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X Marks The Spot

Studio: Vivid » Review by Disco Dirge » Review Date: 6/5/05

XCritic's Advice: Recommended

GENRE: Straight Feature
STARS: Malezia, Monique Alexander, Alexis Malone, Dani Woodward, Kelli Tyler, Julien, Tommy Gunn, Kris Knight, Franco Del Toro, Scott Nails
LENGTH: 135 mins

There are certain legendary names in the post-millennial porn industry, folks who push the envelope of what hardcore can and could be. There is Robby D. who employs a kind of self-effacing irony to all his movies, be they Jack's Playground style gonzo or his Repo Girl like straight features. David Stanley and Brad Armstrong are trying to mesh the cinematic with the carnal, using normal comedy and dramatic convention to hide the humping. Seymore Butts can really sell the caught on tape type of XXX-tasy better than most, and such aggressive stalwarts as Michael Stefano, Jonnie Darkko and Manuel Ferrara try to take XXX into new, nastier realms of the repugnant.

But none can hold a crossover candle to Chi Chi LaRue, An infamous drag performer, gay porn director and occasional sex film star has taken the straight industry by storm, making movies that seem to spur the interest of both guys and gals alike. LaRue tends to treat his male and female performers as erotic equals, making sure both deliver in the eye candy and Eros department. He is not into rough or demeaning porno, and occasionally peppers his flesh peddling with outrageous comedy and campy melodrama. So when one approaches X Marks the Spot, the expectations are rather high. After all, with so much to offer from a creative and corporeal standpoint, how can Chi Chi go wrong? The answer, sadly, is situated somewhere inside this DVD's less than dynamic donkey konging.

The DVD:
The setup for X Marks the Spot is simple: each of our pairings here discusses the dimension of sex they are exploring prostitution, adult filmmaking, private shows before actually presenting the pork. The on camera conversations are either realistic (Malezia addressing certain issues from her own personal vantage point) or as part of some peculiar playacting (the gals as jaded strippers, a couple of dudes as Johns looking for love in back alleys). After a few moments of mentioning, the sex begins.

Chi Chi has a certain style that can best be described as psychotic but in a good way. He loves bizarre angles, off putting positions and a tendency to focus on the beef and veal cake as much as the fresh fish. Nobody looks bad in a Chi Chi LaRue film, unless they are offered up in a real rough trade dynamic, like Franco and Scott (they can't hold a growth hormone to Tommy, Kriz and Julien). Body art is also prevalent, as our interesting, cinematic backdrops.

In essence, LaRue is pushing the boundaries of balling, trying to figure out how far straight audiences will go in their acceptance of man ass, or if he can find a way to make homosexuals hungry for pink stink. This means that X Marks the Spot is a strange, almost schizoid experience which gives both men and women equal footing in the fucking. Chi Chi does have a couple of signature sex moves. One is called the Ass or Pussy Job. Instead of using a hand or a mouth on a member, LaRue will get his talent to take on a tool from the vag or ass parameter, jacking the joint with cheek or lip meat. It is very strange. Also, for someone not ready to share their sensibility with glam shots of guy glands, or those who get sickened by close ups of spread she snatch, Chi Chi's choices will not perk up your proclivities. But there is still a lot of sizzle in this metrosexual mix, and if you can toss aside your preconceptions, you'll have a lot of flesh fun.

Individually, the scenes vary from intense to merely interesting. Looking at them one on one gives us an idea of where the sexual sticking points may be, as well as those times when it's just a matter of sitting back and letting the lovin' flow. We begin with:

Scene 1: Malezia, Julian
Plot Point: Malezia is a photo model that will do just about anything for money, as Julian soon finds out.
Act Performed: Photo Shoot Cabaret, Foreplay, Cunnilingus, Blow Job, Ass Job, Cowgirl, Mish, 69 with Anal Vibrator Action, $hot in Mouth, Oral Clean-up

You know you're in LaRue land when Julain gets as much cabaret time as Malezia. Along with Tommy and Kris, it's steroid city during the first three-fifths of this title. The meeting of brawny with beauty is fairly hot, since Malezia's slight form matches well with Mr. J's juiced up jarheadedness. LaRue's patented perverted camera is everpresent, capturing flesh-on-flesh facets you didn't know existed in the sex act. More could have been done with the toys, and the massive amount of stretched, near gaping man ass could be a potential turn off for the standard straight film fan. But Chi Chi begins with a bang. Too bad, the rest of the DVD goes rapidly downhill from here. Score: 6 out of 10.

Scene 2: Alexis Malone, Julian, Tommy Gunn
Plot Point: Alexis is a whore that agrees to do two guys in the back alley - for lots of cash, of course.
Act Performed: Foreplay, Dueling Head, Salad Tossing, Blow Job, Cunnilingus, Face Sitting, Doggy, Cowgirl, Minor $hots in Mouth

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Another pretty, petite babe gets balled by a couple of pumped up pole packers and the big on small scenario rapidly grows old. Alexis learns the true meaning of being manhandled as the oversized mitts and meat of Tommy and Julian threaten to core her five ways to Sunday. Ever the attractive trooper, Ms. Malone takes it and tries to give it back as well. She is only semi-successful. Granted, there is a nice, dirty dimension to the scene (the alley setting helps) but there are cracks starting to form in the LaRue logistics. You start to notice that no one sweats, and that everyone is covered in massive amounts of body make-up. While legitimate porn isn't supposed to be ultra-realistic (we'll leave that to the amateur auteurs), it's also not supposed to be this slick and overproduced. Score: 6 out of 10.

Scene 3: Malezia, Kris Knight
Plot Point: We are on the set of a porn shoot, and passions flare.
Act Performed: Foreplay, Cunnilingus, Fingering, Blow Job, Pussy Job, V to M, Anal Fingering, Cowgirl, Reverse Cowgirl, $hot on Ass and Vagina

Perhaps the best pairing of the set comes when Malezia takes on the interchangeable carcass of could be anyone else also know as Kriz Knight. Bizarre body art aside, the couple canoodle with obvious passion, and their chemistry cuts through a lot of Chi Chi's chum. Once they get to slammin' the pole to pussy particulars are very erotic, and you can sense the couple connecting beyond the basic boundaries of a porn shoot. As far as hot hardcore action goes, Scene 3 is probably the best that X Marks the Spot has to offer. Score: 7 out of 10.

Scene 4: Dani Woodward, Scott Nails, Kelli Tyler, Franco Del Toro
Plot Point: During a phone sex conversation, our couples canoodle.
Act Performed: Blow Job, 69, Face Sitting, Ass Job, Cunnilingus, Mish, Cowgirl, Reverse Cowgirl, Spoon, $hots in Face with Oral Clean-up

This is a very surreal scene, not only for its split screen, bifurcated set design, but also for how we suddenly drop out of muscleman territory and directly into rough trade drifter land. Scott and Franco look like the kind of guys who'd get regularly beaten up in high school, not hot to trot male porn stars, and when paired up with the aggressive and intense Dani and Kelli (must be something about spelling your name with an "i", not a "y" that gets these gals all goofy) they become even more emasculated. The double dimension dynamic means that Chi Chi can really play with his editing and shot selection. It can be a little disconcerting at first, but he finally finds a comfortable editing rhythm in the end not that it makes the scene any better. We are still dealing with less than arousing geisha boys and temple girls here. Score: 5 out of 10.

Scene 5: Malezia, Monique Alexander
Plot Point: Two strippers get up close and personal after a long night of pole riding.
Act Performed: Cabaret, Foreplay, Cunnilingus, Tongue Fucking, Fingering, V to M, Vibrator Action, Cunt to Cunt Grinding, Dildo Dramatics, Dildo Face Fucking, Dildo Face Sitting

Proving that gay directors can make boring lesbian porn with the best of them, Chi Chi nearly ruins his entire movie by giving Malezia and Monique a far too long same sex scenario that basically irks the audience into atrophy. Nothing here is new, unusual, interesting or very fun until the final few minutes of the scene. During this decidedly different sequence, Mal takes a faux phallus and grips it with her teeth. Monique then plants her poon directly over the dildo and does a nice, powerful pole ride, cramming her cunt directly into Malezia's mouth. This freaky face fucking lasts about a minute, and is the sole scintillating highlight. Otherwise, it's just more of the same gal/gal glop. Score: 5 out of 10.

Part of the problem with X Marks the Spot is its stars. Malezia is fine in infrequent doses, her dainty, demure persona playing well when part of an ensemble. But with her featured very prominently here, and since she calls upon a similar set of carnal gestures in every scene, we grow tired of her twat tirades by the end. The same goes for Julian, who's just a slab of shaft looking for a spot to spork. He's no different that Tommy or Kriz, all of whom are chemically created monuments to female fantasy fodder. This doesn't mean they aren't good porn performers, mind you, they just look like a humpable Harlequin romance covers doing it.

And since he is a filmmaker at heart, Chi Chi relies on certain cinematic cheats to get him through a scene. The positions don't flow so much as jump cut into each other, penetration seemingly occurring off camera or off handedly. The reliance on the medium shot also scuttles the sex, since we don't get either the erotica increasing close-ups or the passion providing long shots. Whenever the lens does get in tight, it's usually in a manner that is so strange that it becomes a game of 'name the body part'. There are many who swear by LaRue, and it's easy to see why. He has an eye for XXX action that many wannabe directors would die for. But X Marks the Spot is not one of his better films. It simply stalls in places where the porn should really ratchet up the raunch.

The Video:
There is no denying the visual vibrance that Chi Chi brings to a movie. As a result, the 1.33:1 full screen transfer of X Marks the Spot if first rate. The colors are correct, the contrasts controlled and detail intensive. There is none of the flaring, ghosting or compression defects we've come to expect with the DVD medium. Vivid is known for its professional, near perfect product and this disc is an excellent example of same.

The Audio:
Chi Chi also doesn't overwhelm us with strange electronica experiments or the kind of jazzed up ambient bullspit that so many other titles tend toward. The aural attributes of X Marks the Spot are pleasant, non-intrusion tunes tossed in with some sex noises in a balanced and enjoyable mix. The Dolby Digital Stereo showcases everything expertly, and proves why the attention to certain cinematic details, like sound and its presentation, can make a world of difference in the adult industry.

The Extras:
Vivid's titles are usually loaded for bear, and X Marks the Spot is no exception. Once you get past all the merchandising (web site info, phone sex and toy ads), movie mania (a collection of four trailers) and the usual mediocrities (positions room, galleries, bios) we are treated to a decent Behind the Scenes featurette and a collection of bonus scenes. The Making-Of material is interesting, since it gives us a chance to see Chi Chi in action. He is very talkative during the sex scenes, shooting out suggestions and position changes with hysterical glee. The actors all seem comfortable on his sets, and the overall mood is upbeat and fun. You definitely can't say that for all porn productions. As for the additional sex sequences, here is a rundown:

Bonus Scene 1: Malezia, Chris Cannon
From: Deep in Malezia (2004)
Director: Chi Chi LaRue
Acts Performed: Cabaret, Foreplay, Blow Job, Cunnilingus, Fingering, Mish, Spoon Doggy, Doggy, Anal Spoon Doggy, $hot on Ass

Malezia does a nice job here, really selling the sexuality with Mr. Cannon rather well. Chris is a take him or leave him kind of performer, packing penis power in spades, but looking rather weepy with his underdeveloped chest and arms approach. If you hope to satisfy a bi-curious conceit with this scene, you'll be completely underwhelmed by the dude dynamics. But Mal is enough to keep men especially those in favor of femmes only - up and conscious. Score: 6 out of 10.

Bonus Scene 2: Malezia, Brooke, Chris Cannon
From: The New Girl (2004)
Director: Bo Edwards
Acts Performed: Blow Job, Fingering, V to M, Dueling Head, Doggy, Cunnilingus, 69, Alternating V to M, Mish, Tit Play, Foot Play, $hot on Stomach

Mr. Cannon's too thin stature is again on display as Malezia and Brooke go bonkers on his boner. The boy toy lets them have it, and there are many memorable position parameters here. The only drawback for this sequence is its rather short length. The BJ goes on FOREVER, but once we get to the diddling, Chris cums and it's all over. Boo. Score: 5 out of 10.

Bonus Scene 3: Malezia, Eric Masterson
From: Viewer Discretion (2004)
Director: David Stanley
Information on what happens in this scene can be found here

Bonus Scene 4: Salena Del Rey, Tyce Bune
From: The Bet (200o)
Director: Guillermo Brown
Acts Performed: Foreplay, Blow Job, Cunnilingus, Fingering, Mish, Doggy, $hot on Ass

Tyce and Salena make a good couple, but once again the clock leaps out the window as time literally flies. They're finished before we've even started. The sex is rather static, since we only get front and back door action, yet the passion from the performers saves the sequence from being dull or dry. Score: 6 out of 10.

Bonus Scene 5: Alexxxis Tyler, Gina Lynn, Pat Myne, Travis
From: Action Sports Sex 9 (2000)
Director: Robby D.
Acts Performed: Foreplay, Tit Play, Lesbianism, Cunnilingus, Fingering, Blow Job, Salad Tossing, Scissors, Cowgirl, Mish, Anal Fingering, V to M, Doggy, Dueling Head, Reverse Cowgirl, Alternating Doggy, $hots in Mouth

The final bonus is a free-for-all in every sense of the word. It is literally impossible to follow the action here. Robby is introduced to all the actors, and then they just go nookie nutzoid, munching and mauling each other in complete complicated coupling abandon. If you like the orgy angle, and prefer the group grope, you'll love this outrageous and aggressive scene. But it you prefer to see partners paired up and pleasing each other with intensity and interest, best move along to greener, gentler pornographic pastures. Score: 4.5 out of 10.

Final Thoughts:
Even the most avid fan of the filmmaker would probably agree that X Marks the Spot is not Chi Chi LaRue at his most flamboyant or cinematic. It is really just a starring showcase for Vivid vixen Malezia, mixed in with a few additional scenes of sex to fill out the random running time. On the Disco Dirge Peter Meter, the DVD rates a respectable 6.5 out of 10,and is definitely recommended. It will not be the hottest hardcore you've ever seen, but it does deliver the dicking that keeps the dong ticking. Couples will also find no faults here, with the ladies probably loving the pure bulk bravado of many of Chi Chi's men. Therefore, a Cohabitation Certification is easily awarded. If you dig that Canadian cunt Malezia, you will definitely enjoy this decent, derivative snatch attack. But fans of Mr. LaRue and his goofy, genial persona will probably pout over X Marks the Spot not getting a better critical response. And indeed, the Dirge was disappointed. But don't worry - this is just a fluke in the fuck film canon of one of the adult industry's star scenarists.

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