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Salt Lake City Weekly Orgasmic Mormons

"South Park" creator Trey Parker brings new meaning to the phrase "Happy Valley."

By Mary Dickson

OCTOBER 26, 1998:  What do Mormon missionaries know about orgasms? What does South Park co-creator Trey Parker know about Mormons? The answer in both cases: apparently enough.

In Orgazmo, mild-mannered Mormon missionary Joe Young ends up in the pornies as superhero Captain Orgazmo. The captain fights crime by brandishing his secret weapon, the Orgazmorator, which stuns criminals with an instant orgasm so intense they're incapacitated. We're talking high concept.

Campy films about Mormons. There is probably enough material out there to offer some sort of course. Start with Trapped by the Mormons, the 1922 British silent film about the evil missionary Isolde Keene on the prowl in Great Britain for fair and delightsome young maidens to drag back to his harem in the "Temple of Salt by the waters of the Great Salt Lake." He hypnotized unsuspecting lasses with his flashing eyes.

The Great Salt Lake also figures into the 1962 cult film, Carnival of Souls, about a couple of drag-racing dames whose car plunges off a bridge. The sole survivor moves to a small Utah town to escape her traumatic past and become a church organist. Little does she know that she now belongs to the clan of the living dead. The waltz of hollow-eyed zombies at the SaltAir Pavilion is a classic.

And let us not forget the late Mike Cassidy's The Attack of the Giant Brine Shrimp, in which the creature climbs out of the sludge of the Great Salt Lake, thumps on the Salt Palace, then scales the walls of the Temple and hurls the Angel Moroni on the panicking masses below.

Jump ahead to 1995 when Trent Harris tackled Mormons, sex, aliens, Nephites and polygamy in Plan 10 From Outer Space. Aliens traveled in beehive-shaped spaceships from the Planet Kolob, and a mad Mormon prophet buried the Plaque of Kolob (written in the Deseret Alphabet) near the shore of the Great Salt Lake, where a young girl found it generations later and embarked on a search for the secret of the bees.

The aliens in Plan 10 may have been sex fanatics disguised as angels, and the vampire-like Isolde Keene in Trapped by the Mormons may have been hypnotizing the ladies for his own foul purposes. But when it comes to sex, those Utah cult favorites pale next to Orgazmo.


Trey Parker as Elder Young as Captain Orgazmo with girlfriend Lisa (Robin Lynne Rabb).
Parker, who plays Elder Young, was reportedly upset that his farce got an NC-17 rating when Something About Mary — with its semen hair gel and pink naughty bits caught in zippers — mustered a good old-fashioned R. He has a point. There's nothing as blatantly gross in Parker's film. Sure, it's vulgar and perversely sophomoric, but it has precisely the kind of humor that's guaranteed to make it another cult favorite in this neck of the woods. It has plenty of local references (even a joke about cold fusion), shiny-faced missionaries, aging porn starlets and outlandish sex toys — a winning combination regardless of how stupid it gets. I'm not sure how it will play in the rest of the country, though Variety magazine has already given it rave reviews.

The film opens to two whistling, sunny-faced missionaries knocking on doors in Los Angeles. "What would you say if someone offered you peace and happiness for all eternity?" they ask a sweet-faced old woman. "You two boys can just fuck right off!" she smiles sweetly. And there you have Trey Parker's sensibilities in a flash. It's the same mind that created the infamous underground video, Spirit of Christmas, in which Jesus battles Santa Claus outside a mall. Parker's unique twist accentuates the unexpected with hilarious — some would say offensive — results. It's the kind of thing that makes you laugh even if you're determined not to.

When Elder Young, who majored in theater at BYU, knocks on the door of porn producer Maxxx Orbison (Michael Dean Jacobs), he stumbles into big-time temptation: two days of work for $5,000. It will pay for his wedding in the "pricey Salt Lake Temple." (A detail Parker gets wrong, of course.)

"Anytime there's actual penetration we'll bring in another penis," Orbison assures the camera-shy Young, before upping the ante to $20,000. The wholesome Elder is convinced he can get the cash and still not compromise his standards. "Even if things are crude, I think the Lord understands you need money," his companion assures him.

Young signs on to play Captain Orgazmo, whose trusty little sidekick Choda-Boy (Dian Bachar) is an MIT graduate who invents sex-toy weapons and wears a dildo helmet. Though he consorts with trashy porn stars who wander around the set wearily asking who they do today, the valiant Elder Young remains steadfast in his faith, reading from his Book of Mormon on the set and saying things like, "Fie on you, Satan." He's so naive, when someone yells, "Jesus!" he asks, "Where?"

Captain Orgazmo becomes such a hit that Elder Young is signed on for sequels. But when he discovers real-life crime, he starts using the Orgazmorator to fight real-life L.A. criminals. "Gosh darn it!" he says in a moment of epiphany. "I'm not a superhero. I'm a Latter-day Saint."

Orgazmo was first presented as part of Midnight Madness at the Toronto Film Festival, and also played at last year's Sundance Film Festival — where lines formed two hours ahead of the Tower Theatre's midnight screening and snaked around the block. In the proud tradition of Trapped by the Mormons and Plan 10, the zany Orgazmo is another late-night camp classic for posterity.


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