Two generations have come of age now with the pom-pom girl as one of the supreme sexual icons of the cinema. And they have one man to thank: Paul Glickler.

The thoughtful, well-spoken Glickler ignited a whole movie genre -- and gave big-screen flesh to both the memories and fantasies of any healthy teen who ever panted his way through a pep rally -- by directing the 1972 drive-in smash and cult classic The Cheerleaders (Picture: ).

The film was so enthusiastically embraced by an entranced public that it forever altered popular culture. It was also so sexually explicit that it incurred the wrath of government censors.

Prior to The Cheerleaders, Glickler blazed a trail in hardcore filmmaking, with his complex triple-X-rated classic Hot Circuit. He was kind enough to sit down recently and discuss his filmmaking experiences.

What were you doing professionally prior to Hot Circuit and The Cheerleaders?
My background was mixed. The first things I had done were in the theater when I was in college. I started directing plays. Prior to that I was a set designer. When I got out of school I did some summer theater. Within a year of finishing college I decided to look for work in television and documentary making, because it was what I found most interesting at the time.

From about 1964 until Hot Circuit, 1971, I worked in documentary filmmaking. I worked with CBS news for a while, and ABC. Then I started getting commissions to do documentaries. At the time I was doing them, this person approached me and asked if I could do a porno film and I said, "Of course."

Not ever having done one and not knowing anything about it, I had to go and see some. And they were all so horrible-they weren't anything like "films." So I said, "I can do a lot better than this, certainly," not knowing even where I was going to get the actors. And we did one prior to Hot Circuit, the title of which I don't know. I don't know how it was distributed. I think out title was Snow Job or something. It was about a weekend at a ski lodge. There were two couples. There could have been some other characters. I haven't seen the film since I made it. We made that in two days. I can't remember where we got the actors from.

I don't want to say that it was laughable, but we certainly didn't know what we were doing in terms of delivering what the industry thought was an acceptable porno. In fact when we finished it and showed it to the people, they said, "This may be very artistic but you're not showing things like the money shot." They told us that we were complete amateurs.

We finally did manage to sell it and get the investor's money back, but it was mainly an exercise in knowing how not to do something like this.

The investor was undeterred by the fact of this having not sold, and in fact prior to us selling Snow Job, he was eager for us to make another out in his turf, which was Silicon Valley. So we immediately went out to California to do Hot Circuit.

And how did that go?
We prepared for that in a slightly better way in that I did have kind of a scenario, which was loosely based on the structure of Schnitzler's La Ronde (Picture: ) and sort of thought who these characters could be in this round robin. We had much more time; we had a week to do it as opposed to a day and a half. It was all locations and we had much more time to think about how we were shooting. None of the actors, from what I recall, were porn actors. I think maybe one certain one said they were but they were not the least professional about performing. The other ones were all just kids.

This was 1971, San Francisco in the middle of the days of sexual revolution and freedom and everybody thought, "Oh, what a terrific idea to be in a porno film, take off your clothes and screw and we're going to get paid for it as well-that's terrific!" Everyone was an amateur and regarded the whole thing as a great deal of fun and that was kind of the spirit that surrounded the production.

Hot Circuit caused something of a splash when it was released, didn't it?
We had entered it into the first New York Erotic Film Festival. We won the first prize. What was interesting was the jury consisted of Andy Warhol, Milos Foreman, Sylvia Miles and some others. It got a bit of publicity. It got released in I guess early '72 at the time we were working on The Cheerleaders. During this time, hardcore films were getting major releases. [There was] an ad [for Hot Circuit] from The Daily News and as you can see it's as large an ad as The Godfather.

It was unfortunately playing in Washington, D.C. in 1972 at the time that the Watergate scandal was happening and at some point it was busted on federal charges. There was a conspiracy charge against myself and my partner, the theater and, I think, the projectionist. This was one of maybe half a dozen pictures that were busted at the time.

What happened with those charges?
The bust happened in the fall of '73. I remember having conversations with the prosecuting assistant attorney, who was actually a very nice guy, and he said, "Of all of these horrible films I've had to look at, yours has been the only good one. And it has this really beautiful song in it." The song was written by Michael Soul, who was a songwriter for Judy Collins.

[The whole affair] did come to a conviction and subsequently it was overturned.

Where did the Cheerleaders concept come from?
I'd had this idea of doing The Cheerleaders because of The Stewardesses, which was something that Sherpix had distributed-their big money maker-which was in 3-D. I believe it was in both hardcore and softcore. I don't know; I never saw the film. I just thought how it was funny how women in uniform become sexual icons.

I got this sort of flash of this as a subject matter during a parade. I was in New York on a cold day and there were marching bands down the street and a group of appropriately dressed drum majorettes, baton twirlers. It seemed so incongruous. I thought of how seeing this sex symbol-without it in any way being acknowledged as a sex symbol-why else are young girls dressed scantily marching before the police contingent and after the fire department other than to spice it up?

Then I got together with [writer] Tad Richards and discussed it and sort of worked out an outline. I think Tad did the first passes. Subsequently I worked on it myself and then David F., known as "Ace Bandage."

Was it conceived of immediately as a comedy and did you always plan on having that particular level of sex and nudity, or did it evolve?
I think there was always a level of satire because that's the take that each of us had. Both Tad and I like Russ Meyer very much and his sense of the absurd. We sort of understood that it would be a parody of softcore porn. Because what people would expect from a film about cheerleaders was sexual titillation, we were going to have to deliver that in some way but there was never the intention of making it erotic or prurient. I'm surprised when often people find it erotic and I suppose it's because they find the girls attractive. I always find the idea of putting sex into softcore films as slightly ludicrous.

Principal photography took roughly?
Twenty-six days or something like that.

Any idea what the final budget was?
I know precisely what it was: $155,000 plus deferments to the actors and technicians who had to wait to get paid their cash salaries during production, to writers and myself and my partner, who I don't think took any salaries.

One of your advertising taglines was, "Gimme an X!"
That was a self-imposed "X" rating. Distributor Jerry Gross would give away Cheerleaders t-shirts and little megaphones. A friend who'd seen it opening weekend in Los Angeles told me that there was a theater on Hollywood Boulevard that was completely packed and all the people in the front row and many others had those megaphones and were shouting back the cheers like, "Come on, Boys!" [Gross'] promotion was excellent.

Did Gross approach you about a sequel?
They wanted to do a sequel within two months of the opening. I personally wasn't interested. My partner Richard Lerner took up the ball. Before they could get into production, Cinemation ran into financial difficulties and they weren't paying us the money they owed us and we had to sue them. We got a summary judgment against them and we got the film back from them. At which point Richard had to go elsewhere for financing.

Originally [the sequel] was set at the same high school. Part of the thing was I had some discussions with them and I said, "If you want me to do this, you're going to have to finance it. I don't want to go out and raise money. You're making enough money off of this. So I want a deal starting with you coming up with some money to pay me as screenwriter." They were unwilling to do that. That was the point where I dropped out.

Tell us about unforgettable actress Stepanie Fondue (Picture: - - - - ).
The interesting thing about [Stephanie] was that she was so uninhibited. As opposed to all the other actresses who showed up who I had to beg or cajole into getting undressed. [Stephanie] I think had some experience doing nude modeling. I'm sure she had been into all sorts of scenes of a sexual nature. Denise, the so-called Captain and head of the cheerleaders seemed to have had a parochial school upbringing and was a sweet and innocent girl. [Stephanie] had that edge to her voice. She had that completely angelic look, but she was no angel. [Laughs.]

One line of dialogue from the film haunts me: "Norm thinks I'm a piece of toast, buttered."
I would assume what Tad Richards meant by that was that a piece of buttered toast is something you would be very delicate in handling. That's the only interpretation. I never asked him about that.

Penthouse magazine ran a spread promoting the film. How did that happen?
They came [on location] and those photos were taken by their people. The amusing thing is they have another story [in the same issue] with the pinup of a girl and a lion, and that girl came to try out for The Cheerleaders. She was working for some wildlife park. I remember I came out to see her car and she had a wolf in the back, which I was very impressed by.

The film was an immediate cult favorite. Did fans ever contact you?
Some of the letters [I've received] are funny.

Here's one: "Dear Mr. Glickman, [sic] I've recently seen your movie The CheerleadersThe Cheerleaders has excellent color, sharp, crisp scenes, great camera work, and while the girls have lovely attributes, the acting wasn't perhaps the best, but we've seen worse in this type of film. Is the print available in 8mm? Or perhaps an edited version? If not, any plans to do so? Is there any way to obtain stills, either in color or black and white? I have a very narrow-minded wife and will have to use a business address for your reply." Etc, etcfrom Continental Airlines in Witchita, Kansas.

Here's one from a world champion parasailer. "Dear Mr. Glickler, People are always looking for a new way to ball, and I've got one. Note the attached article reprints. It wouldn't be too difficult to shoot a great scene of my balling chicks on my flying chair, trapeze bar, etc. Sound could be rigged up too. Let me know if you're interested or else I'll forward this on to Russ Meyers [sic.]"

There's one shot in the film where it looks like there are jump cuts, probably to avoid showing any male frontal nudity. Was that to preserve the actors' modesty or because it was just something that you didn't think was necessary in the film?
I think male frontal nudity was an issue. That would have been a concern of the distributor. There was no problem with female full frontal nudity, but that's where a line was drawn. The jump cuts [in the orgy scene] weren't necessarily for that reason.

What have you been working on more recently?
The only film stuff recently has been getting The Cheerleaders remastered. I had some legal problems with another film, [1979's] Running Scared which I discovered was being pirated on DVD by some fly-by-night company. Other than that I've been mostly screenwriting. Like most people in Hollywood I spend more time trying to get things made than making them.

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