Minstrels Anonymous on Bandcamp

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Now Playing ABSOLUTELY FREE on You Tube - Jailhouse Edition

Some people like their Oz and some people like their Orange Is The New Black but I like my prison dramas with a Seventies exploitation flair, and thanks to You Tube and the people that uploaded them you can catch the two most notorious prison films of the Seventies: Short Eyes and Fortune and Men’s Eyes. Both films could play in a double feature at a movie theater and not appear redundant because both films are very different from each other. Let’s take a look at both films:

Short Eyes (1977): Written by Miguel Pinero, who also has a small role in the film, the movie begins with a Curtis Mayfield song, who also shows up as an inmate in the film, too. Crazy! Short Eyes takes place in the Manhattan Men’s House of Detention, more commonly known as The Tombs, where actual filming took place.

The characters are pretty well-sculpted: Don Blakely as the intense Black Muslim El Raheem, Shawn Elliott as the two-faced bully Paco, and Tito Goya as the young and pretty “Cupcakes”, highly desired by the inmates for some shower room booty. Poor Cupcakes, his girlfriend’s waiting for him on the other side!

After watching the inmates cutting up for awhile the focus turns on Juan, brilliantly played by Jose Perez. Unlike the rest of the inmates Juan questions the difference between right and wrong and struggles inwardly with his demons, striving to take the high road just to maintain a semblance of sanity. Nothing challenges his principles more than the arrival of a new inmate to The Tombs named Clark Davis.

Clark Davis is the focus of the focus of the story, flawlessly played by Bruce Davison (Willard, Last Summer). Clark Davis is an angry black/Puerto Rican’s dream come true: a privileged, blonde white man who faces a pedophilia conviction for molesting black & Puerto Rican girls. Davison, newly admitted to The Tombs, confesses his obsessions and crimes alone to Juan without a touch of guilt.

His account of molesting the little girls makes Juan bang the panic button because prior to Clark’s confession he thought he had a clear handle on ethics. Clark wants Juan to promise him he’ll cover for him in case the inmates go to town on him for his disgusting crime. Juan’s barely keeping his shit together trying to decide whether he should help him or just kill him on the spot.

What happens in the last twenty minutes is some of the most intense film making ever made, questioning the principles of every inmate on the block. The back story to Short Eyes on IMDb is pretty damned fascinating:

Miguel Pinero, the author of the play upon which this film is based (and the actor who plays Go-Go), wrote the play as part of an inmate writers' workshop while incarcerated at Sing Sing Prison for armed robbery. He missed the premiere of the film because he had been arrested for armed robbery. All of the money he received for the film ($40,000) he gave away to homeless friends and former prison-mates. He reportedly lived on the street even after the film's acclaimed release, using a pay phone as an office.

Tito Goya, who plays Cupcakes, was arrested for a murder committed in 1978 (eight months after the film was released). He was murdered in prison in 1985.

Bruce Davison's monologue was done in a single take.

Short Eyes won the New York Critics Circle Award and an Obie Award for the Best Play of 1974.

Short Eyes was nominated for six Tonys in 1975, including Best Dramatic Play.

Fortune And Men’s Eyes (1971): Will forever go down in history as the play Sal Mineo worked on when he was murdered on Holloway Drive in West Hollywood. But that’s not fair – this is another great prison play turned into a motion picture.

Once again we see a baby-faced white guy named Smitty, played by Wendell Burton sentenced to prison (this one was shot in Montreal, Canada) and the cellmates he’s stuck bunking with. And what a bunch!

There’s Rocky (Zooey Hall), the brutally handsome kingpin bully who wants to rape every male in the big house, his slave - a boy called Mona, the awesome Queenie (Michael Greer) who flames queerer than any character in the history of the cinema. He kind of serves as the Mistress of Ceremonies through the whole story and even offers some much needed comic relief.

And boy is it needed. There is so much forced male rape, yes, one-on-one and gang, too, you won’t be disappointed. After witnessing endless shankings and rapes Smitty freaks out and his roomie Rocky offers him some much needed protection, never realizing that Rocky’s circling around his boy hole like a hawk swooping down on a chicken coop.

Here’s some back story about Fortune And Men’s Eyes:

Wendell Burton, aka Smitty, is now a minister in Texas.

The 1969 production in Los Angeles starred Don Johnson as Smitty and Sal Mineo as Rocky (!). I’d pay a fortune (pun) to see that production, especially since we’re talking about Boy And His Dog-era Johnson. According to Wikipedia, in 1966 a New York production featured Jon Voight as Smitty and Dustin Hoffman as Rocky, obviously sealing their relationship to come in “Midnight Cowboy”.

If you see a lack of blacks in Fortune And Men’s Eyes it’s because playwright John Herbert was Canadian and our story takes place in a Canadian pen. In fact, it’s the most published Canadian play ever written and has won countless Canadian drama awards.

So there you have it: Free movies in their entirety on You Tube! If you have a Sony Blu-Ray player you can play You Tube on your television set in the comfort of your den or bedroom instead of perched in front of a desktop monitor. Here’s a list of a few more movies you can scope on at You Tube:

The Ruling Class, Les Bonnes Femmes and Les Biches (Chabrol), every Barbara Steele horror film ever made, RoGoPaG (Godard & Pasolini), The Decline of Western Civilization (the homeless punker one), and many more. Happy viewing!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

My Living Doll: Aphrodite Meets the Space Age

In the early Sixties teenage America fell under the spell of the Horror & Sci-fi movie explosion hitting drive-in theaters all across the country. It was tearing them away from their TV sets, and CBS fought back by programming an army of shows to win them back. Shows like The Munsters, My Favorite Martian and Lost in Space were hitting the airwaves harder than John Glenn’s orbit in Friendship 7. There was one show in the bunch that was the most memorable and stranger than the rest called My Living Doll.

My Living Doll starred musical actress Julie Newmar and Forties matinee idol Bob Cummings. Although it was a situation comedy it was more sophisticated that the other shows listed above; I think it simultaneously helped the show and destroyed it, too.

My Living Doll began as the tale of Dr. Bob McDonald, psychiatrist for a NASA-based agency, who gets a call in his office from the head scientists in robotics warning him of a robot on the loose rampaging around the building. Expecting a terrifying nuts and bolts cyborg to wreak havoc in the hallway, Dr. McDonald is accosted instead by a beautiful Amazon clad only in a towel!

Julie Newmar lists her training in mime as background for the role of Rhoda (formerly AF 709) and she uses it to full advantage. Her jerky robotic movements are flawless in their execution and her facial expressions as a machine processing bizarre human behavior and equally perfect. Watching her defuse lecherous men's advances with cold, mechanical responses is space age feminism at its finest.

Viewing the episodes of My Living Doll: The Official Collection DVD, are a mixed bag between sexual tension and feminine comedy (beauty contests; kleptomania at a Beverly Hills jewelers, etc.) with the feminine comedy being more fun to watch. The sexual tension business is neither funny nor sexy, due to Cummings working the camera too hard.

Speaking of Cummings, the character of Dr. McDonald was intended to create some spark of sexual tension between himself and Rhoda, but the producers shot the pooch by hiring a tired old guy to play a young, available bachelor. Just think what the show would have been like if they hired someone like, oh, Adam West to play Dr. McDonald. (Never mind).

Legend has it that Cummings was not only jealous of Newmar’s popularity but even wanted to take over her role as the robot. The poor man thought kids were tuning in to watch him!

I remember watching this show shortly before Newmar hit pay dirt as The Catwoman on Batman and liked it, but it was obvious the show was doomed. With her Amazon build and low, husky voice, Newmar was on a wavelength that wasn’t TV friendly at all. Although the producers tried to make her look wholesome there was an aggressive eroticism about this robot that definitely made the show too bizarre to be successful.

Walking a tightrope between beautiful and funny is a major risk, Thelma Todd being the most infamous example, but few pull it off as brilliantly as Julie Newmar, and if you want to see it done to perfection than seek out My Living Doll: The Official Collection, Volume One, available on MPI Home Video.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Smell Check 2015

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and what could be more sensual than wearing a seductive fragrance to put your loved one in the mood? In other words, it’s just about time for Smell Check 2015.

Since last year I’ve learned a lot about fragrances in terms of projection – the power of your scent projecting out; sillage – the staying power of the scent on you; dry down – when the top notes of a scent drift away and the middle and base notes take over.

Numerous great fragrance review sites have popped up on the internet, with my favorite being Fragrantica.com, where you can find endless reviews from cologne and perfume fans on every scent you’re curious about. The site has barometers showing projection and sillage rate of each fragrance, all voted on by users, in addition to breakdowns to all the notes used in each fragrance. It’s amazing.

In the past few years I’ve found myself gravitating more towards niche fragrances as opposed to designer fragrances, easy on my nose but not so easy on my wallet. In the long run I’ve got to admit it’s all been worth it for the great scents I’ve discovered. Here are a few, some old and some even older:

Tobacco Vanille (Tom Ford) – Everybody loves Tobacco Vanille, and so do I, but with all that said I don’t get a lot of tobacco in this scent. I get cinnamon and honey with a whiff, ahh, should be kind of feminine but it still maintains a masculine tone all the way through. I’m loving this, but for a tobacco vibe I’ll stick with Mugler Pure Havane.

By the way, while many niche fragrances carry high price tags, nobody ups the ante quite like Tom Ford. A large bottle of his juice will set you back by $250-350. Whew! Because of his greedy price fixing frag fans madly scramble towards cheaper scents that emulate the same notes, or they simply buy testers, which are in ample supply on eBay.

Andy Warhol Silver Factory, now known as Silver (Bond No. 9) – Silver Factory was the first release in a series of Andy Warhol-inspired fragrances that Bond No. 9 released in 2007. Several more releases followed, like Andy Warhol Montauk, Success Is A Job In New York City, and one that even had a silk-screened portrait of Andy himself circa 1964. Each bottle bore an original design by Warhol that enhanced the desirability of the fragrance.

In 2013, Bond No. 9’s license with the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts’ license expired, so Silver Factory is now called Silver Bond No. 9, cased in a simple silver bottle with the familiar Bond No. 9 star shape, it’s still the same fragrance in a different package.

And what a great fragrance it is! According to the oppress release it includes: Jasmine, iris and violet, the favorite flower of Andy Warhol. Base notes include: bergamot, mildly bitter grapefruit, lavender, amber, a mix of wood resins, sweet vanilla and sensual cedar wood. I’m not getting all the flowers listed but I’m definitely getting patchouli and leather, even though it’s not listed anywhere. Anyway, this is one of the greatest scents out there. I’m loving it and lusting it at the same time.

Demeter Oud (Demeter) – I didn’t get enough oud from this, to be honest, but instead got a gingerbread fragrance. I like gingerbread but the oud didn’t deliver here at all. Demeter isn’t the best in terms of projection or sillage, but it’s low budget so you get what you pay for.

Oud Save The King (Atkinson) – I got a tester of this and Rebecca got a tester of Oud Save The Queen, and I thought the Queen was better and stronger than the King. Oud Save The King had a sort of Designer’s Imposter’s vibe to it, no oud to be smelled for miles and bad projection and even worse sillage. Maybe Demeter had a hand in this!

Muscs Koublai Khan (Serge Lutens) – Tabernac!!! I love most Serge Lutens but this was a little too raunchy for my taste. This is for guys who like to go “down there” when their girl or guy hasn’t bathed in a week. It’s nasty and it’s strong.

Koublai Khan features civet - a thick yellowish musky-odored substance found in a pouch near the sexual organs of the civet cat and used in perfume, and castoreum, which is the yellowish secretion of the castor sac which is, in combination with the beaver's urine, used during scent marking of territory. Need I say more? The dry down gets better, but who’s going to wait three hours for that nasty crotch funk to evaporate?

Aoud Musk (Montale) – This was good, the oud had a beautifully full presence I really enjoyed. Montale also gets points for storing their scents in a can rather than in a bottle. This makes it better for posterity in that it keeps out light from fading the scent.

Aoud Musk is an “elegant blend of saffron, ebony, vetiver and amber notes, placed on the base of sensual musk and agar”. It has a sweet woody scent that’s a little on the dark side, but I like that sort of thing.

A*Men Pure Havane (Thierry Mugler) – Next to Pure Malt this is the best of the A*Men frags out there. When you spray Pure Havane you will smell Swisher sweet cigars, you will smell sweet cherry flavored pipe tobacco, you will smell a little incense, some wood, cocoa, labdanum and styrax. You can spray this all over me 24/7 and I will never get bored with it. My signature scent at the moment and not for the weak of heart!

Just a few words about niche fragrances: although they cost about as much as a pair of nice shoes they’re definitely worth the trouble of seeking out. While there are some nice designer fragrances out there, the vast majority of them cater to a large marketplace, which means the scents aren’t going to get too risky or unusual. The more adventurous scents can be found in niche fragrances, so they’re worth the extra money.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Afterword to The Foreword

Hi, everyone, just letting you know that I've created an author page for myself on Amazon.com. If you click on there you can see all my books that are available, as well as my Twitter feed (tweet, tweet) and maybe some extra stuff that I sometimes post here, some stuff not. It's a sort of virtual Andy Seven clubhouse. Yeah, it's my clubhouse and it's freaking me out! Click here for some action: