Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Sylvia Plath Sex Tape: It’s In A Vault

Sylvia Plath Sex Tape: It’s In A Vault

Edward Butscher’s Sylvia Plath: Method and Madness, one of the more honest Plath biographies, might not have been honest enough. A friend at the University of Missouri tells me a MO Plath scholar has unearthed evidence which suggests there’s a Plath sex tape mouldering in some impenetrable bank vault or strongbox. The tape, allegedly shot during Plath’s stay at Newnham College’s Whitsed residence in 1955, is supposed to show Plath and an unnamed student or student-aged man engaged in a series of hardcore sex acts. Its existence was reportedly revealed by a recently-deceased Cambridge classmate of Plath’s who claims to have shot the film as part of a fraternity prank. I guess AEPi’s eat-a-stick-of-butter rite has nothing on UK hazing. The story goes that the also-unnamed man left his papers/memoirs to his grandson--an Oxford MA student interested in modernist poetry—and the kid contacted the Missouri professor to discuss what to do with the revelation. The grandfather hid in a closet while the pledge bedded Plath, and jumped out when the act was over. None of the parties relished the humiliation the reel would bring, so it was understandably hushed up and forgotten. The topic’s now a popular inside joke in the UofM English department--see: profs jumping out from doorways with ancient Kodak hand-cranking cameras in hand. Some scholars are apoplectic at the lack of facts. Why some people feel obligated to protect Plath’s reputation I do not know.

So does Olwyn Hughes sleep with an 8mm canister under the bed? Literary executors are some tough muthas, and my guess is this isn’t the kind of thing that brings in huge royalties.

But if it’s true this is the next great grad pub night pre-drink feature attraction.

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