This obscure title from Ray's first wave of pornography, after having made cult indie movies, fascinated me by unintentionally foregrounding one of my favorite topics: Ray's approach is proudly amateurish - like Warhol who was his contemporary in the Underground Cinema field mid-'60s he rejects the niceties and style of mainstream movies. Here we have a loop carrier two stag films are shown during the overall movie as both padding and fodder for MST3K voice-over commentary by the cast that consists of a mustachioed pornographer showing five would-be adult models what is expected of them in this new X-rated industry.
Of course the stag films he projects for them in 16mm represent a long history of private porn, but in the floodgates were opening thanks to the Supreme Court decisions on the subject including freeing "I Am Curious Yellow " earlier on , so HOW TO does serve as an almost tongue-in-cheek pun intended introduction to the brave new era. At least a couple of the 5 girls are pretty and at least one Patti Snyder forged a brief career in loops and features.
Other guys, some with sizable dicks, lurk in the shrubbery on set, also humping but basically deferring to the ego-tripping major domo, who one would like to believe is Ray's alter ego. The fact that sex performers have to play to the camera in terms of positioning themselves with fake body movements, plus issues of getting their male co-stars hard, add up to nothing. What does make this tedious exercise informative is its documentary nature, using that term as it is commonly defined.
The fact that the whole thing is clumsily staged and that the girls are in on the joke is patently obvious but assumed away since the audience is presumed insultingly to be made up of mongoloid idiots. Many latter-day revisionists at the low end such homemade celebrities as "42nd St. Pete" who turns out to be a few crucial years too young to really know what he's talking about take a condescending attitude towards the viewers of , looking at these film artifacts from an Olympian 21st Century vantage point without ever having paid their dues at the flea-pits British revisionists or grind houses American revisionists they wax nostalgically about.
High Priest of this nonsensical movement, Quentin Tarantino, is even younger than Pete and learned about classic indie movies working in a video store so I can safely dismiss his so-called expertise. Stripping away the now cast-in-stone tenets of ignorant cinema appreciation regarding "bad is good", "so bad it's good", "psychotronic cinema"-a term coined by my friend who I knew back in Cleveland, Michael Weldon, "sexploitation"-a term popularized at my old stomping grounds Variety Newspaper and merely a euphemism blurring the issues, we have Ray's movie as junk - filler designed for consumption by those of us fascinated with anything that can move through a projector or now, streamable.
I have contended for decades that "documentary film" is a misnomer that a self-serving mini- industry now relegated largely to backers like HBO rather than cinema sources perpetuates for self-aggrandizing reasons. Whether it be Fred Wiseman and Ken Burns or their ancestors Pare Lorenz, Robert Flaherty and the like or hokey practitioners like Michael Moore, these "documentary films" are just as premeditated, faked and personalized as any fiction film.
Many actually have screenplays and often actors are used, or in Ken Burns' case "voices" not unlike those wonderful personages Warren Beatty presented in his fiction film about a documentary subject REDS. The fact that Wiseman does not add narration or other obvious fakery to his work doesn't make his often tedious exercises any more real than a Bowery Boys movie.
As artifacts, the Bowery Boys and other bargain-basement Monogram studios type of movies are probably more culturally valuable than a warehouse full of award-winning docs. So Steckler's transparent fakery just brings into high relief the artifice, even here in such an artless manner, of conceiving, organizing and editing a movie, whether using found footage or original material, and then pretending that it is documentary or objective in nature rather than a child of Shakespeare, Moliere or any other dramatic artists who worked prior to Edison or the Lumiere Brothers' invention.
Some day insightful researchers may adopt my point-of-view and analyze how intrinsically fake are the cinema verite, reality TV already discovered to be phony due to too obvious chicanery especially in the editing process and other bastions of "documentary" field.
So far I would venture that only pure pornography -unedited recording of sex acts without any intervention and perhaps the bootleg recordings of each and every Grateful Dead concert editing being the enemy of preserving the point-in-time memory for the fans are examples of what a real documentary, properly defined, might be.
Was this review helpful to you?