The 1980s was the Golden Age of Video Porn. When VCRs came into popular use, and renting movies became the most exciting thing since the talkie, we flocked in droves to rent everything we could find a desire to watch. Video porn was something that overwhelmed many of those of my generation, as in the past porn had been something you either found in a magazine, watched in a sticky-seated theatre or managed to get up on a film projector in the creepy basement room at a friend's house. Now, for just a few dollars, you could rent just about anything your perverted little mind thought you ought to have a look at.
Most of the "performers" in these films were the same familiar faces, many of which continue to get it on in films today. Most of the scripts were predictable, required a major suspension of disbelief, involved pretty much every male performer getting it on at some point with every female performer, and the sex scenes were always pretty much the same. It was as if there was a requirement to follow the same steps towards the same conclusion. While it was quite mind blowing to be able to just throw a tape in and watch sex on your television, in many ways these films, once you watched enough of them, would convince you that sex was really quite boring.
From 1986 through 1989, Friday night was usually video night in my world. Sometimes this involved renting "normal" feature films from the main lobby of our local video store, whether they were movies we enjoyed in the past or movies we had never had an opportunity to see before. At other times it involved dipping into the back room, or flipping through a three-ring binder that contained the covers of the porn films that were available. Whenever my friends came over, it was usually a "regular" movie followed by a new porno after its conclusion. After a while we began to laugh at the porn. We had seen it all before, everything was so predictable we could call the scene in advance, and we were mostly looking to laugh at our favorite performers.
Then, in 1988, came John Leslie's The Pillowman featuring Peter North, who had become our favorite because of how he always appeared to be the dumbest man in the world. We popped it in and watched for a while in stunned silence. This was something... strange. The opening scene involved Peter North breaking into the house of an Amazon woman with a masculine voice and doing a very poor job of stealing her goods. He spends a great deal of time just picking up and staring at various bric-a-brac and then putting it down. And then the Amazon shows up and confronts him and searches him for a weapon. When he says he isn't armed, she grabs his crotch through his jeans and says, "Yeah? What is this?" Which would be very trite were it not for how Peter North struggles to explain this is not a gun she's grabbing at.
She pushes him around, takes off his clothes and orders him to have sex with her, finishing the scene with her telling him in no uncertain terms, "You steal something from me, I'll steal something from you," meaning, well, his semen. Then she starts putting her fingers in his hair and making a disgusted face. For anyone familiar with Peter North, you know he is quite obsessed with his hair, and he looks truly upset as this giant woman pulls at his hair and says...
"What do you got in your hair, GLUE?
This is the worst head of hair I've ever seen."
He protests, but then after she leaves his hair alone, he begins to ask the questions that frame the remainder of this film. He wants to know if she would like to go out for coffee, a movie, some ice cream or maybe some Chinese food. When she turns him down and kicks him out, he becomes very depressed and walks back to the boarding house he is living in looking defeated.
When you first watch this film, you will become convinced that there is something terribly wrong with it. And there is. Peter North has acquired a "list" which contains the names of women who signed up for a service that sends someone over to their home to fulfill their sexual fantasies. Peter North is just looking for someone to go out on a date with him. He continues to visit other women, have sex with them in every which way, and then ask them out on a date.
There are numerous people in the film who are not in any way involved with the sex scenes, including the bizarre Indian couple who run the boarding house. Peter is apparently quite behind on his rent, but he is spending all his time trying to get a date and does not seem to have any source of income. At one point he tries to convince the Indian lady that he could maybe sleep with her to square away the overdue rent, but she starts screaming at him, "No hanky panky, just rent!"
From the pay phone in the lobby of the boarding house, Peter calls another woman from The List. She has some kind of fantasy involving a lawyer, which Peter claims to be. In a classic line, she asks him what his cultural interests are. He replies, "Theatre and film." She tells him, "Really? That's wonderful. You're just the kind of man I'm looking to meet."
Meanwhile, Joey Silvera, who runs a "dating agency" out of a garage, is the person from whom The List has been stolen. He stands in front of a mirror shaving while two women in lingerie make out behind him. He is truly upset about The List and makes strong statements about how he hates there being "any individual pilferage in my organization." He hires what appears to be some kind of Latino asskicker for his plan of revenge, but the asskicker is very distracted by a light bulb that doesn't work in Joey Silvera's garage office. The list was stolen by an old man called "The Chief," who we later learn was the original Pillowman, a name meaning he beds all the women. The Chief walks around his apartment in a bathrobe that opens from time to time to reveal his dangling, flaccid penis, but he is also not involved in any sex scenes. He just rambles and walks around his room at the boarding house, coming up with excuses to why he cannot pay his rent, even when the cops show up to throw him out. The Pillowman not only seems to be able to get laid whenever he wants to, and apparently this is a title passed from one generation to the next, but he also is unable to hold a job or pay his bills.
Peter goes off to meet the woman who wants to meet the lawyer. There he finds her with a man she calls her brother, despite the fact that she is a very white woman and he is a very black man. Peter sits in his suit and tie claiming to be a lawyer while F.M. Bradley, the brother, tells him that he used to be a lawyer. However, he was sidetracked by "this calendar business" that started small in his garage and grew into a multi-million dollar business. He expresses an interest in hiring Peter North because the calendar business requires "bright young lawyers such as yourself" for some unknown reason. When questioned about his experience as a lawyer, Peter tells them, "Yes, I've worked on some cases defending some clients." The film is packed with great lines such as this.
The brother goes off to the bathroom, at which point the sister starts telling Peter North how hot his suit is and then begins to undress him and go down on him. As this progresses, Peter looks nervously over his shoulder, as shouldn't the brother be returning any minute? When he does return, he is completely naked and acting like an infant. She asks if he "missed the bowl" and he replies, "A little, mommy." This causes her to dismount Peter North, put a diaper on her brother, a pacifier in his mouth and rub his "pee pee" with baby oil. Peter looks truly nervous, and he sits on the couch watching, naked himself. They continue their sexual romp while the brother sits there with diaper and pacifier, and when they wrap things up and Peter begins asking about the possibility of going out for coffee, a movie, ice cream or Chinese food, he snaps, stands up and kicks him out of the house.
"What are you doing asking my wife out for Chinese food, motherfucker?"
"Wife? I thought you said she was your sister."
"Do we look like brother and sister?"
"Well, I didn't notice much of a resemblance."
And after Peter leaves, he pulls off the diaper and utters perhaps the greatest line of this film...
"Chinese food? Chinese food?
I got your Chinese food right here.
I got wonton soup for yo ass!"
Joey Silvera's plan to reaquire The List involves calling Peter North and telling him has a won a trip. Peter comes over and finds the asskicker and a woman having sex on the couch. Apparently, forcing Peter North to watch other people have sex is an important part of the plan of revenge. We really don't have any idea why, though. It had probably been too long between sex scenes. Mostly unmoved by this, Peter continues to ask about the trip and where he is going on the trip. After Joey Silvera tricks him into giving him The List, he explains the nature of the trip Peter North has won.
"Out the door. You're going on a trip to out the door."
Now, without The List, Peter wanders down to the bus station. There he meets a lovely blonde woman who seems very sweet and innocent and interested in the idea of coffee, or a movie, or ice cream or Chinese food. She takes Peter back to her place and changes into a little white teddy and then, well, she mounts his head. Again, Peter is having his hair messed with, but she keeps telling him she loves his head and is attracted to it, which is why she's basically riding his head. Later, she changes into a Canadian Mountie uniform and orders him around the room and then throws him out through a window. There is no apparent reason for any of this other than the woman being quite insane.
To date, this fine film has not be released on DVD. Do everything you can to make this happen. This is your sworn duty.
For PornQuest 2006... to paraclete with love...