Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools

Commentaries on this Media!

Her Name was Lisa (1979)

by Yessica Garcia Hernandez

A scene towards the end of Her Name Was Lisa comes immediately after the two actresses, Lisa and Carmen, meet each other, shows Lisa enacting revenge on Mr. Sweet, who had two men rape Lisa in a previous scene. The opening shot shows Lisa’s hand dropping a tablet into a drink and handing it to Mr. Sweet, then standing in front of him in a seductive fashion. After Lisa preforms a strip tease for Mr. Sweet, the camera switches to the doorway on the other side of the room where Carmen, played by Vanessa Del Rio, stands wearing black lingerie and gown holding a whip. The background music becomes an exotic jungle drumbeat as Carmen walks into the room, and then begins to oral sex with Lisa as Mr. Sweet watches. Mr. Sweet mentions that he “must’ve had too much to drink,” indicating that the drug Lisa put in his drink is beginning to kick in, then proceeds to stumble his way towards the two women. He begins to have sex with Carmen, and pays no attention to Lisa, however this allows Lisa to make her way out of the shot. The camera then shows Lisa in the corner of the room, putting on a strap-on-dildo, then applying a generous amount of lube. Mr. Sweet doesn’t notice any of this occurring, and right after he ejaculates, Carmen holds him down as Lisa anally penetrates him with the dildo. The scene then fades out as Mr. Sweet begs her to stop.
The significance of this scene does not come with Lisa getting on her revenge of Mr. Sweet, but of Carmen’s assistance of doing so. Throughout the entire film, the director Roger Watkins makes it clear that Vanessa Del Rio’s character is useful for sex, and nothing else. Del Rio’s only role in the movie is to play the stereotypical hypersexual Latina, and several aspects of this scene reinforce this ideal. This can first be noticed in the costume differences between Lisa, who is played by white actress Samantha Fox, and Carmen. Lisa is dressed in a somewhat modest blue kimono, while Carmen’s first appearance in the scene is of her holding a whip, wearing sexy black lingerie and gown with blood red lipstick. At the time the camera switches to Carmen, the background music switches from a smooth jazz to a jungle drumbeat, complete with screams and moans, to exaggerate Carmen’s exotic nature. The shots of Mr. Sweet and Carmen having sex also strongly indicates Carmen’s imposed hypersexuality. First, Mr. Sweet does not even acknowledge Lisa, only desiring to have sex with Carmen, then once they begin having sex, Carmen constantly uses the whip to choke Mr. Sweet, and talks dirty to him. The sex scene as a whole show’s both the director’s fetish towards interracial sex, and also that he wants Vanessa Del Rio to fulfill the stereotype of the feisty Latina lover. Although this scene, as well as the entire film, is shot to cater to the desires of white male spectators, Vanessa Del Rio takes advantage of this in her own way. Del Rio has multiple interviews in which she discusses how she embraces the title of being a “slut” and although some may consider her roles as demeaning, she views them as empowering. Owning this stereotype contributes to her agency, because she enjoys the roles she plays, and by doing this she promotes an attitude of not being ashamed of being considered a sex symbol. She is seen by many in the field of sex workers as a positive influence, and is considered a significant figure by pornographic scholars.

Vanessa del Rio and Samantha Fox star in revenge sex scene

After Mr. Sweet has two men rape Lisa, she recruits the help of the ethnic beauty Carmen to enact her revenge. Carmen distracts Mr. Sweet with her body as Lisa anally penetrates him with a strap-on-dildo

from Her Name was Lisa (1979)
Creator: Roger Watkins
Posted by Yessica Garcia Hernandez