Color, 2006, 117m. / Starring Al Goldstein, Marilyn Chambers, Georgina Spelvin / Blue Underground (US R0 NTSC)


Color, 2006, 118m. / Starring Al Goldstein, O.J. Simpson, Rob Lowe / Blue Underground (US R0 NTSC)

Back in the days when VCRs were first getting a footheld in American homes and 42nd Street was still a huge tub of sin, Al Goldstein of Screw magazine unleashed a public access show on late night Big Apple viewers that managed to cover the hardcore scene with only a sporadic emphasis on the explicit details but heavy helpings of scuzzy weirdness. Under its "After Midnight" banner, Blue Underground manages to capture this weird TV anomaly in all its glory with an ongoing series devoted to presenting as much of the program's charming highlights as is legally possible.

Historically valuable and still quite entertaining, Porn Stars of the '70s features a solid roster of '70s sex cinema celebrities with plenty of rare footage on display. Up first is Behind the Green Door's Marilyn Chambers, who comes off as far more glamorous, charismatic, and grounded than most of her coworkers as she chats about her various careers in front of and off camera. Then big Al takes on Georgina Spelvin (The Devil in Miss Jones), who does a great stage act with a snake intercut with candid interview footage about her sexual activities. Other interviewees include Jennifer Welles (who doesn't really offer a whole lot but looks great), elusive Debbie Does Dallas star Bambi Woods (who explains how she got in the biz while hanging out in a strip lounge), Seka (who also does a routine and talks about the effect of her career on her love life, including her husband/on-camera partner), the fearless Jamie Gillis (who's done just about everything imaginable on-camera while acting his twisted little heart out), and Annie Sprinkle (offering some self-pleasure tips). Interspersed are loads of vintage sex-related commercials for swinger hangouts, sex clubs, porn theaters, etc., with lots of hot tubs on display. (The phone numbers have been optically censored though, so forget trying any crank calls!) You also get some odd tidbits as well, such as "Jungle Fever" (a naked interracial dance routine), a musical montage of naked Marilyn Chambers footage, a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the NYC porno Honeymoon Haven, an overview of "Disgruntled Porn Stars," a very strange look at the unique genital skills of "Veri Knotty," and a promiscuous boast by Tara Alexander.

Though it sounds incredibly juicy, Midnight Blue's Celebrities Edition is a far more uneven affair, offering a mixed bag of celeb-related interviews with mostly teasing footage of some scandalous skeletons in the closets of the rich and famous. The candid and usually very raunchy interview footage here with the likes of Debbie Harry and Chris Stein, Penn and Teller, O.J. Simpson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Buck Henry, Al Lewis(!) talking about his rear-entry mirror fantasies, Tiny Tim, Russ Meyer, R. Crumb, and Gilbert Gottfried are priceless reminders of how much fun TV used to be before publicists took over and spoiled the party. However, bootleg video hounds should hang on to their copies of celebs doing the nasty; while you do get a few bits and pieces of the "Barbra Streisand" stag film (though whether it's really her has yet to be determined and she denies it to this day), it's heavily censored and barely worth the trouble. Also, the lengthy Rob Lowe homemade sex tape and the jaw-dropping Go-Gos backstage (where they torment a drunk, naked male groupie) are presented only briefly with most of the weirdest moments sadly MIA. Too bad Belinda Carlisle's stoned-out monologues in the same tape weren't included here, as they definitely deserve to be preserved for digital posterity; also, the unnamed groupie's pitiful attempts at self-arousal before the rocker chicks are pretty much censored into oblivion. Fortunately these debits are compensated with the presence of Goldstein himself, who offers some hilarious and wildly profane rants against a host of celebrities who have raised his ire, all enhanced with the usual array of dirty commercials for New York's underground sex scene. Also included is a thoroughly whacked-out featurette, "Al's Adventures on Demoral," in which he stumbles around while intercut with footage of Linnea Quigley from Silent Night, Deadly Night. Hey, it's unique.

Not surprisingly, Blue Underground's releases can only do so much with the original cheap tape stock from the program itself; the image quality is sharp enough in itself, but colors tend to be dull and smudgy, retaining that seedy early '80s video patina that gives it such a special quality. Viewers can also access a fun, very informative, VH1-style pop-up video track during playback that offers some cheeky trivia about the on-camera personalities. If only our current porn personalities were this entertaining!

Mondo Digital Reviews Mondo Digital Links Frequently Asked Questions