Monday, July 19, 2010

FAKE-OUT (1982) - fun and lunacy in Las Vegas, or a savage journey into the heart of Pia Zadora

Telly Savalas looks on as Pia entertains the shit out of a Vegas crowd no doubt coked out of its collective gourd.

For a winner, Las Vegas is the nicest town on earth. Pia Zadora is a fucking winner. I myself don't fit into this category, no. Instead, I am stuck in the loser's circle over in Reno, sweatily grabbing another nickel for the slots outside of the neighborhood grocery store. No plastic palm trees and high-grade formica for me, no sir. If Pia had a friend like me, she's in worse trouble than I thought. No, I never romped with Pia, only admired her from afar, as ugliness and failure has no place on the floor of the Desert Inn.


Pia Zadora's star never lit up the imagination of the human race quite like it should have. Perhaps she shouldn't have been forced into dramatic roles, and instead rocked the universe through a series of musicals, sort of a disco pixie Elvis. Then again, The Lonely Lady is easily one of the most entertaining Hollywood concoctions of the 80's, featuring Pia as a struggling screenwriter continually raped (both literally and figuratively) by the Hollywood machine. However, she won a Razzie for her performance, so maybe the public at large wasn't as impressed with the film as I was. Fake-Out (released on video in the U.S. as Nevada Heat) teases us with this Las Vegas showgirl cinematic model, but it's mostly a remake of Matt Cimber's earlier blaxploitation film Lady Cocoa (1975).

Fake-Out and Lady Cocoa take place in Vegas and Lake Tahoe, respectively (although what's the difference, really), and star miniature stacks of sexual dynamite (Pia and Lola Falana, respectively). They have bigwig gangster boyfriends, and are sent to prison for refusing to testify. They quickly reconsider prison life, and are set free to turn state's evidence. In the mean time, they are both escorted around town by a bodyguard cop, enjoying a lot of casino action and shopping action and what have you, while assassin stooges of their boyfriends try and silence these sexpot dynamos. This includes Mean Joe Greene in the case of Lady Cocoa, who plays a creepy killer that perpetually stalks Ms. Falana, never uttering a single word. I guess the filmmakers think that a football player won't be able to memorize dialogue.

Ms. Zadora, diminutive goddess of the stage, is not exactly built for prison life. However, she finds a positive outlet for her energies (and talents) by teaching an aerobics class, becoming the star of her own bouncy hooskow cabaret.

Of course, after all of this legwarmer action, our sweaty starlet has to hit the showers, leading to a patented Pia posterior shot:

Unfortunately, when you're as cute as a button and stand five feet one in high heels, you're prime lesbo meat for your fellow inmates. Being practically naked sure doesn't help matters.

It doesn't take Pia long to agree to testify against her gangster boyfriend, and so she is free to strut the streets, allowed to bounce around Vegas with a cop watching her every move. Thankfully, she returns to the bubbly personality we all know in love, despite just having been raped in prison.

Here Pia unwinds like any Vegas starlet worth her salt, soaking in a bubble bath with a glass of white wine:

Curiously, she later tries to seduce her cop/bodyguard, and does so wearing a towel. I guess she figures that if this look inspired multiple women to rape her, surely a man would not be able to resist a consensual version of the sexy towel pose. However, he's one of those "by the book" professionals, but eventually gives in to her sassy charms (he is a mortal being, after all).

You'd think she's be tense about the upcoming trial, or having to meet up with her boyfriend and pretend she isn't a turncoat. Oh yeah, and there's some dude periodically shooting at her. However, she's a force of nature that has no time for such unfabulous details, preferring to point her attention to something more interesting like...SHOPPING!

This is Vegas after all, and our little pizzazz cherub is certainly in her element. She hits the casino floor like Ike hit Tina, repeatedly and with gusto.

If Pia looking and acting fabulicious isn't enough to keep you entertained, there are some truly ludicrous action scenes. Here are a couple of them, including what looks to be a VW Rabbit (or another sub-sub-compact) giving chase onto a swimsuit competition stage. I'm shocked that it took until 1982 for someone to come up with the runway car chase.

Well, all of this action and violence starts to rub off on Pia's bubbly exterior, and even her face gets scratched up at one point. This gives her the opportunity to convey some of that patented Zadora pathos.

However, she toughens up, knowing that she needs to survive this ordeal, to live on as an iconic beacon for a select troop of lost souls (mostly gay, I freely admit).

She gets her man in the end, teaching any children in the audience a valuable lesson. That is, don't schnook those criminal types, and instead, find a partner who has some upstanding morals. Those gangster/mafioso types may have sex appeal (and money), but the relationship will only end in heartache, and possibly with you being weighted with a concrete block and dumped into a lake.


Pia went on to star in the previously mentioned The Lonely Lady, as well as the brilliant new wave musical Voyage of the Rock Aliens. I'm glad these curios live on, but lament all of the glitter showtune masterworks we potentially missed out on. The ironic hipsters may laugh, but Pia is exactly the kind of entertainment the world needs. Sassy, sexy, and exuberant, belting out standards and originals with flair (mostly standards), rather than wearing a hoodie, standing on stage with her back to the audience, mumbling about important stuff or whatever.

So, while the Pia Zadora revolution never quite got off the ground, I trudge forward carrying the flag (the above still with the phrase "Viva Zadora!"), surrounded by a nonplussed populace, like a dying Maoist clinging to his little red book. I march forward, a fucked-up cleric with a bad heart, for a religion of winners, a club of big spenders that wouldn't have me for a member; just another Saturday night for the Sixth Reich.


  1. how do i get the full movie?

  2. It's been released on DVD under the title "Nevada Heat".