Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Man-Hungry Women


The Collinson Twins and Esme Johns frolic in GROUPIE GIRL, which was released in America as I AM A GROUPIE, in France firstly as THE PIMPS OF PERVERSION, then in 1974 under the title MAN-HUNGRY WOMEN, with hardcore inserts.

BRITISH cinema's prolific sex comedy output of the 1970s existed in a juvenile fantasy world light years away from these downbeat and sordid sexploitation entries, which both centre around groupies' fascination with hairy musicians in grubby settings. Co-written by director Derek Ford with former groupie Suzanne Mercer, GROUPIE GIRL is certainly the livelier of two. Sally (stripper Esme Johns in her only picture), a star-struck provincial girl, becomes involved with Orange Butterfly lead singer Steve (Marc Bolan lookalike Donald Sumpter), before being literally off-loaded to permanently stoned group Sweaty Betty. In the film's outstanding sequence, Sally is passed out the window of Orange Butterfly's speeding van into their rival's vehicle, a scene filmed at Hendon Airfield made even more impressive by the fact that there was only minimal dummy work.

Ford had one of the most colourful backgrounds of any filmmaker involved in the smut-peddling seventies, before succumbing to a heart attack in W H Smith's in 1995. A former accountant, Ford wrote radio plays for Children's Hour and - with novelist brother Donald - scripted a number of popular television shows which included Z-CARS and THE SAINT. Remembered as "generally miserable" and a "male nymphomaniac," Ford regularly directed hardcore versions of his early movies, and departed to Italy to make low-budget shockers such as 1978's EROTIC FANTASIES, a perverse sex odyssey set to classical music. On his return to Britain, he wrote stroke paperbacks as well as continuing his film career, which involved writing then being fired from directing DON'T OPEN TILL CHRISTMAS after two days, and making THE URGE TO KILL about a murderous computer called S.E.X.Y.

Taglines such as "The Minstrels and their Mistresses ... fast living, free loving, putting out savage driving rhythmic music to the pulse of the new generation ... See it from the inside screaming out!" hide the fact that PERMISSIVE is a dank and unsympathetic affair.

GROUPIE GIRL features two brief appearances of an uncredited Mary and Madeleine Collinson, who are used even more sparsely in Canadian Lindsay Shonteff's PERMISSIVE. Made under the glorious title SUZY SUPERSCREW, this release is even more squalid than Ford's film, and tells of duffle-coated runaway Suzy (Maggie Stride) in search of her school friend Fiona (Gay Singleton). Fiona initiates Suzy into the heady environment of London groupie life with Forever More (a genuine group described by Simon Sheridan in Keeping the British End Up: Four Decades of Saucy Cinema as "a turgid mix of all the worst elements of Jethro Tull combined with Slade," of which two of their members went on to form The Average White Band). Effectively chronicling Suzy's personal journey from naive waif to hard-faced bitch, she eventually steals Forever More's lead singer from under Carol's grip, leaving her friend to die after a suicide attempt in a bath of blood.

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