Modern Day Puck: A Bobby Astyr Double Feature
Astyr deserves to be mentioned alongside golden age giants, John Holmes and Jamie Gillis.
Published on February 12, 2014 | Filed under Notes From The Backroom

Whenever people talk about their favorite Golden Age of Erotica male star, they will name check the usual suspects. There’s the King, John Holmes, Prince Charming, Eric Edwards, along with the dark prince himself, Jamie Gillis and the matinee idol, John Leslie. But one man that deserves an equally esteemed place in film history is the late, great Bobby Astyr. A wiry man with curly dark hair and cerulean eyes, Astyr was a powerhouse of a personality and blessed with the ability to shape shift into whatever character he was playing. He’s the kind of presence that makes you gasp aloud, “Holy shit, that’s Bobby Astyr!” anytime you see him on screen.

While Astyr could play drama to the finest key (Roger Watkins’ American Babylon being a prime example), tonight the focus will be on the lighter side of things. Fewer actors in adult were as funny as Bobby Astyr. He would have been the supreme Puck in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream. A terrific example of this Puck-ian quality is his work in Henri Pachard’s 1981 film Girl’s Best Friend.

Girl’s Best Friend revolves around a pair of amorous thieves in the form of Ms. Leautrec (Juliet “Aunt Peg” Anderson) and her partner in literal crime, Paul (Ron Jeremy). The big game throughout their hunt is the Fairchild Diamond, but they are not above petty larceny. Luckily for both the protagonists and the audience, a pickpocketing at a discotheque introduces us to Mr. Greenfield, played by our man Bobby. It’s the old standard of the adorably awkward businessman distracted by the fetching jewel thief while her male accomplice takes his wallet. Some disco dancing ensues before Leautrec abruptly leaves.

Girl's Best Friend

Being down a wallet does not deter Greenfield from getting friendly with his secretary the next day. Their mid-day tryst, however, is interrupted by Leautrec, returning the wallet that Greenfield “lost” at the club. The two end up meeting for dinner at his place. The digs might be chi-chi but his eating habits are blissfully not! A veritable feast lies ahead, with a few flirty bon mots exchanged before the deep end explodes! Greenfield, complete with turkey drumstick in hand, a device so powerful that Chekhov and his gun would be proud, starts to paw at his dinner guest. We’re talking big open-mouthed kisses while bits of turkey are still hanging out in that maw! Things get even more amazing as their love scene continues, playing out like La Grande Bouffe meets Babylon Pink. The two begin their saucy romp on the dining room table, with Bobby the WHOLE ENTIRE TIME eating and grunting out words like “Turkey turkey!,” “Eat!!!,” “Cauliflower!,” “Celery!” and the climatic yell of “Fooood!!!!” It’s wonderful.

On top of that, during a subsequent scene featuring Greenfield’s beautiful but clumsy maid (Veronica Hart) and Paul, you can actually hear Bobby yelling out in the background, “Food!!!” during their climax. It’s like sex tinged performance art except it is way funnier and more striking than most actual performance art.

In their post-coital glow, Greenfield takes Leautrec to his library, opens up a safe and pulls out a string of pearls, moderately impressing her. But it is a glimpse of the Fairchild Diamond that gets her proverbial wheels a-turning. From there, a large scale plan is hatched to nab this glistening specimen of a jewel. Unfortunately, we’re deprived of more sex scenes involving Mr. Greenfield pigging out like a starving man at his last meal. Life can be so cruel.

A Girl’s Best Friend is a middling film that does feature a fine cast, some funny moments and an amazing wardrobe. It also plods a bit and features two main characters that are kind of weak. But whatever it lacks it more than makes up for with the electric presence of Bobby. Tearing through food and sex like a hell-bent satyr, he alone makes the film worth watching.

Granted, after you sit through Big Abner, the second film on tonight’s double feature, A Girl’s Best Friend, will be looking like Devil in Miss Jones! As you may gather from the title, Big Abner is a ribald parody of the old Al Capp comic strip, Lil Abner. Well, if Capp had snorted crushed up Viagra and then smoked angel dust. Even then, that only begins to cover it.

The sex in the film is a bit on the rangy side. The opening frame involves a WAY too tight close up of our titular hero’s business being attended to by three lovelies. The camera then pans up with a shot of Abner’s (Sonny Landham) face grinning like a redneck ghoul, proclaiming “I’m big! Big Abner! HAHAHAHA!” If you hear infernal chortling behind you, never fear, it’s just the dark lord chuckling over a job well done!

“Pig Pen,” a grubby, cute brunette chases Abner down and manages to persuade him into some afternoon delight despite his protests of needing to “do his chores.” Abner then mentions “The Mayor” (billed as “The Wizard” whose IMDB entry lists him as Gandorph the Grey, making him the world’s most dedicated Dungeon Master). Who looks like a corn-pone version of Bobby Beausolei in Kenneth Anger’s Invocation of my Demon Brother, tries to stop Grand Pappy Yokum (Bobby Astyr) from getting his amorous mitts on Ellie May (Ginger Snaps).

Big Abner

Imagine if you will, Bobby, clad in ketchup red long johns and a fake beard with matching scraggly skull cap that only a 3rd grade production of Our Town would envy. Turns out, Grand Pappy is so itching and raring to go that he trips over a rocking chair on the front porch to get to the moderately willing and more than moderately brain-damaged Ellie Mae. Get to her he does, grunting out lines about pacemakers and “dag nabbit.” Lest you think Satan was on coffee break, we hear the Mayor mention that the only reason he tolerates this behavior is because Grand Pappy is kinfolk. If that’s not enough, Ellie Mae then makes the observation,“Pappy, it feels like you have been taking your vitamin E!”

After that slice of backwoods delirium, other characters are introduced, giving us more devilish lines such as “doesn’t feel like goat at all!” and “oink oink!” Bobby shows up again, this time as Baby. Taste that? The dry metal taste of fear in your mouth? Give a slow clap to your instincts, because they are terrified and correct! Lo and behold, there’s the man, resplendent in a diaper and baby bonnet, cooing and saying things you do not want to hear or see a grown man in a diaper do and say. But the magic of Bobby Astyr is that he is funny and anyone else doing this would make you want to douse your brain with lighter fluid.

The film continues on the pseudo-hillbilly prurience train, but the image of Bobby Astyr as both the cackling, horny Grand Pappy Yokum or, lord help us all, as the man baby, remains with you long after the film. Granted, so will the rest of the movie, but Bobby’s like a breath of fresh zany air, while the rest of Big Abner makes you feel a bit like one of your cousins making flirty eyes with you at the dinner table.

While neither Girl’s Best Friend or Big Abner are exactly hallmarks of classic adult cinema, both films have their merits. The absolute shining jewel for both is the the presence of Bobby Astyr. His good humor and charisma, along with his sheer devotion to bring whatever pure amount of ridiculousness the proceedings call for, make him a number one star. Any back-room denizen should have love in his/her heart for Mr. Bobby Astyr.

Heather Drain is a fringe culture writer who currently writes for Dangerous Minds, Paracinema, Lunchmeat and her own site, Mondo Heather. In the past, she has also written for Video Watchdog, Screem, Ultra Violent, The Exploitation Journal and the Little Rock Free Press.