The Designer’s Drugs: Dustin Diamond – Behind the Bell

Dustin Diamond: Master Biographer

Medium: Literature

Stimulus: Dustin Diamond – Behind the Bell

Anno: 2009

Poor Dustin Diamond. He spent the late ‘80s and the entire ‘90s playing one of the greatest geeks of all time, Samuel “Screech” Powers from Saved by the Bell. Then he spent the past decade suffering for it. Wiped completely off the acting radar, Diamond became a stand-up comedian, dabbled in pro wrestling, appeared in a sex tape, played bass in a fairly wretched band, played a reality show jackass, and was transformed into a gay icon on the internet. Most of his misadventures reeked of desperation, forming another exhibit of a typecast child star clawing at any spotlight available.

News of Diamond’s latest lunge for attention, a tell-all book about life at Saved by the Bell, effectively burned his bridges with that past life. When his former Saved by the Bell castmates got together for People Magazine without him, they went so far as to have Screech Photoshopped out of the cast photos. The die was cast, and when the book arrived, it was every bit the inflammatory train wreck expected.

It’s safe to say that Behind the Bell won’t win Diamond many friends. Before even considering the book’s content, it’s telling that his autobiography is one of the worst edited pieces of junk to see major release. There are multiple instances of a sentence suddenly jumping to another line, of misused words (principle instead of principal), and, most baffling of all, the sudden repetition of paragraphs on the same page. All this gives one the impression that Behind the Bell was a hastily assembled scramble for cash, attention, and revenge.

What Diamond has to say doesn’t ease this cynicism. While there are rare moments where one can see the human being behind the bravado (Part II is a fairly objective look at the making of the show and the book’s best segment), the majority of this book is comprised of Diamond talking shit and bragging about his penis and where it’s been. It’s hard to sympathize with the outsider who fell into a world of trophy parents and their entitled brats when he relies so heavily upon the word “Douchenozzle.”

It’s believable that the show’s cast behaved badly, that drug-using Johnny Dakota was a good guy in real life while the Bayside gang was awash in the substances they shunned onscreen. Yet when Diamond goes on to accuse Mario Lopez of rape, insinuate that the show’s creator molested the cast, and suggest that the in-house magician turned young Neil Patrick Harris onto dudes, it comes off as scorned gossip. Most unbelievably, Diamond claims to have slept with 2,000 women, and categorically denies his gay icon status. Yeah, right!

Disaster memoir at its finest.

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Bizarro Masterpiece Theatre: The Apple

The Apple: One of the strangest films, ever.

Movie: The Apple (1980)

Directed By: Menahem Golan

Starring: Catherine Mary Stewart, Allan Love, Joss Ackland

Written By: Menahem Golan

Sweet tapdancing Christ. My fellow B-movie cohorts, Mr. Heinrich Maneuver and Miss Luna, dropped a fucking bomb on me this week. When you’re offered a biblical disco musical about a Village People-fueled dystopia, you run with it. While this movie is firmly lodged in the Rocky Horror tradition, The Apple is a more kinetic, possibly creepier, certainly more bedazzled upgrade.

This is a tale of two Canadian kids who come to the big city in order to ply their pansy ass Carpenters act against the tide of Nero-sized disco. The evil BIM corporation, ruled by the sassy yet diabolical Mr. Boogalow, (yeah, I know,) is not amused. Flanked by his cadre of black drag queens and fluffy-haired Roger Daltrey impersonators, Boogalow puts on his best Klaus Nomi tuxedo and sets to work absorbing the heroic Alphie and Bibi into his infernal system. Following a hellish ripoff of “The Time Warp,” Bibi succumbs to the BIM allure. Alphie, however, runs away like a little girl, and spends a good 15 minutes mooning around in a nice Jewish woman’s New York tenement (and serenading her, and groping her sweet rack). Nobody in the biz wants to listen to his wussy tunes, and the law is cracking down on him for not wearing his BIM mark of the beast. What’s a sad panda to do, but storm back into BIM Central, sleep with one of the disco ladies, and then bust through a pane of glass, lit up in green lights and looking like a crybaby Incredible Hulk? Magnificent!

The best parts of this movie are the BIM anthem in the beginning, and the ending. And though the opening song is one big bowl of tossed ass-kick salad, the conclusion to this masterpiece may have the posterity of being one of the worst (and most glorious) endings of all time. In literature and theater, the term deus ex machina (“God from the machine”) refers to a sudden ending that defies the logic of the rest of the story. South Park’s Crab People would be an example. In this movie, deus ex machina can be taken literally, down to the flying car. What happens is one of the most baffling finishes to a film that I have ever seen, made only slightly tolerable by the most evil dude from Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey playing God.

Wow. This film is friggin’ amazing.