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Sex in Silverlake

Afternoon_Delight_1Leave it to feminist power-Jew Jill Soloway (Six Feet Under, United States of Tara) to take a sex worker and have her inadvertently revive a Silverlake couple’s Jewish practice.  This is ultimately what happens in Soloway’s first feature film, “Afternoon Delight” which just came out in theaters.  The film is about a sexless Los Angeles marriage and the idea to revamp the couple’s bedroom by heading to a strip club.  Of course, the wife woos the lap-dancing stripper, McKenna, into moving in as “the nanny” and proceeds to learn from her about the world of sex work, not to mention the world of receiving actual tender care. 

What proceeds is a visible split between the life of Jewish community and Jewish stay-at-home moms, and the world of sex work, of McKenna’s job as a prostitute and as stripper which affords the lead, Rachel, an exit from her stifled life.  The Jewish community center and Jewish school are the meeting points for Rachel and the other super-moms, and their fundamental role is the role of giver, of caretaker, of being mothers and community builders.  Sex and sexuality, the way Soloway draws it in this film, is notably separate from this world of Jewish female as nurturer. 

Rachel’s rat pack of four moms are repeatedly seen entering and exiting their children’s school in unison, a la “Mean Girls,” a la “Heathers,” a la every high school film that ever rocked.  These are the girls grown up.  These are the housewives who once wanted to be big writers.  These are the modern day “stepfords,” and the only remedy in this film to the dissatisfied life of Rachel is exiting to a world where sex means money and ownership, where sex means power.