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By Tom Meek | November 7, 2002

Can pornography be philosophical, even socially conscious? Not in most cases, but in “Temptation,” the quirky indie film from the husband-wife team of Lyn Vaus (writer/producer/performer) and Kim Caviness (writer/producer/director), porn is intellectualized and pushed through the cerebral cortex by a New Agey couple. Nora (co-producer Annette O’Toole looking fantastic at fifty something) is an old-school porn legend of sorts; she served as the centerpiece for one of the first triple penetrations ever recorded, but now she’s enlightened and moved to the other side of the camera to make “serious films” – nurturing soft-core epics about the inner beauty of womanhood and love. Then there’s her husband Phil (Vaus donning a baroque, botched purple dye job), a slacker who hangs apathetically in the balance. Without a hit film in years, the free spirits suddenly find themselves in dire financial straights, that is until a long lost videotape reveals the hottest sitcom star du jour (Annette Murphy) engaged in a little, barely legal, girl-on-girl action – think of Jennifer Aniston if she had been caught grazing on videotape at age seventeen. What ensues is a tabloid media circus and a moral conundrum for the New Age conscious pair: do they sell out for big dollars or hold tight to their penny-poor philosophies?

Vaus and Caviness, put the “Dogme 69” (a parody of Dogme 95, see for details on the Dogme 69 Manifesto) production together on a shoestring budget. It premiered this September at the Planet Indie Film Festival in Toronto and is making its way around the Indie-Cult circuit – it’ll be screened at the Northampton (Mass.) Film Festival on November 9th. Besides O’Toole, who starred as Nick Nolte’s wife in 48 Hrs. and can currently be seen in the WB TV series, “Smallville,” there are several other faces of familiarity and notoriety that pop up in supporting roles; most notably porn star Randy West and Elisabeth Moss of TV’s “The West Wing.”

Because of its low-budget constraints, “Temptation” does resign itself to living room bound antics. You’d fear eddies of melodramatic tedium, but Vaus (co-writer of “Next Stop Wonderland”) and Caviness provide enough gut wrenching guffaws to offset the locale limits. The crowning jewel is the vignette of a porn-styled “Inside Edition” that features rousing insights from Dick Paradise on his upcoming film “Anal Africa Part IV.” It’s good raunchy fun that, oddly enough, shares certain similarities with Paul Verhoeven’s notorious “Showgirls.” Both revel in the tawdriness of the sex industry and both find themselves in the cult-comedy genre, the difference being that the Joe Eszterhas penned wet dream, unwittingly earned its stature as a late-night, derided spectacle, whereas “Temptation” is a tongue-in-cheek parody, spliced together with a cult label in mind.

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