Every summer, thousands of people descend upon a place tucked in the cornfields of the Midwest to witness the Ultimate Beauty Pageant. A probing and satirical, behind-the-scenes look at this bizarre event, the contestants who enter, the spectators who attend, the entrepreneur behind it, and the townspeople who tolerate it. Written by
a serious documentary--history F Miss Nude America film
This film began as a documentary produced by students and instructors at two Ivy League universities in the early 1970s. Its conceptual models were the documentary films of the Mayles Brothers (Grey Gardens, Gimme Shelter,. etc.) and the "New Journalism" of Tom Wolf, Hunter Thompson and other writers on American culture and the "media" like Marshall McLuhan. Regarding Naked City, Indiana--it's long-defunct. Dick Drost's role models were closer to James Bond and Hugh Heffner than anyone else. He was always a controversial figure in the "nudist/naturist" movement, because of the sexy/Playboy overtones. Larry Flynt (The People vs. Larry Flynt) for example, started out running a nightclub in Indiana, and Hustler Magazine was just their newsletter when it started. The traditional "real" Miss America contest--hosted by Bert Parks, etc. --is now mostly a memory. But from the 1950s-into the 1980s it was a huge American cultural icon. Satirized by Wood Allen and protested by the 1970's feminists of MS. Magazine fame. This movie was some kind of ironic comment on its more wholesome Miss America predecessor. Most of the contestants in the Miss Nude America film have some connection to the "adult entertainment" industry.--Not porn stars but strippers. All hoping for their "big break"--(This was the same era when Andy Warhol predicted that "in the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes."--A very "fame" and media-conscious era.)
In the late 1960s and early 70s the nudity/glamor industry was somewhat akin to the "dot-com" bubble of the 1990s--a field where people might aspire to sudden wealth and fame. The 1980's movie "Star 80" is a melodrama that shows what happened to a (sort-of famous) playmate of the month.) This documentary is in some was a rather subtle exploration of this phenomenon and its expression in the lives of some people in small town northern Indiana. As a business endeavor the Miss Nude America film was a complete flop. For a "serious" documentary it was too sexy and had too much frontal nudity to be shown in the local mall theaters. As a "skin flick"--it had very limited erotic appeal: --a portrait of a guy in a wheelchair with life-long MS who runs a nudist camp. --Today this could be the subject of a David Lynch movie--with lots of added weird fictional subtext. But in the early 1970s it just wasn't hot enough to compete with, say, 'Deep Throat' or 'The Devl in Miss Jones.' Sometimes this movie is available on VHS--through a Canadian distributor maybe. If you are serious about having a "fair use" DVD of it, drop me a line. --B2
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?