26 February, 2012


[Thanks to Monika de l'Epinay (aka Monica Swinn) for writing these memories of the late Lina Romay for this blog. Monika is a Belgian actress (born Monika Swuine) who appeared in a number of Jess Franco directed films featuring Lina Romay. Her most well known role is probably as the strict wardress in FRAUENGEFANGNIS aka BARBED WIRE DOLLS (1975). Other Franco titles in which she appeared along with Romay were LA COMTESSE NOIRE (1973), SHINING SEX-LA FILLE AU SEXE BRILLANT and MIDNIGHT PARTY (both 1975),  DAS BILDNIS DER DORIANA GRAY (1976),  LES NONNES EN FOLIE and CELESTINE (both 1974) among others. She has since worked as an editor, writer and sculptress.]

The news of Lina’s death has struck me down. I was not prepared : it could not be true... For me, Lina has always been associated with an image of life. She was full of life, she was life itself...

I met her in 1973, during the making of “La Comtesse Noire”, Alain Petit was already on the set (I met him on that occasion), and I can testify that she was exactly as he describes in the beautiful homage I just have finished reading on your blog : obviously, we both saw the same girl, and some forty years after, we have the same feeling of enormous loss in the wake of her death.

It means something... Among the people who happened to meet Lina I never heard a single bad word about her. Everybody was conquered by her simplicity, her kindness, her sense of humour... She could be very funny, and the word “problem” was apparently not in her current vocabulary. I suppose she had her dark side, her shadows, everybody has, but she kept that inside. She had an extreme discretion about herself. In fact, she was bright and strong minded but did not feel the need to show in every day life the weight of her personality. She had a healthy brain. No ego disease. She had the gift of make people feel comfortable with her; she was easy to be with, to work with. 

Writing that, I suddenly realize that I can’t find the words, the words I should need to describe her. Perhaps, because what I am trying, to share, is somewhere beyond words. Beyond words, like her relationship with Jess, like the way they were together, their amazing complicity. In fact, in my heart and my memory, I am unable to dissociate Lina and Jess. That is the story, the big thing: Lina and Jess. They were an entity. You could feel it at every moment you spent in their company. And it was a sweet, delightful feeling. There was a kind of magic in it. And that magic culminated when they were working together. It was a kind of dance, with Lina under the lights and Jess behind the camera... She was transfigured, illuminated, as she was suddenly totally awake. It was more than acting: at that moment she gave the best of herself and it was pure pleasure. For both of them. So, if you ask me what she was like in "real life," I can say that real life for her began when Jess used the magic word, “Action” (or, kidding, when the scene had to be hot, “And now, message! ”)
Monika with Lina Romay in a striking image from SHINING SEX : LA FILLE AU SEXE BRILLANT(1975).

It was the key to that otro lado de espejo, that other dimension where everything became possible, where the only rules were freedom and pleasure. In that world, Lina and Jess had so much fun and they were so happy. That is why I am so sad to-day. Even if I know that Lina is still living that “real life” on the screen. In the movies they made together.
And forever in my heart.

Monika de l'Epinay - Feb 26, 2012


scott said...

moving tribute.

CBgnosis said...

What a gorgeous tribute. I only met Lina once but she made such a huge impression because she was so interesting and had a kind and very large spirit. RIP Lina....we miss you very much.