Cinema Sutra: Fast Times at Ridgemont High

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The movie: For back to school week, we pay tribute to the quintessential high-school flick, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Chronicling the social and would-be sexual lives of a few basic American teens, it’s one of the best and funniest coming-of-age movies of all time. As the side character Spicoli, Sean Pean virtually steals the show, emerging from his surfer van in a cumulus cloud of smoke to put the high in high school. But the real show-stealer? One little scene involving a wet Phoebe Cates and a now-it’s-on/now-it-isn’t red bikini.

The scene: Judge Reinhold, still dressed in his Captain Hook’s Fish and Chips pirate uniform (oh, the indignity!), spies from the bathroom window on his sister’s sexy friend (the incomparable Phoebe Cates) as she takes a dip in their backyard pool. Well, his daydreams get the best of him, and he imagines her climbing up the pool ladder, telling him how cute she always thought he was, and taking off her bikini top — leading him to the inevitable teen-male wankfest. In real life, Cates comes out of the pool top-on with water in her ear, goes inside for a Q-tip, and opens the bathroom door on Reinhold. She’s mortified, but he could barely care less. Small surprise — Cates’ slow-motion promenade and disrobing was perhaps the apex of all ’80s male fantasy.

What you need (or, in this case, should perhaps avoid):
• an unlocked bathroom door
• a swimming hottie in your backyard pool
• a front-clasp bikini

The mechanics:
Thankfully, most bathroom doors have locks. Had Reinhold remembered that, he might have gotten away with it. As to how to do the rest of what he was up to, that I think you can pretty much figure out on your own.

But if you want to recreate Cates’ part in the fantasy, note how confident and seductive her stroll is, and how the rare front-clasp bikini top is put to fabulous use. With the regular tie-in-the-back kind, you’re best off lifting it up and over, mid-strut.

Lesson we learn:
The obvious point is that one should be careful where and when you masturbate, which in itself is pretty straightforward (unless you’re Pee-wee Herman). Less overt perhaps is the fact that for guys in their late teens (especially), sometimes the need to self-pleasure literally can’t be denied. (I once found myself pulling my bike to the side of the road and having a solo quickie behind a hedgerow — mercifully with no one the wiser.) Maybe we’re pathetic, but I’d rather just think we’re vulnerable — and enthusiastic. And isn’t that a little of what you want in a lover?

Click here to read — and learn — more in Nerve’s Hollywood Sex Scene Database.