Doris Wishman, US, 1965, 35mm, 71 min., b&w
Preceded by: The Color of Love
Peggy Ahwesh, US, 1994, 16mm, 10 min.
Some thirty years ago, the artist Peggy Ahwesh began to cultivate a fascination with the films of Doris Wishman, the prolific director behind grindhouse gems like Nude on the Moon (1961), Bad Girls Go to Hell (1965), and Let Me Die a Woman (1977), among many others. By that time, a number of Wishman titles had been released by VHS label Something Weird, and she had been profiled by Andrea Juno in the RE/Search compendium Incredibly Strange Films, granting her a small but fervent cult following. In the early '90s, Ahwesh heard from musician Tom Smith that the elusive auteur was working at a sex shop in Florida. Determined to meet the doyenne of the skin flick in the flesh, Ahwesh flew down from New York with fellow filmmaker M.M. Serra in 1994 to surprise Wishman at the Pink Pussycat Boutique in Coconut Grove, Miami.
The fruits of this encounter would go into the making of The Films of Doris Wishman, a one-issue zine produced by Ahwesh in 1995, featuring collages drawn from Wishman ephemera given to Ahwesh in Florida, and writings on Wishman by Blossom Lefcourt, programmer Joel Shepard, filmmaker Keith Sanborn, and Ahwesh herself. “The films,” Ahwesh notes, “offer the prerequisite weirdness of the genre, but they have a seedy underlying resonance of the fear of and hostility toward women in our world, which Doris describes in her own profound and tawdry way.”
In conjunction with the reissue of Peggy Ahwesh's zine—now available in an expanded edition from Inpatient Press and Light Industry—Lightbox presents a double bill featuring Bad Girls Go to Hell alongside Ahwesh's The Color of Love, which she dedicated to Wishman.