Judge Paul Corupe has always wanted to use the word "Spermathon" in a published review.
"From New York, Al Goldstein presents…Midnight Blue!"
Like a completely tasteless version of Playboy After Dark, smut kingpin Al Goldstein's freeform interview show Midnight Blue ruled the late night airwaves of Manhattan Cable for more than 25 years. The fourth volume in Blue Underground's groundbreaking series of DVDs devoted to the show is perhaps the kinkiest yet, a "Mondo Midnight" collection, if you will, that takes viewers on another two-hour tour into the darkest regions of Goldstein's gleefully perverted gourd.
Facts of the Case
Cobbling together several episodes of Goldstein's show, Midnight Blue: Freaks & Geeks collects some of the more outré and controversial segments that ever aired. It features '70s porn starlet Sharon Mitchell, gangbang champion Tara Alexander, and lengthy lothario Ron Jeremy along with a gaggle of ordinary people with less-than-ordinary sexual kinks. Goldstein, show co-creator Alex Bennett, and a never-ending supply of correspondents hit the pavement to interview these "freaks and geeks," and shine a dingy spotlight on their singular fetishes and obsessions.
Ever since DVD revolutionized the home video market, studios and manufactures have dug through their vaults to release a dizzying array of titles, from the obscurest European genre films to failed, almost completely unaired television shows. Even in this frenzied rush to flood store shelves with all manner of digital entertainment, few would have ever guessed that we'd see a highly controversial show like Midnight Blue get a DVD release. Although there was never any explicit sexual material in the show (which had to conform to FCC rules and the censorship of Manhattan Cable), Midnight Blue's interviews often became extremely lewd. Full-frontal nudity was rampant, and sex acts—although they're never caught visibly on camera—were a regular event. Like nothing anyone had ever seen before on TV before, Midnight Blue was an absolutely peerless parade of trash that made it a highly unlikely candidate for DVD treatment. But here it is all the same, preserved in all its smutty glory.
And smutty is certainly the best way to categorize this volume, which gets things rolling early with one of the most controversial segments that ever aired on the show. The segment in question is a visit to "The Cat House for Dogs," where your pooch could get screwed by a stable of slutty canines for a price. At the time, viewers were outraged—at least until it was revealed to be a prank by media hoaxer Joey Skaggs. He placed an ad in the Village Voice and posed as a doggie pimp for the cameras, along with some actors who extolled the virtues of getting their pets laid. While the look at swinger clubs isn't too far off the beaten path, things do get a bit weird when Midnight Blue later visits "The Temple of Venus," the museum-like home to a decidedly creepy Seattle sex cult that combined new age hokum with wife-swapping freedom. For sheer bizarreness, though, you absolutely can't beat the interview with "Mistress Rosanne," a red pleather-clad dominatrix who is severely serious about the art of paddling men's feet with wooden spoons. Intercut with scenes of Rosanne beating and berating a masked masochist, her interview is an uncomfortable confrontation with disapproving correspondent Bruce David. He basically tells her that she is emotionally stunted and offers to beat the crap out of her for a change while she gives terse and angry rebuttals to his accusations.
While Blue Underground's series of Midnight BlueDVDs are never actually erotic, this was the first volume of the series to make me a little squeamish. There are a few graphic scenes of nipple piercing, penis tattooing (ouch!), and one caught-on-tape S&M session that is cut short when one of the participants almost has towel ring-sized hoops accidentally ripped out of his chest. Other segments of Ron Jeremy making ink impressions of his dick for a Japanese fan and a naked piano player aren't quite as interesting, and the promised coverage of Plato Retreat's Spermathon, with prospective porn star Tara Alexander taking on 86 men in one evening, is completely neutered by the restrictions of Manhattan Cable. It's just a couple of interviews, and Alexander is literally reeling in her post-event chat, audaciously stating that she still isn't satisfied despite the contemptuous look on her face. The grand finale on the disc is a piece of footage from Screw's 30th Anniversary party, with the aging Jeremy, a 300+ pound Goldstein, and some lesser known pornographers doing a take-off on The Full Monty with predictably upsetting results. King of porn indeed!
In past installments, the interviews and sexy segments culled from Midnight Blue were occasionally upstaged by the absolutely incredible commercials that accompanied the show's original broadcasts. Perhaps because of this DVD's more brazen content, the commercials are a little tamer this time around. Only a few stand out. Hidden among the usual spots for escort services, brothels, swinger's clubs and adult theatres is an ad for a "discount" head shop, a phone sex come-on sung to the theme to Ghostbusters, and a hilarious offer from a videographer who will come to your house and make that "ultimate memento" of your undying love for a mere $50!
"You can't shine shit," says NY After Midnight's transfer disclaimer at the beginning of the feature presentation. Not surprisingly, Midnight Blue: Freaks & Geeks' segments (taken from the original 3/4-inch master tapes of the show) are not in very good condition at all. No doubt cleaned up as much as possible for release, there are still occasional tracking problems and ropey video glitches to contend with. The audio, presented in a 2.0 mono mix, is pretty anemic, with several noticeable audio artifacts. Still, this is probably about as good as it gets for a decades-old cable access show. There is only one extra provided: optional, cheeky, Pop Up Video-styled "factoid" subtitles that appear throughout and fill in viewers on related facts about what's happening on screen. As usual, they're an often informative, always sardonic addition that helps provide some perspective on each clip and greatly enhance the viewing experience.
One interesting thing about Midnight Blue: Freaks & Geeks is that Al Goldstein is barely on this volume, only popping up in a few segments towards the end. This may be a good or bad thing depending on your opinion of the man. But his unprofessional interview techniques, ill-mannered politics, and acknowledged perversions are definitely missed through much of the running time, since they do (admittedly) make up some of the sleazy charm of the show. As a result, this release tends to work best as a Mondo Cane-styled reel of "shocking" sexual behavior rather than anything necessarily exclusive to Midnight Blue's brand of weirdness. But or those have been following this unique series, Midnight Blue: Freaks & Geeks is another essential time capsule of sleaze and sin guaranteed to make you smile no matter what your twisted carnal desires.
Al Goldstein is unequivocally not guilty. How often do you get to hear that?
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Blue Underground
• "Filthy Facts" trivia subtitle track
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