Directors: Jalo Miklos Horthy and Barry Mahon
Something Weird Video/Image Entertainment

Ladies of the evenings, whores, harlots, streetwalkers, prostitutes. Whatever you want to call them, theirs is the oldest profession and has been a staple of exploitation films since the dawn of the medium. Paired here are two sexploitation rarities spotlighting the world of the call girl, both shot in New York City and appealing to the inner degenerate in us all.

THE HOOKERS is one of the most misleading film titles in the SWV catalog, simply because there are no bon afide hookers in the film. Instead, the audience is privy to three unique capsule stories of three women forced into having sex to further their lives. First is “Callie Sue”, following a young black secretary hit on by an older white co-worker, sparking a flashback to the loss of her virginity at the hands of two sweaty racist rednecks (is there any other kind?). “Julie” is an innocent young dancer looking to make it big in show business. But when her manager sets her up with a lecher producer, will she swallow her pride for the sake of her career? “Barbara” is a pampered housewife up to her knees in gambling debts who must decide whether she’ll do the deed with her loan shark or spill the beans to her husband, who’s being regularly seduced by the clumsy maid.

Despite the inappropriate title, THE HOOKERS is pretty good, but becomes a memorable, one-of-a-kind experience for one reason, without a doubt: the opening story, “Callie Sue”, and its success is largely due to the beauty and talent of Fleurette Carter. This lovely black actress only had one other large role in Anton Holden’s excellent roughie, AROUSED, and it’s a shame she didn’t do much more. One wonders if the fact that she was black kept her from getting more work in films, and this argument may hold water: how many other black starlets can you remember from 60s sexploitation? She is a perky office secretary, with generous makeup and hairspray, one minute, and a plain-looking country farm girl the next, and in both roles she is exceptional. Statuesque beauty Sharon Kent is best known for her starring role in Doris Wishman’s INDECENT DESIRES, but she appeared in a number of other nudie cuties during the heyday of New York exploitation. This is her best surviving live-sound role, and also a rare chance to see her real hair! Monica Davis is maybe the least memorable of the leading lady troika, but her career was nothing to sneeze at, either. Most will remember her from Sarno’s THE SWAP AND HOW TO MAKE IT, or her brief appearance in George Weiss’ THE PILL. And you should recognize Lucky Kargo, as the loan shark, from TWO GIRLS FOR A MADMAN, THE LOVE CULT, and several Barry Mahon films. He was one of the best actors in the genre, and one of the creepiest. Joel Holt not only narrates the film, but also appears as Monica Davis’ husband! Holt was the genius behind KARATE, and narrated many trailers and films for New York producers, including the OLGA series.

THE HOOKERS is most interesting to followers of Big Apple cult films because it seems geared to display the acting talents of its leading ladies more than aiming to show them in the buff. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a decent amount of nudity, but director Jalo Miklos Horthy cast three actresses who were not only beautiful, but could act as well, promising a little extra something for genre fans. The pacing of the film is a little too slow in some spots, and the film grinds to a halt for a very long topless fire dancer sequence. But there’s still style here to spare, especially in the “Callie Sue” segment. The tense harassment of the young girl by the two hayseeds is starkly photographed, in crisp black-and-white, with uncomfortable close-ups, a brash musical score, and a well-done shaky-cam chase through a cornfield. It’s too bad the rest of the movie pales next to this 20-minute story, but at least Sharon Kent is a doll. The soundtrack is a greatest hits mix of NYC library music (think AROUSED), save for what sounds like original harmonica music during the “Callie Sue” sequence. Actually, connecting to AROUSED, one has to wonder if “Jalo Miklos Horthy” is actually director Anton Holden using a pseudonym. Much of the film’s cinematography, visual style, and storytelling traits seem to be earmarks of Holden’s brand of sinema. Whoever was responsible for this one, it’s an above-average roughie “lite” sure to surprise those expecting a laughable expose.

Making a switch from moving race drama to cheap lurid trash is an odd transition, but when you’re entering a Barry Mahon film, the sting is a little sweeter. Mahon never shot a good movie, but there are plenty of his celluloid turds that offer historical value aplenty. SEX KILLER is a virtual tour guide of the back alleys of New York City, BEAST THAT KILLED WOMEN is one of few nudist-camp horror flicks, and his kiddie matinee epics JACK AND THE BEANSTALK and WONDERFUL LAND OF OZ must be seen to be believed. He also delivered an endless array of nudie cuties, shot in glorious color and utilizing the beauty of cult favorites like Gigi Darlene, Darlene Bennett, Sharon Kent, Audrey Campbell, and June Roberts. But Mahon also made a nice handful of black-and-white roughies that were the closest he came to producing genuinely entertaining motion pictures. PROSTITUTES PROTECTIVE SOCIETY is one of the earliest of these seedy melodramas, and one of the most enjoyable. Madame Sue is in charge of a gang of popular prostitutes prowling the streets of New York City. Everything is fine and dandy until a rough group of mobsters breeze onto their turf and demand that the whores start giving them 10% of their income, or face the consequences. One girl is mowed down with a tommygun during sex with an enemy of the Mob, and soon more sexy dames are being found stabbed in alleyways and strangled in hotel rooms. The girls are fed up with being slaughtered by the money-hungry bastards, so concoct a scheme to exact their bloody vengeance!

Mahon cast PPS with a gaggle of strippers and models, none of which can act worth a lick, ensuring that this piece of trash is a barrel of laughs every time an actress opens her mouth! The leading lady has a pronounced accent, perhaps Italian, making it difficult to understand most of her dialogue and frequent narration. One blonde girl with a Brooklyn squawkbox voice should be memorable from Mahon’s “Naked Moonshine” short subject. The Bennett sisters (not twins), Darlene and Dawn, appear as disgruntled topless hookers with one line apiece. Another name actress you may recognize is Rita Bennett, aka Joanna Cunningham, star of the Amero Brothers’ DIARY OF A SWINGER and starlet of countless NYC sexploitation flicks. Blink and you’ll miss her though; her walk-on at the opening of the film and her gunshot murder (lit by a flashlight!) don’t make good use of her wiles. Her bad girl allure made her one of the best, yet quite underrated faces of the genre. Look at those eyebrows and her perpetual man-eating grin, the epitome of the cat that ate the canary, and try not to fall in love with her. Check out Joe Sarno’s THE BED AND HOW TO MAKE IT to see how sexy, but creepy she could be. However, the real star of the film is once again New York City. Mahon must have loved this town, and who could blame him? Almost non-stop footage of the Big Apple circa 1965 is a joy to behold, and backed by addictive garage rock library music, keeps things interesting when there aren’t nude girls showering or being bumped off. But there’s a femi-cide every 5-10 minutes, keeping the sleaze factor high throughout the brief running time. This is also one of the earliest exploitation films I can think of featuring a castration! If you’ve been wary of Mahon before, give this one a try. PPS has its slow moments (typical Mahon), but for the most part is pretty damn entertaining and is a painless waste of 62 minutes of your life.

Both transfers appear to be from their original negatives, and only show minor signs of print damage. THE HOOKERS fares worse, with a decent amount of grain and some wear and tear during some sequences. PPS looks cleaner and crisper, but still has some debris and dirt popping up in spots. In any case, it’s a marvel that the negatives to both features survived! Watch the trailers included on the disc to see how the films could have looked! The mono audio is quite weak, considering the recording conditions on both films, so crank the volume to hear the outrageous dialogue!

Remember the days when Something Weird would add a third condensed feature to their double features for added value? Well those days are back, baby, with MEETING ON 69TH STREET, an abbreviated version of the 1969 Long Island sexploitation classick. Clocking in at 60 minutes, it’s about 5 minutes shy of the complete running time, so you’ve got pretty much the whole film here. The transfer is taken from the original negative, and looks quite clean for such a filthy movie! Some VHS tracking lines appear, though, during the opening sequence. Shot with live sound, we are introduced to three Florida prostitutes, fresh out of the clink, setting up shop with their own brothel in an unassuming townhouse on Long Island. After cleaning up the place, their first customers are a group of sailors on shore leave who tag team the trio over a weekend of graphic sex. 69TH STREET appears to have been shot by infamous sexploitation director Kemper Peacock for exclusive presentation at the Capri Cinema on 8th Ave in New York. It’s not particularly good; in fact, it’s pretty boring save a few interesting exchanges of dialogue and kinky scenarios. This one’s received attention because it co-stars Geri Miller, the Warhol Factory favorite from FLESH and TRASH, but she’s pretty terrible in this, proving that the best roles she ever had would be playing herself for Morrissey’s camera. The pre-boob job Miller appears as one of the hooker’s girlfriends who figures into a threeway with one of the sailors. Vastly more interesting to see is Jo Ellen, star of Distribpix’s FELICIA and uncredited co-star of IN HOT BLOOD, in a sex scene before the opening credits! One of the three leading ladies appeared in PPS, but because no one is credited on Mahon’s film and this one’s filled with pseudonyms, we will probably never know her identity. 69TH STREET’s cinematographer, Mort Shuman, also directed HOTTER AFTER DARK, another sleazy NYC favorite.

In addition to trailers for the three films included on the disc, the trailer selection contains many incredible highlights of sinful streetwalker sinema, New York-style! ALL MY MEN was one of the first films directed by Doris Wishman cinematographer C. Davis Smith, and introduced the world to Jackie Richards, the first middle-aged sexpot of sexploitation! She plays Kim, an innocent virgin who becomes addicted to sex and turns to hooking to fulfill her cravings for the pleasures of the flesh. “Variety of the spice of life and this is the spiciest film of them all!”, claims the trailer. Richards looks great in black lingerie and brandishing a whip for a masochistic client! She also has whipped cream licked off her nude body and has a lesbian scene with, whaddaya know, Jo Ellen! Richards and her beautiful, large bust would soon be gracing more NYC sexploitation films after this promising debut. Barry Mahon’s HOT SKIN, COLD CASH is another of his black-and-white melodramas, and this time is slightly more depressing than his usual sleaze as a hardened blonde hooker with a miserable past turns tricks and ignores the potential love of a client. This has appeared in an abbreviated form on another SWV disc, but the name escapes me. Pretty good little film, recommended viewing. HOUSE OF CATS is a Mitam Production (misspelled Mitan on the trailer), which means it is probably lost. This very cheap California (or maybe Texas)-based company churned out trashy sex films almost like an assembly line, but only three or four have survived. This one looks just as bad one would expect, with miniscule production values, loose women with huge hairdos, and beautiful women tied up in a barn, having cigarettes burn their flesh. There’s also an obese topless blonde woman trying to be sexy for a male spectator! Watch for a catfight and unimpressive sex scenes, too. OBSCENE HOUSE peeks into the lives of the inhabitants of a popular cathouse, run by Fat Mama, the scary madame acting as gatekeeper to her lovely wares. None of these girls seem to have appeared in other films, but they’re all beautiful and unique, including one gal with a humongous bust slipping into an evening dress! She could smother someone with those things! Surprising male nudity and well-done borderline hardcore sex ensure this one was shot in 1969, albeit in black-and-white. THE WILD AND THE WICKED seems out of place here, as it’s a 1950’s roadshow attraction. A beautiful girl in the big city becomes a model and is sent to “The Colony”, a professional brothel where she unknowingly is held hostage and expected to put out to any male client who desires her. It looks really entertaining, with bad acting (save one actress who’s really good), a sleazy plotline, and an overwhelming aura of bad taste! You can buy it on DVD as THE FLESH MERCHANT from Alpha. WOMEN OF DESIRE is presumably lost, but looks like a ball: Monica Davis is a suburban housewife who becomes involved in a society of hookers in her neighborhood. Davis had already been in Sarno’s similar THE SWAP AND HOW THEY MAKE IT, so this film seems to be treading old ground. It doesn’t look too exciting by the looks of the preview, but the real surprise here is seeing a future Hollywood character actor whose name I can’t place! Grrrr! The disc is capped off with another impressive trip down memory lane with a Gallery of Exploitation Ad Art with Exploitation Audio. (Casey Scott)