Tag Archives: Lesbians

MEYER MONTH – Top Five Costumes

9 Mar

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HONOURABLE MENTION – Z-Man’s Superwoman costume (Beyond the Valley of the Dolls)
One of the sharpest dressed characters of 1970 release Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, it’s Z-Man’s final outfit that stands out the most; his Superwoman outfit. Forget a costume akin to something Wonder Woman might wear, this is a regal ensemble that makes as much impact as the declaration he makes; that he is in fact a she. With a colour scheme that tries to add some legitimacy to his claims (purple as a colour has often been related to monarchy and money as if he can buy his gender through money or respect), he tops the outfit off with a simple gold crown which says he/she’s in charge. For those that stand in his way he has the answer of a sword, one of the ultimate phallic symbols which also represents his willingness to castrate his male identity.

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HONOURABLE MENTION – Vixen’s yellow bikini (Vixen!)
An instance where costume reflects the character’s personality, Vixen’s bright yellow bikini is as fun-loving, outgoing and confident as she is. Standing out against the natural colours of the forest, the bikini ensures that she is the one that stands out amongst the small community in which she lives making her all the more desirable.

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#5 – Ashley St Ives crochet dress (Beyond the Valley of the Dolls)
Ash St. Ives (Edy Williams) is a superficial porn star out to sleep with whoever she wants, whenever she wants. So it’s hardly surprising that one of the most memorable costumes from Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is Ives’ beige crotchet dress, which leaves very little to the imagination. Consisting of pants and a dress that comprises a bikini top with a panelled body piece, the dress is the perfect visual representation of Edy Williams’ character; superficial, vapid and attention seeking.

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#4 – Varla’s black jumpsuit (Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!)
Second only to Supervixens in terms of iconography (see below), Tura Satana’s black get-up in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is one of Meyer’s most recognised and imitated visuals. The all black, skin-tight catsuit combined with her lethal moves effectively shows her off as the sleek killing machine that she is, as well as representing the dichotomy of gender stereotypes that she represents. The boots and leather gloves she wears are masculine traits to identify with whilst the fact that she doesn’t mind getting her clothes sweaty and dirty shows she isn’t afraid to be involved in some rough and tumble. Whilst the catsuit is certainly figure hugging, Satana as Varla is pretty much covered up in comfortable racing gear that wouldn’t be out-of-place on a man. The plunging neckline and exposed cleavage (Satana wore a custom-made bra to make sure she stayed in) are the only indication of her female sexuality which she always uses to her advantage. Meyer took a similar approach with Charles Napier’s serial killer character Harry Sledge in Supervixens, kitting him out in all black and gloves to be a male counterpoint to Varla.

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#3 – Mr. Teas’ jumpsuit and straw hat (The Immoral Mr. Teas)
Inspired by Jacques Tati’s character Mr Hulot, Mr Teas’ brightly coloured jumpsuits and straw hat make him visually all the more detached from the world he is already emotionally scared of. Whilst the scantily clad and nude women he stumbles upon seem relaxed in their environments and at one with nature, Mr Teas in his absurdly loud orange jumpsuit looks more like an astronaut stranded in a world that he doesn’t really understand which links him in some way to his viewing audience who would have been viewing the film as new territory themselves.

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#2 – Casey and Roxanne’s fancy dress costumes (Beyond the Valley of the Dolls)
He may have had a few issues but Z-Man’s choice of costume for lesbian lovers Casey (Cynthia Myers) and Roxanne (Erica Gavin) to wear at his costume party in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls was the perfect visual metaphor for their relationship. Roxanne was very much the Batman figure to Casey; rescuing her, taking her under her wing and clearly being the dominant figure in the relationship. In return Casey was the perfect Robin, happy to always be by Roxanne’s side. Whilst Gavin stays in her Batman gear for a while, Myers only wears her Robin outfit briefly but it makes an impression. This is one of the best instances in Meyer’s work where costume really reflects the characters wearing them. Making it even more fun, the outfit Myers wears is one that Burt Ward wore himself in the 1960s Batman television series.

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#1 – SuperLorna’s red shirt (Supervixens)
Christy Hartburg only ever starred in one Russ Meyer film and it wasn’t a long appearance either but when it comes to the iconography of Meyer’s cinematic career, it’s Hartburg’s costume from Supervixens that tops the list. Tiny white shorts, hair in bunches and a pinky-red shirt tied at the waist, exposing a massive cleavage that one can’t help but notice in all its glory. Whilst Satana’s costume is visually just as iconic, it’s the above picture of Hartburg that is regularly used to advertise Meyer’s work (from DVD box sets to t-shirts, mugs to book covers and usually to accompany articles in magazines and film books) and was the main image used in the Supervixens publicity campaign. The perfect image to sum up the women that Meyer liked to portray in his features; outgoing, fun and provocative. Oh, and very top-heavy.

Radley Metzger Interview

22 Feb

Last week I had the pleasure of interviewing erotica director extroadinaire Radley Metzger for my friends over at Cigarette Burns to celebrate the restored and remastered releases of his films Camille 2000, Lickerish Quartet and Score on the Arrow label. Well worth buying, these Blu Ray’s are packed with extras and the restoration quality is top of the range. Many thanks to Cigarette Burns and Will Taylor for their help with setting it up!

Schools Out – Paul Glickler’s ‘The Cheerleaders’ (1973)

3 Feb

Think of porn and one of the clichés that might enter your mind could be cheerleaders. And I wouldn’t blame you, because The Cheerleaders does for promiscuous, overtly sexual cheerleaders what lemons do for lemonade. This softcore porno is exactly what your mind would expect its tin to say, a bunch of cheerleaders flirting and fucking their way though the football team… and a few others.

And that’s essentially the plot of the film. The aim of the girls is to sleep with the entire opposing football team so that their own team, Amorosa High, can win the match. Except that they also need to find a new girl to join them (one cheerleader ended up in the maternity ward…). But the only candidate is a virgin whose virginity the rest of them are keen to get rid of. After much educating and bonking, they end up sleeping with their own team by accident anyway. But that doesn’t matter, because they win the match anyway thanks to newly recruited cheerleader Jeannie (Stephanie Fondue) and the virginal general-all-rounder Norm who scores the much-needed last point.

Like plot mattered anyway. The feature went on to have three sequels over the next six years and was a huge Drive-in & theatre hit in America. Played by a cast of no-name actresses and a real life high school football team, the film did court some controversy for the amount of sex that the girls have and the fact that their powers of seduction extend to the football team Coach, the female gym teacher (the MPAA cut this scene in particular because they felt the actress playing the teacher was suggesting too much of a sex act, apparently she was only trying to hide the other actresses privates because she didn’t want them to appear on-screen…) and their friends family members to name a few. Also a sore spot was the idea that some of the cheerleaders kidnap and rape some players of the opposite team the night before. Because of the issue in some States about what constituted as statutory rape, the film was re-named The Eighteen Year Old Schoolgirls for some of its re-releases so as to make the grey area somewhat clearer.

Whilst not a bad film, it isn’t brilliant and yet it does have quite a sweet charm to it. The first movie of its kind, it went on to spawn many imitations, including porn classic Debbie Does Dallas and in some capacity, Porky‘s. Slightly dated in its dialogue, The Cheerleaders is a semi-decent porno worth checking out, with a few scenes that’ll either make you laugh or exclaim ‘what the fuck’ in bizarre shock induced curiosity.

Tiny Dancer – Joseph W. Sarno’s ‘Baby Love’ aka ‘Confessions of a Sex Kitten’ (1974)

2 Jan

My continuing bad luck with Swedish softcore porno’s has seen me watch 1974’s Baby Love, aka Confessions of a Sex Kitten or Girl Meets Girl, which left me nothing short of bored and bemused. Bibi (Marie Forsa) is a young student staying with various lesbians for the summer and spends her time engaging in activities with a multitude of them.

Sadly whatever charm Bibi uses to keep everyone under her spell doesn’t extend to the viewing audience. Baby Love is bland and tedious, moving at the same languid pace for its entire duration. Not even a spot of branch spanking out in the woods can redeem it. Whilst there’s more action here than in Ann and Eve (mainly restricted to vibrators galore), baby Love is still a massive disappointment. Two out of five maximum, and that’s out of politeness…

The Marvelous Mrs. Meyer – Eve Turner (1928-1977)

9 Aug

Behind every successful man, there is a woman. Director Russ Meyer had three wives in his lifetime but it was his second wife, Eve Meyer (nee Turner), who really stands out from the crowd. Russ and Eve were a hardworking team, one that knew how to work with and bring out the best in each other. Even after they divorced, Eve remained a formidable force in his life. She was his original pin-up queen, the star of one of his films, the producer of countless others and a savvy business woman who knew how to deal with the sexploitation film market as much as her husband did. Eve Meyer, one of a kind.

Evelyn Eugene Turner was born into the world on December 13th 1928 in Atlanta, Georgia. After working a while for Western Union she was eventually transferred to San Francisco where she became a legal secretary for Pepsi.  Turner always knew she could handle men and match them as an equal, being a great poker player and having a keen interest in fishing. She also has a vivacious sexual appetite, once even throwing Russ Meyer out of her house after a date when he (of all people!) suggested that they wait until their wedding night! A woman ahead of her time, her friend once said of her, ‘Eve was the first person that I ever saw wear pants and heels’.

As soon as Meyer set his eyes on Turner he knew she was the one for him. With a bust described as ‘conically maddening’ (a good thing for our breast loving director), Russ admitted that he knew he’d marry her the minute they’d met and he’d even go on to name his filmmaking company Eve Productions. She was the secretary of a lawyer, he was a divorce client of the said lawyer. He was given her number and the rest is history. After a tempestuous engagement, the two were married on August 2nd 1952 in San Francisco.

Eve was an incredibly beautiful woman and it wouldn’t take long for her to become a pin-up superstar in front of Russ’s camera. Her looks photographed well and her personality shone through in all her pictures; a woman that was able to be a girl-next-door one minute and a sultry vamp the next, Monroe crossed with Turner and then some. She already had some modelling experience behind her when she first met Russ, but it would take him months of persuasion to try to get her to pose for him. It’s not surprising that she eventually became one of the most popular pin-up models of the 1950s, constantly appearing in magazines like Adam, Fling, Modern Man and Frolic. Mr. Meyer even told stories that actress Ava Gardner had the hots for Eve (Mrs. Meyer accompanied her husband on one of his early jobs as a studio stills photographer and Gardner was his first assignment). In 1955, Eve appeared in Playboy as Miss June, in a fantastic spread photographed by her husband. The pictorial is electric and the gatefold in particular is more arousing then any porno picture I’ve seen that’s been shot in the last twenty years or so. The spread featured Eve by the fireplace, wearing a sheer gown that shows just about the right amount, with a look on her face that screams ‘Well, are you gonna come get it or not?’. I have always maintained that she was and is one of the most beautiful creatures to have ever graced this Earth, this spread being proof (a nice selection of some more gorgeous photographs from across her career can be found here).

Not content with being just a model, Eve also did some film work, predominantly working again for Russ in front of the camera. In 1954 or 1955 (dates vary according to sources) Eve starred in Russ’s first involvement within the exploitation movie business, an expose on abortion entitled The Desperate Women. Circling around innocent women and a shady backstreet abortionist (a clichéd character that Meyer revived for his studio picture Beyond the Valley of the Dolls in 1970), the posters showed an angst ridden Eve under the tagline ‘Shall I Take The ‘Easy’ Way Out?’. An uncredited role followed in 1955 as a model in Artists And Models and four years later Eve landed a lead role in war drama Operation Dames aka Girls In Action (1959). Difficult to find on home video format, the only video I’ve seen (posted below) shows that she is just as good in this as she was in her later picture with her husband, her natural good looks standing out and her enviable figure making more than an impression.

It would be Russ Meyer’s 1960 release Eve and The Handyman which saw Eve finally become her husband’s moving-image muse. Eve had been upset that Russ had ignored her whilst filming The Immoral Mr. Teas. Used to working as a team, Eve wasn’t the star in his first feature and was upset that some of the interiors were filmed inside the couples actual home. Russ made up for it by writing his second feature for his wife and, wow, does she shine in it. Using the scenes like Playboy photo shoot set-ups, Eve looks beautiful as she marches around in a trench coat and underwear following the Handyman, played by long-term Meyer friend Anthony James Ryan. By this point already used to Russ’s way of directing and shooting, Eve is one of the few women most comfortable in front of the directors camera throughout his entire filmography. The two could really work well together and it shows. He knows all the right angles to film her at and she knows just what the camera, and audience, are after. It’s just a shame that Handyman would be her last acting role. God knows where she would have gone had Meyer used her as an actress over and over.

It wasn’t just in front of the camera that Eve felt comfortable but behind it too. When Russ Meyer ran into trouble with Bill Teas over the distribution of sexploitation classic The Immoral Mr. Teas (the distribution of which Eve oversaw), it was his wife who came to the rescue, buying Teas out of his 2% share in the film. She also accompanied him to Europe in 1963 to help him shoot the footage that would comprise Europe In The Raw and eventually show up in a recycled form in Mondo Topless. She put up half of the bankroll for the production of Mudhoney. It’s no secret that she hated Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and had to be talked into co-financing it, only for it to bomb on release and drain Eve Productions dry. Eve even bailed out Russ during the production of Vixen! after he ran out of money, a bail out which saw very hefty returns in profit. Basically put, no Eve, no sexploitation/cult film classics from the 1960s. In total she produced fourteen of her husbands films, both his independent and studio releases. What do you expect from the girl who learnt to develop photographs so she could develop her husbands own pictures of her!

Once things started heating up for Russ in the mid-sixties, things in his marriage began to cool down. Eve reportedly didn’t like the direction his career was going in and was terrified of him getting involved with other women. Eve also began to drink, and by drink I mean really drink, which Russ detested. The two eventually divorced in 1968. An amicable separation (apparently even using the same attorney), the two still remained friends up until Eve’s tragic death in 1977. She was the distributer of all Russ’s films and produced a significant number of them after their divorce, including the studio pictures made under 20th Century Fox. Ever the savvy businesswoman, in 1970 she sold the entire catalogue of Meyer’s films to Optronics Laboratories for home video viewing. In 1971 she produced her only non-Meyer feature, The Jesus Trip, a drug/religion drama that involved motorbikes concealing heroin and a nun that doesn’t know whether she wants love or the Church. In 1975 there was a rumour that Eve was planning to write a book about her years collaborating with Russ that was to be titled This Doll Was Not X-Rated. Sadly the book never materialised but one wonders that it might have been full of juicy stories about the pair.

Eve Meyer died on March 27th 1977 in one of the deadliest aviation accidents in history. Arriving in the Canary Islands from Los Angeles for a holiday, Meyer’s plane was hit by another Boeing aircraft. Due to dense fog along the runway, neither plane nor Air Traffic Control could see that two planes were about to collide. In total, 583 people died with one plane being wiped out in its entirety. Despite their divorce, Russ was reportedly beside himself.

There is no doubting that Russ and Eve were meant for each other and loved one another very much. Not that their marriage was an easy one, with a fair few infidelities on Mr. Meyer’s part and a few alleged lesbian dalliances on Mrs. Meyer’s side. She also wanted children, whilst he was adamant that a family would only get in the way of his career. During the shoot for Lorna, Eve checked herself into a hospital for an unknown infection. Her words to Russ when he finally visited her were apparently ‘I can never have a baby, now. I hope you’re satisfied’. God knows how Eve would have felt if she found out that Russ actually had an illegitimate son with one of his starring ladies. No doubt their explosive marriage would have been far shorter. Differences aside, the two were a force to be reckoned with. Each knew the best in each other, what the audience wanted and how to deal with the business side of things. It’s hardly surprising that Russ Meyer’s most successful years were those with Eve at his side, whether it be as his muse, producer, wife or business partner. Whilst the world of sexploitation owes a lot to Russ, it seems that he couldn’t have done it without Eve.

Eve Meyer, one of a kind.

About Sex, But Not – ‘Prey’ (1978)

26 Jun

ON THE SURFACE – A relationship between two people comes under threat from a hungry alien from outer space.

SCRAPING THE BARREL – A relationship between two women comes under threat from a women-hungry man. Now, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore Brit director Norman J Warren’s horror films as much as his early sexploitationers but this one has lesbian paranoia written all over it. Low budget flick Prey is all about a lesbian couple who struggle to deal with a man coming into their mix. Jessica (Glory Annen) and Josephine (Sally Faulkner) live in isolation, away from anyone (or rather any man…) who might take the former away from the latter. Enter Anders Anderson, an alien that also happens to be a bloke. A solitary male in a sole female environment… It’s clear what’s going to happen, that chick be wanting some dick! And boy do tensions explode in a good way. Wide eyed feminine type Jessica developes the hots for Anders, wanting to know everything about him and become his friend, even letting him stay as a guest in her house. Green eyed masculine type Josephine developes nothing but pure rage for the man that’s stepping on her turf (‘What we have is real… We must never lose it!’). She is determined to keep Jessica to herself and will do anything to fend off her competition, even welding all manner of phallic objects (shotgun, switch blade) in Anders direction to get her point across. Check out the tension between the two masculine types during the dinner party. After a tender dance between Jessica and Josephine, the latter then dances with and tries to kiss Anders in the most wooden and awkward fashion ever seen. These ‘two guys’ don’t want each other, they both want the girl. Turns out Anders isn’t the only guy that has come between our two ladies before (‘You always told me terrible things about Simon you couldn’t prove’) and good ol’ Butch Josephine has scared off other men that Jessica has taken a fancy to in the past. But here’s Josephine’s downfall, psychotic girlfriends never last and sure enough Jessica wants to stop exploring the Bush and roam free to hunt man in the wild. Cue Jessica packing her bags to leave and having passionate, carnal sex with Anders (who makes her orgasm far stronger than Josephine if her moans are anything to go by…) who takes carnality to a whole new level by then ripping her throat out and eating it. Same sex heartbreak for Josephine, conquest for Anders. Because, you know, sometimes fresh meat just tastes that little bit better.

MEYER MONTH – ‘Beyond the Valley of the Dolls’ Soundtrack Top Ten

13 Mar

My personal favourite and one of Russ Meyer’s more well-known pictures, 1970 release Beyond the Valley of the Dolls was his first film as part of a three picture deal with 20th Century Fox. Following the story of an all girl rock group trying to make it big in 60s Hollywood, the film has achieved a cult status for numerous reasons including it’s fantastic soundtrack which is arguably one of the best film soundtracks ever recorded. First named The Kelly Affair and then re-named The Carrie Nations, none of the actresses who play Kelly, Pet and Casey (Dolly Reed, Marcia McBroom and Cynthia Myers) actually sing nor play any of the instruments on the tracks.

These duties instead fell onto composer Stu Phillips (The Monkees, Battlestar Galactica, The Amazing Spider-Man, Knight Rider) who Meyer specifically brought into the project against Fox Studios wishes. Phillips had previously co-written and produced the title track to Meyer’s film Cherry, Harry & Raquel which was released the previous year. Also on board were Bill Loose, who would wind up doing later Meyer soundtracks in the 70s, and vocalist Lynn Carey who did the voice work for the character Kelly McNamara that Dolly Reed was to lip-sync to. Carey’s vocals are incredible and were sadly replaced on the film’s soundtrack album with those of another singer, Ami Rushes, due to a dispute over royalties. Simply put, Rushes just don’t compare and are notably inferior to Carey’s who Phillips apparently had to stand on the other side of the room from the mic during recordings as her voice was so strong.

Whilst Phillips did the soundtrack and the score, I’ve decided to instead focus on the film’s soundtrack with this being my personal top ten…

A rousing rock ballad by composer Stu Phillips, Once I Had Love is the perfect song for The Carrie Nations, an ode to all the friendships and relationships that they have lost. Interestingly not included in the film but on soundtracks that have been released over the years.

The number one hit from 1967 gets played by the band themselves at record producer Z-Man’s first party (he owns them). A perfect example of psychedelic rock/folk music that epitomizes the whole tone of the film, the lyrics fit perfectly for the moment the song is heard in the film. The party is the first time that band members Kelly, Pet and Casey get to taste the hedonistic lifestyle that being in a successful rock group can bring them and start to question who they are personally and where the band is going under their current manager Harris, Kelly’s boyfriend. The irony in the lyric ‘Little to win, but nothing to lose’ is brilliant, there really is little for these girls to win in Hollywood but there’s everything to lose.

Our first introduction to The Kelly Affair are the roaring vocals of lead singer Kelly McNamara (Dolly Reed) although it’s actually singer Lynn Carey doing the duties. This is the group before they take the trip to Hollywood, doing their own set-up, lighting effects and playing small town shows, hungry for a shot at fame; ‘I’ve got to find a direction to follow, Something that’s mine not something I borrowed’. What’s great about this scene are the subtle beginnings of the story of resentment between Harris and Kelly that Meyer hints at using some well-timed editing skills (listen to the lyrics, watch which face they fall on…). Phillips actually taught Reed, Myers and McBroom to lip-sync and play instruments to a degree that they could pass off playing them when acting (maybe not all of McBroom’s drum bashing…) which he’d never done before. Whenever the girls weren’t shooting, Meyer made sure they were practising in an empty studio with Phillips. This was a track that Phillips and Carey wrote together, in five minutes, with Phillips writing the music and melody and Carey providing the lyrics.

This track is used to soundtrack the growing relationship between lesbian lovers Roxanne and Casey every time that they are alone on-screen, the sweet and tender music making their sex scene seem loving and natural and adding to its intimacy. Also used at the end of the film for its resolution scenes, the song perfectly sums up the idea of giving love a second chance, which practically most of the main characters do. I do love happy endings!

Another moment in the film where Meyer’s editing, the composition of the shot and the lyrics of the song really come together and play the story out well. This is also one of composer Stu Phillips favourite songs from the whole soundtrack. The Carrie Nations are successfully on the rise, caught between hot-shot popular producer Z-Man and their previous manager Harris, who has become an envious mess of a man. The girls are blossoming whilst Harris is stagnating, and this scene sure as hell makes the audience aware of it. He is literally looking up from the bottom. Watch Dolly Reed’s eyes when she’s singing. Those are the eyes of a woman on a mission to ridicule a man (trust me, I know). The decline downhill suddenly just got steeper…

This is another track that the Strawberry Alarm Clock are playing at Z-Man’s first party, again fitting in well with The Kelly Affair’s first appearance on the Hollywood party scene. You can see the enthusiasm and excitement in the girls eyes as they are being introduced to people and the idea that they have found their ‘home’ in this crowd is a strong one. Little do they know…

Newly christened The Carrie Nations and still looking somewhat more wholesome than they do in later performances, this is the start of Z-Man’s takeover and the eventual pushing out of Harris from the friendship group. Look at the composition of the shot; the overly happy and excited Harris versus the scheming Z-Man. He knows what’s good for the girls and it doesn’t involve nostalgic relationships getting in the way. Z-Man is on a mission to become the one that the girls will lean on in the long-term, if only the plan will work… Also used to musically illustrate each new relationship a character develops with another, helping the extend the guessing game of whether these relationships will provide any amount of longevity or crash and burn.

One of Meyer’s many references to other cinema in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, Phillips adapted Dukas’s legendary piece of music to add to the trippiness of the ‘private party’ that Z-Man holds towards the end of the film. It’s a sinister scene, with Z-Man gleefully enjoying getting drugs into Casey’s blood stream despite her obvious apprehension. The naughtier cousin to Kenneth Anger’s Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome, it all goes rapidly downhill from here. Nothing will ever be the same again.

And so it begins… This is the journey that The Kelly Affair take to Hollywood and drag the audience along with them, using that much-loved 40/50s film cliché of having the map superimposed onto the screen (remember folks, as much as Meyer denied it, this is one of the best satires on the 1960s as a decade to hit the film medium). They are the ‘gentle people’ wanting to spread love and trying to persuade Harris that it’s all a good idea. His apprehension is well noted, if only they’d listen and take note of his sarcastic peace sign. They feel out-of-place in their hometown, Harris feels out-of-place in his disregard for the idea of taking the trip to the West Coast and little do they know that they’ll all find Hollywood a bit out-of-place too…

Without a doubt this is the best song from the whole film. They came to Hollywood to be heard and, boy, do you hear them in this scene. Tensions are already running high between Kelly and Harris, Casey is beginning to show signs of boredom with the whole scene, Z-Man has begun plotting his takeover of the group and the break-up between Kelly and Harris, everyone’s flirting with each other, the group become The Carrie Nations… With lyrics the singer really should be listening to herself, this is the one number I can’t help but belt out whenever I play the soundtrack at home and features some of Lynn Carey’s best vocals.