Last year I interviewed Robin Bougie — Cinema Sewer creator and porn aficionado — about his brilliant book, Graphic Thrills: American XXX Movie Posters, 1970 to 1985. Not only does Graphic Thrills feature a huge amount of beautifully retouched sleazy XXX posters, Bougie also delivers a succinct retelling of the history of classic porn peppered with quotes from filmmakers and stars giving an invaluable look behind the scenes of the industry. In an unbelievably short amount of time, the prolific Bougie has released a second volume. I’m yet to receive my copy, but I’m gagging to paw through it start to finish.

I’ve asked Robin to share with us three of his favourite posters from Graphic Thrills Volume Two and give us a bit of a backstory to them. Take it away, Robin…

THUNDERBUNS (1976)Thunderbuns (1976)

Not sure what they were thinking of when they named this movie. I mean, I don’t know about y’all, but Thunderbuns just makes me think of someone who farts a lot. Poster artist Penelope clearly did what she could with this lovely illustration to make theater-goers not think about such things, but sorry… my mind went there anyway.

She’s a mystery woman, Penelope. I’ve been trying for three years now to figure out who she was, or where she is now. No luck thus far, but I’ll keep hunting. What I do know is that her medium was airbrush, and she did at least 10 adult movie posters. This was her first one, then there was Hot Cookies (1977), Tenderloins (1980), Games Women Play (1980), Sugar Britches (1980), Exhausted (1981), Little Darlin’s (1981), The Erotic Adventures of Lolita (1982), The Greatest Little Cathouse in Las Vegas (1982), and Snow Honeys (1983).

Another mystery is: who made Thunderbuns? Credit is handed out to “Thomas Marker”, but it’s his only known movie and that isn’t the aka for any director that I know of. All of the other credits — producer, editor, cinematographer, make-up artist, etc — are fictional names as well. However, when you actually sit down to watch the movie, suddenly all of that deception makes sense. Thunderbuns is no more than a loop-carrier; a collection of previously shot footage, edited together into an 86 minute movie length feature film that played theaters in times square.

Proof of that very fact can been seen in an interesting little obscurity called A Certain Sacrifice, which eventually saw release in 1985. Jittery Super 8 camera footage of Times Square in 1978 appears, with theater marquees for Thunderbuns, the kinky German cop film Hard Women (1970), and the Al Adamson horror/trash-classic Nurse Sherri (1978) all visible. But that isn’t what this little-seen no-budget improvisational film is known for, oh no. This is the student movie that features the film debut of 20 year old art school punk Madonna. Aghast at A Certain Sacrifice being released soon after she became a megastar, Madonna tried to submarine it, which might have worked if she hadn’t demanded to be paid ($100 was what she got) at the time it was filmed. That meant director Stephen Jon Lewicki had a signed release form with her name on it, and legal carte blanche.


Jungle Blue (1978)

I hope Carlos Tobalina truly appreciated painter Rudy Escalara and all that he did to make people want to see his movies. I can’t ask either of them because they’ve both since passed away, but seeing Tobalina’s amateurish Jungle Blue blessed with yet another enrapturing and colourful image handcrafted on one of Rudy’s canvases sure makes me appreciate him.

“Rudy Escalara was a genuinely nice man,” Los Angeles resident and classic porn legend Bill Margold informed me in June 2012. “Rudy was a somewhat popular poster artist for the industry around that time. He worked for Dave Friedman for instance. Friedman was one of his number one customers aside for Tobalina. They were magnificent non-hardcore films. All of those great exploitation movies. The reason I got to know him was because I worked for eight years down at the Mayan Theater for Carlos Tobalina, who was the theater owner, and the director of many of the films that played there.”

“There was a painting that I saw, and I wonder what happened to it. It was in Friedman’s office. It was of all the big people in the industry sitting around a card table, and it was done as if they were those dogs playing cards. I said ‘My god! What a work of art!’. That was where I first heard of Escalara.”

One of the “guest stars” that got “the ball of the wild” in this rather tepid jungle adventure, is Kathy Silverman — better known to porn fans as Candida Royalle, who recently passed away earlier this year. Attending Parsons School of Design and City University in New York, Candida took an active part in the feminist movement on campus, and later worked as one of the premiere female directors in the adult film industry as the founder of Femme Productions. Before taking a spot in the director seat though, Candida moved to San Francisco and stayed gainfully employed as a talented and popular hardcore sex film performer from 1975 to 1985.

“People have assumptions about porn stars” Candida said in an interview with High Society magazine in May 1980. “When I tell people, they’re fascinated! They imagine that the girls are sleazy or stupid, and since I’m neither, they’re very intrigued… they’re curious about what it’s like to have sex in front of people. What the men are like. They want to know if I enjoy it.”

The plot of Jungle Blue is pretty basic. Some Americans head off into the Amazonian jungle to take advantage of the local primitive tribes so they can steal their precious jewels. They trick a local ape-man named Evor (played by Bill Cable aka David Pinney, who is best known for being one of Sharon Stone’s victims in Basic Instinct) into being their jungle guide. Just because they’re total dicks, their grand plan is to poison everyone with candy (including their brainless pal Jane), and make off to Brazil.

Evor, for his part, just pretends to have sex with Jane (played by Kathie Kori) and Silvia (Nina Fause). John Holmes provides stunt cock footage, and some unknown female provides the stand-in stunt pussy for Kori and Fause, and takes one for the team. Director Carlos Tobolina loved to travel the world, and so unlike every other porno Tarzan movie, we actually get some authentic footage he shot of real tribes and the wildlife-filled Amazonian jungle they lived in. Also: Orangutan buddies, rope swingin’, blow dart shooting, and guy in a gorilla suit jumping around like a jackass and getting it on with one of the ladies.


Inside Georgina Spelvin (1973/78)

As gorgeous as many of the posters are in this book, and despite the years of work I put into finding the artists who made them, unfortunately many of them still remain uncredited. This poster is one such image, but I love it just the same. The artists who crafted these functional and memorable sexy representations never got rich or famous from it. They were discouraged from signing the work, paid moderately considering the long hours they worked, and had short deadlines. As a final insult the original art was often not returned, and when it did come back, it went not to the artists themselves – but to their agents, who would sometimes sell them and keep the money.

Originally released as both Flip Chicks and Burning Desires (depending on what part of the USA you saw it in), this picture was reissued in 1978 as Inside Georgina Spelvin. It was the first film for director John Christopher, who was — incredibly — only 18 years old when he committed it to celluloid. That makes him the youngest director to ever make a theatrical hardcore XXX movie, and one who also happened to be gay.

Headliner Georgina Spelvin does a double penetration scene for the young filmmaker, and shows why she was one of the most noteworthy erotica stars of her time despite being older than most of the women doing sex films. When asked by Stag Magazine (in their April 1977 issue) who the best dirty-talker in the porn industry was, her co-star Marc Stevens said that – without a doubt – that honour must go to Georgina.

“She’s the dirty-talker queen of the porno world!” Stevens gushed. “The way she talks is incredible. We’ve done a lot of films together. We were in The Devil In Miss Jones. I was underneath her, and the guy on top was in her ass, and she was talking to both of us. A lot of the dialogue, the original stuff, was cut out.”

Also starring in this ‘weekend wonder’ is Darby Lloyd Rains. Coming from a middle class family in a New York suburb, Darby ached for a life of adventure and experimentation. She moved to Manhattan to be a singer, and ended up as one of the very first group of women doing hardcore features in 1970 and 1971. Partnered with her lover and best friend, Johnny Negroni, Darby felt confident and strong. Negroni was in the influential rock band Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers and had a major hit with “Why Do Fools Fall in Love”, but in 1977 tragedy would strike the happy couple. 37 years old, Negroni would be dead of a cerebral hemorrhage and Bovee would go into mourning. Her public life was cancelled at the age of 28, and she would make no more movies.

“I see portraying sex as one of the emotional experiences in life,” Bovee told porn industry journalist R. Allen Leider in October 1975. “Like love, anger, laughter… all the other emotions. I think all people are basically bisexual, and some of them repress themselves. I can’t say say films made me bisexual, but they showed me that there was more to sex than I thought when I arrived in the big city.”

“(Adult) films in general are not anywhere near what I think they should be or could be… most of them are, in fact, cloddish attempts… That’s the problem. Porno filmmakers are usually uncreative schmucks. Films have a long way to go before I’ll be happy with them.”

Of course, nothing I can say about the posters in this book can articulate what the posters can themselves. Each one of these images does indeed tell a thousand words, and will inspire another thousand on top of that if you want to ponder just what the fuck happened to the movie poster as an art form. I don’t just mean the ones made for adult films, but to all film posters.

If you enjoyed Robin Bougie’s words in this article, I highly recommend picking yourself up a copy of Graphic Thrills Volume Two. The book, signed and numbered, is available from FAB Press, or directly from Robin himself.

Graphic Thrills Volume Two