Al Goldstein, the enigmatic publisher of Screw Magazine, had his own public access television show that was broadcast in New York City a few decades back. What set Goldstein's show apart from the pack was the fact that it was pretty much entirely dedicated to covering pornography – be it in magazine or movie form.
Rarely seen outside of New York City since it's original broadcast, Midnight Blue has become somewhat of a holy grain among smut aficionados and the good folk over at Blue Underground have finally seen fit to start releasing the series in themed compilation format DVDs. The first disc in the series, Midnight Blue: The Deep Throat Special Edition focused on the film that made Linda Lovelace a household name, but this fourth volume, Freaks And Geeks follows the same path as the second and third volumes in the series and branches out a little. Coverage this time seems to be focused not on any specific people so much as strange acts and fetishes and how and where that type of things is played out. Here's who gets in front of the camera with Goldstein and company, and what transpires…
You want adult film stars? You've got'em. Ron Jeremy shows up not once but twice in this compilation – the first time is so that the cameras can capture him in action making a print of his best known physical feature for a fan. He dips it into some black ink and makes a print of it, much to Al Goldstein's delight as he belittles him with some truly tasteless jokes and jabs. Also look for Jeremy appearing nude alongside Goldstein towards the end of the disc in a segment that spoofs The Full Monty - you guessed it, Ron, Al and some other portly old farts take it all off on stage to celebrate three decades of Screw Magazine. Pretty? Nope. Funny? You betcha. But what about the ladies of smut, shouldn't they get some recognition as well? You'd think so but this installment is light on the ladies in that regard. Sharon Mitchell, best known for her NYC output of the seventies and eighties as well as her well publicized battles with substance abuse, shows up here briefly but sadly that's about it. It isn't that the lovely Ms. Mitchell isn't interesting, it's just that it might have been fun, as it has been in the past, to hear from some of her fellow females of filth.
That's not all, however. Let's say you've thought about breeding your dog but just don't know how to go about getting that whole dangly pink ordeal getting started? Goldstein and company expose a whorehouse for canines in which humans are allowed to come in and arrange play-dates with their dog and another dog of the opposite sex. Plenty of opportunity here for bad jokes and the Midnight Blue crew doesn't fail to deliver in that regard.
With the title of the compilation being Freaks & Geeks it shouldn't surprise anyone to hear that there's some fairly heavily fetish oriented pieces in this one. Mistress Rosanne, a dominatrix who is heavily into sadism and masochism, shows up for a very revealing interview in which she discusses why she does what she does and also explains in a fair bit of detail how she does it and what she likes about it. The interview gets a little ugly when the man with the microphone hits her with some obviously loaded questions, which in turn inspires her get pretty testy with him. Her commitment to quality is proven, however, when we see some video clips of her in action – and if the videotaped evidence is to be believed, she's no phony.
Less interesting aspects of this round up include a naked piano player who sings dirty ballads and a segment in which a man and a woman act out various sex inspired ideas that they've had written down in a diary for them. These are watchable but don't live up to the freak factor of some of the better ideas seen in this compilation. Those who enjoyed Jackie Park's video tutorial on how to deliver a top notch Linda Lovelace impersonation from the first volume will enjoy seeing her show up here again with instructions and strange theories on how and why you should fist a woman – a nice touch. There's also a genuinely interesting video tour of a Seattle based sex-cult's base of operations where we get to see the actual training rooms and facilities that they've had specially constructed to accommodate their very specific needs – these people are pretty out there.
Once again, as with past volumes in the series, Blue Underground has also included all of the advertisements that were shown during the original airings of this material. While the phone numbers are bleeped out, it's still very cool to see television ads promoting notable porno movies, infamous NYC clubs such as Spartacus, and as well as various swingers, sex clubs, adult novelties, and more.
The lower celebrity quotient and more fetish oriented content of this release might not make it as accessible to those just getting acquainted with Goldstein and his world but for the seasoned veterans out there, it's definitely worth a look. There's as much of the bad as there is of the good in here in terms of running length, but in terms of quality, the good bits are definitely stand out moments and they make this disc worthwhile all on their own.
Taken from the original ¾ inch master tapes, Blue Underground has done a decent job of trying to clean up this material but precedes the episodes with the warning that 'you can't shine shit.' All things considered, this material looks okay. It was shot on video and so it's very soft looking and a lot of the fine detail is lost forever in the murkiness of the tape but the colors come through alright and the image is at least stable enough that you won't have any problems watching the material. There's a bit of flicker here and there and some images are a little more washed out than others but the episodes are at least watchable and the fact that this material has made it to DVD at all in the first place is a miracle in and of itself.
The audio is on par with the video quality. Again, this material is taken from old ¾ inch tapes and as such, the limitations that existed are made all the more obvious by the DVD format, but if you turn the volume up a bit and ignore some of the background hiss you won't have any difficulty understanding the interviews of the strange commercials peppered throughout the content. There are no subtitle options or closed captions provided and everything is in the original English language as it was presented in the first place.
The only extra feature on this release is a Trivia Track which, when enabled, will pop up on the screen with 'extra facts and info' about whatever happens to be being discussed at the time. It works sort of like the Pop Up Video show that used to air on VH1 a few years back. This one, like the ones that have come before it, offers plenty of amusing trivia bits and anecdotes about the various participants in the assorted segments that play out on the disc. There are some pretty funny factoid pop ups about the dog pimp section and about Ron Jeremy's involvement in particular and turning this option on during playback makes some of the slower segments more interesting so this is a welcome addition to the package.
On a somewhat related note, again, a big thumbs up to Blue Underground for continuing to use the ever cool artwork of Danny Hellman on the cover for this release. It does a nice job of capturing the manic feel of the material contained inside the packaging, and he does a fine job of capturing the mischievous likenesses of most of the interview subjects!
Not the best of the series, Midnight Blue Volume 4 – Freaks And Geeks still offers enough inner city kink and sleaze to make it worth a look for fans of the series. The casual and curious might be best served by renting this one first but for those who enjoy this type of material Blue Underground's release comes recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.