Angel Buns (1981)

Jim and Artie Mitchell were the real deal, with the Biblical analogy to Cain and Abel too tempting to pass up at this time of year.  John and Lem Amero proved that sibling rivalry need not be a part of any family tie fueled joint venture and no one really knows much of anything about Elliot and Louie Lewis, nor their “sister” JoAnn for that matter.  Brothers Should Do It, gay porn theater marquees screamed at the dawn of the ’80s, although I’ve got a hunch that dick-centric dirty movie director William Higgins had a different kind of collaborative effort in mind.  Don’t even get me started on his Brother Load !

Liberally lifting classic Hollywood’s favored fantasy concept of an angelic force interfering with human havoc (think It’s a Wonderful LifeThe Bishop’s WifeHere Comes Mr. Jordan or, natch, Heaven Can Wait), Angel Buns marks the seemingly solitary stab at suck ‘n’ fuck cinema by the mysterious MacKenzie brothers whose penetration pic pedigree proves more substantial than anyone was aware of until recently.  They are in fact none other than Jim and David Buckley, porn production partners from the previous decade, securing on-screen cameos for and as themselves on Peter Locke and Wes Craven’s It Happened in Hollywood, famously funded by landmark Screw magazine which Jim had actually initiated along with its more notorious editor in chief Al Goldstein.  The publication’s transgressive reputation was thus that he was cast, again as his eponymous self, in the infamous plaster caster scene from traditionally taboo-shattering Yugoslavian filmmaker Dusan Makavejev’s 1971 W.R. : Mysteries of the Organism.  Their grab bag time capsule S.O.S. (Screw On Screen) saw Jim stepping up to the plate and direct.  The Locke liaison had both Buckley bro’s producing his switch from X to R, not to mention T&A, with The Carhops featuring legendary kiss and tell groupie Pamela Des Barres.  Whatever his reasons, the cantankerous Goldstein rarely accused of being the easiest person to get along with perhaps, Jim suddenly sold his Screw shares to the mag’s co-founder, apparently vanishing into thin air soon after.

Meanwhile, David busted out of the closet, writing and producing as well as directing his heartfelt New Queer Cinema precursor Saturday Night at the Baths in 1975, cementing his position as an upstanding member of an increasingly out ‘n’ proud homosexual society.  Apart from acting in famously flamboyant Chuck Vincent’s R-rated American Tickler (or the Winner of 10 Academy Awards), he was to find his niche as a much in demand costume designer on TV’s Cagney & Lacey as well as fellow gay alumnus Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin and the ever queer-friendly Adam Sandler’s off the wall Little Nicky.  Freed from the shackles of Screw, Jim found a new if to this day unacknowledged lease on the lustful life as fornication filmmaker alter ego “Jim Clark”, taking full advantage of the liberty to indulge his intimate interests in barely legal teenage temptresses (if evidence is anything to go by…), never more famously than with 1978’s box office blast Debbie Does Dallas, spawning two sequels as well as a slew of similarly themed titillatory trifles such as Teenage Pajama PartyThe Good Girls of Godiva High and Little Darlin’s exposing his one track mind for the world to see.  Apparently content with their chosen career path, David having all but severed his ties to an industry Jim was still very much part of, both Buckleys were to reconvene for a final fling prior to a permanent parting of the ways.

Departing from their usual M.O., David took the reigns – for his first and only foray into fuck film territory – with Jim merely writing and producing and though the deliberately silly (to a degree) results hardly qualify as hardcore history, their infectious sense of conspiratorial mischief, occasionally bordering on outright anarchy, successfully separates Angel Buns from the glut of grinders vying for adult audience attention at the time.  Portraying the titular celestial creature, Veronica Hart has been bleached and slathered with blue eye shadow to within an inch of her life, blending old Hollywood love goddess glamour with a drag queen’s defiantly deviant interpretation thereof, either a happy intertextual incident or David’s design.  Idly awaiting her wings for the past millennium, she’s sent down to earth by the luck of the draw of the Heavenly bliss celestial lottery to intervene in the unhappy sex life of sad shoe-selling schmuck Sydney Pertzer (Robert “Bolla” Kerman) who’s on the brink of ending it all after being blown off for the umpteenth time.  Although Angel Buns has complete carte blanche to set up situations so Syd can get laid, there’s a bit of a catch inasmuch as she’s not allowed to “commingle” with earthlings for that would drastically change the course of mankind.  So naturally, at the end of her weeklong allotted assignment, Angel has fallen (!) for her newly confident charge and he discovers in the wake of her inevitable departure that no amount of ready, willing and able floozies can hold a candle to his heavenly hottie.  Divine intervention, anyone ?  Fortunately, Hart and Bolla’s tried and tested chemistry – having shared combustible couplings in at least ten other movies – keeps the predictable from turning trite.

It’s a good thing that these two’s thespian prowess holds down the fort as few other cast members can be bothered or are simply unable to rise to the occasion.  Still in the early stages of what was to be an admittedly uneven if rarely less than intriguing industry trajectory, Jerry Butler gives a game try as Angel Dick (uh-huh !) drafted in for the double purpose of relieving Hart’s pent-up tensions and instructing Sydney in the intricacies of anal intercourse, all in one fell swoop !  As was so often the case, Tiffany Clark comes across as high as a kite when it’s time for Bolla to put theory into practice, their rear end replica but a pale imitation of its passionate demonstration.  Rather unexpectedly, it’s the amateurs that carry the flick sexually in a prolonged sequence where Sydney picks up a pair of hot to trot model friends at the shoe store.  Going back to their hotel room, Angel magically appears – only to be seen by Syd – to gently guide him through his paces in a real barnburner.  One shot Brenda Brooks is the tall blonde Southern Belle though, somewhat ironically, it’s petite Hispanic Laurie Smith type Lisa Beth who had been cast as Miss Virginia in Jim’s preceding Young, Wild and Wonderful.  George Payne steps in about halfway through to pick up the prick shortage and take Beth off of Bolla’s busy hands.  The attraction between them is immediate and (almost unprofessionally) intense.  Illustrating the old adage that you can’t win ’em all, another single shot starlet (scrawny redhead Angelina Flores) proves something of a damp squib, chugging Bob’s choad with a dispiriting lack of enthusiasm.  A much better bet’s lovely Diane May as Sydney’s inaugural sex partner, magically materializing under the sheets.  Yet another Shaun Costello find (What can I say ?  The guy sure got around !), she played Bobby Astyr’s dental assistant in his unfairly slighted Afternoon Delights as well as the Hellfire Club’s hands on hatcheck girl in Pandora’s Mirror.

Jim’s script’s cute but, like most of his creative output, doesn’t aim very high.  Besides Hart’s increasingly despairing mantra of “Sydney, don’t be a schmuck !”, the movie’s most spirited dialogue exchange – perfectly pitched by both stars, it must be said – might be Bolla’s clumsy request of “How about a goodnight fuck ?” to which the vivacious Veronica evidently retorts “Okay, good night, fuck !”  Sophisticated ? Probably not. Funny ? Hell, yeah !  The no frills get the job done camera work’s by “Jim Clark” regular C.C. Williams who also shot the late Chris “John Christopher” Covino’s thematically not a million miles removed Daddy’s Little Girls.  He took to directing with the effective 1982 sleeper Oh Those Nurses! headlining Merle Michaels and Lysa Thatcher, subsequently evolving into one of the more competent early shot on video auteurs with a series of popular Barbara Dare showcases that includes the likes of Dirty HarrietThe Devil in Miss Dare and Hannah Does Her Sisters !  Amazingly, for what appears for all practical purposes as modestly budgeted run of the mill meat ‘n’ potatoes porn, the Buckleys actually commissioned an original soundtrack with several songs – unfortunately, all of them fairly forgettable – by George Thomas (if the credits are indeed to be trusted…) who doubles as the flick’s editor in surprisingly hamfisted fashion for the fellow who worked on Joe Sarno’s illfated if competently crafted R-rated Deep Throat Part II, Carter Stevens’s comparatively glossy Tinseltown and Ron “Henri Pachard” Sullivan’s supremely suave The Budding of Brie.

Directed by David MacKenzie (a/k/a David Buckley). Written and produced by Jim Mackenzie (a/k/a Jim Buckley). Photographed by C.C. Williams. Music by Brown & Laynor for Eroica Productions, with original songs by George Thomas. Edited by Thomas. Starring Veronica Hart (Angel Buns), Robert Bolla (Sydney Pertzer), Tiffany Clark (Donna), Jerry Butler (Angel Dick), George Payne (Room Service Waiter), Lisa Beth (Jenny), Brenda Brooks (Jenny’s Model Friend), Angelina Flores (Shoe Shop Tease), Diane May (Sydney’s Trick) and Ron Jeremy (Shoe Shop Customer). Running time : 84 minutes.

Veronica Hart & Robert Bolla : Adult’s Answer to Tracy & Hepburn ?  

By Dries Vermeulen

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