FOLLOW US ON:
GET THE NEWSLETTER
CONTACT US
‘I Just Want Some Skank’: They made a punk porno based on Penelope Spheeris’ cult film ‘Suburbia’
05.16.2018
09:22 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
Is punk dead? It seems that every few years we have a newer, more embarrassing reason to justify its denouncement. Be it fame, the man, yuppies, or Malcom McLaren’s son burning £5m of memorabilia, punk rock has died many deaths—and it will probably continue dying until the end of mankind. The culprit? The mainstream media and its appropriation and exploitation of the punk subculture and aesthetic. The ideology at its core will hopefully live on. The look/uniform of punk? Why not be a hippie? You’d be being “more different,” right?

The modern porno doesn’t require much creativity. It’s hard to say whether the target audience has much of a preference for creative expression within the conversational narrative. And by that, I’m talking about the various situational anecdotes in which penetration occurs. You know, like the ‘barely legal’ sexy school teacher scenario, the plumber who ‘fixes’ more than just a broken pipe, or the busty MILF who gets it on with her horny step-son. I haven’t seen every adult film, but I would say it probably feels special when there is at least some thought put into explaining how these people found themselves in these most peculiar of situations. Otherwise, why keep it in there at all? Obviously we’re all there to watch people have sex, but if you’re going to tell a story, tell it right!

“Alt-porn” is a form of adult entertainment intended for those who cannot relate to the staleness of your average Joe skin flick. Films often involve participants of underrepresented cultures, like goth or cyberpunk, and actors are often tattooed, pierced, and have colored hair. The SuicideGirls are probably the most well-known example of alternative pornography, although the style dates back to the early nineties. Underground filmmaker Nick Zedd’s Cinema of Transgression was thought to contain some early elements of alt-porn.

Back in 2002, adult film producer Jim Powers released his own fleshy homage to the punk rock archetype with the truly hardcore flick, Little Runaway. The hundred-minute X-rated film features a cast of tatted, studded, and mohawked misfits, as they fuck to a soundtrack of notable punk ‘bangers’ by the likes of US Bombs, D.I., The Stitches, Lower Class Brats, and The Sick. The best of all is that this porno is an adaptation film and is pretty faithfully based on Penelope Spheeris and Roger Corman’s 1984 cult classic—and one of the greatest punk genre films ever made—Suburbia.
 

 
Little Runaway opens with Rachel Rotten, a suburban punk girl who struggles with the unreasonable standards of her monotonous home life. Her father, your quintessential sleazy middle-aged male porn actor, has removed Rachel’s rock ‘n’ roll posters and replaced them with dolls and other girly paraphernalia. “Halloween is over,” Rachel’s father tells her, physically threatening his daughter to change out of her Black Flag t-shirt. Rachel accuses her father of having a sexual relationship with her step-sister, which he denies. Then, without even skipping a beat, a very graphic sex scene begins, involving the father and his underage step-daughter.
 

‘Fuck you dad!’
 

 
Rachel hitchhikes to a very early-aughts Hollywood Blvd and soon finds herself at a US Bombs show. It is not long before Rachel is drugged by a creepy dude at the bar and is eventually carried off by her punk savior, Rob Rotten. Rachel awakes the next morning at Rob’s crash pad and becomes witness to a vulgar threesome in the other room. Rachel’s voyeurism turns her on and she is approached by Rob, who initiates certain lewd acts upon her person and in her mouth. Rob has a tattoo on his dick that reads “POISON.” He also has a tattoo of a Nazi flag on the back of his leg. Yeah…. ‘alt-porn.’
 
More after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Bennett Kogon
|
05.16.2018
09:22 am
|
Punks, headbangers & homeless kids: Penelope Spheeris on ‘The Decline of Western Civilization’

Penelope and Eyeball
Penelope Spheeris and her boyfriend, Eyeball

Penelope Spheeris, creator of The Decline of Western Civilization series, is a veteran Hollywood filmmaker, a “den mother” and most importantly, a cheerleader for punk rock. Spheeris got her start with filmmaking with her company, Rock N’ Reel, that specialized in music videos. She first got the idea for The Decline of Western Civilization during this time. “I was going to all the punk rock clubs here in Los Angeles and simultaneously I was filming bands for record companies. I always had equipment so I thought why not use the equipment to shoot the cool bands instead of the not cool ones I was having to shoot.”
 
Darby Crash
Darby Crash and friend

Featuring X, Black Flag, The Bags, The Germs and many more, Spheeris says the bands featuring in Decline had a lot to do with the “access factor.” “Most of them were my friends. I reached out to some bands that didn’t want to do it. There were some bands like The Screamers that I really wanted to have in the movie but they were too die hard punk so they didn’t ever do any publicity or filming or pictures or anything.” While making the film, Spheeris had no plans to make a sequel, let alone, two. “I was still going to lots of clubs and around ‘83 or ‘84 there was kind of a shift in the club scene here in Los Angeles and all of a sudden the whole look and feel changed and the music changed towards metal. At that point, I happened to coincidentally be asked by a producer if I could do any movie what would it be and I said Decline Part II. So, that’s how that one happened.”
 
Penelope And London
Penelope Spheeris with London
 
A huge component of The Decline of Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years is the idea of the male musician as all powerful, getting all the women and never needing to work a day in his life. Spheeris reflects on the sexism that appears in Part II: “The fact of the matter is, that’s just the way it was at the time. The girls and the guys both bought into it. You look at it in retrospect and it is disgustingly offensive and it would hopefully not happen today. But it’s just the way it was back then. As I look back over the different musical trends over the years that I’ve experienced, there’s just different situations that women have been in and the good thing about the punk rock movement was that women started to really stand up and object to discrimination and sexism.” While no female bands were filmed playing in The Metal Years, members of Vixen were interviewed as well as some other female musicians. “The guys back then really liked the women bands and respected them and still today women that sling a guitar are pretty well-respected.”

By Part III the music scene had once again drastically changed. “When I started the third Decline I really thought it was going to be about a new era of punk rock. What it turned out to be about was gutterpunks, the homeless kids that took on those punk rock ethics. What happened when I was filming was I started to turn away from shooting so much music. I focused more on the social aspect.”
 
Gutterpunks
 
It can be said that between the first and third Decline films, there are fewer and fewer female musicians featured. Part I has Exene Cervenka and Alice Bag as well as many other women who had parts in the punk scene. The Metal Years brings on the height of the heavy metal groupie era. By Part III, the only female musician featured is Kiersten “Patches” Ellis of Naked Aggression. “Just because they weren’t represented in the movie doesn’t mean there weren’t female punk rock bands. Hard to find, but they’re there. Let me just say this, Kiersten Ellis is equal to ten women instead of one. She’s one kickass bitch. She teaches middle school in South Central Los Angeles. She teaches school in a place where the children going to school have to go through a metal detector.”

Making Part III deeply affected Spheeris. “That film for me is the film that I loved the most out of all the films I’ve done in my career, it’s the one I’m most proud of and it affected me the most in terms of my values and my choices about what to do in life and how to decide my future. When I saw such a terrible problem out there on the street, and mind you that in the 19 years since I shot it, the problem has gotten worse with homeless children and children being treated badly and abused. So I said to myself, what’s more important, trying to help with this terrible situation or making more money in Hollywood? I decided it was more important to be a foster parent. I’ve had six foster kids. You gotta put your money where your mouth is, if you really believe in something. Having a kid and helping a kid is so much more gratifying than making a movie. It was a good choice.”
 
More after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Izzi Krombholz
|
09.26.2016
10:23 am
|
‘Decline of Western Civilization’ director Penelope Spheeris: ‘I sold out, let’s face it’


 
In a wonderfully frank interview with Irish broadcaster Tom Dunne, flimmaker Penelope Spheeris, whose triumphant Decline Of Western Civilization documentary trilogy was FINALLY released on DVD this year after decades spent as a prohibitively costly VHS rarity, spoke edifyingly about the schizoid nature of her career, and its trajectory from documentaries about low-life music scenes to Wayne’s World:

I can’t regret doing a goofy movie about heavy metal - and I have to admit it is - but for the most part I have to thank the Lord that I was actually able to make a living after that. I was 45 years old and I was borrowing money from my sister trying to pay the rent. Then I got Wayne’s World and I was a millionaire overnight.

It was totally dramatic. I didn’t know how to handle it. I was some white chick from a trailer park and I was like uh I don’t know what to do with all this money, I still don’t ‘cause in my brain I’m still poor.

I didn’t want to do them, but they started offering me more and more money. They don’t do that now. They get some kid s out of school and pay them nothing. But they were offering me all this money to do The Beverly Hillbillies and The Little Rascals and I thought if I can’t do what I want to do, I might as well make some money. So I did. I sold out. Let’s face it.

It irks me pretty much bottomlessly anymore to see an artist have to be self-deprecating about taking a good gig—is there any other way to sell besides “out?” That tedious ‘90s bullshit Fugzai conversation about remaining indie at all costs seems to have cost a fair few great bands potential paydays, and frankly, I think the hip-hop GET PAID AT ALL COSTS ethos reflects the reality of the artist much more accurately than the whole commie puritan Maximum Rock ‘N’ Roll it’s-unethical-to-make-money-from-your-art trip. Look at Steven Soderbergh—with the fat cash he made from the Ocean’s series of high-budget caper flicks, he has the time, resources, and flexibility to make interesting and provocative work like The Girlfriend Experience and The Knick. Spheeris used her fame to complete her punk doc trilogy, and since nobody actually put a gun to my head and made me watch The Little Rascals, why should I care that someone who made work I respect got a payday for something to which I’m indifferent? Money doesn’t get thrown at an artist every day, and if you’re not hurting anybody, I say when it comes, TAKE IT.

The NewsTalk interview, and more, after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Ron Kretsch
|
08.26.2015
11:45 am
|
‘The Decline of Western Civilization’ trilogy gets a DVD/Blu-ray release - WITH LOADS OF EXTRAS!


 
Penelope Spheeris’ brilliant Decline of Western Civilization is an infamous document of the early ‘80s LA punk scene featuring interviews and mind-blowing performance footage of The Germs, X, Fear, Circle Jerks, and Black Flag, among others. Her follow-up, Decline of Western Civilization Part II - The Metal Years, follows the mid-‘80s LA glam metal scene and features Alice Cooper, Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, Dave Mustaine and Paul Stanley along with some amusing lesser-known hair-bands. It also famously features one of the most depressing interviews ever caught on film - a brutally pathetic poolside chat with alcoholic WASP guitarist, Chris Holmes. The third film in Spheeris’ trilogy, The Decline of Western Civilization III, is lesser known, but a fascinating look at the crusty squatter-punk scene of the mid-‘90s featuring musical performances by Final Conflict, Litmus Green, Naked Aggression and The Resistance.

Spheeris’ Decline of Western Civilization trilogy has been at the top of countless fans most-wanted DVD lists forever. I’ve personally been trying to replace my well-worn VHS copy since the dawn of the DVD format. Over the years there have been many hints that the films would get a proper digital video release. As far back as the late 90’s there was a website promising an “upcoming” release of the trilogy. As these films, particularly the first installment, have been at the tip-top of my must-have-list, I’ve followed the progress with an eagle eye. Spheeris has dropped hints on her Facebook page for years—at times promising a deluxe set loaded with extras. There were rumors that Black Flag’s notoriously difficult Greg Ginn was holding up the process. Though those rumors are unconfirmed and were never actually put forward by the Spheeris camp, it’s well known that Ginn has prevented film maker Dave Markey from releasing the Black Flag documentary Reality 86’d, as well as forcing him to remove the Black Flag footage from Markey’s other film The Slog Movie—which is itself sort of a low-rent version of the first Decline movie.
 

 
A lot of punk and metalhead DVD prayers got answered when, without fanfare or a press-release, a box set of the trilogy showed up for preorder on Amazon.

Continues after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Christopher Bickel
|
03.24.2015
09:20 am
|
Punk rock is coming for your children! Arrogant talk show host blows an easy one


 
The alarmist punk-rock-is-coming-for-your-children episode of everywhere’s local talk show was practically a genre unto itself around 1980. They typically followed a template: a safe, comfortable, grinning suburbanite moderator projects his or her values onto a movement s/he doesn’t understand at all, and expects a handful of alienated, hobo-looking kids that the producer dug up somewhere to represent punk as a whole, as though a couple of random petulant runaways should shoulder the responsibility of justifying the existence of a broad international musical and cultural movement. On better shows, they found bright kids, and the hosts at least made an effort at understanding the new weirdness, instead of just hectoring their guests about their negativity, as though all art was invalid unless it existed solely to entertain them personally.

This is not one of the better shows.
 

 
Stanley Siegel was an interviewer of some repute, who fancied himself audacious and uncompromising, but was often really just kind of a showboating dick. In one infamous episode, Siegel physically restrained Timothy Leary before sandbagging him with a surprise phone call from Art Linkletter, who blamed LSD, and by extension, Leary, for his daughter’s suicide. So yeah, THAT kind of showboating dick. On his obligatory punk rock scold show (IS IT A DEATH TRIP OR A RITE OF PASSAGE?), he managed to book credible guests and proceeded to treat them with amazing condescension. In addition to the usual few aimless kids, Siegel landed Penelope Spheeris, director of the canonical L.A. punk documentary The Decline of Western Civilization, and artist Gary Panter, whose logo for the band Screamers is such an elemental piece of punk art that it’s probably much better-remembered than the band itself. He’d become even better known as a cartoonist for RAW and as the set designer for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse.

Spheeris, right out of the gate, is just not having any of Siegel. At first it seems like she’s trying a little too hard to affect disaffection, but soon enough, what looked at first like brazen posturing (“I’d like to be a hooker?” Really?) becomes more than justified by Siegel’s smug, curt patronization. Real quote: “This woman actually produced and directed a film!” Spheeris would go on to make the cult classic Suburbia and the mainstream classic Wayne’s World, and is still directing. Not sure Siegel’s career was quite so storied, but whatever. It’s all pretty eminently watchable.
 

 
More after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Ron Kretsch
|
12.19.2014
01:00 pm
|