Written by Jerry Saltz
To say that Russ Meyer makes sex movies is like calling Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade a public gathering. Hailed as a pioneer of the sexploitation film, Meyer has perfected a style so ludicrously over-the-top that his films seem to satirize sex even as they celebrate it. The director of 23 trash classics, Meyer peoples his lurid soap operas with buxom waitresses, tough motorcycle mamas, wild hitchhiking hippie chicks, obliging handymen, sinister strippers, horny truck drivers, virginal farmers' daughters, muscle-bound ranch hands, voluptuous go-go girls, lascivious nurses, sex-starved preachers; it's a cornucopia of archetypes, and collectively they shout, "Welcome to America, baby!" His characters are sublimely ridiculous, and Meyer knows it.
"I intend my films to play as comedies, because sex is funny," says the 78-year-old director. People take sex much too seriously, and that's where Russ Meyer comes in handy. ...
Without trying, Meyer has become a legitimate cultural icon. The Museum of Modern Art owns three of his films, and he has shown his movies at Yale and Cambridge. "People like Russ's films because they're exuberant satires," says former Meyer collaborator and crony Robert Ebert. "Get beyond the sex and nudity, and you see a sensibility somewhere between Andy Warhol and Al Capp.
While the work of his contemporaries has disappeared into the morass of porn, his films continue to thrive because they're pure pop art...
"...Women are always in control in my films." Meyer says. "By and large the men are the fools." Ebert agrees,"Women aren't the mindless sex objects in Russ's movies--men are..."
He's also surprised to hear that three rock bands have named themselves after his films (Faster Pussycat, Vixen and Mudhoney), and although he's pleased to learn that culture critic Camille Paglia loves his work, he has no idea who she is..."