Wednesday, March 01, 2006Films In Hell
One of the cruel facts of my creative life has been the apparent impossibility of ever getting to see or meet one of my heroes in person. The simple reason for this: all of my heroes are dead. And that's not merely a coincidence; in fact, it increasingly appears to be an absolute requirement for ascending into my personal pantheon. Someone whom I find while they're still alive, for reasons I can't rationally explain, will never reach "hero" status; and people whom I could so enthusiastically admire will always remain obscure to me until after their deaths. Why it should be so, I don't know. I just know it always happens that way.
The most recent applicant to my personal League of Superfriends: Doris Wishman. Doris was (and is) the most prolific woman director in history, having produced 30 feature films during her lifetime. She worked in exploitation, sexploitation, and camp, films with titles like Nude on the Moon, Bad Girls Go to Hell, Satan was a Lady, A Night to Dismember and, with a premise that would make John Waters slap his forehead with anguish at not having thought of it himself, The Amazing Transplant:
Somewhat of a softcore film, it detailed the perils of a young man whom, as young men are wont to do, has the penis of a dead man transplanted onto his groin.
Stop, stop... I'm sold.
Sadly, I've never seen one of her films, although by now I fully intend to. But it's not really the films themselves that put Wishman in the running for Hero '06; most of them sound, frankly, almost unwatchable. Having little interest in seeing Chesty Morgan play a detective who suffocates unruly perps with one of her garganu-tits, there might not be much in these films for me. But ironically enough, it's not Wishman's films that demand my admiration, it's her huge fucking balls.
(Yes, women have balls, too -- we just keep ours on the inside. Now stop interrupting.)
Doris started making films in 1960, during an era when women were routinely told they couldn't even keep their jobs once they married, much less run a cinematic empire, much less run a cinematic empire that stuck exclusively to sex-centric themes. She made her films without outside financial support, regardless of whether anyone gave her permission, and regardless of whether anyone noticed. She easily beat out Russ Meyer for eyeball-peelingly outre story ideas and actress cup sizes (Russ never got Chesty), and she was still churning out movies like Dildo Heaven at the age of 90. She was once quoted as saying, "When I die, I'll make films in hell." Now tell me those aren't some stunningly huge balls on that woman. She's the anti-Deren, a woman whose body of work can be appreciated exclusive of its artistic merits, who thrived in a hostile landscape by becoming even more hostile than her environment.
I think I love you, Doris Wishman.