PG porn

'50s smut peddlers tell all, show little.

MAU MAU SEX SEX

directed by Ted Bonnitt runs Nov. 15-18 at Little Theatre

BETTY PAGE and Playboy bunnies have now been transmuted from sex icons to kitsch objects, especially by those who couldn't possibly have any living memory of the titillation they once provided. In a world of satellite-dish porn being beamed into the living rooms of happily married suburban couples, such bygone curios of the pre-hardcore era seem all the quainter. This modest little documentary echoes that benignly nostalgic view, centering on two sexploitation movie producers who left the trade when it dried up—thanks as much to video as graphic penetration—in the early '70s.

"Sex is what sells," declares 84-year-old Dan Sonney, who learned the late-night and road-show exhibition business from his cop-turned-vaudeville-performer father near Centralia, Wash. Yet in the too few but hilarious film clips scattered through Mau Mau Sex Sex, the modest displays of flesh seem unsalably prudish. Women cavort topless (including one "practicing nudist"), while intercourse is implied, not shown.

Who'd pay for that? There was a thriving lunchtime audience of sexually frustrated businessmen during the '50s and '60s, recalls 78-year-old David F. Friedman, whose The Erotic Adventures of Zorro (see film calendar) concludes the Grand Illusion's weekend retrospective of his onanist oeuvre. "It was all so innocent," he declares. "I don't apologize to anyone."

Unfortunately, what Mau Mau needs to apologize for is giving us too much Dan and Dave—like some dull, slightly naughty PBS documentary—and not enough examples of their work, which we see warehoused in towering stacks of old film canisters. Unlike the makers of this documentary, someone evidently recognizes the true commercial potential of this vintage smut-and-shock library. Even now, these prints are being culled into the stock film market. Once digitized, they'll feed our insatiable media appetite for cheese, corn, and camp, eternally outlasting their forgotten titles and affable producers.

bmiller@seattleweekly.com

 
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