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Brigitte Maier was born in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, on 7 August 1952, but moved to the USA with her parents when she was four years old to settle in Chicago. She grew up in a conservative middle-class family and eventually attended a Catholic all-girls school. Her first foray into the world of cinema was at age 15 when she appeared in the drama 'A Margem', in 1967. Determined to escape what she saw as a mundane middle-class lifestyle, Brigitte relocated to Los Angeles when she was 17. "I got off the plane and wow, man; I was in love with the place. It's not cold like Chicago."

Once in Los Angeles Brigitte worked in a number of dead-end jobs in order to support herself. "I worked here and there, and finally got a job as a topless dancer, and then I made some little films." From 1971-1972 she appeared in a number of cheap 8mm porno loops, before starring in her first full length American adult movie 'Tongue' (1973). Brigitte had by now grown into an extremely attractive 20 year-old woman, whose deceptively innocent appearance reminded one of the girl-next-door. Nevertheless, scenes in 'Tongue', which showed her obviously enjoying facial come-shots, soon made the industry notice her. Within a couple of months she had made her second porn film entitled 'Fulfilment' (1973).

In September 1973 she was offered $1,500 to star in a Swedish porn film named 'Porr I Skandalskolan [aka School for Scandal]' (1974). At the time Brigitte was beginning to question her lifestyle in the industry: "There were times in LA when I stayed up nights, crying and screaming that I’d never be in another porno film. I guess I became oversensitive. My sexual feeling is something special to me, and I don’t want to have it fucked around with." She decided to move to Stockholm and give the porn industry another chance, and admits that "something magic happened... It was really great. The setting was an old castle and we got to live there for six weeks."

She remained in Stockholm after finishing the movie and one night found herself in a club with fellow American porn actress Levelle Ruby. "That's where I met Lasse Braun… He's one of the top pornographers in Europe. His real name is Alberto Ferro. He's an Italian. I liked him the moment I saw him. He's got black hair, black eyes, a long black beard, he dresses all in black. He looks diabolic." "Levelle called him over and we were having a real happy conversation when he said, ‘I am the King of Porno’! And Levelle said she [Brigitte] is the Queen of Porno! I’m not sure if that was true, but I was okay with it at the time... There were no rooms available at all in Stockholm, so he said to us, you can come up to my room and share it, and we were used to that, so we said okay, fine. I thought he was interested in Levelle because they were talking and everything, but Levelle stayed in one bed, and he and I stayed in the other bed!"

According to Levelle: "It was kind of cute because he said ‘one of you will have to sleep with me!’ And I said ‘well sorry, but I can’t.’ so of course my friend that was with me, she had to sleep with him." Brigitte would later admit "That was my big break, meeting Lasse."

Alberto Ferro had spent the previous few years making high quality European porn loops. He viewed himself as an anarchist revolutionary, at war with society's moral values. "Show things the way they are! You have to shock them! You’ve got to hit them in the face so they say ‘Oh, why are you doing this? This is bad!’ So you get a big reaction. And the bigger the reaction, the better for the movie and the sexual revolution, which is the aim of my work." In Brigitte he found a kindred spirit.

Brigitte: "I'd like it if I could live only in my sexual dream world. Pornography lets me do that. I'm working in an open, almost artistic way, and pornography helps liberate people, helps them understand their hidden desires. So when they put it down, man, I say to hell with their bourgeoisie, middle-class values!"

Levelle: "Because of birth-control, for the first time one had this freedom to have sex without the consequences of pregnancy… Without this freedom to express your sexual appetite I don’t think pornography could have advanced to the stage it did."

Brigitte: "Having sex was just part of the social scene. I would go to Amsterdam with my girlfriends and we would party with friends at their apartments and at the end of the night we would have sex with each other. I’m not a lesbian, but it was part of the whole thing."

Alberto was hoping to produce and direct his first full-length film and Brigitte appeared ideal for the main part. Within a few months later she moved in with him as a permanent houseguest in Stockholm. He was attracted to Brigitte not only because of her beauty, but also because of her apparent naïve charm and innocent looks. Together they moved to his company's headquarters in Breda, The Netherlands. His new project was to be called 'Penetration', and was to be shown at the 1974 Cannes Film Festival.

At the time the distribution of sexually explicit 35mm movies in Europe was still limited to a few small theatres in Denmark with no minimum box office guarantee. Germany was still under strict prohibition of any pornography. The US market was complicated because foreign porn films couldn't go through US customs and no American theatre would showcase a smuggled movie. In the rest of the world there was no adult film distribution whatsoever. As a result Alberto knew that there was little or no chance to recoup the production costs. In order to save money, he decided to shoot 30 minutes as a documentary, add five of his most humoristic existing loops, and a 4-minute cartoon that he produced in the spring of 1973.

Alberto began shooting the documentary section in early November 1973. The idea was to shoot a loop with Brigitte Maier and have a cameraman shoot Alberto at work on the set. He designed an abstract and unconventional set upon which he acted out his directorial role with deliberate pompous style as he attempted to get Brigitte and two male stars to complete the act he had in mind. Alberto wanted to present something that would, at the time, appear shocking. Brigitte was to participate not only in a double penetration scene, but also a double anal penetration scene. Alberto knew that seeing the beautiful and innocent looking Brigitte take part in such an act, before having both men come all over her face, would cause shock waves throughout Cannes. Brigitte later recalled: "I think it was just a stupid idea and Alberto knew it wasn’t possible, and he wanted to scare me! I think it was part of his comedic mind. Because the premise was really frightening!"

According to Levelle, Alberto and Brigitte had a complicated relationship. "I don’t perceive him as being a violent person. Anything he does has to do with giving people what they want… He has a need to dominate. It’s an inherent male need. Most men want to dominate women. And some women want to be dominated by men... Brigitte was the kind of person that had a need to give her life over to someone else. And Alberto, he didn’t have a desire to run your life, his desire was to have you serve his life."

Brigitte: "He helped me discover some of my masochistic tendencies. I really freaked out – I had never been aware of them before… I’m turned on by people who present some kind of authority to me, sexually speaking. I wouldn’t dream of being anything but a masochist now."

'Penetration' was finished in March 1974, and in May the same year, became the first porn film ever to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival. It was a resounding success. During the era of 'Porn Chic', the film was viewed as Europe's answer to the US movie 'Behind the Green Door'. As a result of the exposure gained from the film Brigitte Maier posed for Penthouse in July 1974, being heralded as "the next reigning queen of the pornographic scene".

The film was picked up for the
US market by a Greek-American filmmaker present at the festival. He realised that the title 'Penetration' was too strong for the American audiences, so he changed it to 'French Blue'. With Alberto's blessing the film premiered in New York in December 1974, and, according to Variety magazine, immediately became one of the top 50 grossing movies of the year. In his review of the film for Variety, film critic Sege claimed: "As a general rule, humour and hardcore don't keep company. The funnier the explicity, the less erotic the film. But this Dutch import manages to combine generous amounts of both elements. Seems a good bet for hardcore situations. Essentially, the Lasse Braun production takes a humorous behind-the-scenes look at the making of a hardcore loop. A pompous, blustery director (portrayed by Braun himself) directs two guys and an unusually attractive femme (Brigitte Maier) in a futile effort to mount an anal sex act involving all participants."

Alberto and Brigitte both moved to the States in order to promote the film, and were immediately sued by Penthouse magazine. The movie's publicity campaign had quite legitimately advertised Brigitte as 'Penthouse Cover Girl, Star of French Blue'. In the ensuing lawsuit Penthouse demanded the immediate confiscation of all film prints and huge damages, but lost the case.

While in the States Brigitte returned to her native Chicago in order to visit family and friends. Unfortunately her reputation as a major porn star in both America and Europe had proceeded her. By her admission the visit "didn't go very well… It's like, first my high school friends would be shocked at what I was doing. And then they'd be afraid I was going to steal away their old man. They thought it was perverted, but they were the ones who were perverted. Most of them are married to each other now and have kids and conform to all the rules, even though they're still young. They're just like their parents." The hardest part of the visit, however, was confronting her parents. The European success of 'French Blue' had already led to her being on the cover of Penthouse as well as a photo layout inside. "And that's when it really hit the fan, man… I said in the interview how I was into porno and all that, you know, and my daddy bought that issue of Penthouse, and I guess it really blew his mind when he saw who was on the cover."

Nevertheless, Brigitte Maier, like many other adult stars of her time, such as Brigitte Lahaie and Annette Haven, truly believed that porn was a revolutionary tool that could be used to confront the moral contradictions of society. "Middle class people just don't understand. Myself, I'm just a simple girl, not some kind of bizarre freak. I just like to feel good, you know? And if people would let their fantasies hang out and not repress them, they wouldn't be so bottled up and violent. Lasse Braun's got his head together. He thinks women should be themselves and make love freely and not be afraid of their desires. And he thinks sexuality should be more divorced from human relationships. If you can enjoy the pure physical relationship of just two people together - or three people, you know - and not get all involved emotionally, it's a lot better… You know something? A lot more people would be as weird as I am, if they really thought about it."

She also viewed porn as an emotional form of art. "I need the same basic resources to do erotic art that any other artist, sculpture or musician uses… Let the sociologists, psychologists and journalists explain it. I just live my art.... I know that making love before the camera turns some people on, but not me. I’m not an exhibitionist… I really get into the person I’m with. The fact that the camera is there picking up the energy between us is an extra turn-on. But if I’m not with a person that excites me, it doesn’t matter weather the camera is there or not. If I fuck that person it’s just sex, and something is lost."

Brigitte had been paid $500 for her role in 'French Blue'. Yet by 1975-1976, the Dutch press acknowledged that it had become the top grossing film of any kind ever made by a production company in The Netherlands. Brigitte did not appear concerned. "None of the big porno stars have made money… Harry Reems never got a penny of percentage for all those movies he made. But I may get a percentage next time, if I work right. This is just the beginning."

Brigitte Maier proceeded to appear in a number of European B movies, until Alberto Ferro contacted her again asking her to star in his upcoming film 'Sensations'. In order to finance the film Alberto and Brigitte flew to Cleveland to meet the American financier Reuben Sturman. Sturman and Alberto had worked together in the past, with the American using many of the latter's loops in his peep show business. According to English pornographer Tuppy Owens in her 1992 book 'The Making of Sensations', Sturman "showed little enthusiasm. He sat, expressionless, listening to Alberto enthusing and gesticulating over his film story. Franklin's strength was his silence; Alberto's was his gusts of vivid imagery, coloured even brighter by his bizarre English and his forceful hand gestures. Meanwhile, Brigitte took off her clothes and sidled across the floor to Sturman who pressed a button, locking the door. Reuben puffed on his pipe and rocked in his chair as his dick grew in Brigitte's mouth. While Alberto talked on, the little Jew gradually lost his composure… Maier sucked him in slow steady gulps. As the veins in his forehead swelled, he shot his spunk down the porn star's mouth. 'I'm prepared to give you $50,000' Reuben told Alberto shortly afterwards."

Alberto Ferro eventually managed to accumulate $250,000 and shot 'Sensations' during the first two months of 1975. It begins in England with an innocent Brigitte Maier boarding a ferry at Dover in order to visit her boyfriend in Amsterdam. On the ferry she meets a number of tourists from the Continent and agrees to join up with them later on. The film then follows a shocked Brigitte through The Netherlands and Belgium as she is exposed to various sexual perversions. She eventually meets her boyfriend, only to find that his occupation as photographer involves him fucking his models. Distraught, she finally joins up with her friends from the ferry again as they visit the art gallery of 66 year-old Jean Villroy and his wife (played by Tuppy Owens). Here all Brigitte's morals and inhibitions are waylaid as she finds herself willingly sucked into a world of exhibitionism, bisexuality, group sex, golden showers and cocaine. The film ends with her surrounded by a dozen men and women, all making love to her, and eventually sucking her, literally, into an abyss of sexual gratification.

The final scene of the orgy took place on Alberto's personal oversized bed, and was shot in Breda on the last working day. The ending wasn't scripted as it came out. Brigitte was to have a sudden surge of shame after having been fucked by everyone, before running nude out of the bedroom and disappearing into the night. But time was short. The whole sex scene, with the involvement of so many characters prior to Brigitte's flight, took more time than planned. According to Alberto's principles, everyone had to have at least one real orgasm in every sex scene. So, when he realized that he was going overtime, he improvised the whole eating scene and the circling of the seven nude characters around Brigitte. The wonderful ending was basically the result of a miscalculation and necessity.

Tuppy Owens, writer and founder of The Sex Maniacs Ball, also appeared in the film. "I was in sensations because I thought ‘I’m33 years old now, and if I don’t do it, it will probably be too late’. And I was trying to do everything I could… It was a laugh! I have adored being in that film and I like the idea that quite a few people have probably had a wank over me!"

According to Brigitte: "It was an attempt to put a film that came from our field into the mainstream. It was one little attempt to elevate it from peepshow status to something that could be considered a part of the culture."

'Sensations' was a major success both at the Cannes Film Festival and in theatres across the continent, remaining one of the best adult films ever made in Europe. Brigitte Maier's successful portrayal of an innocent American girl led astray, along with the fact that most of the cast had never appeared in porn before, only added to its appeal. In Germany it eventually grossed more than 'Emmanuelle' and 'Deep Throat' combined.

Due to restrictive US import laws Alberto had been forced to bring the movie into the country through Canada, disguising it as a medical film concerning the study of human neurological reactions. By this point Brigitte had become Alberto's girlfriend and the two of them moved to New York in order to await the film's arrival. The operation was a success, and on 2 November 1975 a full-page advertisement appeared in the Sunday edition of The New York Times, advertising the movie's premiere on the 4th. In the States the movie received rave reviews, but perhaps because of its extreme depictions of sex and drugs, its European success was not emulated to the same degree.

The January 1976 edition of Playboy wrote: "Imported from the Netherlands, with American-raised Brigitte Maier as its star, Sensations is the best bet of all for outright voyeurs whose criteria for a sex movie begins with beautiful girls and potent males and ends with an orgy. Writer, producer-director AGF the man behind Lasse Braun films, famous for short, bawdy stag reels and one so-so feature called French Blue has finally got it together in a plot less but sensually pulsating sextravaganza about a day in the life of a Minnesota girl visiting swinging Amsterdam. Brigitte, irresistible and photogenic right up to the space between her front teeth, looks more like the available girl next door than a reigning porn queen, though her air of interesting innocence merely hypes the appeal of a half-dozen other Sensations starlets with fine figures, sultry voices and vices to match. The musical score alone offers a simultaneous tune-up and turn-on."

Screw wrote: "Sensations is superb! This film is so hot that I recommend that any theatre preparing to exhibit it, wallpaper their place with asbestos to prevent it from burning to the ground."

The New York magazine WINS declared: "Sensations is what porno (GOOD PORNO) should be all about."

Jim Holliday said: "Sensations demonstrates that there is nothing better than a great foreign film. I would rate this French film as the hottest foreign entry ever made, and even on a professional level, Sensations belongs in the all-time top sumptuous that sex is an art. Braun's penchants give his pictures a singular tilt toward the kinky side of town. His characters are as interested in the psychological aspects and the interpersonal dynamics of sex as the mechanics and sensations of it. The individual's need to control is in conflict with his wish to let go, and out of this struggle comes much of the tension and drama in a Braun movie. Europeans seem to have a culturally derived attitude toward screen sex that gives their pictures a distinctive quality different from those made in America."

Bill Margold also rated it as one of the best porn films ever, claiming: "Sensations goes where Emmanuelle could only dream about."

The film's success Brigitte moved back to the USA, where she appeared in Playboy in December 1975. She also starred in a string of European and American porn films, such as 'Puss O Rama' (1975), 'The Second Coming Of Eva' (1975), 'True Way' (1975), 'Love Camp' (1976) and 'Kinkorama' (1977), as well as a number of 8mm loops with stars such as John Holmes. None of them managed to repeat the success of 'Sensations', or even 'French Blue'. Brigitte eventually became disenchanted with the US porn industry. "Americans can’t seem to separate an enthusiastic porno actress from a prostitute. I’m not a hooker – I just have fun. But in America when I’m asked to do a porno film, I’m essentially being asked to turn a trick. In Europe directors care about me and my emotions and feelings. Here it seems like sex is still treated as a taboo, as something unnatural. Fucking in American porno films seems staged and the camera just shows close-ups of a cock and a cunt. In America you go to a set and they want you to screw some guy you’ve never even seen before. It’s too artificial. The Europeans try to capture feelings and emotions, so they show the faces and the whole body. Maybe it’s because they take enough care to find people who are naturally attracted to each other. I did a shooting in London with a guy from Mexico City. He had so much style… aristocracy… dressed beautifully… long fingernails… got along great with everyone. You sometimes think such a nice guy will not be able to make it happen, but we got into a trip that was natural for us. I had met him a few weeks earlier and wanted him right away, but we didn’t have a chance until the day of the shooting. He was very gentle and slow, and I went really wild – I didn’t have to act at all."

Brigitte eventually retired in 1978. She later married, had children, and moved with her husband to Rome, where she became involved in the Italian women's movement. She has since given out mixed feelings about her involvement with Alberto Ferro, a man with whom she has forever been linked. Twenty years after her retirement she claimed in an interview: "I wasn’t very good. I wasn’t like the porno actresses today that just love it so much! I wasn’t like that. I didn’t want it. I did it, but I was just a young girl and I was mixed up a little, because I agreed with all of Alberto’s philosophy but I shouldn’t have used myself for it. I allowed myself to be. But I was really in love with him at that time."

Alberto: "She was good. She was sometimes disappointing because I am very demanding, and sometimes she was excellent! So in general she was a good person and we had a good relationship for a while. And like every relationship, because I don’t believe in eternal relationships, it ended."

Levelle: "She was this person that felt she should be the greatest porno star in the world, and interestingly enough... she meets the man that could help her be that. So it was a marriage made in heaven!"