Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam
Heidi Fleiss – who is she? That’s the question which this documentary wants answered. Come, join Nick Broomfield and his crew, as he charters the life and times of this erstwhile madam, during a period of her life which has instigated her downfall.
You see, Heidi is currently standing trial for pandering charges, and is in the process of awaiting committal because of her dubious endeavors. And that is why Nick has to now scour the underbelly of the Hollywood sex trade, just to gather enough information to figure out how Heidi has gotten herself into this predicament, and why this was so.
Nick eventually hits pay dirt thanks to pornographer, Ron Jeremy, whom opens up the doors to this this sex induced industry, allowing Nick to interview numerous ex-prostitutes until he reaches Heidi's close pal, Victoria Sellers, daughter of comedic legend, Peter Sellers.
Now Victoria tells Nick about her close friendship with Heidi, explaining the good, the bad, and the ugly side of her character traits. This then leads Nick to two people who are pivotal in Heidi’s life, and this documentary - Ivan Nagy and Madam Alex.
Madam Alex was Heidi’s successor in the prostitution racket, and she blames her for stealing this ‘business’ from under her feet, with additional help from her then boyfriend, Ivan Nagy. Alex blames Ivan for this whole debacle as well, plus attributes to him, Heidi’s current down fall also. To put it rather lightly, Alex does not care too much for Ivan. And likewise, Ivan doesn't like Alex too. Degrading her as a ‘duplicitous doddering old lady’ who is ‘pure evil’.
Ivan is noted as being a director of such TV movies as ‘Captain America’, ‘Heart to Heart’, and ‘Starsky and Hutch’. But to those people who Nick interviews, Ivan is a sadist and a criminal leach, who preys on prostitutes in need to usurp Heidi’s trade. Moreover, it is also implied that Ivan is working in conjunction with an enforcer called Cookie, a person who keeps the prostitutes in line whenever the need arises.
On numerous occasions, Nick interviews Alex and Ivan again and again and again, each time they degrade the other one – each time they spill a few more beans on who they are and what they mean to Heidi – and each time their relationship with Nick gets worse and worse and worse. To be fair to Nick though, he does manage to gather some other information around these interviews about Heidi too, like her hippy-like upbringing – her attraction to older men – and the way that her case is progressing.
Finally, the day comes that Heidi's sentence is eventually read - she is guilty. At this point in the documentary, Heidi manages to break her silence and speak to Nick, telling him, as best she can, about the bleak feeling’s of her future, plus the crazy antic of her past. She appears franks with her words and bold with her sentiment. But fatefully she exhumes a self-destructive personally, one which is detrimental to her own self-worth.
'Heidi Fleiss - Hollywood Madam' is a Nick Broomfield documentary which highlights the underbelly of Hollywood’s sex trade - well - that’s the pretext anyway.
You see, Nick uses this topic to showcase the life and times of Heidi Fleiss, as well as to explain the reasons behind her current pandering charges, due to her chosen field of work. Conceptually, the character’s Nick interviews in this documentary are eclectic to say the least. Because he gets to speak to prostitutes, mothers, porn-stars, other TV reporters, removed celebrities, police officials, and of course, the movers and shakers in this whole story. Such as:
IVAN NAGY: Now if there was ever a man who looks and acts like a used car salesman, it is this funny looking fellow. To me he just comes across as a really smarmy and sly sod, who speaks with one face and does business with the other. Granted, there are times when you can tell that he is genuine about his emotions and his feelings about Heidi. Whilst at other times you can tell that he is basically a control freak, who gets irate when he cannot get what he wants.
MADAM ALEX: Heidi's successor, Madam Alex, reminds me of my Dad's mother. No - not my Grandmother - I have decided to take that title away from her myself. In essence, Alex is miserable old bat who is just a bitter and twisted inside, envious of those who are around her, and resents other people succeeding where she has not. Conceptually her and Ivan are two peas out of the same pod, though they project their own sly character traits on the other, just to deflect the blame of said deed onto someone else.
HEIDI FLEISS: Heidi, herself, comes across as a misguided person by nature, who has journeyed through life for so long with a silver spoon in her mouth, that she doesn't seem to recognize the pitfalls in her own personality. One part of me would like to take Heidi to one side and really get to know her, because she does have a really nice disposition all in all. Whilst another part of me would like to give her a good spanking (kinky, kinky), and try to explain to her the error of her own ways.
Now apart from the characters involved with 'Heidi Fleiss - Hollywood Madam', I have to say that I really did enjoy watching this documentary. For example, I liked how Nick, in his usual foppish way, managed to denigrate whoever he was interviewing, without even uttering a single word, and just allowing them to show us who they are by what they say and do. Moreover, the film does read like a cheap Barbara Cartland novel as well (in a good way of course), because it tries its best to explain the strange and wonderful world of the Hollywood's sex-trade, by presenting a scenario and a cast of characters who have been ripped out of these pages.
By in large this is the type of program which does a number of things on many different levels. It presents to us a world that is very alien to the non-celeb. It informs us of character traits relating to those with money and perverse morals. And in addition to this, it entertains us too.
Well, at the end of the day, this is what matters most, right? Nick does not place any judgement on the actions of the people in this program, he allows them to judge themselves. And in a rather round about way this also informs us on who they are, as well as what their world is all about. Agree Heidi?
Sigh! She'll never learn. A top class documentary, whilst at the same time being a great introduction to Nicks style of documentary film-making. Class.
THE RATING: A-