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A very Frisco triple feature – two from a “Charles Webb”, and best for last from a “Summer Brown”, presumably no relation to Hugh Grant…er, associate Divine.  Don’t ask me who the hell they are.

First on the menu are The Sins (or Sinful Pleasures, depending on who you listen to) of Reverend Star.

Some random 70’s chick gets accosted by a pimp. Despite her initial rebuff, when he pulls out a chintzy hypnosis device, she winds up going with him and they get it on in a dumpy apartment building hallway (right in front of a drunk, passed out in the corner).

It turns out there’s a whole rash of scruggly looking dudes who use similarly cheap-ass trinkets to easily coerce strange women into carnal relations…or is that just because it’s the 70’s?

Either way, sounds like a case for crusty conservative private dick Ken Scudder and his too stoned to deliver a simple line secretary (Melba Bruce)!

Soon enough, they’re on the case of a dumpy Chinese cult leader and his band of Mardi Gras masked, ridiculous fake eyebrow-sporting orgiasts, the females among whom spend their days handing out pamphlets to passerby…damn, it is the 70’s all over again!

It’s only an hour long, so there isn’t much time for a proper plot – 2 or 3 of the expected sequences, and anything else has to more or less get crammed in edgewise.  At least it’s pleasantly ridiculous, has a very period disco soundtrack and some of the girls are halfway attractive – you’ll recognize Desiree West in one scene.

Scudder is so bad at line delivery as to bring plenty of unintentional amusement, and you even get some footage of a San Francisco Chinatown (Chinese) New Years parade, complete with the multiperson paper dragon, so it’s kind of fun for something this low rent and ridiculous, almost despite itself.

Next, it’s time for some Kinky Tricks, produced by none other than Roberta Findlay.

Dressed pretty much like Soledad Miranda during the photo studio murder in Eugenie De Sade, a young and pudgy-faced Candida Royalle (who’s a prostitute who just got out of jail) moves in with a John Denver-looking writer acquaintance (Peter Johns).

Before you know it, she’s trying to help him pay the bills by bringing over her streetwalker friends and pimp, and all of ’em start turning tricks in both his split level and backyard.

That’s pretty much it, unless you actually give a damn about the johns’ various weird fetishes (like the guy who’s into dressing like a baby, the singing Zorro-type cowboy, the Professor Elemental type who greets them hanging upside down in the doorway or the cross dressing foot fetishist who carries around a pair of giant bigfoot print sandals (Blair Harris)…or perhaps the patently bizarre soundtrack (which includes Al Jolson, “singing cowboy” Gene Autry and Tiny Tim, among others).

O-kayyy…well. Alrighty, then.

Geez, Royalle really was at her best in Sunny…films like this do neither her or the rest of the cast any favors!

So finally, comes the (relative) gem of the bunch, the Linda Wong-starring, My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult-referenced China Lust (so where’s its companion piece China DeSade, now?).

Still fairly light on plot, the print and lighting look a lot nicer on this one than the two films it’s paired with, particularly in indoor scenes. It’s just some portmanteau fluff about a jade lonely person device that passes from one San Franciscan to another.  Hey, it’s green and translucent…where can you find one like that nowadays?

First buyers are the reasonably attractive but stone faced Veronica Taylor and her doofy Meathead-looking boyfriend. Then it’s clipped by the Lina Romay-lookalike maid (Laura Bourbon) for use with her lesbi-friend…who get held up in the world’s shortest and most harmless home invasion by two doofuses (one of whom’s Peter Johns again, and the other’s “Reverend Star’ himself!).

Melba Bruce gets her hands on it while they’re otherwise occupied, then it’s on to cabbie Ken Scudder and his shower date Desiree West. Finally, jade earring-sporting “rightful owner” Linda Wong takes matters into her own hands (in more ways than one). Roll credits.

Yeah, it ain’t much…but despite its “city by the Bay” origins, it feels very New York, and very much of its era. You can say the same about opener Reverend Star, but not to the same extent.  This one doesn’t just take place in the city – it’s so much a part of the proceedings, it’s palpable.

Now don’t get the wrong impression – all three films are fairly washed out and light on contrast. But I can tell ya China Lust is an upgrade from an old VHS I saw it on years ago, and any film that has both Desiree West and Linda Wong is already kind of a no-brainer – no matter how bad it is (and this one ain’t bad at all, really), you know you’re going to have something nice to look at. Tag in a fair amount of vintage Frisco interiors and exteriors, and there you have it.

Both Webb features are appended by an audio interview (split across the two), for those so inclined – no extras for China Lust, but as the clear winner of the package, it really didn’t need one.

May not be the first disc you run for in the Vinegar Syndrome library, but Kinky Tricks and nigh-plotlessness of this trio of films aside, this one should definitely earn a place therein.

 

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