Loading... Please wait...

Currency Converter

Choose a currency below to display product prices in the selected currency.

British Pound
US Dollar

Add to Wish List

Click the button below to add the Jimmy McDonough-Big Bosoms and Square Jaws:Biography of Russ Meyer-NEW BOOK to your wish list.

You Recently Viewed...

Our Newsletter

Jimmy McDonough-Big Bosoms and Square Jaws:Biography of Russ Meyer-NEW BOOK

  • Image 1
Calculated at checkout

Product Description

Big Bosoms and Square Jaws: The Biography of Russ Meyer

by Jimmy McDonough


Ticket-sellers, love rockets, casabas, majungas, dreadnoughts, Winnetkas - any word said in the right way can be used to denote breasts, and a breast by any name aroused the interest of Russ Meyer. "If I wasn't so into tits I probably could've been a great film-maker," he once ruefully announced. But he was a great film-maker: "the rural Fellini". The 23 anguished, contorted films he made, such as Mudhoney and Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! are passionate, piss-taking and profound - "kicking the crap out of convention!" as one of his ear-splitting trailers put it. What's more, he nobly believed that "you can never have too many women in a picture".

In 1979's Beneath the Valley of the Ultravixens the sex is non-stop, breasts are everywhere, the calamities cartoonish. It's full of joie de vivre. There's Junkyard Sal, with her fecal cohorts; Eufaula Roop, who blasts the whole district with horny radio evangelism; and Lavonia, the cheerful housewife stuck with dumb-ass Lamar Shed, absorbed in his correspondence course and calculator. Lavonia flops around naked in bed, trying to lure him by dunking a vibrator in a big jar of petroleum jelly and rubbing it between her breasts. "I wanted a symphony of vibrator, calculator, and crickets," said Meyer. The frenzied beeping of the calculator as Lamar struggles to ignore her and the bed's castors making a groove in the carpet as she rocks to and fro are details worthy of Jacques Tati.

"I feel that it's important to really give that husband a bad, bad time," said Meyer. His movies are about the insistence of desire and the way sex is skewed in a male society. Men, according to Meyer, are "lunch-pail-carrying saps", whose failure to meet the sexual demands of women is the root of all evil. "Get your ass out of my face!" yells Lavonia's noontime squeeze, Mr Peterbuilt. "I don't eat pussy! It's un-American!" Meyer took it upon himself to illustrate that which has never been thought out in the male psyche: what the god-damned hell do you really want?

Some feel that the Meyer women lack personality. But perhaps that is because, as Jimmy McDonough points out, they're "constantly in motion, running, dancing, jumping, fucking". The result is a kind of omnipotent grace. Despite doing his best to exploit mammary glands, Meyer makes you see women and breasts with new respect. His movies make you like breasts and fear women. And why not? Seen humping from below, through the bedsprings, or on mountaintops, clutching flaming torches, Meyer's women are behemoths: she who must be obeyed. Which brings us to Meyer's mother, a bizarre, demanding, devout racist, who had six husbands and abhorred them all. Her solution to any childhood illness was an enema. "Whenever I was sick, she'd just put me on her lap, put that in me, and just hose me out." But he was forever grateful to his mother for pawning her wedding ring (which one?) to buy him his first movie camera, an 8mm number that cost $9.95. Meyer used his first compass to draw huge breasts; as a teenager, a decisive moment involved a large-bosomed stripper: "The centrifugal force was enormous."

During the second world war, Meyer served as a combat photographer. He filmed some heavy action in the battle of the Bulge, of all things, and was decorated. His war experiences were the most vivid of his life (one of his assistants described his film-making technique as "take the next hill") and included the loss of his virginity, a seminal event involving Ernest Hemingway, a prostitute with large breasts, and the missionary position. Meyer would always like his sex straight, ruling out even foreplay. Again and again, both seriously and jestingly, he would proclaim the necessity of "normal" sex. He must have been shocked by Kinsey.

After the war, Meyer became one of the top glamour photographers for the pretty revolting-looking men's magazines of the time, and made women look "fifty feet tall, flesh skyscrapers", in tune with an era of rabid expansion. But industrial film work, along with tips from Art Lloyd (who shot many Laurel & Hardy pictures), grounded him technically, and gave him the ability to shoot a film in days with a crew of three. Meyer learned early how to get the "coverage" needed for a successful scene, and it is one reason why his freaky pictures have such energy and visual richness.

His first few erotic movies were made with colleagues in the "carny"-infested, nearly moribund netherworld of the burlesque circuit. As the 1950s wore on, the exploitation side of the movie business rose - sensational low-budget films shown in drive-ins and crummy cinemas. Meyer, with his insistence on comedy and plot, was in competition with striptease reels, "documentaries" about abortion and nudists with titles like She Shoulda Said No. Though Meyer would be briefly blown out of his own genre by crazy Hollywood money for his picture Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, he always insisted it was futile to differentiate between the good and the bad in Hollywood: "Every film is exploitation. We're all in the same game." He would later abjure the adult film industry he had in large part created, refusing to become involved in hardcore pornography: "I don't think my mother would like it."

McDonough, one is surprised and chagrined to learn, was denied access to the huge Meyer archive for the writing of this book. He attempted valiantly to make up for this by interviewing everyone he could who had been associated with Meyer, and in the main his efforts pay off. But he has a way with analogy that can grate - one woman's lips are "like two overstuffed couches mating" - and women's bodies are too often described as "impossible", their breasts "giant, unbelievable, sometimes scary appendages". He lusts for these women, and assumes the reader automatically lusts for them too.

The book is at its best in the accounts of what it was like to work on a Meyer movie. Meyer had a penchant for taking his actors into depopulated backwaters, the viler parts of the Mojave desert, the sickest-looking river-delta towns he could find. Actors were expected to carry equipment, camp out in sleeping bags, refrain from intimate contact with each other or anyone else during production, endure snakes, stage moms, violent shakings prior to shooting a scene, 110-degree heat, and perhaps toughest of all, never to blink.

This kind of punishment is mirrored in the pummelling Meyer puts the viewer through, and it works: one feels existentially drained after watching Common-Law Cabin, a riveting, dumber-than-shit story about two subnormal couples boating out to a frightening, cardboard-built cocktail bar on a gunked-up grey river. Constant attempts at seduction, theft and euphoria end in rape, betrayal and extreme nausea, and the feeling that it's just possible this could happen to you. Why do there have to be people like this in the world?

Meyer died last year after spending his lonely, loveless last few years in a dirty house crammed with mammarabilia, his artistic estate in disarray, his once profitable business in the hands of what would seem to be shady outsiders. McDonough's informed focus on the director's premature disintegration through Alzheimer's is tender. Perhaps the most pathetic scene of all, though, is Meyer a few years earlier, drunkenly rattling his old ma across the highway to eat dinner in a topless restaurant.

Although it has some pretensions to be so, this is not a book that achieves a high synthesis with its time and subject, as, for example, the best of Nick Tosches's work. Nevertheless it is a very funny, brave book about an artist who deserves to be remembered and enjoyed, perhaps not only as a quirky, unselfconscious mind, but as someone who, as WC Fields said, tried to grasp the bull by the tail and face the situation. McDonough writes: "With a Meyer film, the script may be crap, the acting might have you howling at the moon, but in the middle of it all will be some preposterous, highly charged, not to mention boob-driven image of some chick watusiing away atop an oil rig, and it just takes your breath away."

Big Bosoms and Square Jaws : The Biography of Russ Meyer, King of the Sex...


Find Similar Products by Category

Write your own product review

Product Reviews

This product hasn't received any reviews yet. Be the first to review this product!