Thursday, 11 February 2016

What a Gay Day

(above) Russell Gay’s magazine and Mistral film line gets some free publicity thanks to a 1978 episode of LWT’s Mind Your Language.

As a sort of follow on/appendix to the piece on Bloodlust and Russell Gay I thought it would be worth posting several 1970s adverts for the Mistral films, and information about the films’ re-emergence on tape in the video era, by which time Gay appears to have sold out to the brothers Ralph and David Gold. These ads come from the collections of ‘Sgt. Rock’ and ‘Hellochas’.

By the dawn of the 1980s the British public was spoilt for choice when it came to ways to watch Gay’s Mistral productions on the newfangled home video format. Ralph and David Gold’s Lydcare company issued “The Best of Blue Movies” video series. Eventually lasting for nine volumes, each of these video releases contained two or three of the Mistral shorts, kicking off with a double-bill of Open for Anything and The Office Affair for Vol. 1, which appeared in 1981. Slightly more value for money was “The Connoisseurs Collection”, another video series put out by the Gold Brothers, which reached five volumes, and generally consisted of four Mistral shorts per video.

The Brothers Gold were also responsible for ‘The Juicy Cuts’, yet another video compilation of Mistral films but this time mixed with other material. A collaboration between Lydcare and Mike Lee’s Vipco company, as well as containing clips from the Mistral films The Juicy Cuts also draws on footage taken from Vipco’s early video releases of Immoral (1980, Claude Mulot) and The Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann (1974, Radley Metzger). Vipco having initially released several adult titles before moving onto the extreme horror films that the company would become synonymous with and infamous for. Unlike The Best of Blue Movies and The Connoisseurs’ Collection tapes, which presented the same 15 minutes or so versions of the Mistral shorts that were released on 8mm, The Juicy Cuts compilation whittled the Mistral films down to about 5 minutes worth of ‘highlights’, exorcising the opening and closing credits and much plot exposition in the process. What is noteworthy about The Juicy Cuts tape is that it draws on more sexually explicit versions of the Mistral shorts than appeared on the other Gold Brothers video releases. For instance the footage from the Mistral short 'Hot Vibrations' that appears on The Juicy Cuts video includes shots of the lead actor’s erection and mild hardcore imagery (cunnilingus, finger and vibrator penetration) that are absent from the version of Hot Vibrations which appeared on The Connoisseurs’ Collections Vol 3. The reasoning why The Gold Brothers thought to remove this footage from their Connoisseurs’ Collection release, but included it in this compilation remains unclear. After all we are talking about videos that were released by the same people and in roughly the same time frame here (The Juicy Cuts appeared in 1980, The Connoisseurs’ Collection series was rolled out over 1981-82). A newly shot linking sequence for all the Juicy Cuts clips features host ‘Tanya’ knocking back champagne, suggestively sucking on a cherry, popping porno tapes into her VHS machine and having a wank. The cutting between the clips and someone watching them on a VHS player makes The Juicy Cuts something of the porno equivalent of Stanley Long’s Screamtime. As with the Long film, the prominent use of a giant sized, top loading video player in The Juicy Cuts is sure to induce a slight feeling of nostalgia in anyone who grew up during the 1980s and a more than slight feeling of astonishment for anyone born afterwards.

If this story didn’t involve enough porn barons already, a certain David Sullivan - who had a hand in distributing Vipco’s adult VHS releases- eventually began to issue his own ‘Juicy Cuts’ compilation tapes as well, although their exact content remains unknown. In all likelihood these Gold Brothers videos represent the end of the distribution line for many of these Mistral shorts, with the majority of these films unseen since these VHS releases from the early 1980s. As of this writing only Response (1974) and BloodLust (1979) have so far made it onto DVD.

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