Hot T-Shirts (Review)
Hot T-Shirts may have soaked into the world in 1980, but it is pure 1970’s. The soundtrack is all disco, all the time. We got disco clubs, disco songs, and montages with disco themes. You cannot escape the disco. The plot of the film, as much as there is on, is that a guy runs wet t-shirt contests to drum up business in his failing bar. Sure, there are minor subplots involving the city vs. a local college and censorship problems, but most of them dissolve away as the film gets to the main plot, girls in wet t-shirts.
Hot T-Shirts seems custom made for the drive-in circuit, coming out a few years before the VCR revolution swept across America and moved the location where millions of Americans viewed softcore films. Part of a pack of former drive in films that aren’t available on DVD (that I know of) that I acquired in trade, but as it is the only one not sealed deep away in a box at the moment, it will be the first one up.
The cast is largely people who did little acting work and went on to do no more acting. The only one I found who went on to other things was Corinne Wahl, who played a character I don’t remember (probably one of the wet t-shirt contestants.) She was a Penthouse Pet and later went on to be a Penthouse Pet again and the Penthouse Pet of the Year and got all the honors and benefits that go with that. There is also some interesting information about the director, Chuck Vincent. Chuck Vincent was a writer/director/producer/editor, which many low-budget filmmakers are out of necessity. His production company Platinum Pictures churned out a lot of hardcore films through the 70s and early 80s including on called Sex Crimes 2084 which must be awesome. His softcore fare aside from Hot T-Shirts included Summer Camp, Hollywood Hot Tubs, and Warrior Queen. He died of AIDS in 1991 at the age of 51.
The soundtrack is a bunch of disco songs mostly performed by the same artist. There is more disco in Hot T-Shirts than in Disco Stu’s garage. I don’t know what that comparison means, except to say there is a lot of disco. The opening song declares “My body is wet!” which is probably as close as we are going to get to a Hot T-Shirts Theme Song.
Joe and Charlie head to a 70’s disco club with topless dancers. Just for the record, Charlie is a lady’s man, while Joe is a fat slob who is too busy being bitter over his failing bar to have a good time. Charlie explains why the disco club makes baffo box office, and Joe should do it for his club. There are topless girls dancing in the middle of the very fabulous 1970’s disco sequence that goes on and on in the club. A key highlight includes a pseudo-Village People group dancing around. Construction workers in glitter shirts dancing “4 on the floor” as the current disco song refrains. There are also some college girls complaining of the rude local girls, but mostly it is dancing. I am glad disco is dead and I will personally shoot any zombie disco in the head it if prevents a resurgence of this horrible, horrible cultural black hole.
Driving home, Joe laments that he is broke, can’t pay his employees, and is almost to be foreclosed on. Even though his bar has a full parking lot, it is empty because the lot is being used by another place. Joe gets more depressed. Joe’s place employs Pops the bartender, who is old; Violet the waitress, who is a giant whore; and Rosa, the Italian stereotype cook. As Charlie and Joe’s employee Violet dance, Charlie sprays Violet’s shirt to cool her off. This gives Pops the idea to tell Joe he should have a wet t-shirt place. Joe dismisses this as all the other ideas that night. When will Joe come to his senses? Doesn’t he know what movie he is in?
Enough of fat dudes feeling sorry for themselves, let’s go to Harrison college, and Harrison cheerleaders. It’s like Bring It On, except not at all. Head cheerleader Charlotte and the three other members of the squad show off cheers before the tryouts to fill two slots on the squad. Most of the potential cheer squad members are not cheer material. The coordinator for the cheerleading squad is June, a professor at the school and also Joe’s girlfriend, which is why he shows up at the tryouts, as he is meeting her for lunch. At the tryouts, the football team decides it is time to spray the cheerleaders with hoses, and Joe finally gets it in his head to have a wet t-shirt contest. About time, buddy!
Joe gets Charlie to get some girls, while Joe classes his place up. Roxy Ratner aka Stella is the only girl Charlie manages to get. She won’t shut up. That night, the customers are getting restless, so desperate, Joe finally gets a second girl when he recruits Violet (who was interrupted from nailing a customer in the parking lot.)
The contest begins. Joe sprays ’em down and pads the running time with a long dance sequence set to contemporary (for the time) disco jazz. Pad pad pad. Despite the audience loving Violet, Joe has Roxy win because “no employee or relative can win a prize” (she wanted the night off as her prize.)
There will be a new, bigger contest tomorrow, with prizes and ads that Joe will set up. Charlie and June help Joe make the ads as a music montage plays “We can do it, yes we can!” lyriced disco. How upbeat! One leaflet lands in the hands of a member of one of those old lady clubs where houseladies complain about everything over tea and are all about decency. I hate those groups. They probably existed in real life all over the place back in the day, and as the director is a former adult film director he probably had run ins with the groups back in the days.
It is contest time! We’ve seen some of these girls in various locations in the film before the show. They get sprayed and dance, four contestants who are local girls. The song Midnight Love Affair plays, with such lyrics as “I want my baby to touch me with his tongue.” The four main cheerleaders show up to enter as well, making 8 contestants total. The lead cheerleader is sassy to Charlie, so they will be dating by the end of the show. By now the song has changed to The Perfect Lover and their is a micro-battle on the dancefloor as the cheerleaders danceoff against the local girls.
It is judging time! One of the local girls wins, which causes a scene as a college football jock disagrees and thinks one of the cheerleaders should have won. This escalates into a fight, the classic struggle between local towns and the college/universities that the towns rely on for a working economy. When I went to school at University of California-Santa Cruz, there was tons of drama between Santa Cruz and the university. The townspeople were pretty much crazy and though the university was a giant corporation that was destroying the town’s individuality and flavor, despite the fact all the flavor came from the students attracted to the school who then stuck around. That problem didn’t seem to exist in Missouri when I went to school there, but I have heard of it in many other towns.
The fight turns into a brawl that envelopes the entire restaurant. And also a food fight! And cat fights, with various wet t-shirt contestants fighting each other. We even have a whip cream fight as Charlotte sprays whip cream on a town girl. Finally, the Sheriff shows up and everyone sits down, pretending not to fight. One can see why, as the Sheriff is dressed in a suit with no tie and open buttons down past his chest. He just looks like he is a mafia dude. Joe has to bribe him for $100. That was like $10,000 back then!
Joe figures the best way to stop the fighting is more contests, one college girls only and one local girls only, then the five best from each one compete together in a third contest judged by sponsors. Girls on both sides plot to recruit more girls. There is a montage of recruiting on both sides. A running gag in this and the other montage is this stacked drive in waitress that everyone asks to join and she keeps saying no. The disco song that was instrumental during most of the montage finally hits words, the only word being the often repeated “wet.” Brilliant songwriting. There is also some training of the new recruits.
Sheriff refuses to do anything because no laws are being broken. The ladies clubs is calling it communist and anarchist. Just like real complaining conservatives, they used terms they don’t understand. The montage continues with girls practicing in the pool.
Time for contest! The local girls dance first, while outside the Old Lady Club shows up to picket the restaurant. Joe goes to talk to them, it ends in an argument and the Sheriff shows up. So Joe invites the old ladies in to watch the contest. And they actually go it. They order ice tea, but the “ice tea” that they get served happens to have a lot of alcohol in it, thanks to Pops.
The college girls dance, and we have some dancin’, drinkin’, disco-in’, good old American fun! They pick the top five girls from each group, and tomorrow night will be the final showdown. By then one of the old ladies has drunk so much “ice tea” she gets on stage and dances the Charleston, then sprays the other old ladies’ shirts.
It is now tomorrow and finals night. The old ladies return for more ice tea, and Charlie scores a date with cheerleader Charlotte. I know you were concerned about that plotline. Some random lady tries to hit on Joe, which ticks off Joe’s girlfriend June, who reconsiders her decision not to marry Joe and now wants to marry him. And that drive in girl has wandered into the restaurant.
The contest starts, the song Feel My Body Heat plays, and the girls dance dance dance. The drive in girl is named Judy, and she joins in the contest. Both sides think she is on their team, but she’s on no one’s team. The crowd loves her and she wins. Then everyone dances the night away! The end.
Rated 6/10 (Permed college jerk, USPS, passing out fliers, CALDOR, stuffy old lady, Permed college jerk)
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