Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Cheerleaders (1973)

Directed by Paul Glickler
Starring Stephanie Fondue, Denise Dillaway, Jovita Bush, Brandy Woods
Rated X

"Hey, baby...antihistamine."

Quite clearly the lynchpin between the innuendo-laden Beach Party movies of the 60's and the tits-out teensploitation wave of the 70's and 80's, The Cheerleaders manages to be wide-eyed innocent and balls-out raunchy at the same time, a neat trick that quickly became the blueprint for the genre. Every successful teens n' ass flick released in it's wake, from Porky's to American Pie, owes The Cheerleaders a huge debt.

Inspired by the runaway success of 1970's 3D soft-porn spectacular The Stewardesses, director Glickler figured another uniform-themed T&A flick would make a bundle, and after watching a crew of mini-skirted majorettes strut their stuff at a parade, the idea of sexed-up high school cheerleaders hit him like a proverbial ton o' bricks. His initial attempts to get the film off the ground were met with skepticism and/or hostility - we are, after all, talking about the sex lives of teenagers - but once drive-in distribution legend Jerry Gross (I Drink Your Blood/I Eat Your Skin) got involved, Glickler's loony idea became reality. It was a non-union gig cast with pseudonymous non-actors and first-timers - even the film's writer, "Ace Bandage", was a mystery man - but somehow, all the parts fit perfectly together. It was released regionally in the spring of 1972, and by the fall, it was number one in the country. Never underestimate the wondrous, hypnotic powers of high school cheerleaders.

As our story opens, the Amarosa High football team is on their biggest winning streak in years, thanks in no small part to their cheerleading squad, an elite group of skinny homewreckers whose voracious school spirit is matched only by their raging adolescent libidos. Said squad consists of head cheerleader Claudia (Denise Dillaway), rhyme-master Bonnie (the awesomely named Jovita Bush, who is either black or just seriously tanned), the constantly horny Debbie (Brandy Woods), frizzy-haired exhibitionist Suzie (Clair Dia), and, umm, the blonde one, Patty (Kimberly Hyde).

The cheerleaders are so popular that they have their very own section in the girls' locker room. The other girls peep around the corner, watching them dress, dreaming about being on the squad. One girl in particular, baby-faced Jeannie (Stephanie Fondue), is particularly enamored with them. She decides she'll do just about anything to join the team.

A word, or two, about Stephanie Fondue. This was her only role, and very little is known about her. Even director Glickler is at a loss. All he knows for sure is that her real name was Enid, that she'd done some nude modeling for magazines, and that she was very free and open with her body, even suggesting to the director that she shoot her sex scenes for real. It's unfortunate that she wandered away from film after just one appearance, because on the basis of her role here, she would have been a bonafide cult-movie goddess, easily on par with the Linnea Quigleys, Edwige Feneches and Linda Blairs of the world. In fact, Stephanie Fondue is one of the reasons Boobs! - the book, the blog, the cultural movement - even exists.

She's amazing in this film, from the punky, chop-top haircut to her awesomely zonked line delivery, to that generous and knowing grin. Once you've seen her wrestle (naked) with an entire football team or shoot (again, naked) out of a room one the crest of a broken waterbed wave, well, she will not soon be forgotten. We love you, Stephanie Fondue, wherever you are.

Anyway, the cheerleaders tool around in a nifty white convertible and, when they're not practicing their cheers or seducing older men, they're hanging out at the hamburger stand. Leif Garret-esque Jon (Richard - ahem - Meatwhistle) is the school's go-to action man, and when he rolls up to the stand, the cheerleader's all have requests for things like get-out-of-class-free cards and "3,000 birth control pills - pink ones". He happily obliges, but balks when Claudia tells him she wants him to get the cheerleading squad out of sixth period classes, permanently.
"That's a tall order," he says.
"Well, why don't we go somewhere and discuss it?" She purrs.

Cut to: Claudia and John fucking inside his car as it rolls slowly through the Beaver Carwash. Sex and suds everywhere.

Norman (Jonathan Jacobs) is a bushy-haired nebbish who shuffles from one menial job to the other. At this point, he's working at the car wash. Doe-eyed Jeannie is hopelessly in like with him, but Norm barely knows she's alive. As Claudia and John go at it inside, Jeannie brings Norm a burger and asks him what he thinks about her trying out for the cheerleading squad. Seems one of the cheerleaders got pregnant and had to quit, so there's a mid-season slot open.
"Yeah," Norm says. "Having my girl on the cheerleading squad might be good for me in the business world."
"Norman, a car wash is not the business world," sigh Jeannie.
I cannot imagine what sort of crazy, awesome world this would be if Normans really did end up with Jeannies.

Jeannie asks Bonnie and Debbie if they'll help her get on the squad, and invites them over. After dancing suggestively to acid rock, Bonnie sums up Jeannie's chances:
"Not while you look like a hag from the rag bag," she says.
After encouraging her to put on a too-small outfit she'd been using to dress up her teddy bear since she was 12, they wander off to find the men of the house. Bonnie discovers Jeannie's brother masturbating in his bedroom and offers him a pleasant alternative, while Debbie attempts seducing Jeannie's goofball, golf-crazy dad.

"Gee Mr. Davis," Debbie says, picking up one of dad's golfballs, "I like your balls."
Dad, naturally, gives her an impromptu golfing lesson.
"Let's go for a hole in one!" He says.

Jeannie comes bounding in with her new outfit, her nipples jutting jauntily through her tiny t-shirt. Dad gets so upset he accidentally sprays himself in the face with a bottle of Coke.
Bonnie walks into the room, a satisfied grin on her face. "What's going on?" She asks.
"Aw, Jeannie's old man has a thing about tits," says Debbie.
"Yeah," laughs Bonnie. "It runs in the family."

Poor Jeannie sulks, and soon, our first major plot point comes to light.
"I'm never going to be a cheerleader," she sighs. "Cheerleaders get all the boys and everything."
"But you have a boyfriend," says Debbie. "That guy from the car wash."
"Norman is my boyfriend, but I hate him," she says. And then she tells them she's a virgin.
"You must be the last one in California!" Says a shocked Debbie.
"Norman thinks I'm a piece of toast," says Jeannie, sorta inexplicably. "Buttered."

This movie has the best dialogue ever. Ever!

Jeannie goes to the cheerleader tryouts and she's horrible, but when Bonnie tells head cheerleader Claudia she's a virgin - and therefore less likely to get pregnant like the last cheerleader to leave the squad - they decide to give her a chance. First though, she has to be initiated. Her mission: take a shower in the boy's locker room. The other girls tell her the football team won't be done practicing for an hour, so she strips down and lathers up, but wouldn't you know it, it was a gag, and the team comes stampeding into the shower with her. She ends up under a pile of soapy man-flesh, barely making it out with her virginity still intact. Not the smartest idea, if the squad wants to keep her chaste until the season's over, but for sheer visual impact, it is truly one of the greatest scenes in teen se com history, and it is doubtful any other actress (well, besides Tara Reid, maybe) could have pulled off full-frontal pratfalls with such goofy comic grace.

And then Debbie fucks the hamburger guy, and Claudia fucks the coach. And then Patty fucks the lesbian gym teacher. There's a lot of fucking in this movie.

On the bus ride home from school, Jeannie grouses to Suzy about how she has no idea how to seduce a boy.
"It's easy," Suzy tells her, and to prove her point, she randomly picks a dude on the bus and grabs his crotch.
"I'm wise to rise in your Levis", she says, amazingly. Then she unzips the fucker and does him right there on the bus.
So yeah, it is pretty easy.

Jeannie tries to use a similar approach when she (literally) runs into Norm, now some sort of grocery deliveryman.
"Norm, you've got pies in your Levis," she tells him. She hasn't really gotten the hang of sex-talk yet.
"Keep a mule on the stool."
"Jeannie, what are you talking about?" asks Norm, sensibly.
"Norm, you're so cute," she says, pressing on. "You know why my thighs have a sty in your eye?"
Norm's had enough of her nonsense.
" I don't know what's been getting into you lately," he complains.
"Nothing's been getting into me," Jeannie says. "That's the problem."
And then she bails.
Meanwhile, Suzy, still not satisfied, fucks the bus driver. While he's still driving the bus.

There's some sort of weird subplot involving John and Novi, the creepy janitor (Raoul Hoffnung). Novi sells John some weed and then tells him that Amarosa have to lose the big game. Says the orders come all the way from 'the top'.
"The ol' fixaroo", says Novi.

So that's going on. Also, Novi wants to know when he gets what's coming to him, ie sex with a cheerleader. Something those two creeps worked out.
"Don't get your liver in a quiver," John says. "Just go home and sit tight. This could be your night."
There's a lot of rhyming in this movie, in case you haven't noticed yet.

Meanwhile, the cheerleaders are all sitting around in sexy positions (they are always, always sitting in sexy positions. Yet another reason why Paul Glickler deserves some sort of God-of-Boners award) trying to figure out how to get Jeannie laid. They're thinking about placing a classified ad in the local player.
"We should try the hard sell," says Bonnie.
"Come get a cheerleader's snatch, never a key in the latch."
I should point out that Jeannie's supposed to be sixteen years old. Man, the 70's were nuts. Flim-flammy Jon shows up and seduces Jeannie with a French fry. He takes her back to his groovy pad and things get nuts.

Turns out it's not John's house at all but Novi's, and they come up with an elaborate plan for Nov to fuck Jeannie while he's wearing a bear suit. There's also toe sucking and Benny Hill-esque skirt chasing, complete with sped-up film and slamming doors. Jeannie does not get boned by anybody, but she does break a waterbed and comes shooting out the bedroom door on a wave of foamy water.

The next day, the cheerleaders are out playing miniature golf together.
"It was all very beautiful and John was very romantic," Jeannie says, trying to piece the previous evening's events together, "But then there was this bear..."
The girls figure Claudia, being the head cheerleader and all, will be able to figure things out for Jeannie. She pulls herself away from her mini-golf lesson (a midget is instructing her, naturally) and assesses the situation.
"Them," she says, pointing to a couple of grimy bikers.

"They're wonderful!" Jeannie gushes, giving them a lascivious wink.
Claudia takes them all back to her place, where she fucks one of them in the dirt (beating him senseless while she does it). Jeannie attempts to get it on with the other scuzzball in the bushes, but then her dad shows up (Claudia's mom is having some kind of outdoor luncheon) and she freaks out, running through the tea party topless.

Finally, it's the night before the big game, and the cheerleaders have a slumber party at Jeannie's house, where they smoke weed and cavort around in sheer nighties. It's a bit of a washout until Jon shows up with the entire football team in tow, and then things quickly devolve into a full-on orgy. It is only until the team passes out in a sex-drained heap that the girls realize the error of their ways: having depleted their players of their vital man-juices, how can they win the game against the Central City Boars tomorrow?

Their solution, not surprisingly, is to drive out to Central City and fuck the other team as well, just to even things out. And that's what they do, hunting down all the key players wherever there are - at the drive-in (I Drink Your Blood is playing), at a garage, in various bedrooms and backyards all over town. Debbie even comes crashing through a table in a pizza joint.

The next day, both teams are so exhausted, they can barely play at all. Except, that is, for Central City's fourth string quarterback. Him, they missed, and now he's the only player with enough energy to win the game. Whatever will they do?

This looks like a job for Jeannie the virgin.

Funny, sexy, and weird, The Cheerleaders is a genre classic by anyone's standards. It was quickly followed by a flurry of 70s' cheersploitation movies, most of them starring Rainbeaux Smith, none of them directed by Paul Glickler, who decided to quit while he was ahead. The cheerleader film is still in full-swing as we speak (the latest, Fired Up, was just in theaters), and will likely continue to thrive as long as dudes still like looking at enthusiastic chicks in skimpy outfits. So forever, most likely.

As of this writing, the whereabouts of the actual cheerleaders is unknown. I'm guessing grandmother type stuff at this point. Oh, and as far as Jeannie's haircut goes, the "Stephanie Fondue" was later appropriated by Cherie Curie and Joan Jett of the all-girl 70's rock band The Runaways.

It is survived by lesbian sister folk-rockers Tegan and Sara.

Availability: The Cheerleaders is available on DVD.

- Ken McIntyre


  1. Does anyone have any guess as to who writer Ace Baandage really is?

  2. Can't say it's a good movie really but when you watch it--even if you've seen a dozen like it--you get the feeling that this one is somehow special. I first saw it doublefeatured with REVENGE OF THE CHEERLEADERS, a much slicker production, but the contrast was amazing to me even at age 18.REVENGE was sort of like a Disney film gone bad while CHEERLEADERS was more uniquely softcore weird and wonderful.


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