SPOILERS This alongside Carry On Emmannuelle' provides ample proof that Emmanuelle Arsan's jet-setting, continental floosie of no fixed sexuality, was not best served by the British film industry. Although Emmanuelle in Soho's direction is credited to David Hughes, the film is essentially the brainchild of stroke magazine publisher turned film producer David Sullivan and John M East, who wrote, produced and starred. East's storyline reduces the Emmanuelle character to but a footnote in a cardboard drama evolving around the world of smut-peddler Bill Anderson (East). The titular location is generally depicted in bland, brief exterior shots- although the spirit of Soho runs in the blood of pornographer Anderson. The only place in the world where it's shady on both sides of the street'-is how Bill sums up his natural surroundings. One of Bill's regular suckers is Paul-a porn photographer with an 80's poser haircut who's trying to make it'. Fat chance-Anderson complains Paul's photos are dire, pays him a pittance,then sells the pictures on for a hefty profit. A true 80's man, Paul is out to get all the money he can no matter how ruthless he has to be, the two women in his life, wife Kate (Julie Lee) and lodger/lover Emmanuelle (Randy' Mandy Miller)-share similar sentiments. Living way beyond their means the threesome pay their way via jobs in the sex industry,Emmanuelle masquerades as Peggy the Pushover' in an attempt to get a piece of Bill's empire. While Kate auditions for a part in a cheeky play called Hang about Sebastian' and impresses the theatre director, a campy old queen. We all undress and touch each other, so the fellas get use to feeling and touching naked ladies' is how she summarises auditions for Sebastian. The films own depiction of Hang about Sebastian offers a line of strippers dancing naked save for yellow raincoats, and a frumpy woman attempting to get out of her clothes in a manner that's more escape artist than strip-tease. All of this is wedded to Don't Let Go' a cheesy disco-track, that also pops up in several cheapo horror films. Paul discovers the extent of Bill's con games, and decides to blackmail him. Bill lays his own trap, suggesting Paul throws a kinky party and films his friends' exploits for sex tapes. At the party the cast of Hang about Sebastian provide most of the action. Emmanuelle does a striptease set to a reprise of Don't Let Go', and Paul secretly turns his camera on swinger Bill whose secretly been shagging his secretary. Miffed to find he's the star of his own sex film, Bill scowls but eventually gives into Paul's blackmail demands and cuts him in on the business. The finale juxtaposes Kate driving around London with her having sex with Hang About Sebastian lead Derek played by hardcore actor Timothy Blackstone. Kate's voiceover claims Paul turned out to be a closet case and transvestite, Derek is bisexual but what the heck a girl can't have everything.
Though ostensibly a comedy, EIS's characters are a fairly mercenary bunch who make careers out of screwing each other over-all in pursuit of the Rolls-Royce lifestyle. You could describe Emmanuelle in Soho as a mean flip side to Eskimo Nell. It's also a far from flattering self-portrait of Soho sex industry hangers-on made by people who were their real life equivalent. Incredibly threadbare, large parts of the film are structured like a minimalist one set play with Bill's den, a cramped flat full of sex film posters, as the main locale. Naturally the film boasts many side splitting moments of unintentional hilarity,although is slightly more fun to read about than actually sit through. At its heart the film is an outrageous showcase for the personas of its two stars- John M East and Julie Lee. EIS is pretty much East's tour-de-force he laughs at his own jokes, talks to himself, tells mother-in-law gags and gropes female cast members. East is manic and hyper throughout, never shutting-up even when having sex with his trousers on. Less animated cast members just look at him bewildered.
And Julie Lee?- at the risk of speaking ill of the dead- its unlikely she would ever be mistaken for an actress. The big shock is Lee's oriental looks and strong Yorkshire accent, a real yin and yang combination. The publicity for EIS promoted bland Randy Mandy as the next big star, no doubt to Lee's annoyance. Only briefly on the scene Lee much like her EIS character relentlessly pursued fame but unlike her EIS character, real life offered Julie Lee no happy ending. East proved himself worthy of his Bill Anderson character, by creating the infamous featurette Mary Millington's True Blue Confessions' (80's video-title;The Naked Truth)- which recreates the suicide and sex parties of a dead woman in the most tasteless way imaginable. Selling sex to the masses in one form or the other has made David Sullivan a very rich man over the years. Although he's been known to complain that some of his past exploits have now caused him to be excluded from certain well-to-do social circles. The final East/Sullivan production to show up on the big screen was Hellcat-Mud Wrestlers' which did the rounds alongside Campsite Massacre-a mediocre US slasher film. Hellcat's advertising was geared around its star the fantastic Queen Kong (world champion)'- depicted on the poster amidst a bunch of scantily-clad girlies forcing each others heads into the slop. The East/Sullivan collaborations were distributed by Tigon, an age-old exploitation outfit who in their heyday ran a third behind Hammer and Amicus as purveyors of Brit horror. Tigon's legacy has garnered a great deal of critical interest in recent years, company founder Tony Tenser is even the subject of an upcoming biography. Although horror pundits generally omit or downplay Tigon's later incarnation as a sex film distributor, Emmanuelle in Soho and Hellcat-Mud Wrestlers probably earned them more mazuma than Bloodbeast Terror and Curse of the Crimson Altar-and for better or worse represent the company's twilight years.
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