For some, they only made it as a stepping stone and evolved into reliable actresses who can still be seen on the big or small screen until now. Do you still remember our female sex nymphets who made waves during their prime?
It’s a fact that in the history of local cinema, sex sells. Whether we accept it or not, it is one genre that is as equally popular and profitable as drama, action, comedy, musical and the so-called rom-com (romantic comedy). Over the years, it has successfully carved its niche’ in the celluloid firmament and has launched many female stars to stardom. Each era gave birth to numerous sex symbols who titillated the fantasies of the public, particularly the male populace.
In the late ‘60s to the early ‘70s, some of the famous sexy stars were Divina Valencia, Annabelle Rama, Lita Gutierrez, Merle Fernandez, Yvonne and Stella Suarez. After them, many actresses took the similar route to establish their names in the industry. Some of these were Elizabeth Oropesa (Mister Mo, Lover Boy Ko), Daria Ramirez (Lord, Give Me a Lover), Beth Bautista (Huwag), Vivian Velez (Ang Babaeng Hinugot sa Aking Tadyang), Alona Alegre (Babae sa Likod ng Salamin), Chanda Romero (Sa Kagubatan ng Lungsod), Trixia Gomez (Inday Garutay), Gina Alajar (Diborsyada), Amy Austria (Nang Bumuka ang Sampagita) and Cherie Gil (Problem Child).
Interestingly, they became household bywords not just because of their physical allure but considerable acting talent, as well. Even Miss Universe Gloria Diaz also turned sexy in her classic launching flick Ang Pinakamagandang Hayop sa Balat ng Lupa where she started the so-called “wet look” trend then.
However, the top sex symbol of those times was Alma Moreno, whose launching vehicle Ligaw na Bulaklak turned out to be a mammoth hit. For a time, Ness was considered as the third most popular female star in the land after Superstar Nora Aunor and Star for All Seasons Vilma Santos due to her films’ impressive performance at the box-office. Her chief competitors then were Lorna Tolentino and Rio Locsin. The former scored a hit in Dulce Amor…Ina while the latter was a sensation in Disgrasyada.
At the height of their three-cornered rivalry, they starred alongside each other in Waikiki, another winner at the tills. Over the years, LT became a Grand Slam Best Actress awardee for Narito ang Puso Ko, while Rio also got acting nominations for her works. Meanwhile, Alma diverted to politics and does some occasional guest stints in soap operas. All three are still active in the ‘biz until now.
When the ‘80s ushered in, the “Pene-Kula” became a sensational genre. These movies involved graphic sex scenes. Virtual unknowns like Sarsi Emmanuelle, Pepsi Paloma, Coca Nicolas, Brandy Ayala, Joy Sumilang, Faridah Yulo, Vida Verde and Lampel Cojuangco lorded it over as they starred in one skin flick to the other. But the front-runners in the race were Myrna Castillo and Myra Manibog. Who would ever forget the former in Materyales Fuertes and the latter in Hindi Mapigil ang Init?
Even reputable film outfits had their respective bets in this genre. Seiko had Stella Strada (Kirot) while Regal banked on Kristine Garcia (Exploitation) and Claudia Zobel (Shame). Beauty titlist Ma. Isabel Lopez also joined the fray when she appeared in the ECP-produced Isla directed by the critically-acclaimed Celso Ad Castillo. Two outstanding acting discoveries then were Anna Marie Gutierrez (Scorpio Nights) and Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Jaclyn Jose (Takaw-Tukso) who, from sporting a sexy image on screen both evolved into fine performers. Anna Marie presently resides in the US while Jaclyn is still very much active in the showbiz scene.
Towards the middle part of the ‘80s, another batch of sex nymphets made waves in the so-called “ST” or “Sex Trip” era. Considered as the queen of this department was Gretchen Barretto whose starrers then like Beautiful Girl were certified box-office hits. Her competitors then include Rita Avila, Cristina Gonzales and Rina Reyes who also have hit projects tucked under their belts. One commonality among the four is their breeding and class which separate them from the rest. Interestingly, Gretchen, Rita and Rina are still seen on TV until now while Cristina is a successful public servant as Tacloban City Mayor.
During the ‘90s, the TF (Titillating Films) came into prominence. Many sex kittens were introduced and some developed into good actresses and are still acting on screen until now. Anna Capri, Aya Medel, Via Veloso, Klaudia Koronel, Natasha Ledesma, Nini Jacinto, Ynez Veneracion, Ramona Rivilla, Camille Roxas, Deborah Carpio, Belinda Bright, Halina Perez, Ursula Ortiz and Allona Amor starred in their respective potboilers which enjoyed slight success on the tills.
There were also those who belong to the upper echelon because they had big studios to back them up. These include Priscilla Almeda (Sutla), Katya Santos (Sukdulan), Maui Taylor (Gamitan), Andrea del Rosario (Lupe), Amanda Page (Gayuma), Patricia Javier (Ang Kabit ni Mrs. Montero), Rica Peralejo (Hibla) and Sunshine Cruz (Ekis). Their movies were triumphant at the tills.
But the title TF Queen would always be associated with Rosanna Roces who, during her prime was unbeatable at the box-office (Ligaya ang Itawag Mo sa Akin, Patikim ng Pinya, Basa sa Dagat, Nang Gabing Mamulat si Eba 2, Matrikula). She later achieved superstar status having done films opposite the ‘biz’s most popular leading men like Richard Gomez, Bong Revilla, Jr., Phillip Salvador, Rudy Fernandez and Vic Sotto. She also became a controversial TV host, top-billed a number of big-budgeted soaps and more importantly, evolved into a good actress, winning the Urian for La Vida Rosa.
Her two main competitors during that period were Joyce Jimenez and Ara Mina. The former’s Warat was a smash hit. Ditto with the latter’s Sagad sa Init. It’s also worthy to note that Ara graduated into a fine actress, and like Osang, has won acting trophies. They are still active in the scene while Joyce already got married and is now residing in the US.
Indeed, the bold or sexy genre became a launching pad for the career of many of our actresses. Many graduated into critically-acclaimed screen performers in the passing of times, proving that it’s a challenging testing ground for versatlity and durability.