Russ Meyer

The time has come for America's film heritage to grab hold of Russ Meyer's "oeuvre" with open arms and clutch it to its breast. Meyer stands alongside the finest men ever to clutch a camera, only he was one of the brazen few to literalize its phallic proportions. Meyer does not make "tit flicks" as the raincoat crowd is want to say, but rather is busy rewriting history through the perspective of the overflowing bust. "What I've achieved on film represents the kind of way I like to screw. I mean like a football scrimmage. That's the way I like it. I don't want any funny stuff or all this cocksucking and everything else. I just want to get in there and wail away at it." And this is Meyer in 1986, at the ripe, young age of sixty-four! Here's a man who unleashed a slew of epic Freudian fantasies upon the silver screen of the drive-in, and his passion for slipping back into the vagina and the director's seat hasn't waned in the slightest bit.

To understand the logic of Meyer's world, it is necessary to grasp the evolution of the supervixen. These are real flesh 'n blood incarnations of womanhood, not just walking mammary glands. Granted, Meyer concentrates much of his focus and fixation on the gigantic breasts of his lead actresses, but these are not dumb bimbos; they are lusty dolls with a penchant for sadism and a insatiable need for action and excitement. Meyer is the ultimate feminist director, in a roundabout sort of way, but we can all thank our lucky starlets that the angrier sects have skipped over his work in compiling their dogma, leaving an unmaligned legacy of sexual lunacy to be cherished by perverts and miscreants of all ages.

It took a little while for Meyer's vision of a world overrun with buxom bombshells to mature into a full-blown, all-encompassing perspective, but cutting his teeth on early films such as Mudhoney helped him reach ample familiarity with the endowments of his "actrixes" before he pulled out all the stops and let everything fly in gorgeous, pulsating color. A torrid tale of sex, flies, and sweat in the religiously bombastic backwoods territory of Tennessee Williamsland, Missouri, Meyer offers us a morality play that thrives gloriously in a dank pit of moonshine and decadence. The lead superbabe this time around is deaf and dumb, and her family reaches levels of grotesquerie Fellini could never hope to achieve. Although the magnetism of the later Meyer supervixens is only hinted at here, there's always something titillating to feast the eyes upon when things drag.

Two films later, Russ nailed the phallus right on the head. In his 1966 masterpiece, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, the audience is witness to a head-on collision of respectable art and worthless trash, a synthesis that lays it all out on the table and gets instant results. Right from frame one, which endorses the film as a "testament to the violence in women," we are off on a no-holds-barred joyride with three well-endowed go-go dancers who go let off steam in any way they can out in the middle of the desert. These women drag race like fireballs, explode into impromptu hard-core cat-fights, fight any and all men they meet along the way, kidnap a helpless teeny-bopper, make fun of cripples, and seduce big, dumb studs. These amazing women will hopefully inspire those who've fallen under the spell of what passes as feminine in today's world to throw away their make-up, grab the world by the balls, and give a long, hard yank.

Meyer is the King of the Visceral, relegating the realm of the intellect to a position of total irrelevance and pointlessness. Why think when you can cut to the chase with a big pair of breasts in your face? Very rarely in Meyer's films do you catch him lingering over languorous moments of pastoral beauty or attempting to establish a continuity that doesn't call attention to itself. His raw, vibrant, sledgehammer close-ups get right to the crotch of what makes perverse American sexuality such a thrill-a-minute proposition. Even as hard-core porn gained a foothold in mainstream culture in the States, Meyer insisted on sticking with his tried-and-true formula of soft-core bizarro porn, creating universes of feminine abandon that remain unrivaled to this day. Nineteen seventy-five saw Russ hard at work in bringing the updated version of the Meyer superchick to the screen in the pungently salacious Supervixens. This film was written, photographed, edited, produced, and directed by Meyer, and as such blasts off at the get-go by scraping through the subtleties on its flight of Freudian fancy.

The deceptively simple plot concerns the exhausting adventures of Clint, who is seduced by a wide variety of beautiful women with gigantic breasts. As in all Meyer epics, there are the many references to the mystique of the road, introducing themes of freedom and alienation that haunt even the most vaudeville-inspired passages in the film. Meyer vociferously states his purpose straight off the bat, introducing the film with a series of shots that immortalize the phallus (a gas pump, a bottle, and a phone), and never letting up as he transforms the sadomasochistic sexual fury of the Pussycat gals into the next phase in the Meyer female evolutionary chain. These are purring sexual superheroines, referred to consistently as Superangels or Supervixens.

With the times rushing forward into a whole new age of Proud Perversity, Meyer took his cue by charging in headfirst with libidinous vigor. His spatial compositions have gotten bawdier here: not content with unadorned chest-level shots of his superchicks as they bound their way toward the camera, Meyer frames every shot of this film with lovingly etched detail and voyeuristic passion, throwing his camera around until every angle in the infinite spectrum of "tit shots" has been exhausted. The result is something like Sartre meets Deep Throat on Milton Berle's old block. Also thrown in for good measure is an amazing bareback dune-buggy sequence, references to Prometheus, the perennially scabrous Charles Napier as an impotent policeman, and a fantastic closing shot of Supervixen excitedly straddling a mountain peak.

It's a glorious world of slapstick pornography to Russ Meyer, and his revolutionary outlook is currently being immortalized in a twelve-hour epic he is making with his own money. "I've got a million and a half dollars of my own money in it, and it's going to be a sensational film," he revealed in 1986. "But I refuse to stop fishing and womanizing and having Epicurean meals and generally having a good time, so it'll be ready when it's ready." There is definitely much to learn from in the outlook of the gleefully perverse, and when the values of all-American freedom and fun that Meyer espouses are finally taken up by a world bored of its standard sexual neuroses there'll be fondling in the streets.