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Viva Cathy Barry, the missing link of Brit Porn, 25 November 2015

My all-time favorite Adult Film actress is Sarah Young - I've watched her videos particularly "The Goddess of Love" dozen titles hundreds of times. The usual porn movie I sit through once.

With her quick retirement in the '90s there was a vast gap in porn as nearly all the new leading ladies were either plastic, uninteresting types or representatives of the ongoing jail-bait trend: girls like Chastity Lynn, Jenna Haze or even Shyla Jennings who maintain a timeless underage look no matter how old they get.

Sarah didn't work in England - there was no British porn industry to speak of during her tenure, but instead created her many classics in Europe with mentor Sascha Alexander. More recently Brit Porn, in the past 10 years, has quietly become a dominant force with far more interesting content and much more striking women than its U.S. and Continental counterparts.

And I was very pleasantly surprised to recently, belatedly discover one Cathy Barry, touted as Britain's #1 porn star in her blurbs on video boxes. I wondered -if that's true, why haven't I heard of her -and the answer is simple -she made it big as a local hit back in Bilghty -never getting a break to crash the international (and U.S.) market. Sort of like Slim Whitman the country singer before his eventual discovery by fans many years after his initial heyday.

She has a figure resembling Sarah's and notably an outgoing, ebullient personality - suggesting an unholy marriage of the entertainment qualities of Sophie Tucker and Mae West. This larger than life persona is quite refreshing and chronologically places her right after Sarah's reign as the best in porn, right up through the current generation of British talent that is making a much bigger splash than Cathy - on a worldwide scale.

The "Diaries" series documents Cathy's appeal in vignette format, with her husband and amanuensis Phil Barry at the helm. This Volume 9 has many ripe moments, kicking off with a 5-guy gang-bang of nurse Cathy in a dentist's office, led by UK porn stalwarts Keiran Lee and Danny Mountain.

Another vignette has Keiran in a three-way when she visits a lord's castle and humps both the lord and her chauffeur. This is an atmospheric sex scene shot on location. She runs the gamut of content, anal sex, d.p.'s, lesbian sex, mixed combo action -you name it, all with a hearty laugh and a more than hearty handful of giant boobs. Even in this cornball format, her bits of patter introducing segments is entertaining and I'm positively smitten with the aging star.

DVD also features a charming little animated film titled "Dildo Disaster" featuring "Cartoon Cathy", with the real lady handling the character's voice-over; cheaply but amusingly animated by Mark Davies.

Hooter Hotel (2008) (V)
Big boobs in Budapest as POV exercise, 25 November 2015

Hardly experimental, Score Group's "Hooter Hotel" is a bit different in its format resembling one of the label's popular "Tits and Tugs" videos. Entire masturbation epic is presented via first-person camera a la Robert Montgomery's classic noir "The Lady in the Lake".

Now before a collective of world pornographers let out a cry in unison of "Why didn't I think of that?", it must be said that the anonymous director of this video strikes out. The gimmick is as tiresome as it sounds and the resulting hour and a half of huge breasts popping out of bodices and flopping around is dull. It reflects a basic problem with nearly all Score audio-visual products -they are conceived and executed as mere pixilation of a magazine mentality.

In other words, Score is built around an obsession with huge tits -no secret there. But this obsession hearkens back before the advent of widely distributed hardcore pornography. It is not inimical with explicit sex, but rather a substitute, so that the intersection of the two concepts (soft-X and XXX) is far from ideal.

As a result, we have six top-heavy Eastern European models, none of whom can act, one of whom has a British accent (likely a ringer) but all of whom are natural. That alone sets this apart from much of Score's self-righteously niche videos, and this particular one is a companion piece to "Busty Riding Academy", also shot in Hungary around the same time.

"Academy" was more conventional in that it was about boy/girl sex, while "Hotel" derives from Score's solo division -much more like the print magazine content. It's mainly striptease for the camera plus our anonymous hero on vacation from America chiming in once in a while in live voice-over. One gal, Kristi Klenot, is a masseuse who oils herself up instead of our hero the client, and ends up giving him some sex that plays exactly like a "Tits and Tugs" vignette: blow job, breast sex, hand job and jerk-off on her breasts.

Main draw Karina Hart remains a wonder of nature, and gazing at her for say 20 minutes is akin to becoming fixated on a 6-page spread in one's favorite men's magazine. As cinema or video, this is a flop.

Sam's breast-fixation at its peak, 25 November 2015

If you've sat through the self-serving video bio of pornographer Sam Xavier, you know he claims to have cornered the market on large-breasted porno women. In a way that's true: I sent away 25 or 30 years ago for many of his mail-order VHS tapes documenting huge mammaries whether they belonged to the ill-named Miss Twin Towers or a bevy of British beauties torn from the pages of Mayfair magazine. I even watched those nascent forerunners of Brit Porn including the 2 "Duke of Knockers" videos and would even like to blame him for the grand-daddy of them all, my much beloved tape "Sexy Secrets of the Sex Therapists".

So it was inevitable that Sam would eventually climb his Mount Everest and find at its peak the twin peaks of one Zena Fulsom. Her breast implants are certainly the most exaggerated ever to grace the silver screen, making recent Score Magazine (another Sam outlet) models look puny and Doris Wishman's contribution to film history in the form of Chesty Morgan running out of the money. The only girls who even vaguely resemble Ms. Fulsom (and her "sister" Cindy, another Sam player) are those artfully photo-shop/CGI morphed Asian girls with huge tits that exist only on the internet but not in real life.

Zena's DVD proclaims on its cover "The Number One Selling Big Bust Video in the World", a Sam claim which I'm sure has never been audited. No matter, she's still the biggest bust model in a video in the world. Her relatively brief segment is not worth the price of admission, however, as despite Zena's pleasant, bubbly personality, and her eagerness to get the unidentified Brit's big cock hard via sucking on it, the sight of her fake breasts in motion is not all that interesting whether seen head-on or looking even more grotesque tastefully sticking out sideways when viewed from the rear. Going hardcore is more of a sign of the times than any added eroticism in her case.

The other two girls, Tiffany Towers and Cathy round out the program also getting humped, and that's it, no more, no less. Even coming from me, born and raised under the influence of Hugh Hefner, and later Russ Meyer (who I eventually got to meet in the '80s and interview - a thrill in itself), much ado about nothing.

Overwritten, poorly realized Zugsmith stinker, 25 November 2015

Reissued in tandem by Vinegar Factory with a similar Albert Zugsmith picture "The Incredible Sex Revolution", this tedious farrago is ego-tripping, untalented cinema at its nadir. I kept wanting to yell at my small screen (fortunately I didn't suffer through this mess in its short life 50 years ago as a theatrical entry) "Put a sock in it" to auteur Albert.

Probably inspired by Orson Welles' tour-de-force (and in a way yet to be equaled) opening shot to the Zugsmith production "Touch of Evil", Big Al stages a showy opening sequence lasting about 15 minutes that is pretentious and dreadful. The film is based on a book by Dr. Krafft-Ebbing and the star of earlier "Sex Revolution" encores as a shrink named Dr. Krafft, treating lovely patient Sandra Lynn.

Opening is silent action and chasing around madly in his car by antihero Ronald Warren, a crappy performance as a psychotic jerk whose parents are to blame. Central gimmick of a mania for roses, whether truly a medical condition or not, is simply nutsy and stupid, and Zugsmith is even more stupid than his characters to expect any audience to buy into it. The whole film falls into a category of cinema that unfortunately is alive and well - the concept of making movies about subjects so arcane they have not been handled before -leading to ludicrous results.

I discovered this yet-to-be identified officially genre after watching "A Bridge Too Far" 38 years ago - all the critics agreed it was idiotic to mount a super-production (that Joseph E. Levine film was one of the costliest made in the world at that time, even more expensive than De Laurentiis' misguided "King Kong" remake). But here was a WW II story of failure that had not been told to a mass audience before -yeah, right, an audience would rather celebrate "The Longest Day" than brood over a horrendous blunder.

So getting back to Zugsmith, he dredges up perhaps the least interesting psychosis in the book -this rose mania. Who cares? The movie whips up a dramatic frenzy concerning it, and even the requisite stupid "false ending" (a la the atrocious and influential ending of "Carrie") mocks the rose nonsense. But the viewer must sit through a torturous unfolding of sick minds as embodied by poor actors, not just Warren, but overacting by Lynn, terrible papier mache acting by Barbara Hines as her supposedly sexpot mother and yet another horrible mother from Regina Gleason. The only conclusion one can draw after suffering for 101 minutes is that Zugsmith hated his own mom.

But as usual, he uses screen writing as his vehicle to demonstrate how well-read he is, how erudite he is, and above all how much meticulous research he's done. So the actors, and not just the boring shrink Lee Gladden (palmed off to us again as a real-life shrink and scholar) are wont to recite lots of useless information, boring and unbelievable. From a Vinegar Syndrome point-of-view (the distributor is dedicated to unearthing and preserving all manner of trash that can be included under the phony rubric "Sexploitation"), the chief value is a lengthy sequence that brings the film to a halt at a party with lots of actresses going topless. Fine and dandy for 1966 but I confess to not being able to get worked up in 2015 over such a display given the non- stop exposure to pornography currently abroad in our society.

And so even with this crutch included (and alternate "soft" footage with the partial nudity minimized), "Roses" fails to constitute entertainment as we know it, and as far as enlightenment goes, Albert Zugsmith is one of the last places I would go in search of that.

PT and cast merely marking time - a function of the old contract system, 25 November 2015

Title sounds like just a marketing gimmick, and Paul Thomas's feature hiding behind that moniker comes off as little more. It is interesting to me that anything the legendary Adult star/director did earned industry award nominations, even this junker, a telltale sign of either corruption or brains going dead.

Compared to PT's masterworks, or even just his interesting assignments, this one is very sloppy and ultimately pointless sex filler. Sure, it's pretentious thanks to a script by the talented Raven Touchstone, but empty nonetheless.

First bit of irony comes with the fact that the central character, an extremely well-built but suicidal blonde character Sophie played by Dasha, is not mentioned in the title. Her billing up front and in end credits is quite variable (ranked #11 vs #3 respectively), and her only sin (other than appearing in the hit "The 8th Sin") was to be a former rather than then-current Vivid contract star.

So it's all about promotion, and not so much about entertainment per se. Besides collecting a paycheck, Thomas limns a familiar and none too interesting tale of a roué played almost self-mockingly at times by Rocco Siffredi, and the poor, hapless femme beauties left in his wake. Monique Alexander, bubbly, fresh and sexually proficient early in her career is the current victim, with Dasha her immediate predecessor. Bosomy Lexie gets her licks in sex-wise, but is an afterthought from a script point-of-view as Monique's BFF.

The fact that Dasha is a more interesting and empathetic character here than Monique is just symptomatic of the film's dramatic failings, causing it to devolve into mere sex filler including a requisite but thoroughly boring orgy at Rocco's pad. Scripter Raven probably after a few rewrites could have fashioned an interesting story about Dasha, but then they would have had to change the title to Dasha Loves Rocco, and Vivid's marketing department would have hit the ceiling - "You can't do that!".

I was amused in the Behind the Scenes short subject to hear Monique declare that she wasn't going to get a boob job, a noble sentiment that proved false: a decade later she is riding high in MILF roles with big, fake breasts a la Nina Hartley.

Match Mates (2009) (V)
Poorly conceived, boringly executed "realistic" porn, 25 November 2015

After producing the patently phony "The London Sex Project" in which the viewer was misled to believe random olks off the street were performing sex when in fact seasoned porn performers were employed, Liselle Bailey directed this more transparent but equally phony followup. She purports to be "fixing up" her "porn friends" for sexual encounters on camera and shamelessly injects herself into the action. Documentarist Michael Moore seems like a shy wall-flower and model of objectivity compared to her.

I admired her sort-of confessing (revealing rather than explicitly apologizing) that porno talent was used in the previous JoyBear release. But even her slim premise is defied here when in one segment she effectively sets up a blind-date, hardly the careful match implied by the title.

Tanya Tate is back from the earlier film, this time as Tanya Tate and humping with Peter Oh Tool. Other familiar faces include Continental superstar Claudia Rossi (title character in a classic Harmony Films video) paired with Michelle Moist, plus Hannah Shaw paired in lesbian action with Tammie Lee. A bonus segment brings back the African porno actor living in London now identified as Marcel Roberts with Alexa Andreas.

Two cameras are used and one of them operated by Liselle herself is frequently in view, destroying the purported realism and engagement of the porn couplings that try to be more organic and natural than regular "staged" porn. Liselle cannot resist smooching or groping mainly the female talent during a scene, creating impromptu threesomes. Her participation is basically PG-13 against the XXX antics of the professionals, but I found it unseemly and pure ego-trip.

We also learn that Seb Cam the porn actor is one and the same as Clarke Kent, a useful piece of information to clean up stray credits in IMDb. He gets to hump Lolly Badcock.

After nearly 3 hours I failed to see any point to this pretentious porno exercise, merely demonstrating the incompetence of its creator and her paucity of interesting ideas.

Poorly made Sapphic sex outdoors; another loser from Madison Young, 25 November 2015

I've enjoyed Madison Young's work as a performer - particularly acting for top directors like Nica Noelle. But the crusading journalist continues to man (I say this to get one's goat of course) the director's chair ineptly in a series of feature videos, almost beneath criticism in terms of their amateurishness.

Unlucky me has a copy of the sequel already at home to watch, but my hopes for quality were dashed with the unspooling of "Lesbians in the Wild", a primitive approach to Adult Entertainment. Perhaps Young is more interested in planting subliminal (and many not so subtle) messages with the viewer, rather than entertaining us.

The five vignettes present not very attractive lesbian couples (exception: Young throws herself in doing a solo masturbation in a tree sequence - she's pretty but the footage is self-serving/embarrassing as her taffeta dress upstages her hands-on (and in) vagina). The vast quantity of lesbian porn cranked out by superior labels like Sweetheart and Girlfriends makes me wonder how this level of content, typical of Filly Films' product line, can persist in the marketplace.

Of course one's reaction, as with nearly all porn, depends on one's taste, fetishes and the like. But it is undeniable that director Young rejects virtually all notions of film (or video to be more precise) technique. From the very first shot the camera wobbles, wanders aimlessly and to an untrained eye seems to be operated by a novice who doesn't know how to operate the thing. For cheapness' sake, only one camera is used, creating an extremely boring and unnecessary real-time effect. Sound recording is also poor.

Yet these technical deficiencies pale beside the creative lapse of our auteur. To be fair, I need only compare the finished 109-minute feature with the 17-minute standard Filly Films "Stripteases" segment as bonus on the DVD -allowing the viewer to gaze at the female talent going solo and strictly soft-core. The locations outdoors, particularly a potentially Gothic hillside with rocks overlooking the ocean, show up during the "Stripteases" as colorful backdrop, yet are scrupulously avoided in the feature proper. Even a hack or an amateur would take advantage of such natural beauty which is the reason to go on location in the first place and in fact the title premise for this junker.

Most of the cast are unfamiliar faces, again not competitive with the typically all-star (and sometimes all-superstar) lineups of most lesbian videos. I like Star 9, who I had previously seen do a fine job in Nica Noelle's "Lesbian Masseuse", but the other gals are unimpressive, a couple of them if you will permit my sexist nostalgia for a moment, definite paper-bag cases.

Oh well, here's hoping LITW 2 is a classic!

Poor stab at producing romance/couples porn, 25 November 2015

The slew of "Romance" videos, produced roughly five years ago by leading porn labels such as Adam & Eve, Wicked and Digital Sin, are a bright light shining in the dim twilight of contemporary Adult Entertainment, an industry that has since been entirely subsumed not by evil Sauron but by the spirit of Gonzo. One "Annabelle Black" (misspelled as Annaebelle in the credits on-screen) created this sub-standard series for Adam & Eve, and it's tough to watch.

The camera has HD inscribed on it per the BTS short subject, but the visuals are strictly low-definition, even blurry at times as a result of soft focus or whatever from d.p. David Lord. In the BTS material on the DVD Lord appears to be calling all the shots rather than credited auteur Black so he should get the lion's share of the blame for the crappy result.

The five vignettes certainly feature five alluring females, but so do a million gonzo videos or streaming content entities. Where Black & Lord fail completely is in the supposedly romantic set-ups for each vignette. There are no characterizations here whatsoever, no written dialog and merely slowly paced preliminaries (let's call it "foreplay" though that is an insult to the term foreplay) before XXX content occurs.

Derrick Pierce drips candle wax on Katie Kox's back (it would take hours to cover her front, as Kox easily wins breast in show with mammoth natural-looking mammaries on her plump frame); Carolyn Reese is interrupted reading a random romance novel by lover Eric Swiss who, apparently having had his head freshly shaved, is anxious to get down to serious humping; Mercedez poses for the camera in slow-motion after getting out of her swimming pool and then masturbates with a glass dildo before the audience letdown of perfunctory sex with Ray Balboa; Kiara smooches Rocco Reed before he puts product-placement (all the clothing and other stuff on-screen is just to shill for Adam & Eve's ancillary sales) red blindfold on her and tickles her with a feather; overly talkative Dale Dabone lays some meaningless patter on Riley Evans before (and while) doing her in the kitchen.

Perhaps I've made those liaisons sound moderately interesting in the above summary, but they aren't. For all the kowtowing to the concept of "romance", it is sad to report that most of these couples features made by Penthouse, Vivid and the above-named distributors are ultimately boring and cumulatively killed off a promising genre. I enjoy watching them nonetheless as they are intrinsically superior to the idiotic spectacles of 3 or 4 hours of wall-to-wall gonzo sex that current audiences are being subjected to.

Just as young people have no notion of the superiority of motion picture film (35mm) to HDV digital video (I see many pros who actually prefer the cheap modern approach and even try to defend it aesthetically), a generation or two of Adult Entertainment fans are no longer in touch or even in shouting distance from the glories of the '70s onward Golden Age when we watched interesting films in theaters. The splices, scratches, flickering lamps and hair/dirt in the projector gate were a small price to pay for better quality content.

Jekyll & Hyde (2000) (V)
Historically significant international porn from P.T.; i wish it were better, 25 November 2015

Ambivalent is my reaction to Paul Thomas's ambitious "Jekyll & Hyde", a Vivid project shot in Hungary that is way out of the legendary auteur's comfort zone. Its faults are myriad, but compared to today's gonzo-strewn Adult Entertainment universe it plays like a breath of fresh air.

As a lifelong film buff I have always been drawn towards International Co-Productions, which had their heyday in the '50s and '60s, generating for America an endless stream of then TV syndication movie packages and some Saturday Afternoon and drive-in fare. In the '90s European porno backers were flush with cash and briefly a vast array of high- quality XXX material was generated from France, Italy, Sweden and Spain.

Now those halcyon days are over and even the leading Euro sources of high-level porn like Marc Dorcel and Private rely increasingly on British or Hollywood filmmakers to provide new releases: P.T. has made several Dorcel features for example in recent years, while the indigenous British labels are either gone (Bluebird) or radically altered (daring! and Harmony) in the face of cut-throat competition from gonzo internet junk.

So Paul traveling to Europe with several key American stars in tow to make a Roger Corman (think his British Poe films) style horror film on location is a big deal, especially when viewed all these years later. For me it is comparable to Morrissey & Warhol's sojourn in Italy to create Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula.

With a solid script base from Raven Touchstone, the film revolves around Dr. Jekyll's daughter, well-played by statuesque Taylor Hayes, not a great actress but a Vivid contract girl, who won awards for her work for Thomas, and whose career, apart from a couple of stinkers for Seymour Butts, virtually ended after the Vivid stint was over.

With contact lenses and mussed up hair her Ms. Hyde transformation is disappointing, and generally this J & H edition holds minimal rewards for curious horror fans. Back story has European mainstay Mike Foster (whose impersonation of Bill Clinton in Damiano's "Sexgate" is well worth catching) as Hayes's infamous daddy, and he at least is given ugly facial makeup FX as Hyde in okay flashbacks.

Though the costumes and lovely locations (with local superstar of the era Anita Rinaldi as production manager deserving plenty of credit) are impressive, Thomas's direction of a mixed cast is not up to par. A key role to omnipresent Euro actor Frank Gunn has the gonzo thespian muffing almost every line of his in English, sometimes blooper- worthy but apparently PT is presenting us with Gunn's best takes. Most of the Hungarian cast of lovely ladies has the luxury of speaking in Hungarian with English subtitles provided, and co-star Kate More, famous from many a Private assignment including "Amanda's Diary", is a pleasure to see once again.

A big casting boner (pun intended this time around) is lead role to Vivid's Julian, a gonzo favorite of mine in many a Red Ezra video but wrong man for the job. He is Taylor's leading man, nearly a goody two-shoes in context, and the big-dicked performer's flat line readings are extremely poor and would not have been tolerated in an arm's-length casting. But since Julian's dick spans that gap of an arm's length, the audience patiently teased for nearly an hour and a half has to let out a sigh of relief (or ejaculation at home, which ever comes first) when Julian is finally given a blow-job and some nice humping by Hayes in the final reel.

In my current viewing and filling in the gaps on PT's illustrious career, "J & H" serves as a fascinating peek toward addressing that central question of mine regarding Adult movies: what would he or she have accomplished had they gotten the chance to truly crossover into the mainstream - the non-porn arena? Here we have PT in Europe filming with a decent budget and all the trappings of a real movie and working in a mainstream genre for a change - the historical horror film. Simple scenes of folks walking around or riding a carriage from place to place, extras milling about, etc., suggest a Grade B or C Italian horror film of the '60s, not up to the Corman level (recall Corman had Nic Roeg on camera for one of his British classics, not Ralph Parfait). When judged against the standards of competitive mainstream movies - a standard I insist upon in my research concerning the continuum in which both "legitimate" and porno films co- exist, Thomas's stab at the horror genre is clearly hack work.

But stimulating hack work and Hayes' undeniable sexiness makes it worth seeing decades since it made its splash in an industry that is built around obsolescence.

You can't beat a great cast, 24 November 2015

Nica Noelle is more than halfway home after casting "Legends & Starlets", her surefire apotheosis of the popular older/younger lesbian genre. As with volume two, this initial outing gives the fans a smörgåsbord of quality team-ups to choose from.

I'm a fan of all eight principal players, so for me the video is an embarrassment of riches. Leadoff segment has Nica the director making a cameo almost as herself (same name) playing a speech-writer for star actress Nina Hartley, who's rehearsing her acceptance speech for an upcoming awards ceremony. It's a lifetime achievement award so Nina is also almost playing herself.

Vignette takes a brief "All About Eve" turn as Noelle warns her buddy to beware of her personal assistant Samantha Ryan. Sure enough, Hartley sees Ryan rehearsing the speech herself, clutching an awards' statuette, giving off a sinister vibe. Instead of punishing the girl, Hartley confronts Sam and makes love to her. The fact that they have identical streaked blonde hair styles is a wonderful touch to the hero-worship theme and when Sam indulges in breast worship Nina's erect nipples never looked more inviting.

All-time great Kelly Nichols is back in a real role for a change (good roles were hard for her to find as she grew older) paired with perhaps the most popular young lesbian star at time of filming (2008) Elexis Monroe. Nica does not glamorize Kelly, who gives what amounts to a character performance with Elexis the dom in a quality lesbian scene. Kelly is cast as a former actress now directing, but with something missing in her life - and Elexis is the right gal to provide it in a very naturalistic fashion.

Oddest sequence teams Stephanie Swift with Zoe Britton -both great talents who are currently under-appreciated, IMHO. Storyline has Zoe treating her BFF Steph to a stay at a romantic B&B, where Swift, not so Swift in this incarnation, finally figures out there's a romantic interest there. Lesbian action results in a fire & ice match-up where bosomy Zoe is the dom and Swift is coolly sexy as all get out. Swift still looks so young she belies the "legend" moniker, but certainly her career qualifies her for such casting.

Final vignette has Nica favorite Kylie Ireland paired with Black superstar of the future Misty Stone (here billed as Misty Brown) in a short story with a quite different tone. Misty is grieving for her late husband who was killed in an accident, and feels guilty because she was having a lesbian affair with friend Kylie. Though Ireland asserts: "Maybe now we can be together", Misty is reluctant to trample on hubby's memory, but as her fans know Kylie won't take no for an answer. She induces many realistic orgasms from the young girl, and the sequence is notable for Ireland talking dirty throughout.

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