LIFE ON TOP episode 1: Sister Act

Heather Vandeven, Krista Ayne, Mia Presley, Mary LeGault

This series was developed by and aired on Cinemax in 2009. It’s unique from other ongoing softcore TV series, in that it is based on a novel of the same name by Clara Darling (who is listed as co-writer for the series), therefor the series tells an ongoing story, with various plots continuing from one episode to the next. From what I’ve read, the novel was inspired by Darling’s experiences interviewing and getting to know various Penthouse Pets, and two of the lead actresses in this TV series are former Penthouse Pets themselves.

Heather Vandeven stars as Bella, a popular and successful nude model. Bella lives a carefree hedonistic lifestyle, which includes having sexual encounters with men and women alike. Mary LeGault is Bella’s little sister Sophie, who is the complete opposite of her sister. Not exactly a prude, nor a virgin, but she is more conservative socially. She graduates from college and comes to live with Bella in New York, to accept a new job. The problem is that before this Sophie had no knowledge of her sister’s occupation or lifestyle and is initially appalled. Technically I think it could be said that LeGualt is the “star” of the show (although all 4 lead actresses get ample screen time and storylines), as we see her become more open (socially and sexually) over the course of that first season. That is the main story arc. Mia Presley stars as Cassia, Bella’s best friend, who works as a chef while dreaming of someday opening her own restaurant. Like Bella she is bisexual, and the two of them occasionally have sex with each other, in a casual FWB-type of arrangement. And Krista Ayne played Sophie’s best friend and college roommate Maya, who also moves to NY while trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life.

The series lasted two seasons, the first season pretty much centered on these four women, their relationships with each other, and with others. It’s sort of like a softcore version of Sex And The City. And like I’ve recently decided to do with shows like Bedtime Stories and Nightcap, I’m going to review this series one episode at a time.

In this first episode (which is adapted for the screen by Charles Kline and directed by Amanda Goodwin), Sophie and Maya are about to graduate college. Bella and Cassia fly in (via a private jet provided by one of Bella’s many wealthy exes) to attend the celebration, as do Sophie and Bella’s parents. At dinner after the ceremony, Sophie’s boyfriend Josh (Rick Samson) pulls out an engagement ring and tries to propose to her in front of everyone, but Sophie freaks out and runs to the bathroom where, with the help of Bella, Cassia, and Maya she escapes through the bathroom window, leaving poor Josh at the table crying to himself.

We cut to a few days later, Sophia and Maya both arrive in New York, with Sophie moving into Bella’s swanky apartment. Bella herself it out on a modeling assignment, but wants to rush to get home before Sophia finds evidence of the true nature of Bella’s occupation (apparently she knew Bella was a model, but thought it was like fashion modeling, not nude modeling). Meanwhile, Maya gets hired as a barista at a coffee shop, and also joins a gym where she finds herself attracted to D, the personal trainer (played by Clayton Cannon). He doesn’t seem interested in her at first, but he will be a significant part of this show.

As Bella rushes home, Sophie looks around the apartment and finds a stash of copies of “Life On Top” magazine (the “Penthouse” stand-in for this series), full of naked pictures of Bella in it, and is looking through them when Bella walks in the door.

So there you have it, a good first episode that introduces us to the characters and establishes their personalities sets up the major storyline of the season (re: Sophie’s conflict with Bella), and ends on a dramatic cliffhanger. Plus, we get several hot sex scenes.

There’s an opening scene between Sophie and Rick, but it’s there to establish how Sophie isn’t very satisfied with this relationship, so it’s not very erotic. The sex is sort of mechanical and Rick cums before Sophie has a chance to. Afterward she hands him some tissues to take off and dispose of the condom while she takes a shower, during which she masturbates to get herself off. That’s the hotter scene. When the private jet gets stalled at takeoff, Bella and Cassia pass the time by having sex with each other, in a hot lesbian scene that makes the whole episode worth watching by itself. There is also a scene where after her photoshoot (in which she appears naked in several suggestive poses with Justine Joli), Bella accepts a ride from Tom (Gunner Wright), the man who owned the mansion that it was shot in. At Bella’s suggestion, they pull over to a secluded side of the road and, well, they don’t have full sex, but Belle has Tom use his fingers on her to get off. And there’s a scene where Maya seduces the manager of the coffee shop (whose character, played by Todd Tetreault, is unnamed in the episode and simply listed as “Coffee Shop Manager” in the credits) in his office.

Great episode, with beautiful women playing multi-dimensional characters, and hot sex scenes. Chacebook rating: 5 sTARS

Jason Majercik is selling Life on Top SEASON 1 & SEASON 2 (FULL SERIES: 26 Episodes) (7 DISCS) for $89.99. Email him at for his softcore inventory list

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