Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Gillies #2: Pretty Peaches 2 (Dir. Alex DeRenzy, 1987)

Hey folks - another corker of a Gillies this time around. In this sequel to 1978's Pretty Peaches, Peaches is on a mission to get laid and learn all about sex but somehow can't manage it. So, she packs up and heads on out to her Uncle's house in San Francisco, a city that will surely show her the ropes.

Peaches' journey is Little Red Riding Hood-esque, as she shows up at her Uncle's and discovers her crazy family, including Granny who seems like a complete sweetheart and kindly offers to teach her how to clean the house, wearing what Granny assures Peaches is all the rage in France...

"No one here but your old granny!"

"Do you like to dust?"

"My granny, what strong arms you have!"

"You're a man!"

"A little dusting..."

"Come on, why don't you clean this honey?"

The Gillies

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"I'll Never Be Mean Again!": The Passions of Carol (Dir. Shaun Costello, 1975)

Hey folks - another XXXmas treat for y'all, this time in the shape of a movie that is very dear to my heart. I took a class a while back where I had to write about a Dickens text, and figured I could probably find a porno version of a Dickens novel. This was in the early stages of my research on X-rated film (I know this because I specifically remember worrying about whether there would be any content to analyze - now I realise this is a shameful concern), and I credit Passions with shifting my research into gear. Passions demonstrated to me that an adult film can be analyzed and valued like any other text - for its narrative and its sex scenes - in isolation of broad statements about adult film in general.

Passions follows the original Christmas Carol pretty faithfully, but in an updated setting: Carol Screwge runs BIVA Publications, a nudie magazine similar to Playgirl. Lacky, Bob Hatchet (Jamie Gillis, in a curiously sweet performance - I had no idea what I was in for down the road), is forced to stay at work late on Christmas Eve to render the soft dicks in the photo spread hard. Screwge is mean to all her workers, and sexually exploits the models who come to try out for "BIVA Boy." That night she is visited by her former boss, played by Marc Stevens, who shows up to warn Screwge of the three ghosts that will visit her. The ghosts show up, each of them teaches her a lesson about her sexual abuse/assertiveness, and the whole thing ends with a vision of Screwge's future. While Dickens' Scrooge witnessed his own corpse and lonely grave, Screwge witnesses her decline into Times Square hooking. Likewise, while Dickens' Scrooge exploited people financially, Screwge exploits people sexually.

The thing I find most interesting about Passions is its central paradox as a pornographic adaptation that stays faithful to its Victorian text. Passions stays true to its Dickensian roots, perpetuating the Dickensian ideal of the domestic housewife, at the same time as it rebels against this ideal by "resexualizing" the repressed components of the original story. In doing so, Passions exposes the displaced sexuality of the original story -- represented by abundant families, delicious and tempting foods, and a rampant middle-class consumer culture. This paradox -- of a pornographic film that maintains a Dickensian notion of female sexuality -- aptly reflects the central contradiction of Victorian culture (as it exists in the cultural imagination): a sexually repressed society that is simultaneously sexually perverse.

The sex scenes themselves play out these ideas, something which I was not prepared for having been taught by mainstream culture that the hardcore scenes in porn have no grounding in narrative. In particular, the scene that represents Christmas Past grapples with ideas of femininity, childbirth, and childhood -- all of which are issues that come up again and again in Dickens' novels, and were hot topics during the Victorian period. The Ghost of Christmas Past shows Screwge a scene in which she sexually exploits her childhood friends Billy and Barbie, blackmailing them into performing her sexual desires. The three adult performers are dressed like children, in an oversized room to make them look small, and the scene plays out in a rather perverse manner. Pornographic images of Raggedy Ann and Andy are cut into shots of a violated doll. The doll's arm is shown to be missing, and then we see the doll's arm being used to penetrate Screwge.

It's a memorable scene -- one of my favourites ever -- and for me it does a couple of things in line with the paradox I outlined above. The doll's arm looks like a twisted form of childbirth (something coming out) while we're watching something going in. It's a perversion of the act of intercourse occurring simultaneously with the event that traditionally and morally should follow such acts of intercourse. The ideal of female sexuality is being perverted at the same time as it is being realised.

Finally, Screwge is shown her future: a stark and ugly situation that she can't stand to watch -- "Please! Don't let this happen to me!" -- that ultimately teaches her that her sexually exploitative ways will result in her own sexual displeasure and degradation. The sex scene is disgusting. It starts with her washing the guy's cock with soap; they use a white, saggy condom; and the moans and groans she performs are artificial. "You're a rotten fuck," she tells the john when they're through, followed by a stark and deafening silence as they stare at each other in the dim light.

Needless to say, Screwge learns her lesson, and wakes up from these horrors exclaiming that she understands the meaning of her experience: "I’ll celebrate Christmas every day of the year. I’ll be the best person I could possibly be. I’ll do better than that – I’ll be a friend to the needy, I’ll be a friend to everyone! I’ll never be mean again!" The awkwardness of this moral, in light of the genre of film, merely demonstrates the contradictions inherent in Victorian culture and its literature (desexualized on one side, violent and pornographic on the other). However, it is also testament to some real risks being taken by an auteur who clearly had more in his vision than simply some good fucking. Great movie.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Gillies #1: Babyface 2 (1986)

There's something about Jamie Gillis and his audacious and awesome performances that are unlike any other. I believe this calls for some attention to his particular and unique brand of chaos and charm. Hence...

  • The Gillies n. the experience of watching adult film performer Jamie Gillis in action, typically involving feelings of shock, fear, euphoria, arousal, or any combination thereof, during and/or after engagement with the text in question:
"Hey, I watched Waterpower last night!"
"Oh man, that film really gives me the Gillies."
"I know, awesome, right?"

I was prompted to this coinage, finally, by my very first viewing of Alex deRenzy's Babyface 2. I had been informed of Jamie's performance in this film, and so hurried straight to the sequel (Babyface can wait - the sequel has nothing to do with it anyway), but even with said forewarning I was not prepared for the sights I beheld. A bride-to-be is expecting a stripper-cake at her bachelorette party, but is faced with Jamie, who puts a magical and sexy spell on the ladies when they mock his erotic dancing. That'll learn 'em! Enjoy.

The stripper is discovered...and starts doin' his thing...

"You've never had it so good."

"It's kinda the same, but different."

"A little floor work."

The bride-to-be getting "The Gillies" first-hand.

"If I get this thing hard, it's gonna put a spell on all of you. You're all gonna be overcome with lust!"

And they thought he was playin...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

"Tell Me About the Worst Christmas You Ever Had": Eve's Gift (2001)

Hello ladies, gents, and otherwise! It's been a little while, but do not fear, I have a slew of XXXmas treats in store for December, starting with Eve's Gift, written and directed by David Stanley.

It never fails to surprise me that after all this time, I can still stumble across people in porn movies that I've never seen before, but turn out to be huge stars. In spite of the cover of Eve's Gift being dominated by plastic Devon, this movie belongs to Sydnee Steele. She impressed me so much, playing the role of hooker Eve, that I looked her up only to find that she is an accomplished all-arounder - award-winning actress, published author, sex educator - totally living up to my initial impressions.

Stanley is obviously the man behind this movie - it's classic David Stanley, and perfect for those of us who hate Christmas, but can't help but get caught up in the Christmas spirit as long as its suitably sad and cynical. Eve's Gift starts out in a lonely bar on Christmas Eve, with eerie Christmas music echoing around while Mr. Stanley himself cameos as a guy on the phone, presumably to his wife, arguing with her and saying he'll be home when he feels like it, regardless of what day of the year it is. A guy dressed in a Santa suit, drinking milk, tells Stanley to "love her" and so begins a rather tragic and depressing story. After Santa has been accosted by hooker Eve, whom he rejects, he passes out in the alley, and is discovered by Eve who takes him home. She doesn't steal his wallet, like you might expect, but rather sleeps on the couch. After they wake up, Santa asks Eve to stay, and the remainder of the film consists of their "Christmas dinner" (muffins and tea), during which they recall their worst Christmas ever, told through flashbacks.

Santa believes he killed his wife, played by Devon, and he plans to blow his brains out once the day is through. Turns out, what really happened was he cheated on her, leading to her cheating on him, and then both of them getting in a car crash because he was distracted. Narrative details aside, the important thing is that when Devon catches Santa fucking around with some other woman, she is carrying a gift - the same gift that now sits under the tree next to where Eve and Santa are telling their stories. I assumed this meant that Santa's wife was Eve, but not so - this superficial wrapped gift is nothing compared to the gift of friendship that Eve provides Santa, and so it is this "gift" that the film prioritizes.

Eve shares her story with her new friend early on, retelling how she used to prostitute herself to fund her boyfriend's drug habit. Her worst Christmas ever consists of fucking a dude and another hooker for heroin money, concluding with "three broken ribs, two cracked vertebrae, and one shattered pelvis," all while her boyfriend is passed out drooling on the floor. After sharing her story, Eve is perturbed to see Santa smiling - but he explains he simply doesn't feel alone anymore.

One of the things I liked about this movie was the way Eve really drove the modest narrative forward, never the victim, and always the instigator of emotional awakening while remaining totally autonomous - she nearly leaves several times. The sharing of stories between a suicidal loner and hooker with a heart of gold leads to a confrontation where Eve tries to persuade Santa to open the gift that his wife gave him before she died - he feels that keeping it wrapped somehow avoids the need to acknowledge her death, and Eve recognizes the necessity of his facing up to reality. He didn't kill her; it was an accident. Finally, Eve manages to get him to unwrap it, and apparently it's something that requires batteries - luckily Eve has a vibrator in her purse. "A whore that keeps on giving!" she says with a grin, as she hands over the batteries, demonstrating a total lack of shame in her sexuality. Santa retorts that she's not a whore. In turn, Eve's retort summarizes the leveling of gendered tragedy that we have witnessed: "Maybe I'm not a whore, and you didn't kill your wife. Or maybe I am a whore, and you did kill your wife. Either way, it doesn't matter. And you know why." Why? "Because it's Christmas, you asshole." The End.

So our dark Christmas tale ends, expressing a familiar sentiment that is both uplifting and depressing: that traditional imbalances and injustices can be overlooked during the Christmas season. Any other time of year, this conclusion suggests, Eve's whoredom and Santa's infidelity and "murder" of his wife matter absolutely, but on this day alone, they can settle down at the same table and understand each other. For better or worse, this is what Christmas is all about.


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