Notes from the Underground: A Sort of Homecoming for Sexploitation Queen
by Eugene Hernandez
You may not know her name, but maybe you've heard of her films -- "Bad
Girls Go To Hell," "A Night to Dismember," or "A Taste of Flesh." She is
Doris Wishman, "The Queen of Exploitation Cinema." Now in her seventies,
Wishman is still a working filmmaker -- her filmography extends to 1960 and
her first film, "Hideout in the Sun."
Today, Wishman is in New York City to participate in a retrospective in her
honor (her first) at the New York Underground Film Festival -- tonight, she
will be a guest on the "Late Show with Conan O'Brien." With all of the
hoopla surrounding her trip to the city where she grew up (she now lives in
Florida), not to mention a biography that is in the works -- you'd think
she'd be somewhat excited...that is not the case.
"I'm a little surprised that after all this time I suddenly was found,"
Wishman told indieWIRE. Of course, the timing couldn't be better. Like
most underground and indie filmmakers, Wishman is finishing up one project
and anxsiously trying to secure financing for her next. The current movie,
working title "Dildo Heaven," is almost done, and then its on to "Each Time
I Kill." Describing the script, Wishman speaks like a true indie, "its
wild and its different, and its very exciting -- very provocative and very
"People like my work or they hate it," Wishman added, "of course most
people hate it." She said, "All of my films... I made them all with love
and care and tenderness -- of course you can look at one of my films and
say its horrible, but I know that I did my best."
In town for the weekend tribute and her first trip to a film festival,
Wishman admitted that she may actually sneak away to see "Titanic." "I
haven't seen to many films," she explained, "I don't enjoy going to the
movies because I am too critical -- I find to many errors and nobody wants
to go to the movies with me. I really haven't gone to the movies in ages. I
can't point to a movie that I liked."
Reflecting on a time in the 60's and 70's when the underground was, in her
mind, a less definable place, Wishman explained, "We never used the word
'undergroud,' because we didn't feel that it was underground. The only
difference between my film and a major company was that the budget was
lower, the production value had to be lower, and there were no names -- but
actually some of the stories were far better!"
[The New York Underground Film Festival runs through Sunday at the
Anthology Film Archives. The Doris Wishman Retrospective takes place
tonight and Sunday night with screenings of "Nude on the Moon," "Double
Agent 73," "Bad Girls Go to Hell," and "Let Me Die a Woman." For more
information, call the festival hotline at 212/592-0900 or visit
the website at: <www.nyuff.com>]