Friday, June 24, 2011
Ad Mat Merriment
It was clear to me that these 'Crazy Danes' were my kind of people, and this healthy blonde lass, Birte Tove, was someone I should meet.
Well, I did attempt to meet Ms. Tove during a visit to my beloved city on a rainy Monday afternoon with my mother. Every three months, I had an appointment with my eye doctor. As I wore ultra-magnified glasses and a dirty, big eye patch to address my amblyopeia, I was on the doc's watch list. That meant regular check-ups, concerned nods, and cavernous waiting rooms.
His office was at the Paris end of Melbourne's Collins St., an upmarket area that ran parallel with Bourke St., which was where the 'Times' cinema was located. My mission that day was to escape from my mother and sneak into Bedside Dentist. Considering the fact that I was exactly nine years shy of being legally allowed to watch this R-rated movie, some challenges lay ahead.
On this occasion, I decided not to mention the movie or my intentions beforehand. It's not that I would have announced an intention to view porn -- on the contrary, my usual MO was to take part of a film's title -- the 'Dentist' part, example -- and convince my mother that watching said film would be an educational experience. In this case, I decided against doing that. Recent efforts to view R-rated material had backfired and I'd been sent packing to my bedroom.
After my eye doctor had peered at me over his funny little glasses and nodded at my mother a dozen times, I would do my customary run down ten flights of stairs to meet her on the street below. I didn't take elevators in those days because running down ten flights of stairs was so much more rewarding. Because the removal of my eye patch was somewhat painful and because I was a slightly pathetic looking fellow back then, my mother was somewhat sympathetic to my post-appointment requests. Catching the drizzling rain on my nose and refusing to share this woman's umbrella, I asked her in a pained voice if I could visit the Magic Shop to see the Coffin Bank. The Coffin Bank was a tin coffin on which you placed a coin. Moments later, a yellow, skeletal hand would shoot from the coffin's innards and steal your coin. I'd seen it all before, but I needed to be in the area because the Times cinema was -- yep, you guessed it! -- next door.
It took us ten minutes on slippery streets to make our way to the Magic Shop. As my mother had little interest in magic or coin-stealing coffins, she'd linger at the door. I don't remember her ever entering the store. It was as if she feared becoming tainted by the pagan trickery inside. I made a point of being very interested in the Coffin Bank and a variety of other gimmicks. I was so convincing in my enthusiasm that my mother became antsy and announced that she'd walk across the street to have a look in Coles, an old department store. "Don't go anywhere," were her parting words. I watched her cross the wet street and go into Coles. Now I was free to meet Birte Tove.
Right away I left the store and turned hard right. I stopped outside the Times and came face-to-face with a glossier version of the poster on the ad mat above. Bloody hell, what a movie this would be! And Birte Tove -- what a beauty. A gentleman in an expensive raincoat slipped past me, the porn/raincoat connection not yet part of my awareness. The thing was, I was wearing a yellow raincoat, and I was surely the youngest raincoater to demonstrate interest in this classic piece of Danish celluloid.
Taking the gentleman's lead, I whipped into the theater's tiny foyer and stopped behind him as he paid for the privilege of meeting Birte Tove and her horny girlfriends. Oh, shit! There was one problem. How was I going to pay? I had no money. My mother did my paying. When money came out of her purse, it went towards things like lunch and train tickets and milk and bread and vegetables. Some of it went into the collection plate at church, too. At that terrible moment I knew for sure that none of my mother's money would ever be going into Birte Tove's hand. I didn't articulate it quite so brutally back then, but in a word, this nine-year-old raincoater was fucked!
Suddenly, I was alone in front of the ticket box. Being small, I could only see frizzy hair on the head of the lady inside it, and she said: "What can we do for you, son?"
"One ticket, please."
I was shaking in my yellow raincoat as I waited for a miracle. In a moment, a free ticket to meet Ms. Tove would be slipped under the window towards me. I would accept it politely and with all the dignity a raincoater could muster, I'd say "Thank you", and stroll into the theater like a regular gentleman.
"You've GOT to be joking. GET OUT!"
This wasn't the miracle I was expecting.
"GO ON! GET OUT! Where's your mother?"
I emerged from the Times a deflated little man of nine. I looked at the poster and shed a tear or two. My eyes misted up like car windows. Why couldn't I be eighteen now? Why couldn't I meet Birte Tove? I bet that well-dressed gentleman didn't like Birte Tove as much I I did. It wasn't fair.
I found myself back at the Magic Shop looking at disguises. Didn't they have anything to make me look taller? I don't think the Groucho glasses would have helped me. The Frankenstein mask would have drawn the wrong kind of attention.
My mother never knew about her son's failed raincoater adventure. She picked me up, took me back across the road to the Coles Cafeteria for lunch, and we rode the train home with noisy schoolgirls. None of them held a candle to Birte Tove. None of them sported that special smile.
Nine years later, after I became a legal raincoater, I became aware of another Tove named Tiny. Was Tiny the daughter of Birte? Tiny Tove found employment at Peter Theander's Color Climax Corporation and was marketed as a young looking lass who loved a johnson or three.
Bless the Toves.
What I remember most about this movie was a neighbor mentioning to my dad that he'd seen it. When I asked, "What was it about?", he looked at my dad as if to say: "Who the fuck's the pint-sized pervert!?"
I finally saw the movie in the mid-80's and really liked it. It's more of a biting comedy about relationships than anything particularly erotic.
Is it just me, or does the woman in the top photo really look like she a breast hanging from her neck?
I'm not sure why, but he was always my favorite character. I loved his reactions to everything. A gay man reacting so conservatively to anything salacious!?
I saw this at the Clayton drive-in paired with Steve McQueen's The Reivers. My dad laughed a lot at Sid James and Co., but had nothing nice to say about Steve's film. All I could think about afterwards was how much fun it would be to sneak my dad's car out of the garage and go on an adventure with it. Of course, knowing how to drive it didn't seem relevant at the time. As far as I was concerned, you only had to steer, anyway. I had a bike! I knew steering.