'Honk If You're Horny' brings retro porn to the YBCA
Ergo it is perhaps not that surprising that YBCA's second feature, 1976's The First Nudie Musical, got its own mainstream release from Paramount, tacky and horribly dated as it is. Made just before star Cindy Williams began Laverne and Shirley (though after she'd appeared in 1973's American Graffiti and on Happy Days with Ron Howard, who does a cameo here), this wheezing yokfest has her as secretary to a porn producer (Stephen Nathan). It's his big idea to counter flagging box office by shooting a porno musical, though that effort is nearly derailed by his being forced to put a studio boss' idiot son (writer and co-director Bruce Kimmel) behind the camera. The kind of unfunny that for 97 minutes may make you want to kill yourself, Nudie duly has some full-frontal shots and a not-bad dancing dildos number. Otherwise — oy.
Last and possibly least even in this context is 1976's Let My Puppets Come, one of those films that must be witnessed just to confirm that it exists — no matter how much you may regret doing so afterward. Late Bronx-bred Deep Throat auteur Gerard Damiano made some of the era's most famous and most interesting porn features (usually not the same ones), but here he indulged a self-parodic whim by satirizing his own crazy career in singing, dancing, fucking felt ersatz-Muppet form.
Puppets' protagonists are a group of schmoes indebted to the mob and forced to make a porno to pay it off. (In the 2005 documentary Inside Deep Throat, the director alluded to his erstwhile mob benefactors-bosses while his still-fearful wife keeps vehemently trying to shush him in the background.) Their resulting masterpiece stars the likes of "Anthony Quimm" and "Clitorus Leachman," features a bit of make-believe bestiality (a none-too-subtle reference to Throat star Linda Lovelace's canine thrill reel), has fake commercials (vaginal deodorant, etc.), and a cameo by Al Goldstein himself.
Evidently Damiano's backers didn't appreciate the joke, since the film was released at just 40-odd minutes' length, with most of its songs cut. But Shepard promises an ultra-rare screening of the full, intended hour-and-a quarter edit. Swallow at your own risk. *
"HONK IF YOU'RE HORNY: RETRO SEX MUSICALS"
Thu/6, Dec. 13, and 20, 7:30pm, $8-$10
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
701 Mission, SF