Not many film directors start their careers in sports, but that’s exactly where Andy Sidaris began. During the 70s and 80s, Sidaris directed TV coverage of hundreds of football and basketball games and was even in charge of directing ABC’s Olympic Games programming for 24 years.
He also wasn’t modest.
In a 2003 interview, Sidaris said: “I was the best television director that ever lived and helped develop techniques that are standard today, including instant replay, slow-motion replay and split-screen views.”
That is true. He is also responsible for another camera move that is commonplace in today’s sports – the honey shot. If you’ve ever watched a football game and found the camera zooming in on a beautiful woman in the crowd, you can thank Andy Sidaris for that.
“Once you’ve seen one huddle you’ve seen them all. … So you either look at the popcorn, the guys, or the ladies. The choice is clear to me.”
It is not surprising that when he finally made the move to feature films, beautiful women would play a big part. Between 1985 and 1998, Sidaris directed 12 films which he called the Triple-B (Bullets, Bombs and Babes) series.
The series, which is also known as the L.E.T.H.A.L Ladies or the Girls, Guns and G-Strings collection, consist of:
- 1. Malibu Express (1985)
- 2. Hard Ticket to Hawaii (1987)
- 3. Picasso Trigger (1988)
- 4. Savage Beach (1989)
- 5. Guns (1990)
- 6. Do or Die (1991)
- 7. Hard Hunted (1992)
- 8. Fit to Kill (1993)
- 9. Enemy Gold (1993)
- 10. The Dallas Connection (1994)
- 11. Day of the Warrior (1996)
- 12. Return to Savage Beach (1998)
The concept was simple; a series of films focusing on a group of gorgeous secret agents working for The Agency, who get in a series of adventures – mostly based in and around Hawaii, where the temperate climate called for minimal clothing.
Sidaris also hit upon a unique selling point – instead of casting traditional actors, he hired Playboy and Penthouse ‘playmates’, many of whom appeared in multiple films. The main star of the series is Dona Speir, who for eight films starred as secret agent Donna Hamilton. Like an erotic version of Spooks, the main line up constantly changed, but the likes of Hope Marie Carlton, Cynthia Brimhall, Roberta Vasquez, Julie K. Smith, Shae Marks, and Wendy Hamilton appear in numerous films.
Continuity was also never an issue – actresses like Roberta Vasquez would first appear in the series as a villainess before cropping up a film later as a hero!
Although Andy Sidaris tragically died of throat cancer in 2007, his wife Arlene Sidaris still runs the production company and the websites for all the films – our friends at 80s Picture House recently did a great podcast with her, which we strongly recommend.
In turn, we have trawled the internet for past interviews with Sidaris to give you some insight into why he made the films that he made.
How he went about writing the films: My wife Arlene uses all of these fancy words like “motivation” and “story”. Where the f*** did you learn those words? I couldn’t spell “story” if you spotted me the “s” and the “t”, for chrissakes. I have an idea in my head of locations, and I kind of know who I want to cast.
How he went about casting Playmates: Our girls, like Roberta Vasquez, Dona Speir, and Cynthia Brimhall – they are just as good as the gals who appear in soaps. But because they are Playmates, people thought they weren’t going to be very good actresses. Check out some of the f****** broads on late-night television, they’ve got one blond broad on C.S.I. – she’s f****** awful. I’ve always said at least our girls enunciated.
The trials of working with Hugh Hefner: I did Malibu Express with Hefner, we did that picture for half a million bucks. We both put up the money, I put up $250,000, and Hef put up $250,000. Hef wasn’t crazy about the movie, because it had girls running and sweating and shooting, and he wanted us to do a little romance. I don’t do a little romance, I do f****** action. He wanted Doris Day. This isn’t Doris Day and Rock Hudson, this is girls sweating a little bit, then kicking ass. Especially later on, when I did Hard Ticket To Hawaii and stuff like that.
Why he shot in Hawaii: A lot of people think it’s cute to work 20 hour days, but it’s not, it’s stupid. The dumbest thing I’ve ever seen in my life was watching Cast Away, which is a terrific picture with Tom Hanks. However they went to some small island that they had to take a hundred boats to get to every morning. They had to leave at 3 in the morning to get there at 5am. Then they’d wade to shore where they built a little city with toilets and things. They could have gone to Molakai! We were shooting on the golf course. We’d be in the “jungle” and turn around and there was the country club! Two hundred yards out from the hotel, there were mountains and the ocean. Meanwhile, they went to some little island. It’s absolutely stupid to take a crew down there and risk their lives every morning.
Why his films are tasteful: We’ve never shown anything below the waist, and we don’t do any bumping and grinding or any of that crap. We just do a little bit of sexy stuff. I like our pictures, because they’re nice little adventure pictures. They’re not mean-spirited, and I think you know that. In our movies, we don’t put a knife to some girl’s throat and say “We’re gonna cut your t*** off, or cut your throat.” We don’t do crap like that. We have a family atmosphere, we pay well, and we pay on time.
How he decides when and how to add a nude scene: I just throw them in wherever it’s convenient.