Tag Archives: Snow White

A little-remembered part of social history involving porn cinemas

The ever interesting Anna Smith

The ever interesting Anna Smith

Three days ago, I ran a piece in which Anna Smith, this blog’s occasional Canadian correspondent, described thinking she had experienced an earthquake.

She later noticed that one of the ‘Likes’ on that blog was from an anonymous other blogger who mentioned bookstores and Baltimore.

“I hoped for a minute,” she told me, “that it was film director John Waters… But no, it doesn’t appear to be him. In a recent Globe and Mail article, Waters was lamenting the demise of the porn cinema – He is hosting a series showing ten classic porn films.

“He observed that when people went (to a cinema) to view porn films it used to be a social activity whereas now, although there is a limitless variety of subject matter available, it has become a solitary experience. Having danced in porn cinemas on three continents I have to say that I am also sad to see them go. John Waters said that most of the ones in the U.S.A. have been turned into churches.”

Now, I have been around an awfully long time and I do remember old-style porn cinemas, but I don’t think I was ever in one.

Actually, that may not be true: I may have bizarrely seen a screening of BBC TV’s then-banned documentary The War Game in a porn cinema near Piccadilly Circus.

There were only ever two porn films which appealed to me.

One was She Lost Her You-Know-What because it was billed as ‘based on a story by Alexandre Dumas’, which I found intriguing. I can find no trace of this movie at all, but I swear-to-god I saw it advertised when I was reviewing films for (I think at that time) the International Times.

Title caption for the little-remembered 1973 movie

The title caption for the little-remembered 1973 porn movie

The other porn film which appealed to me certainly exists: a 1973 UK/German short called Snow White and the Seven Perverts (Schneeflittchen unter die Sieben Bergen – which Google Translate confusingly reckons literally means Snow Hussy Among The Seven Mountains).

My understanding is that the Walt Disney company threatened to sue the film-makers, rather dubiously claiming copyright on the title Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs (surely a Brothers Grimm original?), so the producers then re-titled their magnum opus Some Day My Prince Will Come.

I thought: These producers are creatively interesting.

Anyway, the concept of having live dancers perform in a porn cinema sounded to me unnecessarily spendthrift for presumably very financial sensible porn cinema entrepreneurs. So I asked Anna Smith for her expert knowledge on the subject.

“It was around the time when VCRs first appeared.” she told me. “For the first time, people could watch porn movies at home. So the porn cinemas were desperate to get their audiences back and brought in live dancers, who were billed as ‘feature acts’.

Snow White & The Seven Perverts: NOT a Walt Disney film

Snow White – not the Disney version. Maybe a bit Grimm

“I first danced in cinemas in Toronto and really enjoyed it… It was the first time I got to dance in a place where there was no smoking. Also, it was a theatre setting rather than a nightclub, so the audiences were not drunk and were more attentive. Our pictures appeared in newspaper ads, our names were on the marquees and some places even had graphic artists who painted our names on lobby cards.”

So there you have it: a little-remembered part of social history involving porn cinemas.

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The mystery of a £500 million man, the German love of Red Indians and the tough future for seven dwarfs.

I was in Brighton yesterday, visiting a friend. Her partner comes from Wolverhampton.

When I arrived, she asked me: “Have you heard about Snow White?”

“Erm, no” I said, “No, I don’t think so.”

“Apparently,” she told me, “Radio 4 says the local panto in Wolverhampton this year is Snow White, but they have sacked the seven dwarfs… Sacked them! Suddenly!”

I looked at my friend.

“What on earth did they do?” I asked.

I had visions of the legendary mayhem and Bacchanalia which reportedly happened among the Munchkins during the filming of The Wizard of Oz.

“They didn’t do anything wrong,” my friend explained. “It was the economic recession and the soaring cost of dwarfs… The theatre is going to replace the dwarfs with children wearing masks.”

“It won’t be the same,” I replied. “Don’t Look Now would’t have been the same. Didn’t they think about the soaring cost of vertically-challenged people before they employed the seven dwarfs in the first place?”

“Radio 4 didn’t say.”

“That seems a bit remiss of them. Standards are falling at the BBC.”

“Yes,” my friend replied.

“We live in a strange and mysterious world,” I said.

“Yes,” my friend replied.

We had a cup of tea.

Later in the afternoon, in The Lanes, we picked up a leaflet for the Brighton Festival Fringe. At the top, it said: The third largest Fringe in the world.

“Brighton has always been billed as the second biggest,” my friend said.

“You’ve been shamed,” I ventured. “Edinburgh is by far the biggest arts festival in the world and the biggest Fringe. What on earth is the second biggest?”

“It’s a mystery to me,” said my friend.

So we went to Brighton’s always surreal-sounding Vegetarian Shoes shop and stared in the window. Nearby, was a man sitting on the ground outside a Native American shop; he was dressed as a Tibetan lama and was apparently talking on his mobile phone to his girlfriend; he had an English accent.

“They’re very popular in Germany,” my friend told me.

“Tibetan monks?” I asked.

“Native American artifacts.”

“I seem to remember reading,” I said, “that German movie-goers are very fond of Westerns, too. What’s that all about?”

“It’s a mystery to me,” said my friend.

“I can’t help feeling that, if Hitler had dressed in a Red Indian head-dress, it would have undermined his credibility,” I suggested.

My friend looked at me.

She said nothing.

Any news of Nicholas van Hoogstraten?” I asked, as we walked on. I’m always interested in people with unusual lives and my friend had once given me a biography of van Hoogstraten as a Christmas present.

By 1968 (aged 23), he simultaneously became Britain’s youngest millionaire and started a 4-year prison sentence for paying a gang to throw a grenade into the house of Rev Braunstein, a Jewish leader whose eldest son owed him £3,000. He later said of the people who threw the grenade: “These weren’t anarchists: they were businessmen, respectable people.”

In 2002, he was sentenced to ten years’ imprisonment for the manslaughter by two other men of business rival Mohammed Raja; a jury decided that “although he wanted Mr Raja harmed, he had not wanted him murdered”. He was released in 2004 after successfully appealing against his conviction on the grounds that “there was no foundation for a manslaughter case.” In 2005, Mohammed Raja’s family won £6 million in a civil action against van Hoogstraten after the court found that the balance of probabilities was “that the recruitment of the two thugs was for the purpose of murdering Mr Raja and not merely frightening or hurting him”. Van Hoogstraten reportedly told the BBC that the family would “never get a penny”.

“Is he still in Brighton?” I asked my friend.

“It’s a mystery to me,” my friend said. “Every now and then you hear stories. Some people say he’s in Zimbabwe.”

“Among friends, then,” I said.

“Not any more,” my friend said. “One story is he sold all his assets in this country and put all his money into Zimbabwe because he was so chummy with the regime but they fell out and he lost all his land there.”

The last time I heard van Hoogstraten, he was on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme defending Robert Mugabe’s ‘land reform’ policies.

“How’s van Hoogstraten mausoleum?” I asked.

“Crumbling,” my friend said.

By this point, we were passing a bronze statue of the British music hall star Max Miller.

“An interesting place, Brighton,” I said. “Max Miller and Nicholas van Hoogstraten were both equally at home here.”

“Yes,” said my friend.

“Bronze is very colourless for Max Miller,” I said.

“Yes,” said my friend.

Apparently Adelaide is the second biggest Fringe in the world.

And, according to Wikipedia, which is surprisingly accurate on such things, Nicholas van Hoogstraten has been reported to be worth £500 million, “though he has stated that his assets in the UK have all been placed in the names of his children”. His assets in property and farming in Zimbabwe were estimated to be worth over £200 million.

I don’t know what he is worth now or where he is. Nor does my friend.

All I know for certain is that life is tough for dwarfs in Wolverhampton.

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The search for the ultimate film title: from Abba to Jesus Christ via “Surf Nazis Must Die!”

I saw the Abba movie Mama Mia! on TV at the weekend – I’d missed it in the cinema. The only problem is that, whenever I hear the words Mama Mia! in my head I start singing Queen’s song Bohemian Rhapsody not the Abba song Mama Mia!

Titles are almost more important than content.

I did say “almost”.

When Alex Reid’s not-quite-critically-acclaimed but certainly noticed movie Killer Bitch was being mooted, other titles were talked-of. As it is about a woman forced to kill lots of people, I rather fancied the title:

THE KILLER WORE A BRA

At least it is what it says on the label.

But it was suggested to me that the core audience of young lads and the core cast of a large number of heavies, crime figures, boxers and martial arts exponents might not take kindly to being associated with a movie called The Killer Wore a Bra and I should factor in an element of self-preservation when discussing the choice of title. At the point The Killer Wore a Bra was mentioned, though, we did also semi-seriously discuss the possibility of approaching Carry On movie star Leslie Philips for a role in the film.

Other titles considered included Die, You Bastards, Die! (echoing Sergio Leone’s Duck You Sucker! aka For a Fistful of Dynamite aka Once Upon a Time… the Revolution)Forced to Kill and Kill Again (slightly echoing Russ Meyer’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!)… as well as Bitch on the RampageBloody Bitch From Hell… and Lipstick and Leather.

Lipstick and Leather sounds to me like a classy Italian art film.

I would pay to see it.

I have always wanted to see the movie originally titled Snow White and The Seven Perverts because, after complaints from the Walt Disney Company, the makers changed their title to Some Day My Prince Will Come and anyone who can think up that as a secondary title is OK in my book.

A friend of mine says she actually saw this movie in London in the company of seven Persians but doesn’t remember the movie itself. “This was before the Shah was overthrown,” she says, “so they were a very different type of Persian back then. They were more like the French.”

The other film I have always wanted to see is She Lost Her You-Know-What which was also known as Tower of the Screaming Virgins and was billed in the publicity as “Based on a story by Alexandre Dumas”. This sounded, at the very least, intriguing and was presumably only loosely based on a Dumas  novel.

Anthony Newley’s gobsmackingly OTT Can Hieronymus Merkin Ever Forget Mercy Humppe and Find True Happiness? (which I’ve mentioned more than once before) lived up to its OTT title but, alas, I’m told by someone unfortunate enough to see it that the legendary Troma production Surf Nazis Must Die! failed utterly – it was simply about some surfers with an attitude problem and didn’t equal the kitsch mix of Nazis, breasts and dodgy rock music that Russ Meyer managed in Beyond The Valley of The Dolls.

I am a great fan of the genuinely highly talented writer/director Larry Cohen, whose works include Dial Rat for Terror, the wonderful Q: The Winged Serpent and the utterly bonkers God Told Me To in which a string of people who kill random strangers explain, “God told me to,” and, bugger me, it turns out God actually DID tell them to… and Jesus is reincarnated as a hermaphrodite. (Larry Cohen is a great writer)

I did suggest a follow-up to Killer Bitch called Killer Christ. The outline read:

_____

KILLER CHRIST

The world is full of scum: the pimps, the whores, the conmen, robbers, murderers, psychos and killer bitches. It needs cleaning up. Now time has run out for the scum of the Earth. It’s Apocalypse time! Only one man is big enough for the job. The Big Man is back. He cleared the scum from the Temple in Jerusalem almost 2,000 years ago. Now his job is bigger but his firepower is bigger.

This is Death Wish crossed with Terminator.

He is the ultimate vigilante for the 21st Century.

Your wildest dreams were only the beginning…

JESUS IS BACK… AND THIS TIME HE’S MAD AS HELL !

_____

No-one has come back to me on this one.

I live in hope.

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