Once again, that frantic fortnight known as the London Film Festival came round, with a strange, hybrid kind of beast this year. For a while, it looked like there were going to be two of them; long-time organiser Sheila Whittaker peeled off and made noises about setting up her own event, but after negotiations, she leapt back on board. So with everything still being run by the British Film Institute and their cronies, the chances of getting tickets for big events were slim.
Looking at this year’s programme, very little actually leapt out yelling “Watch me! Watch me!” Tumbleweeds rolled majestically across the pages of the brochure between things I’d marked down as must-sees. The Hong Kong section was especially disappointing, but what do you expect when you get Tony Rayns to choose things? One entry was not too hard to predict: Happy Together, both because it was directed by Rayns’ friend Wong Kar Wai, and was about homosexuality — but with 1997 perhaps the most important year in the former colony’s history, it would have been nice had that not been the sole film from there.
Bitching aside, I wasn’t too worried, as experience has shown that often it’s the films that you aren’t especially looking forward to which are the best (Miracle Mile, anyone?). I read through the synopses and eventually found some movies that sounded worth a look, and got tickets for most of them, though perhaps inevitably the closing gala had sold out. The relevance of this will become clear in due course…
Mimic (Guillermo del Toro) – The screening started 15 minutes late, not a good omen for the first film of the festival! Actually, it could have started early and you wouldn’t have too much to complain about — like so many other movies this year, plot is not a strong point! Them! is a clear point of reference, as giant cockroaches menace the New York subways after a genetic experiment goes wrong, and it’s so dark that ‘Se7en’ might also be an inspiration. Mira Sorvino gets coated from head to foot in gunk, which might appeal to some people; the rest of you should enjoy the effects and ignore the storyline. The director will also quite likely annoy the hell out of you by over-frequent ‘false scare’ scenes; as a result, when the real things turn up, he’s cried wolf too often and you don’t give a damn. Still, at least it’s certainly a cinema movie, because it makes full use of the sound system to have ‘roaches zooming round the auditorium… C-
Incognito (John Badham) – It’s hard to work out what the point of this movie is; Jason Patric is an art forger hired to paint a ‘Rembrandt’, only to find himself double-crossed and on the run. It’s not exciting enough to be a thriller, or funny enough to be a comedy, despite making nods in both of these directions. It also suffers from a dodgy sense of location: every time a scene takes place in London, a Major Landmark is sure to loom overhead, just to prove they actually were there. Add in lots of ‘quirky’ British ‘characters’, and it all gets rather wince-inducing. The best bit is probably a lengthy sequence depicting the creation of the painting, which is more like La Belle Noiseuse than anything else — although sadly, without the presence of any Emmanuelle Beart, and Irene Jacob as the French-babe-love-interest-art-professor isn’t quite in the same league. Alright, if you’re in an especially undemanding mood. D-
Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist (Kirby Dick) – My, I do like titles which also function as a synopsis, it saves so much time. Bob, the subject of a RE-Search book, lives up to his title in this documentary — the sequence of him driving a nail through his dick removes all doubt there. But he’s not just your average sicko-perv-Liberal-peer; in his case, it seems linked to his Cystic Fibrosis, which he battled for 40-odd years, and was his way of telling the disease, “Come and have a go, if you think you’re hard enough”. Possessed of a mordant, black wit, Flanagan rages against his life until death, inspiring others with his attitude – notably one 17-year old babe, terminally ill with CF – despite also understandably being prone to severe mood swings. It’s uplifting and depressing at the same time: I left feeling grateful for my good health, aware how fragile life truly is, and looking for a Cystic Fibrosis collection box. B
Metropolis (various) – Short films are a two-edged sword. While a great way to experiment with new techniques, they can also be an excuse for self-indulgent nonsense of the worst sort. This programme, with a vague theme of ‘London’, covered both, and points in between. It started badly with London’s Markets, a collage of elderly footage of Petticoat Lane, etc, overdubbed with out of synch sound and two French people philosophising. Dull. It got worse with Wavelengths, a lesbian cybersex fantasy, which was turgid, cliched, ignorant and soporific. Thankfully, that was the pits: Bicycle is a hyper-kinetic sprint through the streets of London and New York, while Double told the story of a man meeting his doppelganger — at six and four minutes long, neither out-stayed their welcome. The best was perhaps saved for last; Stood For This Massive, a documentary about sports gambler Harry Findlay, works simply because Findlay is so extraordinary and extravagant a character you wonder if it’s all a spoof. All they had to do was point a camera at him and let it roll. Truly a program of two halves, then, Jimmy… E to B+
Hana-Bi (Takeshi Kitano) – The seventh of Kitano’s films, and it’s all beginning to get a little over-familiar: this seems to combine elements from Violent Cop and Sonatine, yet ends up being less than the sum of those parts. Kitano is <sigh> a cop with a psychotic streak, who also has to look after his terminally ill wife, so he <sigh> takes her to the seaside. Of course, it all ends…well, if you’ve seen his other films, you’ll have a good idea of what to expect. There’s also shades of Bad Lieutenant in here too, as the hero is deep in debt to the mob, though Kitano’s reaction is slightly more measured, since it’s frequently demonstrated that he’s significantly tougher than the gangsters who lent him the money! The title means “Fireworks”, and while moments of this film light up the sky like the most brilliant of rockets, large parts of it seem impenetrable to those outside of Japanese culture, and sadly, bear more resemblance to a damp squib. D
The Life of Stuff (Simon Donald) – Well, at least being a Trainspotting wannabe is better than being a Tarantino wannabe. Though there are distinct nods to him as well, in this Scottish tale of a bunch of inexperienced criminals holed up in a dingy warehouse after ripping off ‘Mad’ Alex Sneddon for his drug stash. The film gives an interesting twist to the usual structure of such things though, by starting off hysterical and gradually calming down, rather than accelerating towards insanity. This doesn’t quite work; its origins as a theatre play are too obvious, there are embarrassing moments of soppiness, and you can see the ending from quite some way off. However, it’s a brave attempt, bolstered by a fabulous score from John Lunn and memorable characterisations by most of the cast. Part-funded by lottery money, it’s a good incentive to go and buy a ticket. B-
The Winner (Alex Cox) – Perhaps that should be ‘Alan Smithee’, as Cox has effectively disowned this version of the movie. I take his point: “you won’t see much editing”, he says in the production notes, but the finished version is packed with jump-cuts, even in simple conversations between two people. The film starts off like God of Gamblers, with a guy in Las Vegas who simply can’t lose a bet, and follows the machinations which surround him as various factions move to exploit the talent. Sadly, this potential is soon diluted by trailer-park angst, and I found there is a limit to the appeal of bickering white trash. It’s always nice to see Las Vegas — for much of the film, thoughts of ‘been there’ drifted distractingly across my mind. Intriguing enough to make me want to see Cox’s version, I think Richard Stanley is the only director with a higher average in the “getting screwed by Hollywood” field. C-
Twenty-four Seven (Shane Meadows) – A further step up the scale for the director of Small Time, reviewed last TC; this time, he’s got a star, specifically Bob Hoskins as the guy who sets up a boxing club in an attempt to keep kids out of trouble. This is an undeniably cliched set-up, and there are gaping holes here and there (the rival gangs stop feuding virtually as soon as the club starts), but Hoskins provides the necessary weight to make it believable. Shot in black-and-white, it occasionally feels more like a pop video for the songs that loom over the movie soundtrack. Although generally light in tone, the movie flips in the last ten minutes into something totally different. Kudos to Meadows for pulling this off, it could have seemed contrived and false, yet ends up ringing true. A name to watch in future. C+
Funny Games (Michael Haneke) – Desperate Hours meets Last House on the Left by a lake in Austria, as two excruciatingly well-mannered psychopaths take a family hostage for no readily apparent reason. This is a challenging film which plays with the audience — at one point, a villain talks directly to the camera, while there’s another, utterly audacious moment involving a remote control which simultaneously destroys and bolsters the cinematic illusion. The same director made Benny’s Video, which dealt with a similar topic — Funny Games is probably a film which I’m looking back on more fondly than I thought at the time; the family are mere cyphers, and the psychos have so much more charm that the film seems flat without them. It’s very bleak and cold viewing, which asks a lot of questions and offers no easy answers. In fact, I’m not sure it offers any answers at all, even hard ones… B-
The End of Violence (Wim Wenders) – This is bordering on the impenetrable, but I’ll give it a shot. A film producer gets emailed a document detailing a government surveillance plan. Then someone tries to kill him, though the hitmen are themselves shot before they can carry out the deed, forcing the producer on the run, from where he tries to piece together what’s happening. In the right hands, this could have been taut and tense, but Wim Wenders hasn’t got the first clue about adrenalin. It’s a mess, with films-within-the-film leading to what is perhaps the most meaningful line, from Udo Kier as a film director: “I should have stayed in Europe”. Looking at this overlong piece of nonsense, I begin to think Wenders should have taken his own advice. Andy McDowell turned up at the screening, at great expense to the BFI, no doubt, and to no real point. Wouldn’t mind, but, she still can’t act. E+
Memories (Koji Morimoto/Tensai Okamur/Katsuhiro Otomo) – Three stories for the price of one, though only the first, Magnetic Rose, bears much relation to the title. It’s also notably like Event Horizon, with a salvage team exploring an abandoned space-ship, which plays hallucinatory tricks on them, but at 45 minutes, works a lot better — the first view of the spaceship is a jawdropper, and excellent use is made of music, notably Madame Butterfly. The second, Stink Bomb is very hardware oriented, with a lot of loving attention to detail on tanks, airplanes and the rest of the firepower brought to bear on an unwitting salaryman-turned-chemical-weapon. The final part is an exercise in technique; it’s a single shot lasting over twenty minutes, though the purpose of doing this in an animated film escapes me. And, like Hitchcock’s Rope, once you get over the ‘cleverness’ of it, there isn’t a great deal of depth. A movie of steadily declining return. C
And that was it. Oh, except for the last movie at the festival, which was Mike Figgis’ One Night Stand, starring Wesley Snipes and oh, some German has-been actress or other — Anastasia something… Now, with this being the closing event, one would expect all the stars to come out, and I knew that Snipes was around, since an interview with him had been one of the featured events earlier in the festival. Was it too much to hope that my beloved Nastassja might also turn up? Probably. But I was there, outside the Empire, Leicester Square with my disposable Kodak camera, just in case.
Well, when I say “outside”, I probably mean “somewhere in the general vicinity of”. All the best spots had naturally been nabbed by the tabloid photographers, and all the second best ones by gawking tourists with nothing better to do — and judging by the general height of those standing in front of me, there appeared to be a Croatian basketball team in town. I was reduced to sticking my camera above my head, pointing it in the general direction of the front, and hoping for the best.
Not that I need have worried, since (and I hope I’m not ruining the tension for you here), Nastassja failed to turn up. Indeed, neither did just about anyone else. Apart from Figgis and Snipes, the only other recognisable name was Alan Parker, the new president of the BFI, whom I suppose really had to be there. The fourth-ranked celebrity, in terms of flashbulbs expended, appeared to be, er, John Fashanu — and I suspect half the photographers there mistook him for the star of the film.
And this is perhaps an appropriate note on which to finish. It says something about the pulling power and international renown of the London Film Festival, that hardly anyone can be bothered to turn up to its closing gala. The selection of films this year was also pretty lacklustre, with only the odd one or two that I’d recommend. The most entertainment was to be found watching a man die a slow, painful death – and that also says quite a lot about the 1997 LFF…
A cellar bar, situated near one of London’s mainline stations, is home to the Round Table, a private member’s club which represents the next level of fleshly activity down — or up, depending on your point of view — from the likes of Browns’. Admission to the Round Table is by request only; they don’t advertise, and prospective applicants may face a grilling to ensure they are legitimate punters. Assuming you pass the test, you are told the location, and given the basic details: events happen on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, with special “stag do’s” on the first Monday of each month. Membership is forty quid a year, plus six pounds for a normal event and twenty quid for the stags. It’s then a question of screwing our courage to the sticking plate and going along. For (im)moral support, I went with a friend, expectations high that this was a ripoff, scam…or something worse. We descended into the depths of the Earth to meet the fabled “Reg”, the mastermind behind the Round Table…
For the sort of person whom the News of the World would undoubtedly label an “evil genius”, Reg seemed an entirely affable bloke, though I think the fact that there were two of us worried him a bit, since the rest of the customers all arrived on their own. Only Jehovah’s Witnesses and undercover cops work in pairs, but Reg’s greatest fear appeared to be that we were Inland Revenue. I toyed with the idea of pulling out my work id and yelling “Freeze, scum!”, but I’m fond of my kneecaps the way they are.
We paid our subs, got a spiffy membership card, bought a couple of beers, and watched the rest of the audience and the girls, arrive. Like other venues, the clients were a mix of City suits and casual dress, though as mentioned above, no groups were present. The three girls engaged to provide the evening’s entertainment were a Mediterranean girl, thin to the point of anorexia, a Eastern European, pretty but with such a frosty attitude that we nick-named her the Ice Pole. and an English lass, the best of the bunch, though a little plump. Below the standard of Metropolis or Brown’s, definitely, but scarcely unpleasant to look at, averaging maybe 6.5’s. Having reassured ourselves that it didn’t seem to be a con, our next question was the deeply philosophical “Why are we here?”, specifically, what would we get for our cash. We were answered fairly rapidly when the first dancer, the Mediterranean, appeared. Taking her top off in close proximity to one punter, the customer in question reached out and began caressing her breasts. “My”, we thought, “this is new”, eyebrows (amongst other things) rising. But they had to be pulled off the ceiling when this respectable-looking gent then began sucking lustily on the teat as if he’d never been weaned off milk. It was clear that at the Round Table, stripping was no longer just a spectator sport, it had become a participation event.
This culture shock resulted immediately in us both assuming defensive, crossed-legs postures, as the girl proceeded randomly round the room, receiving similar attention from other attendees. However, when a not unattractive woman is trying to sit in your lap, keen for you to run your tongue around her nipple…well, it would be churlish to refuse. My “rabbit caught in headlights” expression was soon replaced by a sizable grin.
The process was repeated with the other two girls, leading us to wonder just how far they would go. And, indeed, how far we would — this was not a place for faint hearts, and many of my companions who happily visit Brown’s would find the Round Table a breast too far. From the morality and fidelity points of view, one can defend “just looking” easier than “putting your head between them and going blubble-blubble”. Much as I love TC and its editor, there are (just) limits.
After the inevitable circulation of pint jugs, the next set of routines pushed those boundaries further, as the girls performed wearing nothing at all. Obviously, this offered better, ah, openings for entertainment, and the girls remained as pliable and available for interaction as ever (even if the Ice Pole still looked like she’d been sucking a nettle or two). This set the standard for the rest of the evening, with random variations such as baby-oil, up until well past 11. Though things were still in full swing at that point, I had to head off, my fingers bearing an unmistakable souvenir of the evening, which combined baby oil and a muskier, more intimate scent…
It’s probably true to say that events at the Round Table blur the boundary between dancing and prostitution. This was made abundantly clear when, less than half an hour after arriving, another attendee sidled up to us, and handed over cards inviting us to a “house party”, taking place in Peckham the next Monday. Twenty-five quid got us a show from two of the girls there that night, no pint jugs, bring your own booze and you were “guaranteed a fuck”. This was something of a shock: it’s one thing to see a girl on stage, and dream about having her, but the knowledge that you actually could have her, for the price of a decent meal, puts the whole event into a new dimension. It’s one with which I’m not exactly comfortable: as someone previously wrote in TC, “the gap between fantasy and reality is sometimes a pretty good idea”. So I didn’t go: besides, the cute English girl wasn’t on offer.
Other evenings since have offered other girls, of varying quality as well as the renowned “Sue the Swapper”, an amateur performer who turned up to perform on an ad-hoc basis. I was under the impression such women were merely created by the letter column editors of dodgy magazines, but this woman genuinely seemed to be into the exhibitionism. To each their own.
As for the stag events, they really weren’t worth the (quite considerable) extra money, unless you enjoy the sight of a rugby scrum of flabby men with their willies out, crowding round a woman, to the extent that nothing can be seen of her. As a spectator sport, it leaves something to be desired, though there is the odd alternative diversion. Seeing a woman stick two cucumbers, a can of Diet Pepsi, a can of Ruddles County, a marrow, and most of someone’s forearm up her pussy (no, not at the same time) is certainly an impressive sight, but is hardly erotic. Similarly Sue’s taking on of, literally, all-comers, leaving her looking like an open condensed milk sandwich (think about it…). The 1-on-1 action was a touch better, but overall it’s an experience I was left in no hurry to repeat.
If the legality of the pub joints is questionable, the legality of the Round Table must be even more dubious. I suspect many of the foreign girls probably don’t have all the necessary papers, which would limit their employment elsewhere. The premises were clearly not licenced, which led to a visit from the authorities, and a currently on-going hiatus. As for fire regulations, forget it. All this, in a way, makes it remarkable that it did appear to be “honest”, rather than a scam. Those who operate beyond the law are not required to have much concern for customer satisfaction, but to Reg’s credit, he seems to play it straight.
From the aesthetic point of view, the Round Table is never going to be up to the standard of other venues, where the women are prettier and generally at least give the impression of wanting to be there. You trade off a few seconds of very close attention, against a few minutes of more distant entertainment; which is “better” depends on too many variables to call. If Brown’s and Metropolis are the Serie A of stripping; the Round Table are the local park league. The quality on display may not be comparable, but you’re almost guaranteed a hell of a lot more goals. There are times when that will be just what you want.
With another venue open in Hammersmith, the popularity of striptease as entertainment clearly continues to grow — unless you’re a Hollywood producer, in which case it’s better to cut your loss, give Demi Moore the $12m, and send her home. But the heterosexual male in the capital has an every-increasing variety of opportunities to see more-or-less gorgeous girls taking their kit off.
The reasons for this growth may be correlated to the decline in situations where men are allowed to openly interact with women on a sexual basis. Overstep the bounds and you could end up in court, as one prominent doctor found out. He either brushed against a waitress’s leg (his version), or put his hand up her skirt (her version): the truth most likely lies in between. Now, the “victim” worked in a theme restaurant, and dressed specifically to appeal to male fantasies: yet when they were acted upon, the perpetrator was found guilty of indecent assault, when surely “lack of self-control” would have been a more appropriate charge.
This just represents the bluntest over-reaction. Men are basically sexual creatures, and it’s not something that can be turned off like a tap. Two million years of instinct trump a century of Victorian morality, and less than a decade of political correctness: biology is destiny. Yet an off-colour remark in the office could result in a sexual harrassment suit, and catching a woman’s eye on the tube leaves you feeling like a pervert. It’s no wonder that men flock to places where they can release at least some unresolved sexual tension without fear of repercussions.
There are times, however, when the question of exploitation does rear its head. Less of the punters by the artistes, or vice versa, more the way both (but especially the girls) seem to be getting exploited by the venue. From what I’ve heard, it seems that at best they don’t pay the girls. At worst, the babes have to pay an up-front fee and also contribute a hefty slice of their takings – 30% was the figure I heard – to the house. Now, this money doesn’t seem to be used to subsidise the drinks prices: while not extortionate, neither are they exactly happy-hour-at-the-Student-Union. Someone, somewhere is making a very pleasant profit, which probably also goes a long way to explain the proliferation of such venues. From originally being little more than a way of getting customers into out-of-the-way pubs on slow evenings, the entertainment has now become the raison d’etre. However, it is something of a disincentive to realise that the asshole DJ is taking his pay out of every quid you drop in the jug.
A pleasant development on the scene has been the introduction of table-dancing to, first Metropolis, and then Brown’s — the service lets you select a dancer and have her perform for you in relative intimacy. The cost is about a fiver per head, which gets you a song’s worth of undiluted attention in a curtained-off area. While remaining strictly a visual pleasure, it’s an experience I’d recommend to anyone — these girls are good at their job, and when you get to pick the best of them, it’s like having a blow-torch turned on your libido. The sensual equivalent of freebased cocaine, you get a cheap, instant, intense high, followed by an overpowering urge to repeat the experience. Fortunately, unlike crack, the main problem is supply and demand: especially at Metropolis, after ‘booking’, you may have a lengthy and for some reason nerve-wracking delay as you stand around, waiting your turn.
This innovation appears to have come about partly in response to a venue called ‘For Your Eyes Only’, which opened last year in the exotic location of, er, Hanger Lane. This new Gyratory System specialises in the table dance, but has not yet been visited by TC since it’s a) miles from anywhere else you’d ever want to go and b) £20 to get in, which goes against our philosophy. When one can see babes of the quality of Ulrike and Marianne for free, why bother paying?
This is especially true when the escalative spiral is continuing apace in more accessible areas. For a while, Brown’s offered “lap-dances” — though let’s be clear, we are not talking anything like the full-contact, sticky trouser experience seen in Showgirls. [See Beer and Writhing in Las Vegas for details] It was more like a point-blank table dance, so close you could feel their body heat, and strictly no contact permitted. This required incredible will-power – or sitting on your hands and to enforce the rule, it all took place ‘in the open’. However, after about ten seconds, you didn’t notice, and though the girls may be only topless, it was better value than their table dances.
That wasn’t their only new feature, though the appeal of the tequila slammer escaped me: five quid to lick salt from your girl’s arm, down the alcohol and pluck the lime from between her teeth seemed a bit steep. Both innovations only lasted a few months, but it’ll be interesting to see how their competitors respond: will Metropolis begin doing proper lap dances? Whatever happens, we, the customers will likely be the ones to benefit, illustrating perfectly the delights of competition in an unregulated free-market economy…
[Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted Brown’s making the news in August — sadly, for all the wrong reasons. Three employees were shot, when a group they’d thrown out for hassling the girls came back. One bouncer took six bullets, while his colleague and the manager were also injured. Sobering stuff. Not that it’s stopped us from going there, of course!]
A slim volume, and one surprisingly hard to track down. From first word of its appearance togqtt a copy took six months; “available from slightly disreputable bookshops”, maybe. It contains a swathe of information about the times and places in which striptease may be seen, right down to telephone numbers. All kinds of venues are covered, in and around London, from posh theatrical joints like Raymond’s Revue Bar to seedy dives, evaluated for ambience, visibility and totty quality. Fleshing out the bones are anecdotal tales and, for some reason, architectural observations. Perhaps behind the author’s (blatant) pseudonym lurks Prince Charles?
Given the anticipation, the book was something of a disappointment, inevitably. There’s not an enormous amount of information — I read it on the tube, between Liverpool Street and Victoria — and most of it will be known to any seasoned regular. Though a few venues were new to me, it didn’t sounds as if I was missing muchl The tales of attendance were the highlight; describing one dancer as like “a particularly languid sloth on a diet of beta-blockers” vividly evoke the imagination. But it’s all too slight to have more than passing interest: not worthless, by any means, especially for the novice, for whom it’s probably priceless. But anyone else would be better off using the money to get 4/5 of a table dance from the babe of your choice.
There is a school of thought which suggest that not showing something is more evocative than if it is clearly seen. This applies to horror movies, and also to sex — certain critics bemoan the excesses of the modern era over the understated subtleties of former times. It’s not an argument I personally accept (if I want to “use my imagination”, I don’t need to shell out hard cash to do so), but in some cases, will admit that it can prove culturally productive.
Take Japan which, despite stern censorship, has developed a pornography industry second only to America, probably far surpassing the stale “legitimate” movie business, both in terms of turnover and invention. Each month, the number of tapes released is well into three figures, with the video companies publicising their wares in lavishly illustrated, full-colour brochures of sample sleeves. These are true works of art, in the same way that London telephone boxes become art galleries of the minimasterpieces which are prostitute’s cards — though in comparison, those look like a child’s finger-painting. If ever anything made me want to splash out on a colour cover for TC, these sleeves did, despite the same stringent rules for censorship still applying. Thus, all genitals are obscured, with a colourful range of red ink, black blobs and intriguing cross-hatching that makes every willie look like it’s been wrapped in straw.
The reason for the intense effort that clearly goes into the covers is simple: in a jam-packed market, you’ve got to leap off the shelf and grab a punter by the ‘nads in the time it takes his eye to sweep across your sleeve. Hence, gold, silver and flashy fonts are in order, though the format hardly varies across titles or companies. The front cover almost inevitably has the women who star in the video, the back is crammed with a cut-up assortment of stills from the film. The most notable point is that the immaculately coiffured woman on the front is all but unrecognisable when getting down and dirty “in action”…
Then there is the interesting usage of English. Now, taking the piss out of foreigners is childish and puerile xenophobia, but if you’re going to use a foreign language in your advertising material…let’s just say that those who live by the word, die by the word. Sometimes, though, the results have a grace and beauty that are almost poetic, as in the following, taken from the Garden of Schoolgirls sleeve:
In the forbidden garden
the defenseless girls
who were carried away by sexual impulse
Not quite the traditional 5-7-5 syllable structure of haiku, but lyrical and graceful none the less. This was, however, an exception, and the vast majority treat English like a prisoner of war. The following samples, like every other one in this article, are presented with exactly the spelling, grammar, capitalisation and punctuation as they possess on the covers:
The last of these sounds more like an advert for breakfast cereal than X-rated pornogaphy. However, my personal favourite leads off this article, deserving to appear in large text and a different font, since it manages to be simultaneously evocative and completely incoherent,
The most superfluous warning has to be the “Caution X rated!” with which ZET Video is careful to label its product. This does seem somewhat pointless when the rest of the cover ensures that the tape is most unlikely to be mistaken for a Disney movie, and probably falls into the category of reverse advertising, done to lure rather than warn.
ZET are just one of the many companies competing for business: others, such as Big Morkal, eightman, Sodom, and the engagingly named ‘Atlas Radical Adult Fantasy Mega-Pictures’, are also out there pitching to the market. Some produce generic erotica while others have found smaller niches: Cinemagic do bondage, while Miss Christine are a “costume play” outfit i.e. dressing up, as nurses, schoolgirls or whatever. The Tiffany label specialise in debutantes, and this is reflected in titles such as Legend of Virgin Shrine, New Sensual Princess, and Virgin Princess (but oddly, there is no sign of Sensual Shrine).
The actual titles of the films represent an extension of the mutant English mentioned elsewhere. They range from the relatively straightforward (Uniform Lesbian BattleRoyal), through the slightly obscure (New UniformSniper — which perhaps raises more questions than it answers) to some that…well…would you rent Illegality Violate Tits [A program on a different channel version]? Here are some other interesting candidates:
Of course, the all-time classic title remains Jesus Clitoris Superstar, if only because it lets me tell the (quite possibly apocryphal) story about a Japanese department store whose Christmas display featured Santa Claus nailed to a cross…