Bold stars of the ’80s recall pene days on ‘Sharon’
At the height of their popularity, Vida Verde, Joy Sumilang and Cristina Crisol were among the most sought-after bold stars of the ’80s. One of them, Joy Sumilang, pioneered the so-called “pene films” that took softcore porn to the level of hardcore.
In Thursday’s episode of TV5’s “Sharon, Kasama Mo Kapatid” devoted to “Boldstars of the 80s,” these three former sex symbols recalled their glory days to host Sharon Cuneta. They also revealed what drove them to the skin-flick trade and shared how they are living their lives these days.
Now 52 and a recent breast cancer survivor, Vida Verde, the star of such films as “Nene” and “Desperada,” recalled that she was already 25 and a mother of two children from two failed relationships when she was discovered by director J. Erastheo “Baby” Navoa.
“Bata pa ‘ko, pangarap ko nang maging artista pero di ko naisip na sa bold ako malilinya,” she confessed. “Tapos may pinuntahan akong lugar na nandun din pala si direk Baby at yung producer ng ‘Nene’. Nang nakita ako ni Direk Baby at sabi nya ‘may biglang kumislap na bituin sa kin,’ tapos nun inalok niya akong maging artista pero bold.”
Vida agreed on the condition that she got to play lead on her first film.
“So nagpirmahan agad kami ng kontrata nang araw ding ‘yun. Pero dahil mukha akong nene noon kahit 25 na ‘ko, sabi ni Direk Baby, pag may nagtanong, ‘Sabihin mo wala kang anak at 17 years old ka lang.’ Kinilabutan ako,” she admitted.
When it came to doing bold scenes, however, some of Vida’s directors wanted actual penetration and actually instructed her leading men to do just that.
“Sabi nung direktor sa leading man, ‘Sige, ituloy mo.’ Napaisip tuloy ako, oops, ano yung itutuloy?,” she wondered but had an idea what her director wanted.
So, Vida claimed, she covered her private parts with tissue paper and masking tape, and even trimmed her pubic hair so it wouldn’t hurt when she removed the tape.
“Nung lovemaking scene na, nagreklamo si Direk kasi kita pa rin daw yung masking tape so nagpabili ako ng pentel pen tapos kinulayan ko ng itim yung masking tape at kinulot-kulot ko pa. Umiiling na lang ‘yung director nung tinanong ko kung kita pa ba?” she narrated as Sharon could not stop laughing in the background.
Vida said she could not be forced into doing penetration scenes, forcing directors to hire body doubles.
In the case of Joy Sumilang, now 48, she admitted that she tried to do a similar ploy but was not always as successful as Vida. A rebellious teenager who left home at the age of 15, Joy later worked as a former sexy model slash dancer at such popular girlie bars like Cafferino’s and Thunderdome.
When she entered show business to do bold roles, little did she know that she would eventually be considered as the pioneer of pene films.
Pene, a term that is short for penetration, actually refers to bold films that had actors do real sex onscreen, similar to what is done in triple X films.
While censorship was never abolished in the country, there are periods when people tasked to review films and order cuts became lenient with these kinds of movies, particularly during the bomba craze in the pre-Martial Law years in the early 70s and during the last few years of the Marcos regime in the mid-80s.
Joy, who also once claimed to be the daughter of former matinee idol Romeo Vazquez, said she was discovered by reporter and eventual manager Roland Lerum in a gay bar in Quezon City.
“Yung una kong pelikula, kontrabida ako kay Vida Verde sa ‘Katawang Putik’,” she remembered. “Nung panahong iyun, pag sinabing sexy, sige lang ako, tanggal tanggal lang naman ng damit.”
In her groundbreaking film, “Sabik, Kasalanan Ba?” still sought after in pirated DVD form by her older fans, she also tried to cover her private parts with masking tape.
“Kaso natatanggal yung masking tape kaya nag-request na lang ako ng double sa kin. Pahirapan na usapan namin yun ng director ko,” she said.
Eventually, Joy admitted to Sharon that there were instances when she eventually got talked into doing those scenes.
“Nagsisisi din ako, nahihiya nga ako sa mga anak ko ngayon. Noon kasi, hindi ko naisip yan, malay ko ba na mag-aanak ako o mag-aasawa pa, karebeldehan ko rin siguro, tigas ng ulo, hindi nagtatanong kaya ganun,” she said.
In those days, both Joy and Vida said it was not only the directors who took advantage of sexy actresses like her. Whenever “makakalusot,” even the male co-stars would also try to penetrate them as much as they could.
Although they did not name which male bold stars took advantage of them, among the most popular male bold stars of the ’80s as remembered by fans of the bold and pene genre were Mark Joseph, Bobby Benitez, Gino Antonio, Tony Martinez and the late George Estregan, who appeared with Joy in “Sabik”.
When bold films started to lose their box office appeal, Joy left the business for good and worked in Singapore, Dubai and the UK, taking jobs as varied as cleaner, caregiver, nanny and food server in order to support her two growing children.
For her part, Cristina Crisol said she was only in show business for roughly two years befor she fell in love and turned her back on what was then a very good career for her.
The daughter of a retired US Navy serviceman and a half Puerto-Rican mother, Cristina, the star of such films as “Donselya” and “Di Maghilom Ang Sugat”, was once regarded as one of the most beautiful sexy actresses of her time.
Raised in Olongapo, Cristina said she always wanted to be a movie star.
“Isang araw, sinabi ng isa kong kaibigan sa Olongapo na may talent scout na naghahanap ng ramp model na puwede ring mag-artista, nag-apply na agad ako. Nung nakita ako nung talent scout, si Mommy Babette Corcuerra, diniretso na niya ako at sinabing bold star ang hanap niya at hindi matinee idol,” she noted.
When her mother learned what her daughter was getting into, Cristina could not forget what her old lady said.
“Sabi ng nanay ko, ‘Boldstar? Ano yang pinasok mo? Kaya mo bang pangatawanan yan? Kung kaya mong pasukin yan, kailangan alam mo ring labasa yan,” she recalled.
Cristina said she was fortunate that she never got to do full-on pene films even if that was the demand of the times. The most daring thing she did on screen was cutting off the strings of her tanga to make it look like she was not wearing anything.
She said she also heeded the advice of director Eddie Garcia who she worked with in the film, “Manoy, Di Ka Na Makaka-Isa.”
“Sabi ni Direk Eddie sa kin, alam mo, Cristina, nauuso ang mga linyang ganito. Pag pinilit ka nila, sabihin mo sa producer, gagawin mo lang ang pinapagawa nila kung gagawin din ng ibang kasama mo,” she relayed.
While Joy Sumilang started as a dancer in Thunderdome before becoming a sexy actress, Cristina did the opposite and became a sexy dancer after leaving acting. As the club’s star attraction, she at one point earned at least P10,000 a night in basic pay and tips.
LIFE AFTER PENE
These days, Cristina has four children from different relationships and is now living a simple life in Masantol, Pampanga with her husband and two kids. She said the only thing she regretted about her life as a sexy star was spending too much and not finishing her studies.
The same regrets were shared by both Joy and Vida, who added that she trusted too many people who came to her for help at the time.
Be that as it may, all three are now happy where they are and consider themselves more fortunate compared to other contemporaries like Cherrie Madrigal, Brandy Ayala and Coca Nicolas, who are said to be living under pitiful conditions after the glitter of their stars have faded for good.
For her part, Sharon Cuneta assured Vida, Joy and Cristina that they have her respect. “Kasi ang hirap ng mga pinagdaanan n’yo,” she told them.
“Talagang kakaiba po ang tapang na pinagdaanan nila bilang artista. Lalo pang pinatapang at pinagtibay sila ng mga pagsubok nila sa buhay,” an admiring Megastar told her audience in conclusion.