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Eastside Story

Studio: Vivid » Review by Don Houston » Review Date: 4/17/07

XCritic's Advice: Recommended

Eastside Story

Vivid Entertainment/Vivid-Alt

Genre: Vignette, Alt-Porn

Director: Vena Virago

Cast: Lexi Bardot, Alex Gonz, Dana DeArmond, Tyler Knight, Roxy DeVille, Dino Bravo, Page Morgan, Michelle Aston, Rebeca Linares

Length: 128.5 minutes

Date of Production: 9/17/2006

Extra's: First off, there was a CD for two versions of the song Dildoes and Gremlins by The Selectrons. I liked the song a lot and it was presented in a 2.0 LPCM in both cases, the bitrate clocking in at 1411 Kbps. I wished the rest of the songs had been on the disc but it was still a nice extra that most porn music doesn't rate (and the fact is, I didn't think of the music as "porn music" in most cases here, with limited exceptions). The case holing the three disc set was the fold out kind used in many mainstream efforts, adding value to me and having a visual style that seemed almost anarchistic but still fetching to me. The disc with the movie had no extras outside of a feature to allow the viewer to select the scenes and what type of action (BTW, calling missionary "old style" or "old person sex" struck me as indicative of an ageist mindset). The third disc in the set was the one jam packed with cool extras, starting off with what amounted to an experimental short lasting 4.5 minutes by director Vena Virago called Chicken Porn Wonder starring Dana DeArmond. It was a weird little effort detailing a story of a magician and was recorded live at the Barnacle Bros party in El Sereno, Los Angeles. I found it a bit weak but imagine it was made completely on the cuff with no planning so your mileage may vary from mine. My favorite was the 59 minute long Behind the Scenes feature by Fig Eden that spanned all three days of the shoot. Combining cast interviews with crew coverage, it was interesting to see Dana far more playful when her scene was not underway, and Page's scene looking more real in the BTS, but the cast anecdotes aside, it was cool seeing Winky Tiki come off as intelligent and some of his co-workers seeming likewise better than advertised in the press. I also liked the 23 minutes of cast interviews, the bit with Dana and the fleshbot contest winner seeming fake but amusing, the Barnacle Brothers kind of weird but fun, and the others offering interesting bits worth your time. There were four trailers too but that was it.

Condoms: None

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Audio/Video Quality: Eastside Story was presented in the same 1.33:1 ratio full frame color it was shot in by director Vena Virago for Vivid Entertainment under their Vivid-Alt label. The director of photography for the novice director was Winky Tiki, a pervert with a lot of vision and skill, so I felt reasonably comfortable that the movie wouldn't look like some of the other freshmen efforts by other "alt" directors; a good plan overall. One of the biggest advertised differences between most porn and this updated version called "alt" is the more invasive fusion of music and visual elements. This is a double edged sword since tastes in music are almost as personal as our tastes in sexual conduct; meaning you tend to either love it or hate it with little middle ground. Thankfully, the visuals here did not rely so heavily on special effects as previous alt titles have and the music was markedly better. The camera angles may not have always favored the ladies but there seemed to be a conscious effort to keep the composition of the shots within normal parameters and broaden the overall appeal of the look. The minimal backgrounds were kind of edgy in the way the Dark Brothers movies of the 1980's used to be, giving it a retro, rather than brand new, look to it but one that largely worked for me. The audio was presented in the standard 2.0 Dolby Digital, using the standard 192 Kbps bitrate (the video had a broader range, typically hovering around the mid to upper 6 Mbps area; helping to make the scenes look better, although an anamorphic widescreen offering would have been much appreciated). The vocals played a slight second fiddle to the music in most cases, using selections from groups like The Selectrons, The Harvey Cartel, Travi Soul, and Babyhans. Fans of the bands will note that their labels were credited here so they can probably find more of their collective works, the bonus CD included in the package only having a couple versions of Dildos & Gremlins by The Selectrons instead of the more desired complete soundtrack as advertised on the cover. In any case, while I'm not world renowned for my love of obscure alt music, I'll be the first to admit that I really liked the music here and had a generic porn score been used for the movie, the ratings would certainly have suffered. Good call!

Body of Review: Vena Virago is the latest director trying to strut her stuff for Vivid Entertainment under their alternative label. I have no background on her and wish I could come up with something interesting to say about her but like all freshmen directors, she's charting her own path as she sees fit. Her first movie is Eastside Story; a series of five vignettes starring some alt-friendly performers having sex after minimal interviews. Unlike so many titles falling into the genre from the past, this one was more accessible with the back cover stating it like this: "This is about real people, and the real stories that define them sexually... "Eastside Story" takes us into the heart of East LA, and into the hearts of an eclectic group of porn performers. They tell tales on camera, then fuck as part of a series of art installations handcrafted by visionary director, Vena Virago. Eastside Story is part documentary, part abstract painting, and all-out multi-cultural hardcore... This is an art movie pushed beyond the accepted boundaries of triple-x..." Was Vena "visionary" and was the movie all it was billed to be? Well, your mileage may vary on those accounts but I did find it to have more crossover appeal than most of the genre titles I've seen in the past; the couples actually enjoying having sex in most cases, elevating the quality of the overall production for me. If you're still interested, here's a quick look at the scenes by cast and action, noting that no condoms were used:

Scene One: Lexi Bardot, a tattooed brunette from Baltimore, was up first with Floridian Alex Gonz after the couple were interviewed separately. I found it interesting that the interviews at the beginning had no music while the loud score started playing as soon as they orally attacked one another. This included some rare armpit licking on her part, a trick a number of gals seem to like doing these days but focused more on traditional acts like the cunnilingus and blowjob. They were evenly matched in that sense and I was curious how the sexual tension would play out given her love of harder forms of sex (per her interview, she was heavily into urination, anal, group sex, and other forms of sexual expression not common at Vivid) but the active penetrative sex stayed with the vaginal screwing; the only thing entering her ass was one of his fingers followed by four of hers with some ATM. Still, they seemed to be enthusiastic about working together and the generated heat was markedly better than average for either of them. The scene ended in standard fashion with him rubbing out a load of population pudding towards her face but largely missing it in the process.

Scene Two: Dana DeArmond, the internet guru of alt porn best known for her modesty and kind heart (cough), and studly Tyler Knight, were up next as they gave very brief interviews before doing their own rendition of Ebony & Ivory together, slowly teasing and orally stimulating each other. He seemed more into her than she into him but I've enjoyed enough of her work to figure she was trying the slow burn approach of building up rather than jumping in full steam ahead as Lexi had done so impressively before her. Her almost albino skin contrasted so much with his look that it worked for me, the gal eventually following his lead by joining in during the 69 to suck him off with a bit of flair. Unfortunately, she was clearly a net receiver here as the hummer was too short and all her vaunted experience with sucking cock was not put to bets use before he started hammering away at her cookie and ass. She was too passive to begin with and even when on top seemed to find him too much to handle actively, doing some ATM before taking his wad into her mouth. The scene was pretty good but as one of the alt porn princesses of record, I admit to expecting more of her (she has smoked the screen more than a few times; proving her age to be no barrier to her appeal).

Scene Three: Roxy DeVille, the gal with the checkered outfit on the center of the front cover, was up next as she gave an interview about her experiences coming into the porn industry, followed by a funny "couples friendly" bit that had me laughing at her insincerity. Her partner was former cabbie Dino Bravo and I admit that she was looking especially good here in her skimpy outfit but she has long had the kind of universal appeal that makes her a top notch performer in my book. The camera was a bit looser this time and the music more generic at first but her driven skills boosted the strokability of the scene beyond that expected here as she slobbed his knob with a sense of gusto. The music improved as he went down on her and they started to bone, the flexible lass taking her time to get into the action but riding him like crazy when on top. This scene was also not her best work but I enjoyed it for the oral and limited amount of active riding she did, making me wish for a re-do of the rest of the pretty fair scene. It also ended with a facial for those who care.

Scene Four: Page Morgan, the black & white picture of whom was up the upper right hand corner, and mohawked neuron-scientist/MILF Michelle Aston, were up next in the obligatory lesbian scene after their interviews. Neither has impressed me in the past in any major way but variety is the spice of life so I gave the garage setting scene a chance to prove me wrong. I was surprised that the scene began with Michelle masturbating using an old ladies vibrator as Page dry humped the motorcycle but aside from the trappings of the setting, the scene showed only a moderate amount of chemistry and heat. There was foot fetish stuff and the usual licking, fingering, strap on dildo work, but Page appeared to be faking it in an over the top manner much of the scene and the best thing I could say about the overall impression I got was that I enjoyed seeing that neither of them cared when Page's make up smeared (a small thing but considering Michelle's limited appeal, one worth mentioning). I liked the music towards the end best but it was an otherwise mediocre lesbian scene with some anal toy use used to spice things up. For the record, I do think Michelle got off at least once even if I didn't care one way or the other this one time.

Scene Five: Rebeca Linares, the youngest looking hotty of the movie as seen on the lower left hand corner of the front cover, showed some of her skills as a porn princess in her scene with studly Tyler Knight. Hailing from Spain, Rebeca had a playful demeanor as she was interviewed in her native tongue, her tongue coming into play pretty quickly as the couple made out like they meant it as he slowly disrobed her. I'm not usually into the younger gals that look like they are barely old enough to do porn but she seems to add a freshness to her work that helps drive her appeal levels higher than most. Tyler clearly enjoyed working with her even more than Dana, the gal playing up to his needs most readily in the process. Her oral was almost as solid as Roxy's in the earlier scene and she rode him very aggressively from the first stroke until the ending mouth pop that she provided post coital stroking and sucking for, making this a great scene (I liked the music too).

Summary: Eastside Story by director Vena Virago for Vivid Entertainment was more of a traditional porno than the typical flick billed as alt porn and earned a rating of Recommended thanks to the casting, the levels of strokability, replay value, and amount of overall fuck for the buck. A few of the performers surprised me with their acts this time but the crossover appeal of the movie will probably serve it well as a way to get people that have been burned by the genre's lamer efforts back into at least giving it a look. In short, Eastside Story had a fine soundtrack, good sex, and enough going for it that I look forward to seeing the next fuck flick by director Vena Virago so go check it out for yourselves and see the current state of alt porn; a marked improvement over many titles of the recent past.

You can email me with questions at Houstondon @ hotmail.com if you have any constructive criticism of the review too. :) Also you can follow me on twitter @HoustonDon

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