And now the time has come for all of us to either blame or thank christianneil for my hearty upgrade to Disciplinegrid-columnist extraordinaire. Chris always believed in me, even back in the days when we first met through the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program so many years ago. I was just another wayward youth prowling the streets, vandalizing anything and everything and huffing WD-40, and he found it in his heart to take me under his wing. He taught me that being a man doesn't have to include validating one's machismo at any given occasion or murdering my classmates for $200 basketball shoes. In turn, I taught him that loving someone doesn't have to include elaborate booby-traps and Vaseline. We need to face the facts Chris, THE BRUISES DON'T LIE.
But that was then, and this is now. I must admit that I encountered a certain amount of trepidation in search of finding my voice within this community. You see, I'm not one who has ever been very much enthralled with technology or any of the sciences, so a picture of myself should be painted as someone confounded by the modern world in general, at least as far as the context of disciplinegrid should be concerned. To all enthusiasts, I apologize, and the only consellation I can give you is to humor me, and perhaps the subjects of my various essays might be the evidence you need for my longevity here.
Case in point: I was inspired to write a little piece about something my girlfriend and I were watching for the first time ever the other day, the triumph of American cinema that is 1978's brilliant epic Debbie Does Dallas. Hope y'all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed researching it. No, really, it was all to grasp a better understanding of the multi-faceted world of adult entertainment. Shut up.
I. WHAT DEBBIE DID FOR DALLAS THEN
Above: Another MS Painter who obviously missed the point.
The most common misconception about Debbie Does Dallas is that the story is in Dallas. In fact, it actually wasn't even filmed in Texas. That dubious honor goes to the SUNY campus in Stony Brook, New York, who gave the crew permission to film without being informed of their plans to end up with an X-rating. Appalled, the University of New York didn't find out until it was way too late and subsequently made damn sure the movie was banned all the way from Buffalo to the Bronx. I would think it would be obvious pretty much around the first time they discovered the actors screwing up against bookshelves in the university library, so perhaps this information should be taken with a grain of salt. Debbie Does Dallas tends to have a mystique all its own, and with that comes conflicting information or certain facts blown out of proportion.
Regardless, the city of Dallas only serves as a destination for the main character "Debbie" (played expertly by Bambi Woods), a high-school cheerleader from an anonymous small town in Texas with aspirations of cheering on the Dallas Cowboys football team, as (obviously) a "Dallas Cowgirl." Since the idea of holding a car wash or a bake sale apparently never crossed anyone's mind, Debbie and her friends in the cheerleading squad (who also wanted to go to Dallas to see Debbie get her shot at the big time) decide to find odd jobs around town to raise the funds to get there. Falling in line with the X-rating, the girls soon realize with a little bit of prodding from their bosses that money can be raised faster doing other stuff.
The rest of the plot is, of course, irrelevant. Everybody winds up having sex, and not the most inspired sex that's ever been featured, to say the least. Oral here and menage a trois there, tenuous lesbian-esque experiences notwithstanding
Above: Ron Jeremy, also known as the luckiest bastard who ever lived.
II. WHAT DEBBIE DOES FOR DALLAS NOW
Objectively speaking, Debbie Does Dallas is by no means remarkable on the surface. To the untrained viewer it's just another example of the "California happy porn" school from twenty-five years ago, fated to languish in relative obscurity. However, it becomes apparent that this movie is way more than the sum of its parts. Whether one looks at it as a companion piece to the Dallas Cowboys craze in the seventies, then known as "America's Team" (with help of several Super Bowl wins, the non-pornographic movie North Dallas Forty, and the aforementioned Dallas Cowgirls), or as a coming-of-age tale about a young woman's grasp of the power of her gender, or as a parallel to the arrival of the Sexual Revolution in small-town America, or even as just a masturbatory aide, Debbie Does Dallas truly has something for everyone. With the transformation and arrival of this story into an off-Broadway show a generation later, this movie has done something that no other adult movie has ever managed to do: it's engrained itself into the American storytelling tradition.
And although I personally haven't really seen a lot of these movies (no seriously), it seems as though the adult entertainment industry really haven't been able to get their act together ever since. More so than perhaps any other medium, porn has undergone the most rapid and violent metamorphasis. Whereas in the time of Debbie Does Dallas, screenings were limited to a handful of adult theatres in the seedy parts of town. With the arrival of the '80s everything immediately switched over to VHS, and then in the late '90s over to the privacy of our own homes via the Internet. Now, porn is all about the bottom line. Directors need not worry about plots or gimmicks in order to bring people into the moviehouses, all they have to do is find some people willing to "work" for peanuts, lay down a synth track that barely passes for "music" (would you run out and buy the soundtrack to Barely Legal Dental Assistants #23?), and let the spiders do their indexing and the pop-ups do their thing. If you build it, they will come.
Not only that, the women in these "films" anymore are too perfect looking, thanks to nose jobs, lipo, makeup, expert lighting, computer graphics and breast augmentation. Unless you happen to be a voice-cracking teenager who's too young and too inexperienced to be discriminating, this quest for perfection only serves to backfire. I mean, I'm no psychologist, but the potential of imagination aside, fantasy is worth its weight in accessibility and in the end someone who's real ends up being more sexy than a surgically-enhanced Barbie Doll. The Barbie Doll has no flaws to learn to fall in love with, no imperfections to appreciate, and is forgettable immediately after the moment has passed. The Barbie Doll whitewashes our nuanced sexuality into nothing more than uniformity where true feelings are deleted from the equation altogether, leaving her audience feeling pathetic and somewhat depressed.
Above: Where's the fun?
The makers of Debbie Does Dallas didn't understand that as much as they simply had to play the hand they were dealt. The '70s were a thin sliver of time after the Sexual Revolution but before the advent of modern technology and Reagan-era greed, where sex was definitely for sale but not yet heavily discounted and imported from third-world countries. Bambi Woods aka "Debbie" is by no means perfect-looking, which makes her all the more adorable as she stumbles through one situation after another, usually with an expression of wide-eyed surprise. Clearly unprofessional, she's afraid but at the same time not afraid, unlike the modern-day Barbie Doll which never knows trepedation or fear. Whereas Barbie always knows what to do, Debbie isn't so certain..but she's willing to figure it out. And in real life, who isn't like that concerning their first time, not just ever, but with anyone new in their lives?
Somehow, someway, porn needs to be fun again, although in this age of Neo-Puritanism I doubt a reawakening of this magnitude will be around the corner anytime soon. But when we're ready, Debbie Does Dallas will be there to help guide the way.
III. DEBBIE IS DONE
Okay, I'm finished talking about this. I don't need porn anyway, because it's Election Day. If Frankenkerry wins, Ashley (who's also from Massachusettes) is bound to begin celebrating in certain ways I probably won't be writing about in