It was recently announced that Eddie Murphy is playing comedian/actor Rudy Ray Moore in the upcoming Netflix bio pic, Dolemite Is My Name. Moore first gained notoriety for his ‘70s comedy records that were so racy they had to be sold under the counter. On these albums, he told raunchy stories about the larger than life figure, “Dolemite,” which he delivered in a rhyming fashion that influenced rap. Moore subsequently took on the role of the character in his act and on screen. He starred in such classic blaxploitation pictures as Dolemite (1975), Petey Wheatstraw (1977), and Disco Godfather (1979). Moore died in 2008.
In the mid-1990s, with renewed interest in blaxploitation cinema, Rudy Ray Moore experienced a career renaissance. In 1995, I went to a Detroit-area screening of Dolemite, featuring an appearance by Moore. Though he walked with a cane, once he hit the stage he became Dolemite, slinging rhyme after rhyme like in his prime, and hurling lewd insults at audience members who weren’t expecting to be roasted by the man. It was something else. Afterwards, he was selling merchandise and such in the lobby, incredulous that no one was interested in the unrelated porno tapes he was offering. Good times.
It was during this period that Something Weird Video put out Afros, Macks & Zodiacs – Volume 1 , a compilation of blaxploitation trailers featuring Dolemite himself as the host. He’s joined by three young women, who act as a kind of captive audience for Rudy Ray’s X-rated routines.
Released on VHS in 1995, the action-packed trailers—for films that were decidedly not PC and would never be made today—combined with the silly Moore interludes, makes for a viewing experience that’s both amazing and exhausting. If you’ve got the stamina to make it to the end, you’ll be rewarded with a blaxploitation-style video from Blowfly (another joyfully foul-mouthed figure who also influenced rap), with cameos from a number of the genre’s veterans and Flea, for some reason.
Something Weird has yet to produce another volume of Afros, Macks & Zodiacs. Volume one was only available on VHS and hasn’t been issued in any other format. If you come across a DVD, it’s a bootleg.
Afros, Macks & Zodiacs – Volume 1 is embedded below. Though Something Weird apparently made no effort to clean up the trailers, the grainy, washed-out quality contributes to the feeling that we’re watching them in a Grindhouse theater in the ‘70s.
A final warning: If you’re easily shocked, best to look for your entertainment elsewhere.
We’ll end with some undated footage of Rudy Ray Moore working a crowd. My guess is it’s from around the time I saw him or a little later. NSFW (nor the faint of heart), in the event there is any doubt.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Feast your eyes on these awesome Blaxploitation movie posters!
Before ‘Dolemite,’ Rudy Ray Moore was an accomplished early rock and roll singer
Rudy Ray Moore, Mark Mothersbaugh, Timothy Leary, Steve Albini, David Yow in ‘Duelin’ Firemen’