PREVIEW | DVD
Release Date: September 27, 2011
easy to fantasize about the glamorous job of nude photography.
After all, who wouldn't like to sit around photographing hot women,
posing exotically in their birthday suit, for you to command how
they sit, stand, and act? Your own erotic dreams could come true
as you find the perfect image to capture. It's even possible that
there would be regular fringe benefits to such working conditions...
such as the models being very open to try "new things" with whoever
strikes their fancy, such as their photographer.
John Niflheim's The Sex Merchants
takes a look at the world of nude photography through the lens
of the retro-exploitation film. Pete the photographer (Tyrone
L. Roosevelt) is an established and successful nude and fetish
photographer. Making plenty of money due to his regular magazine
buyer, he's able to indulge in his drug of choice and his lifestyle
of sexual oblivion. After a big sale, Pete spends the night in
a drugged-out haze, dreaming of female charms until he decides
he needs physical female companionship and so he calls up Suzy.
Suzy is a young up and coming model (svelte vixen Jackie Stevens)
that sleeps with Pete, who tempts her into energetic lovemaking
with promises of a major photo spread that could launch her, but
Pete doesn't come through on his side of the bargain. Mona (lanky
fetish model Lavendar Rayne) has a bondage modeling session that
soon gets a little more physical than she wanted, as Pete's personal
demons get to him. Finally, Mona (zaftig sex bomb "Mia Copia",
AKA Tina Krause) is an established model who comes back into the
porn fold because she needs the money. Throughout it all, Pete
juggles his sexual desires with an addiction to hard drugs, as
he manipulates the women in his life to get what he needs (sex
and photos) which allows him to get more cash to blow on drugs,
and before long he's overextended financially and sexually. Will
his dealer extend him credit for drugs? Will his paying work dry
up? Will he exploit sweet Suzy to get what he wants? Can he keep
up his drug habit and sexual conquests and still function? Will
the secret about why Pete's mother acts so weird be revealed?
Cosmic Candy production of The Sex Merchants
is a throwback to the exploitation films of the past. Visually
the film is shot in a similar quick and dirty manner to some of
Doris Wishman's B&W roughies, with stark lighting from strong
sources, which brings in a visual element of grime and sleaze.
To contrast the harsh lighting, the bold color choices remind
more of the '70s porno chic period, evoking glamour photography
and the clean, candy-colored photography of Russ Meyer. Taken
together, Niflheim creates a template for a visual look that evokes
the past hallmarks of exploitation cinema while still maintaining
the feel of a modern film. The soundtrack is another nice throwback
touch, in that it is filled with daffy upbeat musical riffs that
seem to have nothing to do with the scene at hand, a hallmark
of many a picture in the heyday of sexploitation. Similarly deployed
liberally throughout are a number of great sexploitation tropes
for the modern audience to indulge, which help cement the love-letter
to the past that is The Sex Merchants.
At one point or another all the lovely starlets get variously
bound and gagged, tied to a chair, doused with oil and rubbed,
sensually whipped, foot-worshipped, carnally stripped, nipples
roughly manipulated, taken in front and from behind, and are generally
displayed in every way.
The film, while still softcore, pushes the envelope of softcore
to the breaking point with what is shown of the physicality of
the beautiful actresses involved. Mia Copia (An
Erotic Vampire in Paris) does her usual outstanding job
of bringing a fully-realized performance to the film, but Jackie
Obsessions, Ironbabe) steals
the show dramatically with her portrayal of a woman trying to
make it in a tough business, letting her heart and a little bit
of false hope lead her to making poor decisions. Lead stud Roosevelt
plays Pete in a distanced way, so that the audience never gets
behind his emotionally manipulating cipher of a character (although
there is a hint of his strange world and the demons that haunt
his psyche in the comic finale, which seems to come from left
field... and yet does explain a few offhanded remarks in the film).
To sum up, The Sex Merchants lets
us into the life of a nude photographer and it's filled to the
shaking brim with both the stuff of which dreams are made and
the residue of the morning after, when the dreams have all fled.
up the nude photography analogy, Independent Entertainment's 2011
DVD of The Sex Merchants is a relatively
bare disc. Aside from the 68-minute feature film, there are trailers
for three low-budget wonders: Diary of a
Sex Offender, Defiled, and
Faces of Schlock. The 1.85/16x9 transfer
is nice and crisp, backed by a decent stereo audio track. 9/21/11