Bite Size: She Mob (1968)

She Mob is about as regional a production as one is likely to find. The movie never saw a first run release outside of Texas, the directors uncredited for decades. Single serving performers were culled from the ranks of Jack Ruby‘s various nightclub ventures. The film was assumed to be lost by the few people outside of the Lone Star state that had ever even seen it. Mike Vraney of Something Weird Video rescued a print from obscurity —later fully restored by the American Genre Film Archive— and without the work of those preservationists, it would be excessively unlikely that She Mob would exist to watch today.

Big Shim (Marni Castle) is a butch top for the ages, a leather loving lesbian who doesn’t even take off her fetish gear (including an impressively pointy cone bra) to sleep. She’s broken out an all girl gang of hellcats from the slammer, and they’re holed up in a rural Texas farmhouse while on the lam from the law.

While Big Shim can get her Mistress kicks with beautiful blonde submissive Baby (Eve Laurie), the rest of the gang is feeling the tension of 5 sexless years. They demand a man for their personal pleasure. Big Shim is a benevolent ruler, and calls upon local gigolo Tony (Adam Clyde) to keep the harem happy.

Soon there’s bigger business afoot than banging, as Tony is currently being kept in sports cars and gold cigarette lighters by local business woman Brenda (Marni Castle again, playing up her femme side in a dual role). Big Shim lures Tony to the house with the promise of his pick of the girls, then holds him hostage for a hefty sum of cash from his lonely lady employer. Not wanting to lose her chance to take things lying down, Brenda hires butt crack baring, delightfully mod girl detective Sweety East ( Monique Duval, in an obvious parody of Honey West) to crack the case.

With a fantastic opening credits sequence, crisp black and white photography and a pretty fantastic library cues and trash jazz score, She Mob positions itself in the early running as the chicken fried cousin to Russ Meyer and Doris Wishman’s “bad girl in a worse world” style of sleaze cinema. That impression doesn’t last very long. Like a lot of movies centered around sex made in an era where very little sexual content could actually be shown, things get much less wild, but way more weird.

Marni Castle never had another screen credit, and it’s a shame, as she’s an absolute joy here. Her “I own 51% of this company, and 100% of your dick” energy as Brenda is delightful, but her turn as Big Shim is a sleaze film all timer. She struts and swaggers and sweats, ordering her girls in and out of lingerie and keeping her trusty shotgun at the ready. Her is gang her own personal palace of big breasted blondes and scantily clad ladies in waiting for their next criminal caper. Had She Mob stayed in the territory of queer camp crime romp, it would have been infinitely more fun.

The arrival of Tony into this world of women slows everything down exponentially, swapping heist plots for constant penis chatter and interminably long softcore scenes that are just weird thrashing of feet and bread kneading on people’s buttocks. The film piles on loads more kink imagery, but it replaces babes in stockings, garters, and peek a boo bras for a full slate of male fantasy wish fulfillment. The back half of the film is straight out of adult bookstore fetish slicks and letters to Penthouse.

There’s the eager group all clamoring for a man, with even the seemingly Sapphic Baby wanting a piece of Tony’s action. There’s some light bondage, a deadly escape attempt, black net lingerie, a spot of whipping, and a forced feminization scene. It’s hard to see what even the most sex starved of women would see in Tony, and it’s even more difficult to give a damn about his fate when he has less personality than the average novelty beer mug. What began as a fresh feeling exercise in hyper regional sleaze becomes another sleepy plod through a queer movie clearly written by and for the titillation of straight people.

At least the women torturing Tony to avenge their fallen friend gives Marni Castle a chance to snarl the immortal line “My tits are as hard as my heart!” before stabbing him with her cone bra. Some verve returns to the film when our lamé jumpsuit wearing girl detective locates the gang. There’s a karate chopping, car chasing, guns blazing showdown between the she mob, Sweety and Johnny Law. Then, it’s back to some moderately skin bearing business for the final reel.

She Mob has some delightfully tacky retro aesthetics, and a fine fashion show of vintage lingerie and fetishwear that is sure to please fans of the kinkier side of sexploitation. That said, the sex scenes are forced to into flatness by the restrictions of the era, and there isn’t nearly enough gun toting and desert car chases to make up the difference. Viewers hoping for freakier riff on the female led destruction of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! will most likely be sorely disappointed by She Mob‘s slower pace.

All of that aside, every second Big Shim is on screen is worth watching, a rare moment where a masculine of center woman gets to fully inhabit space and chew scenery right alongside her far more famous femme counterparts in the grindhouse cinema canon. While the movie tries its hardest (all puns intended) to make Tony’s big dicked tub of Brylcreem the hero, you could fast forward through just about all of his scenes and not miss much. She Mob is Big Shim’s bullet bra world, and the rest of us are just lucky to get to live in it for a little while.

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