Sunday, February 27, 2011

Porn Loop Orgy

A brave and passionate fellow named 42nd Street Pete has been compiling and introducing a stack of porno "loops" from the 70's and 80's for distributor After Hours Cinema. Loops were short films that were played over and over again -- in a "loop" -- in porn emporiums on 42nd Street, NY, and in other cities throughout the world during better times (for sleaze fans, anyway). In many countries, they were also sold in Super-8 compilations -- or alone if they were long enough.

The Extreme Sleaze Showcase/Part 3/The Peepland Collection is Pete's latest offering, and it's a good one.  Loops don't have complex storylines. They have simple premises. For example, my favorite in this collection is *Violence*. The premise is: A young woman riding a bike is kidnapped and taken to a barn. There, she she is raped and abused. That's it.

*Violence* fascinated me because it's visually similar to some rough little shorts I made myself in the early 80's; they had titles like 'Horsing Around' and 'Beyond the Pale, and although they were not hardcore, they had a similar storyline, and were shot on Super-8 (like *Violence*). Although Pete introduces and comments on these movies, he doesn't say a lot about their origins. *Violence* also appealed to me because it has what I can only call a Color Climax look.

 In the 70's and early 80's, Color Climax was the premier European producer and distributor of loops and magazines featuring every sexual bent imaginable (legal and illegal) . Notorious, now hard-to-find films like *Kilroy Was Here*  and *Debased Dolly*  were distributed if not always produced by Color Climax, and I have always associated the grainy Super-8 look of films like *Violence* with the company (now an on-line concern only).  If I'd frequented 42nd Street, my reference points would probably be different.
Many of the loops in this compilation are clearly American, but several appear to be European. The films are silent, so there's no dialog to identify anybody's origins, and the locations are fairly generic (countryside, the odd city street, sleazy rooms) Another reference I have for the Euro -- or Scandinavian look, more rightly -- is what I've seen of Bodil Jenson's bestiality loops. They, too, have that distinct and magical Super-8 quality where the colors are muted, the grain is thick, and film scratches dance across the screen.

Another suspiciously Euro aspect of *Violence* is the inclusion of shots of pigs during the rape. The pigs are not part of the sex, but shots of them hanging out, eating, roughhousing, and gawking at the proceedings are intercut in order to up the sleaze quota. Perhaps the original producers were appealing to the beasty crowd?

The Extreme Sleaze Showcase DVD's are all must-haves.

 The artwork for After Hours' DVD mirrors the look of porn paperbacks of the period

There is a bit of confusion in some of the attached notes. Although the loops collected for Part III are said to have originally been screened at 'Peepland', the written notes for Part II cite *Violence* as a loop that screened at Blackjack Books. It's a minor confusion, and I simply point it out to invite clarification.

One of the most curious loops involves Louie De Jesus (from Bloodsucking Freaks) going the whole hog with the wonderful Vanessa Del Rio. This is a hardcore scene, and features the little guy penetrating a porn queen who is undoubtedly all woman.

Super-8 loops aren't produced today, but their equivalent is the gonzo porn that keeps the internet humming, and DVD shelves (in some countries) filled. Although S/M-themed porn -- porn that is structured around scenarios and adheres to master/slave dynamics -- is still produced, material along the lines of 'Violence' is not as common. The work of adult filmmakers such as Simon Thaur,  Belladonna, John Stagliano, Khan Tusion, Rob Black, Rocco Siffredi, Jake Malone, Cristoph Clark, Max Hardcore, Nacho Vidal, and Thomas Zupko (among others) is descended from the rough loops -- like *Violence* --  that once made 42nd Street so special.

These collections are a priceless reminder of recorded sexual culture, a culture that echoes today, and will echo well into the future.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Less Plastic Than Most Humans


Humans can be a disappointing lot. Most are interesting and individual when they're kids, but they tend to hit boring by the time they're thirty. By forty, they'll lost all trace of their former selves, and seem destined to be as narrow as their arteries are becoming.

There are exceptions, of course, and, if you're reading this, you're probably one of those.

 I collect dolls. Yes, I'm a male in his late forties and I collect dolls. The boring humans I'm talking about ask me idiotic questions about my collecting. Even though they ask these questions, they don't really want to know why I do it. They want to, in fact, get me to admit that my collecting is some symptom of a troubled childhood or manifestation of deprived infancy.

No adult male would love dolls for anything other than a twisted, suspicious reason, would he?

Finally, a book lands that communicates exactly why I love dolls.

'Mandingo', a personal best friend and frequent visitor to this blog, recently found and gifted to me this incredible little book. Ironically, he found it in a second hand store, possibly alongside rows of creatures akin to those showcased in the book. I am eternally grateful to him for this discovery and his perceptive, intelligent choice to hand it my way.

The photographs within its modest jackets are by a supremely talented young lady named Linsday Brice. Like no other, she has captured the brittle, sad, complex, tragic, and emotionally ethereal nature of dolls. Her sensibility fills me with awe for her eye, and strings an umbilical cord of shared understanding between us.  

If anybody cares to know why an adult male collects dolls, get this book. It's all in the photos.

If you're already of the faith, I'm sure you'll get it, anyway.

I feel great sympathy and empathy for old dolls and new. Their abandonment touches my heart and dislodges my tears.

These truly magical beings are less plastic than most humans.

It is for this reason alone that they should be saved and celebrated -- as Ms. Brice does in her outrageously beautiful photo-poetry.

Musician/Producer/Actress Kim Gordon contributes a heartfelt essay to this book, and describes Brice's dolls as "knowing, self-possessed beings". Her reference to Dare Wright's wonderful A Lonely Doll brought a smile to my face. Ms. Gordon gets it!

Also accompanying the photographs is Flannery O'Connors's 'Temple of the Holy Ghost', a shrewd choice.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Islands of the Imagination

I love islands -- I mean REALLY love them... perhaps in an unnatural way. Just writing about them -- just mentioning them -- makes my hands shake with excitement. Yes, they're shaking involuntarily right now. I'm missing every second key because I'm too island orgasmic to concentrate. Get a hold of yourself, you island-ridden fuck!

A recently published book on the subject of remote islands (my favorite kind!) is a publishing watershed. There has never been anything quite like this book. Probably never will again.

Movies about islands destroy me with their dramatic, sexual, and savage possibilities. An island is a world divorced from continents, divorced from the rule of law, divorced from all that is orderly, conservative, and determined to get in the way of sundry forms of mischief and raw animalism.

My island fetish, surely the most alarming of all fetishes because it will kill me one day, probably began with my reading of RM Ballantyne's The Coral Island.  This book, the Daddy-O of juvenile island adventures, had me combing through atlases to plan my escape from civilization -- and my parents' house. Going against me was the fact that I was eight year's old, but age was no barrier to my dreaming, at least.

Gilligan's Island was around more than my dad when I was growing up. The Skipper, well, he was a second dad, and he didn't hit near as hard as my first one. He did swipe Gilligan with his cap now and then, but those swipes were a loving, caring thing. Gilligan made island life look like fun. He got to drive a pedal-powered car between the palm trees,  meet Japanese submariners who spoke Stereotype, hang oit with jungle boys played by Kurt Russell, meet inventors, and hang out with farm girls in short shorts.

Despite my passion for Gilligan's piece of heaven, my parallel preference was for islands of danger, gore, and dismemberment -- naturall, I was all over 'Danger Island', a segment of the TV show Banana Splits. This anarchic gem featured a bunch of multi-colored everyday folks -- including Jan Michael Vincent sans bottle -- being chased across a hostile island by angry, chortling, spear-waving savages. Often directed by future bigshot director Richard Donner, this was one fantastic island where the excitement never stopped.

In Dennis Gifford's boyhood bible of horror, Horror Movies, I got my first look at images from several island films including The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Mad Doctor of Blood Island, Isle of the Dead, and Island of Terror. It became clear to me very early on in life that islands were where it's at, man, they were the place to be if you craved the kind of fun you can only have without your parnets. Clearly, I wasn't the only one who grooved on the very idea of islands -- Filipino filmmaker Eddie Romero set a whole stew of movies on islands with his 'Blood Island' pictures.

Author of Jaws, Peter Benchley, had island flu, too, because he wrote The Island, a cracking good yarn about a mysterious island located in the Bermuda Triangle that was a secret hideway for pirates from another century . Universal made a fun film of the movie, and though it's not available on DVD in the US, it is available in Australia, Germany, and other more island-friendly nations. It even stars Michael Caine, clearly another island connoisseur.

British scribe Guy N. Smith wrote a novel titled The Island in '88. Set on 'Ulver Island', it cut quickly to the nitty-gritty of island life love by introducing a bevy of beautiful ladies, hussies all,  to a romantic mixture of death, doom, and island inhospitality.

The possibilities are limitless on islands. I never grow tired of these lonely patches of land in some godforsaken sea a thousand miles south of nowhere and a hundred clicks north of Fuck You All.

Goat fucking gets pride of place in Nico Mastorakis's Island of Death, another gem of an island film involving the adventures of two incestuous siblings with homicidal tendencies. Then there's the fetus-eating island treats of Joe D'Amato's Anthropophagus. Not the greatest film ever made, but another vote for island hopping and bopping. D'Amato, unable to resist the pull of the concept, stuck around for more sleazy island screwing in the underappreciated Porno Holocaust. Crikey, visiting islands is like having a gory, horny Xmas every day of the year. 

Filmmakers and novelists do not tire of islands, and neither they should. Richard Laymon served up his  own Island with geysers of blood; TM Wright gave us Children of the Island (the island being Manhattan in this case) and The Island (both classics!), and Scott O'Dell got serious about islands and island life in Island of the Blue Dolphins. Japanese filmmaker Kaneto Shindo went island mad, too, with his The Naked Island, a film documenting the infernal hardships of island life over a one year period.

The modern grandpappy of island movies is Battle Royale, a masterpiece that contrasts brutal killing with shimmering island vistas.  I can't watch the film without wanting to join those kids on that amazing island, the very same where Spielberg shot Jurassic Park.

Islands connect with our lust for adventure and touch something deep within us that is primal and private. We yearn in varying degrees for the freedom an island implies, even if that freedom is rarely achieved in the stories that shape us... or in reality.

My island reality is that I have spent a total of two weeks on a couple of uninhabited islands in Indonesia. Accompanied by cans of sardines, water and a local boatman's promise that he would remember to pick me up after my two week, it was a trying but amazing experience.

Lying at the base of my Aussie homeland is the continent's only island state, Tasmania. Although Tasmania has the population of a small city and looks like a vagina prior to a Brazilian, its geographical location still sets my dreams soaring, and I'm certain that it is in Tasmania where I will spend my final days.

Although my preferred final crash pad is Tristan de Cunha...

... island living there is by family invite only, so my chances of landing feet first and permanent there are as remote as the place itself.

Which brings me full circle to the publishing watershed that is Judith Schalansky's Atlas of Remote Islands, a Penguin hardcover originally published in 2009, but re-published with English translation by Christine Lo in 2010.

Last year was a year of amazing non-fiction such as Mark W. Moffett's Adventures Among Ants (fuck me, what a book!), Marcus Hearn's The Art of Hammer (as good as first time sex), Jimmy McDonough's Big Bosoms and Square Jaws (not published in 2010, but read that year by me), the 10th anniversary edition of Stephen King's On Writing, and Mike Howlett's The Weird World of Creepy Publications. For mine, thoughthe Atlas of Remote Islands was and remains my favorite non-fiction book of the last twelve months.

"Fifty Islands I Have Never Set Foot On and Never Will" is how Schalansky prefaces her mini-essays on close to fifty ultra-remote islands in regions encompassing the Arctic Ocean, the Atlantic, the Indian, the Pacific, and Antartica.

In the Pacific, which boasts the world's most remote landfalls, she writes about Napuka, Pingelap, Pitcairn, St. George Island, and Tikopia, "an island so small that breaking waves can be heard from its (center)". The writer's descriptions of each island are sourced from historical narrative, scientific records,  and legend, and she succeeds in creating in us, her readers, a desperate hunger to explore these almost intangible lands, lands so far off the beaten shipping lane that imagining them is akin to conjuring life on another planet.

Accompanying each island's micro-history is, of course, a lovingly rendered map, and it is these maps that have held me hypnotized since I cracked opened the book's first pages.

This impeccably presented, essential volume is one to carry with you at all times. It has rarely left my side or leather pouch since landing on my modest domestic island close to six months ago.

Writer Beth Simmons, who writes for, recently interviewed the book's author, Judith Schalansky, and learned that she grew up in East Germany where she was confined, as a child, to its strict geographical and political boundaries. This national suppression of wanderlust triggered in Judith her a love of atlases and the worlds they paint so painstakingly.    

This amazing little tome is a dreamer's Holy Grail, and an inexpensive ticket to worlds of rare wonder.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Incredible Maniac Poster

My brother just sent me a link to this, and I had to share it.

In no uncertain terms, it is the best Maniac poster I have seen yet.

Fucking amazing.

Perfectly captures the sadness and pathos of the character.

Without the ridiculous Caroline Munro character, the film would have been drastically elevated to a dark character study. For mine, this poster IS the dark character study that Maniac, unfortunately, is not (even though I remain a fan).

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Enid Blyton Phenomenon

I realize that, as far as this blog is concerned, my Enid Blyton posts don't get much truck.

Still, I persist, and believe that it is important to spotlight those souls dedicated to keeping the Blyton wagon rolling.

 This handsome quarterly digest is a product of The Enid Blyton Society, and is lovingly edited by Blyton scholar Tony Summerfield, the man who produced the mammoth, four volume Illustrated Bibliography of one of the world's best-selling childrens' authors and most prolific writers of all time.

I started reading Blyton when I was little more than a squirt. I'm still reading her.

It was Mr. Meddle's Muddles that got me hooked.  I was sick and home from school when my mother presented the book to me. I began devouring it immediately and came across a story in which the indefatigable 'Meddle', an elfin-like goofball bearing character traits similar to Rowen Atkinson's 'Mr. Bean' (I smelt plagiarism long ago!), takes a trip to the countryside with his buddy. While sharing a hotel room, Meddle is kept from sleeping by the oppressive heat of the chamber. Fed up, he gets up and stumbles about in pitch darkness until he finds a window. Unable to open it, he smashes it. Moments later, he describes his relief and relishes the cool breeze wafting into the room.

Come morning, a refreshed Meddle notices the room's window strangely intact. Had he dreampt the whole thing? Had the window been repaired in the night? Well, not exactly, mate. Meddle, to his horror, then spots a thousand glass pieces on the floor, fragments of a chest he'd unwittingly destroyed in his effort to cool down.

"What a silly Meddle!" is a statement often applied by Blyton her village idiot character. My favorite, though, is this one: "He always tried his best, but it's such a bad best, isn't it?"

This was the first time I laughed hysterically at something I'd read as a child. I enjoyed Dr. Seuss books and found them fun, but I never laughed out loud.   There was something very endearing about Meddle, as there  is about Mr. Bean, and I felt great sympathy for the chap. Blyton, on the other hand, seemed somewhat unsympathetic towards him, despite devoting three books to his crazy, accidental adventures. I always felt, and still do, that she sort of enjoyed laughing at him.

In the journal's current issue, there is a fascinating item on Blyton's adult stories ('The Eligible Bachelor'), and a rundown on the two recently released "Famous Five" dvd's, Five on a Treasure Island and Five Have a Mystery To Solve; I recently nominated these as two of my favorite dvd releases of 2010.

A loving poem to man's beast friend

Of immense interest in this issue is the third part of Anita Belsoussane's stellar tribute to Blyton's "The Naughtiest Girl" books in which she discusses Elizabeth Allen's ongoing adventures at Whyteleafe, an English boarding school.

For those not familiar with the writer's canon of work, it would be impossible for me to summarize the extraordinary influence it has had on generations of children throughout the world. It would also be a foolhardy task for me to attempt to describe the amazing appeal of her work. So, I will recommend a baker's dozen titles for those of you who are absolutely oblivious to her world but ready to take the plunge.

The Wishing Chair
Mr. Meddles Muddles
The Mystery of the Burnt Cottage
The Naughtiest Girl
The Six Bad Boys
The Magic Faraway Tree
The Twins at St. Claire's
Five on a Treasure Island
The Valley of Adventure
Secret Seven on the Trail
The Rubadub Mystery
Come to the Circus
The Boy Next Door

A perfect example of the stunning cover art Blyton's work inspired

Although the snippy Ms. Blyton was often highly critical of cinema and comics, I love her work deeply. Her attitude towards cinema, in particular, was often quite simplistic, but not unusual for the time. 

"It cannot be said too often," she wrote in the Church of England Newspaper in 1950, "that the cinema is one of the most formidable powers for good or evil in this world, and most especially for children. Its great danger lies in the fact that it can make evil so attractive, so tempting and irresistible...As the twig is bent, so the tree will grow, and the false world portrayed in many adult films must have warped great numbers of developing young minds..."

At face value, this seems to generalize terribly, but, at its core, she is recognizing the incredible power of cinema to do not just evil, but good also.

Personally, I don't believe that children should be exposed to everything, as they (now) potentially are, thanks to the internet and parental indifference, but I do believe that nothing should be censored or restricted to adults.

I can't help feeling that the most restricted of all material provides the greatest catharsis to adults... and, therefore, greater peace for the individual and general public.

In response to this blog, I have just received a message from a Blyton scholar named Stephen Isabirye. This gentleman has recently written a book titled The Famous Five - A Personal Anecdotage. 

At 'AssociatedContent.Com', reviewer Jonathan Musere had the following to say:

Stephen Isabirye convincingly delves into the mind of Enid Blyton as he offers his comprehensive and remarkably detailed analysis of Enid Blyton. This is first analysis of Enid Blyton from an international perspective, and the book is a lengthy wealth of details. The perspective goes beyond Blyton's "Famous Five" series, bringing into perspective and comparison other writings by Blyton. Isabirye goes into the social backdrop, the environmental and political aspects of the era of Blytonian writing, the setting of the powerful British Empire and colonial incursions at the time, the ancient and contemporary literature that likely influenced Blyton.

Sounds like heaven to me.

I've ordered it, and will offer a blog post once I've thoroughly devoured it.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Fanatical for Paperbacks

Justin Marriot's The Paperback Fanatic went digest size a couple of issues ago and has not looked back. For the serious paperback lover, for the lifelong devotee of all that is pulp, this is Shangri-La!

This sixty-six page issue, in full, glorious color, has an amazing piece on arguably the most groundbreaking Science Fiction magazine ever published in Britain, New Worlds. Although it is best known for the period in which it was edited by Michael Moorcock, it began life in 1946 and championed the work of Brian Aldiss, Thomas Disch, Christopher Priest, JG Ballard, Norman Spinrad, and John Sladek.

Also of immense interest in this issue is a lofty item on publisher Fawcett Crest, a sharp U.S. outfit that released works from Gary Brandner (The Howling I,II,III), John Farris (All Heads Turn as the Hunt Goes By), Robert Bloch (Psycho), and Robert Arthur Smith (The Toymaker).  

The spread below is a typical example of the lavish treatment afforded the nostalgia on display in this exceptional periodical.

 Topping off a full house is a lengthy feature on the men's adventure series Nick Carter and an affectionate, mind-blowing look at the work of blacksploitation novelist Joseph Nazel, whose work included Black Gestapo, Black Exorcist, Killer Cop, Devil Doll, Slick Revenge, and No Place to Die.

The Paperback Fanatic is a labor of love, and most back issues have sold out. If you're up for having your literary world expanded, or your memories massaged, this is your ticket.