Can You Feel The Love? The Black Shampoo Viewing Guide By Mike White.
I can’t believe that of all the films I’ve talked about in the three years of doing Cashiers du Cinemart that I’ve never given proper coverage to my favorite film...
I can’t believe that of all the films I’ve talked about in the three years of doing Cashiers du Cinemart that I’ve never given proper coverage to my favorite film. I guess I just didn’t want to do it half-assed. I wanted to devote the proper amount of time and energy to passing along information about and admiration of this movie.
It was the Twenty-sixth of December, 1988. Even though we had only been on Winter Break for all of maybe four days my high school cronies, Steve, Leon, and I were bored already. I don’t know how we could have missed it all those times we came into Blockbuster; maybe we were New Release addicts. How could we have passed by a cover box boasting about a man who’s mad, mean, and both a lovin' and killin' machine? Who wouldn’t want to see a movie about a black, ballsy hair-dresser? I’m not sure who spotted it firstit’s all a blurI just remember walking out as a new man with a copy of Black Shampoo in my hands.
As Leon can attest (see last article), watching Black Shampoo was a revelation. I’m not a religious man but I have witnessed the power and the glory of the universe in the form of this film. Like most converts, after I had seen Black Shampoo I wanted to spread the gospel. After out initial viewing, Leon, Steve and I agreed to not rest until all of our other friends shared our experience.
Thus was born the tradition of sharing the wealth of Black Shampoo. Each year when we get together to celebrate the anniversary of our first night with Mr. Jonathan we all attempt to bring someone new into the fold so that their eyes may be opened as ours have!
Over the last nine years I must have seen this movie over five hundred times. In those first few weeks of 1989 we watched it at least once a day. We got to know the story-line a bit better and we began to analyze it. Every scene, every shot, every line and every musical cue; we watched and listened and learned. In fact, the first question I ever asked in a film class was if the "fade to negative" effect used for key edits in Black Shampoo had any other name. If there is, I am still unaware, as was my professor. But, perhaps editor Earl Watson might have a term for them as he’s still using them to full effect (see The Great White Hype or, better yet, don’tand just trust me that the same effect is used. Wow, I just saved you a few bucksnow you can put it towards buying or renting a copy of Black Shampoo !).
We all latched on to certain characters as our favorites and then designated other people as other characters by their similarities. Looking back at a 1990 Riverview Community High School Yearbook you'd see "Freddie," "Brenda" and "Chuck Barris" listed among the nicknames for myself, Aimee Chorkey, and Leon Chase (Jeff Dunlap didn’t claim "Black Baboon Butt" for some odd reason). Steve Chesney even strutted his stuff in the annual "Mr. Riverview" contest under the name of Mr. Jonathan. And, somehow, Black Shampoo was listed in our yearbook’s section of "Students’ Favorite Films."
No one went un-noticed. We didn’t go so far as to actually act out the film like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but, as sad as it sounds, our lives revolved around this movie for the better part of two years and it’s still with us today.
I was hoping to have this issue out in time for the ninth annual Black Shampoo reunion so that all could enjoy the following character analysis and the preceding words of inspiration but, alas, it was not to be. Regardless, 1997 was a triumphant success for Black Shampoo reunionsI'd say it even topped the year we watched Jeff’s virgin copy. The turn-out was great and reunited the "original cast" of characters! A little older, a little wiser, perhaps, and all with a lot less hair!
What I look forward to is giving every reader of CdC a chance to track down this amazing film and join us, in spirit, at the ten year mark! I can only hope that come this December 26th that I’ve managed to share a little joy with the rest of the world!
MR. JONATHAN (John Daniels)Is that Mr. Jonathan-something? Or Mr. Something-Jonathan? The answer only is found on the back of the old-school video box. It’s Jonathan Knightjust like the New Kid On The Block. Jonathan is the owner and operator of his own salon on the Sunset Strip. He likes doing hair, but his female clients like him to do a lot more. All of this changes, though, when he falls in love with his new receptionist in one of the most heart-felt montages of all time. Jonathan does everything rightpaddle-boat rides, dinner, and a walk through the botanical gardens. But, don’t cross him. This smooth hair dresser packs a punch when the going gets rough. He’s the master of the right-hook, the chainsaw, and the pool cue. Favorite Line(s): "Hey gimme that, I make my living with that!" "They came at me like sharks." "She did, Artie, I know because I just left her and she’s happy as hell where she’s is." "I'll take my own car, if you don’t mind." "Son of a bitch." "Artie?" "Right on both counts, if Mrs. Simpson is your mother." "Okay, have it your way, bought and paid for. But your hair looks like shit that way." Filmography: No other films in John Daniels’ oeuvre will even begin to compare with Black Shampoo but he has had memorable roles as Baron, the meanest pimp on the Sunset Strip in Candy Tangerine Man and Mike Barnett, president of Impossible Funky records in Getting Over. His other films include Tender Loving Care, Bare Knuckles, and Mean Dog Blues.
BRENDA ST. JOHN (Tanya Boyd)This former mob moll is the ever-so-pleasant new receptionist at Mr. Jonathan’s salon. That is, until Mr. Wilson (a real Mafioso name) returns and his goons find her. Through a clever ruse (and a nice wig), Brenda eventually gets the upper hand by stealing Wilson’s McGuffin. Favorite Line(s): "Full." "Then you tell Mr. Wilson I decided to go for a ride, messenger boy!" Filmography: Unless things have changed recently, you can still see Tanya Boyd on national television as Celeste Perrault in "Days of Our Lives." Her other films have included Jo Jo Dancer Your Life is Calling, Ilsa: Harem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks, and Black Heat. She’s also appeared on "The Ted Knight Show," "Roots," "Walking Through The Fire" and "Good Times" as one of J.J.’s many girlfriends.
MR. WILSON (Joe Ortiz)The cold-as-ice underworld boss who doesn’t like to talk on the phone or share his books and papers with anyone. We’re not really sure what he does but the IRS would probably be willing to give a year’s refund to get their hands on some incriminating evidence about him. You know he’s mean by the way he treats Brenda like a six-pack but you don’t know the extent of he vileness until he gives Artie the thrill of a life-time. Favorite Lines: "I told you beforeSchmuck!" "I don’t want to talk about this over the telephone." "Young men can be so impetuous...but then maturity has it’s moments too." "That’s a good little pussycat." "I can take that as your own personal guarantee."
ARTIE (Skip E. Lowe)He’s the kind-hearted assistant to Mr. Jonathan. In actuality, Artie pretty much runs the show. He’s in charge of the salon when Jonathan’s out making house calls and he places himself at the helm of the clean-up when the shop is trashed by Wilson’s thugs. Artie’s got some problems, though. He has an strange way of belching at pretty women like Brenda and his tips just aren’t what they used to be, even when women pinch his butt (foreshadowing?). Favorite Line(s): "That bitch, she pinched my cheek honey and she didn’t even tip me." "It’s a Western Style Bar Be Que!" "He’s as straight as an arrow." "She'll never drown, believe me!" "Oh, that poor fella!" "My mirrors! My lovely, lovely mirrors." "Put that thing down!!!!" Filmography: Skip appears in his own cable access show in Los Angeles (and has for years). Skip also appeared in such films as Sunny Side Up, The World's Greatest Lover (not as the title character, unfortunately) and Bare Knuckles (that’s right... a second appearance with John Daniels!).
RICHARD (Gary Allan)Artie’s pal and confidant. Richard is the id to Artie’s superego, the yang to Artie’s yin, the coffee to Artie’s cream. Richard is easily upset but he’s a good guy at heart. And, he throws one hell of a Bar-B-Q. If only Richard’s intense drive could find its way into his enthusiasms over drying hair. Favorite Lines(s): "I wouldn’t bet on it, honey!" "What do you think you’re doing? Put him down!" "You black baboon butt!" "This is deplorable, this is utterly deplorable!" "You’re right, Artie-Baby, her hair is a fright!" Gary Allan is not to be confused with Gary Allen whose had roles in Annie Hall and Hudsucker Proxy.
MADDOX (Jack Mehoff)Do you think that’s a pseudonym? Maddox, AKA "Schmuck" (see above), is the right hand man of Mr. Wilson. He’s not very good at his job, however, and is constantly being admonished. Plus, he’s got this weird thing where the front part of his hair would fit perfectly over his mouth (see photo right). Favorite Lines: "You’re move." "Don’t be a dead hero." "Mr. Wilson? I don’t know anyone by that name." "God Damn you people, shut up!" "I could get it out of him." "I’m coming for you, you son-of-a-bitch! You’re gonna die!" "Look, she said she’d call. There were people around. You told me not to"
JackSON (Bruce Kerley)I don’t think he’s ever called Jackson in the film and we usually refer to him as the "Black Baboon Butt" (see above). Jackson’s the strong silent type, having only three lines, but he says them with so much conviction that his performance is one of the most memorable in film history. Favorite (and only) Lines: "I'll get you for this, you son-of-a-bitch." "Okay, let’s go, everybody in the backroom."
CHAUFFEUR (Salvatore Bennissimo)"Chuck Barris" (see photo for nickname explanation) and "Black Baboon Butt" have a relationship similar to that of Artie and Richard where he is the more verbose and excitable of the two. I wouldn’t rule out under-currents of homosexuality between these two, either since he gets such a thrill from yanking down Artie’s drawers. Favorite Line(s): "So I was grabbin' a little ass, so what?" "Kiss this, sweetie." "What’s the matter stud, you losin' your touch?"
FREDDIE (Fred Scott)Jonathan’s care-taker and sensei. Freddie is a man of nature and wisdom. His latest discovery is a well from whence waters pour that make men speak their minds twice-over. Above all that, Freddie is the deus ex machina, whatta guy! Favorite Line(s): "Jonathan!" "Oh, fine, fine, fine, fine." "Well, everything’s coming along pretty good, pretty good." "Care for a drink of water?"
MRS. SIMPSON (Diana St. Clair)she hasn’t had her hair done in months and needs to see Jonathan so badly that she convinces Brenda to set up a house-call. Unfortunately, she’s got two jailbait daughters in need of a wash & rinse as well. Favorite Line(s): See later.
MEG (Kelly Beau) & PEG (Marl Pero)Again, they’re never referred to by name, just called "a couple of pushy little chicks" by Mr. Jonathan when they try to seduce him. You see, they’ve shared a guy beforewait, no, my mistake. They’ve shared at least two guys before. Let’s just say that their mother hasn’t imbued them with many family values. Favorite Line(s): "Oh, let me." "Tools of the trade, handle with care." "Yeah, come on in, Mom, we'll help ya swim." "Yeah, we'll help you swim right to the bottom!" "Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah."
RUBY (Ruby Williams)affectionately known as "Ruby Baby," we’re not really sure of her duties around the salon but she’s quick with a broom. Favorite line(s): "What’re you gonna do with that gun?" "Watch out, Mr. Jonathan!"
THE MANICURIST (Helene Farber)she doesn’t like to make her presence known around the salon too much but she’s quick to point out anything amiss. Favorite Line: "You don’t look like any god damned health department to me."
NEW RECEPTIONIST (Edith Wheeler)a familiar face to Greydon Clark fans as she also starred in Angel's Brigade and Satan's Cheerleaders. Her role is small but memorable and we love that she’s wearing a "Mr. Jonathan’s" t-shirt!
MRS. PHILLIPS (Anne Gaybis)Boy, is she mad! Mrs. Phillips really wants her hair done but catches Jonathan at a bad time. Unfortunately, she feels that Artie just doesn’t have the equipment to help her out of her predicament. Filmography: Gaybis had quite a career after Black Shampoo. Her roles have included Hollywood Zap, The Lost Empire, Bachelor Party, 10 Violent Women, Friday the 13th Part 3, Beyond Evil and Fairy Tales.
SALLY CARRUTHERS (?)the woman who introduces us to the magic of Mr. Jonathan’s caress and she doesn’t even get a credit at the end? Injustice (or embarrassment)! And what’s up with her medallionisn’t that the same one worn by the woman in the photograph with "nice tits" and frightful hair? Favorite Line(s): "Mr. Jonathan, it is bigger and better!" "Oh, Jonathan, it feels so good." "What interruptions?"
WESTERN STYLE BAR-B-Q PLAYERSThis must have been one hell of a shin dig! How come I’ve never been to a part with a ballet dancer and guy from the Australian outback? Some of our other favorite party guests include Ben, "The Crazy Running Around Dude," "Freddie Krueger," and the woman in the over-alls.
Other Black Shampoo alum of note include director Greydon Clark whose filmography is as follows: Dark Future, Mad Dog Coll, The Forbidden Dance (not to be confused with Joel Silberg’s Lambada), Skinheads: The Second Coming of Hate, Out of Sight Out of Her Mind, The Uninvited, Final Justice, Joysticks (see CdC #7 for review), Wacko, The Return, Without Warning, Angel's Brigade (a MST3K favorite), Hi-Riders, Satan's Cheerleaders, The Bad Bunch. Clark also starred in Dracula VS. Frankenstein and Satan's Sadists!
Co-cinematographer Dean Cundey also went on to make a name for himself by working with John Carpenter, Steven Spielberg, and Robert Zemekiseven garnering an Academy Award for his work on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?.
The original source print for Vestron Video’s release of Black Shampoo is riddled with splices. For years we wondered how much of the film we were missing. IncrediblyVideo Search of Miami carries a Spanish subtitled version that answered our question. It turns out that we weren’t missing much; maybe a minute and a half. Most of the differences between the American version and the Spanish subtitled version lay in two or three second extensions of shots around the reel changes. However, some important pieces are missing, such as dialogue in this scene between Jonathan and Brenda as they discuss Mr. Wilson. The italicized dialogue is from the Spanish version:
J: Sit down. All right, let’s have it from the top. What’s going on?
B: All right, I worked for this guy before I came here.
J: What guy?
B: That doesn’t matter. He wanted to keep me, I mean the whole bit; Mercedes, jewels, stay at this mansion...I couldn’t dig it and I left. I dunno, Maybe I should leave town or something, I dunno.
J: That’s bullshit. What I don’t understand is what all the strong-arm business is about.
B: Hey, nobody walks out on him. Nobody. That’s why I’ve got to go.
J: Fuck that. The only place you’re going is out to dinner with me.
B: Jonathan, I don’t think you understand.
J: See baby, there ain’t any slaves anymore and no strong-arm punk is gonna take you and make you stay where you don’t wanna be. You’re going out to dinner with me, okay?
The rest of the missing material is, as above, the result of splices and poor reel changes. However, there were two cuts for "offensive material" in the American version and both involve a glimpse of female pubic hair.
When Mrs. Simpson berates her two daughters for seducing Mr. Jonathan, she comes running out of her house yelling "Whores! Tramps!" What the Spanish version has a longer run to the two girls before they turn and leap to the safety of their pool, revealing the brunette daughter’s pubic hair. In this version, Mrs. Simpson is allowed two good whacks with a belt on her daughters’ backs and her line is expanded to "Whores! Tramps! Bitches! How could you? Get!" which is translated to "¿Que hacér? ¡Les enseñare! "
Then, after giving Mr. Jonathan a tongue lashing, Mrs. Simpson decides it’s time to teach her girls a lesson by rubbing her private parts against Mr. Jonathan’s crotch. The exposure of her mons veneris is removed from the American version, as well as the beginning of Jonathan’s line, "I swear to god."
Other sequences, such as the Liquid Love scene and Jonathan’s search for Brenda, are lengthened for a few seconds each, but that’s not to say that the Spanish version is the better of the two.
First off, the American’s video quality makes up for its edited print as the sound and picture quality of the Spanish version are, as to be expected from a Video Search of Miami tape, quite poor. Plus, the Spanish version lacks the shot of Freddie wiping himself off after first seeing the hot and steamy Brenda St. John, one of the best Freddie-shots of the film!
Article revised and available in the Impossibly Funky Collection
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