presents... Interesting Motherfucker: (noun)
An individual exhibiting such uniqueness or individuality that he or she will cause a roomful of bar cronies to exclaim, "That's one interesting motherfucker!" Actual sexual relations with one's mother are not required.

Click here for more Interesting Motherfuckers.

By Wil Forbis

Let me tell you, if I were 40 years older I would marry Doris Wishman. Or if she were 40 years younger I would marry Doris Wishman. Or if I were 15 years older and she were 25 years younger I would marry Doris Wishman. Or if I was 30 years older and she were . well you get the picture. Basically, I'm trying to express my unadulterated affection for the women whose fevered, unconventional mind managed to produce an endless stream of adult film classics, such as "Nudes on The Moon," "Bad Girls Go To Hell," "Indecent Desires," "Deadly Weapons," "Double Agent 73" and "A Night To Dismember."

I'd imagine the news that Doris Wishman is my dream woman must come as quite a shock to the hordes of teenage nymphets out there who spend every day pining for my affections and writing "Mrs. Wil Forbis" over and over in their algebra notebooks. "Why, Wil.?" they plead. "Why would you prefer the company of an aging underground movie director to our young, heaving bosoms, our proud and supple bodies, our na´ve willingness to try anything to satisfy your perverse desires in the name of what we foolishly call love.?" Well, you make some good points there girls, but ultimately one must choose a mate with which you can connect with on a intellectual basis, one with which you have shared interests, and I can't deny that I see a real chemistry between Doris and I on that plane. How many times have I thought to myself, "What would happen if you transplanted the penis of a sex maniac onto the body of a timid virgin?" Well, Doris had no problem answering that question in her camp classic "The Amazing Transplant." And how many nights did I jolt awake at night wondering whether or not it would be viable to implant a camera in the gigantic right breast of a Super-spy fighting the mob, until I saw "Double Agent 73" (with the voluminous Chesty Morgan) and confirmed that, yes, camera/breasts could indeed be a valuable tool in foiling America's enemies. And dear God, would I ever have arrived with a full and sympathetic understanding of the life of a gigolo without viewing Wishman's "Too Much, Too Often?" There's the old saying, "Great minds think alike," and Doris and I clearly share the same sort of mind. (Its greatness will be left open to discussion.)

With that said, I imagine that amongst some of you, burning questions are crackling in your mind. "Who is Doris Wishman?" "What happened to her?" "How old is that tuna sandwich in my refrigerator?" Well, my goal with this piece is to answer some of those questions, and to enlighten you to the work of this under appreciated B-film auteur.

 

Doris Wishman has been called the most prolific female filmmaker of all time. From the '60s to '80s she produced a long series of underground, adult films, starting out with the "nudies" of the early '60s ("Nudes on the Moon", "Blaze Starr Goes Nudist") to the black and white, rough-sex morality plays of the mid '60s ("Bad Girls Go To Hell", "A Taste of Flesh"), onward to the fleshy adventure flicks with the melon-bosomed Chesty Morgan in the '70s ("Deadly Weapons", "Double Agent 73") and finishing up with the cursed "A Night To Dismember" (1983) which starred ex-porn star and pop singer Samantha Fox (!?!). (It should be noted that Doris is working on a comeback film as we speak.)

The Nudies
Used to be, there were all sorts of newfangled laws that stopped people from showing floppy, bouncing breasts or juicy, mouth-watering behinds on the big screen. This sort of skin-censorship lasted up until the late fifties when the arrival of the nudist movement demanded that people celebrating the healthy lifestyle of nakedness be able to commit their activities to celluloid. (It doesn't make much sense to me either.) As a result, nudie films were born, in which viewers were treated to endless scenes of nudists playing volleyball, nudists practicing archery, nudists performing on the accordion and nudists doing pretty much everything except what you want to see nudists doing - having sex. A young, recently widowed Doris Wishman, fresh from working in the film distribution industry, threw herself into making one of the early nudies, "Hideout in the Sun" (1960) as a way of forgetting her husband's recent death from a heart attack. The movie had enough success to allow Doris to film about eight more nudies - the most amusing of these being "Nude on the Moon" (1961), a film that documents the lifestyles of nudist aliens who speak telepathically - before the genre starting collapsing in on itself when folks realized that watching nude people playing with a beach ball was about as arousing as Barbra Streisand in "Yentl." Sex needed an added sense of danger and this led to.

The Roughies
Roughies were the next stage of adult cinema. While the nudies were achingly innocent films, all about a "lifestyle", the roughies were what would have happened had Rod Serling made films with naked people. While the sexual content was fairly tame by today's standard, the grim stories of good and bad women (or my favorite, good women gone bad) provided enough danger to hook the last generation of sexually repressed Americans before the late sixties sexual revolution hit. And Wishman was right at home in this genre, where I feel she did her best work. Armed with black and white film, and incorporating the hand held camera style seen in TV shows like N.Y.P.D Blue, Wishman tackled an endless series of difficult issues facing American society, like wives forced into prostitution ("Another Day, Another Man" - 1966), women who kill their rapists ("Bad Girls Go to Hell" - 1965) and magic voodoo dolls with strange sexual powers ("Indecent Desires" - 1967). While there's an unavoidable degree of kitsch associated with these films (a fact that disgusts Wishman herself) when one gets past the low budget trappings, there really is something disturbing about such films. In "Bad Girls." the camera is in a perpetual state of unease, and uses the shadow and light so inherent in black and white films to frame the good, the bad and the ugly in uncompromising terms. We also see many instances of the famous Wishman cutaway shot, where, Wishman (who had actors dub in most of the audio of her films) would focus on an inanimate object while a subject was talking, in order to lessen the work of synching voice to film in the editing room.

Another movie that deserves special mention as one of Wishman's "roughies", despite being filmed in color and having a release date of 1970, is "The Amazing Transplant." Somewhat of a softcore film, it detailed the perils of a young man whom, as young men are wont to do, has the penis of a dead man transplanted onto his groin. Offering further argument that men think with their dicks, the protagonist, a boyish lad named Arthur, transforms from a mild mannered fellow to a serial rapist, whose sexual exploits are detailed in the films many sex episodes. One such attack is perhaps the most disconcerting rape scene ever committed to film - Arthur spends several minutes simply trying to undress his victim, finally pinioning her hand against the floor with his foot, and then fumbling around to release his new phallus for the denouement. Unlike a lot of rape scenes in more modern cinema, this one isn't over quickly, but rather plods along with what I'd assume to be the pace of a real sexual attack.

The Chesties
Despite their name and reputation, the Roughies never really delivered much graphic titillation, so when various Supreme Court rulings in the late sixties freed up film makers to commit actual sex acts to film, that genre, like Nudies before it died an untimely death. This put Doris in a slightly uncomfortable position. In contrast to her underground reputation, Doris was squeamish about filming real hardcore, and the lack of genuine plots in such films left her empty. So in the mid seventies, she grabbed attention by releasing two films laden with a pair of gimmicks that left slack-jawed yokels peeling their chins off the sticky floors of adult theatres. These gimmicks were a pair of FUCKING GIGANTIC breasts that happened to be attached to a Polish stripper known as Chesty Morgan. Doris and Chesty did two films together - "Deadly Weapons" (1973) and "Double Agent 73" (1974) (named after Chesty's bustline) and they probably remain as Doris's most popular works. In "Deadly Weapons" Chesty plays a successful advertising executive whose Mafioso boyfriend is killed by his fellow hoods. Seeking revenge, Chesty tracks down the killers (one of them played by "Deep Throat's" Harry Reems) and literally suffocates them with her tits, which is probably a better death than those guys deserved. Then, in "Double Agent 73" Chesty is a spy who has a camera implanted in her breasts and proceeds to wipe out a heroin ring, whom, for an undisclosed reason also appear to be communists. However, despite the fact they were doing history making work together, Doris found Chesty difficult to deal with and declined the final option in their three-film contract. Chesty disappeared into obscurity (though it's doubtful a woman like that could ever really be obscure) and Doris went on to film.

A Night To Dismember
While Doris' career had always been rife with struggle, it was the ill-fated "A Night To Dismember" (1983) that seemed to diminish her desire to produce films at her otherwise prolific rate. A movie she reportedly had a sizeable financial and emotional investment in, ANTD was brought to an untimely halt when a series of film negatives were destroyed in a laboratory accident (or vandalism attack, depending on your source.) What was left was edited together and released, but the disaster seemed to be enough to push Doris away from film until recently, in which she started shopping around for financing for her new film "Dildo Heaven" (sometimes referred to as "Desperate Desires".)

Of course the above is only a brief description of Wishman's work. To really appreciate her genius, you need to call in sick to work, pour yourself the first of many glasses of 211 malt liquor for the day, and treat yourself to a 24 hour retrospective of her films. When you do, I think you'll notice some interesting themes running through most of her films. Like.

Feminist or Feminaut?
While Doris has always actively denied allegations that she was a feminist, or that there was a political motivation to her films, there is undeniably something that separates Wishman adult films from the rest of the male dominated industry. Her work in the roughies, a genre one would assume to be about as misogynist as they come, is actually pretty sympathetic towards women. (At least more so than non-Wishman adult films from the same period like the plainly titled, "All Women Are Bad.") After viewing "Bad Girls Go to Hell" which details the unfortunate story of Meg, who after killing her rapist early on, spends the rest of the film being abused by predators of both sexes in her quest to avoid imprisonment, one feels a little cheated by the title. After all, the protagonist isn't really bad - simply doomed because she's a woman. The same goes for the prostitute wife in "Another Day, Another Man." Even Chesty Morgan's character in "Deadly Weapons" is somewhat of a reluctant vigilante. she doesn't want to turn her low hanging fruits into instruments of justice, indeed she's plagued by doubt every step of the way, but she's given no choice when the mob KILLS THE MAN SHE LOVES! (Tying in to the rage Doris may have felt when her husband died? Who knows.) In the nudies, Wishman women are na´ve tramps. In the roughies, they're bruised, sometimes hardened victims. It's not until "Double Agent 73" that the more traditional, Gloria Steinem style feminism makes its mark, and Wishman gives us the confident cocky superbitch with the mind-blowing bosom. Damn, ain't that what the women's movement was all about?

Camp Wishman
It's impossible not to look over Wishman's films and smile. After all, the crazy titles, the low budget filmmaking, the underground status - it's all good for a laugh, right? But I've found that the more I get into Wishman's films, the more I feel. guilty for simply regarding these films as kitsch. Doris has made it expressively clear in various interviews and commentary that she always saw herself as a serious filmmaker, no different than the Scorseses and Spielbergs. And it was her singular eclectic vision that kept her away from the studio dollars that would have allowed her to put more sheen on her films. (Money that could've come from either the mainstream or hardcore studios.) Certainly there are other bigger film makers, who took the studio cash and make great, though presumably compromised, films, but you can't help but look at little Doris Wishman, who directed, wrote, cast and grabbed financial backing for all of her films and not admire the FUCKING GALL it must have taken to do so. Suddenly Doris looks less like a campy icon of the Ed Wood variety and more like a singular force who's loyalty to her own muse left her stranded on the sidelines.

However, despite Doris's precarious position in the world of filmmaking, she seems disinclined to give up. (One quote attributed to her is, "When I die, I'll make films in hell.") She's seeking funding for her 27th film, "Dildo Heaven" and is collaborating with author Michael Bowen on a book about her life. Perhaps Doris will end up like Vincent Van Gogh, and her work will not be totally appreciated until she's dead. Maybe in the year 2112, people will sit back and watch Chesty Morgan suffocate someone with her breasts or one of the moon nudies playing with a beach ball and say, "Ahhh.this is art!"

We can only hope.

UPDATE: Doris passed away on the 10th of August, 2002. You can read the official Acid Logic farewell to this American treasure, here.


Wil Forbis is the pen named shared by such noted authors as James Ellroy, Katie Roiphe, and Jim Thompson. E-mail him, I mean, them, at acidlogic@hotmail.com

View Wil's Acid Logic web log, a stirring endorsement of sex with pandas!


Meet some other Interesting Motherfuckers:

Ray Walston by John Saleeby
From My Favorite Martian to Mr. Hand.
Mitch Hedberg
by John Saleeby
The last of the comedy greats!
Al Jafee
by Wil Forbis
Mad Magazine's cartoon master.
GG Allin
by Wil Forbis
Even punks loathed the performer who pushed past the bouderies.
David Allan Coe by Wil Forbis
Country's obscene outlaw walks the line.
Bernie Casey by John Saleeby
The blaxploitation star who rose from the ghetto of professional football.
Bret Easton Ellis by Tom Waters
Peruse the critical overview and interview with the fiction superstar.
Phil Lynott by Wil Forbis
Thin Lizzy's frontman rose from the streets of Ireland to the heights of rock stardom and then descended into the pit of drug abuse.
Louis CK by Sean C Tarry
Marvel at this stand up's ability to phrase the opposite of every song.
Sho Kosugi by Wil Forbis
Fear the power of the Ninja! Fear it, Bitch!
Bill Hicks by Cody Wayne
The mind expanding comedian gets his due.
Warren Zevon by Xander Horlyk
A literary look at "a moralist in cynic's clothing."
Pam Grier by John Saleeby
Sweet Christmas! It's the queen of blaxploitation, Foxy Brown herself!
Jack Webb by John Saleeby
When he created the elite police unit of "Dragnet," Jack Webb laid the first blow against the scourge of America: Hippies!
Doris Wishman by Wil Forbis
The prolific adult film maker, whose work includes the classic Chesty Morgan movies, is probed and prodded.
Dave Thomas by John Saleeby
Wendy's Dave Thomas was all about Biggie Fries, Frosties and love.
Spike Milligan by John Saleeby
Read up on the life of the British comedy scribe.
Toshiro Mifune by Wil Forbis
The Japanese actor who slashed his way through a thousand samurai movies.
Nina Hagen by Wil Forbis
The Wagnerian Banshee who created the blueprint for punk/funk/opera.

Bob and Tommy Stinson by John Saleeby
Get to know the real talents of eighties punk sensations, The Replacements.

Tom Savini by John Saleeby
The king of latex gore.

And there's even more on our main page!



Bad Girls Go To Hell is Wishman's best known "roughie." It will cause good girls to think twice about killing their rapists.

Additional Doris Wishman Material:

RESearch Interview with Doris: Wild, wacky stuff

Satan Was a Lady:
A web site for Wishman's new film


Doriswishman.com:
Updated regularly with exciting Doris Wishman news.

Radio Interview with Doris:
A interview done on NPR's Fresh Air.

Miami Times Interview with Doris:
Does a good job of capturing her cantankerous personality.

Something Weird Video:
Good place to order Wishman films.

My review of "Bad Girls Go To Hell":
Over at Forbisthemighty.com.

"Watch the mob get BUSTED when Chesty takes her revenge."

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