06 – National Lampoon’s The Joy of Sex (Part Two 1981–1982)

Part of Pretty in Podcast’s sub-series inspired by the works of John Hughes. The Joy of Sex led me down a worm hole of a larger story that needed to be broken up into a few parts. This part is the John Hughes part, which involves a remarkable cast of characters, including Penny Marshall, John Belushi, Michael Eisner, and Dan Greenburg. National Lampoon’s The Joy of Sex was to be Penny Marshall’s directorial debut, and was the last movie John Belushi was negotiating to star in. Had Belushi not died, this could have also been John Hughes’ first produced script.

Special Guest star: Sarah Innis from Dress Code Cracker: The Podcast as Penny Marshall. Sadly, without a Brooklyn accent.



National Lampoon’s The Joy of Sex: A Dirty Love Story follows the life of Donald O’Brien from his infancy—where his first act is to grab his maiden aunt’s boobs—through to the eventual loss of his virginity. As a child Donald is single-mindedly obsessed with sex. A series of vignettes that span his childhood, include Donald playing doctor in the garage at age six (involving several young girls offscreen, rope, binoculars, a flashlight and a hamster!); at age ten-ish hiding Action Stud Magazine, stealing his best friend’s sister’s underwear and hiding in her closet in an attempt to see her naked (Sharon, “another redhead, sixteen and sweet”); playing seven minutes in heaven at age sixteen-ish; and his college days as he tries to bed Linda.


  • Donald O’Brien (was to be played by John Belushi) — an inquisitive, sex-obsessed young man from the suburbs.
  • Fred and Helen O’Brien — Donald’s parents
  • Larry Jurgens — Donald’s best friend, “a chubby redhead.”
  • Linda (last name unknown. Her introduction happens on p. 14–16 of the script. Those pages are missing.) —Donald’s love interest
  • Amaretto — Donald’s temptress

The Soundtrack

All but one song on the tracklist below is mentioned in the script. The final song* is described as follows, “ROBIN, the gigolo, is blow-drying his hair. His RADIO IS BLASTING SYNTHESIZED FUNK.” Prince’s music has been described as that and the song seemed to fit the theme. If you’re a purist, feel free to skip it!

  • “And I Love Her” – The Beatles (from A Hard Day’s Night, 1964)
  • “Cherish” – The Association (from And Then… Along Comes the Association, 1966)
  • “Chain Gang” – Sam Cooke (from Swing Low, 1961)
  • “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” – The Rolling Stones (from Out of Our Heads, 1965)
  • “I’m Free” – The Who (from Tommy, 1969)
  • *”Dirty Mind” – Prince (from Dirty Mind, 1980)

Check out the Spotify Playlist.

The Cars

John Hughes seemed to have a great interest in cars. Cars feature heavily in Ferris Beuller’s Day Off and Vacation., and once you notice the cars, it’s difficult not to think of them. All of the characters are listed in their relation to Donald, who would’ve been played by John Belushi. Here are a few mentioned in the script:

  • 1953 Packard (belonging to Donald’s parents)
  • multi-era Corvairs (in the high school parking lot)
  • 1970s-era white Mustang convertible (belonging to Hillary, a friend of Linda—Donald’s love interest)
  • 1978 Nissan 280Z (belonging to Donald)
  • 1979 Mercedes 450SL (belonging to Robin, a gigolo, who tempts Linda)
  • 1980s-era white Corvette (belonging to Amaretto, Donald’s temptress. Donald also has posters of Corvettes in his bedroom.)


Theme music by Bradley Davis (Fresh Snow). The incidental music is mostly by Chris Storrow who donated three original pieces and “Sangria,” and “The Sensuous X” by his previous band Bossanova.


Artwork is adapted from a poster idea suggested by Matty Simmons (I think). That’s John Belushi’s face photoshopped onto a baby by SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget (Creative Commons 2.0). The cast list is taken from actors mentioned during the researching of the article.

“Home Videotape,” from National Lampoon:Sex Roles Issue May 1980. One of the possible avenues John Hughes may have explored for the script. 


This episode implies that the 1981 WGA writer’s strike ended November 12th, 1981. The writers strike lasted 13 weeks, from April to July, 1981. A tentative agreement was reached July, 11, 1981. (Source)


  • American Film Institute interview. March 1, 1985.
  • Beck, Marilyn. “Joy of Sex film script to be readied”. The Courier Journal, November 12, 1981.
  • Beck, Marilyn. “Laverne star to debut as movie director”. Arizona Republic, April 8, 1982.
  • Beck, Marilyn. “Actor’s Death May Scuttle Animal House II”. Arizona Republic, October 25, 1982.
  • Beck, Marilyn. “Penny Marshall won’t direct The Joy of Sex”. The Courier Journal, December 30, 1982.
  • Bradford, Evans. “Diving Into John Belushi’s Lost Last Comedy, ‘Noble Rot’” Splitsider.com. January 22, 2004.
  • EmmyTVLegends.org. Penny Marshall on Cindy Williams leaving “Laverne & Shirley,”August 7, 2013 in Hollywood, CA. via EmmyTVLegends.org
  • Greenburg, Dan. email. May 12, 2016.
  • Harmentz, Aljean, “Hollywood Aims at the Funny Bone.” Lakeland Ledger, August 5, 1979.
  • Harmentz, Aljean, “Tentative Accord Reached in Strike of Screen Writers.” New York Times, July 12, 1981.
  • Hughes, John. National Lampoon’s The Joy of Sex: A Dirty Love Story, third rev. final draft. January 26, 1982.
  • Jory, Tom. “Don Imus again top DJ in New York”. Associated Press. June 24, 1981.
  • Marshall, Penny. My Mother Was Nuts. New Harvest. 2012.
  • Rabin, Nathan. “Random Roles: P.J. Soles”. AV Club, May 14, 2010
  • Selvaggio, Marc. “Inside Moves: The Business of Show Business.” Esquire. September 1984.
  • “Speaking of Saturday Night Live.” Herald and Review. Dec 12, 1982.
  • “Joy of Sex to become a Lampoon movie” Star-News. November 15, 1981.
  • “Tipoff” Star-News. December 24, 1981.
  • WNBC 66 New York – Don Imus. August 21 1981 via YouTube.
  • WOR Special Report – Don Imus. 1984. via YouTube.
  • Woodward, Bob. Wired: The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi. Simon & Shuster.1985.

With sound effects by Bgrun17, Connum, Crz1990, Facemusic, Kbnevel, Kwahmah, Omar-Alvarado, orehek, Panzen, Raymonster, Sailor55 and Xnxmx from freesound.org.

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