Many people will say that The Life of Brian is the best Monty Python movie. Me, I’ve always preferred 1975’s Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which gets some of its truly joyous qualities from the fact that scriptwriter-director Terry Jones was spoofing his other area of expertise, medieval history.
But it has to be said that Grail does contain one big, big disappointment. It comes in the Sir Galahad sequence, when Michael Palin’s very perfect, chaste knight has been lured into Castle Anthrax by the sight of the Holy Grail shining out from its battlements. If you’ve seen the film, you’ll know that the castle is exclusively populated by nubile young maidens. You’ll know that it wasn’t really the Holy Grail but a grail-shaped beacon that was lit by the chatelaine Zoot, played by Carol Cleveland. And you’ll know that in Castle Anthrax there is but one punishment for lighting the grail-shaped beacon…
Here’s the relevant moment:
And the disappointment? Sir Lancelot arrives in the nick of time to save Sir Galahad from temptation!
If it’s any consolation, I do happen to know that Carol Cleveland was spanked on another occasion.
But maybe it shouldn’t be much consolation, because it was done by her then boyfriend, and she didn’t enjoy it as much as he hoped she would (or, in fact, at all).
Never mind – always look on the bright side of life! Castle Anthrax went on to feature in several Grail spin-offs, including a 1996 computer game with a segment entitled ‘Spank the Virgin’. The player had to smack the bottoms of various virgins as they popped up, taking care to avoid the occasional bare-bottomed non-virgin:
And there’s an Anthrax sequence in some versions of the 2005 musical adaptation, Spamalot:
It has also featured in amateur stagings of Grail, including this rather nice one from 2007:
And here’s another from 2013:
But to see Castle Anthrax done properly, you had to be in Indianapolis on July 19 last year, when the Melody Inn presented a burlesque tribute to Monty Python as part of its weekly Punk Rock Night. It was called, perhaps inevitably, Stripalot.
Let me introduce you to Lola Hart:
And now let’s see her in her Stripalot role. Because tonight she’s going to be Zoot:
And tonight she’s also going to be…
Doing the honors is Benny No-Good. Because he’s No-Good, he’s obviously not Sir Galahad. In fact, you can probably guess that he’s a lumberjack. And what he’s doing to Zoot is OK by us!
After that, it was time for a bit of audience participation, rather like the ‘virgin paddlings’ in The Rocky Horror Show. Step right up, ladies:
Standing to the left, Lola has another Anthrax virgin to assist her: the cosplayer, burlesque dancer, model, and (believe it or not) ordained minister, Libby Fox.
It looks as if this young lady just couldn’t wait her turn like everyone else:
This one must have been naughtier than some of the others:
And another extra-naughty one came back for a second dose. Here’s her first time:
And now with enhanced sound from the front end:
Applause, please, for Lola, Libby, and the many naughty girls of Indianapolis! And if you’re in town on July 11, 2015… they’re doing it again!
(Update: They did it again… but with different Python sketches. But Stripalot is now established as an annual event, so Castle Anthrax may be back!)