Thursday, March 26, 2020

Shake It Up, Shake It Down: Rene Bond in DISCO LADY

If you have more than a passing familiarity with the Beatles, you probably know that "Abbey Road" is their real final album. While "Let It Be" came out later, "Abbey Road" was recorded after those sessions and is the Beatles' proper farewell as a band. What does this have to do with Rene Bond and DISCO LADY? Well, as it turns out, a lot actually.

I have been writing about Rene Bond for quite some time in various places, and I always wondered how I should handle DISCO LADY. I had never seen it, but I was aware Rene had a small, unbilled cameo. I chose to consider it a "Rene Bond movie" in the same way INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS or FLESH GORDON are Rene Bond movies. Namely, she was in it, but it was not really essential to her filmography. Well, after I did see it via the awesome restoration done by Vinegar Syndrome, I officially revised my earlier position on its importance.

Rene Bond is not the star of DISCO LADY. She isn't even listed in the credits and has no dialogue. But DISCO LADY is absolutely crucial in Rene's filmography. Why? Because I believe it is her "proper farewell" to adult films, and her acting career in general.

To explain, Rene's actual last film is TEENAGE FANTASIES II which was released in 1980. However, it appears Rene's scenes were filmed in 1977. TEENAGE FANTASIES II is hosted by Rene, but not narrated by her. At least one sequence is lifted from another movie (ORIENTAL TREATMENT) entirely. Whatever TEENAGE FANTASIES II was originally intended to be, the final product is somewhat different.

This brings us back to DISCO LADY. It was most likely filmed in early 1978, and released that same year. It was almost certainly shot after the Rene scenes for TEENAGE FANTASIES II. In fact, my guess has long been that Rene dropped out of TEENAGE FANTASIES II before it was completed, necessitating the patchwork which finally came out a couple of years later.

THEORY: Rene Bond was no longer appearing in adult films, or indeed any movies, when she shot her scenes for DISCO LADY. Considering Bob Chinn doesn't mention working with her during the production, and makes a point that the female talent in the movie was not high profile so as not to attract undue attention from the LAPD, I further speculate he didn't even shoot her scenes and that they were done by AD Jeffrey Fairbanks. Even though she doesn't take her clothes off, much less have a sex scene, Rene Bond was reasonably well-known from adult films and stripping in the Los Angeles area.

So if Rene was out of films at this time, how did she wind up in DISCO LADY in the first place? There are two likely candidates, and they are equally plausible. One is Alan Colberg, who directed Rene in FRANKIE AND JOHNNIE...WERE LOVERS and plays the pimp in DISCO LADY. The other is Ric Lutze, who was of course Rene's one-time boyfriend and frequent co-star. Either one of them could have gotten on the phone and invited her to dance as an extra. It probably sounded like a fun night. She even wore her own dress (this is confirmed, by the way)! It's notable that in the two scenes where Rene is visible, she is dancing with Colberg in one and Lutze in the other. Those were her friends, and those were the people with whom she felt comfortable enough to cut loose.

This is why I consider this film absolutely crucial to Rene's filmography. Whether she knew it or not, this was goodbye. Well, until her run on the BREAK THE BANK game show, but she was a "civilian" in that context. This would be her swan song as far as acting goes.

As much as I love TEENAGE FANTASIES II, it was and is a wildly imperfect finale to Rene Bond's career. She doesn't look her best, her voice is only in a few scenes, and it just doesn't tie together the way the original TEENAGE FANTASIES does. I wonder if she was even aware it came out?

I'd prefer to remember Rene Bond the way we last see her in DISCO LADY. She's dancing and having a good time. She's laughing at Ric Lutze's antics, and for a moment, maybe it felt like it was still the early 70s and they were both comparatively innocent. That infectious smile is on her face, and I can't help but smile too when I see it even after all these years. It's the proper farewell that TEENAGE FANTASIES II is not.

In summary, TEENAGE FANTASIES II is Rene Bond's "Let It Be" and DISCO LADY is her "Abbey Road." I realize how utterly incongruous that comparison sounds to an outsider. However, I firmly stand by it.

Thanks to Lee Jones, Charles Devlin, Shawn Langrick, Michael Elliott, and Mike Bishop for their help on this post, whether they knew it or not. Special thanks to Jimmy Simard of Golden Sin Palace for the swell new images on this version of this piece. Rene Bond fans, one and all!

For reference:



Buy this release (with HARD SOAP, HARD SOAP) directly from Vinegar Syndrome!

Friday, October 11, 2019

Rene Bond at 69

Rene Bond was born October 11th, 1950. Today would have been her 69th birthday. Of course, Rene didn't actually make it to 69. She died entirely too young at the age of 45. I'm certain she had no idea when she passed away that she was on the verge of a renaissance as a cult figure. I suspect Rene Bond is even more popular now than she was at her height as a model and performer.

Hey, can you guys do me a favor? Rene's cause of death was for years listed as "liver problems" and this has gradually evolved into "cirrhosis due to alcoholism" without a shred of new evidence to support the claim. It appears to be based solely on conjecture. It also appears to be wrong.

One day on the Rene Bond - Tribute Facebook page, an old friend of Rene named Joan showed up and provided the following information:

Rene was one of the first women to get silicone implants when they first started the breast enhancements. It was later discovered that hers had been leaking for years, destroyed her immune system.

Rene was lucky in the sense she did not fall on hard times financially. She met and married a fairly well-to-do younger man (Hubby #3). They had two sons via surrogacy, they traveled extensively, lived in a beautiful home in a nicer area of the SFV.

When Robin Bougie of Cinema Sewer inquired as to whether Joan believed the implants were the direct cause of Rene's death (and we have since learned Rene had the procedure done twice), Joan was unequivocal:

Yes, I do. She was ona camping trip with her family, came down with a sore throat on a Thursday and died the following Sunday. She had been constantly ill for several years, had to miss my daughter's wedding (her goddaughter) which broke her heart.

I agree, she never needed the implants, she had a terrific body.

You can find these quotes with links back to the posts with the original comments in this piece. And if you have any doubts about Joan's authenticity, she had shared personal photos with Rene (including one of Rene at age 15!) prior to posting on the page, and the fact that she and Rene were classmates can be verified by a vintage high school yearbook which can be found online.

I don't know if Rene suffered from alcoholism, but neither do any of the people who list it as her cause of death. It sure sounds like that part of the equation is wrong. At worst, it might have been a contributing factor. But I have also been told Rene may have had a preexisting condition dating back to at least the mid-1970s which required medication. So it's entirely possible it was a combination of causes, with silicone leakage being the primary culprit.

The favor I'm asking is for us to finally set the record straight on how and why Rene died. Your author had a sister who died from alcoholism, so I take this matter seriously. However, I think we do a great disservice to Rene Bond if we paint a picture of her final years as sad when it seems that the exact opposite is true. It doesn't diminish the tragedy of her untimely death to acknowledge she had a reasonably good life until it was abruptly over. And if you need proof, I think this post and the links I've supplied are at least a start.

From a personal standpoint, I never met Rene Bond, but I feel a connection to her that is surprising to me. Her warmth and friendliness transcend time as far as I'm concerned. Everyone who speaks of her loved Rene Bond. I love her, too. Happy birthday, angel.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Swedish Sorority Girls (1978)

John Christopher's SWEDISH SORORITY GIRLS (1978) is a movie I've been thinking about picking up for a long time. It has a cast of people I like, and the DVD was usually pretty cheap. Since I got a refund on something recently, I took the opportunity to add the film to my collection. I'm very pleased with the results!

However, this is not me saying SWEDISH SORORITY GIRLS is a great one because it's not. There's not really any plot beyond the erotic adventures of Ann (Erica Havens) in Sweden on a trip to visit her cousin Ingrid (Colleen Anderson, aka Heather Young). That's basically all there is as far as any substance in the abbreviated run time of just over an hour.

And you know what? That's perfectly fine. SWEDISH SORORITY GIRLS at least doesn't overstay its welcome with excessive padding, despite IMDB incorrectly insisting it runs a full 90 minutes. It also has a sense of humor about itself, which is always welcome. The funniest part is undoubtedly the fake Swedish accents affected by most of the main cast members. Those alone are worth the price of admission.

I can't exactly recommend SWEDISH SORORITY GIRLS since there's just not a whole lot there. However, I enjoyed it despite dragging my feet for a long time about seeing it. If it looks like your cup of tea, and it's cheap, I say give it a shot.

But wait, there's so much more!

Thursday, August 22, 2019

The Hitman in LAS VEGAS LADY

Who is the unbilled performer who portrays the hitman in Bob Chinn's LAS VEGAS LADY (1981)?

Is it, as suggested by the incredible Charles Devlin on Facebook, known Las Vegas resident Ray Dennis Steckler?

...Signs point to yes.

(A tip of the hat to Charles for the discovery.  Consider this a bit of retroactive acknowledgment for being the source of this info!)

Saturday, August 3, 2019

The Wrestler in BIJOU

In Wakefield Poole's BIJOU, the woman at the Bijou box office is shown perusing a wrestling magazine. The magazine in question is The Wrestler (March 1972 issue), featuring Mil Máscaras on the cover. The date seems to line up with when the film would have been shot.

Buy BIJOU on DVD from Vinegar Syndrome.  You will be glad you did!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Gail Sterling in FLESH AND BULLETS

Among the crazier things I did in 2017 was get heavily into Carlos Tobalina films. One that I was reluctant to try was FLESH AND BULLETS. It's not an adult film, but rather an attempt by Tobalina to do a "mainstream" action movie. I finally gave in early in 2018, and boy, am I glad I did. The movie has since become a favorite of mine, though not because it is any kind of cinematic classic.

As I watched FLESH AND BULLETS, one of the things that struck me was the actress playing "Gail Borden" in the movie. Billed as "Susan Silvers", she looked familiar somehow. Finally, I said "Is that Gail Sterling?"

Gail Sterling (IMDB and IAFD profiles) is an adult film performer who I like a great deal. But she's not really a big star, and it was certainly possible that her participation in FLESH AND BULLETS had flown under the radar. Plus, she had worked for Carlos on LUST INFERNO and CARNAL OLYMPICS, so there was definitely a connection there.

Courtesy of Georg Domkamp and Jimmy Simard on Facebook, here are screenshots of "Susan Silvers" in FLESH AND BULLETS:

Upon seeing these screenshots, Shaun Costello (who knew Gail and directed her in HEAVEN'S TOUCH) confirmed that they were Gail. But if you need more convincing, I have examples of Gail Sterling, too. And since this blog entry is pretty image-intensive, we'll put in a break for those browsing the main page.

Monday, March 19, 2018

A Hidden Subplot In SEX WORLD (1977)

SEX WORLD is not just one of my favorite adult films, but one of my favorite films regardless of category. So imagine my delight when I discovered something new about it last year. What made this discovery even more exciting was that I have not found anyone else who has discussed it or even knows about it. I'm not saying it hasn't been discussed in the past, but I can't find any evidence of it. Tonight, I am going to share it with you.

Here is how Vinegar Syndrome describes SEX WORLD:
Sex World is a luxury resort, advertised as the ultimate sex-themed getaway, where people travel to try and overcome their sexual problems. As the resort’s guests slowly become aware of their inhibitions, fears, and repressed urges, with the help of robotic surrogate lovers, director Anthony Spinelli’s camera paints a haunting picture of human insecurities set against a science fiction backdrop.
The Sex World guests who are the focus of the narrative are some major stars of adult films. But this post is not about them. Rather, it is about two background characters who have an interesting story if you just notice them.

(The following screencaps are from an older VCX DVD edition of the film. I will link you to Vinegar Syndrome's pages for their DVD and Blu-Ray releases at the end of this entry. Both will have screencaps that you can compare to these to see the high quality restoration VS has done for SEX WORLD.)

We first see the man and woman sitting by one another on the Sex World shuttle bus. There's nothing about them that stands out, and they're not particularly recognizable faces. The man is played by a performer best known as Carl Regal, though he is billed as Carl Asherton here. His character is given the name "Malcolm," though he doesn't seem to be referred to as such. The woman, who is only credited as "Woman in Audience" for reasons which will soon become clear, is played by Pat Parker. Parker seems to only have a handful of credits, though her IMDB page may be at least two different Pat Parkers. Neither Carl Regal or Pat Parker have a sex scene in the movie, nor do they even take their clothes off.

We next see these two in the introductory gathering. They are still sitting side by side, which would seem to imply at this point that they know one another.

During the discussion of what Sex World offers, the woman has a question.

Ex-Excuse me, but how do you manage...incest?

Seemingly reassured by the social director's answer, she takes her seat with a sheepish(?) "Oh!"

Much, much later in the movie, we see the man again...

MAN: Can it be someone like my sister?
COUNSELOR: Of course! Was she your best fuck?
MAN: Yes! And-And I want her to go down on me like she used to, see, at Christmastime. And we can fix it so that my family's outside my door, we can hear them and we're in the bathroom alone. And then she'll say, "Well Mac, does your wife suck it as good as I used to?"

(I'm not 100% confident in that transcript, but that's the essence of the conversation. "Mac" may have been Carl misspeaking or misreading "Mal" or it could have been changed along the way. I don't think I heard that part wrong though.)

So, we're left with the fact that the two characters in SEX WORLD who express an interest in incest appear to have traveled there together. And I don't know about you, but I am left wondering "What is their story?!?" Are they siblings too scared to act on their forbidden lust anymore who long to relive those days at Sex World? Or are they a couple who just happen to share the same kind of fantasies? We'll never know the answer, because they are only background characters moving through the main stories. Still, it's the kind of detail that makes SEX WORLD one of the most rewarding movies I have ever seen.

As mentioned up top, Vinegar Syndrome has done an incredible restoration of SEX WORLD that blows the caps you see out of the water. It can be purchased at several of the fine retailers in our sidebar, or you can order it directly from Vinegar Syndrome itself. Sorry, the limited edition Blu-Ray/DVD/CD combo is sold out. I don't even have a copy myself.

SEX WORLD on Blu-Ray from Vinegar Syndrome

SEX WORLD on DVD from Vinegar Syndrome

For reference:

IMDB page

IAFD page