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My favorite Joe Davian film (that ain't sayin' much)
Because I enjoy watching porn randomly, and am a loyal customer of those ABA boxed sets, I've suffered through many a Joe Davian quickie (but not quick enough when it comes to watching). SHARON IN THE ROUGH is hardly his or anyone's idea of a magnum opus, but it is highly entertaining of its type.
Its type is that bottom-feeding '70s genre, combining loop-level smut with BDSM lite. Essentially Davian's reason for existence, such exercises tend to be boring and repetitive; SHARON is repetitive on purpose, but anything but boring.
Its secret weapon is deceptively simple. Davian, if IMDb is to be trusted, is the only filmmaker to hire porn loops superstar Red Baron for feature film roles. The Baron, like other no-namers including the memorably hung star opposite Suzannah French in one of my all-time favorite loops 14-INCH ROOT (a 10- minute riff on Alex Haley's TV miniseries), found regular employment in that niche industry that followed in the venerable footsteps of stag movies earlier in the 20th Century.
It was likely a combination of racism and lack of thespian talent that prevented the Black performers in these short stag subjects from graduating to feature-length porn, the way so many of their white comrades (John Holmes, Eric Edwards, Shaun Costello, Linda Lovelace, Andrea True, Jamie Gillis, Suzanne Fields, aforementioned Suzannah French, etc.) did. I say lack of acting talent because Red Baron and his comrades were hired (like Holmes) only for the use of their huge dicks.
Guess what: 40 years later, present-day, Black porn actors are basically in the same position. With the exception of old-timers like Sean Michaels and Lexington Steele, male Black performers are merely large cocks for hire, rarely appearing in mainstream efforts, and relegated to either all-Black or mixed-combo gonzo roles (see the new hit label "blacked.com" as prime example). I tried watching Shane Diesel "act" with actual dialogue the other day and couldn't believe how bad he was reciting lines -better stick to humping.
It may seem like a conundrum, but the original gimmick of SHARON has with time lost its point. Crystal Sync plays Sharon (with minimal dialog, mainly performance for her), a girl caught by a cop humping a guy in a station wagon. For this she's sent to a private girls' reform school -very small (as is Davian's budget) with only a couple of girls there. Place is run by an attractive but punishment-oriented headmistress (aren't they all?) (played by Holly Bush) and her nerdy assistant Miss Goodbody (the busy NYC actress Clea Carson). Frisky pair of students are Marlene Willoughby and Susaye London. Marlene, the most delightful performer in the movie, is obviously miscast -way too old to be a student: I guess Davian had her flip a coin with Bush as to who would play the headmistress role.
Enter early on a mute new gardener -he arrives almost the same time as new student Sharon. Red Baron is short, but that just make his big dick seem longer, and unlike similarly endowed Holmes, his gets hard and stays hard. Size-wise it resembles current white superstar Manuel Ferrara's member, but the irony is that cocks this size have now become virtually a minimum requirement for either white or Black talent to get their foot in the Adult Entertainment door, so to speak.
At any rate, back in 1976 an erect dick of Red's proportions was a genuine novelty in feature films - again differentiated from the loops world where he reigned. Davian gets high marks for emphasizing the Baron's member for the lion's share of the film's action. He throws in a dumb scene in the girls' room with R. Bolla and Ashley Moore that is just filler, and ends the film with a tacked- on and superfluous orgy featuring a whole new cast, that seems like an afterthought.
But the plentiful scenes featuring the Red Baron are terrific and memorable. First of all, the mixed combo aspect (there are no Black actresses on view) is a reason for SHARON to be successful in and of itself. But Davian goes beyond this by cleverly emphasizing poor taste in lieu of the expected racism. It is not his Blackness that makes Red "the other" in this particular film, but rather his combination of "I've never seen one that big!" cock plus his mute = subhuman (a different sort of prejudice but akin to racism all the same) status. To ram this point home, when Bush as the headmistress goes crazy with pent-up horniness to hump him, she keeps affectionately calling him "dummy" over and over. When the Baron grunts in his orgasm mode, one can take it as responding to the director yelling "More primitive!" rather than the usual porn trope of fake passion.
At any rate, the Baron's cock performs magnificently, he delivers more money shots than you can shake a stick at (remember: these were 1-day wonders), and Davian gets extra credit for a clever speeded-up motion sequence near the end where the Baron ticks off each calendar day, making the rounds of humping all the women on the premises as his daily duties. The poor taste and over-the-top crudity, well-acted (except by Bush, whose flat line recitations are bad beyond belief) by the NYC cast, is infectious. For Davian it represents the one silk purse among dozens of sow's ears.
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