Daniel L. Symmes’ Psychedelic Experiments In Three Dimensional Porn

Filmofile
5 min readMar 22, 2023

Daniel Symmes made two 3D porn films. They were released as a double feature in 1977. The first film is a 28-minute “featurette” called Experiments in Love! It’s a psychedelic sex romp that seems to target the 20-something horny stoner crowd, which, to be fair, is a pretty large crowd. The film begins with two shapely, young female scientists who are working on several sensual projects. The first project involves an ill-defined hypothesis that has something to do with monitoring sexual activity in a sorority. Then there is another project having to do with 3D porn movies and orgasms.

The two young ladies are assisted by a supercomputer named Ichiban (“number one” in Japanese) who, for reasons unknown, has a very bad Japanese accent. He switches his Ls and Rs, speaks in a high nasal voice, and generally stumbles through racist stereotypes that leave you wincing.

The bulk of the film consists of watching the two women make their movie. One is “wearing” a lab coat, if you can call having a lab coat on your shoulders with nothing on and your boobs hanging out “wearing” something. See figure below:

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The lab assistant spends most of her time completely naked or in a see-through nightie. Between the two of them, the audience need never despair from a lack of boobs on screen.

The ladies mostly prance around the lab waving objects at the camera to dazzle the audience with 3D wizardry. My favorite is the low-angle shot of the half-naked assistant playing with a bright red yo-yo.

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Experiments in Love! Is technically an experimental film. Symmes toys around with some unconventional editing and some odd cinematography. It doesn’t add anything to the eroticism of the film, but Experiments in Love! is slightly more creative than your average piece of smut. I must note that I was only able to view the 2D version, who knows what it would’ve been like with the special glasses.

There is one other “actor” in the film, the hunky, shirtless gardener. He’s got curly blonde hair and big broad shoulders. You’ll never guess why he is in the film. He innocently stumbles upon the girls, who hustle him into the lab for some psychedelic fun, or an approximation of psychedelic fun, or just something kinda weird.

During their sexual encounter, a dildo appears on screen. It is pointed right at the viewer. At such a foreshortened angle, it looks like some kind of fleshy bug or mushroom. Then it starts moving itself toward the camera, while a pink neon vagina surrounds it. Then the flashing lights and the colored oils start smooshing around on screen and off we go.

If you were appropriately stoned while viewing this film, it may have done more to terrify you than arouse you. In a climactic orgasm scene, all the scientific machinery explodes in a hail of smoke and sparks as everybody moans in a gooey crescendo. Even Ichiban, the computer, squirts a jet of thick, white liquid out of its circuit boards.

Experiments in Love! is a soft-core amuse bouche to prep the audience for the full-length hardcore feature, Starlets. Starlets is not quite as experimental as Experiments in Love! but it still has a lot to offer. Instead of one sex scene after another, the film is punctuated by random montages that bounce from couple to couple in a disjointed array of different sexual encounters. If one were trying to use this film for self-gratification, it might have been a bit difficult to keep up with all the crosscutting.

Sadly, most of the psychedelics from the previous movie are gone, and with them most of the interest. There isn’t as much attention paid to the 3D aspect either, although there are a few moments that must have made the audience lurch backward in their seats for fear of being smothered by some fleshy body part.

There is one particular scene that needs to be noted. I have long bemoaned the porn industry’s obsession with brightly lit close-ups that feel more like gynecological exams than eroticism. Starlets goes ahead and features an actual vaginal exam, complete with tongue depressor. I suppose by virtue of their name, tongue depressors are probably not the first thing gynecologists reach for during an exam, but you get the point. I’m sure there is an internet forum for tongue depressor porn.

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To be fair, for a 70s porn film, Starlets could have been worse. Even with the bad dubbing, they did manage a modicum of sexiness, but for those who make it to the end, there is a spectacular bonus.

The second-to-last scene takes place on a movie set. We watch through the camera as a woman dressed in gold lame appears on screen. She is some kind of cosmic entity and she has come to teach us about transcendent, life-affirming sex.

Shots of planets and sparks mingle with sex scenes as the narrator draws us in. She pontificates on the glory of love until, suddenly, the montage is interrupted and she warns us about those closed-minded individuals who would condemn sex. Then the images change to hokey, Halloween-inspired images of evil. The best one is a plastic dildo emerging from a smoke cloud while being attacked by a rubber snake.

The two films, Experiments in Love! and Starlet, were some of the first 3D porn ever produced, and actually made a minor splash in the industry. Usually, I have a certain level of regret after I waste an hour and a half on a terrible porn movie, but overall, I quite enjoyed my foray into the third dimension.

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Filmofile

I have an MFA in painting and I’m an art professor but I managed to convince my school to let me teach film. My website http://www.filmofileshideout.com/