In one of my previous professional lives I have been a movie critic, and to this date I am instinctively attracted to any sort of information about cinema. So there I was, peeking at a severely weird film website, and I noticed something that struck my curiosity.
Let’s play a game: given that 1973 was the year of The exorcist, The sting, American graffiti, Papillon, 007 – Live and let die, Serpico and Jesus Christ superstar… which was the top grossing movie in Germany? I’ll give you a hint. None of the above.
The amazing answer is ‘Liebesgrüße aus der Lederhos’n’, directed by Franz Marischka – and if you never heard of it before, it’s probably because you are not a Bavarian farmer fetishist. Seriously.
That film is a sex comedy about a cash-strapped guy who takes a vacation in an alpine region of southern Germany, and finds himself contended between two hotels in need of male prostitutes for their single female clients. Hilarity ensues, especially if you like jokes about yodeling, traditional leather pants and feathered caps, wurstels, and bucolic German life. And sex. Lots of sex, in fact, as Liebesgrüße aus der Lederhos’n is a not-always soft porn movie.
As difficult as they are to grasp today, the reasons for its success were a unique mix of self-irony, plain fun, the novelty of seeing explicit sex on the screen, very topical humour and jokes, and the spirit of the recent Sexual revolution. In the same years, Italy was experiencing a similar yet much less explicit phenomenon with its “Edwige Fenech-like skin flicks”, but the commercial downfall was far from comparable with what was happening in Germany.
The yodel porn craze lasted but half a decade, during which dozens of movies were produced. All of them had knowingly bad Bavarian-inspired double entendres in their titles, and all of them had lederhosen-wearing protagonists in increasingly bizarre locations, including tropical beaches. Marischka directed all the major ones.
Then the fad waned, causing two main effects. The first was the fall of Marischka, who hoped to move on to more serious films and stage plays (he was the son of two important artists whose fame he always vainly tried to live up to) but found his career crippled by the memory of his Alpine pornography. The other is the continuing love for lederhosen fetish among many of those Germans who grew up with that sort of films. In fact, this is why feathered caps and beermaid dresses keep popping up in places as unexpected as the very extreme Heydi perverse body modification video series.
My inner critic would now like to rant about all the implications and the significances of Bavarian porn, and you wouldn’t like it. It is much better to leave you to the footage that started it all: the full Liebesgrüße aus der Lederhos’n movie – best survived after several pints of weissbier.