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Brea Bennett at Twistys

April 25, 2011 09:04pm
In Tribute to David F. Friedman
Source: Cinema Seen
by: William Margold

David F. Friedman was a raconteur par excellence and the robust ringmaster of an adult entertainment exploitation era long gone, wherein his productions were based on what you thought that you saw instead of what you really saw. And then, because you were somewhat ashamed to admit that you had gone into the movie theatre hoping to see more, and you really hadn’t seen very much, you said that you saw lots more than you really did.

You are encouraged to read the above concept over a couple of times.

And by the time that you are done… I’ll bet that you’ll be laughing out loud — at yourself… and with yourself — in a manner emulating Dave himself.

David F. Friedman passed away on Valentine’s Day, 2011.
He was 87 years old.
His body simply wore out.
But his spirit will burn brightly forever.

And to allow his friends and fans to bask in the radiant glow of that spirit… the New Beverly Cinema (7165 Beverly Blvd.) will be playing host to an all-day David F. Friedman tribute featuring seven of his more notorious, as well as representative, titles on Saturday, April 29. Please visit NewBevCinema.com or Facebook.com/GrindhouseFest [linked below] for further details. And you are also welcome to call (323) 465-8764.

A decade before I met him (in the mid-Seventies), because I regularly attended the Majestic Theatre in Santa Monica, I was acutely aware of his productions, and in particular, the 1964 "gory girlie" called "Blood Feast"… that unlocked the zipper of my mind… in many more ways than one!

Coincidentally, the Herschell Gordon Lewis directed production starred my all-time favorite Playboy centerfold… June 1963’s Connie Mason. And while she didn’t bare much at all in the film, my anticipation of seeing what she had so coyly kept away from my eyes in her layout, fueled my frenzy to a fevered pitch.

In 2000, Dave, fully aware of my adoration for Ms. Mason, invited me to a screening of a documentary about him and his cronies at which Connie was making a guest appearance. And while I grinned like a demented Cheshire cat as she signed the yellowing (from age, etc.) centerfold that I laid out before her, and I babbled my dedication and delight…she confided, "You know that it was because you really didn’t see any of me at all."

Within a couple of years of my entering the X-rated industry, one of my activities had become regularly reviewing adult films in a number of adult-themed street papers… including the Hollywood press… the precursor of the publication that you are holding in your hands. Eventually… and apparently… my reviews became so troublesome, that I was called to appear on the carpet of David F. Friedman’s office on Cordova St.

It was 8 in the morning… but he offered me a cigar… similar to the miniature telephone pole that he was brandishing. I politely declined. And then I noticed a poster for "Blood Feast" — along with quite a number of other posters from my mid-Sixties Majestic Theatre movie-going days… and I realized that this portly gentleman had indeed been my "Wizard of Ahhh’s"… and that therefore considerable genuflection was due… for many more reasons than one!

Dave proceeded to mildly scold me for being "too severe a critic"… and sagaciously suggested, "It would be better to promote rather than pillage… since we are a considerably smaller village than the mainstream world." I would have been foolish to misunderstand his meaning. And besides… I was anxious to tell him just how important his films had been to me during my Majestic Theatre going past.

We went to lunch.
We became friends.
We went to many more lunches.

And eventually… as my adult entertainment industry activities expanded all the way from actor to activist…with scriptwriting, directing, talent representation, public relations and advertising/marketing included for good measure…most importantly, we became mutual admirers.

And so it was in February 1985, when the X-Rated Critics Organization (XRCO) was struggling to bring "truth and honor" to the award giving game — in the fearsome face of Dave’s very powerful but highly suspect Adult Film Association of America (AFAA) award bestowing process — that I showed up on his Cordova St. carpet to plead its case.

It was a two-cigar meeting.
With lunch in the middle.

But, by the time I staggered (because I inhale anything that I’ve smoked) out of his office, the XRCO had his blessing.

Oh yeah… it might have helped when I told him that he was going to be the first person inducted into the XRCO’s Hall of Fame.

Therefore… as his laughter resonated with volcanic warmth — and he said, "God damn, Billy, never stop being you" - I sensed that a torch was being passed to me that had to burn as brightly honoring the past, as it would have to glow in the present, and that was going to be needed to help illuminate the future.

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