On writing his biography: "You sleep with a synonym book. You come up with words and I don't care if some people don't understand what the damn word means. Or I manufacture words. For breasts: abbondanzas, giganzos, big overbite, large balcony! (...) Oh, I've got it all. Rib rack, bellings, bristols, boondogglers, etc. You know. It's all there. But always preceded by large/ gigantic/ immense/ huge/ Atlantean/ cyclopean/ whopping/ Brobdingnagian/ humongous!"
American director and fetishist (1922-2004). Full name: Russell Albion Meyer. He was born in Oakland, California to very normal parents -- a policeman and a nurse. Meyer's mother gave him his first movie camera, and he made a number of amateur movies when he was a teenager, even winning some prizes with them. He was a newsreel cameraman in Europe during World War II. He claims that he lost his virginity to an extremely busty prostitute at a whorehouse that Ernest Hemingway himself took him to.
When he returned to America, he worked as a professional photographer and shot some of the earliest Playboy centerfolds. After directing a 1950 movie called "The French Peep Show," Meyer worked as a crew member on several mainstream projects, including "Guys and Dolls" and "Giant," until his "The Immoral Mr. Teas" in 1959 became the first softcore sex movie to make a profit -- in this case over a million dollars. Meyer used those profits to finance a string of low-budget, frantically-edited, sex-and-violence-drenched, bizarre, funny, scary, sexy movies. Heck, "movies" may be the wrong term -- they're more like big, crazy, jiggly, bloody cartoons, where all the men are dumb, reluctant, but easily persuaded, and all the women are smart, super-competent, always horny, and built like a bloussant-overdosed Jessica Rabbit.
In 1964-66, he cranked out "Lorna," "Mudhoney," "Motor Psycho," and the cult classic "Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!," establishing himself as a major, if eccentric, talent. When 1968's "Vixen!" turned out to be a critical and commercial success, 20th Century Fox hired him in 1970 to direct "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls," the kinda-sorta-semi-sequel to "The Valley of the Dolls." His follow-up was "The Seven Minutes" in 1972, but it was much more serious and much less breast-fixated than his previous efforts, and was not a box office success, so he returned to independent sex-and-violence epics, which he distributed himself. His later movies included "Supervixens," "Up!," and 1979's "Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens" -- other than a video he directed for surgically-enhanced porn star/dancer Pandora Peaks, he stopped making movies at the end of the '70s, partly because the drive-in theater, which was always an important part of his marketing strategy, almost completely died out, and partly because his preferred subject matter had been completely taken over by the hardcore porn industry, which Meyer refused to work in.
Malcolm McLaren hired him in 1977 to direct a film starring the Sex Pistols, and Meyer and Roger Ebert put together a screenplay called "Who Killed Bambi?" But the film never got made -- according to Ebert, McLaren was unable to pay the film crew, though McLaren says the studio decided to kill the project. In the 1980s, Meyer directed a video for Faster Pussycat, a band that took its name from his best known movie. And dem bones himself reminds me that the band Mudhoney also took their name from one of Meyer's movies.
He was married three times, twice to actresses in his movies; Eve Meyer was in "Eve and the Handyman" (as well as serving as the producer for many of her husband's movies), and Edy Williams appeared in "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" and "The Seven Minutes." Meyer died on September 18, 2004, at his home in the Hollywood Hills. He had suffered from dementia and died of complications of pneumonia.
Meyer's autobiography ("A Clean Breast: The Life and Loves of Russ Meyer") was written under the nom de plume of Adolph A. Schwartz. It's a gigantic three volume set and sells for $200 on Amazon, so I ain't gettin' it.
"(Charles) Keating volunteered something like this: 'Russ Meyer has done more to undermine the morals in these United States than anyone else.' And my retort would be: 'I was glad to do it.'"
Research from the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com) and "A Clean Breast: Titillating Talk with Russ Meyer" by Sergei Hasenecz and Charles Schneider, from Cad: A Handbook for Heels, Feral House, 1992, pp. 38-47, 134-135.