The video above is a series of clips from the little-seen 1994 documentary Wildwood, N.J. Directors Carol Weaks/Cassidy and Ruth Leitman took to the boardwalk (and its surrounding area) of resort town/hole in the country Wildwood, N.J., in 1992, to explore the culture of the girls and women who populate it. The results are almost entirely hilarious. Even before my posts about it, I have long been obsessed with Wildwood and its unapologetic trashiness. I've always described it this way: if Jersey is the armpit of the U.S., Wildwood is a louse clinging to one of its hairs. Watching the film today, though, it's hard to say where the trashy begins and the products of the time (be they mousse or gel) end, but I'm pretty sure that halo-like scrunchies and shoulder-less button-up shirts and (maybe) lying about all the girls you've beat up and put in the hospital were never a good idea.
The film has a feminist bent (just the fact that anyone cares enough to talk to these girls about their lives and dreams bespeaks a rare kind of social consciousness) and it's moving at times, especially during a segment where girl after girl talks about her fatherless life. Mostly, though, it's a big laugh. It feels like a missing link for me, as it's full of females so similar to the ones that surrounded me while growing up just 25 minutes away from the profiled town: girls and women who know they're funny but don't quite realize that they're hilarious. Relating to those people introduced me to the strange sensation that occurs when you find yourself simultaneously laughing at and with a person. That same sensation is present when I watch and talk to people on reality TV.
Basically, Wildwood, N.J., feels like it was made for me (much love to John, who hooked me up with a copy). I don't know if people will be as amused as I am by this (some of the clips I included based on accent alone), but I figured with July 4 looming, it's the right week to find out.
Update: Wildwood, N.J., director Ruth Leitman contacted me to say that she's thrilled about the attention this unreleased gem is receiving and that she's going to start to sell copies of the film via her site within the next few days. Here's what Ruth says about procuring your own copy (which I [South Jersey Accent]soooooooow[/SJA] reccomend):
I am really excited that so may of you asked about the film. Because of this I am mastering a new DVD and you can order via PayPal. As we speak, I am having my web designer add a button for this shortly on my website (Ruthless Films). It's $22.99 including shipping & handling. We were in the process of a re-design when this all came up, so that is why there is so little on there now. After you've purchased please allow 3 weeks for delivery.
Update 2: OK, it's available.
Below, some screen shots to celebrate the fashions of the time/location...