"Barely Legal 75"
Gram Ponante: It being a multitrillion-dollar industry and all, with an open bar every night of the year, porn should be entitled to make use of the word "venerable," especially in conjunction with a series that is eight years old. But since it sounds distressingly close to "venereal," and because we're not talking about the Nobel Peace Prize or anything, let's just say that "Barely Legal" reaching 75 episodes is fucking awesome.
Joanne Cachapero: I think that "Barely Legal" is probably the only series that could have 75 volumes, without making you cringe and think, "Wow, do we really need any more of that?" It's a classic because, try as they might, the imitators just can't compete with the original – plain and simple.
GP: Keep your pants on, Cha Cha; I wouldn't go that far.
JC: By the way, an 87-year old lady just won the Nobel for literature – and if she got her hands on a copy of "Barely Legal," I'll bet that even she would get all kinds of turned on, reminiscing about her days as a tasty-fresh horny 18-year old, flashing her white panties at all the boys – or pantaloons, in her case. Late director Clive McLean defined a genre by sticking to an elegantly simple formula that is, itself, the definition of a classic fantasy, and then raised the bar on quality and playful inventiveness. In a lot of ways, it's the perfect fuck flick – and Larry Flynt is a genius for recognizing that.
GP: And that's just "Barely Legal" proper. In addition to spawning rip-offs at other companies (and we don't mean that disrespectfully – rip-offs are a fine tradition in porn; have you seen what the ad rates for trade publications are?) like "Barely 18" and "Legal Pink," "Barely Legal" has also spun-off itself, with niche titles like "Barely Legal Beach Party," "Barely Legal Corrupted" and "Barely Legal Innocence" (we have no idea what that last one is, either). Thus: the resulting hoopla surrounding the 75th installment of the most famous series in porn, directed by Erica McLean, widow of Clive.
JC: Confucius say, "If something not broke, you no fix it," Ponante-san. This series could have been called "We're Not Re-inventing the Wheel Here" or, better yet, "Hot, Young Chicks are Fucking Awesome." Though, "Barely Legal" conveys exactly what the title promises; girls that are forever 18 – and what you'd like to do with them should be against the law.
GP: This movie is a series of flashbacks sandwiched in a girls night out around the pool. I will remove the suspense by telling you that the girls in question do not take a casual swim and call it a night. They spend the evening swapping stories, like our pioneer ancestors did, about their barely legal liaisons.
JC: Just so you know, dear, that's exactly what happens at all the girls-only nighttime pool parties. We sit around and tell stories about losing our "virginity," drink margaritas stolen from the parents' liquor cabinet, and then when we're all buzzed and horny, we have oral sex and finger-fuck until the police arrive because all the moaning and orgasming is making the neighborhood dogs bark. At least every all-girl pool party I've ever been to.
GP: Please videotape the next pool party you and Anne Winter attend. You're still winsome and lithe, Jo Jo, but I will admit that, as time's winged chariot has drawn near, I understand as I didn't before that the idea of "barely legal" means, to the type of people who actually buy pornography, a certain lack of complication. When girls are 18, it has been proven, all they need is Diet Coke and unlimited texting and they will have sex with you. It's when they go off to graduate school in the city that the problems emerge, like "Why won't you introduce me to your wife?" Have I said too much?
JC: (Translated to modern-day English) So, what you're saying, professor, is that "Barely Legal" caters to an audience of middle-aged men who want to believe in a world where 18-year old girls are so horny and willing, that they will basically fall for any line and want cock so bad that they will have sex anywhere, anytime. Well, duh! The fantasy setups are so classic – a page of dialogue, if that, and you're into some hot sex with a pretty girl, with no acrobatics or weird circus tricks – just oral, vag, maybe some anal or girl/girl, maybe a little roughness but nothing crazy. And here's a big secret I'll let you in on. This is great porn for women, for the same reasons. What's hotter than the dirty stepfather fantasy (or its variation, dad's older hot friend)? Or the cowboy, the biker, the bad boy, or the ride home after-school...
GP: Or America's Beloved Porn Journalist?
JC: Those guys are all in my regular line-up, and they're not there because they give great dialogue, honey. I like a good feature, too, don't get me wrong, but a simple fantasy done well is worth a thousand words.
GP: And the production line porn of this decade needs its new talent; consumers are enchanted by the concept of a starlet on whose face one might see a real feeling when the farmhand asks her to come into the barn or whose dad just happens to let the neighbor man sunbathe nude at the pool.
JC: You are seeing these girls as they first enter the business, many of whom have gone on to have amazing careers, and I think that the McLeans have been able to capture them before they've been in the business, at a time when they still have a certain shyness to the way they have sex. They haven't learned yet how to scream through a whole scene, how to play to the camera, or how to make a "porn face." Look at Belladonna in her second scene ever, from "Barely Legal 5," which is on the bonus disc. She says in an interview, in the documentary, which also is in the bonuses, that she couldn't act then, that she didn't know how to give head – but in my opinion, she's perfect, stunning.
GP: It's great. It really is. Maybe not everyone involved is actually barely legal – at 21, Jenny Hendrix is like the den mother of the group – but McLean delivers exactly what consumers of this sort of material crave: pretty, often slight, chipper girls giving it up to dudes who are considerably older.
JC: I love it when you call me Cha Cha. Grrrrrrrrrowl!
GP: But where the real value of this two-disc set is in the accompanying featurettes; one, the standard behind-the-scenes video that is great fun and the other, a documentary disc about the "Barely Legal" series with a special appreciation for Clive McLean.
JC: I was just reading his obituary online; McLean died just a few months after I came into the industry as an inexperienced and green writer and, I have to say, he's one guy that I regret never having had the opportunity to meet. The sweet thing about the documentary footage is that there are so many performers (and production people) who have fond memories of working with McLean; people say that there's no "family" feeling to the adult industry anymore, but McLean was old-school and it shows in the way he is remembered. I may not be as winsome and lithe as the newbie girls he shot in "Barely Legal," but if I'd ever met him, I would have made it a point to be wearing white panties.
GP: The late McLean was much-loved in the adult industry (as is Erica, his widow, a former model who radiates California good will), was a longtime friend of Larry Flynt, and has the distinction of being one of the only directors to get back-end points on a series. As an artifact of a time that is past in the porn industry, this disc is worth having. Because after you've hunkered down with your historical scholarship, you can still imagine doing wonderful, terrible things to Jenny Hendrix.