Leisure

Lez’hur Ledger: The missing link between porn and monkeys

November 18, 2010


As a dozen other people and I watched a woman have sex with an ape-man, I thought to myself, “This is not your grandmother’s Washington D.C.” It was a rainy November night, and I had slipped into The Passenger—a lonely 7th Street bar a few blocks north of Chinatown—edged past the Tuesday night crowd of 20-somethings, walked through an unpainted door at the quiet end of the bar, and entered the sketchy, sawdust-scented world of psychotronic film.

The night’s main feature was the 1979 film Mistress of the Apes. An American woman goes to Africa, discovers a lost society of Homo habilis, and of course, takes the only logical next step—becomes its dominatrix. She introduces herself to the ape-men by nursing an ape-child, and then obscenely and exaggeratedly downing a banana. Meanwhile, a memorable song in the background declares, “She went lookin’ for a mate/ But she didn’t find a man/ So she found herself an ape!” Then she fucks the Homo habilis.

What kind of people would watch a movie like this? The Washington Psychotronic Film Society, that’s who. The Society screens lots of different kinds of film, from contemporary underground productions to Z-movies from the ‘60s—but avoids anything that might be disparaged as “normal.” The term “psychotronic” refers to any film that is obscure, quirky, and underappreciated. On this particular night, the audience had come to see the stars of the hit films Pretty Maids All in a Row and If You Don’t Stop It… You’ll Go Blind!!! team up for a blockbuster anthropological masterpiece.

The host of every show is The Incorrigible Dr. Schlock, a lovably enthusiastic dude in a white lab coat. Having talked shop with an independent movie producer from New York before the show, the good doctor was clearly in his element.

It’s easy to caricature the people who gather weekly to watch these movies. I did not expect to see anyone normal at a film society dedicated to the very opposite of normalcy, but from the chuckling young professional, to the tipsy graduate students, to the old couple enjoying a night out, that’s whom I found. We’re all the same. The same desire that sustains the Society drives millions to watch hilarious YouTube videos of The Room.

Although Mistress of the Apes, a weird combination of the life of Jane Goodall and Sheena: Queen of the Jungle, is more grandly terrible than The Room. I never thought I’d hear someone seducively say, as one of the arrogant poachers does in the film, “Why don’t you just shut up and…function.” Maybe the Society is better at finding the funny than the rest of us.

In two weeks, the Washington Psychotronic Film Society will watch the 1973 film Let’s Visit the World of the Future, in which an elite ruling class of clown-human crossbreeds called Bozos attacks anyone who displays any humanity. While I’m toiling away on a research paper about ninth-century Islamic Spain, I hope that some other college student will stumble into the Society’s midst, see a fantastically horrible movie, and enjoy a normal  evening of insanity.




Read More


Comments 1

  • Avatar

    Good times, good booze, that’s what matters.