WHO’S NAILIN’ PAYLIN: ADVENTURES OF A HOCKEY MILF
DIRECTOR: JEROME TANNER
“I think politicians are a perfectly legitimate target for satire, since porn is a fundamentally satirical medium. It’s not meant to be taken seriously.”
– Nina Hartley
That’s Nina Hartley, the undisputed Judi Dench of the porn industry, discussing Who’s Nailin’ Paylin on the behind the scenes video of the Hustler DVD. As Larry Flynt himself proved, to the Supreme Court no less, everyone can be a legitimate target for satire, but it’s hard not to take any aspect of the landmark 2008 presidential election seriously. Voters turned out in record numbers for their voices to be heard on issues ranging from economy to the constitutionality of gay marriage. Pundits from Bill O’Reilly to Stephen Colbert screamed at the top of their lungs to reach their audiences. But what about pornographers? What do they have to say about our political landscape? Nina Hartley can say porn isn’t meant to be taken seriously, but we know better. If the box office numbers are any indication, there’s a good chance that more voters are going to see Who’s Nailin’ Paylin than Oliver Stone’s W.
But what, exactly, are they going to take away from this film, rushed into production after unusually attractive Republican Sarah Palin was selected to be John McCain’s vice-presidential candidate? Watching those behind the scenes videos proves that director Jerome Tanner (For Your Thighs Only, The Da Vinci Load 1 & 2) and his cast have no love for Sarah Palin. When rehearsing her lines, one of her cast members asks Lisa Ann (Desperate House MILFS 1, Obedient Slaves of the Wild West 1 & 2) what “Jeepers” means. Her response: “It’s a stupid saying she says. She’s an idiot.”
Bold words, but the interviewer takes great pains to delve into the intelligence of the various performers. Or at least, she asks them basic questions about our government. Many of the older cast members, like Lisa Ann and Nina Hartley (Dy-Nasty, The Last Temptation of Kristi) fare well, responding correctly to questions like, “What’s the first amendment,” and “Who is the vice-president of the United States?” Their younger counterparts are more hit and miss, with Holly West (Good Morning Woody 1, Cougar Club: The Hunt is On) acquitting herself admirably, but neither SinDee Jennings (The Good, The Bad & The Slutty 3, She Only Takes Diesel) nor Jada Fire (Desperate Blackwives 3, XXX Files) could remember what the 1st amendment was; ironic, coming from performers in a Larry Flynt production. However, Jada, whose performance as Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice ironically proves to be less of a caricature than Thandie Newton’s, does show the proper respect to the politician she portrays: “She’s way smarter than me, I can tell you that much. Go girl! Shit…You are the shit! Strong black woman…”
“But you about to have sex on camera, girl.”
And indeed she is. Like Oliver Stone’s W, a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of our oft-maligned current executive officers, Who’s Nailin’ Paylin spends its hour and forty-five minute running-time showing us what these titans of the Republican Party are like behind closed doors. While perhaps not a particularly accurate portrayal, we do learn who is, in fact, nailin’ Sarah Palin. The filmmakers are. Do they succeed?
An unrelated article. In the banner headline? Many viewers are likely to be left disappointed by the fact that the “Unusual Auction-Site Crashes Because of User Overload” plotline quickly proves unresolved.
Who’s Nailin’ Paylin opens with a title montage portraying the Alaskan wilderness under a particularly patriotic score. The message is clear: Hustler is setting Sarah up before they knock her down. Sarah Palin, or as the film calls her, “Serra Paylin,” answers the door at her swank abode to find two Russian soldiers whose tank have broken down outside. They politely ask if they can use her phone to call the Kremlin. When the Governor of Alaska says that she doesn’t know what the Kremlin is, they translate it for her: it’s Russian for “tow truck.” With her trademark endearing smile and down home hospitality, she says, “In the spirit of foreign relations, I suppose there’s no harm in letting you in.” The filmmakers are off to a solid start, lampooning Sarah Palin’s oft-ridiculed remark that she’s experienced in foreign policy because she can see Russia from her house.
Sadly, the scene degenerates from political satire to a bizarre mating ritual, in which the Russian soldiers, played by Sascha (Direct Deposit 2, Taco Shop 3) and Mick Blue (In the Garden of Shadows 2: Faith, Do It Right White Boy) cobble together pick up lines that sound like they were plucked from a Russian phrase book from 1975. “If I could rearrange the letters in the alphabet, I would put U and I together,” and “Excuse me, but I think I dropped somethink (sic)… my jaw.” These lines seem lost on Paylin, but when they finally directly proposition her for sexual favors, she responds with a favorable, “You betcha.” The moral of the scene finally becomes clear: despite the McCain campaign’s statements that they would not meet with diplomats without pre-conditions, direct communication is the only way to get anywhere in foreign affairs. Serra Paylin proceeds to fornicate with these two young gentlemen, implying that Russia, and indeed all foreign administrations, are only as important as their people. Just like America. As she sees them naked for the first time, the filmmakers take an interesting opportunity to break the fourth wall. She says, “You look German.” An unusual joke that will only prove amusing to audience members who are aware that Mick Blue is German, while Sascha originally hails from Austria.
“The Orally Factor” – one of the more blunt parodies in the film.
This scene is followed by a framing device in which Mike Horner (a 31 year veteran of the porn industry and star of at least 1,299 films, including Beaverly Hillbillies, Broadway Fanny Rose, The French Conexxxion, Natural Born Thrillers and Nightmare on Porn Street) plays Bill Orally, of the Orally Factor. From here we segue to Serra Paylin being coached in public speaking by an attractive young political aide played by Holly West. She attempts to teach Paylin to use such words as, “Absolutely,” and “Definitely.” Paylin, when prompted to repeat them, responds, “You betcha!” When quizzed on an individual who “was instrumental in ending the Civil War and freeing the slaves,” she responds, “Joe Six Pack” – in one of several continuity gaffs, the filmmakers seem to have failed to realize that “six packs” were not invented until 1960, 95 years after the end of the American Civil War. The aide then attempts some free association: “H.M.O.” elicits the response, “G.A.Y.” An unusual response, since the alternatives to H.M.O. would be universal health care, a system which Republicans all but universally oppose.
Did the filmmakers sacrifice clear characterization in the pursuit of a cheap joke? Possibly, or possibly they just want their protagonist to be more relatable to their perceived audience of left-wing Democrats. As co-star Evan Stone (Kung Fu Nurses A Go-Go, Pulp Friction) says in the behind the scenes footage, “If you’re a Republican, you don’t want to watch this. If you’re a Democrat, you want to watch this. …And if you’re not voting, you’re probably a convicted felon.” Stone’s statement back in early October displays impressive foresight, given the record voter turnout on election day a month later. But it also makes Hustler’s mission statement clear – they’re making a film for people who don’t like Sarah Palin. Still, they assume that these people are attracted enough to the vice presidential candidate to want to see her having sexual intercourse. Don’t they think that conservatives considered her attractive as well? Where’s the Republican pornography, I wonder?
After Sarah leaves to get some much needed rest, her husband arrives to speak to Holly West’s unnamed character. After they each critique Sarah Palin’s perceived lack of mental acuity, they proceed with their extra-marital affair. Interestingly, Sarah Palin’s husband Todd, played by Alec Knight (Contortionista, Missionary: Impossible) goes to all the effort of sleeping with another woman, but in the act of foreplay produces glasses and has his mistress role-play as his wife. Her lines, clearly rehearsed with her married lover: “If elected, I realize the road may be hard. But no matter how nasty things get, I promise to remain extremely flexible, even if I have to resort to backdoor politics in order to achieve my goals.” His idealized version of his wife is younger, true, but also more well spoken. Combined with Holly Wells’ constant requests during the ensuing sexual intercourse for Todd to tell her “how good” something or other is, we can determine that what he really yearns for is a deeper committed relationship to his wife, whose commitment to politics has led him to feel a desire for stronger communication, and a need to be needed by a woman whom recent events have turned into, for some, a strong, independent role model for young women. Later, as we watch Todd and his mistress viewing Serra Paylin on TV, he seems supportive – perhaps their marriage can overcome the obstacles created by a heated political campaign, after all.
In one of the more thematically rich sequences, Todd “Paylin” puts his wife’s glasses on his mistress, implying a desire for a more intimate relationship with “Serra Paylin” than her political career allows.
As we transition to Serra Paylin, we discover that she sleeps in the nude, save for high heels, a tiara and a “Miss Alaska” sash. As we all know, the real Sarah Palin finished third in the Miss Alaska pageant, and would not own one of these sashes, so its inclusion reveals that she yearns to remain young and beautiful, and her sexual escapades are likely in pursuit of feeling sexually desired by men other than her husband. This has likely led to Todd’s own infidelity, as portrayed in the previous scene, and ties in nicely to the recent, comparatively minor, political scandal which revealed that $150,000 had been spent on the real Palin’s wardrobe for the election. Since this information had yet to be released to the public by the time of Who’s Nailin’ Paylin’s production, we can once again chalk this observation up to incredible foresight on the part of the filmmakers. As Sarah attempts to sleep, she mutters to herself that she’s “gotta hide the skeletons,” an unfortunate but accurate commentary on the media’s tendency to dig up unpleasant facts on public figures, which likely makes even the most saintly candidate nervous.
The following scenes are juxtaposed with Serra Paylin sleeping, implying that they might be flashbacks, and they might be dreams. If they are flashbacks, then the possibility of sexual scandals being revealed is quite real and dangerous to our heroine’s dreams of success in politics. If they are dreams, then they speak more towards her obvious yearning to be sexually desired by the very real men in her life, since they each appear later in the film watching her supportively on television. In the first flashback/dream, Serra Paylin coerces her husband’s unnamed business partner, played by Lee Stone (Federal Breast Inspectors, Mad Jaxxx: Beyond Thunderboobs) into having sex via an unusual display of emasculating homophobia. “For Criminy’s sake, why don’t you take your nuts out of your little Gucci purse, grab your noodle and act like a man?” she gripes, before adding, “Before you and your boyfriend Lance Bass head off to your next Clay Aiken concert, why don’t you feast your eyes on Momma’s (breasts)?” Perhaps this behavior serves to illustrate the right wing belief that homosexuality is a choice, and that Serra Paylin is attempting to perform a public service by bringing her husband’s business partner to what she considers socially acceptable sexuality, even at the risk of her own marriage and political career. There are those who would laud her sacrifice in that case, but even so, the rampant display of intolerance and graphic display of sexuality that follows eventually puts a bad taste in everyone’s mouths.
The following flashback/dream shows young Serra Paylin at the University of I-Da-Ho in 1982 (the real Sarah Palin attended the University of Idaho in 1982, the name of which was no doubt changed to avoid possibly scandalizing the institution with the accusation of educational impropriety in the following scene). In this scene, a history professor played by Evan Stone (no known relation to Lee) asks his students how old the planet Earth is. Only Serra, now played ably by SinDee Jennings, knows that the correct answer is 10,000 years. When he asks how long ago the Tyrannosaur’s lived, once again the students are flummoxed, despite answering with detailed historical information that, in many other classrooms, would have been considered correct. One student even attempts to placate the professor by saying 10,000 years, which of course Serra Paylin corrects when she says they “never existed, and their fossils were placed on Earth by Satan to trick mankind.” Although clearly a joke at the expense of Creationists, it’s important to note that the scene also plays to those same creationists, who are likely rooting for Serra while their Darwinist counterparts are busy shaking their heads. As the rest of the students leave, we see in a wide shot that the classroom only has enough space for five students and can’t help but wonder if this choice was more a matter of limited production values, or a statement on the part of Jerome Tanner about the popularity of this class. Serra stays behind to ask her professor if he knows “any good rituals to protect against witchcraft,” which he uses as an awkward segue into inappropriate sexual contact, which she seems to enjoy. This scene serves to motivate Serra’s sexual liaisons throughout the film, particularly the scene in which she attempts to convert her husband’s homosexual partner to heterosexuality. She learned from a reliable source that sexuality is a religious experience, and by celebrating her body she is, in fact, praising God. An unusually deep thematic context for a pornographic film, and the filmmakers should be appreciated for making an attempt at deeper subtext in a film that could have simply been a display of lewd behavior.
An amusing continuity flub – does that backpack look circa 1982 to you?
As the film returns to the present, Bill Orally presents Serra Paylin’s press conference, in which she responds to accusations of sexual misconduct. Orally’s segment provides the funniest joke of the film, in which he blames his unintentional double entendres on the fact that the teleprompter font isn’t Helvetica – his favorite font. Serra’s press conference is interesting on a variety of levels, not the least of which is that the fictional Serra Paylin, intentionally dumbed down by the filmmakers, wisely held a press conference to confront her detractors while her real life counterpart never did…a choice that many political pundits agreed was a poor political move. As stated above, the many individuals with whom she slept with during the film express their support as they watch her on TV, including the two Russians, who watch on a black & white television with poor reception. Curiously enough, they do so in Serra Paylin’s own living room, while sitting on the couch that she implies had to be removed (and subsequently burned) after the “frenzied three-way” (which she vehemently denies to the voting public). Another interesting logical flub comes when she attempts to relate to her audience by stating, “I, just like you, put on my crotchless edible panties one leg at a time.” Honestly, whose crotchless edible panties have legs on them?!
The Russian soldiers “Serra” befriends in the first scene cheer her on later in the film, although curiously from her own couch.
Of course, the big reveal of the film comes when the camera angle shifts behind the podium to reveal Hilary Clinton (played with unsurprising dignity by Nina Hartley) has been performing acts upon Serra Paylin that would have been considered highly unacceptable by the world that persecuted her husband for similar impropriety. In fact, it’s interesting to note that in the modern landscape of legitimate political scandals, the filmmakers have fallen back on the Clinton scandal, probably an attempt to humanize their protagonist. Bill Clinton has, as it is generally considered, been forgiven by the public at large for his sexual indiscretions, so why can’t Serra Paylin? By limiting her political scandal to sexual affairs, they have in fact vetted her as a candidate – how bad can she be if her biggest flaws were shared by one of the most successful presidents in recent history? The filmmakers then associate her with Hilary Clinton – who in the continuity of the film has clearly slept with both Paylin and her husband, implying that Clinton has legitimized our protagonist. They have reached across the aisle and found… each other in a particularly intimate display of feminism and femininity. When Jada Starr, playing Condoleeza Rice, interrupts their backstage shenanigans, she agrees to keep quiet provided that Serra Paylin nixes a videotape which may emerge after President Bush leaves office, which apparently portrays a woman who looks a lot like Rice is “doing things to Cheney, Rove, Wolfowitz and,” curiously enough, “Chuck Norris.” They then proceed to get in bed together, although the bed is actually an curiously placed couch, implying that bipartisan politics are truly the wave of the future, and together, we can overcome anything.
“Who’s Nailin’ Paylin?” is a fantasy. The fictional Sarah Palin even holds a press conference!
There are a number of missed opportunities in Who’s Nailin’ Paylin for political satire. The conspicuous absence of Joe the Plumber can, of course, be attributed the film’s early production date (Joe the Plumber was not introduced to the campaign until late October), but even more surprising is that the filmmakers never gave Serra any scenes with John McCain, despite her college claims that she’s “always wanted to be with an older man.” Perhaps the filmmakers thought including McCain might be disrespectful to an acknowledged war hero, or perhaps they were simply leaving room for a potential sequel. Time may tell.
The standard definition DVD comes in an attractive anamorphic transfer from Hustler Video. The picture quality is soft but not distracting, and probably the original intent of the filmmakers. Extras include the aforementioned behind the scenes footage, with some interesting, but overlong, interview with the cast (but not, curiously, the crew), production stills (does anyone actually look at those?), and previews of upcoming features. No filmmaker’s commentary, though, which these days really should be considered an industry standard, but that may just be my own opinion.
All told, Who’s Nailin’ Paylin will be an interesting addition to the political satire time capsule that is the early 21st century, and an interesting counterpoint to Oliver Stone’s W and Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s That’s My Bush, all of which sought to humanize Republican figures that have been traditionally demonized in the media. While the film may only warrant a purchase from more politically obsessed film fans, curious casual filmgoers will likely find it a worthwhile rental.
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