A curious burlesque VHS short featuring Russ Meyer’s legendary muse.
Home video threw up quite a few curios in the 1980s as the relatively low costs of the format allowed all manner of educational, documentary and entertainment releases to slip out, barely noticed at the time and quickly forgotten. Whether it was exercise tapes from assorted minor celebrities, religious warnings about the dangers of everything, niche arts and crafts productions or endless amounts of zero-budget horror and action movies, rental and retail stores heaved with obscure titles that no one had ever heard of outside of mail-order ads in specialist magazines. One of the more interesting titles to slip out in this boom period was An Evening with Kitten, a lighthearted and nostalgic sexy romp that aimed to cash in on the popularity of Russ Meyer movies and the developing audience for camp classics.
Kitten Natividad was a topless go-go dancer and twice winner of Miss Nude Universe when she met Russ Meyer in the mid-1970s and was initially hired to play a nude Greek Chorus in his film Up! before taking the lead in his final film Beneath the Valley of the Ultravixens. The pair would become a couple, staying together until the late 1980s. Her post-Meyer film career was a fascinating one – she had bit parts – literally as a pair of boobs on more than one occasion – in mainstream movies like Airplane!, My Tutor, The Gong Show Movie and The Lady in Red and then began to dip her toes into the adult movie world, initially just appearing nude but eventually performing in sex scenes. Her adult movies are among the more upmarket of the era – Titillation, Bodacious Ta-Tas, Eat at the Blue Fox and Sizzle among them. In 1985, she made the T&A comedy Takin’ It Off which proved to be a surprise VHS hit and led to a lacklustre sequel, but it gave her a career boost in the emerging video exploitation market and she would work with directors like Fred Olen Ray on horror and action films, as well as continuing to work in hardcore – albeit it not generally in explicit scenes – with roles in Cafe Flesh 2 and the Meyer parody Faster Pussycat Fuck! Fuck!
An Evening with Kitten was a bit of a curio – a half-hour striptease sketch show in which we first meet Kitten as a homeless tramp who drinks an Incredible Bulk formula and literally bursts out her clothes, setting her on a career of burlesque performance. The film then intercuts her stage performance with the fantasies of the lecherous audience who picture her in assorted comedic moments. There’s barely enough nudity to even quality as softcore and some of the sketches are needlessly padded, but there’s a curious charm to the whole thing. It was directed by Les Barnum, who also worked as a production assistant on a couple of Meyer’s films and who some have suggested might be Meyer himself – though there is nothing here to hint at the RM style.
Released by Rhino Home Video, the videotape production came and went without many people noticing – it didn’t have enough sex to pass as erotica but was too naughty for mainstream audiences, and at just thirty minutes long, it seemed to slight a production to ever find its own niche. To suggest that it has since developed a cult following would be a bit of an exaggeration – most people, even fans of Kitten, seem blissfully unaware that this ever existed with only a small number of us stumbling upon it back in the day. But thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can watch it now.
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