By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Classic. It's a word that one associates with enduring works of literature, tail-finned land boats, powder-white throwback Nikes, and . . . psychedelically-tinted slow-motion cumshots? Yes, dear reader: The prevailing culture of the '70s deemed certain X-rated films classic. That cumshot I speak of? Rent Behind the Green Door (1972) from Kim's, and prepare to be dazzled. That film is a prime example of porn's Golden Age. (The Golden Shower Age came later.) You may be wondering why aren't there any classic skinflicks made today? When did Behind the Green Door become Bootylicious 22: Alabama Black Snake?
Allow me to explain. The origins of the Alabama Black Snake can be traced to . . . Actually, let's save that charming story for another time. Here's what I half recall from something I once skimmed: With the end of the swinger era and explosion of home video in the early '80s, stroke cinemas began to disappear, and porno left the public sphere. Just as mainstream straight-to-video movies don't usually merit much advertising, word of mouth, or journo scribblings, so did fuck flicks hit the skids. When was the last time you watched one with someone else? Let's leave aside the fact that I, a member of the media elite, practice serious, highly influential porn criticism. There's almost no cultural discourse concerning skinema, aside from tomes produced by academic zombies for their bespectacled, plaid-clad colleagues. ("Why yes, Professor Egghead, your rigorous deconstruction of what has been called 'the frenzy of the visible' sounds an urgent call for more research and thought.") How else is there to hold vid companies to standards that aren't determined by John Ashcroft?
Allow me this week to muse on what constitutes a classic in today's world, when even serious members of the media elite fast-forward through non-sex scenes in movies they're reviewing. Misty Beethoven: The Musical (VCA)a novel remake of The Opening of Misty Beethoven (1976), Henry Paris's Golden oldieinspired this column. I've not seen the original (sue me), but I know the storyline: a jaded writer teaches an, um, innocent hooker how to fuck. Genius. Pure genius. (Though I heard the movie's opening was smallonly one guy came!) In the new one, Darren Daly (played by the witless Randy Spears) is an emotionally sealed business mogulyawn. Cocks in gonzos are usually attached to more intriguing bodies. Misty Beethoven (Sunset Thomas, in her blankest role yet) meets Daly in a sex club while she's giving a dry, eight-dollar hand job to an old man in a sailor outfit. Promising her $10,000 a week, Daly convinces Misty to be made over into a corporate whore, a sort of undercover call girl. But Daly forgot one thing: true . . . love!
1001 Erotic Nights Part 2: The Forbidden Tales
Tera Tera Tera
Whatever. Chloe, the willowy, sharp-eyed brunette who plays Alison Graves, Misty's supportive trainer, is the movie's sole pleasure. She's alert, sometimes funny, and a much better moral barometer than pretty woman Misty. Also, she gives the best non-gag b.j. I've seen in ages. Besides Chloe, the only interesting aspect of the flick is that it's a musical. And I'm not talking about the musical numbers themselves, which are mostly Nickleback-style pop rock vamps lip-synching onstage while two or three people do it. (There's also Daly's penis singing about world domination and Misty unloading a sentimental load I wish I could call steamy.) A Ph.D. grad I know recently told me about some book positing that porn and musicals share the same preset narrative system, where simple scenarios barrel toward the same payoffs: sex, or singing and dancing. Remember that next time you take Timmy to see The Lion King.
Not that Misty Beethoven: The Musical makes anything of this. The songs and sex aren't intertwined in any meaningful or even amusing way; in fact, the bands vamping endlessly in the background pretty much ruin that release. And VCA, who released the vid, should know better. After sampling an obscure '70s-something title from their VCA Classic line, I resented the Misty fumble even more. 1001 Erotic Nights Part 2: The Forbidden Tales is a sequel in the Hollywood style and it's still better than most narrative porns I've seen. The premise, like most of the sets, is minimalelegant even. We're told in voice-over that a sultan in "Asia Minor" has lost interest in sex (although we do watch three ladiesone blond, the other two black- and brown-hairedlovingly blow him in the first scene, as a Mideastern-inflected version of "White Rabbit" plays). So his aide devises a contest with "preliminaries, eliminations, and round robins" to locate a woman who will restore the ruler's faith in fucking-sucking. Talk about a Golden Age!
And so, Daria performs fellatio on a man produced with a swing of the aide's wand; the act is deep, but not very sloppya nice warm-up. Next up are two really young-looking women, both as soft and smooth and perky as only baby fat can make you, wearing ribbons in their hair. They french shyly, then make the sweetest love known to this side of the Tigris. Later there's a pleasant titty-fuck, and an eight- or nine-person swinger party with grapes that culminates in a double penetration edited to seem almost naturalno mean feat. (We're told that afterwards everyone heads back to her house to party more, and see a stock shot of camel riders crossing the desert at dawn.) A somehow not patently ridiculous dominatrix then teases the sultan, sits on his face, and makes him lick as fast as possible in order to earn her slender slave sitting all the way down on his cock (the slave literally inches down as he accelerates his tongue). And a heart-warming ending: Scheherazade, blessed with "the gift of imagination," convinces the sultan to fall in love without acting like a whore.