Celebrating its 40th anniversary, Vinegar Syndrome brings 1977’s gender role swapped adult film Babyface to Blu-ray for the first time and it’s a welcomed, necessary addition to their already stellar library. Directed by the prolific Alex de Renzy (Pretty Peaches, Long Jeanne Silver), Babyface takes the typically male driven brothel tale and turns it on its head featuring a harem of Adonis-esque men put into (and in their) place to please women. It’s a refreshing addition to mainstream adult cinema, which was and, for the most part, still is focused on male pleasure.
That’s not to say that Babyface is an ultra-progressive porno where men don’t ejaculate, there’s plenty of that. The mainstay cumshot is still intact in de Renzy’s film but how we get to that point – to the climax, so to speak – has been altered enough that even though the payoff is familiar territory, everything else feels fresh. Even, and perhaps especially, in 2017.
Babyface starts out as a sort of Lolita tale, which fits well with its title. Featuring Dan Roberts as a dock worker seducing the petite Lyn Cuddles Malone – only to be caught by her mother and chased by the police. Naturally, he turns to a life of prostitution after this encounter, joining a male brothel alongside Paul Thomas. And then the mother comes looking for revenge. Babyface is pretty silly and doesn’t make a ton of sense, but it does straddle the line between genre cinema and adult cinema rather well and though it may not always be progressive, it is consistently enough to be a refreshing break from the norm of the period. Or at least the marquee titles. Some of the sex does get violent at times which could be off-putting for some, but its the minority of what is on screen. Things end with a seemingly never-ending orgy where the men are ordered around by their female clientele and its both a spectacle and scene of protest that shows what Babyface is all about.
Vinegar Syndrome have brought Babyface to Blu-ray for the first time and they’ve included a disclaimer at the start of the feature which explains that the search for the film was a long one and once they did find a great source, reel five was still problematic with water damage. I’m happy to say that it doesn’t detract from the experience overall. The other reels are pristine – on par with VS’s best work – and reel five just is what it is, honestly. The damage is there, VS aren’t trying to hide it and nor are we, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a fan of this material who would rather have this release not exist than be released with this damage included. Hats off to VS for disclosing the condition before the show start and for doing everything that they could to make this release happen. Audio is the usual DTS HD MA 1.0 and it’s a solid track though there are also some sound issues on reel five, but again, nothing that should detract from the overall experience.
Supplements start with a 70 minute (!) audio interview with actress Molly Seagrim who plays the mother in the film. She’s very candid with numerous anecdotes about working in the adult industry overall and also incorporating information about making Babyface. Well worth a listen for fans of this material. The only other supplement is a de Renzy short film titled Parochial Passion Princess which is more of the Lolita type of story that Babyface starts as. Fans of the filmmaker will be happy to have it.
Babyface isn’t your usual late 70s adult film. Starting as a piece of jailbait sex cinema (which its title promises), it quickly morphs into a gender swapped brothel film placing the women in control. It may not always be as progressive as it could and the sex may get rough at times, but it’s hard to ignore its transgressions and Vinegar Syndrome’s release is welcomed, video issues aside. Highly Recommended.