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Merchants of Venus (1998)

R | | Comedy | March 1998 (USA)
A Russian immigrant finds himself in bed with the mob after buying a sexual novelties shop.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Alex Jakoff
Prunella Gee ...
Catherine Lucky McKay
Mistress Cody
Uncle Vladimir
FBI Agent
The Senator
Reverend Phillips
The Stud
Porno Director
Katrina (as Claire Mari Jacobs)
Kay Parker ...
Kay Parker
Tiffany Million ...
Porno Actress #1 (as Tyffany Million)
Tia Gunn ...
Porno Actress #2 (as Tia)


Alex Jakoff (Michael York) is a Russian immigrant looking for work in the USA when he finds a job as a stock boy in a sex-toy factory. The factory's elderly owner Mrs. Eppy (Nancy Fish) sees Alex as a nice, but lonely guy. So, she tries setting him up with her friend Catherine (Prunella Gee) an aging adult film star. Alex is smitten with Catherine on sight, but she is reluctant to commit to any relationship out of her profession. Meanwhile, when Eppy's business is threatened with being closed down, Alex decides to buy the place with money from his family whom are in the Russian mafia. But when the business fails anyway and his family of thugs want all their money back, Alex is forced to make some drastic decisions to stay alive. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Every dream has its price.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexual content including nudity and dialogue | See all certifications »




Release Date:

March 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Dirty Little Business  »

Filming Locations:

Box Office


$2,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


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User Reviews

A Valentine to Erasure Fans
31 July 2002 | by (Wisconsin) – See all my reviews

After knowing about this movie (at one point called "Good Vibrations") for about five years, I've just now finally been able to see it! I guess it's just recently been made available on Region 2 DVD after spending all this time on a shelf after being shown at a couple of film festivals.

I'd known about it for so long because of its connection to my favorite band Erasure. The band's keyboardist Vince Clarke scored the film and the band's singer Andy Bell made a brief appearance as a porn director. This is what initially triggered my interest, but it also sounded like it'd be a fun, cheeky romp of a comedy.

Alas, it was more "Could have been..." than "was." The idea of a sweet and naive Russian immigrant coming to America with a big dream only to land a job at a sex-toy factory and fall in love with a fading porn star was a winning idea for an off-beat romantic comedy. There are some great moments (certain "toys" being used as blunt weapons, the speech impediment of another fading porn star, and of course, Andy Bell's little checklist of shots he needs for his pornographic masterpiece). But as a whole, the film seems forced and hurried (heck, it's only 74 minutes long!). The main romantic plot unfolds too quickly to really be believable. And you really have to be on your toes to catch the reasoning behind the whole Russian mafia and FBI events that occur in the last act.

This film (titled "A Dirty Little Business" on my copy) seems like it was hastily thrown together, as if the writer/director gave up halfway through editing and said "Screw it, let's just release it as is." Had he and the other filmmakers taken more time to craft it and flesh it out, it could have been great. But I'm afraid the final result is simply mediocre.

But for Erasure fans, it's actually a nice little treat. The familiar trademark Clarke synthesizer beats, squiggles, chirps, and warm orchestrations are heard throughout the entire film, and there's even a bonus alternate version of a relatively recent Erasure track at the end credits. And it's an absolute riot for hardcore fans to see Andy Bell playing the porno director. There's just something very appropriate and right about it. Erasure and a comedy about the sex industry is indeed a perfect match. But I'm afraid if you're not an Erasure fan, you won't have as much fun with this one. It really was a winning idea, and I think it could have been done better had the filmmakers given it more of their time and attention.

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