Kinky Tricks (1977)

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Charles Webb

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9 January 2018 | Davian_X
| At least delivers on the title
Long attributed to Roberta Findlay, KINKY TRICKS is actually a piece of San Francisco hardcore picked up and sub-distributed by the New York exploitation maven. Recently revived in a sparkling reissue from Vinegar Syndrome - presented for the first time on video in its original 58-minute cut - it's still no great shakes, but is at last finally coherent after years of being available only in muddy transfers padded with 15 minutes of extraneous footage.

The premise is a decent high-concept comedy set-up, with pretty hooker Candida Royale showing up on the doorstep of an old client looking for a place to crash. Acquiescing, he makes her promise to keep quiet, as he's working on an article and needs the salary to pay his mortgage. Taking pity on the guy, Candida sets out to make up the difference when he goes out for the day, inviting her friends over and turning the house into a makeshift bordello catering to clients' outrageous fantasies.

Most of the runtime is devoted to these rendezvous, which include mixed-combo action (a couple makes love in a gorgeously verdant backyard garden), infantilism (a guy gets his genitals covered in talcum powder and a pacifier stuck up his butt), and foot fetishes (SF stalwart Blair Harris dons leggings and a garter belt and stuffs his toes in Royale's vagina in the film's erotic highlight). Everything eventually devolves into full-on farce, with cowboys, Indians, and all manner of guests showing up before the writer returns home.

While not covering any particularly new ground, there's nevertheless a cheerful irreverence to TRICKS that's emblematic of the free-wheeling style of San Francisco hardcore. From the same plot that would have launched a thousand slogging LA grinders, the director (credited by VS as DeSantos, though he reveals in the disk's audio interview that the film was largely helmed by one of the female crewmembers) manages to cobble together a decent cast of characters and some inspired gags. The cinematography is typical fly-on-the-wall 16mm handheld (DeSantos cites Albert Maysles as a surprising influence), though with an appreciation for color and composition that makes things pleasing enough to the eye. Like the other features on VS' DeSantos disk, KINKY TRICKS doesn't really make the case for its director (whomever he or she may be) as a lost master of the pornographic art, but shorn of the 15 minutes of garbage artlessly inserted by Findlay, it at last emerges as a competent enough film that's well worth an hour of your time.


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San Francisco, California, USA