Tee-Hee, I'm Naked!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Tee-Hee, I'm Naked!
T&A Films of the '70s, '80s and Beyond!

Remember that part on the main page when I said that this site wasn’t about psychoanalyzing me? HA! SUCKERS!! But there, let us leave the art critic to strangle his wife and move on to pastures new…

In contemplating this section of ‘Plate O’ Shrimp’ a number of ‘why’ questions came up. Why dedicate a section of the site to films of such questionable artistic merit? Why put oneself through the task of attempting to review a genre of films most of which, it can reasonably be agreed, are untenably bad? The answer to these questions is not terribly complicated. For one, I thought it would be challenging. For another, I thought it could be fun. And for a third, it would lend validation to the fact that I’ve been watching and, more recently, collecting this type of film for many years now, not to mention giving me an excuse to watch and collect even more of them. Truth is there’s a part of me that likes this kind of film.

Which, of course, leads us to the definitive ‘why’ question, the actual underlying question of which is, of course, “What the hell is wrong with you?” Or if you prefer a statement to a question, we can use the one put forth by my aquatic fowl colleague Marlowe, to whit, “I’ll never understand your fondness for this sort of thing.”

Let’s examine it. I’d have to say that the primary reason pretty much boils down to one word: tits. And, no, I don’t mean breasts. The distinction may be thin, but I believe it to be relevant: one is considered suitable and clinical enough to be used in polite company, the other is generally deemed unacceptable except when relegated to strip clubs, bachelor parties and cow pastures. I am in none too small a way fixated on women’s chests. I am not typically one to classify myself, but if I must choose a preference in that unique way that people do as if they were naming their favorite cut of chicken, I’d have to say that I am a breast man, as opposed to a leg man, or a thigh man, or a wing man…wait, scratch that last one. Now if I were discussing breast-feeding vs. bottle-feeding with my friends (as we so often do) I would be talking about breasts. But when I pop my copy of The Bikini Carwash Company II into my VCR, it’s not because I want to bask in the glow of Neriah Davis’s acting abilities; plain fact is I want to see some tits. And if that sounds like the product of arrested development and a mind adrift on the sea of drool that is adolescent sexuality, that’s actually sort of the point.

See, I am one of a generation who came of age around the time that cable television was doing the same. I remember watching MTV before it had VJs. I remember when HBO would sign off each day after a set amount of broadcasting hours. And I remember, not too many years after that, when a spate of asinine comedies motivated by the success of and (in a crude way) fashioned after such films as Animal House, Caddyshack and Stripes began to pour into the multiplexes to the dismay of people of intelligence and to the delight of teenage male libidos everywhere. I was not of an MPAA-approved age at the time to witness these debauched cinematic boobfests, nor it must be confessed was I brave enough to try and bluff or sneak my way into the theaters at which they played. But it wasn’t too long after that that cable began to get bigger, with expanded programming and more channels, like the oft-mentioned Skinemax and The Movie Channel, which, family hours be damned, dared to show R-rated films at any time of the day. And while my courage may have failed me in my desire to get into theaters featuring the shots of undraped mammary glands I so desperately craved, it served me well in convincing me to seek them out on cable, in my father’s basement, remote control clutched firmly in hand, ready to switch channels in the terrifying event that my ears might catch the sound of someone opening the door at the top of the basement steps. (To this day I have anxious dreams about scenarios like this, in which the buttons on the remote are too small or for some reason my finger just can’t quite manage to depress one and the channel remains unchanged as the authority figure edges ever closer to a vantage point from which they will be able to see my sin. Just goes to show that you don’t need to be Catholic or Jewish to have a surfeit of guilt and shame.)

And to be honest – and this is where the real shame comes in – it wasn’t just the T&A, it was the context of the T&A. I confess that I also got a gratuitous and vicarious kick out of the whole peeping-tomism angle of it. The unrelenting glee with which the male characters sought glimpses of bare breasts, sometimes with more obsessive dedication than they sought actual sex, registered with me. In as much as I couldn’t fathom at the time the possibility of actually being intimate with a woman, the possibility of being granted a look at a woman’s body subsequently took the top spot on the fantasy totem pole. (Sad to say, my self confidence in the present is not too far elevated from those bygone days. Boo-fuckin’-hoo.)

Now, this next part may seem contradictory, and I know this is going to sound like a last ditch effort to keep any female readers from thinking of me as a total pig, but I also believe I gleaned my first sense of female sexual empowerment from some of these celluloid embarrassments. It’s perfectly of the mainstream now to acknowledge that women can desire sex as much as men, but it hasn’t been that long since that wasn’t standard at all. And, as stated earlier, the women in these films are often portrayed as not much more than objects to be desired. But here and there, I noticed examples in which the women were put forth quite differently. One of the most astounding examples is the much beloved (and equally reviled) H.O.T.S., a film about a renegade sorority, infamous for its strip football grand finale. A more leering film you’re unlikely to find, but look beyond the gratuitous breast shots and you’ll notice that the women are the sexual aggressors throughout. In fact, whenever a man attempts to be sexually aggressive in the film he’s generally smacked down like a rambunctious dog at the dinner table. I’m not claiming that seeing this resulted in me dedicating my life to the teachings of Betty Friedan, but I do honestly believe that it led me, through my hormonal haze, to reconsider the idea that female sexuality might actually be something that existed for the enjoyment of females. (Perhaps I should have said Camille Paglia.)

Of course, this could be taken to a ridiculous degree, positing women so in touch with their bodies and their sexuality that they like nothing better than to whip those tops right off so the goony guys can get their eyefuls. (While I continue to doubt the reality of this, the abundance of those ‘Girls Gone Wild’ videos may yet prove me wrong.) The fact that women are at times portrayed this way in these films is actually what inspired the name of this section. That and those Playmate pictorials showing women who seem just utterly delighted to have shed all that restrictive clothing. I wish I could get that excited about being naked. Hell, I wish I could get that excited about anything.

While I was half-kidding with that crack at the beginning about analyzing myself, reading over what I’ve already written makes me wonder exactly how I come off with all this confessional crap. Fact is I’ve been accused by at least one woman of having a misogynist streak in me and I’ve also been mocked for my defense of so-called “feminist” beliefs (also by a woman, no less). Does the truth, as they say, lie somewhere in between? Well, maybe in writing about these films, I’ll find out. Which is as good a reason to do so as any other.

Y’know. Plus all the bare breasts. I mean, tits. Eh, semantics. I’m not actually that picky.

Nota Bene: While most of the reviews here will likely be of the type of T&A comedies that retarded my sexuality, I’ll try, when the opportunity presents itself, to branch out a bit into, for example, T&A action (yes, Andy Sidaris will make an appearance at some point), T&A thrillers (I recently saw former erotic DTV queen Shannon Whirry in an ad for some kind of canine medication of all random things; it may be time to revisit one of the dippy mystery/suspense boobfests with which she first made her name), T&A of yore (Russ Meyer anyone?), and even T&A what-the-fuck-is-this-supposed to be (Jim Wynorski, Bare Wench Project, ‘nuff said). You can say a lot of things about me, but you can’t say I’m not dedicated to the cause.

In Which I Bear My Shame With Pride

The Cheerleaders
School Spirit
The Naked Detective
Private Resort
Play-Mate of the Apes
Savage Beach
Nude on the Moon
Love Bavarian Style NEW!

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