Monday, July 11, 2011

Salon Kitty (Tinto Brass, 1976)

One of the complaints I had about the last Nazi exploitation film I watched, Ilsa: She Wolf of the SS, was that the skirts worn by the female SS guards weren't tailored right (they were too long, and, much to my chagrin, completely slit-free). Call my brain structure ill-conceived, but I think the reason there were so many garment issues peppered throughout that film might have had something to do with the fact that the director wasn't Italian. In other words, only someone of Italian extraction, scratch that, only someone who was born and raised in Italy, is in the position to properly comprehend the importance of perversion when it comes to ladies apparel. Well, you know what? Filmmaker Tinto Brass is Italian, and with his Salon Kitty, Nazi couture finally gets its cinematic due. Of course, there's little doubt in my mind that certain members of the audience will be offended by this movie, which at times seems to be masquerading as some kind of fascistic fashion show, but for those who appreciate things that are frightfully du jour, this film is the awkward tribute to totalitarian chic you've been waiting for. I've said once and I'll say it again, the only reason Nazism was in anyway popular as a movement was because of their uniforms. And not those brown, terribly drab outfits they sported during their early days, no, I'm talking about the iconic/infamous all-black uniforms worn by members of the SS (Schutzstaffel), the movement's notorious paramilitary force. They made the person wearing them seem cool, despite the fact that he or she was probably the complete opposite of cool, yet it was this perceived coolness that usually lead them to have delusions of grandeur.

These delusions manifest themselves in an ambitious SS officer named Helmut Wallenberg (Helmut Berger), who devises a convoluted plan to screw over his fellow Nazis by creating a secret army of slutty spies. It's 1939, war is about to officially start, so Helmut decides to close down the Salon Kitty, a popular Berlin brothel run by Kitty Kellerman (Ingrid Thulin), and open his own in the countryside. The plan is to deport its racially diverse staff and replace them with SS-approved hotties. Since the dapper national socialist doesn't know anything about the day-to-day operations of your typical house of ill repute, he decides to let Kitty run it (her expertise when it comes to whore management is second to none). Despite the fact that "fresh air makes her dizzy" (she prefers champagne), Kitty agrees to run Helmut's Nazi cathouse. Of course, she doesn't know that Helmut is using the brothel to eavesdrop on the clientele (all the rooms are bugged).

Taking a break from watching men fence without pants, Helmut, and his odd-looking henchmen, audition twenty SS women to work at his Aryans only bordello. Culled from every corner of Germany, the women are marched into a large room and told disrobe en masse. This session is designed to rid the women of the inhibitions (if they make the cut, there's a lot of strange dick in their future). If you thought the women removed their tan stockings a little too quickly, don't worry, there's plenty of stocking-based content to come. Anyway, while their uniforms were hitting the floor, Helmut was busy eyeballing Margherita (Teresa Ann Savoy), a dedicated Nazi with a deceptively small bum.

While there's nothing sexier than watching a large group of naked Nazi chicks marching in unison, the opposite is true when an equally large group of SS men are seen doing the exact same thing. You see, an SS officer without his black uniform is nothing more than a lumpy mound of disgusting pig flesh. The second you take it away, the male Nazi, whether they be an Obersturmbannführer or a Hauptsturmführer, loses his primary source of power. You could say that this happens to the majority of men when faced with the prospect of being completely naked, but it seems to be worse when it occurs to men who are trying to project an air of strength to the world. Instead of commanding respect and admiration, the untoward dangling produced by the misshapen quagmire festering between their legs is more likely to induce derisive laughter. Rather than bombing munitions factories during the war, the Allies should have concentrated their firepower on the textile plants that manufactured their uniforms. Think about it: millions of lives could have been saved had they only targeted their sense of style.

In order to find out the sexual constitution of the SS women, each is paired with a naked SS man. What transpires next could best be described as a Nazi orgy, as the screen is filled with a glut of uncut penises thrusting in the vicinity of twenty untamed vaginas. After the orgy, the SS women are each put in a room and paired with an individual that the Nazi leadership considers unsavoury. Forced to copulate with amputees, dwarves, the mentally ill, and lesbians, you're either "approved" or "rejected," depending on the quality of your performance. If, for example, you recoil in horror to having your clitoris licked by another woman, you're out. But if you manage to mount the mangled member of a legless man with a modicum of gusto, then you're in. Who else, by the way, was disturbed by Olga's reaction to having her genitals serviced by a professional lesbian? Call me an old fashioned dyke, but I thought she lucked out by getting paired with a lesbian. You'd have thought she had been paired with a troglodytic man-beast judging by the extreme nature of her negative reaction.

Selecting Margherita for his Nazi whore squad, despite the fact she kneed the gaunt Jewish man she was paired with in the balls (an action that should have gotten her not-so tiny ass "rejected"), Helmut invites her over to his swanky pad (his walk-in closet was to die for), and proceeds to smother his face in her lingerie-adjacent minge. The build up to the actual smothering was tantalizing in its own right, in that, I liked the way Helmut Berger, his red swastika scarf jauntily wrapped around his neck, projected his depraved authority over he by yelling the following: "Take off your panties!" "Pull up your skirt!" "Higher!" and my personal favourite, "Crawl faster!"

With the war in Europe officially underway, Kitty slips on her black stockings and puts on a spirited show for her deformed regulars (the crowd is awash with monocles and faces covered with giant birthmarks) for the last time at her old location. It's time to move, and time inspect to the fresh meat. Unimpressed by what she sees, Kitty finds the appearance of the German girls Helmut has provided to be too hard (she prefers soft). Undaunted, Kitty takes what she's been given and proceeds to unleash what I consider to be the mother of all eyebrow plucking montages. Realizing almost immediately that something truly amazing was about to transpire the moment the first furry labia is slapped with powder, Kitty conducts a kind of lingerie kindergarten. A crash course in how to make fascists fabulous, Kitty and her crack team of Dorothy-friendly underlings take the glum skanks in waiting and transform them into objects of forbidden desire.

Even though the onslaught of facials, lipstick, pube trimming, stockings, eyeliner, bobbed wigs, eyebrow pencils, blush, nail polish, and garter belts caused me to start hyperventilating near the halfway point, I would still classify the dizzying array of feminine delights on display during this particular sequence to be the reason this montage turned out to be one of the greatest in movie history.

It's opening night at the new and improved Salon Kitty, and the SS girls find themselves thigh-deep in Nazi cock right out of the gate. In a sequence replete with whips, chains, irregular dildos, stockings, cigarettes, garters, champagne and spanking, the neophyte whores do an excellent job establishing their floozy street cred. Well, not quite, an SS girl turned undercover hooker named Susan (Rosemarie Lindt), the owner of the shapeliest backside in all of Nazi Germany, did screw up when she decided to laugh at a general's predilection for frilly pink underwear (whores, undercover or otherwise, should always try to refrain from mocking the fetishes of their clients).

Meanwhile, Margherita and a pilot on leave from the Polish front named Hans (Bekim Fehmiu) have grown found of one another. The reason Helmut has bugged all the rooms (he has a team of flunkies listening around the clock) is because he doesn't trust the girls to make accurate reports of all the treasonous pillow talk they overhear. Disfranchised by the war, Hans openly shares his disdain for Hitler and Nazism in general, but Margherita fails to include his negative comments in her report (she doesn't know the rooms are bugged). Knowing that Margherita is hiding things from him, Helmut, instead of confronting her, decides to force her to have sex with his wife (Tina Aumont) on his couch. When he tires of watching their tan stockings intertwined with one another, he shows Margherita the contents of his spacious closet.

If Helmut seems overly proud of his wardrobe, that's because he is. And why wouldn't he be? I mean, have you seen what he's got in there? A veritable fascist wonderland full of capes, garish medals, leather trousers, jackboots, skintight numbers that defy description, and lots of furs, Helmut Wallenberg has to be the most fashion conscious Nazi the Third Reich has ever seen (he must get his uniforms custom made). Don't tell anyone this, but I nearly fainted when I saw that the swastika armband attached to his black and white trench-coat was covered in sparkles. I liked how he was able to change his outfit three times while still managing to focus his energy on Margherita's stunning vagina. Hey, say what you will about his prickly personality, the man loves fashion and pussy.

The gorgeous Paola Senatore (Emanuelle in America) may only have two scenes where she vocalizes actual dialogue (she plays an SS girl named Marika), but the one where stands up to Helmut was one of the film's most memorable non-lingerie scenes (another being the one where a Nazi girl crushes the wind up toy of a Jewish boy at an aquarium - even the fish were like, what a hosebeast). Since I don't want to go into much detail about the particulars of the scene, I'll just say that I loved the way Paola ignored the cruel gibberish spewing out of Helmut's mouth and kept saying, "It's mine," over and over again.

The great RuPaul once said, "We're born naked, and the rest is drag." This nugget of wisdom could also be applied to Ingrid Thulin's animated turn as Kitty Kellermann, the world's most enthusiastic brothel keeper. Boasting the temperament of a nonsensical drag queen and the fashion sense of visually impaired ragpicker, Ingrid's performance is camp personified. The word "fabulous" might seem like an apt way to describe Ingrid's work in Salon Kitty, but even it doesn't even come close to doing it justice. Singing, dancing, slapping, crying, writhing, yelling, drinking, and eating (she angrily bites a chunk out of a discarded bread-based dildo at one point), Ingrid Thulin does it all. My crotch-centric inclinations may have been all about Rosemarie Lindt and her ample behind, but my inner dandy was secretly longing to go shopping with Ingrid.

This may sound deluded, but when Rosemarie and Ingrid started slapping one another (Rosemarie took exception to being called a whore), I imagined they were fighting for my affection: Rosemarie: He's mine! He's one of the few people who appreciates the largeness of my stunning ass. Ingrid: What are you nuts? He obviously prefers to be with me. I mean, have you seen his wrists? They're so dainty, and the dainty wristed can't help but flock to my box. (End scene.)

You wouldn't think this–you know, with the amount of nudity in this film–but the costume budget on Salon Kitty must have been through the roof. How do I know this? Well, for starters, I have eyes. And secondly, when you factor in the cost of the lingerie (even the male characters wear it), Helmut Berger's Nazi originals, and Ingrid Thulin's impractical yet eye-catching ensembles, we're talking mucho dollareedoos. The only instance where they probably saved money was when costume designers Jost Jakob and Ugo Pericoli neglected to make fencing pants (the fencers in the fencing scene don't wear fencing pants).

One of the ways I used to waste time was to peruse the Men-at-Arms section in the World's Biggest Bookstore. It's true, spending an entire afternoon flipping through books about military uniforms might seem lame by today's ill-defined standards, but that's what passed for amusement fifteen or so years ago. Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that, while I was flipping, I couldn't help but notice that all the books on German uniforms of the Third Reich looked worn out, while all the other books seemed like they were in pristine condition. And you know what they say? Book creases doesn't lie. People love Nazi fashion, and Salon Kitty captures that love in way that didn't make me feel uncomfortable. I only wish all war movies were like this, because I despise war movies that focus on war. War is stupid. Fashion, on the other hand, is sexy, and sexy always trumps stupid.

nsfw video uploaded by CriterionDungeon


  1. So I sent an email to James Moore, asking him not to cut funding for CBC. I thought I'd share that.

  2. It's official, your more Canadian than most Canadians. ;)

    Oh, and I was flipping around the dial the other day and noticed that David Strathairn was arguing with Callum Keith Rennie on some show (I didn't catch the name). Anyway, I immediately thought of you, and, of course, the image of your head exploding.

  3. Alphas! I must admit that I've never ever watched the SyFy channel. I was really surprised when I heard that Strathairn was starring on a SyFy show. I see him more as an HBO type. CKR is a SyFy regular. You're right, my head might have exploded.

    CKR had a small role on "The Killing." What cracked me up about that show, speaking of Canadiana, is that it was supposed to be set in Seattle, but it was so obviously Vancouver. That's what I love about Flashpoint. None of those shenanigans.

  4. Oh, I forgot to add that my father and I used to LOVE to go to the World's Biggest Bookstore. (Please tell me that some corporation hasn't bought it out.) My dad used to tell people that we went to the World's Biggest Bookstore, and they would invariably ask, "What's it called?"
    I still kick myself for not buying a first edition of the Trouser Press Record Guide.

  5. I don't think we get SyFy in Canada. We do, however, have "Space."

    It apparently rains a lot on The Killing.

    My dad loves Flashpoint. My mom, on the other hand, thinks it's quite lame (humourless tripe, she calls it).

    Three issues of EW arrived in my mailbox today. Can I get a woo-hoo?

    I haven't been to the World's Biggest Bookstore in years (with Sam The Record Man gone and the strips overall sleaziness long since neutered, my reasons for heading down to that area have dissipated). Anyway, the WBB was bought by Indigo (the nation's largest bookstore chain) some time ago.

  6. I adore Ingrid Thulin. Genius.
    Profound in "Smultronstället" (Wild Strawberries).
    She was mesmerizing in "Ansiktet" (The Face, "The Magician").
    Shattering in "Nattvardsgästerna" (Winter Light).
    Aghast and despairing in "Tystnaden" (The Silence).

    Never thought she'd be camp personified as a Nazi brothel madam. Now that is range.

    Guess I finally need to see this.