Desiree Cousteau was born Desiree Clearbranch in Savannah, Georgia, in 1956. She grew up in a very conservative Baptist family and eventually enrolled in college in Athens, Georgia. "I was going to college and I needed to bring in some money, so I started doing some nude modelling." She then met a guy from California who became her boyfriend and later her husband. Together they moved to Los Angeles. "I moved to California and got a job as a topless dancer. I loved dancing so much I stopped going to school... My first job as a go-go dancer was at 'The Classic Cat' in Hollywood."
Her dream was to be a movie star. "I thought one of the studios would take me in and shape me up. Of course it doesn't work like that anymore, but I believed the old legends... I wore tight sweaters, went to Schwab's Drugstore [where Lana Turner was first noticed] and had a Coke but I wasn't discovered." "I discovered that you had to do a lot of fucking behind the scenes to get in front of the camera. Everybody's 'friend' wants to meet you and ball you, and they expect you to do that."
The casting couch eventually led to minor roles in a couple of B movie exploitation films - 'Caged Heat' (1974) and 'Super Lady' (1975) - but it was obvious her mainstream career was going nowhere. At the time she was still working as a stripper. "I worked for Alex [De Renzy] at his club called 'The Playpen'. I was dancing there with three other girls - we put on a live sex show. We did a lesbian thing. Sometimes it was simulated on stage, and sometimes we did the real thing." It didn't take long for Alex De Renzy to notice her beautiful figure and full natural breasts and cast her in an upcoming porn film he was directing entitled 'Pretty Peaches' (1977).
De Renzy later recalled in an interview: "Desiree was my all-time greatest actress, the biggest stage presence I ever had. And that's what I look for in a girl, someone who can really carry the ball. [The girls I shoot] have to be really good sports, have big personalities and be sex-maniacs. It's a tough combination."
The movie is now regarded as a classic from the Golden Age, and included a memorable enema scene in which she squirts water out of her arse! Although this has been cut from US versions of the movie, the complete uncut film has recently been re-released on DVD in Europe. "Me and my boyfriend used to give each other enemas. We liked it. That's how I got my name Cousteau. My boyfriend gave me that name because he said I was always under water."
'Pretty Peaches' was a great success, and Desiree soon found herself starring in a string of big production movies such as 'Female Athletes' (1977), 'Ms. Magnificent' (1977), 'Daddy's Little Girl' (1977) and 'Baby Face' (1977). Although she always seemed to play the same role - that of a naive bimbo, it earned her the award for Best Actress in 1978 and an appearance in Playboy magazine.
Despite her star status and natural beauty though, her private life appears to have been quite 'normal'. "I'm just very old-fashioned and romantic. We don't do anything strange or kinky. The only strange thing we do is, I'll get a spanking sometimes. That's always fun. Sometimes my husband just takes me over his knee and gives me a spanking. Do I do anything to earn it? No, I'm just bad, my normal bad self. I flirt with other guys when I shouldn't, and then I get it... We've been approached by a lot of people in the business to swing, but we're old fashioned and we've never done it. We've been tempted, but I don't think we will. We're happy with each other. He's got nine inches. What else could I want?"
Furthermore, she never felt completely at home with the industry. Former porn star and director John Seeman recalled: "She didn't like being in the business... [She was] beautiful with big bosoms but I had trouble getting in a rhythm with her during sex. I did a few scenes with her but never could feel comfortable." Perhaps the most hostile comments came from other actresses such as Annette Haven with whom Desiree appeared to have an ongoing feud. Annette recalled in an interview: "I was doing a ménage-a-trois with Desiree Cousteau. We were supposed to eat each other and fondle each other's pussies, you know. The director was giving us instructions and Desiree would not let me touch her body! It was awful! I would not want to… work with her again."
Desiree claimed that her husband was in love with Annette, and this was one of the reasons she decided to quit the industry in late 1980. "I'm married now, and my husband is also my manager. But even though we've been making good money, he gets jealous about me being with all the guys in sex scenes. And I'm jealous of all the girls he meets around porn movie sets. Like Annette Haven. He's in love with her. We fight a lot."
This, along with her constant weight problems and friction with her parents signalled the end of her career as a porn star. "My mom and dad know. There's no way I could have kept it from them after three years. They saw my pictures advertised in the newspapers and freaked. They're very conservative, Baptist people. My dad doesn't like it, my mom cries a lot. And that's another reason I want to get away from doing it. Because when I go home it's kind of embarrassing." Richard Pachenco, who also worked with her, later commented: "Desiree Cousteau was a wonderful person early in her career then hit big time trouble. She hit a wall and moved on."
In November 1980 she claimed, "The last film I shot was 'Inside Desiree Cousteau' (1979). There are some I made last year and two years ago that are just about to be released." As a result movies such as 'Delicious' (1981) and 'Sweet Alice (1983) were still being released long after she had left the industry. She was never a good actress, even by porn standards, but she looked great having sex. People in the industry may have had problems working with her, but the public loved her air-headed bimbo roles that seemed to fit her perfectly. Following her departure from porn numerous rumours began circulating as to what she was doing. Some say that she started a family and lived as a housewife, others that she had a nervous breakdown and was institutionalised. The latest rumour is that she went back to college and completed a degree in psychology, and now practices in her native Georgia. .
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