Let My Puppets Come: A NSFW review
Fresh off the unbridled success of his masterwork Deep Throat, Gerard Damiano turned his attention to subjects more exotic. It was 1976 the year that Jim Henson’s The Muppet Show had begun airing and Mr. Damiano figured it would be good idea to mix his forte, hardcore pornography, with the lighthearted whimsy of the muppets. Why he thought this was a good idea I was unable to discover.
I suppose the trick was striking the right balance between eroticism and comedy. He definitely didn’t. I thought the film would feature two puppets being mushed together by frantic hands with lots of panting, but no, they actually made garish pink, puffy, plush pussies and penises and filmed hardcore close ups of simulated intercourse. There should be a special word for sex simulated by puppets. Hardcore sex “puppetrated” by puppets. They even rigged some kind of tube and pump system so ejaculation could be puppetrated too. Intercourse was bad enough but the depictions of oral sex were terrifying. It is hard to make a puppet look like it is gently licking or sucking, mostly it looks like biting and chomping as if the receiver is under attack by some kind of felt covered backhoe.
Oh, did I mention it was a musical? I’m thinking focus groups and demographic break downs were not high on Damiano’s list but perhaps that’s to his credit. He wasn’t going to let a lack of an audience for his film stop him. Actually the film is about a bunch of guys cynically making a porn movie to make some quick cash. Damiano must have thought this film would have drawing power. I don’t even understand why I watched it never mind why other people would.
Try this on for meta. There is a scene where a puppet of Geppetto the puppet maker is making a puppet of a black woman. The half made puppet comes to life while Geppetto is painting the face brown and asks Geppetto if he wants to party. Its a reflexive rendering of post-structural identity as filtered through race and theist creation ideology. Either that or its the result of a lot of cocaine and cheap whiskey.
They manage to work in several commercial parodies, some human actors, a cabaret number, random stock footage and what might be a ventriloquist but nothing can prepare you for when Pinocchio comes to life in a disco, mirrored, psychedelic, bubble machine nightmare. There are singing doo-wop vagina’s with legs, a marionette and a possibly trans actor who sings about a transexual in a sort of cross between David Bowie, Iggy Pop, and Abba.
There are some references to the state of the film industry. The fictional makers all get arrested but are released because a judge finds their work to be “socially redeeming.” The cop that unlocks their cell exclaims “Social redeeming my ass. Fucking is fucking!” This of course was the true controversy of the day that so many filmmakers had to struggle with. An edgy film could actually get you time in jail. People like Andy Warhol, Gerard Damiano, and Al Goldstein (who appears in the “Lusteriene” commercial parody in this film) were, in all seriousness, advocating and agitating for the first amendment. These ludicrous films were part of a vanguard pushing its way into Times Square in an effort to create new freedoms for filmmakers.
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