Porky’s - Take a Peek into 1950s Florida Crackers
"Porky's” was released March 19, 1982. The film’s domestic box office gross was $ $105,492,483.
The high school coming of age movie was nothing new to Hollywood in 1982. But before the release of Porky’s that year, American cinema had not seen high school life – and especially high school life in the 1950s –portrayed as the all out search for sex that it was. And what better setting for the first great juvenile sex comedy than hot, steamy South Florida? That’s right, for those of you who haven’t seen the film, or those who have but let the naked girls in the shower and the Kim Cattrall sex scene dominate your memories, the granddaddy of all sex comedies was filmed and set right here in Miami.
It’s gotta be the heat
The story, much like its later copycats, follows a group of teenage boys desperate to get laid. Of course, just like in real high school, they all claim they have, but few if any look like they’ve actually been to the dance. The story is set in the fictional town of Angel Beach, Florida, which looks a bit like some north Dade suburb might have in the 1950s. The kids of Angel Beach are an interesting mix of rednecks and transplants, Jews and gentiles, and as such gives us a feel of a 1950s growth-era high school. The film’s exterior and interior school shots are actually Miami Senior High (which has a very different demographic now) including the infamous hole-in-the-girls’-locker-room scene. No word on whether or not the holes are still there.
The film has a sort of loose plot about a group of high school basketball players trying to get laid, but is really more of an excuse to connect a series of hilarious practical jokes. Most of these jokes come at the expense of a guy named Pee Wee, a less-than-well-endowed virgin who can’t even manage to score with Angel Beach High’s resident slut. (He wears a condom on the date, which is too insulting even for the easy girls). Among other things, Pee Wee is tricked into crushing an egg on the head of Meat, the biggest guy in school (in more ways than one) and left to run naked out of a house in the Everglades which he is led to believe houses a willing hooker.
Crooked cops and strip clubs: some things never change
In their search for sex, the boys go out to a dirty redneck strip club across the county line (deep in the Everglades) called Porky’s. This, apparently, is from an era when one had to walk more than a hundred yards from one’s home in South Florida to find a dirty strip club. Oh, how the times have changed. The boys venture deep into the glades only to get tricked into thinking they were paying for sex by the gastropod of an owner named Porky, who then dumps them in a canal (again, in an era where being dumped in a canal did not involve contracting dysentery). The remainder of the film involves the guys from Angel Beach plotting their revenge against Porky and his brother, the crooked sheriff who runs the neighboring county. So I guess maybe some things haven’t changed at all.
Meanwhile the film gives us some unforgettable scenes, like the boys glaring through a peephole into the girls locker room and full frontal nudity. And the thinly-veiled-bulldyke of a girls’ gym teacher Ms. Balbricker living up to her name as she grabs a hold of the manhood one of the boys foolish enough to stick it through one of the peepholes. This, among other classic gags in the movie (this was the film that coined the prank call looking for Michael Hunt) makes it one of the few movies that will make you laugh out loud, even if you are watching it by yourself. Stone sober.
And for those who were unaware, Kim Cattrall plays a sex-obsessed young girls’ gym teacher in this film, making her classic sex scene now look like a flashback scene from “Sex and The City.” Most of us have seen Kim Cattrall have sex on screen by now, but never as a twenty-something in a cheerleader’s outfit. Given that her entire comeback was based on playing a similar character, the scene makes for great foreshadowing as she howls loud enough for the entire gymnasium to hear.
I bet you forgot the movie had a socially responsible moral too, didn’t you?
Despite all its blatant sexuality and raucous pranks, Porky’s actually has a subtle message of racial tolerance and acceptance.
One of the plotlines surrounds the anti-Semitic leanings of Tim Cavanaugh, one of the band of boys looking for booty. He repeatedly refers to Brian, the Jew who just moved to South Florida, as a “Kite,” and as the movie progresses we come to find that his abusive, alcoholic father has ingrained him with hate for everyone “different;” He is not much a fan of Hispanics either, and this was pre-Castro. We also hear several anti-black slurs at the beginning of the film from Ted Jarvis, the native Floridian who is portrayed as a backwoods redneck good ole boy. Yeah, South Florida in the 50s was a little different. But in the end, once Tim learns to respect other people and stand up to his dad, all the boys work together, and are finally able to exact revenge on the vicious and corrupt Porky across the county line.
A peek at another kind of bush
While the names and places in Porky’s are fictitious, the movie has a definite Floridian feel. The backwoods swamps are the most obvious, and the film harkens back to a time when you could take a 20 minute drive out to the Everglades from the middle of the city. The set for Porky’s club was actually constructed in the Oleta River State Recreation Area, but sadly other than it and Miami High you won’t recognize much in this film. The burger joint where the kids hang out is somewhere up in Hollywood Beach (not Le Tub), even though it may bare a slight resemblance to Monty’s. And the house of the faux-hooker was set up near FIU-North’s campus in North Miami. Even back in the 80s, when this was filmed, that was all woods.
So while development and immigration have certainly changed South Florida since the 1950s, the mind of the teenage boy has been largely unaffected. Even though the kids in high school here now may look, act, and talk a little different, the goals are still the same. And, more importantly, the jokes are still funny. And while Porky’s is best known for giving us a peep at something much more risqué, this movie also gives us a glimpse into what life in Miami was like in a time few of us can remember.
And here, for those who don’t remember or haven’t seen it, is the hilarious porky’s peephole scene
Boys will be boys.
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