Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Fleshpot on 42nd Street (1973): I Hate New Yorkers

Fleshpot on 42nd Street (1973)
dir: Andy Milligan

In 1973, Andy Milligan would direct his last X-rated sexploitation feature, Fleshpot on 42nd Street. This swan song to the genre is, like any of Milligan's other movies, less about the tawdry and more about the people. And, like any of Milligan's other movies, almost all of these people are assholes, bitches, jerks, dicks, and otherwise people who you should be hating but find yourself to be kind of loving.

Fleshpot on 42nd Street, more than any other Milligan movie, is a sour ode to the New York of old. The New York which was completely populated by trannies, junkies, hookers, pimps, and deviant corrupt businessmen. The New York surrounded by the school of hard knocks, and the people who hustle to get by. This isn't the sanitized, expensive, Manhattan that is currently pushed as the norm full of bright lights and show business. This is the New York where everybody is out for themselves.

At the center is Dusty, a hustler from frame one. We're introduced to her as she's sitting on a chair in a dirty filthy apartment. The guy with whom she's been living is pissed because she doesn't work, pay rent, cook, or clean. The only thing she can do is fuck. And, she counters that she's been paying plenty with her ass.  They fight, fuck, and then he's happy and goes to work. As soon as he's gone, Dusty robs the guy's place and hawks his goods at the pawn shop, where she also fucks and robs the married pawn dealer.

After this savory setup, we meet up with the sour soulless heart of the film, Cherry, a somewhat chubby, older, drag queen with a tongue sharp enough to cut hair. Cherry also hooks to make a living. Upon arriving at Cherry's place, Dusty takes a trick from Cherry. The trick likes it rough, and proceeds to whip her with a belt. After fucking the S&M trick, Dusty and Cherry go to a bar to drink, and have catty shouting matches with a couple of catty broads, the Simmons Sisters. Eventually, Dustyhooks up with a nice guy, who romances the shit out of her. Dusty falls in love. There is no happy ending.

While this movie did originally exist in softcore and hardcore formats (and is currently only available in the softcore with all of the sex scenes cut short), Milligan is far more interested in showing just how hard and shitty people are. As usual. At one point, Dusty is talking about her pimp boyfriend who has been sent up the clink for five years, and laments how he was a really good pimp. Or, when Dusty picks up a trick, Cherry leers on with admiration as she works faster than you could smoke a cigarette.  Later, Cherry shows her prowess by working a guy with the same amount of speed. Cherry follows the guy to his truck, and things go well until he pushes off his wig and almost beats her.

This isn't a happy-go-lucky porno. This isn't Deep Throat where it could ostensibly be about pleasure, or Behind the Green Door where the sex is performed for high class people in exotic situations. The sex in Fleshpot is barely even about anybody's pleasure. The sex in the softcore version makes the sex seem even more like a necessity than something that either party wants. Dusty is doing it for the money. The johns are doing it to get off, and don't care what they stick it in. Fleshpot provides a lusciously unsavory and unerotic portrait of an era now past in New York.

Milligan's neuroses are on full display in Fleshpot too. His hatred for women, and for men who act like women are at the forefront...again. Dusty is a manipulative thieving bitch. Cherry is a catty good-for-nothing drag queen who will stab you in the back for no good reason. The Simmons Sisters...well...all they do is bitch. But, most of the men fare no better. The first john is an easily-duped-by-pussy moron who gets his ass robbed because he dared suggest somebody clean. The other johns are largely violent and almost psychopathic. The only one who seems any good doesn't have things turn out well for him.  This is Milligan shitting on the world in which he lives. In both Butchers and Werewolves, Milligan had escaped to Britain to create period pieces that hid his world, but in Fleshpot it is in full on display.

Even without the hardcore scenes, Fleshpot is a definite watch. The dichotomy between the sex scenes and the drama is jarring at best as it is. Suddenly, the cliche 70s porn flute kicks in, which then changes to dramatic music as the sex goes violent. It's a jagged pill to swallow as it is, and with hardcore sex thrown in, it may even rip your throat out as you try to figure out what Milligan is doing. And, it's fascinating but soul-searing to be inside one man's sour little world for 80 minutes.

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