He was the first and most famous filmmaker who specialized in films that would later be framed as ‘sexploitation’, fun erotic films
He was the first and most famous filmmaker who specialized in films that would later be framed as
‘sexploitation’, amusingly erotic films, that are not porn, that devoted to a series of ephemeral actresses, all of them marked by their voluptuous and huge breasts.
Russell Albion ‘Russ’ Meyer (San Leandro, California, March 21, 1922 – Los Angeles, September 18, 2004) began his career as a photographer for Playboy magazine while working as a still photo for major Hollywood blockbusters, and later opting to direct his own movies, debuting with
‘The French Peep Show’, 1950. He soon became a
icon of North American trash culture, with films that border on the erotic, but always with a very commercial vocation and for very wide audiences.
Meyer was an all-round filmmaker since
wrote, made, took pictures with unusual angles, produced, distributed and promoted his films in which the bed, non-explicit sex, violence, humor, sarcasm, acid social criticism and even anti-communism could fit.
“I direct my films to both gas station audiences and college audiences,” Meyer said in an interview. «I have studied in cities like Dallas or Houston and 40 or 50% who went to see ‘Megavixen’ were female. It was the first time this had happened since “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” – one of his biggest box office hits. I think this is because it is the first intentionally funny movie that I have ever made, from start to finish. The fact that the theaters fill up on Saturday nights, something unusual in an erotic film, given that this audience is made up of couples, shows that women are not going by force. And it is that Russ Meyer showed women that sex was also something very fun.
Sex, violence, rock and roll, drugs, psychedelia, Nazi iconography … His movies were crude, rude, but very funny. Meyer put his actresses in situations as unusual as they were funny, and he always got a lot out of them. Meyer knew how to choose his actresses for their voluptuousness, with characters of empowered, vindictive women who owned their sexual pleasure. He consecrated Kitten Natividad, Uschi Digard, Eve Meyer, Varla, Uschi Digard or Tura Santana. Among his most famous films are ‘
Vixen! ‘ (1968), ‘Beyond the Valley of the Dolls’ (1971), ‘Supervixens’ (1975), ‘Up!’ (1976) or ‘Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens’ (1979). In the 80s, during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, Russ Meyer became a cult director, being acclaimed by the young people.
In Spain, his films arrived through the 1985 Imagfic Festival (Madrid Imaginary Film and Science Fiction Festival), which dedicated an extensive cycle of 14 titles to him, constituting a huge success, to the point that later some distributor acquired the most famous and they were released in commercial theaters. In the 90s both magazines and fanzines and much more serious newspapers of great circulation, spoke frequently of Russ Meyer as the most crazy and fun director of the moment. But with the 21st century and the ‘politically correct’, his cinema fell into oblivion. If 15 years earlier his films were seen in theaters and on television, he soon fell into oblivion. In addition, their sexual component in an increasingly moralistic society, they were not well seen. Today they remain as a reflection of the historical moment in which they were made, waiting for someone to discover them and have fun again with their degrees of madness, eroticism and rudeness.