Get beyond the obvious sensationalism of this documentary on Bodil Joensen and you will find a tragic and disturbing tale of the woman who was dubbed “Queen of Bestiality.”
Born in rural Denmark in 1944, Bodil Joensen was raised on a farm where she had an horrific and brutal childhood at the hands of her religious nut-job mother. Regularly thrashed and denied any emotional comfort, Bodil found solace with animals. The suffering of her childhood became worse when she was raped while waiting for a train home from school. Her mother blamed her daughter for the rape and punished her for her sins. This brutality only pushed Bodil to identify more closely with animals than with humans, leading to her first teenage sex act with the family dog.
At fifteen, Bodil ran away from home and began work on a neighboring farm. She took great interest in the insemination of pigs, which eventually led to Bodil starting her own successful porcine insemination business.
In 1969, Denmark became the first country in the world to legalize pornography. The change in the law led Bodil to approach pornographer Ole Ege, offering to make a film, originally a “documentary.” This led Ege to co-produce Bodil’s first film A Summer’s Day a documentary on her sex life with animals, directed by Shinkichi Tajiri.
A Summer’s Day was the first bestiality film ever made and (surprisingly) it won Grand Prix at the pornographic film festival Wet Dreams in Amsterdam 1970. Amongst those on the judging panel was feminist Germaine Greer. The award made Bodil an underground porn star, and she went on to make 40 bestiality movies.
These films had a limited market and it was not until the arrival of home videos in 1980’s that the porn industry made a fortune out of distributing and selling back catalogs of hardcore films.
With strict pornography laws in the UK, these films were smuggled into the country and distributed via sex shops and by mail order. In 1981, four of Bodil’s films were edited together along with a similar film called Animal Lover to create Animal Farm (also known as Barnyard Fun.) Being caught in possession of this movie in Britain was punishable by a prison sentence.
As the film made money for its producers and distributors, Bodil herself was in a painful and tragic decline. By now a severe alcoholic, Bodil was addicted to painkillers, and was supporting her daughter and maintaining the upkeep of her farm by working as a prostitute and performing in live sex shows with animals.
Though in a relationship with a man, Bodil still took emotional solace from her animals, especially her favorite dog Spot. In an 1980 interview, Bodil talked about her life and love for her dog:
Things went completely out of hand when Spot died. I started taking sedatives. But when someone referred to them as “loony-Smarties” I threw them in the fireplace. Instead I started drinking and eating excessively. I gained 30 kilos. Doesn’t look well on something that was going downhill anyway.
Spot was a real German shepherd that I got from an animals hospital ten years ago. She had been beaten. She never became anything but a little, weak dog. I’ve never been able to talk to other girls. I’ve always been with men. Spot was my female friend. She understood what I said. Was happy when I was happy. Was sad when I was. When we were alone in the house without light and heat we went to bed together. Shared a biscuit. And then we talked, until we fell asleep.
Spot is the only living creature that has loved me for being just me. She didn’t expect to get anything back. She soothed me when I was ill. I’ve experienced a lot with Lassie [one of her other dogs], and like him a lot. But it’ll never be the same as with Spot.
Lassie has been unfaithful to me. He’s an every-girls-dog. Spot was mine. Completely mine. That’s why I had such a shock when she died. And started drinking, and eating myself fat in no time. I live with my man for 10 years and my eight year old daughter. Still I feel like the loneliest human being now that Spot is dead.
In those days I earned easy money in a tough line of work. I fell and fell. “When will I reach the bottom?” I often ask myself these days.
In 1985, after being traumatized and exploited for most of her life, Bodil Joensen died of cirrhosis of the liver.
This documentary made for Channel 4’s The Dark Side of Porn season is certainly not suitable for everyone. It is a dark and disturbing film, but one of the worst parts relates not to the subject matter directly but to the seeming callous indifference of those producers and friends who used Bodil but let her life crash so tragically. Those who reflexively think porn is “healthy” should have a look at this film and see what the reality of a career in lower depths the sex industry can be like.
Although this documentary did run on broadcast television in the UK, it still contains images that some may find offensive or disturbing. You have been warned.