The waiter and the porter grabbed a-hold of the maid
Then they all proceeded to go into a clog
Hot diggedy dog.
(The Waiter and the Porter and the Upstairs Maid, Johnny Mercer, 1941)
Soap operas, or ‘soaps’ as we now know them, are so called because many of the sponsors of these early TV shows were manufacturers of washing powder and the slippery stuff you have fun trying to catch in the bath. Gazzman’s Down On Abby, by missing a crucial ‘t’ and ‘e’, cheekily creates a porno-parody of a particularly notorious period soap, one of the several jewels in Julian Fellowes’ artistic (and now, of course, baronial) coronet. Except that in Gazzman’s movie, not much happens in the way of snobbery, avarice, pride, intolerance or any other of the many aristocratic vices that Baron Fellowes so lovingly, yet obsessively, dwells upon. Aristos and staff are all far too busy screwing one another. In the nicest way possible.
But Down On Abby is not a soap in the true sense of the word, for there is only one, pneumatic, heaving and ejaculatory episode, unless a sequel is planned (a prize for the best title suggestion). Even a Carry On movie has more in the way of a serious plot, but that parallel is inescapable when we bump into characters with such enjoyably frisky monikers as Lord and Lady Grabhem (the legendary Ben Dover and Jasmine Jae), Lord and Lady Stiffy (Ryan Ryder and Jess West), Smallcock the Butler (Tony de Sergio – he hasn’t, in case you were wondering) and Master Bates (Clarke Kent), Lord G’s ‘personal footman’ (valet, actually, as I’m sure Lord Fellowes would tell you).
And if these days Ben is beginning to look and sound a bit more like Sid James, the voluptuous Jasmine could never be mistaken for the matronly Hattie Jacques. No, Carry On was a different genre entirely so comparisons, though fun, are a bit unfair.
The appearance of tatts, breast enhancements, shaven genitals, tongue studs and estuary accents among Bottomley (oh yes) Manor’s stately, turreted facades, its leaded lights, dark oak panelling and 20’s costumes are incongruous, but appealingly so. With only a slight shift in perception, it might evoke James Merchant’s brilliant 1972 movie Savages, where a band of primitive, forest-dwelling ‘mudpeople’ encounter a croquet ball that rolls across their path while they perform a sacrifice; it leads them to a huge deserted 1930s Westchester mansion; slowly they adopt a veneer of civilisation, but eventually revert to their primitive, rutting, superstitious state, and once again the forest swallows them up.
Whatever. Those who enjoy porn don’t want their movies to be overwhelmed by high production values or Merchant Ivory parallels. It stops one concentrating on the real thing. And, as if to remind me of this, whilst attempting to find my way on the DVD as it wheezed around inside my ageing desktop computer, I came across something that was new to me: under Scene Select there was a handy sub-menu feature called, rather bluntly, Cum Shot Recap. Well why not? Because, hot diggedy dog, in this kind of movie at least, the money shot is what it’s all about.
It’s hard not to like Down On Abby. It’s very British, full of naked talent and irreverent, tongue-in-cheek humour. And who knows, you might even enjoy the porn without feeling guilty for doing so. ‘But,’ I hear you ask, ‘does anyone go down on the eponymous Abby?’ Ah, now that would be telling.
Down On Abby, Tales From Bottomley Manor, directed by Gazzman, produced by Harmony Films,
140 mins, HD, R18