Monday, August 22, 2011

"True" Trash: The Joy of Hustling

The Joy of Hustling
(Manor Books Inc, 1976)
Gregg Tyler

"The unabashed confessions of a boy who knew them all-the rich, the beautiful, the talented – and some of them paid for the experience."

A dated but enjoyable sleazy little book, condescending in tone, telling the story of some forgotten bisexual movie-star groupie and hustler, namely the author, Gregg Tyler. For some odd reason, it seems to be a pricey and sought-after collectible.
Concentrating on his life during the 60s, when Tyler isn't too busy lecturing, he comes across as an egoistic, conniving Candide who slowly lets the excessive lifestyle he moves around in to turn him into a cynical, leaching opportunist. Most of the book is spent narrating his long involvement as secretary and regular fuck of Jayne Mansfield, whose third husband was his cousin Matt Cimber,** while the rest recounts his hustling days on the streets of Los Angeles and New York. If he is to be believed, Tyler seems to be a magnet to the stars, for they seem to stumble across his path — or into his bed — everywhere he goes. From Bobby Darin* to semi-forgotten Dutch painter/writer Jan Cremer to Sal Mineo, from Judy Garland and Liza to Sharon Tate — he too claims to have turned down an offer to spend that infamous night partying with her and the other victims — to most of the Kennedy Family to Marilyn, Tyler claims to have met them all, plus many more, even if only in passing.

When dishing the dirt about the (at the time) still-living Hollywood He-men whose dicks Tyler has had in him (or vise versa), he regrettably uses only pseudonyms, probably to save himself from possible lawsuits from all his supposed ex-tricks. Still, Tyler does dish a lot as he screws his way across the USA, going from one famous person's funeral to the other, from one sugar daddy to the next, losing himself in drugs and alcohol along the way. His gradual decline echoes the rot that he sees seeping through the USA, but Tyler fails to see that despite all his "liberated" bacchanalian views, he eventually becomes very much an inflexible, judgmental example of all that is bad in the society he moves in and complains about. Much like how Christiane F., in her biography, feels herself superior to the rest of the world because she's a junky and they aren't, Tyler seems to think that he is a better person than everyone else because he is, well, a hustler and leech.

The 1970s he skips over with a sketchy chapter that reveals that he himself has become better than the world around him by marrying into and becoming part of established society—that is, Old Money, not Hollywood. Nothing like riding the coattails of others to prove yourself better than the rest.

Graphic for its day, The Joy of Hustling is entertaining enough and relatively well written, but a tad too bitchy and opinionated, with Tyler himself unintentionally coming across somewhat dislikable. Kitty Kelly he ain't, however, so for modern tastes he even sometimes comes across a bit too discrete. But for old-time "true" sleaze, it makes for a good page-turner.

*That highly reliable Pulitzer-Prize-winning (NOT!) tabloid Star did a nice little article on November 12, 1991, entitled "Bobby Darin's Shocking Secret Affair with Jayne Mansfield" in which Tyler tells of them having a threesome.

**Matt Cimber, born Thomas Vitale Ottaviano, is an Italian-American film producer, scriptwriter and director who was Jayne's last husband (from 1964 to 1966) and with whom she had a son. His cinematic directorial debut was her last film, the drama Single Room Furnished (1968). Since then, he has primarily specialized in trashy and exploitative vehicles, including early X-rated pseudo-documentaries and a couple of cult Blaxploitation films. He quit the industry in 1984, but returned in 2006. He currently even has two films in production.
Although it all has really nothing to do with "crappy books", below is presentation of posters and film clips to his films.

Single Room Furnished
(1968, dir. as Matteo Ottaviano)

Plot summary from imdb (written by filmfactsman): "Three stories in one: Johnie (Jayne Mansfield) is married, but her husband deserts her when she becomes pregnant. She changes her name to Mae and takes a job as a waitress. She falls in love, but her fiancé leaves her just as they're about to get married. So Mae changes her name to Eileen and becomes a prostitute."
A 24-second snippet from the film:

Man & Wife

It would seem that the returns of his foray into serious filmmaking didn't pay off well enough, for in Cimber's second project he went the way of pseudo-documentary and hoisted onto the American public one of the first films to show the Full in-and-out Monty. For the sake of helping the modern couple of the day, the film "moves from anatomy charts and Asian erotic art into actual footage of two couples demonstrating nearly fifty different sexual positions."
Watch the trailer (snore) here at Something Weird.

He & She
It would seem that the pseudo-documentary was a lucrative field in the early days of adult filmmaking, for he followed Man & Wife a year later with He & She. As the German Catholic Film Service (issue 18124) puts it, "In this sex education film, in addition to the obligatory sexologist there is only two young lovers. [...] In some places the film image freezes for a few seconds, always whenever [...] there are too clear close-ups." Charles Kilgore of ecco claims the film to be "A marked improvement over its predecessor [...,] He & She is unquestionably the most romantic of the 'white coaters'."
Watch the trailer (snore) here at Something Weird.

Africanus Sexualis (Black Is Beautiful)
Anyone remember John Howard Griffin's Black Like Me? Remember the bit about when he was hitchhiking, all the white dudes that gave him a ride always wanted him to show them his wiener because they wanted to see for themselves whether or not black men are better hung? I always thought that Griffin, a pre-Stonewall product of middle class heterosexuality, really missed half of what was actually going on: those closet cases that gave him a ride probably wanted to do a lot more than just see the forbidden fruit.
In this, Cimber's third "white coater", as these early pseudo-documentary pornos are apt to be called, he takes a look a how the brothers and sister play patty cake, this time with commentary by an "African" wearing the white coat. A film made by honkies for honkies who want to see forbidden fruit than for the then-denizens of inner-city urban renewal.
Watch the incredibly condescending and boring trailer here at Something Weird.
And, though it has nothing to do with the film, here a commercial from around the same time:

The Sexually Liberated Female
Poster from one-sheet index. Cimber, in his own biography as presented in (among other places) the badly written and spelt prospect for his upcoming film Femena (pdf here), fails to mention his X-rated documentaries and instead claims this film, The Sexually Liberated Female, as his follow-up project to Single Room Furnished. Starring Lindis Guinness (of Grave of the Vampire (1974 / full film) and a few porno films), Cimber claims that The Sexually Liberated Female was based on the 70s' sex advice classic The Sensuous Woman by "J" — which he misidentifies as The Sensuous Female — but that the publisher rescinded the rights when they realized that he had made a satire, thus the film was retitled. ("J", by the way, has long been known under her real name, Terry Garrity.) Most online sources claim it to be a "documentary"; according to Dan Pavlides at "This X-rated film features naked women demonstrating various techniques in masturbation. The proceedings are given an appetizing twist with the addition of whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Lindis Guiness narrates...". It would seem to be a lost film.
The image above left, according Glass Eye, is a production shot of the shoot of The Sensual Female, one the film's alternative titles (the German title was Jasmin — Die sinnliche Frau).

Sex and Astrology
More pseudo-documentary porn — Matt Cimber definitely know what he liked to film. Too bad no one who's ever seen this thing has ever written about it; it is nowhere to be found on the web. Another lost film waiting, like HIM, to be rediscovered.

AKA Love Is Catching. Matt Cimber goes from white coats to white discharge. According to "Calliope, a sex farce, is clearly an exploitative remake of the much more significant and famous film La Ronde (1950 & 1964). In this film, ten people have a succession of sexual encounters until all of them have given and received 'the gift that goes on giving,' sexually transmitted diseases. What was considered to be funny and sexy in the age of penicillin would not be considered appropriate in the later age of AIDS." Marc Edward Heuck of The Projectionist Has Been Drinking says at Temple of Schlock that: "Reportedly, Alamo Drafthouse has the sole surviving print of this La Ronde-style production..."

The Black Six
Matt Cimber moves from sexploitation into Blaxploitation, this one starring six NFL players [Gene Washington (San Francisco 49ers), "Mean" Joe Greene (Pittsburgh Steelers), Willie Lanier (Kansas City Chiefs), Lem Barney (Detroit Lions), Mercury Morris (Miami Dolphins) and Carl Eller (Minnesota Vikings).]; commonly viewed as not one of the best of the genre. The synopsis by frankfob2 at imdb: "A black high school student is caught dating a white girl by the girl's brother. He and his biker gang beat the boy to death. The boy's brother, who is a member of a black biker gang, hears about it and comes to town to avenge his brother's death." According to eccentric cinema, "The Black Six struggles to be entertaining even within the realm of 'So Bad It's Good' cinema."

That Girl from Boston
Based on a novel by Robert H. Rimmer, the author of The Harrad Experiment, and featuring no one less than Mamie van Doren. Going by what says Alex Jackinson says in his memoirs The Romance of Publishing, the film may never have been released: "The last time I saw Matt Cimber was in 1975. He had huge blowups of Mamie Van Doren as Princess Tassle and the movie was presumably ... [to] be released in six months. [...] Then — nothing. None of my phone calls were returned and both Monnstone Films and Matt Cimber vanished and I've never heard from him since." No poster or trailer or snippet is to be found on-line. Thus, The Girl from Boston seems to be yet another of that genre of film Cimber excels at: The Lost Film.

Alias Big Cherry
Based on Robert H. Adleman's book Alias Big Cherry: The Confessions of a Master Criminal, with appearances by the cult actresses Roberta Collins and Dyanne Thorne as well as a non-porno appearance by Colleen Brennan. The film tells the "true" story of 700-pound Sylvan Scolnick, aka Big Cherry, a career criminal and confidence man. Surprise: It seems to be yet another lost film.

The Candy Tangerine Man
I actually remember watching trailers for this on TV in DC as a kid: I was watching the B&W masterpiece Night of the Living Dead (1968 / trailer / full film) on "Creature Feature" while babysitting, and I swear this film bought all the advertising time. The Amazing World of Cult Movies has this to say about one of Samuel L. Jackson's favorite films: "Jaw-dropping Blaxploitation silliness from the director of Butterfly and the appalling Witch Who Came from the Sea warned 'Git Back Jack — Give Him No Jive ... He Is the Baaad'est Cat in '75.' He is, of course, Black Shampoo's John Daniels as The Baron, a married suburban businessman who leads a double life as a hardboiled pimp with a gold Rolls Royce (the headlights contain hidden machine-guns). This nonsensical premise is further exacerbated by silly clothing, tacky hookers, Italian gangsters, and a guy getting his hand chewed up by a garbage disposal. [...] Not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination, but some will find it irresistible." According to Roger Elbert, The Candy Tangerine Man is "a singularly unpleasant movie that somehow manages to squeeze a few humorous scenes in with the gore, the mutilations and the mass executions." Something Awful says "The Candy Tangerine Man is an amazing showcase of everything embarrassing in the 1970s." Sounds very promising, if you ask me. Could this be Cimber's masterpiece?
The opening scenes and credits of The Candy Tangerine Man:

A Gemini Affair
Film synopsis by Fryingham at imdb: "A hopeful young actress is lured to Hollywood by the seduction of fame and fortune. A friend she lives with while in Hollywood becomes her lover, and they both soon come to realize that the seedy Hollywood lifestyle is not for them." See the original Will Robinson's blonde hubba-hubba older sister Judy (Mart Kristen), as "Julie," have full frontal lesbian sex! Well, you could if the film were available anywhere...

Lady Cocoa
"Freedom's just another name for love."
Cimber returns to the Blaxploitation genre with Lady Cocoa, also known as Pop Goes the Weasel. Synopsis from Trash City: "Cocoa (Lola Falana) gets a 24-hour pass out of jail to testify against her former boyfriend. Two cops (Washington and Dreier) have to keep her alive for the night; needless to say, the boyfriend has a different opinion, and sends his minions to the Lake Tahoe casino where they're holed up. And Cocoa doesn't exactly help: fed-up with staying in her room, she starts demanding to buy dresses, be taken to dinner, etc. — or else she'll pull her co-operation. And, boy, if whining was an Olympic sport, Cocoa would be a gold medalist. A fairly smart script by George Theakos helps keep things moving; while I can't say the twists surprised us, our predictions were mostly "It'd be kinda cool if...", which we can live with. The performances are also solid: Dreier is very effective as the senior officer, while Washington plays a straight-shooting ghetto cop, uncertain what he's doing on this case." A well written review can be found here at WTFCinema. Lady Cocoa was remade years later as a comedy with music interludes and nuns known as Sister Act (1992 / trailer).
A scene from Lady Cocoa:

The Witch Who Came from the Sea
One of the 72 films banned in the UK as a "video nasty" in the 80s. From DVD Drive-In: "Millie Perkins stars in a career-breaking performance as Molly, a barmaid who spends her days babysitting her nephews and her nights slinging drinks at a local seaside bar. As Molly is introduced, she sits on the beach gazing at muscular studs working out on outdoor equipment... her fantasies becoming nastily violent as they become bloody corpses! Her overactive imagination also provokes a bizarre dream-like sequence where she has sex with two popular football players (both actors from Cimber's The Candy Tangerine Man), ties them up, then castrates them as blood sprays over her naked body!! But was it a fantasy? When their naked bodies are found the next morning, Molly begins to wonder if her frenzied visions are reality. And if they are, where does her hatred of men stem from?"
New trailer for the DVD release:

Tiger Man
Supposedly aka as Fist of Fury, but it is hard to believe that this film is even known at all. Cimber goes 3D.
Bad acting galore in a scene from Tiger Man:

Considering his filmography up till now, one wonders how he got handed this project: a "serious" adaptation of James M. Cain's noir novel meant as a star vehicle to kick-start Pia Zadora's career. It was her first film since Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (trailer / full film) in 1964. Butterfly features a slumming Orson Wells and other has-beens who owed car payments. Cool Cinema Trash says: "Honest and hard-working Jess Tyler (Stacy Keach) arrives home one blistering afternoon to find a pouty sexpot (Pia Zadora) sitting on the front porch of his modest desert shack. 'Something you want?' he asks. 'How can I tell, till I know what you got?' And we're off and running on the sexed-up rollercoaster ride that is Butterfly (1983), the neo-noir melodrama based on the James M. Cain novel. Score by the great Ennio Morricone.

A Time to Die
Based on Mario Puzo's novel Six Graves to Munich, A Time to Die was filmed in 1979 and not released until 1982; Rex Harrison's last film. Plot synopsis by John Sacksteder from imdb: "A World War II vet sets out in 1948 to avenge the death of his wife at the hands of Nazis. His targets are four Germans, a Sicilian, and a Hungarian who committed the atrocities. He is aided by a CIA operative, who has another agenda. One of the targeted men is being groomed by the US to become the West German chancellor and is to be protected. Along the way, a third person joins the team."

Trailer provided by Video Detective

Also known as Nevada Heat. M. Riklis, the producer of this film, was Pia Zadora's husband at the time; this and the earlier Butterfly were his loving attempts to help Pia get a career. Lots of skin in this one. Starring Pia, Telly Savalas and Desi Arnaz Jr. — what a cast! — Cinema Gonzo says: "[I]t's mostly a remake of Matt Cimber's earlier blaxploitation film Lady Cocoa (1975)." Includes a lesbian kiss from failed-actress Connie Hair, now a political PR flack for several conservative organizations. In a 1984 interview of Pia Zadora by Frank Sanello, Pia states "I threatened to commit suicide if Fake Out was released."
Opening credits and title song:

"No man will ever penetrate my body, with sword or himself."
Hundra (Laurene Landon)
The first of two films Cimber made with Laurene Landon (measurements: 36.5-21-37), the film actually runs a full 14 minutes before the credits roll. Tells the tale of the only survivor of an Amazon tribe that gets slaughtered, Hundra the Invincible, who sets out to revenge the death of her sisters. If Conan the Barbarian (1982 / trailer) made a bunch of money, a female Conan should, too, or? Same story, more or less, but with babe boobs instead of man tits, Hundra is considered one of the more entertaining Conan rip-offs to follow Arnold's popular film.
Not the original trailer:

Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold
Cimber retired from filmmaking for more than two decades after this, uh, masterpiece, once again starring the pulchritude of Laurene Landon as the titular Yellow Hair. According to the great film blog Video Junkie, Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold is "an odd combination of western and Indiana Jones." Whatever its ingredients, in the end it is pure exploitation trash.

Matt Cimber returns to filmmaking with a serious (!) film. According to annonymous (sic) at imdb, Miriam is a "Heart-wrenching story of a woman who takes another's identity to survive the most horrible time of the 20th Century. Miriam is the triumphant story of one woman's survival and success, which takes place in Lithuania over a period of forty years, from the German occupation of World War II through the Soviet era, and is based upon the true story of Miriam Shafer." The film, which made no waves, is the debut film of Ariana Savalas, the daughter of the late, great television and movie star, and Hollywood legend, Telly Savalas.
Couldn't find any trailer or excerpt, so instead, here's Telly Savalas "singing" the classic easy listening song If:


Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful blog! I got lost in it for over an hour!

I have a copy of THE JOY OF HUSTLING for sale. It's really an amusing book and I just re-read it. It's still in great condition and I'll part with it for a fair offer.

cutecatfaith d com is my website

This is really a great blog. It's well written, informative and funny! I collect strange movie things and have some stuff for sale, but am in Paris, France and a lot is drymounted and would have to be picked up in person.

I knew some of the Z-movie milieu so this blog brings back a lot of memories! I was also married to a paperback writer for years, and together we cranked 'em out! I recall 30 actually made print. What a dreadful way to earn a little -- and I do mean a little -- money! The "works made for hire" for authors who'd died were particularly depressing.

Unknown said...

Anyone know if Gregg Tyler is still alive, I'm the x wife, Leigh

Abraham said...

Ex-wife, huh? Which one? The one he married in the 1970s that "he skips over with a sketchy chapter that reveals that he himself has become better than the world around him by marrying into and becoming part of established society—that is, Old Money, not Hollywood"? Or did he have another one he never mentioned? Is life better without him? I've no idea if he's still alive; he seems to have crawled under a rug since the book. I did a websearch once, and all I could find was some Liz Smith article from '77 claiming that Jayne Jr married the "English rock star Rod Harris" (who?) "at the Malibu beach house of Gregg Tyler." You might have better luck asking Matt Cimber aka Thomas Vitale Ottaviano, if you can get a hold of him. Other than that, you wanna dish any dirt he didn't include in his book — or tell the reall names behind the pseudonyms he used?

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