Friday, September 09, 2005

Texts of Antiquity XII: On Ron Jeremy's To Live and Shave in L.A. (Ugly American, 1994)

Haruspex of Perfunctory Tick: Ron Jeremy's To Live and Shave in L.A.

(This review first appeared in Greg Chapman's brilliant Ugly American zine in 1994. Mr. Chapman is a superb writer, a genuinely transgressive musician, and just a national fucking treasure. We go back a long way; I owe him sooooo much. He was penning lucid, insightful features on Peach of Immortality during the post-Jehovah years when no one gave a shit about the music, and was first in the queue in the early 1990s when TLASILA began to break. He wrote impious, wildly scatological liner notes for a raft of Shave albums, and toured Europe with the group after Ben Wolcott's departure in 1996. A retrospective compilation of his formidable audio works is sorely needed... Greg was as crucial to the comparative/relative success of early TLASILA as anyone. Massive, heartfelt, no-holes-barred thanks, G. You are a ruler.)


First bowled by Shave box in the X-room of Video Warehouse II of Valdosta, Georgia, sometime in 1989. Pretty goddamned post-structuralist; absurd Dark Bros.-derived nEw WAvE foam-slugs creeping across disposable razors and censor's dots. Started sending Don Fleming (whose 1978 drug-drenched digs were but ten strip centers west of the vid mall) demos credited to "To Live and Shave in L.A." in January of 1991; the first of those was recorded in May of 1990, and gnawing became cum-soaked flesh.

In 1986 the ever-penitent Ron Jeremy (short of stature but prodigiously endowed - he sucks his own dick in many of his 1,600 features) joined the ranks of fellow 70s-era fuckfilm vets-turned-smutsploit auteurs John Leslie and Paul Thomas when he sold blow-addled producer Jimmy Houston on a scuzzed-out script intended to capitalize on the "clean" craze then sweeping the corridors of porn. Brazenly idiotic, the To Live and Shave in L.A. narrative hews neither
to a soiled synopsis of William Freidkin's hate-stuffed policier To Live and Die in L.A., nor to the episodic excesses introduced by Gregory and Walter Dark (whose perfect, Traci Lords-led 1985 hump odyssey Black Throat defines everything good about our culture and includes no songs by Pavement). Instead, the corpulent Jeremy transforms a threadbare treatment into a masterwork of loathing, with its unattractive leads questioning the validity of their own inert performances and taunting the beleagured director on camera.

Synopsis: moronic hairdressers Horace and Jasper get hip to the pussy shaving mania sweeping San Rafael, California. Their dipilated clients become aroused and want to fuck. They are then fucked.

The malformed Tom Byron (who portrays Horace with a broad, cornpone accent - "I oughta collect all these pussy shavin's and make some coats!") abstains from insulting R.J. on-set, but the recently Fed-pinched Tony Montana (arrested for selling hot Betacam units to undercover G-men) refers to the director (following a dismal scene with blowsy lardeater Trinity Loren) as a "fuck-up." The once-slim Jeremy, no meek cineaste, retaliates by failing to expurgate the most appalling of the various performers' errors, including Montana's many unsuccessful stabs at delivering English-language dialogue.

Utterly lacking in distinction, subtextually arid, and more porous than granolith, To Live and Shave in L.A. delivers!

-Tom Smith


Here's the promo blurb for the DVD reissue of Jeremy's woeful epic:

Studio: Wet Video / Year: 1986 / Genre: Shaving

Summary: In this wacky romp from the mid-80s, a hairdressing salon finds that it's having a hard time making ends meet. No matter what they try, they can't seem to rustle up enough business to turn a profit. That is, until someone hits on the brilliant idea of offering pubic hair cuts along with their normal services. Of course, if you throw some sex into the mix, there's no way you can fail to turn some heads. Before they know it, the beauty salon has got a line of anxious customers out the door. Silly? Sure. But the action makes this one well worth catching. Regina Bardot turns in one of the finest performances of her carnal career here, romping with utter abandon as she takes on all comers. Huge-boobed strumpet Trinity Loren delivers the goods as well, sharing her awe-inspiring up-top assets with her partner in a searing dose of pure debauchery. Trinity always exuded passion and energy, but never more so than in this white-hot outing. There are also a handful of shaving scenes for those who enjoy that particular predilection, making this a well-rounded romp that should satisfy all concerned. Lots of natural shapely sirens and nothing but frantic, feverish action makes this one a good choice for any stripe of hardcore fan.

(The original blob-splattered VHS artwork was chucked by Wet Video for TLASILA's DVD debut. If I manage to track it down, you'll see it here.)


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