Blonde Babe of Yesteryear Gigi Darlene (4 Mar 1943 – 1 Jan 2002) was one the multitude of attractive, intriguing actresses of New York's low budget exploitation film scene of the sixties. We would hazard to say, at the risk of offending many, that her thespian skills were definitely less impressive than her knockout figure and alluring presence.* That said, her vacuous sexiness is a perfect fit to the classic, surreal roughie to which she perhaps owes her lasting appeal: Doris Wishman's Bad Girls Go to Hell (1965).
* To present an opposing view, the Rialto Report is of the opinion: "Occasionally an actress was noted for her looks. Less frequently she was notable for her acting ability. Gigi Darlene had both. She was a star. She was blonde, beautiful, and expressive. A pouting, petulant kitten. She combined an unexpected innocence with a knowing and sultry confidence. The monochrome screen lit up with her feline presence. Her talents were in demand and she made regular appearances in New York sexploitation films."
A ubiquitous presence in NYC sleaze films from around 1962 to '67, she seemingly disappeared overnight. Something that the sexploitation film-makers of the time noticed enough that amidst the opening credits of Michael Findlay's 1968 roughie The Curse of Her Flesh (trailer), which are presented in the form of graffiti scrawled on a filthy restroom wall, and between all the other crude comments, a simple question is scrawled: "Whatever happened to Gigi Darlene?" It was a question that became a cult question, but also long remained a rhetorical one. The latter, at least, until 11 May 2014, when the fantastic sleuths of at the Rialto Report finally answered the question of "Whatever Happened to Gigi Darlene?"
Music not from the film –
John Barry's Swinging City with images from The Curse of Her Flesh:
The bio at imdb is based entirely on their research: "Gigi Darlene was born Heli Leonore Weinreich on March 4, 1943 in Berlin, Germany. [...] After threatening to run away from home at age sixteen, Gigi in 1959 was allowed by her mother to immigrate to Flushing, Queens, New York City, where she lived with a couple of family friends. [...] Darlene eventually moved to Manhattan; she lived on West 43rd Street and began posing for photo shoots for various men's magazines. (One example, of course, is found above.) Gigi branched out as an exotic dancer making the rounds at clubs in New York, New Jersey, and Long Island. While dancing at clubs Darlene met and befriended future soft-core movie actress Darlene Bennett.** [...] Darlene started acting in assorted low-budget sexploitation features that were made throughout the early to mid 1960's. [...] She often co-starred with Darlene Bennett in these films. [Heli's acting / dancing /modeling pseudonym, Gig Darlene, was inspired as much by the 1958 film Gigi (trailer) as by her good friend Darlene Bennett.) Gigi was working as a featured dancer at a club in New Jersey when she first met her future husband Edwin Greal, who did a stage show as a hypnotist using the pseudonym Charles Lamont. Darlene and Greal got married on August 29, 1966. Gigi moved to Fort Lee, New Jersey after marrying Greal and agreed to stop acting in movies. Greal and Darlene eventually formed a stage act together and went on the road. [...] They resided in Vegas for five years [as of 1975] and continued to do stage shows before eventually moving to South Florida in 1980. Alas, shortly after moving to South Florida Greal died at age 56 on December 18, 1980. [...] Gigi in 1981 went on to obtain a Real Estate license in Fort Lauderdale and sold time-share apartments on and off for twenty years. Moreover, Darlene was a member of the Screen Actors Guild and worked as an extra in movies*** that were shot in South Florida. Gigi died from stomach cancer at a hospice in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on New Year's Day in 2002. She was 58 years old. Her body was cremated and her ashes were scattered off the pier in Deerfield Beach, Florida into the Atlantic Ocean."
** On 11 April 2021, the fantastic sleuths of at the Rialto Report also managed another scoop with their online article "Black and White Dreams of Darlene: Looking for the Bennett Sisters."
*** None of which are listed on any filmography of hers that we could find.
Go here for
Gigi Darlene, Part I: 1961-63
Gigi Darlene, Part II: 1964
Gigi Darlene, Part III: 1965 (Pt. I)
Gigi Darlene, Part IV: 1965 (Pt. II)
Another Day, Another Man
(1966, writ. & dir. Doris Wishman)
Full film found here. Gigi Darlene in her second
Lynch Doris Wishman movie! Only this time around her presence is negligible — indeed, it consists of leftover footage from Bad Girls Go to Hell (1965, see Part III). Another Day, Another Man is also, after Bad Girls, the second in Wishman's unofficial trilogy of B&W roughies, which ended in 1967 with truly bat-shit crazy Indecent Desires (trailer audio).
Over at All Movie, Fred Beldin explains what makes Doris Wishman so special, so different, so much fun: "Nudist camps, transsexuals, penis transplants, exploding breasts...these are the plot devices that distinguish the work of the woman who ranks as one of the most prolific female directors in film history. Doris Wishman worked solely in the realm of adults-only pictures, stuffing more than two dozen films with nudity, simulated sex, and other exploitable elements. A fiercely independent director, Wishman wrote, produced, and distributed most of her films herself (often using pseudonyms to conceal her one-woman show). Her idiosyncratic style, lurid subjects, and low budgets have kept her movies under the radar of mainstream tastes, but a devoted cult has grown that appreciates her bizarre tales of sexual tension. [...] Wishman's films have gained a new audience in recent years amongst cult film fanatics who are drawn to the director's unique visual and narrative style. Each film is filled with non sequitur close-ups of lamps, ashtrays, and other mundane household items. Plots move sluggishly (or not at all), jumping suddenly to violent, dreamlike twists in logic. There is a strange focus on her characters' feet and jittery hand-held cinematography. While initially disorienting to viewers accustomed to mainstream films, Wishman's bizarre non-techniques are so recognizable in all of her work that they become endearing."
Trailer audio to
Another Day, Another Man:
The AFI has their interpretation of the plot of Another Day, Another Man: "Ann (Barbara Kemp) and Tess (Mary O'Hara) are roommates. Ann works in an office and Tess is a prostitute working for a pimp named Bert (Sam Stewart). Ann is secretly married to Steve Wundit (Augustin Mayor), and she quits her job when Steve gets a raise. A short time later, Steve becomes very ill, and Ann is forced to go to work for Bert to support Steve. Tess becomes pregnant by Bert, but he refuses to marry her, and she informs the police of his prostitution ring. Steve recovers enough to visit Ann at what he supposes is her office. Steve finds her in another man's arms, and he quickly returns home to commit suicide. Ann finds him dead and cries that she became a prostitute for his sake."
At the Fine Arts Drive-in on Planet Texas, Another Day, Another Man was screened with One on Top of the Other (1969) a.k.a. Perversion Story a.k.a. Una sull'altra, a prime slice of giallo Eurotrash directed by the great Lucio Fulci (17 Jun 1927 – 13 Mar 1996), the man behind such classics and non-classics like Demonia (1990), Manhattan Baby (1982), City of the Living Dead (1980), Zombie (1979) and so much more. Fulci's first giallo, he is known to have been particularly proud of the film.
One on Top of the Other:
Over at House of Self-Indulgence , Yum Yum has decided that she has "[...] no choice but to declare Another Day, Another Man pretty much perfect as far as cinematic entertainment goes. Sure, the film relies too much on archival footage, but as far as perverted camera angles; unnecessary close ups of legs, feet and inanimate objects; never having the person reciting dialogue appear onscreen; and scenes that boast distressed blondes cradling their faces in their hands go, this is pure Doris Wishman-based awesomeness from start to finish." She also explains that "Gigi Darlene also makes an appearance as a woman Bert [the Pimp] picks up at the bus station. Watch the intricate hip work Gigi employs as she shakes her moneymaker in nothing but her bra and panties, it's downright hypnotic."
Mondo Digital might agree with Yum Yum: "For another walk on the sordid side, take a gander at Another Day, Another Man [...]. Sex doesn't pay, at least in Wishman's world, but it's so darn fun on the road to ruin that few will care about the message. Unlike the soapy dramas being churned out by Hollywood at the time, Wishman's roughie morality plays make no attempts at pandering to the masses like, say, Peyton Place (1957 / trailer). What we get instead is acres of sad-looking women in lingerie, trashy and all-too-catchy jazz music designed to lodge itself in your brain, and shaky camerawork that looks more accidental than cinema verite. While Doris eventually turned towards candy-colored lounge nightmares [...], these earlier gems belong to an era unto themselves and deserve a slot, no matter how disreputable, in a history of '60s cinema in America."
In Philadelphia at the Studio, Another Day, Another Man was paired with the almost-a-decade older production, The Girl with an Itch (1958 / trailer below), starring Robert Armstrong (of The Mad Ghoul [1943 / trailer]), the pulchritude of Kathy Marlowe, and the great Robert Clarke (1 June 1920 – 11 June 2005).
The Girl with an Itch:
Another Day, Another Man "features the song used in Something Weird Video's promo reel played before all of their films; the appropriately chosen The Hellraisers by Syd Dale. It is a great opening tune for this delightfully seedy little film. The hair in this one is as large as it gets! The tower on Ann's (Barbara Kemp) head is beyond belief! How does one even get hair to stand that tall?! It is seriously fabulous! Barbara Kemp is a fascination to watch; I think she may have been on Valium as she seems to have but one emotion. [...] Shocked and chatting with a friend look remarkably similar. Oh Barb, you made me smile often. Ann is a good woman though, and bad things often happen to good women in Ms. Wishman's films. Of course, Ann could have gotten a job in an office or a store but who was going to hire her with that hair? [...] Mary O'Hara is perfect as the hustling and headstrong Tess. Sam Stewart puts in another memorable Wishman performance with his pimp character Bert and his flashback scene is one of the film's best moments. Funny, sexy, tragic and sleazy... [Gore Girl's Dungeon]"
The Hell Raisers
by Syd Dale:
"Syd Dale (20 May 1924 – 15 Aug 1994) was an English self-taught composer and arranger of funk, easy listening and library music. His music played an important role on TV, radio and advertising media of the 1960s and 1970s and is still used. [Wikipedia]" The only other known film credit of "Steve", or rather Augustin Mayor (1935 – 18 Nov 1968), is in Del Tenney's infamous The Horror of Party Beach (1964).
The Horror of Party Beach:
Hot Nights on the Campus
A.k.a. Nights on Campus & Hot Nights on Campus — full film at the Internet Archives. Gigi Darlene is rare feature role — but then, her real voice is never used. "Hot Nights on the Campus is a near-deadly combination of sleeping pills and sloe gin. You survive, but you don't feel very good about either circumstance. [DVD Talk]"
Footage from Hot Nights on the Campus
set to Wendy Rene remixed:
As mentioned in Part IV in our entry about Tony Orlando's second film, Lust and the Flesh (1965), that film made enough money to finance this movie here, which, like the movie that preceded it, had a budget of $5,000. Filming was completed in two days. As per Orlando's business partner and cameraman C. Davis Smith, "We improvised the scenes as we went along. [...] To make things even cheaper, a number of the production team acted in Hot Nights on the Campus [...]. Even I acted as a photographer (of course...) and Tony Orlando can be seen in the background of one of the scenes. It was a fun weekend — we were making a film and hanging out with the girls. Darlene Bennett, in particular, was a riot. She told us stories about celebrities she slept with, like Robert Goulet (26 Nov 1933 – 30 Oct 2007), who was a Broadway star of the time. [Rialto Report]"
Hot Nights on the Campus was a financial success, and Smith and Orlando would have surely made a third film together had Orlando not died during open-heart surgery.
Robert Goulet singing his greatest hit,
My Love, Forgive Me (Amore, Scusami):
Once again, we turn to our favorite bad-film pusher Something Weird for the plot, which Lisa Petrucci is happy to supply: "It's Collegetown USA and curious kids will take the opportunity to explore their new-found freedom and experience as many Hot Nights on the Campus as they can! Scrumptious sixties sex kitten Gigi Darlene stars as Sally, a naive country gal who is away from home for the first time and starting college in the Big Apple. She shares and apartment with four promiscuous roommates [...]. They welcome Sally with open arms and invite her to a party. The pretty hayseed is eager to fit in but is appalled when the party turns into a full-blown orgy — featuring such scandalous acts of human perversion as forming a topless human pyramid and banana fondling. Sally is so upset that she flees the party and goes to the apartment of Professor John, a family friend. She pours her heart out to him and finds comfort when the teacher introduces her to the ways of love. Not surprisingly, Sally learns quickly and gets an A+ in 'Tease and Please.' Stan, a fellow student, comes over to study and now sexually-liberated Sally throws herself at him for a heavy make-out session right at the kitchen table. She begins seeing both Stan and Professor John, and spends most of her extra-curricular time pingponging between the two. [...] Sally soon realizes that she needs money to survive in the city — so in a city full of countless jobs — she takes a modeling assignment for a men's magazine. Naturally. But she begins to feel sick on the job and the photographer suggests that perhaps she's pregnant. Oops. [...] Frantic, Sally informs both her lovers but neither one takes responsibility for her delicate condition. Will Sally submit to be butchered by a back-alley abortionist? Will she be rescued by a knight in shining armor? Or will despair drive her to do herself in? Find out... after another fun-filled orgy with those wacky college kids (set to the familiar sounds of the Austin Powers theme music!?)"
"Thanks to the nonstop voiceover, fleapit locations, relentless rinky-dink music and random cutaway shots, you could easily mistake this for a Doris Wishman film. [Mondo Digital]"
"Hot Nights on the Campus is rough around the edges but appealing in a sleazy [...] sort of way. The action primarily takes place in and around one apartment with most set ups lit by a single, blinding spotlight, often positioned in the corner of the room. C. Davis Smith's handheld camera work does wonders in upping the picture's sleaze factor as it gives the feature a rough, sketchy atmosphere that is further enhanced by the occasional and unintentional cameraman shadow, which skulks over the ladies like a phantom pepping tom. The fact that the picture features no dialogue, just narration, also adds to its rough and tumble nature. It is, however, Gigi Darlene's gradual state of undress that helps to hold one's attention throughout the sophomoric but amusing tale of degradation and disgrace. [DVD Drive-In]"
Somewhere along the way, Hot Nights on the Campus was incongruently paired (ad above) with Sam Fuller's classic Shock Corridor (1963 / trailer). In Philadelphia, at the Studio, it was paired with the possibly more compatible Honey, which we assume is the lost 1966 exploiter directed by Jerry Denby (8 Feb 1931 – 24 Oct 2001), who appears in Hot Nights on the Campus as the abortionist.
Sin in the City
(1966, dir. Barry Mahon)
Possibly the last Barry Mahon film to feature Gigi Darlene — as normal: uncredited and alongside the usual suspects and in an in-the-end typically unclothed role, namely as the "Stripper on Bar". (Needless to say, she needed no rehearsal for the part.) The Mahon cheapie has not been a favorite for online commentary.
As normal, however, over at Something Weird, where they have the film for sale and screen a non-embeddable trailer, Lisa Petrucci offers a blow-by-blow description of this slice of "classic sexploitation from Mr. 'Crank 'em out like sausage' Barry Mahon, with a heaping helping of black bras, panties, and hose": "Long before there was Sex in the City, there was Sin in the City. And the premise is basically the same: pretty young women look for adventure, cheap thrills, and opportunities to get laid in The Big Apple! Three bored gals who've been cooped up in a boarding school for months [...] take a bus to Port Authority in Manhattan. Upon their arrival, they make a pact to get into as much trouble as they possibly can and, more importantly, to do anything anyone asks them to! With this challenge before them, the gals make a beeline to colorful Greenwich Village where they look for the wildest club they can find. They end up at a sleazy but wildly decorated dive where [...] the great Gigi Darlene is performing a long, leisurely striptease on the bar. Though we're very impressed, June [Roberts]* isn't. After proclaiming, 'Anybody can do that,' she jumps on the bar, and peels it off for the drunken drooling patrons. Now we're doubly impressed! The other gals follow suit and make friends with some random guy who invites them to a party. At a seedy downtown apartment, the pie-eyed lasses quickly join in on the depravity in progress. Sexploitation starlets Uta Erickson (of Bacchanale [1970, see Harry Reems Part II]), Joanna Cunningham [a.k.a. Rita Bennett], and Darlene Bennett [unrelated to Rita] are among the guests, and the party really gets going when a joint gets passed around. Topless gals dance around a potted plant and do tricks with their tits. June and one of her friends hook up with some slick dudes, though poor June is rudely surprised by an aggressive lesbian advance which she promptly rebuffs. (Too bad.) One of the schoolgirls — the one with the big bee-hive — isn't one bit impressed with the pot party, so her horny suitor suggests they go to a fancy-schmancy 'uptown party,' which, despite all the black ties and designer dresses, quickly degenerates into an all-out orgy. There's swingin' and swappin' as lonely housewives [...] get their groove on. The pixie-haired chick decides this ain't her scene and goes back downtown for more low-rent kicks. While uptown, Miss Beehive is being a bit of a prude, but she remembers her pledge to be bad and lets some joker have his way with her. Meanwhile, June looks for any opportunity to get topless and dance, God bless her. Highlight of the party: two naked chicks contemplating a lava lamp. But all this fun must come to end when the thrill-seekers have to catch the bus back to dullsville..."
* "Whatever happened to June Roberts?"
At Letterboxd, Michael Elliot is a forgiving guy: "If you're familiar with Mahon's work then you'll find a lot of the same stuff here, which includes narration explaining everything, lots of naked ladies and of course there are the New York locations. For the most part I found this to be an entertaining film for what it was. This here is nothing more than an excuse to show off nudity and once again Mahon doesn't disappoint as there is a ton of it and there really aren't too many scenes where flesh isn't showing. Another major plus is the fact that the girls are all rather cute with familiar Mahon faces like June Roberts, Darlene Bennett* and Gigi Darlene showing up and showing off. The film has a much better pacing that you normally see in the work of the director and while the girls really don't do anything too shocking the film is still fun to watch."
* "Whatever happened to Darlene Bennett?" The Rialto Report knows.
Over at the imdb, way back in 2011 that pervasive purveyor of porn known as lor was less forgiving of this "lame slice of non-life" than Michael Elliot: "A few moments of nostalgia value is all that Sin in the City has to offer. [...] Mostly shot MOS with some voice-over narration, this all-filler outing has them heading to Greenwich Village to dance topless atop a bar, three decades before Coyote Ugly (2000 / trailer) time. Invited to a swinging party, they spend the rest of the film smoking pot and getting naked [...]. I enjoy watching Gigi Darlene, Uta Erickson, Joanna Cunningham and Darlene Bennett go topless as much as the next guy, but the setting here is dull and stupid. Only highlight comes in the first reel when we're treated to a montage of Greenwich Village cafe/bar/club signs, recalling mostly long-gone (and forgotten) haunts [...]. Acting in the direct-sound segments is quite poor, and overall not much of interest happens. More nostalgia occurs as a topless girl sits mesmerized by the wavering patterns of a lava lamp, while we listen to Mahon library music from one of his Lucky Kargo* adventures. That's Entertainment (1974 / trailer), minimalist division."
* "New York-based stuntman and dancer Lucky Kargo was popular for his athletic body-builder physique. He appeared on Broadway [...] and was at one time the national jitterbug and Harvest Moon Ball Dance Champion. Skilled in acrobatics, boxing, and karate, the 6'2", 195-pound Kargo gained some infamy for appearing as an actor in several soft-core adult films in the 1960s [...]. In his later years he became a dance instructor, cruise ship host, and ballroom dance companion in Florida to adoring senior citizen females. [Gene Scott Freese, Hollywood Stunt Performers, 1910s-1970s: A Biographical Dictionary]" Of Kargo's "several soft-core adult films", three were for Mr Barry Mahon: The Love Cult (1966 / trailer), Girl Smugglers (1967) and Sex Club International (1967 / full film). The photo of Lucky Kargo below is by Mary Ellen Mark.
At the Fine Arts Drive-in on Planet Texas, Barry Mahon's B&W Sin in the City got paired with Barry Mahon's full color Confessions of a Bad Girl (1965 / trailer). Pulp Informer has the story: "Judith Adams (Judy Adler) goes to New York city to seek her fame and fortune as a model and actress. Unfortunately for her, life slaps her in the face, repeatedly (I think most of us are familiar with that feeling ). Things go from bad to worse. That's all there is to the story. The nudity is tame and violence is lame. These days, you can see more explicit nudity and blood and guts on the 'free' TV channels."
File X for Sex: The Story of the Perverted
(1967, writ. & dir. C. Davis Smith)
File X for Sex: The Story of the Perverted can perhaps be seen as a precursor to the white-coaters that were soon to gain popularity, if without the white-coated doctor. Over at the Rialto Report, the film's writer/director explains the movie: "[File X for Sex] was a compilation film. The construct was that we filmed scenes using a hidden camera, and captured all sorts of depravities like necrophilia, fetishists, and prostitution. The original title was Sex Psycho. The key was to find a device where you could show bizarre scenes of contrived nastiness towards defenseless women. It was in poor taste, but we knew we'd always make some easy money from this kind of film so it wasn't a difficult decision."
The faux-serious presentation of faux-case studies is true to and typical of the later genre that was all in the name of education that soon gained popularity and helped open the floodgates to hardcore porn (i.e., white-coater). Gigi shows up in the nymphomania segment, playing the supposed nympho. Her scene is her last known appearance in a film — as normal, without dialog and uncredited. But then, her fame is far greater now than it actually was when she was making movies. One would not be wrong to say that during the brief period she made films, she got her jobs due to her pleasant appearance and willingness to show skin, not to any thespian talent, and her name was not exactly a draw.
The rest of the uncredited cast includes all of the regular female suspects, as well as one stacked but (at least in regard to popular female exploitation actresses of the time) oddly overlooked name that has since slipped into general obscurity: Yolanda Signorelli (seen above doing a hand bra, below in a wig). She left the biz to become Yolanda Signorelli von Braunhut, the wife of the white supremacist Jewish neo-Nazi and major funder of the Aryan Nation, Harold Nathan von Braunhut (31 Mar 1926 – 28 Nov 2003),* the man who brought both the Amazing Sea-Monkeys and the X-Ray Specs to the American public. Yolanda is still alive and involved in a never-ending lawsuit to regain possession of the Amazing Sea Monkeys; in 2016 she told a reporter that when it came to her husband's leanings, "Harold and I never really talked about things like that. We just really loved each other, and I didn't question him or interrogate him." Oddly enough, as far as we can tell, no one has yet interviewed Yolanda about her exploitation film past.
* "Hitler wasn't a bad guy. He just received bad press."
Venus in Furs & Cool it Baby,
with Yolanda Signorelli:
A search of the web once again reveals that pervasive purveyor of porn known as lor as the only person who has seen this "underwhelming fake-documentary w/NYC talent pool" and found it worth writing about, as he did in 2010 at the imdb: "The fake-documentary File X for Sex is a routine and often boring soft-porn effort [...]. Film is nearly all MOS with dull narration and a tiny bit of dubbing. During one sequence about a nymphomaniac, the narrator describes a series of lurid group-sex encounters for Gigi Marlene [sic], but on screen Davis plods along only with a single, unappealing segment of her with a chubby guy. [... The] film's best segment is about a businessman Harold who is addicted to massage, for which an ultra-busty Yolanda Signorelli oils him up and gets herself topless. I'm sure this footage justified bookings of File X. Final sequence is way overlong, dealing with a couple who collect and sell porno films — hence we're into 'self-revealing' territory, but Smith does not deliver the expected insight into his own status as a pornographer. Instead they watch a stag film that's something of a tribute to Smith's main employer, Doris Wishman, as Michael Lawrence dallies with twin sisters, played by the Bennetts. The Bennetts fondle each other and essentially commit the soft-core version of incest, yet our helpful narrator never refers to incest at all among the 'deviant' acts compiled here for our perusal. Even lesbianism, which the Bennetts simultaneously cover, is not mentioned. Not surprisingly, the most timid sequence deals with male homosexuality, in fairly insulting terms depicting a young guy selling himself for $20 a pop in the Times Square area to raise money to feed his narcotics addiction. Nothing happens, so fans attending in search of female nudity were not offended."
The young gay selling himself, by the way, is played by Smith's soon to be dead business partner, the director Tony Orlando.
Curse of Her Flesh
The second film of Michael & Roberta Findlay's infamous "Flesh" trilogy, Curse of Her Flesh (trailer) follows The Touch of Her Flesh (1967 / trailer) and precedes The Kiss of Her Flesh (1968).
Gigi Darlene, the German Bombshell, does not appear in this movie. But in the credit sequence of this movie, amidst the graffiti shown, prominence is given to the scrawled question, "Whatever happened to Gigi Darlene?" A question undoubtedly asked by many of their colleagues, as long before this film came out, the popular, reliable, sexy and regularly employed German blonde literally fell of the face of the earth. And there she remained until 2014, when the Rialto Report finally answered the question of "Whatever Happened to Gigi Darlene?"
The Touch of Her Flesh:
Wikipedia currently has a decent explanation of the trilogy: ""[The] Findlay's breakthrough film was The Touch of Her Flesh (1967), the tale of a cuckolded gun dealer named Richard Jennings (played by Michael Findlay) who is disfigured in a car accident after finding his wife in bed with another man. In recovery, Jennings comes to generalize his hatred of his wife to promiscuous women in general; after he is released, Jennings goes on a killing spree, murdering prostitutes and strippers with a variety of unique implements, including poison-tipped rose thorns, blowdarts, a crossbow, a scimitar, and a buzzsaw. The film — which included numerous non-sequitur sequences of sadomasochistic sex — was unique for its time; most exploitation films up to that time had either exhibited graphic sex or graphic violence, but never combined the two. Findlay's combination of these elements would presage the slasher films of the 1970s, which freely mixed the two elements in a more mainstream medium. The success of Touch led to two sequels, The Curse of Her Flesh and The Kiss of Her Flesh, both released in 1968; both films followed the formula of Jennings recovering from life-threatening injuries sustained at the end of the previous film and returning to kill prostitutes and strippers while plotting elaborate revenge against individuals who were directly involved with his wife or knew of her affair. Kiss was intended to end the series, with a title card informing the viewers that Jennings' demise was positively the end."
The Kiss of Her Flesh:
"[The Touch of Her Flesh] became a surprise hit, calling for two sequels, each progressively nastier than the previous installment. Not only did the violence become more grotesque and the sex more graphic and fetishistic, the films themselves became more technically adept, featured good performers, and packed enough sleaze and NYC atmosphere into them to create a group of bonafide cult classics. Of the two, Curse of Her Flesh is the tamer, yet more technically advanced sequel, and is an (un)healthy improvement over its predecessor. [DVD Drive-in]" One wonders how much tamer, considering the scene below comes from Curse.
Linda Boyce* and Uta Erickson** in
Curse of Her Flesh:
* "Whatever happened to Linda Boyce?"
** "Whatever happened to Uta Erickson?"
And, finally, the plot: "Having disposed of his wife, Jennings now focuses on killing her lover Steve (Ron Skideri [credited as "A. Dick Feeler"]). His rather complex plan involves running a small NYC theater where Steve is an actor. That seems like a lot of work, actually. Jennings then convinces Steve's girlfriend (Eve Bork) to go through an even more elaborate set up to get his ultimate revenge. Naturally, he is successful because Jennings is, like his one eye, focused. [Video Junkie]"
Famously (and tragically), Michael Findlay (27 Aug 1937 – 16 May 1977) died when he got shredded in a rooftop helicopter accident. Roberta Findlay, however, continued making sleaze and trash and exploitation for years afterwards. Now retired but still alive, she was interviewed by the Rialto Report back in 2015 and revealed a remarkable distaste for her own work — she doesn't even seem to care what happens to it. Listen to the Rialto Report's amazing podcast Roberta Findlay: A Respectable Woman to hear her yourself.
The History of Erotica
Whether or not the "short film" The History of Erotica ever was released as a standalone short is open to conjecture, for though listed on Gigi's filmography at numerous sites, the ten minute short is actually a 10-minute sequence that Lem Amero (24 Sept 1937 – 5 Aug 1989), and John Amero cut together to add ten minutes of time to their hardcore porn movie, Dynamite. It is indeed a standalone short in that History plays before the credits to Dynamite itself, but as far as we can tell it never had a standalone release. The poster above, in any event, is to Dynamite, and features the faces of Dolly Sharp and William Love. We wouldn't bet our pinkie on it, but Dynamite might be the Amero's first truly hardcore feature film; within a few years, they were switch-hitting between straight and gay porn.
The names of the Amero brothers pop up in Gigi Part I for their involvement in the softcore roughie, Body of a Female (1964), but oddly enough the most noticeable footage of (a completely nude) Gigi used in the 10-minute sequence/short is from a non-Amero film, Raw Weekend (1964, see Part II) — the photo above comes from that film. The only other scenes cut into The History of Erotica that we could recognize were from the historically important animated classic Eveready Harton in Buried Treasure (full film), a "crude, 7-minute, silent-era pornographic cartoon [that] was reportedly created by an anonymous group of animators. According to some reports, American film labs refused to process it, and it had to be developed in Cuba. It was dated to either 1928 or 1929 and might have been produced for a party honoring Little Nemo creator Winsor McCay. [Filmsite]"
In any event, as a film the 10-minute The History of Erotica, with its inane commentary, is pretty pointless as it really shares no new or interesting information (or at least not in the German dub, which is how we saw it).
Golden Sin Pleasure has the plot to Dynamite, which should definitely not be confused with Arch Brown's similarly toy-obsessed hardcore gay porn film Dynamite (1978): "[...] Being a production from the beginning of the seventies, the story is not that complicated and is more of an excuse to present a series of sex scenes. But this story is still interesting as we follow a hawker saleswoman (Monica Rivers) who sells sexual aids article and the majority of these encounters are quite amusing. The last one is definitely in the WTF category, and it's really hard not to laugh from the beginning to the end. This one takes place in a cinema where Monica Rivers (a ravishing redhead) has a sexual relationship with the manager of the theater (Leon Oriana) in front of the screen while the customers watch a movie when suddenly the lights turn on, they continue normally (or as normally as possible when a crowd watches and applauds) when suddenly Stars and Stripes Forever begins to play and a couple (Kurt Mann and Darcy Brown) comes on stage to tap dance and Kurt Mann smiled as it was the best day of his life. [...] If we except Dolly Sharp, Jamie Gillis, Kurt Mann and William Love (apart from this film he was in Deep Throat [see R.I.P. Harry Reems Part II]) the rest of the film cast is composed of one timers. [...] The only real complaint [...] is that it was not recorded live and the voices were added later in post-synchronization (which is pretty obvious with the voice of Jamie Gillis, since it isn't his voice at all) and some of those voices are rather annoying and unpleasant."
(2013, dir. Jared Masters)
Ah, a man who knows and is honest about his influences! (Rather unlike the current Republican Party, which continually fails to give credit to their greatest influence, Satan.) Gigi Darlene is among the long list of names director Jared Masters gives Special Thanks to in the credits to his film. Two other names found in that list are Harry Novak and H.G. Lewis, which is why we already looked at the film twice, first in 2015 (R.I.P.: Novak) and then in 2017 (R.I.P.: Lewis), where we more or less wrote:
A.k.a. Virgin Leathers. Jared Masters, the founder of Frolic Pictures, is a "self-taught Beethoven" who "was expelled his freshman year of high school for streaking" and now makes independent sleaze horror flicks. That he might give "Special Thanks" to Gigi Darlene in the credits of one of his numerous flicks is hardly surprising, as what Young Trashfilm-making Turk doesn't like prime, classic T&A?. [...] The plot of Slink, as taken from the Frolic Films website: 'After the unexplained death of their Uncle Arlo, Kayla Nunez (Danika Galindo) and her sister (Jacqueline Larsen) venture to his home in the rural town of Wickenhaven. They plan to claim their share of his estate, but their trip takes a drastic turn after discovering that their uncle's house is occupied by a mysterious relative, Aunt May (Julia Faye West), who may be harboring deadly secrets. Complicating matters is the deranged, lust-filled tanning salon owner, Dale (Art Roberts), and his exotic wife, Joan (Dawna Lee Heising), whose business in designer handbags is the backbone to the entire town's economy, and possibly the darkest fashion controversy the world will ever know.'
Slink stars younger gals who look like wanna-be porn starlets, older gals who look like former porn starlets and/or plastic surgery addicts (in this regard, 'Joan', photo below, stands out in particular) and a variety of ugly men. The acting of Slink is postmodern bad, the sets cheap and the tale over the top — just our cup of tea, in other words.
But not that of Culture Crypt, which hates the flick, saying: "Unquestionably, the single greatest drawback to reviewing low budget independent horror movies is that the job requires sitting through the entirety of something like Slink. [...] Gather up some friends and family with nothing better to do and use them to populate a cast and crew, no experience required. That is the starting point for Slink. From there, the filmmaking philosophy is simply to set each scene in a corner of a room haphazardly dressed to resemble something else and let the camera roll on whatever happens. [...] Any way it is sliced, Slink is a mess on all fronts. Performances are painfully embarrassing for everyone involved. Sets look like they were constructed for a high-school stage play. The music is out of place and thoroughly obnoxious. And the ending is one of the worst ever seen. [...]"
You might notice that going by Culture Crypt's screed above, Slink sounds basically as professional as the kind of films Gigi and her kind usually were found in during the 60s, but in color and without the gratuitous nudity.
Ain't It Cool News, however, is that the movie ends "as if the camera ran out of film". They go on to rave that "[...] though this one feels like it might have been done on the cheap, the idea behind it is strong and for the most part, Slink, though somewhat predictable, plays out pretty masterfully. [...] Basically this is one of those Motel Hell (1980 / trailer) type films where a down-home business makes its business off of the flesh of young women, but instead of Farmer Vincent's fritters, the youthful flesh is made into fashionable handbags, the likes of which Paris, Brittany, and Christina tote to the fashionable affairs [...]. Slink is a pretty tight little thriller with some nice twists along the way in terms of script. The film goes to some dark places [...]. I have to give the film credit for having a very corroded moral core and going to those dank places most horror films are afraid to go. The effects are pretty great and the directing itself does a really good job of maintaining its black tone throughout. [...] Though the evil tanning salon wenches are overly botoxed and siliconed, it fits the tone of the lifestyle the film is lampooning. This is a film about looks over everything else; a comment on the shallow lifestyle we live in, so the gratuitous nudity and NIP/TUCK (2003-10 / trailer) wet dream actresses serve more of a purpose than just window dressing."
"The untold story of American sinema! From director Frank Henenlotter (Basket Case , Brain Damage  and more) and co-producer Mike Vraney ([29 Dec 1957 – 2 Jan 2014] the late founder of Something Weird Video) comes the epic documentary starring legendary exploitation monarch David F. Friedman (24 Dec 1923 – 14 Feb 2011) in his final film appearance. An eye-popping expedition through the world of pre-code peekaboos, stags, sex-hygiene films, goona-goonas, nudie-cuties, roughies, druggies, white-coaters and more — featuring thousands of spicy, steamy and downright sleazy slips from the Something Weird archives. [AGFA]"
We looked at this documentary back in 2017, in Part IX of our R.I.P. H.G. Lewis career review, where we mentioned: "[...] In 2010, Henenlotter made his first documentary, Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore (see Part VIII). His follow-up documentary for Something Weird was this one, featuring HGL's former partner, 'legendary schlockmeister David F. Friedman in his final movie appearance', as host of a comprehensive historical review of sexploitation.
"As DVD Drive-In explains it, '[...] Having obtained over five hours of interview material from a frail, ailing Friedman at his Alabama home in 2011 (it was the last time either Henenlotter or Vraney saw Friedman alive; the producer died just months later), Henenlotter set out to make a doc chronicling the seven-decade evolution and death of the American sexploitation movie, with Friedman's interview as the glue holding together selected cuts from Vraney's vast collection of stag reels, peep show loops, nudie cuties, roughies, sex hygiene movies, burlesque shorts, and white coaters. It took Henenlotter two years to choose material and edit it down for the 136 minute-long That's Sexploitation! (unfortunately, Vraney died unexpectedly before the doc was completed), where it received good notices on the festival and art house circuits in 2013. [...]"
First Video Opener:
"Creative Loafing, which calls the obvious labor of love a 'highly informative documentary', goes on to explain that 'Henenlotter examines the phenomenon of nudies, stag films, burlesque shorts, sex-hygiene pictures and other sordid and sensationalized types of lusty cinema that existed well outside the Hollywood mainstream. Ample clips are shown (including some from such notorious works as Mom and Dad [1945 / full movie], Marihuana [1936 / full movie / trailer] and The Immoral Mr. Teas [1959 / full movie]), and fascinating facts fly fast and furious. For instance, many of the theaters playing these controversial films offered separate showtimes for men and women; nickelodeons showing nudie reels were often tucked away in the back of otherwise reputable, all-ages arcades; and (according to Friedman) nudist films were popular in Germany during the 1930s since Hitler wanted to show off the supposedly superior physiques of his beloved Aryans. The early clips are often amusing (apparently, smoking pot can lead to such ghastly dangers as passionate kissing), while many from the drug-addled 60s prove to be experimental and bizarre in both form and content."
Something Weird Video's
To add a mild word of rebuff: "At two and a quarter hours, Henenlotter's tour through the sleaze fields may try the patience of viewers motivated by hepcat irony. But it's enlightening, in its way, for film history buffs, and it has a straightforward love of its subject that is oddly endearing. Ultimately, it's as big an example of Sexploitation as an account of it: Surely few other documentaries contain this many bouncing breasts and jiggling buttocks. Somewhere in Grindhouse Heaven, earlier generations of smut mavens are beaming with pride. [Hollywood Reporter]"
Gigi Darelen, of course, is found somewhere therein, via clips taken from her various film projects. Not found therein, however, is burlesque legend Rita Alexander — but Perez Prado's mambo Mamma a Go Go does enliven a segment. We mention both merely as an excuse to embed the following:
Rita Alexander 'dancing' to
Mamma a go go (1967):
And thus we come to:
The Babes of
Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970).
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