Friday, February 03, 2006

FIU Film Student At Starbucks

The North Campus of Florida International University is about a mile away from this Starbucks location "as the crow flies", but a bit over two miles along the roads. Still, it's the closest one to the campus and it attracts a lot of students and faculty from there as well as the nearby campuses of Miami-Dade College, Johnson and Wales University, and Barry University.

It's a great place to offer a film program because North Miami has been the center of the Florida motion picture and TV industry going way back to the days of Flipper and Gentle Benn, and even before. Ivan Tors, who produced those shows, constructed some large sound stages in town which are still in use. Miami Vice was headquartered here. Less bragged about by the Chamber of Commerce types are the number of girlie films produced here, including Deep Throat starring Linda Lovelace. That was filmed in the old Voyageur Motel on Biscayne Blvd. No longer a motel it's now used as a dorm facility for Johnson and Wales University a block or two away. Every semester a couple of unsuspecting students are studying and sleeping in the very room where the twentieth century's most famous porno movie was filmed.

A few years ago the Chamber of Commerce asked me to write some interesting stuff to liven up their monthly newsletter. I wrote a piece about how the former city clerk, an elderly old maid by the name of E. May Avil, was actually responsible for the making of Deep Throat. My manuscript was photocopied and faxed all over town but the Chamber never printed it in the newsletter. They didn't have the guts! I never wrote another story for them again. But now I have this BLOG, heh, heh, so here it is.

I was shooting for The North Dade Journal back then. Across the street and a block to the south was a beer and wine place that also served sandwiches and whatnot. It was a popular place with construction workers and delivery drivers and such. The owner's girlfriend, Linda, was the barmaid. She wore a fringed leather vest, so I was told, where the fringe was cut above the nipple line, so she was constantly having her nipples play peek-a-boo. Not exactly illegal at the time but the City Clerk heard about it and was mortifyed that such things should be going on here in North Miami. She got the police chief to make the customers nuts over petty things. Don't go in the bar if one of your tail lights wasn't working for instance. You'd end up being drug tested and your car searched. If nothing else you'd be an hour late getting back to work. Soon the place was closed, out of business.

My friend Jim, the editor of the North dad Journal, got a great price on renting a cute little two story Spanish style house for a few months. The catch was he had to take care of their dog while the couple was "out of town". The couple from the now defunct bar, Linda and her boyfriend. Every few days he'd call me in the middle of the night to go out searching for the dog, which was always running off. It was a royal pain! At the time we had no idea that they were really only a matter of blocks away making what was soon to be a very famous film.

For several years rumors flew about Linda making a film with a reddish haired dog. She always denied it. Another friend of mine, Eddie, back in those pre-videotape/VCR days, used to collect classic films, 8mm films. I had a wall mounted screen in my living room and a projection stand set up with a Carousel slide projector. Saturday night my house was the de facto gathering place. We'd watch classic films, look at one anothers recent slide shoots, maybe smoke a bit of herb. One Saturday night Jim was over and Eddie showed up with his projector and some film cans, all excited. He said his buddy over at Capitol Film Labs, the pro movie lab here in North Miami, had spliced together some out-takes printed on super-8 stock. I don't think even Eddie knew what he had yet.

So there we were, perhaps about a dozen people, mostly photographers or married to one, along with my daughter Elena and another little kid or two. Eddie always brought cartoons for the kids. By maybe 9 or a bit later they'd fallen asleep and were packed off to a bedroom. It's hard for five year olds to stay awake watching B&W Russian silent films even if they were produced and directed by Sergei Eisenstein. Then Eddie opened The Mystery Film Can. He threaded the projector. We sat around not knowing what to expect. A young blonde woman, very atractive, appeared on screen wearing next to no clothes. A dog with reddish hair appeared on screen with the woman. Jim jumped up, pointing, shouting "There's that damned dog we chased all over town last summer!" Soon that dog was smiling. That woman sure knew how to make the dog happy!


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