Dear Fanny (1985): Ecstasy Aunt

Dave gets kinky with a Gary Graver porno that celebrates the secret deviant in all of us.

Chances are that if you were involved in the skin trade throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, irrespective of capacity, then you flirted with the mob.

Gary Graver was no exception.

Graver’s longest creative affiliation in the adult film business was with ‘Sam Norvell’ – or, more accurately, Sidney Niekerk, the owner of primo porno house CalVista. First collaborating on the delectable Hot Rackets (1979), they’d work together on more than a dozen productions over the course of thirteen years, crafting some of the most memorable features in Graver’s long career. Niekerk, though, was a well-known associate of the Joseph Bonanno crime family. Bonnano had allegedly retired from his mafia duties at the end of the ‘60s. In 1974, he went to Arizona and set up a family home in a neighbourhood of Tucson with a familiar sounding name, Catalina Vista.

Niekerk also found himself tied to the mob for distribution, most notably in 1986 when the St. Louis Post-Dispatch found evidence that their city had become the Midwest centre for the dealing of XXX tapes. This avenue for handling and circulation had arisen thanks to a partnership between local mobster Mike Trupiano Jr. and Sam Riggi – an underboss in the DeCavalcante family from New Jersey. Their operation was based in a hub located at Alexis Video, where authorities discovered a stack of cassettes from companies who had been linked to organised crime, CalVista among them [1].

Niekerk pressed on regardless, heading the Adult Film Association of America (AFAA) and bagging a handful of awards for his growing roster of titles. DEAR FANNY certainly belongs in the top tier – especially so given Graver’s comfortable relationship with comedy (Co-Ed Fever (1980) , Garage Girls (1980) et al.).

Janey Robbins plays Fanny: an old school newspaper agony aunt with a decidedly progressive spin. She’s assisted in her work by her secretary, Beth (Gina Carrera), and an assistant, Rolf (Ron Jeremy), whose roles require them to sift through the mailbag and select appropriate letters for Fanny to pontificate over – but only once they’ve read them aloud against the backdrop of an X-rated reconstruction. Six saucy sequences pepper the film as readers bare their passionate perversions, but it’s all too much for the carnal correspondent and her steaming subordinates who acquiesce to their desires more and more with every provocative piece of post.

Dear Fanny is a paean to perversion; an enjoyable flesh flick that pokes at people’s peccadillos with regard as opposed to ridicule. The standout section is ‘Dear Harry’, which finds the legendary Robert Kerman as the titular character, a voyeur who can only gain sexual gratification from spying on others in the throes of passion. It’s the funniest of the chapters with fine support from Robert Bullock and Amber Lynn (as a pair of spied upon newlyweds), and an awesome appearance from Graver’s good friend and serial cameo’r Jean Clark (credited as ‘Scumbag’) as a lisping receptionist.

Other notables include ‘Dear Flesh Fancier’, a BBW kinkfest that sees Jerry Davis and Severa Lee (in her second and final adult role after Camp Beaver Lake: The Movie (1984)) making out to an original song with the lyrics “Chub, chub, chub, fits me like a glove / rub a dub, dub, so much more to love”; and ‘Dear Mr and Mrs Hogbody’, where Mimi Daniels and Jeremy himself whip out the spray cream, strawberries and sprinkles to deliver food porn in its most literal sense.

Shot in 35mm and gorgeously photographed by Graver, the 2008 CalVista DVD release of Dear Fanny goes some way to showing how tidy this picture would have looked on the big screen. It began its theatrical tour of the country in New Jersey in the middle of July 1985. It hit New York the following month, and then went west to the Pussycat in San Jose.

USA ● 1985 ● Adult, Comedy ● 75mins

Janey Robbins, Ron Jeremy, Gina Carrera, Robert Kerman, Tantala Ray, Amber Lynn ● Dir. Gary Graver (as ‘Robert McCallum’) ● Wri. Joe Sherman

[1] Area Called Hub for Smut Films by Ronald J. Lawrence, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 5th September 1986

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