Virgin Machine

Germany 1988, 35 mm, 84 min, b/w, in German and English with English subtitles. A Co-production of Hyena Films with NDR, Commissioning Editor: Eberhard Scharfenberg.

Available on DVD via First Run Features


Dorothee, a would-be writer and journalist, leaves Germany for the Oz of San Francisco, searching for her long-lost mother and a cure for the malady of love. Installed in the Tenderloin, she peeps in on neighbors’ bizarre sex rituals as well as does sightseeing of the more traditional kind. But encounters with male impersonator Ramona, charming Hungarian bohemian Dominique, and Susie Sexpert, barker for an all-girl strip show, lead to exploratory adventures of self-discovery and fun. When Dorothy surfaces like a dazzled tourist on the wilder shores of the city’s lesbian community, she has discovered her true sexuality. . . . and left some illusions behind.


Ina Blum (Dorothee Mueller) // Marcelo Uriona (Bruno) // Gad Klein (Heinz) // Mona Mur (Singer) // Peter Kern (Hormone Specialist) // Hans-C. Blumenberg Telephone Caller) // Erica Marcus (Landlady) // Carla Wood Saivre (Woman in Hotel Room) // Fakir Musafar (Man in Hotel Room) // Shelly Mars (Ramona) // Dominique Gaspar (Dominique) // Flora Gaspar (Flora) // Susie Bright (Susie Sexpert) // Fanny Fatal (Stripper) // Pearl Harbour (Visitor)


Cinematography: Elfi Mikesch // Assistant Camera: Bernd Meiners, Susanne Philipp // Gaffer: Fawn Yacker // Sound: Alf Olbrisch // Music: Mona Mur, Laibach, Blazing Redheads, Pearl Harbour // Editor: Renate Merck // Sound Mixer: Richard Borowski // Assistant Directors: Thomas Tielsch, Greta Schiller // Production Manager: Anita Horz // Written, Produced, and Directed by Monika Treut


Berlin // Copenhagen // Creteil // Galway // Gothenburg // Hof // London // Los Angeles // Madrid // Montreal // San Francisco // Sao Paolo // Taipei // Turin and many others


Monika Treut’s film destroys Cinema. Helmut Schoedel, Die Zeit

Treut, who also wrote the script, is an agile, intelligent director who moves easily between feverish fantasy and grubby reality. … And please someone bring out the soundtrack, music by Blazing Redheads, Pearl Harbour, Laibach and Mona Mur. Amy Taubin, Village Voice, New York

Virgin Machine is a refreshing, humourous, and what could be described as post-feminist, lesbian coming-out story, that both breaks with and draws on the codes of mainstream cinema …. one of the most refreshing and pleasurable films dealing with female sexuality to be made in a long time. Julia Knight, Independent Media, London

This movie is nothing short of sensational as it presents a hail of blazingly memorable and comic images in a deadpan manner. A wonderful display of spontaneity and joy …. I believe it will come to represent a signpost in the general history of gay cinema. New York Native

If the film’s sexual politics relate Treut to Fassbinder – It’s like the Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant – without the angst and melodrama, the black and white look of the film harks to the velvet of Germany’s glory days, the expressionist films of the 20s. John Harkness, NOW, Toronto

Dramatic impact and cinematography link this work to the early Godard of BREATHLESS and it’s also the anarchistic spirit of the French ‘Nouvelle Vague’ that is inherent in Treut’s film. Thomas Rothschild, Stuttgarter Zeitung

A lesbian Candide …. deliriously obscene. San Francisco Examiner

Treut’s episodic manner combines Lina Wertmueller at her most self-conscious with a Susan Seidelman jumpiness. New York Times

Virgin Machine expands Treut’s exploration of female desire and entering a territoy of female bliss that could almost be called happy-go-lucky. Kay Armatage, Toronto Film Festival

Monika Treut emerges as a major underground director …. One can only hope she will retain her unique style, her frankness and her uncompromising originality. Daniel Harris, Calendar Magazine