Did you know that adult movies—the surest celluloid thing in the ’70s—could actually bomb on the adult grindhouse circuit? And this Johnny Legend-fronted flick is the only one that did.
Adult films in the ’70s were what slasher films were in the ’80s: a can’t miss investment for any pseudo-producer wanting to break into the movin’-picktures business (to sleaze some chicks). But by 1977, the era of “porn chic”—when adult grindhousers broke down the mainstream, tinsel town gates to transform Deep Throat and Behind the Green Door (both 1972) into box office bonanzas—was over. In fact, by 1977, Doors’ star Marilyn Chambers transitioned into the (somewhat) conventional with David Cronenberg’s early “body horror” oeuvre entry, Rabid. So wildman wrestler, actor, and musician Johnny Legend, along with his producing partner, adult film purveyor Tom Denucci (who produced a porn version of Rambo), were a little late to the party. Not a problem. Their film had a rock ‘n’ roll connection, so they might be able to turn it around into the next The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Oh, yeah. This is going to work.
Tim Curry as a lingerie-clad sweet transvesite was kitchy . . . while Johnny Legend as a foul-mouthed, bottom-of-the-barrel Wolfman Jack-redux was just plain tacky. But you have to give Legend credit for producing what no other adult film attempted: inject (nasty n’ tawdry) comedy and (’50s style) rock ‘n’ roll amid the Deep Green Door roughness. Remember our recent review of Kentucky Fried Movie? Okay, so that movie. Only not as funny. Then cut in clips from Deep Throat and Behind the Green Door.
No, wait. Take American Graffiti. Nix Ron Howard and cast adult film icon John Holmes (check out the fantastic Val Kilmer as Holmes in Wonderland). Then replace Wolfman Jack with Legend. Remember those ’50s teen-action car dramas we reviewed during our “Drive-In Friday: Fast & Furious ’50s Style” featurette? Okay, now spoof those films. Then cut in clips from Deep Throat and Behind the Green Doors.
Oh, yeah. This is going to work.
And you thought Harry Hope and Harry Tampa’s hicksploitation hybrids with disco and vampires (Smokey and the Judge and Nocturna) were a mess. . . . But what else would you expect from a man who put ‘70s pro-wrestler Fred Blassie and comedian Andy Kaufman into a room and ripped off Louis Malle’s My Dinner With Andre as My Breakfast with Blassie—in a Sambos, of all places. Well, John Howard meshed the slasher ’80s with porn in Spine, so maybe. . . .
No. This isn’t going to work. You’ve been warned.
Although Legend billed Teenage Cruisers as the first adult-rated rock ‘n’ roll movie, the early ‘70s sex-flick The Mind of Dirty Young Sally (that found a second life on VHS in the ’80s via the Something Weird imprint) concerned with an 18-Wheeled pirate radio DJ treaded similar waters. (Yes, that radio sex romp bombed and yes . . . it’s awful, don’t bother seeking it out.)
Johnny Legend is the infamous L.A. disc jockey, Mambo Remus <eye roll>, who dispenses sexual advice to his listeners between the rock ‘n’ roll records. And as with American Graffiti, the Remus-patter strings together the exploits of Van Nuys’ car cruisin’ listeners, such as a sexually frustrated army veteran, a group of high school boys visiting a Hollywood whorehouse, two sex maniacs cruising the strip for boys, and an escaped psychotic-nymphomaniac prowling for victims. The film score features the rockabilly guitars of Billy Zoom (The Decline of Western Civilization) from the L.A. punk band X.
Johnny Legend was responsible for a slew of low-budgeted B-flicks in the early ‘70s, as well as issuing several albums of his own brand of sci-fi rockabilly tunes. In addition to working as the host/spokesman for a number of ’70s-reissue flicks on the Rhino and Something Weird imprints, Legend pops up from time-to-time in support roles in film such films as Bride of Re-Animator, Children of the Corn III, and Severed Ties. Legend also worked as an actor under the name of Martin Margulies—the most notable being (in grindhouse circles) the Ed Woodian juvenile delinquency potboiler, Pot, Parents and Police (1972).
You can learn more about the career of Johnny Legend in the 1991 pages of Filmfax, courtesy of the Internet Archive.
About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.