Friday, June 21, 2013

Father-Daughter Bonding: How Not To Do It

I have NO idea why the hell this popped into my mind, but it did, and now I can't get it out of my head until I tell you the story. Feel free to blame me afterwards, then.

Ok - first - let's get this out of the way.

There's some pictures of naked people in this one. If you don't like naked people, don't read it.

Are we good?

Okay, then.

So. When I lived in southeastern Pennsylvania right after I got off active service my then-girlfriend-soon-to-be-bride-quondam-wife-now-ex had a very sweet friend let's call Gina. Gina was a nice Italian-American girl with a nice Italian-American family that lived in a nice little Italian-American community in someplace like Coatesville, I think.

She was a terrific gal; hell of a hard worker, friendly, smart, loved her friends and family, had just about everything going for her in her life you can think of except for one teensy little thing.

Gina was a lesbian. Probably still is, for that matter.

Anyway, that was a huuuuge big fat hairy deal for her Papa. Let's call him Gino, and Papa Gino was everything you'd expect a traditional Italian-American Papa born in south Philly the early 1930's to be; this swarthy sort of lumpy guy with a thick Philadelphia accent, a "diamond in the rough" kind of papa with big hands and a big heart that was filled with love for his family, his community, the Iggles, spaghetti bolognese, and cold Budweiser.

But not for lesbian daughters who weren't going to get married in Church and produce a dozen adorable grandkids for him.

Apparently Papa Gino and Gina had fought like hell about that when she came out - and, trust me, in 1985 this was something families would fight about and fight hard. Especially if you were an Italian-American kid in a small town in southeastern Pennsylvania. There was lots of stereotypical Italian-American drama involved, and it took a while for things to settle into a sort of armed truce. Gina didn't bring her girlfriends home or dress real butch and Papa Gino didn't rag on her about her sexuality. They stuck to neutral topics and kept up a tough veneer of civility.

But things were definitely tense.

So, anyway, here one Friday Gina is coming home after work and she's had a tough week, so has Papa Gino, and she wants to make nice to him so that she can have, just for a little while, the uncomplicated love for and from her daddy like when she was little.

So - she buys a half-rack of Budweiser and the fixin's for spaghetti bolognese and she figures she'll rent a movie and they can have a nice father-daughter dinner and watch a movie on the VCR together.

Well, you can imagine Gina's Papa Gino's taste in movies, right? Godfather films, Westerns, and war movies...that was pretty much the A to Z in movies for Gino Zepporelli.

Now Gina hates "Italian" films and can't stand Westerns, but war flicks? She can deal.

She wanders down the "Action" movie aisle of the local video rental store and finds a flick that looks kind of World War Two-ish. GIs fighting Nazis? That's a Papa Gino Slam-dunk.

So off she goes with the meat sauce and the videotape and Gina and Papa Gino had a nice dinner and some Buds and settled on the couch to watch the film she rented, a Seventies flick titled:

"Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS"

Ilsa who? I hear you ask.

That Ilsa:

The Ilsa with the big jahoobs in this half-assed WW2 story is supposedly based on this Ilsa: Ilse Koch, Die Hexe von Buchenwald, the Witch of Buchenwald, a real-life Nazi who seems to have been a very twisted sister, indeed but this is what the real Ilsa looked like:

Which, as you can see, is not anything what the Ilsa of the movie looks like. But you knew that already, right.

According to Gina the VCR tape box had "...a picture of Ilsa kinda bustin' out of her SS-outfit and some people shootin' and barbed wire an' stuff..." so not surprisingly she figured it was some sort of WW2 prison picture, The Great Escape only with tits.

She liked tits, and her dad liked The Great Escape so win-win, right?

At any rate, here's Papa Gino settled into his comfy Barcalounger with his fourth Bud with the opening credits rolling all prepared to enjoy a good Axis-and-Allies shoot-'em-up movie, a comfy Combat-episode sort of flick where the Nazis are all hissing and evil and the GIs all ingenious and heroic and the Good Guys win in the end...when he's suddenly confronted with this;

Yeah. It's a soft-core porn film.

So you have to picture the scene; here's Papa Gino frozen in his chair watching this Hogan's-Heroes-gone-horribly-wrong skin flick trying desperately not to go ballistic on his daughter who is sitting on the couch next to him completely mortified but at the same time possessed by the horrible compulsion to burst out laughing hysterically at the whole awful predicament.

So nobody says anything; both of them stare fixated at the awful film rolling past on-screen.

She says that this went on for what seemed like forever, the two of them too stunned to do or say anything, until the famous "electric dildo scene"... which point Papa Gino bolted out of his lounge chair spewing Budweiser all over the knick-knacks on the coffee table and roaring "Whadda fuggin' hell is dis, some sorta fuggin' fug film!", and Gina collapsed on the couch snorting with laughter and wailing "I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I had no idea! I had no idea!" until the tears ran down her cheeks.

As they did ours as she told us afterward.

I guess things were kind of touchy around the Zepporelli household for a couple of weeks after that. Gina camped out on our couch for a night or two while her girlfriend was out of town and then with her girlfriend for the rest of the time.

Papa Gino eventually calmed down, although according to Gina it took several months for him to be able to watch any sort of video or television with his family without referring to his middle daughter as "Fuggin' Ilsa de Fuggin' Queen of Da Fug Film Business"

And that was pretty much that.

I never did find out much more about the story of Gino, Gina, and Ilsa. Shortly afterwards my ex got hired at the Catholic hospital out here in Portland and we moved out West. We weren't good enough friend for Gina and my ex to say in touch, so we never heard from them again. All that remains is my memory of this one disastrous dad-daughter evening.

I guess the one last bit about this story I wanted to pass on was culled from the one of the websites I linked to (you guys know I am sleepless in acquiring this sort of fascinating trivia, right) well, here's the most bizarre bit of information I found about this goofy war-porn film. Remember how I called it "Hogan's Heroes Gone Horribly Wrong"?

Well...Ilsa was filmed on the original set of the Hogan's Heroes TV show.

Supposedly at the end of Ilsa a whole bunch of the set got blown up during the big prison break scene (which I think we can assume that Papa Gino didn't keep on going to see).

So not only did his crazy lesbo daughter rent a sadistic WW2 porno film for their dad-daughter evening, it was a sadistic WW2 porno film that blew the hell out of the set of one of his beloved Sixties sitcoms.

I'll bet Papa Gino would have really had a kitten fit if he'd known that


Syrbal/Labrys said...

:::snorting coffee out of nose::::

I don't know if it is more ironic or more hilarious that I read this on the morning that I prepare to attend a lesbian wedding!

FDChief said...

Thing is, as bad as it still is in a lot of places, sometimes it's easy to forget how much worse things are just twenty years ago. People like Gina were openly harassed in public up to the point of physical danger.

We're not "there" yet, but we've come SO far since 1988...

Leon said...

On a scale of 1-10 of uncomfortableness, I'd rate this a 12.

FDChief said...

Leon: Gina said that the problem was that as mortifying as it was she couldn't help seeing the how ridiculous it was, too. We had the same reaction; "God, how horrible" and, at the same time "Jeez, what a goofy freakish deal..!"

It's always struck me as perhaps one of the stranger "family stories" of all time.