Beth read the last entry where I talked about all the strip-and-jiggle shows I've worked on and said I should have mentioned her all-time favorite, Buck Naked Sports. Well...sure, why not? I'm still dancing around those New York entries I promised, so I'll do a little low budget shuck and jive tonight.
"Buck Naked Sports." Sounds tawdry, doesn't it? Square the tawdry factor and you start getting close to the truth. BNS was a little mini-budget video project I worked on a few years ago, an artistic venture from the folks who also brought you Buck Naked Line Dancing and other such fine video releases focusing on Buck Naked Activities. We shot this over two days on a beautiful ranch outside Santa Barbara. No script, just a killer concept: film young women playing sports naked. We laid moldy astroturf over a tennis court and had the girls play touch football, then we rolled up the turf and they played doubles tennis, with a couple of faux commentators calling play by play rife with really bad puns throughout. Fade to black, the end.
My memories of the two days are hazy -- it's been a long time and there've been so many other nude shows since then. I just remember random flashes of jiggling breasts and pubic mounds waxed to within an inch of their...lives. Oh yeah, and sunburns. It was bright and sunny and these girls were buck naked (tm) all day long. I remember feeling bad for them, thinking "Oooh, that's gonna hurt tonight." I'm betting appearing in this didn't help their careers any, either...
Another wacky show I worked on was "Pterodactyl Woman From Beverly Hills," starring Beverly D'Angelo and Moon Unit Zappa. In it, Beverly somehow turned into a pterodactyl and terrorized Beverly Hills while her family tried to keep it quiet. It was a comedy. It wasn't very funny. I worked on this back in 1993 during principal photography, and in an odd twist of fate my sister-in-law worked on it in 1994 when they were getting SFX shots of the pterodactyl flying around Westwood. Cut to 1997, when I heard they were finally releasing it. I hope my name is missing from the credits...
What I remember most from Pterodactyl Woman is the director's (Philippe Mora) mantra: "Matching is for pussies," which I think typified what a low rent production it was. You see, when you're shooting a film you shoot each scene several times from several different angles, but you don't always do it sequentially; you might start shooting the scene one day and then come back and get the rest of it a month later. The reason for all these different shots (called coverage) is so that when you cut it together you're not stuck with just one long, boring static shot. You cut from wide to close to left to right...you cut it up to create energy in the scene and to emphasize lines and reactions and... Well, I'm not an editor or a director, so I can't give you a definitive reason for why you cut from one shot to another. It's better if you do, so you just do. That's all. Anyway, since you're cutting from one shot to another during the same scene, it's a good thing if the actors and set look the same from one shot to the next. You don't want Beverly wearing a red blazer that suddenly changes to a polka-dot bikini, for example. You avoid this by "matching" your shots...unless you're Philippe Mora. He thought matching was for pussies, which meant that nobody really paid any attention to what the actors were wearing or whether or not their hair was wet or if anything on the set had changed from one day to the next. The finished product of this should be interesting to see. I won't be a bit surprised if nothing matches from shot to shot or scene to scene. It's probably going to be a complete mess, which, come to think of it, can only help. Something should be funny in a comedy, right?
I've worked on a lot of junk, but these two shows probably take the cake. No, I take that back. "Wasp Woman," starring Jennifer "I'm an ACTRESS!" Rubin does, but that's a tale for another day. In the meantime, consider this an object lesson. No matter what the Iowa tourists think, working in show biz ain't all it's cracked up to be.
I'll close with a telling quote from the lovely and talented Ms. Rubin, something all of us in Low Budget World ask ourselves from time to time. The scene: Jennifer is about to turn into a wasp and sting her best friend to death, but before we roll she just has to know: "What's my motivation?"