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Paul Thomas is a reluctant conservatory nominee and hotel bar lounge pianist/organ player who doesn’t know what to do with his life.

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His coworkers are sleazebags – a waiter that eats with is fingers and serves dirty glasses, a bartender cum lifeguard who brags about letting people drown because he’s too busy eating a sandwich and hits on customers with opening lines like “hello, ladies…I love your style. And I love your tits.” Of course, being porn, this gets him laid rather than slapped (or worse)…

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Meanwhile, shy guy Thomas gives silent stares and holds hands with Jacqueline Lorians, despite sharing a bed and a joint or two with bubbleheaded California bimbette Desiree Lane (who of course thinks she’s going to be a major
rock star and frontwoman) who pronounces Chopin about as well as Ted S. Preston, Esq. did Beethoven. Later she hooks up with a scummy bar owner who convinces her to perform in baby doll lingerie – what is she auditioning for,
Vanity 6? – and seals the deal with a hit of blow and a quickie bang. Yeah, real class act, this gal…

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Bunny Bleu looks a damn sight better than usual in her faux-French jetsetter getup, as mistress to Herschell Savage (who it later turns out is the emotionally absent hubby to Lorians).

His sleazy pal the lifeguard (David Cannon) gets it on with dopey-looking Cynthia Brooks in the lifeguard tower (yep, it’s actually a whole treehouse style enclosure), making you wonder if this nobody is the real star of the damn picture, before Thomas heads off to a chintzy one room co-ed gym to get Lorians’ phone number off her easy pal Valerie Love (who fell for the lifeguard’s winning lines at the bar). Doesn’t this sorta qualify as stalking nowadays?

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Oh, my GOD, what’s with Thomas’ uber-effeminate decor? There’s less lavender on display at a gay film festival…Lane and Brooks decide to “cheer him up” despite the obvious hints and signs on display here.

Aw, ain’t that convenient – Lorians is supposedly a classical pianist too (the worst fake playing ever committed to celluloid ensues, complete with a few headbanging hair shakes). They’re a perfect match, as hammered home by a touching schmaltz song with the touching, romantic lyrics “Music’s starting, but I don’t wanna dance…we ride the rhythm straight through the night”. David Coverdale, Bon Scott and Lemmy wrote more subtle innuendos, OK?

In the end, the mismatched couples break up and you get the well-telegraphed happy ending. Aww. Like you couldn’t see where this was going from the first two minutes.

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“And I’m wondering what’s on your mind…can you take a guess at what’s on mine?”

What’s most interesting about Classical Romance has nothing to do with Richard Mailer’s botched attempt to prefigure the early 90’s move to tacky “couples porn”, but the fact that despite being a dedicated lover of redheads, I found Lorians far less appealing here than she came off as a thickly accented brunette in Blue Ice ..and not just for her predilection towards Lalla Ward-era Romana turn of the century children’s couture. The only time I even looked twice was during her sole well-dressed, well-coiffed scene with a pissed off Herschell Savage…quite a¬†letdown after the last time we saw her.

At least we get the dialogue of the century out of all this:
“All night long you go to some sleazy piano bar with a bunch of drunks, play there and then hang out on the beach all day chasing cunt!”

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Next up, much of the same cast returns for Physical Attraction, which swaps plain jane Shanna McCullough (another, if even more oddly unappealing red…) for Lorians and adds doofy, birdlike and weirdly proportioned “Rowdy” Roddy
Piper lookalike Greg Derek, fat Frank James, feather haired dumbo Craig Roberts (who goes straight into Jon Martin territory with all his obnoxious abusive misogyny), glass-shatteringly homely Lisa Lake and average at best
next door neighbor type Pamela Mann in place of Savage and Brooks.

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Mc Cullough is a hooker, and that same surfer dude bartender is back as fellow jogger with the hots for her. Mann is a pal in the trade who goes lesbo with her for the benefit of an unseen pervert voyeur before banging nasty pimp Roberts in a pair of scenes that seem to go on for an hour.

GAH!!!

GAH!!!

The two pick up another pair of tricks, surfer doofus Cannon gets shot down trying to pick up McCullough…who then turns around and tries out for his track team (huh?!?), allowing for a lesbo scene between Lake and Bunny Bleu in that same crappy “gym” room and the expected “romance” between Cannon and McCullough to take place.

Essentially, Mailer makes the same film twice, with Thomas and Cannon swapping roles as the “sensitive romantic lead” and the effective “heavy” and moving from “the arts” to “sports”. Same basic story, but covering both sides of the fence, “artistic” to “active”. Yeah, the one is more easy beach girls and wannabe rock stars and the other’s hookers and gym coaches (a white trash Pretty Woman, in effect), but it’s the same thing with different trappings and garnish (and even most of the same cast!)

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Both films are watchable in that pre-video, pre-Vivid 80’s porn sorta way, with enough “plot” and respectably average cinematography to leave them as a mild entertainment for folks who just can’t get enough of 80’s sex comedies ala
Hardbodies or Zapped! who want a bit of extra footage tagged on to those skin sequences.

Nothing special, to be sure. But not all that bad, either…at least if you can stomach a bit too much of the “couples” oriented soap opera scripting and a batch of generally middling to unattractive folks doing the nasty (and a handful of¬†veterans who’ve looked and done much better elsewhere).

As ever, Vinegar Syndrome’s transfers are flawless and vibrant…if only other cult and “boutique” labels put this kind of effort into restoring their releases! And given the sort of scumhouse cinema being restored here? These slices of 70’s and 80’s underground cinema remain positively priceless in their very unexpected reappearance and restoration for a modern day audience.

Hats off as ever, in principle if nothing else.

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