Sunday, June 11, 2017

Latex (Michael Ninn, 1995)

After scanning my retina for, oh, I'd say, a minute or two, Michael Ninn's Latex finally granted me access to its shiny, dystopic, dysphoria-causing universe. (Hold up. The first two I understand. But dysphoria-causing?) There are a shit-ton/fuck-ton of close-up shots of crinkly ball-sacks in this movie. Need I say more? I didn't think so. Anyway, the reason I said the film "finally granted me access" was because I think this was my third attempt to watch and review this mid-1990s masterpiece. Yeah, that's right. My third! And you'll notice I didn't call it a mid-1990s "porn" masterpiece. Yeah, the film is that good. Of course, I wouldn't have called it a masterpiece, porn or otherwise, during those initial viewings. I don't know why it took me so many tries. But either way, here we are. I think one of the main reasons I didn't care for the film the first few times was because I was watching it as a porn flick. In other words, I was judging it based on its ability to arouse/titillate. Quirky fun-fact: This was the first film I watched after starting hormone replacement therapy (a.k.a. HRT). I know, pretty awesome, eh? Well, I think so (I've never felt better in my life... it's like I've been reborn or some gay ass shit like that). Now, I'm not saying my estradiol-soaked noodle factory reacted any differently to the slick images Michael Ninn threw my way over the course of the film's two hour running time than my testosterone-soaked one. But it was quite telling that I finally "got" what Ninn was getting at after starting to medically transition. It should be noted that both pre-HRT, pre-everything Yum-Yum and HRT Yum-Yum found some of the sex scenes to be dull/uninteresting. That being said, HRT Yum-Yum practically ate up the style clinic that director Michael Ninn and screenwriter Antonio Passolini pull off with this movie.

As with most movies of this type (porn movies that try to be different), I got a perverse thrill out of knowing that Latex probably frustrated the living fuck out of those who like to masturbate to stuff like this. I don't know, just the mere thought of someone desperately trying to jerk off to this, and failing in spectacular fashion, brings me so much joy.

Now, is it as subversive as the films of Rinse Dream or even Gregory Dark? No. But I found it quite telling that the film's goatee-sporting, quasi-mulleted hero's first line is: "I know you're watching me." A repeated phrase uttered in Rinse Dream's Nightdreams and Dr. Caligari.

Arrested for vagrancy, Malcolm Stevens (Jon Dough) finds himself in locked up in an asylum... Oh, did I mention that the world is a totalitarian, fascist nightmare-scape? Well, it totally is. Under the observation of a bunch of doctors in lab coats (again, very Nightdreams), they're interested in Malcolm because he seems to have a special gift. And while no-one, not even Malcolm, can explain what his special gift is exactly, it's agreed upon that it involves sex in some shape or form.

Spotting a billboard through his cell window, Malcolm fantasizes about the woman on said billboard. A vivacious blonde named Kato (Sunset Thomas), Malcolm imagines the billboard woman masturbating with yellow latex gloves in a retro-style kitchen.

After she's finished pleasuring herself, Kato has sex on a vintage kitchen table with her husband.

The great thing about this scene was... (Sunset Thomas' tits!) I was going to say the attention to detail that went into creating that retro-style kitchen... but I guess her tits were nice. Personally, I dug her black headband. But what can I say? I'm a sucker for hair accessories, especially those that serve a purpose.

Did anyone else wonder what Kato had stocked in those vintage kitchen cabinets of hers? I was kinda hoping she had 'em stocked with pickles, corn chips (with flax-seeds baked right into the chips), salted chickpeas and gummy bears. Damn it, why did I mention pickles? I want to consume an entire jar right this minute. But don't worry, I'll finish this first.

I'm not entirely sure what was going on in the next scene. But I do know that it features Malcolm having sexual intercourse with a "Latex Pony Girl." (A latex what?) It's a fetish thing.

Anyway, while I loved Emerald Estrada's pony look. The spotty, haphazard manner in which Malcolm's taint was shaven was tremendously disappointing. Is there anything more disheartening than a taint that's been improperly shaved? Probably not.

On that yucky note, I think now is as good a time as any to mention the soundtrack. While some people seem to enjoy watching people fuck on film/video, I now find the act itself to be extremely revolting and, not to mention, tedious as all get out. Thankfully, all that gross/yawn-worthy fornicating is set to a non-cacophony of warm synthy goodness cascading over the top of a surplus of choice funky beats. Composed by Dino Ninn, the music heard throughout this movie was a virtual lifesaver. Seriously, their music is a motherfucking godsend. I doubt that could have made it through the whole thing without it.

It turns out that Malcolm, simply by touching you, can "see inside of people." And what he sees is usually sexual in nature.

When he touches Tiffany Million, the doctor currently interviewing him, on the arm, we're treated to a scene where she gets poked and prodded by Sam Cooper, her male assistant.

If you have a thing for rough lesbian sex, colourful latex and bob wigs (blonde and brunette), you'll love the next sequence. Played by Debi Diamond, Lacy Rose, Barbara Doll and Tasha Blades, the wonderfully uncouth antics of these swaying "latex vixens" eat up a huge chunk of time.

Since Malcolm can't visualize himself in his fantasies, he uses an avatar. And at the tail end of the day-glo lez-fest, Malcolm takes the form of a man named Brick Majors. As the synths wind down and the beats begin to fade, Brick spews a modest dollop of creamy, non-watery tartar sauce-esque jizz from the smallish opening located at the tip of his clearly worn out penis.

(Smallish opening?!? Don't you mean his urethra?) Ure kidding, right? That word makes my skin crawl. No, smallish opening is way less upsetting.

I didn't think I would say this, but the acting of Jeanna Fine (Party Doll A Go-Go!) and Jon Dough in that black and white flashback scene during the Julie Show segment (Malcolm eventually becomes a minor celebrity and the toast of the "psychic underground") is pretty fantastic. It was, like, all dramatic 'n' junk. Bravo.

Of course, the top-notch pathos of that scene quickly falls by the wayside when the vapid TV hostess (Juli Ashton) is double-teamed by two of her long-haired crew members. Wait, I think one of the crew guys was played by Tom Byron. Man, does this guy get around or what? In the year 1985, Tom starred in White Bunbusters. In the year 1995, Tom appears in Latex. That's a ten year gap! I wonder how many people Tom penetrated during that period. Hmm, I wonder.

Oh, would you look at that, we're back where it all started: Watching Sunset Thomas getting fondled and fucked on a vintage kitchen table. Great.

Culminating with something called the "mega-splash" (don't ask), Latex, despite the repulsive/repetitive nature of the sex, is always interesting to look at.

On the cusp of being a cyberpunk classic and sort of smart in places, Michael Ninn has made a film that is glossy, smooth and super... cool, I guess. And I'm not just saying that because everyone from start to finish is encased in latex. Or maybe I am. At any rate, if only they could have trimmed some of sex scenes. I know, what's the point of porn without porn? But still, do we really need to see that much fucking? I'm being told that we do. Whatever. Now, where are those pickles at? Yum. No foolin'. I need salt, goddammit!


  1. This'd've been a perfect daytime soap.

    1. General Hospital meets Johnny Mnemonic... with cumshots.

  2. I found a working VHS copy of this in the rough on Ohio University's frisbee golf course in 2004. "The rough" being a tangle of weeds by an employee parking lot.

    1. Beautiful. A wonderful mental image.

      "...a tangle of weeds by an employee parking lot."