Holliday at the Car Wash: “Car Wash Angels” redux

Prior to visiting my first porn set (2002’s Whoriental Sex Academy 4) I was very nervous that (1) My body, or parts of it, would betray me, and (2) Someone would ask – and they’d have had the right to – what I thought I was doing there without an understanding of how pornography is made in America.

After I realized that (1) was not going to happen I was also reassured that porn tolerates amateurs (insert joke about your least favorite porn personality/company here). It makes sense that it does. The amateurs can easily be taken care of by the people who’ve been around for a month or two, and the learning curve isn’t steep.

Having the right constitution for the job is another thing entirely. The people who stay in the business are wired differently.

When I walked on the set of VCA’s Car Wash Angels yesterday I did it complacently. I didn’t know Car Wash Angels had originally been a Jim Holliday movie. I didn’t know Hustler, in addition to remaking stuff like Ne(w)u Wave Hookers, was also cannnibalizing remaking other titles in VCA’s classic catalogue. I have never met people like Holliday (and now I can’t – he died in December, 2004), Clive McLean (he died early last year), or Russ Hampshire, the founder and former owner of VCA, who retired when the company was sold to Larry Flynt Productions in 2003.

These people were links to a time that is now over. And certainly there are plenty of people still around (such as Paul Thomas, Roy Karch, Bill Margold, Larry Flynt, and Paul Fishbein) who remember the time when what happens in day to day life in contemporary Porn Valley might have been grounds for arrest, but the market and technology have demanded that they move on, too.

“The original Car Wash Angels had something like 18 girls in it,” said director Jane Waters, who worked with Holliday but who said their relationship had problems. (“He used to call me ‘O.T.’ because I’d take a long time with a shot,” Waters said.)

This Angels will have six girls in it, maybe five.

“Holliday would also have many more sex scenes in his movies,” Waters said, “but they wouldn’t be the standard three-position scenes; they might be just a blowjob or something quick.”

Waters was working on Wendy Apple’s 1985 porn documentary Fallen Angels and met New Wave Hookers director Greg Dark.

“I was living in New York at the time but thought I’d move out to California,” Waters said. “All my friends who were already out here were very encouraging for me to move out, so I did, thinking I’d get work. Wendy told me, ‘Just promise me you won’t get into porn’.”

After not finding work, Water became the “script girl” and film editor of New Wave Hookers, released in 1985.

“That’s why it was very interesting shooting camera for Eon McKai’s remake last year,” Waters said.

But where Neu Wave Hookers had some money behind the production, this remake of a VCA classic was, although not low budget (the DVD will include a reissue of the original movie), definitely stripped down.

Gabriela Banks was shooting a scene atop Jon Dough’s motorcycle in a Mar Vista garage, and Samantha Roxx was in makeup. That was it. “No, we’re not doing a shot-for-shot remake,” Waters acknowledged.

Bill Margold is a walking selective encyclopedia of the adult industry, though he was sitting down during much of our conversation.

“Holliday wrote scripts you wouldn’t understand,” Margold said. “The people in his movies didn’t understand them. To get a hug from Jim was a real honor, but people didn’t really know him.”

Margold received a call from the LAPD on December 16, 2004, alerting him that Holliday had died. “We were best friends. He lived somewhere on DeSoto, but I’d never been to his apartment.”

Waters cast Margold as Morose, the brother of Ambrose, Holliday’s character in the original Car Wash Angels.

“They asked me at LFP why I wanted to cast him (Margold), and I explained the connection between Jim and Bill,” Waters said.

Why did Waters have to explain it? Anyone who talks with Bill Margold for five minutes (and to only talk with Margoild for five minutes would require only five minutes to be left on a cellphone battery or five minutes to be left in one’s life) is informed of the connection between Margold and Holliday immediately. Margold won’t stop talking about Holliday the way Ray Manzarek won’t stop talking about Jim Morrison.

It is understandable, if not good, that an industry which makes its money off the backs of 19-year-old youngsters often pays little attention to its history. When I was at the AVN convention this year I asked 25 adult performers who claimed to be below the age of 25 what “Deep Throat” was. Two mentioned the Watergate leak, two mentioned the movie, and the rest said that deep throat was a blowjob technique.

Of course all were correct, but it underlines the fact that, in an industry in which about 10,000 scenes are shot each month and in which most people spend less than six months, attention is fleeting.

So, though I was utterly unfamiliar with Holliday’s movies, I still felt concerned that a remake of his movie shouldn’t miss the opportunity to provide a little history.

Waters said the remake would be released as Jim Holliday’s Car Wash Angels, and Margold said that the name was what was going to sell it.

“I meet lots of fans who jacked off to the older porn films and that is the material they want to jack off to now,” Margold said.

Margold showed me two wreaths from Holliday’s memorial service that would be on display in one of the dialogue scenes.

“Holliday had about 35 women who were his ‘Angels’,” Margold said, “and each Angel added something in particular to one of the wreaths.” There were bears, moccasins, gum drops, recording tape, and other mementos from “Jimmyland”, which was what Holliday called his sets.

Neither Gabriela Banks nor Samantha Roxx were petite like Holliday’s “fidgets”, but both had a classic porn star vibe to them. Both were brassy and solid.

Banks, a redhead, broke into a cold sweat during her scene with Dough. She excused herself and wrapped up in a towel, shivering. She drank some water and returned a half hour later to complete her scene on the motorcycle.

“I shouldn’t have eaten that Carl’s Jr.,” she said afterward. She said she’d never seen the original movie, or heard of it.

Roxx, who lives south of the border in Playas del Tijuana and bartends part time, had also not heard of the original movie. The casting was perfect, though. Roxx has a siren quality with a very deep laugh. She lent co-star Van Damage a pink shirt which he gamely wore during their scene together atop some tires.

Damage has been in the industry since 1995 and knows a lot of the business’ history.

“I grew up watching porn and I wanted to know about the business,” he said. He shrugged off feeling upset over people not being aware of history. “You can’t make people care about it,” he said.

Damage, like other successful male performers like Evan Stone, Tommy Gunn, and Stephen St. Croix, takes the job more seriously than himself. His facial expressions in his scene with Roxx were straight outta 1997. Yesterday he was wearing a too-small women’s hot pink tank top. Last week, when I first met him on the set of Land of the Amazons, he was wearing a loincloth. His attitude is in the right place: what does it matter what kind of outfit he’s wearing if he is getting his balls pulled on by very dirty girls?

It was a weird day. The alleyway outside the garage was in the neighborhood I’d moved to, sight unseen, when I arrived in Los Angeles five years ago. It was more run-down than I’d remembered it. Behind the low walls of apartment buildings were residents with camera phones trying to squeeze off shots of Banks in her towel.

Nick Manning arrived in his Jaguar, which would be used in a later scene. It was overcast so there would be no carwashing, just fucking near vehicles. He was ready for his closeup in a bathrobe that read “Manning” on the back. He knocked on the locked door, barefoot, until a production assistant let him in. Camera phones popped behind him.

Car Wash Angels seems like a perfectly acceptable production. Waters ran a tight ship, got several funny interviews, and put together a strong cast with women I personally enjoyed seeing naked.

I couldn’t help but think that people used to (what by comparison would be) big, sloppy extravaganzas might be disappointed nonetheless, and that the pairing of the old and new movies would reveal the newer, tighter, less expensive formula’s limitations.

Margold is among a generation of porn veterans who try to keep alive what the industry and the world seem inclined to forget. Sometimes this role manifests itself in a certain grandiosity.

“Who made the coffee? It’s great,” I said.

I created it,” Margold replied.

If porn is more than just people fucking, shouldn’t there be a library and archive somewhere?

“When Holliday died, he had long before given up,” Margold said. “He wasn’t happy. He felt the world didn’t recognize his achievements.”

Previously: “Shut up, please”; An ace that I could keep; One is the gooiest number

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Gram Ponante is America's Beloved Porn Journalist

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