Big Bosoms and Square Jaws: The Biography of Russ Meyer, King of the Sex Film
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Russ Meyer, cult hero, creator of the sexploitation film, and the man the Wall Street Journal called the King Leer of Hollywood, made movies that filled the big screen with “big bosoms and square jaws.” In the first candid and fiendishly researched account of the late cinematic instigator’s life, Jimmy McDonough shows us how Russ Meyer used that formula to turn his own crazed fantasies into movies that made him a millionaire and changed the face of American film forever.
This former WWII combat photographer immortalized his personal sexual obsession upon the silver screen, creating box-office gold with The Immoral Mr. Teas in 1959. The modest little film pushed all preexisting limits of on-screen nudity, and with its success, the floodgates of what was permitted to be shown on film were thrust open, never to be closed again. Russ Meyer ignited a true revolution in filmmaking, breaking all sex, nudity, and violence taboos. In a career that spanned more than forty years, Meyer created a body of work that has influenced a legion of filmmakers, fashionistas, comic book artists, rock bands, and even the occasional feminist.
Bringing his anecdote- and action-packed biographical style to another renegade of popular culture, New York Times bestselling author of Shakey Jimmy McDonough offers a wild, warts-and-all portrait of Russ Meyer, the director, writer, producer, and commando moviemaking force behind the sexploitation classics Vixen, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and many others. Big Bosoms and Square Jaws blows the lid off the story of Russ Meyer, from the beginning to his recent tragic demise, creating in the process a vivid portrait of a past America.
the Pantages Theater on Hollywood Boulevard on June 17, 1970. It took in $7.5 million in its first six months, becoming one of Variety’s top grossers of the year. Financially, it was a hit. The reviews were another story. Dolls is a diabolical achievement. There is something so peculiar and particular about its brand of nothingness. Unlike Pussycat, which possesses certain passions, however bizarre, this picture is defiantly empty, a glittering, glowing void in a gold frame. It’s a genuinely
mastectomy (Russ contributed $11,000 to her operation costs—“one tit,” joked an anonymous friend), and is determined to rebuild her fantastic physique. No doubt some people would find that desperate. I find it inspiring in a cuckoo sort of way. Like Meyer, Kitten wants to one-up reality at any cost. “I have a metal cast of my fanny,” Natividad once informed reporter Jessica Berens. “I just sold one to a doctor in Madrid. I only have two left . . . I must reorder. Some guy in the Valley made it.”
Available on DVD/VHS from RM Films. Cherry, Harry, and Raquel! (1969), aka Russ Meyer’s Cherry, Harry, and Raquel, aka Three Ways to Love (UK), aka Les Stimulatrices (France), aka Menage a Trois (France). Presented by Eve Productions and Panamint Films. Producer, director, cinematographer, editor: Russ Meyer. Assistant producers: Eve Meyer, Anthony James Ryan, Thomas J. McGowan. Screenwriters: Tom Wolfe (aka Thomas J. McGowan). Original story: Russ Meyer. Editor: Richard Serly Brummer. Assitant
Ticonderoga.” A mink stole her only piece of wardrobe, Knight rolled around in the Malibu sand as Meyer snapped over a hundred stills with his Rollei, after which a hundred feet of Kodachrome 16 mm film chattered away in his Arriflex, and all this before any of the local boys in blue appeared on the scene. Shooting wrapped for the day and RM never saw Knight again. DeCenzie was knocked out by the footage and begged Meyer to stick it in Erotica. Next came 1962’s Wild Gals of the Naked West, a
Hollywood home was a shrine unto himself, packed to the gills with framed memorabilia from his films—posters, pictures, articles, and tributes. Huge nude portraits of the women he’d worked with covered the walls, the ones he’d bedded earning a special inscription affixed to their image—“To the Mutual Exchange of Wondrous Body Fluids.” Each film got its own plaque, and attached to each was some symbolic production prop—the straw hat worn by Bill Teas in The Immoral Mr. Teas, Tura Satana’s black