Infamous porn director Chuck Vincent brings us this late-era drive-in sexploitation flick, and while Hot T-Shirts certainly delivers on the promises it makes, it’s also surprisingly restrained and almost innocent, considering the man behind the camera.
The movie’s naughty opening credits are accompanied by a godawful disco song, featuring the lyrics: “My body is wet, my body’s soakin’ wet, my body’s drippin’ wet.” Then we meet our heroes, schlubby Joe (Ray Holland, an actor who deserved better material than this) and swinging disco king Charlie (Glenn Mure), as they arrive at a popular nightclub in Joe’s Dodge Dart (and seeing that car broke my heart a little, since we had to sell our ’73 Dart earlier this year). Thanks to the addition of topless dancers, the club somehow manages to be wildly heterosexual and wildly gay at the same time, especially when the topless chicks are juxtaposed with the shirtless dude in David Lee Roth pants with silver tinsel dangling from his wrists.
Y’see, Joe owns a failing bar and Charlie wants him to see how it’s really done, insisting that Joe’s business would increase if he’d hire some go-go dancers. Joe isn’t interested, and on the way back to Joe’s bar, Charlie says “You’re as much fun as an overflowing toilet.” Joe rattles off a laundry list of miseries, shutting Charlie up.
When the guys arrive at Joe’s bar, they’re excited to see the parking lot crammed full of cars, but the bar is empty aside from Joe’s three employees: buxom tramp waitress Violet; senile old bartender Pops, and Rosa, the cartoon Italian cook who constantly mothers Joe (“You need-a to eat-a!”). Pops tells Joe that he let the guys at the bowling alley use the bar’s parking lot, since nobody else was. Charlie gets down disco-style with Violet, who complains that she’s uncomfortably warm, prompting Charlie to spray her (significant) boobs with a seltzer bottle. As Violet continues to dance, Pops is inspired by the swaying mounds and suggests that Joe have the girl wait tables while wearing a wet t-shirt. Joe ain’t having any of it, though.
The next day, Joe goes to visit his girlfriend, June, who is apparently a college professor and cheerleader coach. The saucy cheerleaders are having tryouts while the all-fro football team does shirtless exercises.
Driven to distraction by the hot cheerleaders, the football players spray the girls with a hose — and for some reason, this particular instance of moist, jiggling boobs finally inspires Joe to have a wet t-shirt contest at his bar. Joe goes to see Charlie at his junkyard day job, where the disco king is now dressed like an extra from Deliverance. Joe convinces Charlie to round up some chicks for the contest and the ball is rolling.
That night, Joe’s bar is packed but Charlie and his promised foxy mamas are nowhere to be seen. A couple guys enter and approach Joe, who asks if they have reservations. “We got nothin’ against wet t-shirts,” one of them replies. Charlie finally shows up but has only managed to recruit one girl — New Yorker Roxy, whose accent veers all over the place as actress Cecile Mann swings for the Oscar fences with lines like “Do elephants fooaht?”
Joe convinces Violet to enter the contest and the excitement begins as he douses the girls’ shirts and they dance around for awhile. Violet gets more applause, but Joe decides she’s disqualified since she’s an employee. Roxy wants a bottle of champagne for her prize, upsetting cheapskate Joe. Charlie and June convince Joe to seek sponsors for the contest and get some real prizes in order to attract more girls.
The next day, Joe, June and Charlie hit the town, securing all manner of prizes, including skis and a TV. They also hand out flyers for the contest, one of which is accepted by straight-laced biddy Mrs. Sherman, who calls a meeting of the straight-laced biddies council so they can come up with a plan to shut down the disgusting contest (“Salomes in our society!” Mrs. Sherman yelps).
That night, Joe’s bar is packed to the rafters, and several more girls enter the contest, including the cheerleaders. This stirs up the rivalry between the townies and the college students and after the girls all cavort for a very long time in their damp t-shirts, a fight breaks out, which also goes on for a very long time, only stopping when the plainclothes disco king sheriff arrives.
Joe pays the guy off, and as the fight starts again, Joe tells the crowd that he’s gonna have a contest for the townie girls, followed by one for the college girls, then the finalists from those competitions will face off in ultimate boobie-battle.
This leads to a musical montage as townies and cheerleaders recruit more chicks for the contest. Meanwhile, the old biddies visit the disco sheriff, asking him to shut down the “anarchist plot.” He refuses and the montage continues as all the girls try on their new t-shirts and the biddies prepare their protest signs. The townies and the college girls are supposed to be in different locations but I’m pretty certain they were just at opposite ends of the same swimming pool.
Back at Joe’s bar, the contest for the townies begins and goes on for a very long time indeed. The biddies arrive at the bar and start assaulting people with their protest signs, including Joe. Disco sheriff shows up with two long-haired cops and breaks it all up, and Joe invites the biddies in to watch the contest so they can decide if it’s really obscene or “against the American way.” The ladies order iced tea but get Pops’ Long Island iced tea instead. Any bets that at least one of the biddies will wind up onstage?
The college girls take the stage, all clad in red t-shirts, which really don’t work all that well for wet t-shirt contest purposes — not that I’m an expert, mind you. The finalists are chosen and the drunken biddies have a great time (biddy onstage? Check).
The next night is the big showdown between the townie finalists and the college girl finalists, and the biddies even show up to cheer everyone on. The competition goes on for a really, really long time, and in a stunning twist you can see coming about three hours before you even start watching the movie, former Penthouse Pet Corinne Alphen (a.ka. Corinne Wahl) arrives on the scene, throwing a rather shapely monkeywrench into things.
While Hot T-Shirts is burdened by even less plot than the usual 70s-era sexploiter, if you’re looking for a movie about boobs, this one slings ’em at you from start to finish. And those who are familiar with such things might recognize a few of the girls (and the guys) from the “exotic” film industry, including Kelly Nichols and Randy West. Nothing spectacular but if you like the ’70s foxes (although the movie was released in 1980, the ’70s look is still in full effect) or terrible disco tunes, Hot T-Shirts is worth watching.
(And, by the way, you can now hire Corinne Alphen to do a tarot card reading for you over the phone).
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And you might enjoy my collection of short stories, Tales of Misery and Imagination: