Behind The Green Door starred former cheerleader and Junior Olympic diver Marilyn Chambers (born Marilyn Briggs), whose credit as the Ivory Snow girl – the wholesome model who appeared cuddling a chubby baby on detergent powder boxes boasting the product was 99.44% pure – gave her virtually mythic qualifications for fulfilling the fantasies of the red-blooded American male.
Chambers, though, had some conditions for producers Jim and Artie Mitchell before she would agree to take the lead role in their feature-length pornographic film: she insisted that all the actors be tested for sexually transmitted diseases, and she demanded a percentage of the movie’s gross receipts. The movie – which cost $50,000 to film – grossed an astounding $50 million.
In the movie, Gloria Saunders (Chambers) is abducted and taken to a mysterious location to become the star attraction at a live sex show.
She is hypnotised and led on stage in front of an audience, where she participates in a series of erotic performances.
She is set upon by lesbians and screwed ad infinitum by a black man who wears a tiger tooth necklace.
Unwilling at first, Gloria – whose only dialogue consists of pants, groans and sighs (when her mouth is free) – is caught up in the spirit of things, culminating in a scene involving a circus trapeze and four men.
During the sexual activities, the music slows into a ritualistic drone while the images saturate in colour and overlap, lulling the audience into a trance-like state.
Through the use of colour saturation, music, and slow motion, the Mitchell Brothers mimic the state of hypnosis, creating a kinky psychedelic experience.
Marilyn Chambers and the Mitchell Brothers followed up Behind The Green Door with another hit, The Resurrection of Eve.
Chambers reportedly longed for mainstream movie stardom and starred in David Cronenberg’s R-rated 1977 horror movie, Rabid.
But by 1980, after appearing in a cabaret act as a singer and dancer and cutting a disco record, she returned to adult films, including Insatiable.
Chambers stopped making hardcore movies in the mid-1980s but returned in the late 90s with Still Insatiable. In between, she specialised in soft-core late-night cable movies.
Her last screen appearance was in Victor Franko’s low-budget independent movie, Solitaire, filmed in Rhode Island in 2007.
Marilyn Chambers was found unconscious at her home in Canyon County, California on Sunday 13 April 2009, by her 17-year-old daughter, McKenna. The autopsy revealed she had died of a cerebral haemorrhage and an aneurysm related to heart disease. She was ten days away from her 57th birthday.
George S. McDonald