Marilyn Chambers - Benihana (1977, Roulette)
Marilyn Chambers - So I Cried A Little Bit (1977, Roulette)
It's been a while since my last post (and I'll admit, this one is a little over a week overdue), but I do have a new Disco Delivery post in the works, so I'm hoping to get that one up sometime soon. Anyway, even though this has been posted elsewhere already, after hearing of legendary porn star Marilyn Chambers' death last Sunday, I remembered the copy of her one-off disco single that I had picked up last summer.
While I'd never really sought out any of her movies, when this one popped up in a crate during my summer vacation in Vancouver last year, I immediately picked it up.. Released 1977 on the legendary/infamous Roulette label, the same year as her 'legit' film debut in Cronenberg's "Rabid," I'm willing to guess that in looking to leverage herself into some sort of mainstream viability, her and her people (Chuck Traynor?) probably looked at Andrea True's surprise success the previous year and thought if Andrea could do it, so could she..
c. February, 1977
Alas though, while Marilyn may have had a marginally better voice, Andrea undoubtedly had the better song. As it is, "Benihana" remains no more and no less than a cutesy disco novelty, a footnote in disco and pop culture, by comparison. That being said, the more I listen to this, the more I end up loving it. With both sides produced by the chant man himself, Michael Zager (who as it turned out also produced one of Andrea True's later disco hits "What's Your Name, What's Your Number" in the same year), it's certainly not without it's charms.
The first part of the song is a breathy, swinging, sexy-talking disco romp punctuated by a sleazy little sax, laden with little double entendres about "filling her up in many ways." By the end of it however she takes the porny 'action going, cameras rolling' overtures of "More More More" one step further - ditching the double entendres in favour of an all-out audio orgasm, complete with hilarious heavy breathing and panting (of the ooh ooh, feels so good - don't stop, DON'T STOP variety). While simulated orgasms in disco wasn't all that new, unlike the others I've heard, this one ends up sounding over the top it's own sort of way - like light, exaggerated porn sex as opposed to the serious, heavier "love to love you, baby" variety. But I guess that was probably the point, anyway. The fact that, in spite of everything, this didn't become (at least, as far as I know) the theme to a playful little porn flick at the time, ends up feeling like a missed opportunity to me. Either way though, as it is, it ends up making for great bit of harmless sexy fun, even if it isn't exactly considered the pinnacle of either Zager or Chambers' achievements.
The single's ballad B-side "So I Cried A Little Bit" is your typical Michael Zager ballad, which is to say, fairly tepid when not paired with a formidable vocalist. At the very least, it's a decent attempt at versatility, on her part.
Notably, Hungarian/Italian porn queen Ilona Staller (AKA Cicciolina) would cover "Benihana" in 1979, on her own disco album (which was reissued on CD some nine years back). So far, the only place where I've come across Marilyn's original on CD would be on the 3 CD Roulette Story set (the very last track) from Westside/Demon in the UK, which is out of print on CD, but still available on iTunes UK.
Personally, I would have loved to hear what other sexy disco romps Marilyn could have come up with, if given the opportunity to record a little bit more (the theme from 'Insatiable' is yet another nice preview). Evidently however, things never really did get far enough on the mainstream side of things, having returned to adult films a few short years later. For someone who has become so iconic though, it's hard not to dwell on her relatively young age, her decidedly unglamorous address at the time of her passing, and the exploitative flipside of the industry she was in, so I won't. But to her credit, in interviews and in all the obituaries and remembrances that have since come out, she comes across as someone who seemed to have been much more interesting, talented and articulate than she and others in her best known profession are often given credit for.
The Los Angeles NBC affiliate posted up a brief piece on her passing, with some video, including an interview with her teenage daughter.
VARIOUS - THE ROULETTE STORY (INCLUDES 'BENIHANA')
PREVIOUS RELATED ENTRIES:
DISCO DELIVERY #55: CISSY HOUSTON - STEP ASIDE FOR A LADY (1980, COLUMBIA) (FRIDAY, JUNE 20, 2008)
DISCO DELIVERY #22: SPINNERS - DANCIN' & LOVIN' (1979, ATLANTIC) (MONDAY, JUNE 5, 2006)
DISCO DELIVERY #8: CISSY HOUSTON - THINK IT OVER (1978, PRIVATE STOCK) (FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2006)
DISCOGS: MARILYN CHAMBERS - BENIHANA 12''
DISCOMUSIC.COM: MARILYN CHAMBERS - BENIHANA 12''
LUKE IS BACK: MARILYN CHAMBERS PROFILE
LOS ANGELES TIMES: MARILYN CHAMBERS DIES AT 56 (BY DENNIS MCLELLAN) (APRIL 14, 2009)
CBC: 1970'S PORN ACTRESS MARILYN CHAMBERS FOUND DEAD (MONDAY APRIL 13, 2009)
NBC LOS ANGELES: ADULT STAR MARILYN CHAMBERS FOUND DEAD (MONDAY APRIL 13, 2009)
AVN BUSINESS: MARILYN CHAMBERS, LEGENDARY ADULT ACTRESS, DEAD AT 56 (BY MARK KERNES) (APRIL 13, 2009)
SPOUT BLOG: MARILYN CHAMBERS DIES (BY CHRISTOPHER CAMPBELL) (APRIL 13, 2009)
WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: 2004 INTERVIEW WITH MARILYN CHAMBERS (BY RANDALL KING) (APRIL 13, 2009)
FOURFOUR: RIP, MARILYN (APRIL 14, 2009)
CATEGORIES: MINI DELIVERIES, IN MEMORIAM..