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The Key to Successful Sexual Relations

date 1955
by B.D. Danchik, Modern Film Distributors
medium Hygiene Books

Exhibitors of exploitation films were faced with an interesting dilemma. They wished to use the controversial subjects such as sex and drugs to attract movie patrons to their low budget films, but they also needed to market them in such a way as to avoid stigmatization in their communities as smut peddlers. One solution to this problem was to promote their films as serious educational necessities. To achieve this, an exhibitor might double bill an exploitation film with a prerecorded educational lecture from a purported sex expert. Such an expert would invariably be introduced as having credentials that legitimized his (or, occasionally, her) expert voice. The credentials and biography of these experts, however, often were phony. Sometimes, an actor playing a health professional would even interrupt a screening in order to provide an "in-person" lecture.

This practice, which became especially widespread at drive-ins and movie houses in the late 1940s and 1950s, often had another, commercial purpose. In true sideshow fashion, these lectures promoted books and pamphlets that also were sold at the screening venue. Digest of Hygiene: A Man’s Life, Digest of Hygiene: A Woman’s Life, and The Key to Successful Relations are examples of three such books produced by Essanjay Films. Digest of Hygiene: A Man’s Life and Digest of Hygiene: A Woman’s Life were booklets that were produced in the 1950s for passing out at their movie screenings. The pink-covered Key to Successful Sexual Relations, which is credited to "B.D. Danchik, B.S., M.A., in Social Administration," could be obtained for $2.00 either at the theater or via mail order by sending in the flyer form that was distributed at movie theaters and drive-ins (note that, according to the book’s marketing flyer, it actually has a $10.00 value!). Although the marketing tends toward the grandiose, with the suggestion that "‘THE KEY TO SUCCESSFUL SEXUAL RELATIONS’ Is The Post-Graduate Course In This Field," the contents of the book itself seem surprisingly progressive for its time. It includes directions for how to successfully bring a woman to orgasm through clitoral stimulation, and it also provides useful diagrams of women’s reproductive anatomy. Although these books actually do seem to have some educational value, many other promotional items used by entrepreneurially minded showmen were of more dubious worth. Note that these books all bear the stamp of Modern Film Distributors. By the end of the 1940s, various competing exploitation distributors joined together to form Modern Film Distributors in order to consolidate their resources and more efficiently control distribution.