Lesbian antics aren’t particularly alien to the world of Metzger (and even less so in the realm of hardcore), but gay male couplings were and still remain the erotica equivalent, more or less, of slipping a Roofie into a jar of Gerber’s mashed carrots. Hence Metzger’s adaptation of Jerry Douglas’s stage play Score, or No One’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf!, emerges as almost unquestionably the most transgressive of the director’s softcore films (though Score does surface from time to time in a mildly hardcore iteration, First Run’s DVD is the edited version), not by design or execution, but simply by mere existence. In the film, Jack and Elvira (Gerald Grand and Claire Wilbur) play George and Martha to Eddie and Betsy’s Nick and Honey, with the sexually liberated couple (“liberated” being tantamount to libidinous in this film’s fairy tale, faked-French Riviera setting, once again filmed in Yugoslavia) hoping to corrupt the uptight, fresh-faced innocents (played by gay porno proto-superstar Calvin Culver and the aforementioned Lowry, whose button nose it would appear Michael Jackson has been attempting to emulate via plastic surgery all this time).
Jack and Elvira have defined their marriage as a long-running competition in which points are accrued with each successful seduction of an outside party, and same-sex trysts are worth double. The entire film, all cheeky double-entendres and dress-up games, is but the prelude to a virtuoso extended sex diptych with the ladies wearing out Elvira’s supply of dildos, chiffon scarves, and amyl nitrate in the upstairs boudoir and Jack successfully breaking the penetration barrier with not-so-reluctant bottom Eddie in the basement den among 8mm gay porn loops and neon blue shag carpeting. Metzger’s direction is flawless, demonstrating an awareness of his unwitting audience’s impending skittishness toward pansexuality by playing up the moments of nervous humor and wide-eyed zeal in his undeniably attractive “innocent” couple. (Betsy turns “Am I high yet?” into the chipper chorus to her own deflowering.)
At the same time, prudes be damned, Metzger doesn’t soft-sell the gay sex in the slightest. He even gleefully muddies up the fragile mindset of Eddie (obviously the character the predominately straight male audience of Metzger’s heyday would have to identify with, since he holds out the longest) when he imagines his wife pounding his ass in place of Jack, the two switching places until he finally settles on Jack. Don’t look now, boys, but that’s your façade of masculinity being treated like the adolescent posturing it is…and by your greatest cinematic ally, even.