VIXEN!

While sitting in the lobby of her dentist waiting for an appointment she picked up the May 16, 1968 issue of Variety and this ad:

Erica made an appointment and did a reading with Meyer’s right-hand man George Costello.  ”He had interviewed more than three hundred women.  Russ was out of town.  At the end of the interview, George said, kind of embarrassed, ‘before you leave, could you take your top off?’  Well, I knew I’d have to do that on screen, and he had to see.  So I said, ‘yeah, sure!’  After you take your top off every night at the club, it’s almost like brushing your teeth.  He said he’d discuss the candidates with Russ, and I might get a call back.  I had no idea whether I would.”

“About two weeks after I was hired, we began filming.  First, with everyone cast, he got us all together and screened Faster Pussycat for us, so we could see what kind of work he did.  Next thing I knew, I was leaving town.”

“The shoot ran for four and a half weeks.  We had one or two rehearsals with George, just reading over the lines.  I had no clue of what I was in for.  It’s actually only now, looking back, that I can realize the impact of that film.

VixenFilming with Russ Meyer “was work,” she emphasizes.  ”With Russ, you work.  You were with him 24/7.  I lived in the same house with him for over a month, and it wasn’t a big house.  But it was great.  There was such teamwork.  It was a summer camp, like a family.”

As on every one of Meyer’s independent productions, the actors pulled double and triple duty.  ”I did the clapboards for my scenes, I steamed my own dress, I put on my own makeup and did my hair, putting on my fall.  I painted my eyebrows to look more seductive.  I even carried a camera sometimes.”

“Russ had to have the hots for the women he works with.  When you’re working with anybody who’s really passionate about something, you have to kind of fall in love with them.  And we can trick ourselves.  In a way, I fell in love with Russ, or else he wouldn’t have been able to get what he got out of me… Russ was so intense…  Had I known then what I know now, I would have been able to appreciate it more.  He protected me on the set, I knew no one was going to screw with me.  For the first time, I felt safe in the entire environment with Russ.”

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About the Author

Erica Gavin is an American film actress best known for playing the title role in Russ Meyer's 1968 film Vixen! Following Vixen, Erica Gavin appeared in one more Russ Meyer film - Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. She also appeared in Roger Corman's women-in-prison film Caged Heat. Erica Gavin currently resides in Beverly Hills, California.