Monday, April 11, 2011

Milovan and Serena from Hammer Films' Vampire Circus

Milovan and Serena from Men Only Volume 36 number 5


We mentioned over on The Adventures of Triple P that we had just watched the Hammer Horror film Vampire Circus (1972)  for the first time.  Triple P recalled a pictorial from a mens' magazine on two of the minor performers in the film and after a short search we found it today.




The magazine in question was Men Only from May 1971, a few months after Paul Raymond had taken over the venerable publication and relaunched it to challenge Mayfair and Penthouse in the UK.  The magazine also contained a pictorial on former Penthouse Pet (May 1967) Julie Ege who would, herself, go on to star in a Hammer horror film, the curious Vampire/Kung Fu hybrid The Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires (1974).


Very 1971


Milovan and Serena were performers at the Raymond Revuebar in Soho that year.  "The act of this beautifully proportioned couple, a savage yet poetic parody of the man-woman love game climaxes the 1971 show."




The pictorial, photographed by former Penthouse photographic director Philip O Stearns, split its attention between pictures of Serena and (the vast majority) of the couple together.






Squeeze them Serena, squeeze them!


Stearns' pictures are very Penthouse like with Serena being shown fondling her breast in several shots.  And well worth fondling they are, as Serena has particulary nice nipples!




There's even a mirror shot, another Penthouse staple.




The moody lighting is very Penthouse  as well but then Stearns did a lot to set that magazine's house style.




What was less Penthouse is this shot of Serena with her fingers inside her see-through knickers.  It would be another two months before Penthouse had one of their girls delve into her knickers like this and, even then, it wouldn't be anything like as sensuous a shot as this one.




The rest of the pictures in the pictorial are of both Serena and Milovan.  We don't learn much about them in the accompanying text, however.




There is no clue as to their nationality, other than Milovan's Balkan name.  It does say that they met when they were both working at the Folies Bergere in Paris.




Milovan had another dance partner at this point but it wasn't long before they became a couple on and off the stage.  "The fact that we love each other obviously adds to the conviction of our erotic movements on stage." says  Milovan in the text.






The rest of the piece talks about their experiences in looking at other couples acts around the world including what they found to be a rather distasteful experience of an act in Denmark where the performers actually had sex on stage.




Not that it was the sex on stage that offended them but the fact that the performers were just going through the motions.  Serena seemed keen to actually try sex on stage as part of their act.  "It has never been done in this country but the time is rapidly approaching when it will.  Quite frankly, I think it could be a beautiful thing, as well as exciting, provided it is performed with taste and by people who are in love.  Neither Milovan nor I would have any objection to making love properly on stage, as long as the presentation was left to us so we could make sure it was done with artistry..."




Sadly, swinging London never got swinging enough that this particular ambition was fulfilled as I'm sure the two of them would have ben a great attraction.  In fact, things rather went the other way at the Raymond Revue Bar as in the mid-seventies male performers danced as naked as the women but later they decided to put the men in g-strings.




The article finishes by noting that the two had just signed a contract to appear in Hammer Film's The Vampire Circus.  In fact the sequence involving Milovan and Serena's dance was filmed in early September 1971 at Pinewood Studios and the film premiered  on 20th April 1972.




Poor Milovan gets kicked off the centrefold leaving Serena to pose gloriously solo.   Serena made two more films:  the big-screen version of the hit situation comedy, The Lovers (1973) starring Kate Beckinsale's father, Richard, where she played a stripper.  Three years later she appeared as another stripper in a French film starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, Le corps de mon Ennemi (1976).  Milovan has no other credits. Maybe Serena went back to the Folies Bergere?






Milovan and Serena had already appeared in a Club International feature on the Raymond Revuebar in 1971.  The description of their act sounds very much like the sequence in Vampire Circus so perhaps one of the producers had seen it.




At the time Hammer made Vampire Circus they were struggling financially so the film was made on a tight (even by Hammer's standards) budget.  Several of the sets, for example were left over from the earlier (and superior) Twins of Evil (1971) (which is on our to watch list for the next week or so).




The plot of Vampire Circus is too involved to go into but basically opens with a vampire count being staked by the villagers whose children he has been taking for snacks.  He curses them and tells his girlfriend (with whom he has just had a pretty racy for the time love scene) to fetch his cousin who will know how to bring him back to life.  The rest of the film is set fifteen years later (obviously his cousin was somewhat elusive) when the viallge is under quarantine because of fears of the plague.  Into town comes the world's smallest circus (the small budget is apparent in all the circus scenes) and we catch our first sight of Milovan and Serena riding one of the circus wagons.




When we next see Milovan and Serena they are part of the performance the circus put on for the villagers.  Serena is painted up like a tiger (although we haven't seen that many turquoise tigers) and Milovan is a turquoise tiger tamer.




They start their routine by Serena attacking Milovan in a display of bestial aggression that cahracterises the whole performance.  The villagers quite happily sit through this routine that involves a naked Serena without blinking. 




Well she is not quite naked she does wear a very small cache sex although in one shot even that seems to have disappeared.  This whole sequence was completely cut from the US version.




The British censor had his own concerns about this scene but they were concerned with the amount that Milovan uses his whip on Serena rather than the nudity.  The UK censors have always been more concerned with violence rather than sex and nudity.  Parts of the dance were cut for the UK, therefore.




Gradually, Milovan tames Serena and their writhing about becomes more passionate and less aggressive.  It is really quite a successful erotic dance display.




The amount of nudity that Hammer could get into its films increased from 1970 due to a reclassification of film certificates in the UK which pushed the highest rating from 16 years old and over to 18 years old and over.  They certainly took advantage of it in their later vampire films.




In the final sequence of their dance Milovan uses his whip to pull Serena towards him.






Interestingly, it is Serena who instigates the one kiss in the sequence and she looks more like she wants to eat Milovan than kiss him!




Climactically, in every sense, Milovan wraps his whip around Serena's neck and chokes her as her toned thighs vibrate orgasmically.  This scene also attracted the opprobrium of the censor as well but they left it in, nonetheless.






All in all a sexy sequence in an enjoyable but somewhat uneven film.  Part of the problem with Vampire Circus, and it has much to recommend it, was that Hammer had a strict six week filming schedule and the director Robert Young (who hadn't directed a Hammer film before) hadn't quite finished shooting at the end of that period.  There was no question of any extra filming, given their financial position, so the studio just pulled the plug and they had to edit together the film from what had been shot at that point.




But we do appreciate the Milovan and Serena sequence, which added something different to an interesting film.  If you live in the US or Canada you can get the film on a recently re-mastered blu ray with lots of extras.




In March 1974 Men Only ran one of its regular pictorials featuring the performers from The Festival of Erotica show at the Raymond Revuebar in London.




Milovan and Serena were featured once more, alongside all the other acts seen during the show.




This time they were described as originating from France but whether that means they were French or just based there was not made clear.  Many of the other acts seemed to be French.






It's not clear whether Milovan had to wear this g-string during his performances or whether it was just for the magazine's photographer.  Certainly by 1976 the male perfromers were as naked as the female, as the equivalent pictorial from 1976 shows.




Serena has some serious muscle in her thighs!  Splendid!






Milovan and Serena appeared in another couple of pictures in the 1975 Festival of Erotica review in Men Only in 1975.  They really do look like a most athletic couple!

7 comments:

  1. Just got through watching Vampire Circus. I loved it on TV as a child, but never saw the uncut version. WOW!!. Serena was awesome!!! Is she still alive today?

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  2. She is splendid, isn't she! I am just reading a biography of Paul Raymond and in it it is mentioned that she was British. I hope she is still around!

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  3. We are trying to locate Milovan and Serena for an interview of our upcoming issue #30 of LITTLE SHOPPE OF HORRORS Magazine, about their roles/dance routine in Hammer's "Vampire Circus." Anyone have a lead, contact us at klemdia@msn.com

    http://www.littleshoppeofhorrors.com

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  4. Thank you for this excerpt of these two dancers. I was an ex-ballet dancer who performed for the old MGM in Vegas. A short time later I performed with another former ballet dancer in a burlesque show. I wound up my career dancing at a mid level nightclub in Macau. A lot of people today, have no idea about dance in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Back in my day people could see the erotic adagios in many nightclubs, big shows, and even more high end, standard striptease establishments. There was a lot of available work for everybody. I had actually been searching for any pictures of myself and some of my partners when I happened across your photo sequence. For some, those days were the low end of dance but for some, it was the golden era. Nudity was obviously, the big thing then. Suggestive Choreography was also big. You either put up with it or you didn't. Today's dance shows are extremely tame in comparison to what we provided then.

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    Replies
    1. Genuine erotica seems to be on the wane these days as somepeople seem to think that as porn is so ubiquitous no-one wants it (such as the publishers of Playboy). How wrong they are!

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    2. Your absolutely right! I don't understand live erotic entertainment today. About all I see is girl/girl dance acts only without any quality dancing. Then there are guy/guy dance acts without any quality dancing. There isn't even an intimate theme such as we had back in the day. Today, a guy/girl dance number is actually seen as "obscene." It is about as far out and foreign to people as things can get. Are you kidding me! How in the hell is a man and a woman being intimate on stage viewed as "weird" or "obscene?" I have my theories on how things have progressed this way. It was so much fun and actually very rewarding working with girls on themed acts. Even on stage you could feel the audience going with the dance and story and getting excited about the intimacy that was coming. It was live acting and dance intertwined and as a dancer, you lived to be able to really sell that.

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