While most modern adult film-making tends to stay within very specific boundaries – these days being either XXX parodies or gonzo porn – there are still the mavericks out there making stuff that is unique, challenging and twisted. Jack the Zipper is one such filmmaker, and his sideshow spectacular Enter the Peepshow is the most refreshing original adult move that I’ve seen in years.
This carnival of delights features a series of vignettes, linked by a sideshow theme, magician geek Murrigen the Mystic and barker Stanton Lavey, who take us through assorted circus acts of depravity from the likes of Hollie Stevens, Ariel Adfore, Rebeca Linares and Zoe Minx.
There’s the Clown, in kaleidoscopic dayglo pink. Telling us “guess what? You’re watching a movie. This isn’t real” as she’s pounded; the girl-girl action of the Fortune Teller’s predictions; Sword Swallowing (in both the literal and Deep Throat sense of the phrase); the Gypsy three-way that effortlessly captures an old-school film look more effectively than any faux-Grindhouse movie has; and topping and tailing the attractions, Sasha Grey as the Escape Artist, wiggling out of her strait jacket, trussed up in rope bondage and then indulging in glory hole action in her dark cell.
This is far from your standard porn. While the sex might not be that different to any other film (as Michael Ninn once commented to me, there’s only so many ways to show people having sex), the style and approach are quite unique. With a soundtrack that flips from industrial electronica to discordant circus organ grinding, fast-cut, low angle photography, alt. porn girls and a burlesque vibe the film toys with the viewer, constantly reminding us that this is a performance and we are the audience.
The film feels like a collision of Rinse Dream’s avant-porn classics like Nightdreams and Café Flesh, Richard Kern’s underground fetish work and The Resident’s notorious CD ROM game Bad Day on the Midway, by way of a night at Torture Garden and the underground freak shows of The Wizard of Gore remake. Flipping from sepia tone to vibrant colour, and from striptease to thoroughly nasty sex scenes, this is remarkable stuff.
The final scene with Sasha Grey is the perfect ending – quite frankly, you couldn’t follow this with anything. It’s dark, eerie, creepy, wanton and thoroughly filthy. Watching this, it’s not hard to see why Grey became such a big star in the industry.
Enter the Peepshow dances effortlessly on the border between porn and performance art, cheerfully jumping back and forth to keep the viewer guessing. It’s a stunningly good trip into the erotic underground.
And the film itself is matched by excellent packaging and tasty extras – an interesting, off-kilter ‘making-of’, deleted scenes that are, in fact, extended solo girl shoots backed by a droning, hypnotic soundtrack (a juxtaposition that shouldn’t work, but does), photo galleries and trailers.