London's "porn king" stars on the big screen at Berlin festival

Mon Feb 11, 2013 4:47am EST
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By Mike Collett-White

BERLIN (Reuters) - British actor Steve Coogan and director Michael Winterbottom reunite for "The Look of Love", a biopic of pornography publisher and night club impresario Paul Raymond that brings to the screen the sleaze, success and tragedy in his life.

Dubbed the "king of porn", or, more politely, the "King of Soho" after the London area where his empire was based, Raymond began amassing his fortune in 1958 with the opening of the "Raymond Revuebar" and expanded to theatre and men's magazines.

The erotica club played host to the likes of The Beatles and Frank Sinatra in its heyday and Raymond was named Britain's wealthiest man by 1992, the year his daughter and heir apparent Debbie died of a drug overdose aged 36.

"I thought he was an interesting character who was sort of largely ignored because he was associated with porn," Coogan told reporters at the Berlin film festival where "The Look of Love" was screened outside the main competition.

"His character was ignored in pop culture for that reason, because the British have got a very difficult relationship with sex in a way that the Germans and the French (do not)."

Coogan said Raymond dealt candidly with sexuality while British filmmakers struggled to handle sex in an interesting way.

"It's either very, very serious, portentous, or it's titillation, and I thought we could combine that and have titillation and portentousness," he said.

"The Look of Love" features plenty of nudity - on stage, in bed at photo shoots - and Coogan plays Raymond and his playboy lifestyle with obvious relish.   Continued...

Actor Steve Coogan poses during a photocall to promote the movie "The Look of Love" at the 63rd Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 10, 2013. REUTERS/Thomas Peter