Edwards, Paul Thomas, Laurie Smith, Joanna Storm, Tom Byron ● Wri./Dir. Gary Graver (as ‘Robert McCallum’)

[1] Tom Byron Interview, RogReviews.com, May 2000.
[2] Currently, Byron is listed as having 3299 performer credits on iafd.com.
[3] One of the Pussycat Theatres was managed by Jay Fineberg. Fineberg financed Graver’s early film, Sandra: The Making of a Woman (1970).

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