‘Masturbate on your own time!” shouted a theater attendant to the boisterous Friday crowd waiting to see ‘Debbie Does Dallas” this year’s choice for the Cinema Group’s annual porn film. It was sound advice that apparently nobody had heeded earlier in the day. Several seconds into the trailer for ‘The Lovely Bones,” the Oscar nominated film about the rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl, the crowd in Hoyt Auditorium united in a nearly unanimous chant: ‘We want porn! We want porn!” Apparently it had been a day or two since these people had an intimate date with their laptop.
Throughout the remaining previews, the crowd grew more restless by the second. ‘This isn’t porn!” observant audience members keep screaming. “Jesus, start the movie,’ I thought. I haven’t seen people act this way since that ‘South Park” episode where a young girl begins to grow boobs and all the boys start talking and acting like cavemen.
But things hardly changed once the film finally began apologies to anyone hoping for a quiet, intimate screening of ‘Debbie Does Dallas.”
According to Wikipedia, this film is one of the most successful porn movies of all time and a landmark from the Golden Age of Porn in the ’70s.
It even has a supposed plot, revolving around a high school cheerleader (Debbie) who starts selling sexual favors to raise money for a trip to Dallas, and convinces her friend to do the same (she never does make it to Dallas, or have sex with anyone named Dallas … how did such flimsy plot development go unnoticed?)
None of that mattered on this night the whole cast could have been reciting Chaucer for all anyone could tell. I could make a haiku of all the words that I actually heard during this screening.
Through every frame of the movie, the audience contributed a running, shouted commentary. During one scene, in which a man gets into a threesome with one attractive girl and one much less attractive girl, the audience booed and shouted ‘No!” every time the man focused on the latter, and clapped and cheered when he turned to the former.
One blowjob scene prompted an audience member to admit, ‘My mom does better!” During another, when it looked like the man was about to finish, someone offered the helpful advice, ‘Think of Whoopi Goldberg!” No one in the movie was spared the demented tongue of the audience, and, apparently, none of them knew how to have sex as well as our fellow Yellowjackets.
Needless to say, this is not the way one expects to enjoy his or her porn it was more like what Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez were going for with ‘Grindhouse.”
Much of this reaction combatted the uneasiness of the experience. Remember, ‘Debbie Does Dallas” is no softcore, HBO kind of deal: This is ’70s porn, boys and girls, meaning every sex scene goes on much longer than you want it to, every sex position is shot closer up than you want it to, and every genital looks like Tolstoy’s face.
The combination of the noise, the ridiculous heat in the theater, the actors’ universal lack of grooming and the incessant ‘money shots” made the whole thing an overwhelming experience afterward, it felt good to simply walk outside, breathe in fresh air and know that I was back on planet Earth.
But in its own depraved, nauseating and absolutely hilarious way, this was one of the best theater experiences I’ve ever had. Movie talkers might be the lowest form of human beings, but it was great to attend a screening that was so wildly interactive. Every movie is a bonding experience of its audience, but it’s not always the way that ‘Debbie Does Dallas” was.
Of course, this wasn’t exactly something for all (i.e. normal) tastes. About a fourth of the audience walked out before the end of ‘Debbie Does Dallas,” and every one of them was mocked by the remaining enthusiasts. Their loss. Depending on your sense of humor, ‘Debbie Does Dallas” brought out the very worst or the very best of everyone. Let’s just hope this crowd didn’t return the next night for ‘The Lovely Bones.”
Silverstein is a member of the class of 2013.