Sunday, February 07, 2016

Happy birthday to cult siren Dona Speir !

Since Today is Dona Speir´s 52nd birthday I thought it would be a good idea to re - post part of my post on UNSUNG 80s DIRECT TO VIDEO ICON ANDY SIDARIS because I didn´t get to write much about Dona Speir in the post or in the JLA MOVIE CASTING : ANDY SIDARIS SPECIAL follow up.

Gorgeously buxom, shapely, and statuesque blonde knockout Dona Linda Speir ( 37DD - 24 - 35 ) was born on February the 7th, 1964 in Norwalk, California. Spier was a gymnast and runner while growing up in Newport Beach, California. Speir was the Playmate of the Month in March, 1984.

Not surprisingly, she went to to appear in several Playboy related videos and did follow - up pictorials in a few additional issues of the popular men's magazine. Dona studied film acting with R. J. Adams at The Actors Workshop, Orange County and made guest appearances on episodes of the TV shows AUTOMAN, MIKE HAMMER, MATT HOUSTON, KNIGHT RIDER and MARRIED WITH CHILDREN. She's however best known for portraying tough, gun - toting federal drug enforcement agent Donna Hamilton, in seven low - budget action exploitation features for director Andy Sidaris.

Dona was one of the mainstays from the series alongside Roberta Vasquez who became her bosom buddy ( with an emphasis on the bosom part ).

Dona had been part of the series as federal agent Donna Hamilton since HARD TICKET TO HAWAII, Roberta Vasquez played Panthera in PICASSO TRIGGER and started as Dona´s colleague Nicole in GUNS. Now GUNS brought the Lethal Ladies movie series to a new level because with the unbeatable combo of the busty blonde Dona and the exotic and even bustier raven haired Roberta the male viewers were glued to the tv sets.

Roberta Vasquez was born in Los Angeles, on February 13, 1963. She became Playmate of the Month for November, 1984, her measurements then were 40DD - 25 - 36. She stood at 5'8", weighing 125lb, with some of the most perfect natural breasts to ever appear in PLAYBOY magazine.

A former California Highway Patrolwoman, she ended up playing one in Clint Eastwood's 1990 film, THE ROOKIE. She has also featured in several Playmate compilation videos and publications, including WET AND WILD WOMEN ( July 1987 ) and 21 PLAYMATES ( April 1997 ).

Roberta acted in several movies made by Andy Sidaris, in the late '80s and early '90s where she became the new co star opposite Dona Speir.

Add to that redheads like Cynthia Brimhall, brunettes like Ava Cadell or asians like Carolyn Liu - with dozens of other blond and black haired playmates throw into the mix - and you had all the bases covered.

With her athletic frame and martial arts experience the gorgeous Vasquez is a natural action heroine and with her background in the force she is much more convincing as a federal agent than Dona´s previous on screen partner Hope Marie Carlton. All and all, if anyone had to replace Carlton, Vasquez was certainly a great choice, and her chemistry with both Speir and Bruce Penhall would only grow stronger with each subsequent picture.

Andy is probably THE BEST director of action movies for adults. And his cast reads like a WHOS´S WHO of playmates : Roberta Vasquez, Ava Cadell, Cynthia Brimhall, Dona Speir, Pandora Peaks, Julie Strain, Suzi Simpson, Samantha Phillips and Julie K. Smith to mention just a few.

His business plan was as effective as it was simple : make action movies with playmates who get naked very frequently. What´s the best part of the Bond movies ? The Bond girls. What´s the worst part of the Bond movies ? That we don´t get to see more of the Bond girls. So why not make a movie where the Bond girls - or government agents that are as hot as the Bond girls - are the main characters ? I know it sounds simple but the question is : why has no one done it before - or since ? Thanks to the only legitimate heir to boob king Russ Meyer we could see dozens of hot playmates and small screen babes get naked and get their freak on.

But if you now think that the girls in Andy´s movies were just stupid bimbos there to take their clothes off you couldn´t be more wrong. Okay, in MALIBU EXPRESS where we have a male lead the damsel in distress rule applies but starting with HARD TICKET TO HAWAII the girls took over. And for them to be believable main characters they had to be capable agents and what´s more independent women. Yes, the women in these movies were clearly ahead of their time because they could get along without the help of a man. Which doesn´t mean they were prudes, quite the contrary.

But they didn´t wait around until some Prince Charming decided to get it on - these women took charge at the workplace and in the bedroom.

Another cool thing are the locations in the movies. The first couple stick to Hawaii, then they start to expand out - but usually to the same places - Las Vegas, Texas, Lousiana, and Lake Havasu, Arizona in addition to the regular shoots. There are also stops in Washington DC and Paris. Unlike most movies like this, which make do with stock establishing shots, then faking the locations - Andy and his wife Arlene really made their movies in the locations. The only time they diverted from this was Washington - which was faked. But the funny thing is, the stock shots are real footage shot for the movie ! It seems one of their regular crew members was headed to DC to visit family, so clever Andy sent the camera rig with him, and the guy got Malibu Bay a couple of nice, new, crisp establishing shots that completely match the rest of the movie they're put into !

The website CRAVE ONLINE has The Series Project : L.E.T.H.A.L. Ladies which takes a look at all the Andy Sidaris movies in three parts and it promises : Professor Witney Seibold introduces you to the greatest action series you've never heard of, with babes, bazookas and blow - up dolls.

I´ve taken the liberty of borrowing this part form the intro : Andy Sidaris, who wrote and directed all but the 8th and 9th films in the series, was a veteran of television, and was perhaps best known for his work on The Wide World of Sports and Monday Night Football. He has been credited in several places for having pioneered what he called the “ Honey Shot ”, which was a gametime reaction shot of the buxom cheerleaders. 

Sidaris, with his wife Arlene, decided in the early 1980s to move into dramatic features, and his entire career was dedicated to a single series of films. This series features all the best and cheapest special effects. Sidaris hired Playboy Playmates and Penthouse Pets as the lead actresses, and notoriously had them strip, rather frequently, for no good reason. He went to exotic locales, hired expensive vehicles, and got bodybuilders and martial artists to pilot them. Squibs and explosions followed. And many, many softcore sex scenes with some of the best bodies ever seen. 

And while his scripts were always pretty shoddy ( for b film cheapies these movies have surprisingly complicated stories ), and the acting was commonly pretty bad ( bodybuilders and Playboy Playmates aren't known for their thespian virtuosity ), there was a straightforward purity to Sidaris' b movie sensibility. He seemed to have a very sensible and simple filmmaking philosophy: The cheapest special effects are, after all, bare breasts. Throw some bare breasts into a passable action plot of spies and double - crosses, shoot on the beaches of Hawaii, and blow up a few vehicles, and, hey, you've got a pattern that will have audience appeal for time immemorial. He even included an original song in each film, kind of running a parallel to James Bond. His formula lasted through 12 films over 13 years, and he probably would have made more in the series, had he not tragically passed from cancer in 2007.

But the Andy Sidaris movies did not only have playmates, penthouse pets and actors from b movies and tv soaps. For every Erik Estrada there was a Danny Trejo or Pat Morita who starred in DO OR DIE. You know that the reason why he accepted the role were the many happy ending massages by sexbomb Lady Silk that Andy Sidaris wisely wrote into the script.  

You know that Andy Sidaris made things up on the go and changed things whenever the script needed it because the role of Kane played by Pat Morita was later played by a caucasian actor. I´m not entirely sure what the reason for this was, if there was any explanation given like Pat Morita had not been the real Kane but the new Kane is descended from Nazis and his german name was Rohr, which could be loosely translated as Kane.    

These inconsistencies are the topic of Playboy Playmates, Penthouse Pets, and Parallel Realities: The Comic Book World of Cult Filmmaker Andy Sidaris which analyses the different parallel worlds of the Andy Sidaris movies that have similarities with the retconned DC universe after CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. It has many interesting insights about the movies :

There is no doubt that the films of Andy Sidaris appeal to a specific audience, one that very probably included Sidaris himself. The world he created was one full of spies that were, for all intents and purposes, the cheerleaders and football players everyone knew in high school who had gone on to live the exact same kind of life on the stage of international intrigue. Like comic books, everyone who appeared in a Sidaris film was idealized or larger than life, and like vintage adventure comics, the line between good and evil is always very clear. Even with their reputation as low-budget exploitation, Sidaris’s films feature hardly any profanity at all and each one of them prominently features strong female characters who can more than take care of themselves. The tone of the films never becomes too dark, despite the bright splashes of blood that punctuate every gunfight.

In many ways, the films of Andy Sidaris are very similar to comic books, but not the contemporary books that were being released at the time of his most popular films, when many superhero books were trying to tackle “ real world ” problems and recasting their characters in darker, more violent stories in a desperate attempt at remaining relevant. The simple good vs. evil storylines, the beautiful people, the ass-kicking women and sophisticated villains, and yes, even the complete disregard for any kind of standard continuity seem more an echo of Silver Age comics of the 50s. Sidaris refers to the films as “ family films ” in an interview that appears as a film introduction in the Girls, Guns & G-Strings collection, and while he’s obviously joking, the straightforward nature of his stories and the lack of any significant moral ambiguity ( along with the curious lack of profanity ) make the comment much closer to truth than even he may have realized. While the quality of the films took a noticeable turn for the worse in the later installments, it is inarguable that Sidaris always strove to deliver pure entertainment, and in the process he may have inadvertently given “ comic book ” b - movies a good name. Or, at least, a better one than they had before Hard Ticket to Hawaii

I can´t mention DO OR DIE without mentioning the best scene featuring the hot Ava Cadell. In later Andy Sidaris movies she had the part of Ava ( coincidence ? ) who was head DJ and president of local Hawaiian radio station KSXY in HARD HUNTED. 24 hours a day, she broadcasts sleazy, porny F&S music, giving out some sex advice and moaning in orgasmic ecstasy. Her sexy speeches also serve as code to spies in the field. 

Then there’s the office assistant, played by Becky Mullen ( it would take too long to go into detail on her so check out her solo post ), who fetches coffee in a skin tight red leather bikini. And if dressing for work nearly naked wasn’t enough, then hold on, because later in the film they actually do work naked, well, almost naked. Ava proceeds to do her radio show from a hot tub topless alongside her by then topless office assistant. It seems that Ava works from wherever she wants wearing whatever she wants. Seriously, if this was a real radio station it had to be on tv !

By the way - talk about playing what you know - DOCTOR Ava Cadell ( you can call her The Sex Doctor ) is America’s number 1 sexpert as a Clinical Sexologist, AASECT Certified Sex Counselor, Hypnotherapist, Founder of and President of the American College of Sexologists International. Dr. Ava Cadell’s brand is sexual empowerment as an the author of 8 books and the monthly Sex Advice Columnist for Penthouse Magazine for whom she has created a series of online courses and videos entitled Sex Academy. Dr. Ava is also a sought after media therapist, and global speaker; her mission is to empower people to overcome sexual guilt & shame so they can enjoy the benefits of healthy, sexual relationships. She also has a radio show called SEX DRIVE !

So Ava plays the contract killer in DO OR DIE and she looks spectacular !  

But the best part with her is not when she takes her clothes off ( I had to omit the part with nippleage so it´s SFW ) but when she puts them on. I have never seen a woman putting on leather pants the way Ava does. 

Especially the way she pulls the zipper up is just soooooo provocative ! 

A few years back I bought the Andy Sidaris DVD box via amazon because it was offered at a bargain price and I am glad I did it because it´s not available through amazon anymore or if it´s going for a really extreme price. The only downside is that the box does not include ENEMY GOLD and THE DALLAS CONNECTION since they were done by his son who sadly did not follow in his father´s footsteps as try - outs. The last one is also known under the title DEADWORKS and features another two sexbombs who were in a few of Andy Sidaris´ later movies : Julie Strain and Julie K Smith a.k.a. Julie & Julie the double rack attack. There are two great scenes ( among others ) in DALLAS CONNECTION : in the first one Julie Strain is tying a guy to a chair and stripping to make him ultrahorny. 

Julie Strain debuted in FIT TO KILL, where she played the evil Blue Steele, then she portrayed bad girl Jewel Panther in ENEMY GOLD and bad girl Black Widow in THE DALLAS CONNECTION.  Since she wanted a recurring role in DAY OF THE WARRIOR and RETURN TO SAVAGE BEACH she became federal agent Willow Black. And for those that moan about me bringing up Julie Strain in a comic blog I want to mention that this Penthouse Pet of the Year 1993 not only starred in over 100 movies and was the inspiration for the main character in the animation movie HEAVY METAL 2000, she was also married to Kevin Eastman who created the TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES with Peter Laird and was Editor in Chief of HEAVY METAL.

Of course other hot playmates in this movie are leggy Wendy Hamilton and real life Power Girl Julie K. Smith who also does her Andy Sidaris debut here and who also starred in subsequent Lethal Ladies movies.

For a girl with her slender frame she really has an incredibly big bosom ! 

Together with Andy Sidaris veteran Julie Strain new girl Julie K. Smith becomes the new mainstay of the Andy Sidaris movies after the combo of Dona Speir and Roberta Vasquez had their last Hurrah in FIT TO KILL. 

In any case, things were in good hands with new leading lady Julie.  

And that´s all for Today´s post. You can read more about the Andy Sidaris movies through the two posts I have linked to and I have also included some links to watch some of his movies on YouTube. Normally I´m a bit hesitant to include stuff that´s not safe for work - like the trailers I have included in the post - but you can find all of his movies on YouTube.

I tried to find a clip with Dona Speir from the various tv shows on which she appeared but instead I found this one with some nice bikini babes.

I know I wanted to post more german comic videos and one post after the announcement I´m already flip - flopping on that. But you see, Today is also Buster Crabbe´s birthday who played such pulp heroes like Tarzan, Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon who I want to pay homage to with this video.

There is also another sci fi comic related birthday which is one of the reasons why I included Julie Strain in this post : just so I could mention HEAVY METAL. During it´s existence this cult mag has published many series and one of the most famous is THE INCAL by Moebius and Alejandro Jodorowski who turns 86thToday. Since I already posted the video about JODOROWSKY´S DUNE that never got made at H. R. Giger´s birthday here is another video of a movie that never came into being.

Since we are on the subject of Andy Sidaris´ version of James Bond I also have to mention the spanish comic version of him, ANACLETO - AGENTE SECRETO by the great Vazquez who also is the author of such classic series like LAS HERMANAS GILDA and LA FAMILIA CEBOLLETA.

Well Yesterday I was watching the 30th Annual Goya Awards and one of the nominated movies was ANACLETO - AGENTO SECRETO. I don´t think the comic is known outside of Spain so I will probably have to wait until I can get ahold of the spanish DVD to watch it. Nevertheless here is the trailer which looks pretty promising since it seems they stayed true to the premise of the tough secret agent who has to outbalance a low budget with ingenuity, durability, brutality and incredible feats of strength.

I want to end this post with another video with cosplayer Yaya Han who would be equally qualified to star as a sexy astronaut ( or alien ) in a sci fi movie or doing a striptease as a lethal lady in an Andy Sidaris movie.

Since none of the other videos have music I chose this one which I think is the last one with Yaya in her Chun Li costume I haven´t already posted.

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I ask of film what most North Americans ask of psychedelic drugs.

1 comment:

Crossley said...

Yes. All over the scre n.