Tuesday, September 09, 2008

"Heidi Fleiss: The Would-Be Madam of Crystal" review

Heidi Fleiss: The Would-Be Madam of Crystal (2008)

Directors: Fenton Bailey Randy Barbato

Anthony L. De Meo ... Himself
Heidi Fleiss ... Herself
Tom Slaughter ... Himself

Heidi Fleiss is stuck in the desert trying to peddle flesh. She moves to Pahrump, Nevada to be near the legal brothels. But no one will let Heidi sell sex. Why not? Maybe it's because she wants to open an all male brothel that caters only to women. Or perhaps it's because she never bothered to fill out the paperwork necessary to start the process of getting the stud farm up and running. Or maybe it's because she just can't get her head around that she's not in Hollywood anymore and that no one needs to deal with her out in the middle of nowhere. There's a lot of reasons why Heidi Fleiss is not selling men by the hour in the hot Nevada desert. But one thing is for certain about Heidi Fleiss, she'll always be interesting to watch because she is hardwired for disaster.

Heidi Fleiss is the epitome of a Hollywood woman. Delusional, full of herself and yet has a determination to succeed in spite of outrageous odds stacked against her. "Heidi Fleiss, The Would-Be Madam of Crystal" tries to document Heidi's journey toward being a Nevada madam. But her efforts keep getting derailed because she's Heidi Fleiss. Fleiss keeps moving forward as if things will just magically fall into place yet people in Pahrump are not eager to bring someone with as much baggage as Fleiss into their midst. They like to keep things low key while Fleiss is ready to turn up the volume. In fact, her would-be brothel isn't even located in Pahrump. She bought a bunch of land in Crystal and plans to build her stud farm there. Would women drive to the middle of a desert wasteland to get laid? Of course they would. You know why? Because Heidi Fleiss said they will. Don't let reality get in the way of Heidi Fleiss.

This documentary is fascinating. Fleiss moves at her own pace and is really not interested in what other people want or need. It's all about her. But Heidi Fleiss, despite her numerous flaws, doesn't come off as a bad person. She's a selfish narcissist for sure but is still fun to watch as she bumbles her way through life. Real life keeps beating her back but Fleiss keeps fighting.

Heidi happens to live next door to a former prostitute and starts taking an interest in her elderly neighbor's large collection of exotic birds. As she spends more and more time next door, she makes a deep connection with one bird.
She starts drifting away from stud farming to spend time with her bird. This is how things go with Fleiss. One minute, male hookers in the desert. The next, time to clean the bird cage.

Heidi's connection to the birds becomes the focal point for the rest of the documentary as her stud farming ways are put on hold for the foreseeable future. Fleiss actually starts to love something other than herself and it changes her profoundly. She tries to take care of the birds as best she can. Will her connection to birds translate into feelings for other people? The documentary ends with Fleiss still rudderless in the desert but with some hope that Heidi is a slightly better person for displaying some compassion for other living things.

But what about the stud farm? Will we ever see it? I wouldn't bet money on it. Although Fleiss must know that she could be in business tomorrow if she ran a female brothel, she is insistent on doing things her own way. Some people succeed in spite of themselves but I don't see hardheaded Fleiss becoming a Nevada flesh peddler anytime soon.

SCORE: 3.5 out of 4 would-be Nevada madams

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