Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Happy Birthday, Kristine DeBell!

First crushes are indelible. They live on, perfectly preserved in a sealed Mylar memory bag, untouched by time. Kristine DeBell wasn’t actually my first crush – that lovely lady is now happily married with several children – but she was my first movie crush, and for me, that’s a pretty big deal. I first laid eyes on her while stealing a peek at the otherwise verboten Meatballs on cable at a friend’s house. Kristine played one of Bill Murray’s counselors-in-training and displayed some nice comic chops. I was hooked on her girl-next-door, super hot under frumpy clothes looks, and I wondered if this was her first film.

It wasn’t.

Alice in Wonderland, a porn-musical version of the Carroll classic, was produced in 1976 by porn mogul and drug store heir Bill Osco, and starred Kristine (her first role) as Alice. While the film did feature hardcore sex, most people saw the film in a slightly watered-down (though still R-rated) cut that was released to most theaters and later on home video. Kristine acquits herself well, but the picture itself is one of those “funny” porn films that are invariably written, directed, and performed by heroically unfunny people. The humor typically manifests itself with the sort of camera mugging most often found in Italian comedies of the 60s and 70s, and renders the film almost unwatchable. The full length version restores a few minutes of hardcore scenes, though it was Kristine’s that garnered the most interest. Twice appearing in Playboy, Kristine was no stranger to nudity, but it was still amazing to see someone with her pouty, tomboy aesthetic doing full-frontal nudity, much less actual penetration. There is a possibility that a body double was used for her final scene, featuring all the XXX bells & whistles, but there’s little doubt as to her participation in earlier solo and oral scenes (to use industry parlance).

Her big shot at movie stardom would come a year after Meatballs in Jackie Chan’s ill-advised 1980 American movie debut, The Big Brawl. The picture is a mess, with Enter the Dragon director Robert Clouse brought in to turn Jackie into the next Bruce Lee, ignoring the fact that with one exception, Clouse is a pretty lousy director. Kristine, playing Jackie’s girlfriend, looks as pretty as ever, but doesn’t have much to do, and the film effectively grounded the American film careers of both (though only one would return to Hong Kong and resume their place as its preeminent martial arts star).

The 80s were rough on Kristine, with sporadic film projects such as Rooster: Spurs of Death! and soap work on The Young and the Restless filling out her resume. Her career in the movie biz seems to have ended in 1990; I’ve heard that she left the business and married and has children. Wherever she may be, I hope she’s happy and well.

Kristine DeBell celebrated her 53rd birthday this past Monday, December 10th.