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Part 3: MIT's First Beatnik

Steve: There's a lot in the film that's right on the money as parody, especially the music. Can you tell the story of how the music got worked out? And whose idea was this? Did you have people you knew who all grew up on these adventure serials, or did the idea just pop up?

Howard: A friend of mine, Peter Tevis, raised money form Canada to do the music. Peter had worked for Capital records and he hired Ralph Ferraro to do the score. Ralph did a beautiful job. We actually had a full orchestra record the music on the Warner Brothers lot. Initially the idea of doing a spoof on Flesh Gordon was broached to me in early 1970 by a young guy who was working for us, Michael Benveniste, (co-director) who got the idea from William Hunt (Emporer Wang). Bill Osco and myself had formed Graffitti Productions a year earlier starting with about $60 between us. Bill wanted to make a biker movie. We knew so little about making movies that we thought we could make a film for about $200 - complete idiots.

Of course we soon found out the only thing you could make for $200 were silent 400 foot 16mm films called "Beaver Movies," the "Beaver" somehow referring to the female genitalia. A girl would do a strip on the bed and run her hands sexily over her body. There was initially no penetration although vibrators eventually became part of the act. I made the movies and Bill sold them. I had a techincal background - being an MIT dropout and I believe MIT's first beatnik. I was also very horny - just like president Billy - so I was a natural at making "Beaver" movies. Within months Graffitti became the dominant player in Beavers across the country. The evolution of the "Beaver" movie led naturally to the first talkie and the first feature.

By 1970 the "Beaver" film had progressed by popular demand to the porno film. I made two films, the first called Mona-the virgin nymph and the second Hollywood Blue (a documentary about film celebrities who had done undergound porno) in 1970 that were tremendously sucessful in the limited world of adult films. Bill and I sold both films for a 100 grand and we were suddenly capitalized. Mona was considered to be the first Porno with a psychological plot. It ran continuosly for two years in San Francisco and played sucessfully across the country. When Benveniste suggested Flesh Gordon, the idea was to produce the biggest porno up to that time - a twenty five thousand dollar extravaganza.


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