Silky (1980)

Although theatrically screened hardcore movies had reached a previously (and perhaps even subsequently) unheard of level of narrative sophistication by the late ’70s, there would always be room for well-crafted wall to wall sexathons that casually and very carnally dispensed with the need for any motivation to get the action going.  Call it adult without the alibi, be it artistic or dramatic, and ’60s sexploitation rivals Joe Sarno and Don Walters (formerly “Arlo Shiffen“, an alias confusingly shared with sometimes sidekick Ron Wertheim) were shaping up as virtuosos of the free form fuck film through their creative collaboration on the lucrative Inside epics that put the latter’s Evart Enterprises on the map.  Sarno’s contributions on these bare box office bonanzas went uncredited, directorial duties rather gimmickily attributed to the star of the show, and he was to adopt a different moniker for each of his Evart exploits since.  Both he and Walters (who had reinvented himself as “Howard A. Howard” by now) had a sinema smash hit on their hands with their star-studded Tigresses and Other Man Eaters from 1979, for which Sarno signed as “Peter Verlon“.  Continuing the craft of the “loop carrier” pioneered by the underrated Howard Ziem, who imbued the format with an artistic credibility beyond the braindead convenience it has often (and not always unjustly) been accused of with the likes of Honeypie and Sweet Cakes, that movie boasted handsome production values, slyly imaginative setups and superb sex.

If Tigresses was a steak dinner with all the trimmings, the following year’s Silky qualifies more as a $1.99 all you can eat buffet, matching it in quantity if not quality, big name cast notwithstanding.  Christened “Arthur Kraus” for the occasion, Sarno simply asked Merle Michaels to step in for Samantha Fox and suck ‘n’ fuck a number of nameless, faceless studs (contrary to the previous pic, devil may care camera placement does make them fleetingly identifiable), directly addressing the audience and telling them about all her hot girlfriends.  This pathetic ploy, sadly once more to become an industry staple in the early days of the shot on video era, naturally leads into more sex scenes, albeit of a distinctly more garden variety than those in Tigresses.  Michaels, a captivating comedienne given half a chance (think Larry Revene’s Sizzle or Ron Sullivan’s A Girl’s Best Friend), proves powerless against the purple prose she’s maneuvered into mouthing here.  Hands down most cringe-inducing instance has got to be the quip at the end of her introduction that perhaps rather than Silky, her boyfriends should call her “Saucy” because she’s “spicy and wet and easy to stir up !

Fortunately, the four fuck fragments that form this film plentifully provide the daily required dosage of solid meat ‘n’ potatoes porn.  Looking an awful lot like Kay Parker (Antonio Sheppard dropped the ball not pairing them up in Chorus Call), mature Monica Devon basically repeats her relaxed instructional routine from All About Gloria Leonard, albeit in a more timeworn context, seducing boy next door David Savage, still betraying his fence-straddling bisexual filmography through a lilting lisp suggesting suppressed mommy issues rather than MILF attraction.  Still, Monica’s luxuriously laidback approach makes him rise to the occasion with the scene eventually reaching full boil.  A darkhaired Christine De Shaffer could even throw eagle-eyed ’70s skin aficionados for a loop (no pun intended) as bad influence best friend to Hillary Summers.  Both bored in their marriages (for some reason, the movie and Michaels make a big deal out of each character’s marital status), they find some illicit afternoon delight through Christine’s housesitting assignment, allowing them to invite Bobby Astyr and Ashley Moore.  One of those performers who could adlib their way out of any sticky situation, Astyr takes what little the wisely uncredited screenplay offers (he’s a short order cook, hence cooking jargon double entendres in the bedroom) and turns it into spirited banter with the underestimated De Shaffer (so good as one of Roger Watkins’ The Pink Ladies) who blooms under his tutelage.  Great chemistry between the two completely blows the competing for attention couple of Summers and Moore out of the water.

Sapphic splendor must have been the next item on Sarno’s to do list.  Gloria Leonard, another industry icon getting by on personality when the plot offers precious little to play, achieves a modicum of poignancy as a twice-divorced matron (told you so !) seeking solace in the arms of hairdresser Sandi Suarez who turns out a tranny to Gloria’s great delight.  Though she works hard, it takes Leonard only slightly less than forever to make Sandi’s swizzle stick rise to attention, and that in-mouth ejaculation looks suspiciously faked (don’t they always ?), all of which accounts for Mr./Ms. Suarez’s single shot status.  Saving the best for last, Robin Byrd and Ron Jeremy represent the flick’s only happily married couple, spicing up their perfectly fine love life by inviting the staff at a utilitarian motel to join in their amorous antics.  For all his laissez faire slip ups in his increasingly shoddy later cinematic life, Sarno would always pay attention to pairing up the right people to generate a sexual spark.  The frequently ill-used Byrd’s greatest claim to fame was by far her stint as a pioneering Manhattan late night cable hostess.  Already something of a “name” when she entered the industry, her subsequent career fell all but flat with only her turns in Jim “Clark” Buckley’s schoolgirl classic Debbie Does Dallas and Watkins’ aforementioned Pink Ladies to distinguish.  She barely even registers in most movies, making her appearance here all the more cherishable.  Burning up the screen like never before with a clearly bemused Jeremy, she moves into the stratosphere when first Rick Iverson (wooden leading man of both Roger Watkins’ Her Name Was Lisa and the mysterious Charles Larkin’s The Love-In Arrangement) and then Dave Ruby step up to the plate to perform anal chores, leaving her a sweaty, glowing and altogether magnificent mess.

Directed by Joseph W. Sarno (as Arthur Kraus). Produced by Don Walters (as Howard A. Howard) for Evart Enterprises. Photographed by Earle Cousins & Ted Freeman. Starring Merle Michaels (Veronica Carson aka Silky), Gloria Leonard (Marilyn Howe), Robin Byrd (Lola Haynes), Hillary Summers (Fran Winston), Christine De Shaffer (Paula Phelps), Monica Devon (Helene Cobb), Sandi Suarez (Terri Delon), Ron Jeremy (Tom Haynes), Bobby Astyr (Pete, the Short Order Cook), Ashley Moore (as C. Moore Ashley) (Stan, the Truck Driver), David Savage (as Wayne Daniels) (Tommy Prescott), Rick Iverson (Motel Bellhop), Dave Ruby (Champagne Room Service Waiter), Robert Bolla, George Payne, Ron Hudd, Roy Stuart & Marc Valentine (Silky’s Sex Slaves). Running time : 86 minutes.

By Dries Vermeulen

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