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Marilyn Chambers Still Making Movies- But Not Smutty Ones

Rhode Island [] – Marilyn Chambers has returned to her roots: Rhode Island.

The legend of X-rated films wants your attention, and your vote.

“I will be running again in a year,” she says.

That would be for the vice presidency of the United States. But first, Chambers must make another movie. And given her prurient past, it’s simply shocking.

“I don’t have to take my clothes off.”

Chambers is full of surprises.

Here are a few more: The 55-year-old actress, best known for her roles in Behind the Green Door and Insatiable, was born in Providence. Her grandparents and parents were born and raised in Rhode Island. Her father graduated from Brown University. And a cousin and an uncle still live in Narragansett.

“I used to come to Rhode Island all the time,” Chambers says.

This time, Chambers has come to shoot a film, a mainstream one in which she plays a police officer.

The movie is Solitaire, an independent, low-budget PG-rated movie, produced and co-written by Vin Fraioli of North Kingstown. The movie is a twist on Oliver Twist, involving a group of late 20th-century parentless teenagers. They steal adult videos, which include some that feature Chambers, who in the movie has moved on from her career in porn to one in police work.

Chambers plays herself in the movie. “Of course I’ve been typecast,” she says. “I put myself in that position as a porn star. I will be used because of my name.”

“Marilyn Chambers is an icon,” Fraioli says. “She’s a good actor.”

However, Fraioli says he has never seen Chambers act, not in a mainstream movie, nor an X-rated one.

“I’m saving myself,” he laughs.

The idea for the movie comes from Victor Franko of South Attleboro, the film’s director and co-writer, who has seen Chambers act.

“There are 25,000 women working in X-rated films now that call themselves ‘porn stars,’ ” Franko says. “But none are who she was. She’s the first lady of the porn industry.”

Chambers has much to say about that. But she also has lots to say about society, politics and culture, which we’ll get to. But first, Chambers speaks of history, her own, her inadvertent and instrumental role in the Sexual Revolution.

At the moment, Chambers is sitting in a hotel lobby in Seekonk. She’s deeply tanned and bright blue-eyed. And she’s thinking back to 1972.

At that time, Chambers lived in San Francisco, after stays in Los Angeles and New York. She was trying to break into acting, and was having some success: a small role in the 1970 film The Owl and the Pussycat, starring Barbra Streisand. Mostly, though, Chambers was modeling and stripping to make ends meet. And one day, she responded to a casting call for “a major motion picture,” but didn’t know more than that about it.

“I came down with my little modeling portfolio,” she says.

Chambers filled out an application, then learned the major motion picture was pornographic. Chambers walked out. But Jim and Artie Mitchell, brothers and the producers of Behind the Green Door, saw her, stopped her and offered her the starring role.

Chambers insisted they test all the actors for sexually transmitted diseases, which was a revolutionary request at the time, and they pay her a percentage of the movie’s profit, which from a $60,000 budget turned out to be $25 million, although her cut applied only for the first few years.

The Mitchells agreed; and so did Chambers, thinking ahead to what she hoped would become a mainstream acting career.

“I thought there was going to be some sort of cross-over. Sex in films was becoming more accepted.”

Before this time, Chambers notes, sex in movies meant stag films, which she describes as “people with black socks and sunglasses. It was not sexy.”

The Mitchells’ 1972 release of Green Door, featuring Chambers in all kinds of sexually explicit situations, coincided with the Proctor & Gamble Company’s release of its new packaging for Ivory Snow (“99 and 44/100ths percent pure”) soap, featuring a wholesome looking Chambers holding a baby.

“Timing is essential for someone’s career,” Chambers says. “That’s what did it for me. It was the controversy of both those things happening at the same time.”

Chambers, who grew up in Westport, Conn., the youngest of three children, says her father, an advertising agency president, and her mother, a nurse, were “mortified” and didn’t speak to her for a couple of years. Her brother and sister were simply “embarrassed.” But Chambers’ late grandfather, who prized his April 1974 copy of Playboy with its 10-page spread on Chambers, was a strong supporter.

“He said to me, ‘I think that’s bitchin’.’ I thought that was really cute.”

It’s been about a decade since Chambers has performed in adults films, although she’s been involved in other ways. The industry, she says, has changed dramatically since she entered it in 1972. Back then, she says, there was more artistry, and more emphasis on storytelling and acting.

Curiously, in Green Door, Chambers doesn’t say a single word. But, she says, she’s still acting — with her eyes and her face.

“When you’re having a sex scene, you have to let people know what’s going on inside your head. In my head, I was trying to put myself in the position of this person. I didn’t say a word. That’s more difficult than talking.”

Chambers is a strong supporter of adult films.

“Certain types of it can be healthy for people. But it has gotten crazy and so far out there.” And, she says, the now multibillion-dollar industry “chews women up and spits them out. It’s a business I’d never want my daughter to be in.”

Chambers, who has been divorced three times, lives with her 16-year-old daughter in Los Angeles. This allows Chambers easy access to the mainstream movie industry, which she hasn’t found so accessible.

“I thought there would be a chance to cross over. Boy, was I wrong. There’s a stigma.”

This Chambers finds odd and hypocritical of the mainstream movie industry.

“It’s probably worse. There is the casting couch. When you do an X-rated film, you have sex after you get hired, not before.”

Last week, Chambers visited Rhode Island for two days of shooting for Solitaire, a feature-length film that’s expected to be released next spring. Now she’s back in California, looking for other parts in other projects, and planning another run at the White House.

In 2004, Charles Jay, the presidential candidate for the Personal Choice Party (official logo: a yellow smiley face) chose Chambers as his running mate for her name recognition, and her well-known personal history. She supports freedom of speech and sexual expression, gay marriage and gambling, among other issues.

“If what you’re doing isn’t hurting someone else, that’s fine,” she says.

The Jay-Chambers ticket made it onto one state ballot in 2004 — Utah — and received 946 votes. Now the pair is looking to 2008.

Chambers doesn’t expect to win.

“That would be lovely. But I can’t picture myself in the White House. Our country is not that progressive.”

Chambers, who still draws hundreds of admirers at signings at adult book stores around the country, is running on principle.

“I have a name. It obviously comes into play. People know who Marilyn Chambers is. There are a lot of people who need to be heard and a lot of people who can’t speak for themselves.”

Perhaps people know who Marilyn Chambers is. But do they know she’s a certified nurse assistant, which she calls “something I can fall back on”? Do they know she wants to “meet a guy I can grow old with”? Do they know she intends to keep acting as long as she can and wishes there were “gorgeous roles for older actors”? And do they know that she’s saddened by the pervasiveness of plastic surgery among American women, and among actresses in particular?

But Chambers understands why this is happening.

“People want something that’s easy on the eyes. I mean we’re not looking at National Geographic here.”


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