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Like a lonely old traveling salesman, he sits next to an open briefcase in his Georgetown hotel room. The 73-year-old has come to D.C. to promote the national re-release of his 1966 masterpiece Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, showing at the Biograph Theater across the street. Meyer is on a roll: His bawdy, outrageous flicks are more popular than ever on the Bosomania shelves of backwoods video shacks, at campus revivals, and in the Museum of Modern Art. In Eng land and Europe, tuxedoed film societies toast him as an American original, a true cinéaste. Meanwhile, he’s juggling a handful of new projects, including a 1,500-page, 2,500-photo autobiography and a retrospective in the next issue of Playboy.

You’d think he’d feel like he was on top of the world.

Instead, Meyer is, well, homesick and horny: He misses his girlfriend, a young stripper named Melissa Mounds with whom he shares a palatial pad in Palm Desert, Calif. “I’m just thinking about that one woman,” he sighs. “I’d like her here and I’d like to jump her bones.” Unfortunately, while Meyer is on the road “pushing Pussycat,” Mounds is busy plying her trade in southern Indiana. “It’s all right, it’s good,” he decides, flashing a sly smile, his eyebrows arching, Grinchlike. “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

Now that he’s mentioned Mounds, he can’t help but rhapsodize: “She’s got huge pointed tits,” he says. “A young girl—strong. That’s the way to go! What do you want—some old chick?”

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Indeed, few artists have so successfully merged personal life and public art. The subject of a forthcoming Meyer documentary, Mounds is the latest well-endowed lady friend (the list includes three ex-wives) to star in one of his projects. In two dozen films, Meyer has chronicled his obsession with what he sometimes coyly refers to as “voluptuous” women and other times blurts out as “big tits.” He invokes no aesthetic psychobabble to explain his intense obsession: “It makes my dick hard,” he says simply.

But Meyer is quick to point out he’s not interested in hardcore—or the porn genre, for that matter. In fact, he rails at a recent People article that referred to him as a “soft-core pornographer.” Meyer skewers the writer as hopelessly “uptight” (as well as a “treacherous bastard,” a favorite Meyer term for philistines and other enemies).

“I’m a cartoonist,” he says. “All the characters in my films are cartoons. Look at the people I select—they’re way off the scale. If some guy’s dumb, he’s really fucking dumb. I make a certain kind of film—it’s a joke, a put-on, a send-up, like Adolf Hitler sitting on some Chinese girl’s face in the dungeon while a guy dressed like Miles Standish is whipping him. What does all that say?”

Pussycat, the saga of a gang of go-go dancers on the rampage, is one of Meyer’s wildest “cartoons” and for many the ultimate Meyer movie. The unforgettable Tura Satana plays gang leader villainess Varla; along with Erica Gavin of Vixen and a few others, Satana’s become a bona fide cult figure thanks to her role as a Meyer heroine. (Meyer had a falling out with Gavin, but he remains friends with Satana; he plans to give her a cut of the profits from Pussycat‘s theater run.)

Meyer scoffs at the suggestion that Pussycat is a “cult” movie. To him, that’s an insult: “A cult film is a film that’s never made any money. [Pussycat] is a classic—there’s a difference. It’s been a wild video sales piece—it’s never gone out [of popularity].”

Despite his obvious fondness for Pussycat, Meyer’s “pride and joy” remains Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, the scandalous 1970 blockbuster he made for 20th Century Fox with the screenwriting talents of a young movie critic named Roger Ebert. For him, the project meant finally working for the company that had rejected the fledgling filmmaker two decades before: “I went to the mountain because they asked me to come,” he says. “When I got out of the Army [after World War II], I went to Fox to try to get a job. They said, “We’ve got a lot of guys coming home.’ ”

It was as an infantry cameraman that Meyer first honed the skills—sharp cinematography, and expert montage and sound editing—that lend his entire oeuvre a startling professionalism (the wicked wit and social satire are Meyer’s own distinctive gifts). The war also introduced him to his lifelong theme: “I got my first piece of ass in a French whorehouse,” he recalls, his eyebrows arching once again. “I go in and there’s 15 girls with their children—it’s right out of de Maupassant. They’re dressed in stuff that you’d think that Frederick’s of Hollywood had managed to get a salesman in there. I immediately pick the girl with the biggest tits and she leads me upstairs to the oldest profession in the world.”

Things haven’t changed that much. These days, Meyer spends his time editing his upcoming portrait of Mounds (“It’s strictly a stroke film,” he says), when he’s not busy planning his next collaboration with Ebert, the tentatively titled The Bra of God. Like some mad scientist, Meyer works feverishly in his home studio, synchronizing the soundtrack of “shit-kicking line-dancing music and the marches of Sousa.” He gets so wrapped up in his work sometimes, he forgets he’s out there in the desert with his inspiration and sweetheart Mounds. Then, he hears her beckoning from the upstairs loft.

And the King of the Nudies once again obeys the voice of his muse.