Running Out of Good Movies

In the history of pornographic cinema, has the score of any film so perfectly mirrored the plot than in Adolfo Gotobed’s classic Push in the Bush? Performed by Pacoima’s own master craftsman of the bass sequencer, Lenny Stratocanticle, who met the director at one of Gregory Dark’s legendary wrap parties at SkinWhistle’s in Receda, it sets the tone with emotion and precision, echoing in sound the dizzying highs and despairing lows the viewer experiences throughout the drama. It is relentless and merciless, a massage-parlor handjob from a deformed war veteran set in sound. It dictates the mood; it begins like an innocent adolescent roll in the hay and builds steadily into one of adult cinema’s most punishing psychosexual doohickeys.

Marty Meat’s dazzlingly sophisticated screenplay starts with crawls: the crawl of the shattered, dissipated hero’s confession in plain text across the screen, and the crawling of a nude Antoinetta Brunetta across the chilly floor of a converted fur locker somewhere in the San Fernando Valley. Her surroundings, like the as-yet-unrevealed troubles of detective-cum-swinger Big Bill Bruising, are vague and allusive — an inflatable neon-orange sofa here, a waist-high shelving unit there, a casually discarded sex toy barely noticeable in the viewer’s peripheral vision. But one cannot disregard these tiny clues, these seemingly unimportant tchotchkes and gewgaws, for in each one lies a tale which will ultimately reveal — through the brilliant device of a washed-out flashback as Antoinetta’s unnamed muse of memory touches, licks or inserts in her mistress each enigmatic item — the downward spiral, degradation, and (in the end, too late in coming) redemption of the unseen hero.

What brought Big Bill to his disembodied, depressing, and, yes, dickless end? This question — and not the triple-pen pyrotechnics for which the film is justifiably famous — is the motor that propels the plot, as our mysterious maiden of memes reveals through her seemingly random sexcapades. A dildo (shaped like a dewy-eyed woodland creature, belying its sinister past) is the first to give up its story — the story of a hardened, bitter ex-cop named Hunkie (Les Patience) who seeks out the lost and rudderless Bruising at a nickel peep show. As the chipmunk-shaped plastic phallus joylessly plunges in and out of an unappreciated, menacingly backlit showgirl (Mena Jacalotte), Hunkie offers the former private eye a big payoff — and a shot at redemption — by way of a job. He is to find Laurie Leitmotif, the heir to the Leitmotif auto paint fortune, who has either run away or been kidnapped — and return her, intact in every way, to her doting father.

But Push in the Bush was made by men who knew the dangers of temptation. Cinematographer Kristjof Pepito had fled his native Macedonia rather than accept a well-paying sinecure filming state-produced “people’s pornography”; screenwriter Marty Meat identified strongly with his lusty-hipped but weak-minded hero, having himself been terribly degraded writing Spam and Lemon Pledge commercials prior to finally making a name for himself in professional smut; and director/producer Adolfo Gotobed had, time and time again, seen his Vivid and Adam & Eve masterpieces bowdlerized and adulterated by the studio heads — only to win numerous AVN awards that he was all too willing to accept. The three compromised geniuses swore that this latest fuckstravaganza would be theirs and theirs alone, no matter what the cost to their careers.

They needn’t have worried. Push in the Bush is a masterwork on every level. The story of a man so driven by his own desires — for acceptance, for redemption, for two-girl blowjobs — that he sabotages (directly) the hymen of his maiden in distress and (indirectly) his hopes for the future is one of the most perfectly realized films in pornographic history. From the pitch-perfect dialogue (who can forget the pleas of a ruined Daddy Leitmotif for “a kiss, just one kiss goodbye”, from his buxom nurse, who has gone off to join a wordless all-girl convent?) to the exact casting (the lead performances, especially from then-newcomer Loretta Dentata as Laurie Leitmotif, are of course solid, but as the years pass, one remembers the uncanny minor roles, such as Allesandra Gamahuche as Vilma, the Leitmotifs’ saucy maid, and John Dork as the mysterious Condom Man) to the breathtaking cinematography to the brilliant framing of the scenes (Push in the Bush was the first mainstream video feature to show a triple-X girl-sandwich throwdown in a toilet, and while often imitated, it has yet to be equaled).

In the end, the film is exactly what we expect it to be, and nothing we could have predicted. Harrowing, intense, revealing, disorienting, and featuring a truly dizzying array of rim-jobs, lickfests, money shots, Greek and Russian love, hopped-up honeypots, girl-on-girl playtime, and the subtle nuances of the alienation of man when pitted against his own all too human desires, Push in the Bush is truly a film  for the ages: a work of art that not only invented its genre, but defined and perfected it as well. Without it, modern cinema would be devoid of the very concept of three-chicks-one-dick, and we would all be the poorer for it.

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