Poppin' off

August is a big month for the Werepad-Vortex Room diaspora -- we're talking classic porn and Pop-art anniversaries

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"New" releases from indie cinema-land

TRASH The late, beloved Werepad begat the Vortex Room, the former closing when co-founder Jacques Boyreau moved from SF to Portland, Ore. But ties between those concerned with both venues remain tight, and August is a big month for them all. Firstly, it sees the release of Boyreau's latest coffee table tome, Sexytime: The Post-Porn Rise of the Pornoisseur (Fantagraphics, 96pp., $29.95). Really, you might ask, does there need to be a book devoted to full color reproductions of posters from the "golden age" (circa 1971-82) of XXX features?

Ohhhh yes. These hundred pages excavate a retro wonderland of film-shot sleaze with the usual tasteless ad lines (Finishing School: "She took a cram course in pleasure") and graphics variably dime-novel crude, psychedelic, and disco-era slick. There are titles topically trendy (CB-themed Breaker Beauties; Erotic Aerobics; Patty Hearst-inspired Tanya) and parodic (Blazing Zippers; One Million Years AC/DC; Flash Pants). There's even cautionary sexploitation, as the sheet for 1976's Female Chauvinists warns "DO YOU KNOW: Women libbers are planning to take over the world? That they have recruiting camps in every corner of this planet?" So that's where Rush learned about feminism.

Meanwhile back at the Vortex, the venue's fifth anniversary is being celebrated through the month's end with a Pop art-themed series of Thursday night double bills. It doesn't get any more Pop, or Op, than incredible and inexplicable The Touchables, which despite its obscurity today was actually a mainstream 20th Century Fox release in 1968. Ah, the Sixties. This was just a simple tale of four Swinging London model types who, after stealing a Michael Caine dummy from Madame Tussauds, decide to be more ambitious and kidnap a live male pop star. They then take him to their giant-inflatable-plastic-dome country hideaway, torture him with sex play and go-go dancing, and unknowingly await the arrival of gangsters hired by a gay wrestler who also covets the abducted lad.

You know, that old story. Keen minds thought up this insanity: Robert Freeman, the Beatles' "official" photographer making his directorial debut, cooked up the screenplay with Ian La Frenais (future Tracey Ullmann collaborator) and Donald Cammell (soon to be responsible for 1970's Performance and 1977's Demon Seed). The Touchables' co-feature is the almost equally daft Deadly Sweet (1967), another Swinging London artifact, albeit one directed by Italian Tinto Brass, who had yet to meet Caligula or his true calling as ass-man equivalent to Russ Meyer's boobaholic in the softcore sexploitation hall of fame.

Next week things settle down a bit with Streets of Fire, Walter Hill's fetishistically stylized 1984 music-video fable, and 1971's Captain Apache, a weak Euro Western enlivened by a trip sequence and Carroll Baker's apparent belief that she's acting in a farce.

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