Death Laid an Egg // La morte ha fatto l’uovo (1968, Giulio Questi)
Jane Birkin - La morte negli occhi del gatto/Seven Deaths in the Cat’s Eye (Antonio Margheriti, Italy/France/West Germany 1973)
DAVID KEREKES: What do you think about the custom fetish video scene integral to Factory 2000?
MISTY MUNDAE: What do I think about it? I think it’s really disturbing, actually. And even when I was doing it, I felt it was really disturbing. Because I was so caught up in this preconceived idea of what we were doing, I got lost from what my limitations were, what I wanted to do with myself, and what my own morals and values were! And it got to the point where I was like, “Oh, right, a custom video. Someone’s going to actually produce it and then we can release it and continue to make money on it.” The idea was very novel to us, but then we would get these scripts…and sometimes they were entertaining, they were so bizarre they were funny, and we would just laugh at it. Other times they were just so rotten, and so mean spirited, that I’m like, “No, I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to be strapped to a chair with a fucking bag over my head and clamps on my nipples…” I’ve got to really endure this, even though it’s just for a video and it’s not reality, I’m still going to have to put myself in that compromising situation. These people who want Misty Mundae for this custom video—is it because they like me, or they hate me? Do they think I’m beautiful, or do they want to just see me dead and tortured?
David Kerkes’ interview with Misty Mundae on her days in the custom snuff video scene from “The Small World of Snuff Fetish Custom Video”, From the Arthouse to the Grindhouse: Highbrow and Lowbrow Transgression in Cinema’s First Century
Camcorder technology and the Internet had opened the market for custom videos. It existed prior to this but was the reserve of a small group of people and companies. For instance, in the early 1990s, there were only a handful of companies offering videotapes devoted to fake torture and snuff fantasies. (W.A.V.E. Productions and NecroBabes were among them, both still trading.) Today, typing the words “snuff fetish custom video” into Google returns about 113,000 hits, with links to specialist film companies such as Club-Dead, Rumspringa Films, Necro Videos, Catharsis Erotica, Fatal Females, Casualties of Horror, and Shockorama. These companies are often incestuous, and it’s sometimes difficult to know what separates one company or its product from another. On a production level, the films are relatively small operations and can comprise a group of friends or, in the case of Necro Videos, husband and wife. Distribution is more complex and may explain the cross-pollination that takes place between groups.
A general starting price for a custom video is around $800. The price is dependent on a simple story structure using one model from a company’s roster of models, and it will increase with the addition of props or costumes, special effects, additional models, and nudity.”
Céline et Julie vont en bateau (Celine and Julie Go Boating) - Jacques Rivette - 1974
Blonde Venus (Joseph von Sternberg, 1932)
Women in blackface and revealing “tribal” costumes (think the feathery equivalent of Josephine Baker’s banana skirt) stomp and girate on stage to music performed by black men. They bring a chained gorilla out, from which emerges a glowingly white Marlene Dietrich. Her whiteness (which is inextricable from her beauty) is enhanced by contrast: slim, white, and hairless she emerges from a gorilla in a scene shot to make her paleness glow, while the women in blackface seem to blend into the background. She wears a similar costume the the background dancers, but more elaborate (more shimmer, more feathers, and darker, of course, to better make her white skin stand out), while the same wig is white instead of black and features shining arrows. More than the visual contrast is the racial one. The stereotypical tribal Africanness is played against the whiteness of Dietrich, while her persona lends itself to the performance: the exoticism of Marlene Dietrich as a European star is enhanced by the exoticism and fetishization of stereotypes surrounding black African women (presented as a monolith of tropes, surrounding mainly Otherness and the hypersexualization of black women), without her whiteness being tainted. Her whiteness is amplified so that it may exploit this racism without actually making her ugly by being a part of it. She is not actually black: to engage in the behaviours which are presented as essentially African is simply a sexy performance rather than a natural, ingrained immorailty. This is something she can put on and take off; she (and the viewer as well) indulge in the racism for titillation and sexual excitement without concern for what the stereotypes and ideology surrounding them mean to the people they actually concern.
The fact that this performance is continuously glorified and glamourized speaks the disturbing side effects of star power under white supremacy as well as the continuing racism and anti-blackness of film fandoms.