Jezebel video label – First incarnation 1994 to 1998/9
The early success of Redemption meant that within a year the company had the resources to expand. Equally, as well as being able to indulge my own tastes I also got more immersed in the culture surrounding the films that was releasing. Essentially as exploitation cinema grew during the sixties and early seventies alongside it society was undergoing a political and social upheaval on a massive scale as many aspects of the society were challenged. A big part of this social revolution revolved around sex, and this culture of permissiveness and new found sexual freedom was reflected and exploited in the cinema. Indeed many of the directors whose work was being represented on the Redemption label were also making sexploitation films that weren’t right for distribution on the Redemption label but which I did want to distribute. So I decided to created Jezebel, a sister label to Redemption, specifically for sexploitation films. The aim of the Jezebel label was to reflect sexploitation films up to the end of the seventies and early eighties when the softcore story-led sex film was essentially killed off by the advent of easily available pornography, changing tastes and the arrival of VHS. I chose to launch the label with the Swedish film ‘I am Curious, Yellow’ directed by Vilgot Sjöman as this film, essentially an antiwar drama, included real and explicit sex and is regarded by many as heralding in the sex film. Ideally, I would have like to have included Roger Vadim’s ‘And God Created Woman’ with Brigitte Bardot amongst these early titles but couldn’t get the rights. In the end Jezebel launched with three films; ‘I am Curious, Yellow,’ Pete Walker’s very underrated ‘Cool it Carol’, a tale of innocents arriving in the big city, and ‘Monique’, an obscure British film dealing sympathetically with lesbianism directed by John Brown who actually called me when it came out as he was amazed to hear that it was being released. For the Jezebel logo, I used a sort of fallen nun with a red halo which was modelled by Vida Garman. In the version on the front cover she was all pristine and perfect and on the back cover her habit was all dishevelled and her make-up was smudged as if she had been rather naughty… (see back cover logo above) I also decided that in contrast to the black and white imagery of the Redemption sleeves that I would use colour photography for Jezebel and generally go for a much lighter, happier overall. Again I was lucky and the label’s concept seemed to resonate well with the public amd media and, on the labels’ launch, The Times newspaper ran a huge two-page feature on the label as did Arena, a companion magazine to The Face. HMV and other retailers like Virgin and Tower Records also expanded their Redemption sections to accommodate the new Jezebel range and requested especially designed and manufactured header boards that featured not only the label names but also both logos. So, like Redemption, Jezebel’s covers worked.