Out of all the numerous women to have graced Russ Meyer’s filmography, only one stands out miles in front of the others for me. As soon as I clapped my eyes on Alaina Capri I knew that she was my Meyer girl. A figure to die for with curves in all the right places, a perfectly coiffed beehive, bedroom eyes laced with feline eyeliner that I can only dream of being able to do, a mouth that reels off sardonic, acid-tinged one-liners that cut through the air like a knife. Capri, like many of the other Meyer women, was one of a kind but sadly only starred in two of the directors features. Oh, how I wish she’d done more.
Not a great deal is known about Capri. One of eight children, Alaina was born Aelina Tuccinardi on June 13th 1939 and grew up in Inglewood, California. At one point during her teenage years she won a Miss Muscle Beach competition and had her picture published in the local paper. None other than Russ Meyer saw this picture and wound up taking photographs of a then sixteen year old Tuccinardi on a Malibu beach. In volume three of his autobiography A Clean Breast there is a picture of Alaina on a beach. Wearing a swimsuit and clutching a beach ball, she shows signs of becoming the woman in the Meyer films that so many people will remember her for. The photograph is not credited to Meyer, nor does it say that this was the original picture in the newspaper that Meyer first saw so it’s hard to determine its source. Needless to say, she looks adorable and could have quite easily wound up becoming a model with the looks she had.
Eventually Tuccinardi ended up at UCLA studying acting. Whilst there, she fell in with music impresario Oliver Berlinger who renamed her Alaina Capri and put her in a female pop trio called The Loved Ones. There is very little information around about the trio and it would seem that the name ‘The Loved Ones’ was rather popular during the 60s and 70s with bands and singers. The only article I can find that says anything about them is The Spokesman-Review dated June 9th 1966. Capri and her fellow singers, Arleen Starr and Suzanne Covington, all sing and dance ‘modern teen dance steps‘. The rest of the review suggests that they weren’t of much interest… Before flying off to do a gig in Japan, Berlinger saw an advert by Russ Meyer looking for buxom women. He sent in a photo of Capri and Meyer got in touch straight away to say he wanted her to be in his next film.
Capri had no acting experience aside from an uncredited walk on part in the 1957 release The Delicate Delinquent (which you can view here). The year 1967 saw Alaina and Russ Meyer team up twice for the features Common Law Cabin and Good Morning and… Goodbye!. First up was Common Law Cabin aka How Much Loving Does A Normal Couple Need? which saw Capri play Sheila Ross, the sexually frustrated wife of a Doctor who wants male attention and makes sure she gets it. Incredibly bored with her straight-laced and dour husband, Ross goes after two other men, sleeps with one of them and eventually gets murdered at the end of the film. In Good Morning and… Goodbye! Alaina plays a similar role, that of Angel, the wife of an impotent farmer whose sexual shortcomings force her to be a sexual predator and sleep with other men in town. Luckily in this film, and thanks to a forest nymph, the film ends happily with everyone able to finally have the sex they want.
It goes without saying that Capri is one of the few women to have starred in a Meyer film who has any sort of genuine acting ability and it’s incredibly disappointing that he didn’t use more of her. Alaina has a natural sassiness that allows her to deliver lines with the perfect timing and a fantastic sting. Tura Satana could beat and knock you down with her words. Capri’s delivery is more like a venomous snake; one bite and your ego is slowly infected until you can’t take anymore. That coupled with the fact that she was one of the most naturally beautiful women that Meyer ever found and put in one of his films makes for an unforgettable double whammy. It says a lot when someone who only ever made two films can make such a memorable impact like hers. Interestingly, Meyer originally wanted her for a role in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls but she had just given birth.
Sadly, it was at the hands of Meyer that Capri decided to not do films again. During filming Good Morning and… Goodbye! Capri got the impression that the film would only allude to nudity (this was also apparently written in the script). Once she saw the film and saw that Meyer had included a lot of her, she got really upset and left Hollywood. Despite having fallen out, Meyer always respected her wishes for privacy and never once gave out her information or details. She even hid her film past from her children whom she only told in 2005 after being interviewed by Jimmy McDonough for his biography on Meyer (they’d already worked it out as youngsters). Currently residing in Malibu, Capri has enjoyed a career as a teacher. I would give anything to have lessons in being a woman from her…