Dir: Stuart Urban, 1997
Is Stuart Urban’s film simply a kinky comedy or a commentary on obscenity?
Full time dominatrix Tanya Cheex (Guinevere Turner) operates the House of Thwax, a fetish club for practitioners who are heavily into S&M.
Tabloid reporter Fibbin’ Gibbons (Ricky Tomlinson) sneaks his way into the club and photographs Cheex’s sadomasochistic stage act.
Plastering it all over the front page, self-righteous MP Henry Harding (Tom Bell) intends to prosecute Cheex and her submissives for breaking the law.
Employing God fearing computer technician Peter Emery (Christien Anholt) at the House of Commons, Harding sends Emery into Cheex’s lair to gather evidence for a private prosecution.
Repulsed and offended by what he sees, Emery becomes drawn to Tanya and falls in love, much to the chagrin of Tanya’s live-in lesbian sub, Eugenie (Julie Graham), who is also in love with her.
The dominatrix does not have sex with anyone, insisting only on pleasure via cunnilingus and a clit-ring.
Allowing Peter into her S&M life, the Mistress finds herself warming to Peter and experiences feelings that she hasn’t truly felt before.
Emery continues to gather evidence for Harding, believing in his strongly held Christian upbringing while also torn because of his feelings for Tanya.
Culminating in the High Court, Peter has to choose between what he feels is morally right and his love for the world’s number one dom.
It’s kind of like I.D. but with whips and chains.
The film is about so many things; censorship and freedom from state intrusion, sexual liberation, the other side of life, the establishment and many more.
Inspired by the (then fairly recent) guilty verdict of the Operation Spanner case, Urban’s film attempts to redress what many consider to be a miscarriage of justice.
The Spanner case was a landmark in British law that stipulated that nobody has a legal right to give, or receive, extreme pain or injury. Under UK law, no party can consent to injury.
Several gay men who were into the S&M scene, filmed themselves practicing their sadomasochism.
The acts involved needle play, cock and ball torture, blood and a man nailing his penis to a plank of wood.
Metropolitan police caught wind of this and, promptly, arrested the men and confiscated the videos.
After a battle in the courts, the defendants lost and were given custodial sentences.
It certainly couldn’t have sat well with some MP’s as it emerged that a few of them were known to be a bit on the “adventurous” side of life.
Guinevere Turner is, surely, the world’s hottest lesbian. Unbelievably sexy with a body to die for, Turner steals the film and outshines the whole cast.
There’s a ripple of anger flowing through the film. The outdated and out of touch establishment dictating what consenting adults can do in their private lives will, undoubtedly, stir your ire.
You could sum the film up with the very simple motto “live and let live”.
Christien Anholt as the virginal IT expert who is thrust into a world he doesn’t understand, is too weak as a lead actor and the character limp. Against Turner’s strong presence, Anholt doesn’t fit in the film.
The two characters don’t gel. Surrounded by well-hung studs, why would Cheex, a professional dominatrix, be drawn to a whingeing schoolboy?
Preaching to the Perverted doesn’t try to make the law look stupid, it does that entirely on its own. Urban just brings our attention to it.
Marketed (rather unfairly) as a saucy comedy, Stuart Urban’s movie is more drama and social commentary than comedy.
There is humour in it, some of it very funny, but it has a lot of the subtle kind of humour which, sadly, doesn’t work on me.
I like my comedy to be brash and in your face. I want it to say “this is a comedy. Sit back and switch your brain off”.
For me to criticise the film about its lack of funniness would be grossly unfair and a disservice to the film and it’s director. The problem is with me and not with the film.
Taking potshots at the tabloids’ muck taking and unethical way of gathering information, the director couldn’t have known that he was having a foresight of current events.
A very impressive film, visually, with elaborate sets and costumes (and a strange fascination with the colour pink), it’s easy on the eye.
Preaching to the Perverted highlights how the lawmakers resort to something that they don’t understand; just make it illegal.
For a debut feature, Stuart Urban has created a wonderful film, that taps into the heart of what it means to be free.
Well known famous faces from British television, also make an appearance; Don Henderson (in his last role), Roger Lloyd Pack, Sue Johnston and Georgina Gail all, possibly, unaware as to what they were signing up to.