Let My Puppets Come is a satirical porno musical with puppets, directed by Gerard Damiano!
For those who don’t know, Gerard Damiano was the director of perhaps the most famous porno ever made, Deep Throat, which he actually made under the pseudonym “Jerry Gerard.” He is often considered one of the few directors of porn during the “Golden Age of Porn” who would actually put some effort into the making of his films. His follow-up to Deep Throat was The Devil in Miss Jones, which was inspired by a play by the existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, and it’s widely regarded as his masterpiece. The Burt Reynolds character of Jack Horner in Boogie Nights is very obviously based on Damiano.
So on to the gloriously bonkers Let My Puppets Come, which was never released completely uncut. Instead, it was trimmed to 45 minutes and was sent out as a support feature to Damiano’s Odyssey: The Ultimate Trip in 1977. It’s basically a satire about a group of male puppets who run the company Creative Concepts Systems and Procedures Brothers Unlimited Inc., and end up making a porno to pay off their debts. It’s very episodic, and the narrative loses steam very quickly (shocking. I know!). However, it has some very amusing musical numbers (all original songs!), and the satire sometimes sticks. When it does, it is pretty much right on the money. The novelty of the puppets never wears thin, adding a silliness that will make it a porno that you could almost take your grandma to. It’s a film where there is a blowfish puppet… I think you can imagine what that fish may get up to.
It actually has a pretty interesting cast. As you might imagine, some of the puppets are operated by Sesame Street puppeteers. Jonathan Freeman, who would go to do the voice of Jafar in Disney’s Aladdin, supplies a voice. Al Goldstein appears in the film as well: he founded Screw magazine, which predated Larry Flynt’s Hustler (which basically stole the Screw format, but they were lifelong friends anyway.) Along with Flynt, Ralph Ginzburg and of course Hugh Hefner, Goldstein was part of a group of publishers of pornographic magazines who fought the censorship of pornography and news coverage (yes, news coverage) in their magazines on First Amendment grounds and won. Finally, the dwarf Luis De Jesus also appears—he was also in the brilliantly titled horror film Bloodsucking Freaks and also played an Ewok in Return of the Jedi. And yes, De Jesus was also an actor in many pornos, including his debut in the short The Anal Dwarf. With a start like that, your career can only go down.
It’s an interesting oddity from the Golden Age of Porn, and it’s so off the wall that you can’t help but smile—it really has to be seen to believed. The disc from Vinegar Syndrome includes commentaries from historians Heather Drain and Samm Deighan, and another from puppeteer and puppet designer James Racioppi, which is moderated by film historian Casey Scott. It also includes the audio of the play Kumquats, which the film was partly inspired by, and an audio interview with the play’s director Nicolas Coppola… no it’s not really Nicolas Cage, sadly. The original theatrical trailer is also included.