It was a different time when porn movies were shown in theatres, and they created an uneasy community of people with a common secret, and a similar residue on their shoes. But after a generation of porn for personal devices, porn movies are creeping back into theatres.
I watched Bill Lustig’s 1977 film The Violation of Claudia at the New Beverly Theatre this weekend. Part of a midnight series that will include a tribute to John Holmes, Claudia pulled in an audience of about 30, including director David Aaron Clark, who filmed part of his Asia Noir 5 at the New Beverly in 2006.
10 bucks took care of admission, a coffee, and Junior Mints, and the show started following giveaways from Hustler and an autographed poster of Sharon Mitchell, who played Claudia. Unfortunately neither Lustig, who had the flu, nor Mitchell could be there in person.
Lustig (who wrote and directed the movie as Billy Bagg) would later become a cult icon for his trio of Maniac Cop movies, the first two of which starred Bruce Campbell. He now runs Blue Underground, a national treasure of a company that re-releases forgotten and cult movies.
I was not prepared for the Violation of Claudia for several reasons. The story of a repressed trophy wife who tries her hand at affairs and prostitution, Claudia was shot well and acted well. Both Mitchell, who looked at the time like an attractive cross between Ellen Barkin and Joan Cusack, and tennis pro/pimp (not enough hours at either job, I guess) Jamie Gillis were believable and intent on their roles. And there was a twist ending that literally made the audience shout.
I told Clark I liked the ending, and he said, “That was the seventies. You expected better.”
The audience was a mix of hipsters, thirty-something film fans, and the occasional person stereotypes dictate encountering in an adult theatre at midnight. When a particularly egregious hairy bush or set of hairy balls appeared on screen, parts of the crowd shrieked.