Photo courtesy RM Films©


Ed. Note: Russ Meyer, the eternal boob man, finally passed away at age 82 in September of 2004. Arguably the first "indie filmmaker" as we define it today, the director, actor, producer, writer, cinematographer, editor, and populizer of gargantuan breasts was in important figure in the sexual revolution as it made its way into the cinema. Although his skin flicks are utterly tame compared to the gonzo porn of today, Meyer was both villified and praised in his day. But at the core, he was always a self-described "dirty old man." For further proof, be sure to check out the extended T&A Q&A.

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Breasts.

Hooters.

Bazooms. Ta-tas.

To some, these are simple body parts, biological appendages meant for lactation and not much more. To Russ Meyer, they are a way of life.

"Cantilevered," he says huskily from the hills of Hollywood, reverently describing his lifelong obsession. "Outrageously abundant and defying gravity. That’s it! And it sure generates a lot of, shall we say, carnality on the part of a person like Meyer."

And it's been quite a lucrative carnality. Since 1959, Meyer has been singing the gospel of big boobs, simultaneously lampooning and feeding the sexual desires of American males. That was the year the ex-Army cameraman-turned-pinup photographer released his first film, The Immoral Mr. Teas, single-handedly creating the "nudie film." Combining decent production values, an actual script, lots of juvenile humor and, of course, naked women, Meyer turned sex into mainstream entertainment. And—honestly— changed the movies.

Mudhoney. Cherry, Harry & Raquel. Common Law Cabin. From these low budget wonders of bizarre plotting, weird dialogue, and silly sex came great gobs of revenue. In 1968, he spent $72,000 to make his portrait of an uber-horny babe, Vixen, and reaped over $6 million. The message was clear–American society was ready to see amore up on the silver screen–and the major studios were listening. They, too, started making sexy flicks and toppling taboos; 20th Century Fox even hired Meyer himself to make Beyond the Valley of the Dolls in 1970. Nowadays, in the world of straight-to-video flicks, steamy soft-core sex pics are a dominant force at video stores.

But the one film that stands as Meyer’s masterpiece lacks graphic sex and even nudity. Re-released four years ago for art house distribution, this 1965 thriller has immortalized Meyer in the pantheon of weird movie masters forever: Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

With undiminished interest in this charged tale of three go-go girls on the rampage, we must once again ponder the paradox of Russ Meyer: Is he a tasteless marketer or an inspired artist? An exploiter of women or a champion of their sexuality? A despoiler of family values or a liberator of the repressed? Perhaps all of the above.

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