Little People, Big Bucks
'Dwarf' films cast a strange spell on the culture

Little people are making a huge splash in pop culture. Such a short-statured spectacle as is occurring presently has not been seen since the woebegone '70s days of Billy Barty, Hervé Villechaize and that atrocious Chevy Chase/Carrie Fisher bomb Under The Rainbow (itself inspired by that monument of munchkindom, The Wizard of Oz).

See also...
... by Steve Robles
... in the Crave section
... from September 14, 1999

However, the current wave of short celebrities bears little resemblance to the sometimes buffoonish or subservient icons of decades yore. Verne Troyer (the tiny, scene-stealing Mini-Me from Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me) and Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf ("Howard Stern Show" regular) ain't getting anybody's goddamn drink but their own.

Is this renaissance borne of an attitude of politically correct tolerance and inclusion? Or perhaps society still hasn't gotten past this carnival-esque curiosity with those who are not average in height? Maybe it's both, and it's increasingly difficult to determine where one ends and the other begins.

Nowhere is this line blurrier than with the pornography-watching public's relatively newfound appetite for midget porn. As with a lot of "fringe" porn it seems sometimes to cross over from erotic to freakishly voyeuristic. Although mapping human sexuality with any absolute boundaries is a difficult, if not impossible, proposition, it could be that something else is going on.

"We sell quite a bit of midget porn and freaky porn in general," said Rob Drake, vice president of sales at Another Video Express, one of the biggest distributors of adult erotica on the West Coast. "And I really can't imagine that the guys who end up renting these vids are sitting there with their dicks in their hand like they're watching Anita Blond or something. It's like (porn) has shifted from just an erotic medium into a completely alternative form of entertainment for young guys."

At the vanguard of the midget porn explosion has been Totally Tasteless Video. And the original Dwarf Who Laid The Golden Dork for TTV is the now-retired Gidget The Midget. After appearing in such cherished chestnuts as Midget On Milligan's Island, the three-foot-plus brunette proved she could mount up and mouth down with the best of 'em.

That's when TTV decided to put her in her own features. Together they produced three legendary vids, A Fairy's Tale, Midget Madness (a pioneering multi-midget feature with performers Tiny and Napoleon) and Microslut, before the tiny temptress called it quits.

By then TTV had discovered the selling power of short-statured sexual performers. They enlisted low-to-the-ground lothario Lancelot and Gidget's pint-sized successor, Bridget The Midget, to expand their size-does-matter series.

"The midgets are our best-selling series of videos, no doubt about it," said Missy Walters, sales director at TTV. "And we have a lot of strange videos ... we have hermaphrodites and very heavy people, like 600 lbs. Strange seems to be what people want these days."

Like Drake, she doesn't seem to feel that this crop of carnal cash-cows has much to do with conventional ideas about pornography and erotic videos, in particular.

"I don't know, I get a lot calls from people who are throwing bachelor parties and they're looking for a kind of odd entertainment," Walters said, "which isn't the usual sex flicks. Before, the kind of videos guys would play at bachelor parties were the same they would watch themselves in private. But now I guess people just want the weird stuff."

Spectacle or unusual erotic indulgence, midget porn is an exploding genre that's making porn studios like TTV a lot of money. Just another example of an industry which is constantly re-defining itself. And a culture upon whom the old show-biz adage, "You can't lose with a midget" is not lost.

Dope addict Steve Robles often channels the ghosts of Bukowski and Lester Bangs for "inspiration." His work has appeared in Odyssey and UnReal People.