Family & Companions
A legendary producer of sexploitation films and low-budget gore-fests, David F. Friedman trained at the knee of the legendary promoter Kroger Babb in the 1940s, and worked with the equally notorious director Herschell Gordon Lewis in the 1960s. The son of a newspaper editor father, Friedman was born on Dec. 24, 1923 in Birmingham, AL, the only child of a well-to-do Southern family. Enchanted with show business, he was selling tickets at a local fair by the age of 12 and later landed a job doing publicity and bookings for Paramount Pictures. Following a break for WWII service, he stayed with the studio through 1956, working his way up to head of advertising and PR for the Chicago, IL area.
By that time, Friedman had met and worked with Kroger Babb, producer and promoter of such exploitation films as "Mom and Dad" (1944). In 1956, Friedman joined Modern Film, a cut-rate production company formed by Babb and several fellow hucksters. Booking sleazy films on percentage, he produced his first film, "The Prime Time," in 1959. It was directed by neophyte Herschell Gordon Lewis. The naughty coming-of-age tale - also the film debut of actress Karen Black - was the first in a series of Friedman/Lewis collaborations, produced under a number of companies and pseudonyms.
The best-known of the duo's films were the cheap but vividly gory and disturbing "Blood Feast" (1964) and "Two Thousand Maniacs" (1964), as well as the now comparatively innocent nudie flicks "The Adventures of Lucky Pierre" (1960) and "Boin-n-ng!" (1963). Among their other creations were "Goldilocks and the Three Bares," "Living Venus" (1959), the nudist-colony romp "Daughter of the Sun" (1962), "Bell Bare and Beautiful" (1963) and "Scum of the Earth" (1963). They last teamed up on "Color Me Blood Red" ("It will leave you aghast!") in 1965. Many of their films were made for less than $10,000 and showed huge profits. Without Lewis, Friedman began producing soft-core and low-budget films, with titles like "Mr. Peter's Pets" (1962), "Head Mistress" (1968), "Thar She Blows" (1969), "The Big Snatch" (1970), "Trader Hornee" (1970), "Alexandra, Queen of Sex" (1983) and "Student Affairs" (1988).
Friedman virtually retired from the business in the 1980s, following the cable and video explosion which took some of the old-time carny feel out of the business. He was also disheartened by one of his own films, the widely-banned and thoroughly vile "Ilsa, She-Wolf of the SS" (1974), from which Friedman deleted his credit. He debunked the highly-hyped "snuff" films of the 1970s, and was one of the first to enter the adult video market around the same time, even heading the Adult Film Association of America for 17 years. True to form, Friedman purchased the Calhoun (Alabama) County Fair in 1990 and became the kind of old-time showman he had admired as a child. That same year, he also published his memoirs, A Youth in Babylon: Confessions of a Trash Film King. The filmmaker died in his beloved Alabama on Feb. 14, 2011 of heart failure.