Hot Blooded (1985)

Angel was one of a handful of absolutely gorgeous '80s adult starlets forever taken to task by smut cinema scribes for sleepwalking through her sex scenes, along with the likes of Taboo American Style's scheming seductress Raven and the succulent Stacey Donovan.  Drawing the distinction between our girl and the latter two, whose bedside manner I would describe as reserved rather than reticent yet always perfectly poised, Angel possessed a tremulous deer caught in the headlights quality.  While endearing in an erotic entertainer since such an apparent anomaly, this had the unfortunate side effect of making her freeze up when it was time to fuck, hence the reputation.  Barely legal upon entering the industry and possibly not entirely of her own accord, she had been kept by a domineering sugar daddy type since the tender age of 15 as Jerry Butler recalled in his much maligned 1990 tell all autobiography Raw Talent.  Like the tragic Shauna Grant before her, whose shoes a callous carnal consortium expected her to fill, she was clearly daunted by the demands dirty movies made on her.  In both cases, an easygoing director could make all the difference in the world.  When Angel finally managed to relax, she would show a healthy interest in sex in stark contrast to the clouded obsessiveness casually adopted by her contemporary peers.  The congenial Richard Mailer coaxed many a fine fornicatory performance out of her for their longrunning Angel signature shot on video series.

Another reproach levelled against Angel was her assumed lack of acting ability, also largely attributable to her being literally scared stiff most of the time.  Cecil Howard worked a small miracle with her on his intense Star Angel as the unwitting catalyst in washed up rock star manager Jerry Butler's downfall.  Everyone expected her to be all but blown away by the tremendous thespian talent of Butler and Colleen Brennan as his longsuffering Girl Friday.  Both innocently lascivious and genuinely moving when the extent of the havoc she has wrought dawns upon her, she managed to hold her own in not only a tribute to Howard's acclaimed abilities but also a veritable triumph of a level of personal capability commentators commonly denied her.

So a director's patience and a friendly atmosphere on set worked wonders in getting the most out of Angel.  Who better then than San Diego's discreet dirty movie mogul Stu Segall aka "Godfrey Daniels" to put the insecure starlet through her pornographic paces ?  A big shot TV producer later in life, bankrolling shows such as Silk Stalkings and Veronica Mars, he's like the West Coast version of Bill Milling in as much as they both kept an extremely low profile with regards to future plans and treated the vulnerable exposed talent with the utmost respect.  The latter resulted in loyalty rarely heard of in sexual surroundings such as when Marilyn Chambers, star of his incredibly successful Insatiable movies, commented favorably on their collaborations to the San Diego Union Tribune in 2006 but declined any extended interview as the emphasis on his erstwhile association with adult would not have been in his best interest.  Graduating from a series of menial jobs behind the scenes of a sexploitation industry breathing its last gasp on the cusp of the '70s, Segall assumed creative duties on a number of fondly remembered simulated sex sagas including cult cutie Rene Bond's Saddle Tramp Women and The Dirty Dolls featuring future fuck film royalty Cyndee Summers and Sharon Kelly aka the aforementioned "Colleen Brennan" !  Guess what ?  Disneyland got it right.  It is a small world after all !

Ploughing through the decade using an array of aliases such as "Buzz Richards" and "P.C. O'Kake", Segall supplied adult aficionados with some of the '70s choicest fluff maintaining a lightness of tone devoid of moralizing, still more prevalent at this stage than you might think in the wake of Woodstock.  He managed to make the most out of modest means, achieving at least the illusion of opulence for his starladen Spirit of Seventy Sex celebrating the Bicentennial with a wicked what if reimagining of American history.  Like every pornographer worth his salt however, he realized that no amount of production value could compensate for a dearth of desire, staging the dirty deeds with attention and an eye for detail.  On a side note, few fornication filmmakers were more adept at scoring sex films and he pretty much invented the revolutionary concept of cutting scenes to accomodate the original soundtracks, sensational for the genre, by Long John (Teeny Buns) or Chet and Jim Moore (Summer School).  The '80s unfortunately introduced angst into his work, be it model Sandra Chase's childhood trauma due to her parents being killed in a car crash in Insatiable or Charli's marital woes.  Though lavish affairs, the sermonizing made these movies feel far more cookie cutter than his earlier happy go lucky hardcore comedies which didn't feel the need to apologize to anyone for anything.

A huge seller in its day yet the recipient of little respect, Hot Blooded was an exception to the rule, a throwback to the kind of unabashed froth that had helped establish its director's reputation among fans if not necessarily the unwarrantedly snooty carnal critics ruling the roost.  This was obviously a happy shoot for Angel as well who lets her hair down and has joyful guilt-free sex in that idealized girl next door fashion that has in retrospect become her defining trait.  She's perfectly plausible as bratty high school student Melissa getting into scrapes with her short-fused single mom Linda (Kay Parker) whose buttons she knows how to push all too well.  As with Shauna Grant's best work, in Gary Graver's Suzie Superstar and John Seeman's much maligned Virginia, it may not be the kind of acting that gets awards, not even industry ones, but she seems genuinely pleased to be here, marking a huge improvement over earlier endeavors.  Summer holidays are upon us and Melissa's desperate to get out from under her strict Mater's supervision, using mom's befuddled boyfriend Chris (Bob Bolla) so she'll be sent off to free spirit uncle Phil (Herschel Savage).  The seasoned Parker and Bolla get the ball rolling sexually and DoP Jack Remy goes a bit overboard with the mood lighting in an attempt to obscure lines and wrinkles in a youth-obsessed society.  This was no problem at the theatrical screening it was my good fortune to attend at the Brussels ABC adult cinema, still up 'n running old school in the year 2012, but might cause viewer eye strain in any other medium.  With Angel cheerfully beating off in the next room, incidentally employing an identical personal massager as she did on Remy's L'Amour (which cast her as Parker's romantic rival, leading to an intertextually shocking lesbo liaison), the gauziness is quickly abandoned in favor of a sunny punched up color scheme.

Helping the girl cram for her anatomy exam, a course her mother belatedly realizes she doesn't even take, Bolla's caught with his pants around his ankles, feebly protesting that "she seduced me" which rightfully gets him kicked out of the house and Melissa packed and shipped off to uncle Phil's.  Soon she's having her best friends over, the redoubtable double act of fan favorites Karen Summer and Cara Lott who have been carrying on a secret girl's affair behind Angel's back in one of the most invigorating Sapphic scenes ever.  This hardly opposes them to the concept of cock however, proven by their ganging up on uncle Phil as they serve him breakfast in bed.  Rather than getting her sent back home as Melissa feared, this convinces Phil to offer the girls a job for the Summer, working in one of his string of adult bookstores.  Plot promptly takes a backseat from here on in as the girls' sympathetic approach to the shop's jittery customers rakes huge profits, veterans Harry Reems and Colleen Brennan reviving the fire of just married romance through the miracle of adult video but only Angel offers hands on service with big mouth shy guy Ron Jeremy.  As in Charli, where Annette Haven and Jesie St. James bought a copy of the director's Insatiable to put the spark back in Jesie's stale marriage, Segall's not above plugging his own wares as evidenced by the adult material on display and Jeremy's casual plug for the director's then company Creative Image.

Internet adult cinema guru Roger T. Pipe recalled in his review that Hot Blooded was the one adult tape that would always get rented out at his parents' video store, even though the uncharacteristically discreet display only featured a close-up of its lovely star.  The face that launched a thousand ships ?  No one ever claimed otherwise but the real news is that she has never been more appealing or rarely seemed like more of a proper person than she does here, mischievous and occasionally even insufferable (her stand-off with Parker's way more effective than a similar set-up in L'Amour) without forsaking audience empathy.  Along with her Cecil Howard combo (Dangerous Stuff being their other collaboration) for the highminded hardcore hound, her unaffected charm catapults Hot Blooded to top spot in a career that spans some two dozen titles and ran the danger of turning into a running joke as she racked up an unprecedented amount of "introducing" credits, rival production companies stumbling all over each other in an effort to convince the carnal consumer that they got to her first.  Hindsight provided something of a backlash with longtime fuck film fans dismissing her as but one of a legion of ice princesses that littered '80s adult and among the video era's first manufactured stars.  Actually going back to watching her work would be all too simple but might ultimately reveal the truth that she was one of the decade's most radiant beauties as screens were radically shrinking from cinema to cathode ray and that she turned out to be a happy carnal camper after all once she overcame her fears of failure and filmed fornication.          

Directed & produced by Stu Segall (as Godfrey Daniels). Written by Segall (as Michelle Krelmn) & Dale J. Martin. Photographed by Jack Remy. Edited by B.J. Cutter. Starring Angel (Melissa), Kay Parker (Linda, Melissa's Mother), Robert Bolla (Chris, Linda's Boyfriend), Karen Summer (Amy), Cara Lott (Beth), Herschel Savage (Uncle Phil), Ron Jeremy (Stanley), Harry Reems (Harry) & Colleen Brennan (Harry's Wife). Running time : 77 minutes.

Underrated both as an actress (remember Bi-Coastal and Kinky Business) and a consistently smouldering sexual performer, Cara Lott provides sizzling support (along with the equally overlooked Karen Summer) to Hot Blooded's sensational star