Sunday, February 28, 2021

Between the Cheeks (1985)

I would love to know which came first: Between the Cheeks the movie, or "Between the Cheeks" the theme song? Logically, the song would be written to the flick, at least a one page (or in this case, face it, one paragraph) treatment, but I'd easily believe it was the other way around. The song mentions two guys: a “crazy guy…[who] says he’s from another planet” and “doesn’t know the difference between a pussy and a cat” and “another fellow...who...talks about his bitches all day long in school.” The former is played by Tony Martino, wearing a shower cap, bathrobe, and neck tie, and doing a Dollar Store Carl Spackler.

The latter is played by Marc Wallice and/or Steve Powers, in blazers, sunglasses, and fedoras, channeling Anthony Michael Hall’s character from the bar scene in Weird Science.

The three guys are in some sort of class taught by Jack Baker, explaining the difference between human women (or, “bitches” as Baker says women are referred to “in this society”) and cats and extolling the virtues of anal sex. The first five sex scenes are flashback vignettes, the last takes place in the classroom when Baker brings in Sheri St. Clair for an in-class demonstration.

On paper, I expected the Ginger Lynn scene (with Wallice, Tom Byron, and Martino) to be the standout. It was fine, but my favorite was the Laurie Smith/Steve Alexander scene, at least in part due the scene’s music, which is a mashup of a Kraftwerk pastiche and Alan Silvestri's Summer Rental theme. The costuming, spartan set, and music would fit right into Suze Randall’s Miss Passion.

One thing I can is that everybody involved in the movie commits to the material. Martino, Wallice, and Powers give everything they have to the absurdity of the material. Jack Baker has an undeniable charisma, and he was probably great at the Dozens, but he should have probably stuck to nonsex roles. I can’t recall him in a hardcore scene (this film included) that he proved himself as a moderately capable woodsman.

Gregory Dark was an undeniably important figure in the direction of pornography. A comment on the post accompanying The Rialto Report’s interview with Dark sums it up pretty succinctly (if not a touch hyperbolic):

Greg Dark is hands down the MOST innovative and interesting director to come out of the industry in the 1980s. He ripped up the rule book, and whether you like his films or not, the industry was never the same again. There aren’t many that can say that.

Just look at what came before…
Talk Dirty To Me, which was good but it aped regular films.

Afterwards? Buttman, gonzo, alt porn, and so on. All as a direct result of the Dark Bros.

Since time is a flat circle, Between the Cheeks reminded me of Eon McKai’s Art School Sluts, which was directly related to me starting this blog in the first place:

Fleshbot's coverage of the production of Art School Sluts inspired me to get an online porn rental subscription; while Art School Sluts was in the first round of rentals (along with other early cracks at movies like The Masseuse, Stuntgirl, Marie and Jack: A Love Story, and Kill Girl Kill), it was rewatching the films of my adolescence - Filthy Rich and Stiff Competition - and discovering others from the same era - Barbara Broadcast and Sex World - that piqued my interest.

At Adult DVD Talk, Violet Blue said of Art School Sluts:

Finally, finally someone made an authentic, unselfconscious, intentionally ironic porn film.

I know all these people. They're at the record store counter, at the lame bar I go to with all the hipsters. But here they have hot sex. If you're under 30, see this video. The old middle-aged white guys in porn aren't going to know what hit them.

The same words could have applied to Dark’s early work. If not Between the Cheeks, exactly, then New Wave Hookers, certainly. In a sort of moneyshot ouroboros, in 2006 McKai made Neu Wave Hookers, a “re-envisioning” of the Dark classic.

Anyway, let’s see what Rimmer says:

I’ve given this one a CC rating only because it’s a classic in anal-sex video, which was the big seller on cassettes in 1985.

That is a fucking wack reason to rate something a Collector’s Choice! I did laugh out loud, though, I read:

The connection between the sequences involves a group of morons who are being taught the joys of anal sex by a black dude.

Dark’s early work is unashamedly sleazy and not really my cup of tea, but for historical importance - and the fact that Between the Cheeks and it’s ilk set the groundwork for Devils in Miss Jones 3 & 4 - I’ll rate Cheeks a CC100.

° Gregory Dark's fascination with black street culture and slang has always reminded me of Quentin Tarantino's and I wonder if on some level - conscious or subconscious - Dark cast Jack Baker the way Tarantino did/does Samuel L. Jackson to potentially ward off criticisms of racism.

° Sheri St. Clair's picture at IAFD has always looked to me like a Upright Citizen's Brigade Comedy Central show-era Amy Poehler dressed up as a porn performer:

On deck:

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