July 1998
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Soft Porn: Late Night Looney Toons

by Adam Bresson

Late at night, I catch myself drawn to them. Aimlessly flipping through reruns of "Father Knows Best" (he does) and "The Wonder Years" (poor Kevin!), about right after midnight, I watch as the devil takes over the airwaves. Movies with names like Dangerous Intentions and Passionate Exposť take over the tame channels of Showtime and HBO.

How many times has "Cinemax After Dark" been your solace? Well, let me tell you, just like the corporate sameness of endless "Beavis and Butthead" marathons and repetitive Hallmark cards every year for every damn holiday, this devious beast of Soft Porn is the same fetid stuff all the time. Let me deconstruct. Won't you come join me?

Start with a really inventive name meant to sound like another high profile, lurid film--Basic Motives or maybe Common Instincts. Perhaps we're supplied an abstract, seemingly innocent summary of the movie on the Prevue Channel like "Man finds love in the strangest places" or "Ex-husband/Widower survives in the bad part of town." But we know what kind of movie it is by the TV-MA rating. Now, fill in the Mad Libs plot.

Our man is always a photographer. And not just any photographer, he takes nude pictures for a dirty men's magazine. He has either A) an incredibly attractive yet unattainable-until-he-knows-what-he's-got assistant who offers marriage and relationship advice or B) a really, fat but jolly assistant who's clumsy and would be loveable if she were the least bit attractive. Usually his wife is overbearing and cares more about her job than his satisfaction or contentment. Wow, our boy is generally unhappy and unfulfilled!

That is, until she comes in. At first, it is just like any other photo shoot. The woman walks in, an 80's power ballad starts and she takes a few clothed pictures. The actor playing our guy doesn't know the first freakin' thing about photographing so he looks like he's shooting pictures of his Auntie Marge in front of a cardboard cutout of Robert Stack. The director mimics the high-profile pizzazz of a real glamour mag photo shoot when suddenly, she tosses off her top. Our guy gives a look of awe, she turns into slow motion. A few more shots, she throws on a robe and scurries away to her dressing room.

The camera lingers on her changing her clothes. Man, she's fine! Then, he enters the room inappropriately and learns more about her background. Her parents abandoned her, she's lived in and out of shelters, whatever. He leaves and she gives an interested smile. Too bad for her, he's got a wife!

Time out here. Don't get hot and sweaty yet. We all must understand that the sole aim of these diversions is to tease and tempt us in such a way as to get us almost there (by "there" I mean whooping with passion) and then cut to a shot of a sleek, modern Jaguar leaving us unfulfilled. But don't forget, record it and you can edit out the nasty filler.

Tragically, our guy's wife leaves on a business trip. You know the one that sexy, intriguing women don't go on. So the house is empty for a weekend but time isn't important so this seems like several months! The mysterious model's number lays next to his answering machine. He waits to dial it until all his pent-up sexual exuberance breaks free.

The next hour of the film is always this older man, younger woman fantasy thing where he takes her on erotic motorcycle rides, dines with her on a champagne cruise, topples the Communist Cuban government with her and they grow to love each other. He visits her apartment which is really cool looking and has other women in it who walk around topless (because you can show as many topless ladies as you want in an R-rated movie thanks to the perverts at the MPAA!) But wait, they have nothing in common. He likes Pavarotti and she likes Pearl Jam. Can love see them through?

At this point, it depends on what channel you're watching what ending you get but they serve the same purpose. If you are watching Showtime, whose audience skews younger than HBO, then expect a rollicking finale that includes the death of our guy's wife and a make-out scene in the rain or with vanilla frosting. If you are watching HBO, it ends with our guy and the model growing distant and the next woman to show up at a photo shoot is our guy's wife looking young, sexy and not at all like the demure business woman she once was. Either way our guy, indomitable and so darn sexy in his 40-ish way, finds that love is satisfaction minus the yuckiness of reality.

Just like Looney Toons, these late night flesh feasts are predictable. Bet your friends a cold, hard wad of cash what's going to happen and you can go home rich! Just use this handy guide.

You know what? This keeps me up at night.

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