Monday, 8 October 2012

Personal Services


Julie Walters plays Christine Painter, a sexually inexperienced single-mother and waitress and pays for her only son to be privately educated by sub-letting a flat to prostitutes. The tarts prove unreliable for rent money, and when Christine can no longer meet landlord Mr Popozogolou’s demands for back-rent, she has to resort to paying him in kind with a hand job.

Shirley's House of Pain (Jump Around, etc.)
She soon becomes a tart herself , accompanied by her friend Shirley (Shirley Stelfox) and her maid Dolly (Danny Schiller). At Christine’s sister’s wedding all does not go well as Dolly is revealed to have a penis. This causes Christine much amusement, but the other guests don’t share her sense of humour and she has a big fall out with her father.

Hand job

Christine’s call-girl business flourishes as she builds a clientele of older gentlemen and she sets up a brothel where she hosts sex parties and builds her notoriety in the tabloid press. All scenes are catered for in grubby early 80s style:  fetish/SMBD/role-play/cos-play, though a delightful coyness and British guilt lingers around the edges. The small ads place in newsagents windows for ‘French Polishing’ and ‘Large Chest for Sale’ are so much more discreet than the day-glo calling cards found around contemporary public telephones. She is able to repair the relationship with her father and he too becomes a client.

"French please"
Giving the Wing-Commander a hand

"Dolly! You've got a willy!"


"We're lesbians"

Punishing the taxman


Mounds and Circles are keen to obtain a review copy of this Super 8 stag film for research purposes


"Say SEX"

Nude descending a staircase
Out of the closet

The film ends with Christine in court following another in a series of police raids. One assumes the worst until the judge is revealed to be one of her role-play clients who prefers to be dressed as a school boy and spanked by nanny when not deliberating judgement. Christine grins and the camera zooms out to show all the legal personnel are her former clients and her dad. She is home and dry.

Judge Winkiepoos

and Bot-bots

Personal Services is a fiction inspired by the story of Cynthia Payne, real-life former madam and sex party hostess. She ran a brothel from a house in suburban Streatham, London. A police raid found that her elderly customers were paying Luncheon Vouchers in exchange for sex. She spent four months in prison before attempting to launch a political career with the Payne and Pleasure Party (groan - I'm not making this shit up).

The film was directed by Monty Python’s Terry Jones, who gained a worthy accolade of being the first director to have three of his films banned in the Republic of Ireland (the others being Life of Brian and Meaning of Life). Jones is not a flashy film maker and his dry approach enhances the dismal everyday squalor, the sense of melancholy and repression of British working class life. The retarded notions of what sex could or should be, prurient voyeurism, judgmental bigotry and stifling denial may be familiar to readers of the Daily Mail.

House of Payne

Very low budget credits
 Readers may be interested in viewing Wish You Were Here, a film written and directed by the great David Leland (who also wrote the screenplay for Personal Services), based on Ms Payne’s adolescent years, which details her early sexual relationships and growing pains with a wonderfully English sense of repression, humour, sadness and hope.

(Please note: The British government will discontinue Luncheon Vouchers from 6 April 2013 so please be sure to use yours soon, although at the current value of 15 pence each they are unlikely to buy you much to eat, never mind a hand job, except perhaps off Dolly Dolly)

1 comment:

  1. You forgot to mention this movie features Edna from Emmerdale as Shirley the Dominatrix.

    Nice write up of a (mostly) fun film. I think I've still got this on VHS so I'm gonna go and see if I have and if so I'll pull it out for the "get around to rewatching someday" pile.