She's not a prostitute, she's a whore. What's the difference, you ask? How the hell should I know? No, actually, I do know what the difference is. You wanna know what it is? Oh, I see. Well, I'm going to tell you anyway. The reason I know is because I just watched Streets. Yeah, that's right, fucking Streets, a.k.a. Straßen des Schreckens. Yeah, that's right, fucking Straßen des Schreckens, a gritty tale about a deranged motorcycle cop who spends an entire day roaming the mean streets of Venice, California looking for a wayward Bundy. While to us, the difference between a prostitute and a whore might seem unimportant. But to Dawn (Christina Applegate), a teenage runaway who never had anything to runaway from in the first place, it's not a question of semantics, it's a question of dignity. If my vaginal and rectal cavities are never rented out to irregular cock on a basis that some might construed as semi-regular, but my mouth and hands are, am I not a prostitute? According to Dawn, no, she is not. When confronted with the question: What do you do? The street smart blonde seems to bristle when you try to label her a "prostitute." Without missing a beat, Dawn calls what she does to get by "whoring." In her mind, the difference between stroking the cock of, oh, let's say, a sheepish Tangerine Dream fan, with your hand, and between fucking the cock of, oh, let's say, a sheepish Tangerine Dream fan, with your pussy and/or asshole is astronomical. Blessed with the freedom to stick as many dicks in as many holes as she sees fit, Dawn is a pioneer when it comes to reducing the amount of cock traffic clogging up her sacred passageways at any given moment. So much so you'll be hard pressed to find any evidence of stretching or tearing. In fact, the insides of her creamy fissures are so pristine, you could stick your penis in them.
You can declare your corporeal corridors closed for business all you want, that doesn't necessarily mean everyone who approaches you to obtain the limited services you do provide is going to adhere to the strict regulations you have laid out regarding what you will and what you will not allow to be done to your body. For example, you can scream, "I don't do anal," until the cows are sleeping snugly in their beds, there are always going to be those who are going to ignore the rules. And looks like Dawn is about to meet one of the these people right this minute.
After making Stripped to Kill and Stripped to Kill II: Live Girls, writer-director Katt Shea probably wondered to herself: What did the strippers in my epic stripper saga do before they found salvation on the pole? All arriving in Los Angeles at one point or another with a resounding thud, the women must have wanted to do something other than stripping. I don't mean to sound like I'm putting down stripping; I happen to think it's a noble profession. I just don't think they came all that way to be leered at by strangers. Bullshit, man. What's the difference between being leered at in a stripeclub and leered at on a movie screen? I'll tell you what. It's the same difference between a prostitute and a whore. Anyway, providing no easy answers or solutions, Katt Shea has made her most intelligent and heartfelt movie to date.
Wearing what looks like a scraggly veneer, one that drips pure, uncut exploitation, Streets is, if you peel away the layers of scum, a deep and meaningful piece of work.
You know how I said Dawn bristles when you call her a prostitute? Well, I bristle when I hear sappy piano music. However, since the sappy piano music that opens Streets features E.G. Daily on vocals, I'm going to look the other way. Why is that, you ask? Um, E.G. Daily is awesome. Duh.
Carrying his Yamaha keyboard on the handlebars of his bike. Nah, I don't like that. How about this: Armed only with his trusty bike, a Yamaha keyboard, and a dream, Sy (David Mendenhall), a teenage runaway, has no idea how drastically his life is going to change the moment he decides to take shelter underneath a Venice pier that fateful morning. Hearing a struggle taking place, Sy jumps to his feet to help a prostitute, I mean, a whore in need. It would seem that Dawn (Christina Applegate) didn't appreciate the aggressive demeanour of her blonde trick, and to show her lack of appreciation, she withdraws from him. Of course, this guy isn't making it easy for Dawn, so she scratches his face and and throws sand in his eyes. Not one to take a hint, the trick rips her earring out and starts shooting at her with his revolver.
When the shooting starts, that's when Sy does his thing. Rescuing Dawn from drowning, Sy helps her up a ladder, as the trick runs off (a cop on horseback spooks him). If you're wondering why Dawn seems spooked by the cop as well, it's because she's "working." Obviously a tad on the naive side, Sy doesn't understand right away what "working" means. When it does finally come to him, that's when the whole debate about the difference between "prostitution" and "whoring" takes place. In Dawn's mind, a prostitute is pro. She is, as she would say, "just whoring, it's different."
Which, if you think about it, sounds like great ad copy. "Are you tired of being beaten by unruly pimps? Sick of the irritation brought on by genital warts? Try whoring. It's different."
As the two soaking wet teens are drying in the morning sun, the blonde trick is at home grabbing his homemade double-barreled silent shotgun from its secret hiding spot. We can all agree that this is not good, especially for Dawn and Sy, who are still in the process of getting to know each other. Lending her a dry pair of pants, Sy and Dawn ride along the beach passing all sorts of off-kilter people of all shapes and sizes. It's here where we meet Dawn's intricate network of lowlifes and equally troubled youths.
First off, let's meet some of the lowlifes, shall we? Well, no Streets review would be complete without mentioning Bob (Patrick Richwood), a "flamboyant" drug dealer/infrequently washed man about town who seems to act as Dawn's protector. I wanna call him Dawn's pimp, but don't forget, she's not a prostitute, she's a whore; and, as we all know, to quote Heather Mooney from Romy and Michele's High School Reunion, "There's a difference. There's a difference." Another lowlife is Roach (Aron Eisenberg, Nog from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), a kinda Mr. Fix-it. And we wouldn't want to forget the lovely Sheryl Bence as "Punk Girl," now would we? No way, man. She has a blonde mohawk and is wearing a studded leather jacket at the beach. Call me a silk shirt, but impractical beachwear makes me randier than a pre-op double-crested cormorant.
If you're starting to feel sorry for deadbeat Dawn, don't. She lives in a drainpipe. In other words, she's living the dream! Wait, that didn't come out right. She may live badly, but at least she doesn't have to work to do so. I don't like that either, but it's the best I come up with to make Dawn's existence not sound so shitty. Anyway, she lives in the drainpipe with Julie Jay (credited as "tattooed roommate") and Kady Tran (credited as "blonde roommate"), and things couldn't be better.
Don't tell Dawn this, but do you remember that blonde trick whose face she scratched underneath the pier? Yeah, well, it turns out he's a cop, a motorcycle cop. His name is Lumley (Eb Lottimer), and he's a by the book psychopath. Meaning, he doesn't mess around when it comes to inflicting pain and suffering on others.
And do you remember all those lowlifes and troubled teens I mentioned earlier? Well, there the one's who are going to bear the brunt of Lumley's rage first, as he pays each of them a visit while looking for Dawn. Some get off easy (street urchin Mel Castelo gets her hand stood on), while others aren't so lucky. I would like to go into detail about one of the so-called unlucky ones, but it too ghastly. In fact, just thinking about it makes my rectum quiver with fear.
Playing a drug-addicted (heroin is her drug of choice), street smart, illiterate (though, she knows the word "ineffable") teen prostitute (if you get paid to have sex, even if it's just "blow jobs and stuff, with strangers, you're a prostitute), Christina Applegate makes a valiant attempt to shed the Kelly Bundy image she fostered so memorably on Married With Children; and when I say "memorably," I'm referring more to her hair and wardrobe than her actual performance (I was never a fan of the show, as I found it to be asinine). You can tell that Christina took the role seriously just by looking at her appearance. Robbed of her trademark big hair and skimpy acid wash skirts, Christina Applegate has to depend on her acting talent, and that alone, to get by. And, I must say, she does a pretty good job.
My favoutite Christina Apple moment in the film occurs when Dawn is about to service Alan (Alan Stock), one of her regulars, in his yuppie-fied automobile (I don't know what kind of a car it was, but it was definitely something a yuppie would drive). Telling him that she can't suck his dick because she just had a root canal (which is a lie, whores don't have dental plans), Dawn offers to give him a hand-job instead. Clearly crestfallen by this news, Alan agrees to the handy, but only if he can touch her legs while she strokes him off. He may be yuppie scum (ewww, his car has its own phone), but his priorities are rock solid.
Kudos to David Mendenhall for doing his own stunts. That nasty spill he takes on his bike while fleeing from Lumley looked like it hurt big time. Oh, and fans of the original Stripped to Kill should keep an eye out for Kay Lenz, who makes a cameo as Cody Sheenan. It's true, Lumley doesn't exactly call her by that name (he calls her "Sargent"), but I like to think that Katt Shea was making a subtle shout-out to his previous masterwork. Essential viewing for Christina Applegate fans and Katt Shea completests.
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