Debbie didn't do Judge Jonathan Weiss. But he doesn't hold it against her.
"My agent had gotten me small parts in Hill St. Blues, Cagney and Lacey, No Way Out. I was cooking. Then one day, she calls me into her office and says 'I can't work with you anymore.' I have no idea why."—Robert Kerman, AKA Richard Balla, AKA Richard Bolla; acted in Debbie Does Dallas
Got your attention? Of course it did. Porn is a magic word. It's a word that's scraped itself up from the unmentionable underground to become, well if not entirely respected, a tolerated part of day-to-day living.
T-shirts proclaim young men and women "Porn Stars." Filmmakers from the world of music videos, commercials and mainstream features try to emulate its rawness, hand-held camera ferocity, grainy amateurish quality, and unintentional comedic value to increase their product's street cred. Base heavy soundtracks that used to be relegated to the cheesy ghetto have found their way onto the dance floor.
It's time to face the facts. We are fascinated by porn. Maybe that's why in recent years we are not only being inundated by porn as a genre but by porn as subject matter. How else to explain recent features like Porn Star: The Legend of Ron Jeremy, Inside Deep Throat or Rated X: A Journey Through Porn? And now here's Debbie Does Dallas Uncovered to add to the mix.
Is it possible that there are even more insights into the world of pornography that both the above-mentioned titles and the unmentioned myriad of shows that have dealt with the subject could have missed? Well, get your tissues ready because we're about to find out whether Debbie Does Dallas Uncovered is a hard new look into the world of pornography or a limp and flaccid attempt at cashing in.
Facts of the Case
Debbie Does Dallas Uncovered delves into the sordid history of this seminal 1970s Porn "classic" by interviewing key players including actors, crew members, and law enforcement officials.
This documentary could be reviewed in one line: Debbie Does Dallas Uncovered uncovers nothing new. There you go; case closed.
But where's the fun in that? Fact is, this is where it gets tricky because on the very same disc is an extra called Diary of a Porn Virgin and this is the documentary that really deserves the review. Ah well, first things first.
Did you know that the 1970s was the birth of mainstream porn? Did you know that the porn industry once believed the features it delivered would one day be shown in the same theatres as art-house movies? Did you know that at the time most porn actors and actresses hoped that this new genre would be their stepping stone into Hollywood? Did you know that many of those who acted in porn movies came from troubled backgrounds and tended to self-destruct before, during, or after their time in front of the camera? Did you know that the mob saw great profit-making potential in porn and soon took over the industry? Well if you didn't, for heaven's sake, go rent yourself Boogie Nights already, because that's going to be a hell of a lot more entertaining, insightful, and frankly more titillating than anything you'll see in Debbie Does Dallas Uncovered.
Ignore for a second that Debbie Does Dallas Uncovered doesn't uncover anything new about the porn industry as a whole. Ignore that the one interesting question they do pose (which is—whatever did happened to Bambi Woods, the star of Debbie, who disappeared without a trace sometime in 1986) never leads to a satisfactory answer. What you won't be able to ignore is the unbelievable amount of blurry imagery used as a background for the Terence Stamp sound-a-like narration. Can you say hemorrhage-inducing migraine? No, seriously. It is beyond comprehension why a documentary that had no qualms about initially showing tan-lined boobies had to resort to the pixilated extreme close-ups of said boobies (if indeed they are boobies) midway through. Maybe they were just trying to get as much mileage out of their limited footage as they could. And maybe that's just being kind.
So go ahead, watch Debbie Does Dallas Uncovered if you haven't already seen any of the above mentioned titles. It can't hurt. But what you really need to do is maneuver your way into the extras department and check out Diary of a Porn Virgin. This here's a documentary that finally takes its viewer into the new.
Diary of a Porn Virgin follows three amateurs looking to break into the UK porn industry. Frankie is a 38 year old woman with self-esteem issues who decided to quit her job in upper management (where she was making over $100,000 a year) in order to pursue her dream of being a porn star. Sahara appears to be an East Indian (but in England is considered Asian) who always felt bridled by her Muslim upbringing. The third, and to a much lesser extent, is a guy named Lee who just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
First we get to meet Frankie She's not young, and she's not drop dead gorgeous. In fact she kind of looks like an ex-stripper. She has a slightly pock marked face, platinum died hair, and several tattoos. She has a young teenaged daughter and a husband who, though he refused to be filmed for the documentary, we're told is completely supportive of her new direction. Frankie finds herself an agent and soon embarks on her first paid gig—a private tête-à-tête to be filmed for personal use. We get to follow her on the train ride to her destination and then 3 hours later when she calls her husband to tell him that all is well and that she's coming home.
A couple more outings like this lead to her first professional gig with the king of UK porn. For this shoot she's supposed to do girl-on-girl action as well as anal—something she specifically told her agent she would not, under any circumstances, do. Needless to say this piece of news throws a bit of a wet blanket on the entire affair. Eight hours later we learn that in the future she would consider doing anal again—but only with this crew and now refuses to do girl-on-girl. Only once the novelty of her 'newness' wore off combined with her objections to doing certain scenes, there really was no future for Frankie. But that didn't stop her from starting up her own web site—a place where she could still explore her sexuality while being in control of what she would and would not do.
Next up is Sahara. Sahara looks to be somewhere in her early twenties and again, on looks alone, does not instantly conjure up the image of a porn star. She's skinny, slightly cross-eyed, and her two front teeth look big enough to gnaw through a good-sized piece of lumber. But she's Asian (as they seem to call East Indians in England) and is only one of two Asians working in the UK porn industry. Compared to Frankie, Sahara's career seems to be made in the shade. Before too long she's working internet gigs—one of which has her drinking large amounts of water and peeing on camera for three straight hours—flying on an all expenses paid gig to Portugal, and basically getting as much work as she can handle.
Thing is, she's a Muslim—and as of just recently quite an orthodox Muslim at that. Her family doesn't know what she's doing, but her brother has just found out that she's done some internet porn. Sadly Diary of a Porn Virgin ends before she makes the big reveal, which, when it does happen, is almost guaranteed to be a truly dramatic moment.
Finally, we meet Lee. He's a tall, skinny, and pale dude probably in his late twenties. Lee had the fortune to meet porn producer Phil Barry at a gas station. Phil is always on the lookout for new talent. Seems that England does not produce quality cocksmen and so he goes around handing out his card trying to find the few, the ready, and the erect. Out of the three stories, Lee's is the most humourous. We get to watch Lee getting ready for his audition; an audition the producer overbooked because most aspiring amateurs never actually show up. This time, however, every one of them shows up—the only question is, will they also get it up? Oh, but that would be telling.
What makes Diary of a Porn Virgin a refreshing change from the Debbie Does Dallas Uncovered main feature is that it actually takes us inside of the porn industry of today instead of trying to hang its hat on exploring the glory days of old. A lot has changed in 30 years. First off, porn is a choice, not a stepping-stone to something else. Second, and even more important, is that with all the consumer-friendly technology available today, anyone can be a porn star—at least in their own mind.
Debbie Does Dallas may have been groundbreaking for its time and always hold, for whatever reason, a special place in the hearts of porn aficionados young and old but Debbie Does Dallas Uncovered has no such allure. What is interesting about this DVD is that its extra completely overshadows the main feature. Diary of a Porn Virgin makes renting this disc worthwhile.
Debbie Does Dallas Uncovered is guilty of offering up sloppy seconds, thirds, and, oh lord, even fourths. Diary of a Porn Virgin, on the other hand, is free to go.
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• Bonus Film: "Diary of a Porn Virgin"
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