Every Monday, The CSPH takes a look at a book or film focusing on an aspect of sexuality. This week we are featuring Gillian Pachter’s 2007 documentary, Desperate Virgins.
Desperate Virgins is a one-hour film that follows three adult virgins—Catherine, Mike, and Alan—as they navigate the traditional rite of passage of losing their virginity. Filmed in the United Kingdom, this documentary focuses on how the three protagonists view and understand their virginity, and how they go about making the choices that are healthy for them in their desire to lose their virginity.
Catherine, who is 43-years-old, and Alan, a 49-year-old with a physical disability, both decide to hire sex workers for their first sexual experiences. Supported by friends and family, they make this decision after much contemplation and research, enabling them to choose escorts that best fit their needs: Catherine met with hers beforehand to discuss the situation, and Alan hired a woman whose specialty was middle-aged men with little to no sexual experience. Following these encounters, Catherine and Alan were satisfied and happy, and Alan conveyed greater self-confidence and less nervousness when approaching women.
Twenty-nine-year-old Mike decides on a different journey: while he desires losing his virginity, he would prefer that it occur with someone with whom he has an emotional connection. Having ruled out employing a sex worker, he consults with a self-identified seduction expert who encourages him to masturbate and attempts to coach Mike in comfortably approaching women and flirting with them. Although this was not successful, Mike seems hopeful for the future, and decides to seek therapy and counseling to better understand and work through his anxiety around women.
All in all, this was an interesting documentary that features honest, well-spoken protagonists who are able to guide the viewer into understanding their beliefs, motivations, and desires. The limited narrator commentary allows Catherine, Alan, and Mike to be in charge of their own stories, which I appreciated. Furthermore, while much can be said about the myth of virginity, I feel this discussion does not apply to the film or its protagonists, whose determination to lose their virginity is as much about intimacy and human connection as it is about sex and the traditional significance of one’s “first time.”
Note: This documentary censors exposed genitalia and has some parts that have been edited out to make the documentary safe for airing on UK television. The CSPH was unable to find an uncensored copy of the film to review.