Aunt Peg (1980)

Contrary to most of her peers, for the late Juliet Anderson (who passed away in the early days of 2010, aged 71) the choice to bare all for the benefit of adult cinema audiences arrived late in life, when she possessed both the maturity and the levelheadedness for this to be a conscious decision rather than a dire predicament. Already pushing 40 when Alex De Renzy cast her opposite John Leslie in 1978’s Pretty Peaches, she would gain everlasting notoriety as perpetually horny movie producer Peggy “Aunt Peg” Norton, an unusually assertive – occasionally bordering on outright aggressive – female character for porn at the time. Created from scratch by the actress herself for a handful of Ted Gorley’s Swedish Erotica loops, the role proved so successful that Anderson would frequently find herself billed or at least referenced as her fictional alter ego even on movies where her part couldn’t be further removed from Aunt Peg’s take charge persona. Apart from John Holmes and his Johnny Wadd character, this appears to have been the only occasion where an adult performer and his/her most popular part have become inextricably linked and/or confused in audience’s minds. Who knows, had Bambi “Debbie” Woods and Carol “Candy” Connors produced more prolific careers, they might have joined the fray.

Peg’s popularity on the 8mm home movie market assured that she was about to move up in the world by headlining in her own eponymous erotic epic. Directed with efficiency rather than enthusiasm by Anthony Spinelli (a/k/a the late Sam Weston, né Samuel Weinstein), for whom this proved a mere pay the rent job rather than a labor of love as evidenced by the belated return to his low budget “Wes Brown” alias in the wake of his higher profile projects such as Easy and Sex World, the movie marked the fortuitous meeting of artist and actress. In fact, Anderson would deliver several of her finest performances for him in Talk Dirty to MeVista Valley PTA and Dixie Ray. Although Aunt Peg barely boasts Spinelli’s fortitude as a filmmaker, it still gets the job done by delivering in spades what fans had come to expect, i.e. lots of juicy Juliet sex scenes. If it seems like she’s in every single one, that’s because the few in which she does not participate are inter-cut with scenes where she does. Either way, she’s definitely the flick’s MVP if not its biggest name star in a cast that includes the likes of Holmes, Seka and Serena.

Considering its arrival at the pinnacle of porn’s Golden Age, it’s somewhat disappointing that they didn’t beef up the plot beyond the set-ups of Aunt Peg’s aforementioned loop appearances. A big shot Hollywood producer, she can always be persuaded to take a break from her busy schedule to intimately interview aspiring acting talent or release the tension that comes with the professional territory by cavorting with a present production assistant. Such is the good fortune of a very youthful Mike Horner, still several years away from becoming one of the industry’s most appreciated character actors, who plugs Peg from a number of interesting angles as Prima Donna matinée idol Holmes attempts to insert his soggy self into the accommodating rear end of fly by night Swedish Erotica starlet Donna Hart, who made a rare feature film appearance in Eddy DeWitt’s patchwork quilt The Velvet Edge. As with Radley Metzger’s far superior Maraschino Cherry, the hardened professional is forced to downplay her decadent daily routine when her relative from the sticks (in this case Sharon Kane’s cousin Sheila from Michigan) blows into town. Chomping at the bit to cross the threshold into wanton womanhood, Sheila had spied on dad Michael Morrison making it with Peg on his vibrating chair (hotter than it sounds) and so figured that she would make an ideal tour guide on the road to depravity. Unfortunately, Kane doesn’t hit California until film’s end and is promptly ravished by Auntie in the back of her Limo in a queasy encounter that puts way too much emphasis on Sheila’s allegedly being under-aged. While this cliffhanger ending may have raised audience expectations for a follow-through, these were to be squashed by Spinelli’s disparagingly slapdash sequel Aunt Peg’s Fulfilment which managed to lay waste to this golden opportunity.

Sexually solid for the majority of its carnal content, the movie really shines in a trio of female-dominated threesomes with Anderson always galvanizing the sturdy efforts by some of the brightest stars in the fornication film field. Peg entertains visiting Italian director Franco Frenorelli (Jamie Gillis camping up the accent to mildly groan-inducing effect) by inviting him to sample the wares of superstar Seka who’s being considered for the part of “Sweet Alice“, a character the performer was to resume many times for Swedish Erotica short subjects which were subsequently spliced into the Joe “Adele Robbins” Robertson feature film of the same name. Raising the temperature considerably, secretary Serena (looking particularly pretty here) joins her employer in auditioning male talent Mike Ranger, but both scenes are undeniably bested by posh bistro waiter Billy Dee (sporting a bigger afro than usual) pleasing Peg and gal pal Holly McCall, who would go on to win an acting award for Spinelli’s Nothing to Hide, in his empty restaurant on a rainy afternoon. Just watching these two turned-on firecrackers fighting each other over Dee’s deliciously tinted trouser snake could prove too much to handle for some viewers. It also provides a welcome reminder that Spinelli was indeed a dab hand at generating genuine eroticism, a fact too frequently glossed over when focusing on his more thoroughly plotted pictures of the ’80s. In the absence of almost anything but sex, an ingredient he had effectively relied on in his more budget-conscious days and would in fact be forced to return to in the upcoming video era, he shows fledgling fornication filmmakers how it’s done with a minimum of fuss.

Directed by Sam Weston (as Wes Brown). Produced by Arthur Cutter for Sunkist Pictures. Photographed by Jack Post. Edited by Joe Handley. Starring Juliet Anderson (Peggy “Aunt Peg” Norton), Sharon Kane (as Shirley Woods) (Cousin Sheila), Serena (Susan, Peggy’s Secretary), Seka (Sweet Alice), Jamie Gillis (Franco Frenorelli), John Holmes (John), Mike Ranger (Michael Ranger), Holly McCall (Liza), Michael Morrison (Jack, Sheila’s Father), Donna Hart (as Dotty Hart) (Pam), Mike Horner (Bill), Billy Dee (Waiter), David Morris (Sheila’s Boyfriend) & Robyn Whitting (Peggy’s Chauffeur). runtime : 79 minutes.

By Dries Vermeulen

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