Shooting All the King’s Ladies Part 2: Terrorizing the City of San Francisco

The production of “The First Big-Budget Erotic Extravaganza Shot Entirely on Videotape” was jinxed.  It was as if I had walked under a ladder with a black cat circling around me.

The grim gauntlet began even before the shoot.

The following is from SKINFLICKS:

I came out of Brooks Camera in San Francisco, loaded down with photographic supplies. My car was gone! Who’d want to steal a brown Rabbit with a faded right rear quarter panel?

Evidently, no one. I found out from a liquor store clerk that the City tow truck had taken it to the impound yard, instead of issuing a parking ticket. Visitors weren’t known for rushing to pay them.

flyers and book cover 014
Shot in 1981, starring Serena, Sharon Mitchell, Rhonda Jo Petty, Michael Morrisson, JonMartin, Mai Lin

If you ever managed to get through the busy signals to the city garage, you’d be glad–by then–to pay the $135 ransom. But I was in a time frenzy: Production was due to begin on All the King’s Ladies in only two days.

Shelly and I had just seen the pyrotechnic Raiders of the Lost Ark; it gave me an inspiration. I called the information operator and said in a deadly calm voice, “I don’t want you to panic, but this could be a matter of life and death. I’m on the demolition team of a movie crew. That car is carrying explosive materials, which could become very unstable if you look at them the wrong way. If they go off, it would be the equivalent of 500 pounds of dynamite.”

“Oh, my God!” the operator exclaimed. She gave me the garage’s emergency number. I got through immediately, gave the same spiel and got the same “Oh, my God!” response.

I ran fifteen blocks through the bowels of “San Fiasco” and arrived at the garage, panting and sweaty, clutching my packages like a running back hugging a wet football. Two dark suits flanked me into the parking structure. Upon spying the Rabbit, I halted so quickly that one of the suits, trying to do the same, nearly sprawled headlong on the concrete.

Cautiously, I approached the car. As I’d hoped, the suits stayed back. I jumped into the Rabbit and took off. In my mirror I glimpsed the suits–not yet aware they’d been had–dive behind a van.

Next post: Shooting All the King’s Ladies Part 4: Ripoffs. Learning new lessons in distrust.