DIRECTOR: ROD WALLOPER. RUNNING TIME: 83 mins. VIDEO:PEEPSHOW CLASSICS. PRICE £15.99 CERT 18
Fired from his job as a meat packer when caught doing something unspeakable with a frozen chicken, young Barry Stumper (Robert Sternpost) is forced to find employment of a less conventional kind and finds himself trudging door to door, offering his sexual services to bored housewives. Wandering around various run-down London housing estates with his briefcase full of sex-aids, Barry finds himself embroiled in several strange adventures and is even mistaken for a murderer. A 1980s attempt to revive a 1970s tradition – the softcore British sex comedy – Adventures of a Door to Door Male Prostitute is full of more than mildly offensive 1970s stereotypes. At one point, for instance, Barry knocks on a door which is answered by an obvious gay stereotype – wide-brimmed brown hat, purple jacket, huge moustache and camp smile – who eagerly tries to avail himself of the hapless hero’s services. When Barry tries to make his excuses and escape, he is dragged into the house by a group of semi-naked body builders with bleached blonde hair, thrown across a table and buggered senseless. The gay householder is played by famed camp comic Larry Grayson (actually a hard-drinking rugby-player who secretly fathered two illegitimate children with ex-Coronation Street star Ena Sharples – herself once described by Harold Wilson as the only authentic sex goddess north of Watford), who predictably delivers his patented catch-phrases “Seems like a nice boy”, “Shut that door” and “Look at the muck in here” directly to camera at the appropriate moments.
Grayson’s is one of several gratuitous ‘star’ cameos by various now-forgotten British comedians and sitcom actors. The Krankies briefly appear with ‘schoolboy’ Jimmy having his eyes covered by Ian Krankie as a naked and erect Barry is chased down the street by a meat-cleaver wielding cuckolded Indian restaurant proprietor (played by Terry Scott with boot polish on his face) who threatens to cut Barry’s penis off and “put it in the curry”. Perhaps the most memorable, for all the wrong reasons, guest appearance is that of Life with the Larkins‘ Peggy Mount – the sight of that old battleaxe removing her false teeth to give Sternpost a blow-job is something I shall sadly never forget. However, all of these 1970s style antics – demonstrating a vibrator to po-faced sitcom dragon Joan Sanderson and shagging young housewives with the aid of a hoover – and Sternpost’s sub-Robin Askwith performance (“Bloody ‘ell missus, I didn’t mean that kind of suction!”), inevitably jar somewhat with the serial killer sub-plot in which Barry unwittingly shags the wife of the local sex-murderer. The killer (played by Emmerdale Farm‘s Henry Wilkes), takes his revenge on the travelling male prostitute by framing him for the murders. Barry becomes the police’s prime suspect after several of his clients are butchered (“My wife always said he had a big chopper,” one bereaved husband tells a detective). Everything is resolved when the killer’s next victim turns out to be Barry in drag, who after being chased all around the house, fells him with a huge dildo.
Adventures of a Door to Door Male Prostitute is proof positive that you really can’t go back. Its tawdry parade of racial, sexual and social stereotypes were offensive even when it was made. Now they are simply unacceptable. Not surprisingly, it didn’t kick off a sex comedy revival and proved to be star Sternpost’s last film – he ended his days, somewhat ironically, as a door to door exotic fruit salesman and tragically died from internal injuries sustained after being hit by a cantaloupe hurled from a moving car by an irate husband who believed (wrongly) that Sternpost was getting fruity with his wife.