Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Porno Inferno


The first X-rated film I ever saw (outside of a "legitimate" film like Midnight Cowboy and Last Tango in Paris) was this Ged-awful beach romp called Baby Cakes. I don't recall too much of the storyline (such as it was), but I remember it was about this young girl who aspired to be a bicycle racer. She had two really horny friends - what biker doesn't? They rent out a beach cottage and the horny chicks hook up with two horny guys. Kismet. The two horny guys have a friend who experiences a meet-cute with Biker Chick, and...the memory is fuzzy, but I'm sure there was a lot of sex. A hotel maid gets nailed somewhere along the way, too.

Baby Cakes looked and sounded as though it were filmed in the 70s. The credits boasted talent with names like Misty Dawn and Seymour Cox, and everybody either sported hairspray flybacks or bushy 'staches. I saw the film probably a good twenty years after it was made at a drive-in called the Playtime. By day, it was this shit-hole of a flea market. By night, ooh la la. For years we had driven past its omnious sign, white with bold red letters, advertising some clever blue title. Interestingly enough, the place was a quarter mile from my church. We used to joke about it.

When I did finally take the opportunity to go, however, I was very disappointed. The sound speakers were of poor quality, and thanks to the state's blue laws the films had to be heavily edited - the Playtime had been raided often back in the day. In other words, no money shots. Not even Monopoly money shots. Just miles of chicka-wa-wa music, skinny bobbing asses, and O faces tinged with rouge. The next movie I saw there was the sequel to Debbie Does Dallas. I estimate we didn't even get past Grapevine on that one.

Eventually, the Playtime stopped peddling the Swiss-cheese porn and showed second-run movies. Triple feature for a few bucks per car. Sounds like fun, but the grainy films and bad sound (even when they switched to using the AM band in car radios), provided no improvements.

So I learn today an Anglican church bought the old Playtime, which now borders a Catholic nursing home built on the property of my old church. While cleaning up the place, they unearthed about 100 vintage X-rated reels and decided to have a good old fashioned celluloid BBQ. Yee haw! There were singing, I'm sure, and kids got to take turns holding the fire hose. We never did stuff like that in CYO. I feel cheated.

Also, I feel a bit sad. Not because the Playtime inspired me to write erotic romance. Like hell it did. If anything, the need for me to prove that sex could be written better than the crap at the Playtime prompted me to enter this double life. To me, it's the end of an era. For years I watched that section of the Westside develop to the point I no longer recognize the sights of my youth. Use to be there was absolutely nothing between our church and the town of Orange Park going down Blanding Blvd. except the Red Barn BBQ. A Ford dealership sits there now, and the street is bloated with strip malls and other curiosities. Throughout college and occasional visits home, I'd still see that fading Playtime sign and think it was nice that something still remained, even though the Playtime was never really a part of my life. It was a drive-in theatre, one of the last in the city, and to see that go just hearkens the death of something we may never reclaim.

I wonder if Baby Cakes was among the films burned. Maybe it's a fitting end to a really bad film, yet there's a part of me that would like to remember how it ended. I'm sure sex was involved.

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