Deep Inside William Shakespeare: Pornographic Film and Video “Classics” and the Castrated Gaze

  • Richard Burt


Despite the widespread interest in the transgressive sexuality of Shakespeare’s plays, even an interest in the pornographic impulse of Othello, cultural critics have tended to overlook Shakespeare in contemporary pornography and contemporary pornography in Shakespeare.1 The earliest instance of porn in Shakespeare (on sound film) I know of is the softcore The Secret Sex Lives of Romeo and Juliet (dir. A. P. Stootsberry, 1968), with Foreman Shane and Dierdre Nelson in the leads.2 Roman Polanski’s Playboy production of Macbeth (1971) soon followed, with a nude, sleepwalking Lady Macbeth and bare-breasted witches. Playboy also produced a softcore Twelfth Night (dir. Ron Wertheim, 1972) for its television series Playboy at Night. Although not billed as pornography, several recent Shakespeare films have included more or less softcore sex scenes.3 In Zeffirelli’s Hamlet (1991), Hamlet dry humps Gertrude in the closet scene. Peter Greenaway’s Prospero’s Books (1991) parades naked people of all ages, sexualities, and (trans)genders, including a transsexual actor who took his stage name from a nineteenth-century painter (Felicien Rops) and who plays a character named Pornocrates, a nearly naked Caliban (Michael Clark), a pissing boy (Orfeo) playing Ariel and one pornographic book in Prospero’s library, The Autobiographies of Pasiphae and Semiramis (Greenaway 1991, 24).4


Deep Inside Cultural Critic Canterbury Tale Male Viewer Pornographic Film 
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Copyright information

© Richard Burt 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Burt
    • 1
  1. 1.NorthamptonUSA

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