“Always the best, don’t stop to rest!”
So croons the rather 80’s bubblegum chanteuse “April Showers” on the catchy little Hardbodies soundtrack-style ditty that opens Silk, Satin & Sex, the tale of an “intimate nightwear party” for putative door to door, Tupperware party-style lingerie saleswomen. Naturally, it all devolves into flashbacks and the “experiences” of the women concerned as they try to huck…or at least model their silken wares.
This one’s a bit of a trip down memory lane, as it plays into one of my old band’s earliest song lyrics.
The backstory there is that just before the formation of the band proper, my drummer, who as it played out was something of a porn addict himself, penned some lyrics about the adult film-addicted older brother of his next door neighbor (the younger brother being a mutual acquaintance of both of us – I went to school with the neighbor, who was friends with my drummer).
And the older brother was a bit of a socially maladjusted pervert, whose father once famously yelled, while the guy in question was reaching across the table for a second helping, “don’t touch that with your fingers! We don’t know where your hands have been!”
So anyway, it was a bit of a gag for our mutual pal to walk friends into the brother’s room when he was out and about to take a peek at his enormous collection of “adult material”…or as part of the song lyrics went, “piles of magazines…stacked high as his balls!”
Anyway, these song lyrics were so damn funny, they wound up becoming part of what is colloquially known among black metal circles as an early “(two) man bedroom recording/rehearsal” of a song whose “nicer” title was “the Greenrose mosh” (long story behind that one – suffice to say it was their nickname for the older brother in question).
A raw, hyperaggressive and very busy (“blackened”) thrash track in the style of earlier Kreator, Sepultura and Celtic Frost (if you can picture a melange of the three band’s riffing and “soloing” styles, but with a few Bay Area-style riffs and an Anthrax-esque mosh section thrown in for good measure – this thing was packed with riffs and time changes, as you can imagine), it was just yours truly on a practice amp with my (still future, albeit within a month or two) drummer shouting out the lyrics punk crossover style (when we weren’t breaking down laughing at the whole thing).
“Ron Jeremy! John Holmes! And Taija Rae! All help to make Greenrose’s day!”
More to the point here, the lyrics referenced several hardcore titles of the era, all of which were given group viewings by our mutual pal among friends (can’t speak for folks nowadays, but back in the 80’s, this is one of those things ya did for (literal) laughs when you had a group of pals over, nobody was around the house and someone had a stash of “adult materials” accessible…):
“Back Road to Paradise! Silk, Satin & Sex! Let Me Tell Ya ‘Bout White Chicks! Let’s look in his room and SEE! WHAT’S! NEEEXXXTTT!!!!” (cue dramatic breakdown and change to speedier black metal-esque tremelo picked riff).
Yeah, it was a big laugh, and one of our much-shared “joke songs” (alongside the later, more properly death metal-style classic “Deep in the Bowl”, which was pretty much about taking a dump…also penned by…or more properly, penned by swiping phrases spouted out by said drummer on the subject) for decades. Even got some abbreviated airtime on one of my podcasts a few years back…
So when this one dropped from Vinegar Syndrome, it was met with much bemused interest on my part – this is “my era” of hardcore, and the fact that it was part of one of our earliest (de facto) songs made it a must have.
Now on to the film itself.
A beefier than usual (and with her hair up at the party, rather tranny-looking!) Vanessa Del Rio bangs Jerry Butler pre-credits. Then it’s on to the lingerie sales party “training session” (I guess that’s the best way to describe it…), where a fairly middle aged-looking Jesie St. James (who keeps none other than Veronica Hart as a maid) regales her guest/future staffers with the tale of “how I met your mother…er…my husband“.
The guy in question is a (likely overdubbed, but) rather fey-sounding Jeff Foxworthy lookalike (Bill Michaels) who does Ren Faire-style face painting on her body before banging her. A slightly more attractive (but still kinda doofy) Joanna Storm tells how she met hers (David Sandler), then Tiffany Clark (who’s either possessed of a cleft palate or dentures, so sibilant are her lisping “S’s”) tells of her trip to the hypnotist (Paul Thomas) where in the interest of trying to give up smoking, she instead has a weird hypnotized slo-mo “fantasy” of wandering around the beach and banging him under an umbrella while actually getting molested by the guy in “real time”. Take that man’s license away!
Then an especially slinky Mai Lin (looking her absolute best here, with longer hair and far more stylish couteure than usual) bangs a skanky, balding French guy with a huge ‘fro (Jose Duval) in the hotel jacuzzi while waiting for a broken elevator at the Pan Am buliding (seriously…gotta love these ridiculous conceits). Always liked Mai Lin, but here she’s kinda stunning…
Apparently her story gets Storm excited, so it’s off for some lesbi-friends business (cross-cut with Hart, who never takes part in the action here, licking oranges and bananas for no apparent reason whatsoever…), while Del Rio tells her story, which involves some vintage Times Square footage (oddly focusing more on what’s playing on Broadway than The Deuce…). Del Rio helpfully both relates and demonstrates the fact that she’s a habitual drunk and how this led to her meeting “cowpoke” Jerry Butler at a strangely empty “party” suggested only by swing music in the background…not another soul around!
She bangs him out on the fire escape (or the set equivalent thereof), dons a corset for some satin sheet action and watch a really bad adult film before it becomes apparent that this isn’t their hotel room. Being the early 80’s, the actual room guests (big names Tanya Lawson and Ron Feilen) don’t call security, but join in on the fun. Back to the sales party, where it ends on the ingenious marketing idea to sell each other’s husbands lingerie. “To be continued,” the end card says, but it never was…
As you can probably tell, not everyone here is exactly a primo beauty, but they all look good enough as this sort of thing goes – some of them actually come off looking the best I’ve seen them thus far. Sure, “big hair” and 80’s lingerie go a long way, but you have to credit director Lawrence Talbot with some sense of visual flair and cinematography – the “action” is close up and intimate enough not to bore, while never falling into the “extreme disembodied body part” crap that would come in later decades.
The print itself is a bit worn – there are several ongoing instances of wear, tear and speckling and it’s a bit less vibrant than some restorations we’ve seen from Vinegar Syndrome and Process Blue thus far…but it’s hardly something you’ll be complaining about. The colors and tone are warm and distinct, and everything looks pretty damn good overall considering how this sort of “forgotten cultural detritus” was likely stored and maintained over the decades – I doubt anyone would or could put more effort into cleaning up a minor entry like this, so I’m just glad to see it, much less in such excellent shape after so many years time.
And good GOD, that Mai Lin…she’s come a long way from Tobalina, that’s for damn sure…
“My lover and I…are a sensitive couple.”
Next up, Talbot delivers an aging Kelly Nichols (of The Toolbox Murders fame) as a would-be Joy of Sex-style “instructress” and “guru” for the viewer.
Almost a white coater, this one serves as semi-“documentary” (complete with New Agey “instructional dialogue” and shunga and Kama Sutra illustrations), where Nichols is framed behind a “V” of white candles in an Al DiMeola Casino-style rattan chair and doesn’t take part in the action. But you do get plenty of space rock electronic music by “Andre” (and Randy Jetson, who also gave us the score to Silk Satin & Sex), which sounds close enough to ex-Yellow Magic Orchestra mainman Haruomi Hosono’s work on Chiemi Manabe’s excellent Fushigi Shoujo album to please.
Our players instead include Sharon Kane and the aforementioned cute Lydia Lunch lookalike Taija Rae, alongside Jose Duval (again!), a Brooke Fields and a few no-names. It’s fairly passable, unless you always wanted to see the (as I recall) rather animated Ms. Rae in a soft focus, slo-mo “romanticized” Andrew Blake sort of thing.
Talbot definitely has a warm, soft focus-oriented style per se, but the viewer of this sort of fare is far more likely to get some value out of the more “in the moment” and “very present” feel of Silk, Satin & Sex than the more deliberately New Agey unintentional absurdity of Kelly Nichols’ Turn-On.
Me? I was just glad to see Silk Satin & Sex get a polish and reissue so many years down the road.
Here’s hoping for more early to mid 80’s adult classics from Vinegar Syndrome – keep putting ’em out and sending ’em my way, fellas.