Styled as a video magazine before home video (VHS and Betamax) was invented, SOS has Screw Magazine honchos Al Goldstein and Jim Buckley on a revealing ego trip, fronting tasteless XXX skits, with several big porn stars of the period along for the ride. It survives merely as a time capsule.
Film spotlights the main failing of Screw, a periodical I never read back in the day for the simple reason that it was not erotic (its misleading status) but rather a compendium of low-humor, pandering to the "Adult" industry and of course a soap box for Goldstein. His "Midnight Blue" series had the same problem, ultimately self-destructing as a nightly rant where Al would swear and threaten his lawyer, an ex-wife or two, or anyone else who dared to cross his path and look at him sideways. I was on good terms with Al, having interviewed him a couple of times and even toured his offices, so thankfully I never made it into his cross hairs.
Buckley, with bow tie and smarmy manner, is even more annoying than Goldstein in this particular project, taking writing and directing credits besides his on-screen intros. Skits are mainly unfunny, substituting vulgarity for humor. The subsequent R-rated hit drive-in movies like BOOB TUBE and its many imitators look almost polished and urbane by comparison.
Key talent consists of Jody Maxwell and Honeysuckle Divine. Maxwell is first shown giving a series of expert blow jobs in a lengthy excerpt from Gerard Damiano's PORTRAIT. Goldstein pads his film by including a tribute to his "Peter Meter" rating system that recycles lots of footage from PORTRAIT (which he pans) and two other films that receive rave reviews: WET RAINBOW starring Georgina Spelvin and the Kronhausens' THE HOTTEST SHOW IN TOWN.
Maxwell reappears in a lengthy, and idiotic, spoof of Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" with Buckley as the Carson figure and Goldstein hardly even trying to be an Ed McMahon style sidekick. With audience participation provided by A.C. Jones, Maxwell demonstrates her weird fellatio techniques, silly rather than arousing. She also shows off her distended clitoris, much to Al's (feigned) amazement.
Strictly a matter of taste is a lengthy after-hours filming of Honeysuckle Divine's low-down burlesque act at the Locust Strip Cinema in Philadelphia. Crediting the French entertainer known as "Le Petomane" (immortalized on screen by Ugo Tognazzi in a now-obscure film I've never had a chance to see), Divine does stunts with her pussy that must have wowed folks "live", but are distressing to watch in this time capsule. It's the tastelessness that defines the lion's share of porn and so-called adult entertainment, and is anti-erotic to say the least.
Similarly, brief skits involving a school teacher (Erica Eaton) are dirty, not funny, and SOS generally fails to amuse.
Tapping its counter-culture status, Screw presents a lengthy segment devoted to tattooing, featuring tattooists Spider Webb and The Shadow. We learn that tattoo parlors were rendered illegal in 1966 in NYC (how quaint, given the omnipresence of tattoos on people of all shapes & sizes here 4 decades later), with Spider operating out of nearby Mount Vernon as a result.
Ugly tattoos are featured on Don Allen, who plays an army sergeant getting a blow job from a young recruit. This XXX homosexual segment in a mainstream porn feature is evidently included to show Buckley & Goldstein's bona fides as irreverent pornographers. It is posited as an "illustrated" vignette based on the "My Scene" column of Screw, supposedly printing readers' submitted real-life stories (a la the later popular Penthouse forums), but is narrated in stroke-book prose clearly fabricated by a Screw staff writer.
The filmmakers have the temerity to dedicate SOS to Robert Youngson (who died in 1974) and is known for his compilation films preserving cinema history. Perhaps the best segment in SOS is a 1950 stag movie "The Opium Den", presumably made available courtesy of Youngson's widow Jeanne, who also gets a special credit for her "bequest of smut from the past".
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