Andy Sidaris died on March 7th. I first heard about it a week or so later when he became a topic on the NPR game show, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. They made a lot of typically NPR-style jokes, and I had the feeling that only the staff person who wrote the jokes had any idea who he was. Not that he ever had that high a profile.
Sidaris, who graduated from Southern Methodist University in 1949 at the age of 18, had two careers. The first was in sports broadcasting, where he was so successful he became the first director of ABC's Wide World of Sports. While working for ABC he invented the “honey shot,” that cutaway to a cheerleader or good-looking woman in the stands that became a staple of TV sports.
The “honey shot” presaged his next career. He and his wife Arlene formed Malibu Bay Films in 1985, and as producer/director his formula never varied. Once a year or so he would round up a bevy of recent Playboy Playmates, cart them to Hawaii or some other tropical location, and make the kind of picture men like. In movie after movie, bikini-clad babes, whose tops had a hard time staying on, spent ninety minutes defying drug lords, outwitting master spies, battling terrorists, and hot tubbing. Lots of hot tubbing.
Compared to the experimental nuttiness of Russ Meyer's oeuvre, Sidaris's films admittedly come off as workmanlike paeans to heterosexual male horniness, but he always turned out a dependable product. He was also very much a man of the 1980's, and as that decade comes under review and is plundered by a new generation of artists and writers, it seems inevitable that Andy Sidaris will be re-appreciated, reevaluated and repositioned.
The early films are the best. Check out Picasso Trigger, Hard Ticket to Hawaii, and Malibu Express.