Tuesday, March 01, 2011

A final farewell to a King of Babylon

by Chris Poggiali

I first met Dave Friedman at a Chiller Theater convention sometime in the mid 1990s. Sitting at the Something Weird Video table, VHS copies of his many exploitation films spread out in front of him, he smiled broadly at me and extended his hand to shake mine as I told him, "Mr. Friedman, I think A Youth in Babylon is the best book that's been written on the history of exploitation movies." He thanked me, and I asked how the sequel, Kings of Babylon, was progressing.

"It's finished," Dave replied, "but the publisher wants me to cut over a hundred pages from my manuscript, and I won't do it."

I'm paraphrasing -- he did give an exact number of pages, which I've forgotten -- but you get the picture. Dave wasn't budging, and neither was the publisher.

From that point on, every time we'd see each other at a Chiller show, our conversations would begin roughly the same way:



"Kings of Babylon?"

"Don't hold your breath! They still want me to cut those pages and I just can't do it."

I'd then hit him with four or five questions, which he would answer in great detail, and after I purchased a couple of Something Weird videos I'd thank him, shake his hand and be on my way.

One time, I brought my STARLET novelization to Chiller and Dave told me about the making of the movie while he flipped through the pages and even read some of the text aloud; he finished by signing the front cover for me. At another show, I gave him several magazine articles I had written and we exchanged e-mail addresses. A few weeks later he helped me land an interview with Lee Frost that was eventually published in Shock Cinema #20, and for that I am eternally grateful.

I remember asking him once, "Why did you bother submitting hardcore movies like FEMALE ATHLETES and DRACULA EXOTICA to the MPAA when you knew darn well they were going to get X ratings?"

"I did that because of one city," Dave answered. "Their local newspapers wouldn't run advertisements for movies without MPAA ratings, so in order to play that city I had to submit everything to the ratings board." During the past decade or so, Dave recorded at least 20 audio commentaries for various DVD releases, yet I don't recall ever hearing that bit of information on any of those commentary tracks. I wonder now if that was just one of the many interesting facts the publisher was willing to jettison in order to obtain the desired page count for Kings of Babylon.

R.I.P. Dave. I hope someday to read the second half of your story.

Previews of
Coming Attractions

To This Bookstore

The Continuing Scandalous Saga of David F. Friedman
…Living in a Luminous Lotus Land of Luxe and Lubricity,
the Capital of Creative Celluloid Concupiscence!
…Soon Becoming Potentate of the Preeminent Production
Palace of Playful Passion,
The Undisputed, Unchallenged, Unexcelled

You’ll Laugh, You’ll Cheer
You’ll Squirm in Your Chair
When the Resolute Rajah of Ribaldry Reveals All

– in – 


Every Lurid Page Will Divulge:

• What goes on and comes off in the making of adult movies
• How modest maidens are launched on careers of carnality
• What happened in federal and state courthouses, coast-to-coast, when I fought the forces of repression
• How I debunked the “snuff film” myth, a big lie told by a zealous, rabble-rousing paid employee of a pro-censorship group and believed by law-enforcement agencies and a sizable segment of the public
• Where I struck gold in a vast distant land
• How I opened the virgin territory of Australia, where no adult movies had ever been publicly exhibited, to American-made product
• Why the FBI expended thousands of man-hours tracking my business and personal activities for nearly two decades
• Who were the Hollywood “names” beginning their careers with me before going on to bigger and better things
• How I established the adult home-video industry
• Why I lost money in this venture while others following me in video became multi-millionaires
• What the customers want to see, and what not, in adult film fare
• Who were the other KINGS OF BABYLON
• Why I refused the credit listing on the one picture I produced that wasn’t fun – ILSA, SHE-WOLF OF THE S.S.
• When, where, and why the Adult Film Association of America was founded
• How I headed this organization for seventeen years
• What happened on four occasions when I made and distributed
"general release" pictures
• Which of the whispered stories about adult movies are true, which are figments of imagination
• Dozens of bittersweet, behind-the-scenes stories about the dedicated kids who eat, sleep, and love showbusiness – and each other


as David F. Friedman

Lays Bare
the Secrets that have
Long Shrouded the
Exploitation Film Industry

– in –


Plus – For Your Added Pleasure and Perusal
A Plethora of Photos –
The Kind You Like to Look at – In Private!

(p. 350-351, A Youth in Babylon)


austin said...

Dave would later relate to me that his wife threw away a great deal of the finished manuscript while she was cleaning house. I know for a fact that Mike Vraney has what's left, and has considered publishing it through the Something Weird imprint. Here's hoping their recent venture into digital distribution will expedite that!

venoms5 said...

Awesome post! The book sounds like a winner, too.

Anonymous said...

Any updates on the status of the book? I read "Youth" several years ago. Listening to audio commentary on Ilsa now and am hearing about the second book for the first time. Thanks for the post and the awesome story. I always wanted him to sign my copy of "Youth" but I missed my chance. I live vicariously through your wonderful encounters with Dave.