Heading to the theater on this brisk Monday morning to catch a matinee screening of the first Black porn, 1974’s Lialeh aka Black Lialeh with score by the legendary drummer Bernard Purdie. Often labeled as a Blaxploitation film, Lialeh is anything but that. It’s a legit porn starring a primarily Black cast shot in New York at various locations. There’s a lot of mystery that surrounds this rare film and of course it’s elusive soundtrack but one of the rarest items to be obtained happens to be the original promo VHS for the movie which I just happen to have 3 variant copies in the collection and seems to be even more rare than the soundtrack. While in St. Petersburg Russia a few years back, I had the pleasure of having dinner and sitting down with Bernard Purdie to discuss this film which I’ve always had a fascination for and have gave me the scoop on how it was was filmed and the secrecy behind how many copies of the soundtrack actually were pressed. All which I’ll deliver in a more in-depth interview sometime later down the line.
One of the most interesting things that we discussed over dinner was the theater premier in Times Square and the very mixed group of people that were in attendance. The premier was rather glamorous with both pimps and prostitutes dressed in their finest fits, mean and clean cars parked out front as well as a slew of journalists who were there to cover and review the movie which wasn’t billed as a “porn” so they had no idea what they were walking into.
A few weeks back while beginning to work on an in-depth story, I came across a few original newspaper ads for screenings in Philadelphia and with the help of a couple friends, they helped me to secure hi-res scans of them (thank you guys, I appreciate the help!) I’ve also added a screening in Hawaii which shows you just how popular this film was.
Smooth operator Arlo is setting up an erotic musical in NY. Lialeh, a talented girl who wants a singing career and doesn’t mind doing nudity or having sex, joins the show. Funk legend Bernard Purdie and his band play Arlo’s band.
Peep the Johnny “Hammond” Smith story in the film / entertainment section with the Philadelphia Daily News.