What a difference a year can make, at least in the adult movie industry during the early Eighties as its reign of riches was drawing to a simultaneous close with most porn-screening theaters. Though their collaboration on 1983's lavish, award-inundated DEVIL IN MISS JONES PART 2 had proved extremely fruitful, director Ron Sullivan a/k/a "Henri Pachard" and Herb Nitke's production company Nibo Films were forced to seriously scale down subsequent projects in order to stay economically erect as the video virus was spreading through the nation's bedrooms. Still sticking to their 35mm film guns, this dynamic duo delivered as best they could, with Sullivan devising an ingenious corner-cutting narrative structure to maximize both financial and artistic resources, sort of a circular plot grouping various story lines around a single place or premise, like the barroom setting from NASTY GIRLS or the escort out-call service from PUSSYCAT GALORE. This approach differs from loop carriers, which don't require a unifying premise, or vignette features, where the episodes are linked yet play out uninterrupted without inter-cutting.
Neither the best nor worst of Ron's Nibo lot, SEX SPA USA recounts experiences both good and bad shared by customers of the titular health spa cum swing club. Authored by Rick Marx, who wrote Chuck Vincent's landmark crossover couples efforts ROOMMATES and IN LOVE, the script has several insightful moments and compelling characterizations though also has a frustratingly unfinished feel to it, clearly something of a rush job. Much the same can be said of Ron "Art Ben" Dorfman's rather drab cinematography, a far cry from his sophisticated lighting schemes on Gerard Damiano's SKIN FLICKS or Shaun Costello's HOT DREAMS. At least the cast generally delivers the goods, with the sole exception of the consistently underwhelming Brooke Fields, previously "Blair Castle", who altered her moniker due to a supposed if certainly fleeting resemblance to the sound-alike mainstream Hollywood actress. Top-billed, she makes for an annoyingly whiny "heroine" as Mary, a publisher's secretary, reluctantly ensnared by motor-mouth writer Joe Clinton, the kind of ebullient Lothario that could only be played by Jerry Butler.
Two contrasting couples also make their first visit to the club that night. Dan and Jane (Paul Thomas and Honey Wilder) have been married for years and stopped communicating their desires, resulting in a boring sex life. Their deliberately lifeless lovemaking at the start is played entirely for laughs, their voice-over narration cleverly revealing just how clueless they are regarding each other's needs. Quite the opposite, Ted and Leslie (Joey Silvera and Annette Heinz) are still deeply infatuated and figure it might be a good idea to test their mettle by submerging themselves in extra-curricular sexual situations. PT, Wilder and Silvera have delighted fans and fornication film scribes alike throughout their long distinguished careers, but Heinz has been unjustly slighted. Looking like a slightly slutty soccer mom, she was a New York performer in an era when the Big Apple output was perhaps at its lowest ebb. She was very good as PT's put-upon electoral aide in Sullivan's terrific PUBLIC AFFAIRS and made the most of her stock character as a sleazy but sympathetic stripper in John Christopher's enjoyable HYPERSEXUALS.
Allegedly making her acting debut, Taija Rae portrays secretly Sapphic Sandy who drags along her shy brother Sam (the underrated David Scott) to act as chaperon so her spouse won't grow suspicious. She shares a hot scene with fan favorite Danielle. Stalwart George Payne plays a live sex performer seriously in doubt about his chosen profession. Extremely minor starlet Silver Starr, who did THE STIMULATORS for frightening Phil Prince and was also in Eve Milan's T&A TEAM, is his stage partner. Ravishing Rene Summers makes for the perfect daddy's little girl in the role-playing gambit with the late Bobby Astyr. Cassandra Leigh, best remembered as Jerry Butler's hooker girlfriend in Larry Revene's downright cynical RAW TALENT, is the girl in the pool with Kraut stud Klaus Multia, who had a rare starring role in Joe Sarno's DIRTY BLONDE. Veteran filmmaker Fred Lincoln cameos as the club's MC with Belgian Jose Duval as the prowling judge of tonight's sex contest, spying on patrons vying for the top prize of a one year membership card. In a sweet twist, it's the unwilling pair of Sam and Mary that ends up winning, with Fields finally showing some interest in intimacy as she always paired well with Scott. Keep an eye out for passed on transsexual Ajita Wilson as a nude extra at the poolside climax.
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