Brett vs. Brett: Stand-Up Revengefuck

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Lameass Megalomaniac (Photo by Sue Mattson)

 

Brett Emerson claims to be a comedic genius, brilliant writer, and master storyteller. Personally, I don’t buy it. In all the years I’ve known this Frankensteinian scoundrel, I’ve been subjected to all manner of slothful and slovenly behavior, lewd anecdotes, sacrilegious tomfoolery, vulgar musicianship, and indecent exposure. Oh, but now he says he’s a stand-up comedian and he’s slithering back to La Crosse to do a big hometown hoopla for all his degenerate friends. How nice. I’m sure his act is appropriate for our fair community. People, this man is a menace to the frail fabric of society, and he doesn’t deserve to be within a hundred feet of a public forum. Unfortunately, as I am La Crosse’s go-to guy for interviewing the suburban rich and famous, I was tapped to hold a discourse with this loathsome specimen. What follows is, without question, the lowest point of my esteemed journalistic career.

 

Brett Emerson: You’re looking well.

 

Brett Emerson: Well, you’re looking amazing!  What are you doing after this interview?

 

Emerson: Cut the crap.  Just tell me about your stupid stand-up.

 

Emerson: Ask me nicely.

 

Emerson: Are you serious?

 

Emerson: (Makes kissing faces) Lick me.

 

Emerson: Fine, you idiot. Please tell me about your magical adventures in comedy.

 

Emerson: Wellll, since moving out of La Crosse in 2010, I’ve lived in beautiful Bellingham, Washington, located between Seattle and Vancouver and about as far northwest as one can get in the continental United States.  It’s only slightly larger than La Crosse, but there’s a massive arts and music scene out here that is really inspiring.

I’ve always been a huge comedy dork, even since I was a little kid. I grew up listening to Bill Cosby and George Carlin, and I’ve watched Comedy Central since its very beginning. I’ve always had this goal of being a comedian, whether it was in the format of stand-up, sketch comedy, or film. I have notebooks full of ideas that have never made the jump from theory to reality. The problem was that I’ve never been in a place in which I could regularly get all the ideas out of my head and into those of other people.

 

Emerson: Well, that, and you’re astronomically lazy.

 

Emerson: Well, yeah.

 

Emerson: So how was Bellingham any different?

 

Emerson: A lot of what’s happened in Bellingham seems like a series of deliberate accidents. During the four day drive from La Crosse to Bellingham, I listened to nothing but stand-up, pumping myself up to get here and start looking around for stand-up open mics. When I arrived here, Bellingham didn’t seem to have much in the way of open-mics, but when I looked around for venues I discovered the Upfront Theatre, which is a fantastic little improv theater full of brilliant people who make up comedy off the tops of their heads. Just genius, creative chaos. My first impression was that I had found my tribe.

I’ve spent three years studying and performing improv with these people, using stories and characters to figure out myself. They’ve also always held a monthly stand-up show at the Upfront, but I never got on stage enough to draw together any sort of confidence or material. Other forums popped up around town, but they were always on nights I worked, so I couldn’t go.

Yet blind, stupid luck would lead me to a particular bar on a particular night four months ago, when I randomly met a guy who was starting up a new, weekly stand-up night that I could make it to. And so a terrible beauty was born.  I had the good fortune of stumbling into the ground floor of Bellingham’s exploding stand-up scene, and things are getting bigger and better. I put it this way: for the first three years I lived here, I averaged five minutes of stand-up every six months. For the past four months, I’ve been doing up to thirty minutes per week. And I’m far from the only person reaping the benefits.

 

Emerson: I was at that awkward, shambling mess you refer to as your first stand-up show at the Casino.

 

Emerson: So was I, so that figures. When you have a leprechaun in the crowd heckling you, it makes you question your whole existence. Really, I just wanted to vomit every malformed joke I ever thought of out onto the audience that night, because I honestly didn’t think I’d ever get the chance again.  That was forty minutes of sheer stuttering embarrassment, but I’d have also severely regretted not doing it.

One of the best things that improv has taught me is how to fail. How to enjoy failure and keep moving forward. How to adjust to things not working out the way you envisioned them and still turning the situation into something amazing. I’ve failed, a lot, and active failure feels a lot better than passive failure.

I’ve done horrible improv shows and horrible stand-up sets, sometimes so badly that I’ve wanted to run away and never put myself out in front of people ever again. And then I come back the next time, and nobody remembers that I sucked but me. People seem much quicker to remember the times when you were awesome. Except you, of course.

 

Emerson: Of course. For you, what are the differences between doing improv and stand-up?

 

Emerson: It’s the difference between forgetting and remembering, winging it and being very prepared. When an improv show is over, it’s over forever. Never replicated. I’ll maybe think about the show for the rest of the night, but the next day, it’s a past life. In contrast, I record everything I do in stand-up, and I listen to my show over, and over, and over, and over. I’ve largely stopped listening to other comedians since I became one. Not out of narcissism or arrogance, but because I became so obsessed with developing every nuance of my material that I never stop thinking about it. I’ve never been so absorbed in anything, ever.

 

Emerson: How do you go about developing your material?

 

Emerson: I’m learning the benefits of being prepared so well that you can throw the notes away. At first I had a basic idea for things I’d want to do in a set; then I’d get out there and bullshit my way through and listen to the recordings and hear what worked and what needed work. Very oral tradition. The aftermath remains the same, but when I’m working out new stuff now I’m much more apt to plot things out beforehand and bullet point each turn of phrase. I’m getting way better at memorizing my sets, which oddly frees me from the program. I was always a great test taker in school.

 

Emerson: Are you still a creepy little pottymouth?

 

Emerson: Oh, of course, but that’s not all there is. I’ve learned how to sneak in the shock rather than beat people over the head with it. Oddly, I used to be really afraid of telling jokes that were cleverly profane while wholly unafraid of verbally shitting everywhere, and yet the one joke which earned me the worst reaction, a full gasp, was a really mundane one about country music fans. To be fair, I told it like crap that night.

I’m really into terrible puns. I love silly one liners. I love conceptual comedy about ideas and inventions. I love talking about all my insane adventures and insane feelings and philosophies. I’m a filthy nerd, but I’m still a nerd, and I’m not so afraid of showing that off anymore.

 

Emerson: You sound happy.

 

Emerson: I am happy. Probably best ever happy. This level of satisfaction and ambition is completely alien territory.

 

Emerson: Sounds wonderful. Soooo, you wanna get out of here?

 

Emerson: Hell yeah, stud.

 

The grin of a man who just scored with himself.  (Photo Sue Mattson)

The grin of a man who just scored with himself. (Photo Sue Mattson)

 

Oh God, what have I done? Brett Emerson will play the Cavalier Theater & Lounge on Thursday, September 19th at 10pm. I, unfortunately, will be there.

 

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Y Spy: Michael Showalter: “Mr. Funny Pants” Wears Many Hats

Michael Showalter doesn’t come off as a person who can sit still for long.  Coming up with a comedic army in “The State,” he went on to star in many TV projects with various Statemates as well as starring in the cult classic “Wet Hot American Summer.” In addition to his work before the camera, Showalter has filled many roles behind it, most notably as a screenwriter and director.  He’s also a stand-up comedian with an album to his name (the aptly titled “Sandwiches & Cats”), an artist, and a teacher.  With the release of his new book, “Mr. Funny Pants,” he is now a published author as well.

In our conversation, Showalter made it abundantly clear that he isn’t a person who feels bound by comedic routine.  It was equally obvious that this sense of diversity isn’t so much in order to stay fresh in the public eye or due to any PR calculation.  Instead, it’s a sign of Showalter engaging in a more pure exploration of his abilities.

Y Spy: What is Mr. Funny Pants about?

Michael Showalter: Oh, boy.  It’s a book about trying to write a book, among other things.

Y Spy: How did you go about the process of trying to write a book?

Showalter: You sit at your computer and you open a file that says Book.  Then you start writing.  It starts with you and writing, and then you go from there.

Y Spy: How did it go for you?

Showalter: Well, it was a lot of trial and error, but it was fun.

Y Spy: Is there a lot of autobiography in the book?

Showalter: Yeah.  I talk about my childhood, and I talk about my career.  There’s a saying: “Write what you know.”  I sort of went with that.  I tried to write about what I know.

Y Spy: And what do you know?

Showalter: I know where I live; I live in Brooklyn.  I know that I like coffee.  I know that I like cats.  I know that I watch a lot of television.  Very banal stuff.

Y Spy: Is the book a mixture of comedy with that sort of “This is my life; I got up, and so on and so forth”?

Showalter: It’s mostly just “This is my life; I got up, and so on and so forth.”  I actually think that would be a great book.  I tried to be funny, but I tried to focus on stories that maybe had something inherently funny to me, or tragic, and in tragedy there’s comedy.

Y Spy: Not forcing jokes to make it a humor book, though.

Showalter: I think it could function as a humor book.  It certainly has plenty of goofy stuff in it.  There are stupid lists.  There are fairly long sections of the book that essentially are just humor writing.  So it’s kind of a combination of a memoir and a humor book, a joke book.

Y Spy: How much of your screenwriting experience came into play in the writing of this book?

Showalter: I talk a lot about screenwriting in the book, but in terms of actual storytelling, this was more in the vein of an early Steve Martin or Woody Allen book where it was basically odds and ends, funny stuff, bits and pieces, twigs and yarn of just humor, loosely tied together with a narrative.  I do talk a lot about screenwriting and the Hollywood system, so I incorporated those experiences into the book in the form of stories.

Y Spy: Are there any stories about pants in the book?

Showalter: No.  The name Mr. Funny Pants happened [because] I was giving them title suggestions, and for one reason or another they were rejecting all my title suggestions.  So out of frustration and completely as a joke, not thinking they would take it seriously, I said: “How about Mr. Funny Pants?” Why don’t we call it the stupidest title I can think of?  And they loved it.

Y Spy: On the Mr. Funny Pants tour, you’re doing both book signings and stand-up shows.  How much will the book tie into your stand-up?

Showalter: It’ll be kind of old stuff and new stuff.  At the signings I’ll be reading from the book, but on the tour I’ll be doing stand-up material.  Some of that material will be inspired by the book.

Y Spy: I’ve always had the impression that you’ve been a person who wants to explore as many different forms of comedy as possible.  Do you feel that you are actively chasing that sort of diversity?

Showalter: Sort of, yeah.  A lot of it has to do with being easily distracted.  I think the comedic careers of people I was influenced by would be Steve Martin, Woody Allen, and the Monty Python guys, who I grew up on.  They worked in every medium.  They would do a movie, a TV show, a book, a play, an album, a tour.  It didn’t really matter, and that’s how I feel.  It’s interesting to explore the point of view in any of these mediums.  I do like doing all of it.

Y Spy: Has coming up with such a large comedic group as The State given you a greater freedom to pursue these different avenues than a solitary comedian might have?

Showalter: I guess.  I don’t know.  There’s a body of work there that gives you a certain credibility.  It’s always nice when the audience is already on your side, where you have fans or people who like what you did and have followed you through these different things.  You’re not needing to convince anybody that you’re funny, even if you aren’t, which I probably am not.  It is nice to have slowly built up people who have been with us.

Y Spy: I have a few questions about the status of some projects that have been mentioned in the past.  First, I heard you were planning on remaking Night of the Living Dorks. What’s the status of that?

Showalter: That’s something that was gonna happen a long time ago, and I don’t know what’s happening with it.  I’m attached to direct that movie, but I think it’s been in turnaround for a long time.

Y Spy: What’s the status of the State movie?

Showalter: It’s another thing that we’ve talked about for all these years that we’d love to do, but it’s just something where it’s hard to get everybody to commit to it.  I think people want to do it, but everyone’s very busy.  We’re also now pretty spread out and getting old, and now everyone has kids.  I just think it’s a logistical thing.

Y Spy: I assume I’ll get the same answer here, but Wet Hot American Summer II?

Showalter: Same thing.  I want to do it, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Y Spy: Are you planning to release another comedy album?

Showalter: I’d like to.  The book is on tape, which feels pretty comedy album-y.  I would like to do another comedy album, but I haven’t gotten around to it.  The people I did the first album with, we’ve talked about doing another one, and it’s definitely something I’d like to do someday.

Y Spy: The greatest and saddest thing I found in Sandwiches & Cats was the moment when you were so dismayed at being misidentified as Screech from Saved by the Bell. Would you care to expand upon those feelings about this mistaken identity?

Showalter: You know what I will say: I’m friends with somebody who did a show with him in New York.  I’m not sure what the show was, but it was some improv show that he was in.  I think he was playing himself, in the show playing Screech.  Apparently he’s not as bad as he’s made out to be.

Also, when he walks down the street people scream at him, everywhere he goes.  Like, “Fuck you, Screech!”  And I thought that was sad.  So I actually have sympathy for him because that must be very hard, being America’s dork.  Basically everywhere he goes, people scream at him and ridicule him.  That’s not right.

So I’m going to say I’m proud to be compared to Screech.

Y Spy: Does your sense of adventurousness and diversity, your leaping into different mediums and roles, come in any part from a desire to not be similarly typecast?

Showalter: If anything, it’s that I’m still trying to find a comfort zone and figure out what I want my career to be.  A lot of it is trial and error to figure out how I want to proceed.

Y Spy: Do you feel as though your direction has become clearer as your career has progressed?

Showalter: Just in the last year, I do think so.  I think there are certain avenues which I feel comfortable about not going down.

Y Spy: Like what?

Showalter: I don’t ever see myself being a big Hollywood person.  I think I’m starting to become more comfortable with the idea that I’m more of a New York niche person.  I like the idea of focusing on smaller projects.  I really liked writing the book.  I’m going to write another one.  I’m also working on an art book of my artwork.  I have another idea for a small film, and after that I’d like to develop something for a one-man show, or a longer stand-up act.  I’m feeling less compelled to conquer L.A., which is something that I have debated back and forth in my mind for a long time.  Do I want that?  I don’t think I do.

Y Spy: Do you think your acceptance and confidence have come with age and experience?

Showalter: Yeah.  You need to have the experiences to back it up.  I live on the East Coast; I like the East Coast.  I teach at NYU, and I get a lot of gratification out of that.  That’s not to say that I would not work in L.A.  I would.  It’s just that, bigger picture, I don’t know if that’s a universe I feel I’m being pulled toward.  I’m more interested in writing another book, making a small film, or doing something theatrical.  That’s more my truer self.

Michael Showalter will be in Seattle on Tuesday, March 8th, at the University Bookstore at 4 pm and The Triple Door at 6 pm.  “Mr. Funny Pants” is available now.


Y Spy: Andy Schoepp, Time Ninja

As has become tradition, when Andy Schoepp releases a new book, I email him a few questions about the work, which he answers at his leisure.  That tradition continues with the completion of Time Ninja, leading to a discussion about time travel and publishing pitfalls.

Y Spy: How did Time Ninja come about?

Andy Schoepp: If you read the introduction to Time Ninja you will see I actually began work on it BEFORE I started working on The Martial Arts Murders.  I had the first three chapters of Time Ninja done when I began working on The Martial Arts Murders instead.  What prompted that decision was the fact that I had an outline of Time Ninja done and I knew the task was going to be daunting and as a new writer it scared me a little to undertake such a huge novel.  Besides, I didn’t like how I had written the first three chapters of Time Ninja so I thought maybe if I worked on The Martial Arts Murders books first (I had planned for them to be a trilogy from the start) that I would be a more accomplished and a better writer when I was done so I could do a better job with Time Ninja.  I worked on Time Ninja in bits and pieces while I wrote Life and Money Heist and Moral Executioners and when I was done I just had to go back and revise the portions of Time Ninja that were already done with my improved writing style and just complete the project from there.

Y Spy: How does one become a Time Ninja?

Schoepp: Actually, it would be impossible right now.  First, it takes 20 years of training to become a ninja and second, nobody has invented time travel yet.  That is why this novel is in the Science Fiction genre.

Y Spy: How do you work time travel into an action story?

Schoepp: I used it as a vehicle to try to put two things together that normally wouldn’t be able to coexist together.  In the case of Time Ninja I had to use Science Fiction and time travel in order to pit Ryu against high-tech weaponry.  And in order to pit him against the KIND of high-tech weaponry I wanted to use, it would have to be done in the future.  I would NOT recommend using time travel in a novel however.  It creates story and logistical challenges that will give a writer headaches and drive a person to drink (luckily I’m not much of a drinker).  This is also why I’m glad I put Time Ninja on the shelf and went ahead with The Martial Arts Murders trilogy first because there is NO WAY an inexperienced writer could have handled the logistical problems in Time Ninja, it would have been a huge mess and a disaster so I’m glad I waited with Time Ninja.

Y Spy: What research and ideas on time travel did you bring into this?

Schoepp: I didn’t really do any research into time travel.  If you’ve read the book, you’ll know that I went to great lengths to make the method of time travel in the novel as unique as possible.  In most stories involving time travel there was always some type of vehicle characters rode in to travel through time.  In Time Ninja, I had a time module that sends people and things through time without a vehicle or without the character riding in something.  The time module sends people and things through time but it stays behind.

Y Spy: What influenced you in the writing of Time Ninja?

Schoepp: I wanted to write a novel that was heavily weighted with Ninjutsu as opposed to just the martial arts in general.  Yes, I had Sho Katarugi in The Martial Arts Murders but I wanted to write a novel that was a mix of Ninjutsu and Science Fiction.  A Science Fiction novel allows the writer to incorporate futuristic weaponry and pit it against the ancient arts and techniques of Ninjutsu and this is where the idea for Chapter 18 entitled Armageddon came from.

Y Spy: Describe the transition from writing a trilogy of shorter stories to writing a larger yet independent novel.  Did you take a different approach?

Schoepp: Not really.  I have outlines and notes in my desk from each of The Martial Arts Murders trilogy novels and my outlines and notes for Time Ninja are just longer and there are more of them.  They’re also complicated too so nobody else could understand them, I even have outlines and notes that refer to other outlines and other notes to try to keep the time travel and the plot straight.  I also have a half a sheet of paper in my desk with calculations involving years and characters’ ages.  I stress again, I gave myself a headache more than once working on this novel and I do NOT recommend a new wirter trying to work on a novel like this.

Y Spy: How is Time Ninja different from The Martial Arts Murders?

Schoepp: Obviously Time Ninja is more in the Science Fiction genre where as The Martial Arts Murders trilogy novels are more in the action/adventure and police drama genres.  Time Ninja is a little bit darker and doesn’t have as many fun or comic relief moments like The Martial Arts Murders trilogy does (don’t get me wrong, The Martial Arts Murders trilogy are serious novels, but I added a few moments of comic relief and had some fun for the characters and there is less of that in Time Ninja, it’s less forgiving.)  Otherwise it is longer in length and scope so it is more epic.  I also left Time Ninja open for a sequel but it can also stand on its own so no fear of a cliffhanger or nagging feelings or anything like that.

Y Spy: You’ve mentioned that the process of getting Time Ninja out was longer and more difficult than those of the Martial Arts Murders books.  What happened?

Schoepp: Oh brother, let me see if I can list everything that went wrong with this book.  First I had an argument with Outskirts Press about combining a 40% trade discount with a retail returns contract, then my author representative from The Martial Arts Murders trilogy got a promotion so I had to work with a new author representative, then I ran into technical problems with Outskirts Press’ website in the pre-production phase, the cover had to be hand-drawn and proofs were coming in two week intervals from black and white to what you see now, then Outskirts Press refused to format the interior of the book until the cover was done, once the interior was formatted it was formatted wrong twice, then I had so submit 338 edits (that was my own damn fault though) and all of these 338 edits had to be done during Thanksgiving with my day job being in sales.  Not to mention all of the other small things that needed to be addressed when in the publishing process.  Yeah, getting this novel out was not easy but I think it was worth the wait; I’ll just have to wait to hear from my fans to find out if it was worth the wait.

Y Spy: Time Ninja’s physical release sells for a much greater price than your previous books.  Why is that?

Schoepp: First and foremost it is obviously a much longer novel (550 pages versus an average of 275 pages for the three books in The Martial Arts Murders trilogy).  And the trim size for Time Ninja is 1/2″ wider and a full inch taller so it is a mammoth novel (you almost have to hold a physical copy in your hands to understand how long this book is).  To put it into perspective, the Microsoft Word draft of this book was 726 pages that’s 8 1/2 X 11, double spaced with no headers or footers.  Also, in an effort to get the book into more bookstores, the book has a 40% trade discount (which means retailers get 40% off of the cover price when they order it for store stock).  Time Ninja also has a retail returns contract on it (which means retailers can return the book to Ingram if they have too many copies that are not selling).  These three factors, size/length, 40% trade discount and returnability all contribute to a higher retail price.  The cover art and the interior formatting alone though are worth the price of the book.  If you look at the interior formatting, you will probably be hard pressed to find a book that is as nicely done and as unique as Time Ninja.   It is indeed a handsome novel to have on your living room table or bedroom nightstand.

Y Spy: Do you still believe in working through an independent publisher?

Schoepp: Yes.  The problem with commercial publishers is if you are not already famous or a criminal (i.e. Balloon Boy’s parents) it’s almost impossible to even get an editor from a commercial publisher to even read your manuscript.  It seems like commercial publishers are only interested in making the rich and famous more rich and famous and giving people who commit crimes the notoriety and publicity they want.  Almost every time you turn on the news you hear about some criminal who just signed a multi-million-dollar book deal through a commercial publisher.  It seems like commercial publishers are more interested in celebritizing criminals and rewarding illegal behavior than helping unknown, law-abiding citizens.  Independently published books still have a chance of being picked up by a commercial publisher and that is what I’m working towards.  You have a better chance of getting published commercially if you have an independently published book than you do if you just let a manuscript sit in a desk collecting dust.

Y Spy: With the field of literature becoming more electronic, what is your opinion on electronic books?

Schoepp: I have no problem with electronic books.  In fact, there is a Kindle edition of Time Ninja available on Amazon.com.  There is also an e-book edition of Time Ninja on my author’s website at www.outskirtspress.com/timeninja.  There are however benefits of holding a physical book in your hands instead of an electronic device with the pages appearing on a screen.  A physical book requires a book mark and when you put it into the book you get a sense of accomplishment when you place it in the book, you can tell how much ground you covered since the last time you put it in the book.  There is also no substitute for the feeling you get after reading that last page and closing the back cover of the book.  I have no problem with electronic books though, I actually embrace the technology.

Y Spy: So the big writing projects you’ve been planning since the beginning of your writing career have been completed.  Are you going to continue writing?

Schoepp: I am still writing.  I am working on a collection of short stories in the Horror genre, another martial arts related novel that will be shorter (more like The Martial Arts Murders novels) and a sequel to Time Ninja.  I think I am going to put those other two novels on hold and work more on the sequel to Time Ninja, I did leave some questions unanswered so I want to get that sequel out there sometime in the future to tie up the loose ends I left in Time Ninja. If you have not read Time Ninja yet do NOT be afraid, I wrote Time Ninja so it CAN stand on its own so don’t worry about having a Matrix or Pirates of the Carribean let-down at the end.

Time Ninja is available now at Barnes & Noble and amazon.com.

Y Spy: Tony Clifton – Free Hookers!

Mister Tony Clifton!

Tony Clifton doesn’t give a shit about your feelings.  He has no time for the open-minded and close-mouthed.  For decades, this comic genius, reluctant philanthropist, and International Singing Sensation has amazed and frightened his audiences with his Vegas-style musical renditions of popular music, his off the rails personality, and a mouth that would kill a hippie stone dead.  The Andy Kaufman biopic “Man on the Moon” recalled Mr. Clifton in all his chaotic glory, expanding his profile for a new breed of fans.  Though the time since has seen sporadic appearances by the man, his legend as a song and dance man hasn’t disappeared.

Currently, he’s back on the road, getting ready for a big new album, and being as wonderfully crass as ever.  In anticipation for Mr. Clifton’s Friday show at the Triple Door in Seattle – a show in which one lucky audience member will, no shit, win a free hooker – the man and I had a conversation about his long and storied career.  In the course of this interview, Mr. Clifton took no prisoners and was mercilessly funny.  It should be assumed that every one of his nasty, offensive jokes had me doubled over with laughter.

Not everyone will share my warped sense of humor, so I’ll preface this with a warning.  If you’re offended by, well, anything, you might want to sit this one out.  But if you appreciate comic brilliance outside of the acceptable lines, read on.  More importantly, go see Tony Clifton for yourself!

Y Spy: Your new tour is being billed as a return to the road.  Where have you been?

Tony Clifton: Well, I’ve been in my own skin!  I haven’t been anywhere!  I’m the same guy I’ve always been.  As you know, I’m considered the International Singing Sensation, so I work internationally.  For the last number of years, I’ve been over in the Third World countries performing.  I fill up soccer stadiums!  I do a little faith healing too, on the side.  People come in to hear some songs, I do some Sinatra singing and everything, but then people in the Third World countries will believe any damn thing.  So I get myself a plant here and there, make some people walk out of their wheelchairs, everybody goes crazy.

I don’t charge a lot of money.  Matter of fact, you could bring some canned goods to get into my shows – back in the Third World countries.

Y Spy: Not in America, though.

Tony Clifton: Oh, not here, no.  Here we wanna get the money from them.  That’s why, what is it, Friday night over at the Triple Door, 7:30 is gonna be showtime.  And I’m tellin’ ya, you don’t wanna miss this.  I’m not a comedian; I’m an International Singing Sensation.  This is a big Vegas type of show.  I got all kinds of musicians on stage; I got three horn players from New Orleans, they’ll blow the roof off and blow the door down at the Triple Door!

Hey, what nationality are you?

Y Spy: Mostly Norwegian.

Tony Clifton: Norwegian?  Well, I don’t think I know one fuckin’ Norwegian joke.

Hey, what’s the difference between an Irish wedding and an Irish funeral?  One less drunk.

Did you hear about the Polack whose wife had triplets?  Yeah, he went looking for the other two guys!

Why is Aspirin white?  Because it works.

How do you stop little black kids from jumping on the bed?

Y Spy: I have heard this one, but go for it.

Tony Clifton: [Then] I’m not gonna tell you.

How do you stop little kids from playin’ in your yard?  Rape one!

What sound does a baby make when you put it in the microwave?  I don’t know!  I was jerking off!

[Noticing my constant laughter] You’re a sick man, aren’t ya?

Y Spy: I am a sick man!

Tony Clifton: How do you get a gay man to make love to a woman?  Put shit in her pussy!

We take everybody on!  Every nationality.

Y Spy: You’ve gotta come up with a good Norwegian joke.

Tony Clifton: You find one, you let me know!  Norwegian was the, whatchacallit, that was the big warriors, what were they called?

Y Spy: The Vikings!

Tony Clifton: The Vikings!  Yeah, the fuckin’ Vikings, man.  Vikings were crazy motherfuckers.  You’ve got crazy DNA!  Those guys were warriors to the end.  They’d wanna die a great warrior death.  Like that movie 300.

Tony Clifton - America's Viking

Y Spy: But those were Greeks.  Got any good Greek jokes?

Tony Clifton: Greek?  No, but I’ll tell you a pedophile joke.

Two pedophiles were sitting on a park bench.  One turns to the other one and says: “You know, I had myself a 12 year old last night.”

The other pedophile says “12 year old?  We’ve all had ourselves 12 year olds!”

He said “Yeah, but this one had the body of a 7 year old!”

Y Spy: Wow.

Tony Clifton: What’s the best part about fucking twenty six year olds?  There’s twenty of them.

What do you call a short Mexican woman?  Cunt-sway-low.

We have fun.  But seriously, the show’s a big musical show.  And wait till you see the Cliftonettes!  These are the top strippers that I have, right out of New Orleans.  So people come to this, and it’s not just music and jokes, but hot, hot chicks.

Y Spy: Speaking of which, I’ve heard that you’re offering free hookers!

Tony Clifton: I am!  This is what I’m going to do.  You know Dennis Hof, the show Cathouse on HBO?  Dennis Hof is a good friend of mine.  I was just over at the famed Moonlite Bunny Ranch.  He had a big birthday there; we were celebrating with him, me, Joey Buttafuoco, and Ron Jeremy.  We had a good time with all the young girls.  Matter of fact, I maintain a suite over at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch.

So what we’re doing is that everybody who comes to the show – we have to word this just right because prostitution is illegal in Seattle, [though] it is legal in Nevada, where the ranch is – we’re having a free raffle.  We’re not charging anybody for this.  Everybody puts their name in a hat, and that night we will have a drawing.  I don’t care if it’s male or female – whoever wins will get the hooker of their choice at Dennis Hof’s Moonlite Bunny Ranch, totally and fully paid for by yours truly and Dennis Hof.

So this is gonna be wild.  Some of those horny guys – and horny girls, maybe they got a little lesbian tendency – they will come and have themselves a time.  They can go to the Moonlite Bunny Ranch website now and start thinking and fantasizing about what girl they wanna fuck.

Y Spy: But you’re not paying airfare or anything.

Tony Clifton: No!  From Seattle, that’s a short flight anyway.  You go right to Reno, and we will put them up over at the ranch.  They will have VIP treatment and they will meet Dennis Hof.  I will be there, cause we will work this out with the dates.  We’ll get everybody there at the same time, and it is gonna be quite an experience.

And this is true.  There’s no bullshit to it.  But we’ve gotta do it as a free raffle.  We can’t be charging, or else we’ll get in trouble with the law.

But I’ll tell you my philosophy: you’re only as old as the person you fuck.  I’ve had a rule for the last 30 years: I will not fuck any girl that’s over half my age.  And that’s why I have all this fuckin’ energy, man.  I ain’t fuckin’ some old broad!  Some of these poor guys that are married and got fat old wives, what the fuck?  You’d wanna blow your fuckin’ brains out!  You need some nice young stuff there.  That is the fountain of youth – guys fuckin’ in their 80s, 90s.

Y Spy: Like Tony Randall, who had a kid at that age.

Tony Clifton: Yeah, that’s right!  Tony Randall!  Absolutely.  Gary Busey just had a kid; he’s 65 or something.  I’ll tell ya, there’s nothing like young pussy.  It keeps you young.  It keeps me going.  I’ve got groupies and everything; I don’t have to pay for it if I don’t want to.

Let me ask you a question.  What does an 80 year old pussy taste like?  Depends!

That cloth has been around. I'm sure of it.

Y Spy: So as a big Vegas-style showman, what’s your favorite thing about Vegas?

Tony Clifton: Well, Vegas is Vegas.  What can you say?  When I think back on Las Vegas, I think back to those days when I was a young man in the audience watching the Rat Pack perform.  Back then in the old Vegas, you had anything you needed.  You wanted hookers, there was no fuckin’ problem.  That’s when the Mafia ran the place – but they knew how to run that!

Now you’ve got that whole Disney crowd that moved in there.  Vegas is going through a lot of crap.  What hurt ‘em in the last few years with the economy going to Hell is the Indian gambling that came in.  When we gave all the Indians all that damn free land and allowed them to do the Indian gambling, that’s just killing these big casinos.  When we had a chance 150 years ago to wipe the red man out, we should have done it.  We had the Gatling gun then!  We could have blown them all out of the way and then we wouldn’t have people suffering today.

And another thing: those damn Injuns can’t even hold their liquor.  Liquor?  I hardly know her!  My doctor tells me I gotta get away from the booze.  I drink the Jack Daniels just like Sinatra drank.  Like Frank used to say, he felt sorry for people who didn’t drink, because when they woke up in the morning that was as good as they’re gonna feel all fuckin’ day.

People come to my show and this is big-time party.  We do all kinds of music, from Sinatra to Zeppelin, and since I got the horn players, I throw in a lot of Blood, Sweat, and Tears, and Chicago.  A lot of guys won’t play that shit because they don’t got the horns.  This is a great fuckin’ show.  The more people drink, the better I sound.

Y Spy: So the band is called the Katrina Kiss-My-Ass Orchestra.  How did you go about assembling it?

Tony Clifton: That charity organization put it together – what is it, Comedy somethin’ Relief?  They had the Katrina disaster up there, so a lot of people in the band are there.  A lot of dancers are from New Orleans.  And of course I got involved, not that I do charity work.  Fuck that.  I think charity starts at home!  Matter of fact, if some fuckin’ bastard comes trying to fuckin’ wipe my windshield, I’ll run him over!  I don’t go for that crap.

Hey!  What’s the best part about makin’ love to a homeless woman?  Her pussy smells just like her asshole.  What do you think of that, huh?

What does a black kid get for Christmas?  Your bike!

There’s a car going by with a black man and a Mexican in it.  Who’s driving?  A cop!

It’s rainin’ up in Seattle; I should do some rain jokes.  What’s Seattle known for?  Kurt Cobain, right?  Well, I’ll tell you a little something here, hold it!  You know I was in the movie Man on the Moon with Jim Carrey.  Did you know I fucked Courtney Love?  This is for real!

Y Spy: How was she?

Tony Clifton: Not too good!  Here’s what happened.  Cause she wanted to fuck Jim Carrey so bad, and Jim was going at the time with Renee Zellweger.  So when we’d be on location, you’d have the Winnebago there, and [Love] would come around looking for Jim.  Courtney, she got fucked up, and she’ll fuck anyone that moves.

So she came over to Jim’s trailer one day, and he was out on the set.  She didn’t know this.  So I let her in – Jim and I was real close – and we were drinking a little, and after a while I said: “I’ll tell you what – you wanna sleep with Jim, I can make that happen.  But I gotta be honest; I don’t bullshit people.  You take care of me right here and now, and I’ll put in a good word.  I didn’t fuck her, but she gave me a pipejob, a blowjob.  She wouldn’t let me cum in her mouth or anything like that, but she sucked my fucking cock in Jim Carrey’s Winnebago on the set of Man on the Moon.

Y Spy: So did you ever put in a good word to Jim Carrey?

Tony Clifton: Bullshit, no!  I didn’t say nothin’.  Her and I went through about a half bottle of Gentleman Jack.  I don’t think she even remembered the conversation.  But Kurt Cobain blew his brains out in Seattle, didn’t he?

Y Spy: Yeah!  So a good suicide joke would be called for.

Tony Clifton: Yeah.  I do some Michael Jackson stuff.  What’s the difference between Walt Disney and Michael Jackson?  Disney can still touch children!

Y Spy: I have one that’s similar.  What’s the difference between Michael Jackson and Peter Pan?  When Michael Jackson went to Neverland, he took the second child star on the right.

Tony Clifton: That’s pretty good!  You know what?  This is crazy; I was talking to somebody who was telling me that towards the end, that Michael really went through his fuckin’ money.  That’s why he wanted to do the tour and all that.  And he was living in Santa Barbara, cause that’s where that Neverland is, and somebody said about maybe three weeks before he started rehearsing that fuckin’ show, they saw him – with a bodyguard – actually shopping at fuckin’ K-Mart!

Y Spy: Really?

Tony Clifton: Yeah.  Boy’s underwears were half off.

Y Spy: That was a good setup!  That was a slow burn.

Tony Clifton: You were buying it!

Y Spy: So what else do you have planned for the show?

Tony Clifton: Well, it’s big musical numbers.  It’s a hot bit.  We got a couple of reviews on the road that said that this band, the Katrina Kiss-My-Ass Orchestra, could hold its own with the Boss’s E-Street Band.  People will come and be very surprised, so it’s a place to come and party, rock the fuck out.  People will get blown away by this band, let alone me, let alone the hot fuckin’ burlesque dancers that are part of this troupe.  This is a very colorful show, a lot of costumes, and c’mon, we’re givin’ away a fuckin’ hooker every fuckin’ night.

People have come to shows and said it was the greatest fuckin’ show they had ever seen.  Sometimes we go for hours and hours.  It’s gonna be fun.  That’s what life’s all about, cause people are too pressured now.

I’m not politically correct; the Chicago Sun-Times says that “Tony Clifton will say things that Howard Stern wouldn’t dare say.”

Tony Clifton does not give a shit.

Y Spy: And that’s one of the great things about you – you’re not predictable, and you don’t give a shit and go full-out, calling people on their bullshit.

Tony Clifton: There’s nobody else doing that!  Everybody is so politically correct; I could give a shit.  I’m an International Singing Sensation.  If America doesn’t want to accept me, I’ll get the fuck out of here, and I’ll be glad to.

Y Spy: But how many people in America are going to Africa and faith healing people?  They’re not doing what you did.

Tony Clifton: That’s right!  Additionally, I’ve sold more albums than Elvis and the Beatles combined.  Internationally.  Not here in the States, but internationally.  That is a fact!

Oh, I got a new product now.  Holy shit.  We will have an example of it.  I won’t get into details, but it’s called Tony Clifton’s Young Shaver.  It’s a little shaver for the girls that looks like a lipstick case, but when you turn it a shaver comes out of it.  This is for shaving those little delicate areas.  I tested it personally with over 500 young girls over at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch.  Their pussies don’t have any stubble or anything.  I’m actually going to show the clip of it being tested at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch.

Y Spy: One more reason to see the show.  You’ve got hookers, you’ve got videos of you shaving girls…

Tony Clifton: And I’ve got words of wisdom!  And I cut through all the bullshit.  I don’t get that political, but the main thing is that people gotta let it go, man.  I’m watching this shit with this New Orleans oil disaster.  85 days, people glued to the fuckin’ TV to watch some fuckin’ pipe underneath the fuckin’ ocean with bubbles coming out of it?  People, get a fuckin’ life, man!  People are throwing their fuckin’ lives away.  You live fuckin’ once; you go for the fuckin’ gusto.

We have no fuckin’ set list.  We don’t do anything.  I just sit there and I fuckin’ drink.  The more I drink, the crazier things fuckin’ get.  Everybody in the band drinks, and all the girls are fuckin’ intoxicated, too.  That’s how I get them to take their clothes off.  So people come to this thing and have a little fuckin’ fun in their life.  I’ve had people that fly out to all our fuckin’ shows.  They hitchhike to them.  They’re fuckin’ addicted to them, instead of the same old bullshit, night after night, that people see on TV.

Who the fuck wants to hear the Eagles one more fuckin’ time?  Not me, man.  Even Dylan, he goes on stage, the songs don’t even sound like the songs.  What the hell’s he singing?  It’s “Like a Rolling Stone!”  [Makes nonsensical Bob Dylan noises]

That reminds me: what’s the difference between Santa Claus and a Jew?  Santa Claus comes down the chimney.  See, I can make that joke.  Do you know why?  I had a relative who died in Auschwitz.  He fell off the guard tower!

We hear this over and over: this is the most incredible, fascinating show they’ve ever seen.  Cause you’re right.  I don’t give a fuck.  Sometime I might even drop my pants, shit in my hands, and throw it at the audience, like a gorilla in a fuckin’ zoo.

A man of distinction. A man of class.

Y Spy: I really hope that happens.

Tony Clifton: But you don’t wanna be sitting in the front row when I do that.  Maybe I should hand out sheets like Gallagher.

Oh!  Did I tell you this?  I got an album!  For that charity bullshit, I’m doing like Sinatra did with his duets album.  I’m doing a duets album.  Already we’ve recorded with R.E.M.; I laid down “Man on the Moon” with [them].  And, get this, we did a show back in May, four nights sold out at The Comedy Store, and there was a gentleman in the audience – I didn’t know who this guy was – named Billy Corgan from the Smashing Pumpkins.  Afterwards he came back and said that this was the most brilliant fuckin’ show he had ever seen in his life, and he would be honored to record with me.  So he’s coming out to my studio up here in the mountains next month, and we’re gonna do one of his songs, “Today.”

It’ll be a big fuckin’ album.  When you’ve got these titans of music like Smashing Pumpkins and R.E.M. wanting to have the opportunity to record for me, there’s something going on.

Y Spy: When is the album going to be released?

Tony Clifton: [Corgan’s] coming out here next month, and then there’s a few other big names that also appear on the album.  I can’t give you those names yet, but they’re all monsters.  I would imagine that we do the tour this fall, and then probably mix everything and get it all ready probably for next year’s fall tour.

Y Spy: So you’ve been doing this for over 40 years…

Tony Clifton: And I never age!  Because of the young pussy juice!  The sex with the young girls will do it.  They start squirting, and I’ll take it right then and there, down my fuckin’ throat.  I’ll rub it all over my face.  That’s why my skin stays so young.

Y Spy: So how have the girls changed over the years?

Tony Clifton: Well now they shave down there.  You look at some old porno; they still got the bushes.  Now they’re nice and shaved, and that’s good.

Certainly what is really a big change is I noticed over the years at the Moonlite Bunny Ranch, the brothels, more and more girls are coming in by themselves to fuck other girls.  You never saw that, years ago.  As a matter of fact, they never even allowed women in the brothels, but that has changed – and you see a lot of couples coming in.  And nobody goes: “She’s a lesbian.”  They’re curious!

As a matter of fact, you’ll meet Keely.  Keely’s my adopted daughter, and she’s in my show.  She’s hot as all hell; wait until you see this little piece of ass.  And I buy her pussy all the time.  She loves it!  And she wouldn’t consider herself lesbian; she likes it every once in a while.  And there’s nothing’s wrong with that!

Halloween’s coming up; let me tell you this.  What did one lesbian vampire say to the other lesbian vampire?

Y Spy: I have no idea, but I know it’s going to be amazing.

Tony Clifton: “See you next month!”

Y Spy: Nice!

My final question is: you’ve spent decades being an International Singing Sensation.  How do you sum up the life of Tony Clifton?

Tony Clifton: My career in total has been quite amazing.  I really do think that this is my time now.  Before, when Kaufman was alive, he would do impressions of me, and people would get confused.  What has happened – and I do have to thank Jim Carrey and Miloš Forman for “Man on the Moon,” putting that movie out there – that got a whole new generation of young kids coming to see me.  I thought it would be all old farts coming to see me.  Mm-mm!  Not at all!  I thought all people remembered was Taxi or Saturday Night Live, cause of Kaufman or shit like that.  No, no, no, no!  Who’s coming out?  Young kids, because they got a taste of me in “Man on the Moon.”

As a matter of fact, even though Jim and Paul Giamatti play me in the movie, that last scene, “I Will Survive” – which is my signature song – they actually had me do that myself.  So that’s me at the end of the movie.

The time is right.  People have sold everyone a bill of goods in this country, and the whole thing’s falling apart.  You got fucked over, cause the baby boomers took care of themselves.  I give the kids what they want.  They want pussy?  They got pussy.  They want booze?  They got booze.  They want fun entertainment, jokes that you’re not allowed to say anymore?

I’ll call, what are you supposed to call ‘em, Little People?  Little People my ass!  They’re midgets!  They’re filthy little disgusting midgets.  I’ll call ‘em Pea-pods!  I’ll call ‘em Shrimp!  I’ll call ‘em midgets!

The other day, somebody sent me a letter and was offended because I did “Walk on the Wild Side,” and it says: “And the colored girls go…”  They said “You ain’t supposed to say colored girls no more.”  Now get this!  James Brown did a song called “I’m Black and I’m Proud.”  Now they’re saying you can’t say black.  You’ve gotta say “I’m Afro-American and I’m Proud?”  It throws the whole beat off!  Have people lost their fuckin’ minds?  This is like book burning, this political correct crap.  I ain’t doing it; I fought in World War II, my friend!  I gave a leg to this fuckin’ country!

I say what I want to say!  This is fucking freedom!

Tony Clifton does not fuck around!

Tony Clifton plays the Triple Door in Seattle on Friday, October 8th.  The show begins at 7:30.  More information can be found at www.tonyclifton.net.

Incest Is Best! A Conversation with the Director of the Series: “Incest Death Squad”

Total Ambiguity.

Few film titles are as divisive as “Incest Death Squad.”  Telling the tale of a brother and sister who murder and screw in the name of God, this movie was deemed too much for a reviewer from Fangoria Magazine, horror cinema’s equivalent of Rolling Stone.  In his review the critic, it should be noted, benignly acknowledged the artistic relativism of necrophilia, wiping one’s ass with a likeness of Christ, and throwing up into a prostitute’s crotch.  Yet “Incest Death Squad” somehow fell beyond the pale.  Not even the manic presence of Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman in the film could soothe the commentator’s suddenly deflowered sensibilities.

I feel as though I ought to repeat that the guy was writing for Fangoria.

Our demure watcher may want to duck and cover, then, as the Incest Death Squad comes back for another bloody romp through the impure.  Exploitation filmmaker Cory J. Udler is ready to release “Incest Death Squad 2” this September, and what’s worse for the squeamish, he promises that this time, the mood will be bleaker.  Apparently, the first helping of incest, death, and squads wasn’t bleak enough.

* * *

Y Spy: Let’s just go right into it.  Incest Death Squad 2. How is it different from the first?

Cory J. Udler, and Lloyd Kaufman. Awww.

Cory J. Udler: The thing that I think is most different between One and Two is that, with One, the first thing that we shot for the movie was the scene with Lloyd, where he’s ranting and raving and going bonkers about dead hookers butchered in bathtubs.  That set the tone for the rest of the movie, because I can’t have a scene where it’s Lloyd going “Dead hookers!” and then switch it and be super dark and super psychological.  So I had to keep it a little campy.

On this one I did shoot with Lloyd, but I had it in my mind that I didn’t want it to be as campy.  I didn’t want it to be campy at all!  I wanted it to be a really angry, dark movie, and everyone who’s seen it up to this point have said it was a lot darker, but it also works as a good companion piece to the first one.

I’m not comparing myself to the first two Tobe Hooper Chainsaw movies, how different One is from Two, [but] that’s kind of what I did with this one.  It’s a lot darker, and it’s a little more streamlined.  On One, it felt a little gabby to me after I had done it.  When I was shooting it and editing it, it didn’t seem too gabby, ’cause I wrote it and was like: “Every line is brilliant!”  After you watch it you [notice] the blah blah blah.  So it’s not as talky and it’s not as campy, and I think it’s just a better movie.  I did a little better camera work and spent more time on the sound and lighting and the composition and everything.  We have dumped the exploitation in it, too, so it’s a better movie with more exploitation.

Y Spy: So Lloyd’s in this one, too?

Udler: Lloyd makes a small appearance in this one.  I had shot a scene with Lloyd back in December.  He was in Chicago and I went down and visited with him, and we shot the scene.  I sent Lloyd the sides to the scene and of course he didn’t read them, so we shot and he was rambling on about things.  I said: too campy.  Way, way too campy.  So I didn’t use the scene we shot, but he pops up at one point in the movie.  Just to give Lloyd some face time in the movie, I made sure I got him in there.

Y Spy: Was it easy to get the cast back together and get the film going?

Udler: The cast were the ones, when we were still shooting the first one and I was slowly going insane, who [asked]: “When are we going to do the sequel?”  I said it’s going to be a miracle if I do another movie, much less a sequel to this damn thing!  I got the movie done, and I watched it a few times and said [that] this thing just lends itself to a sequel.  Once I told everyone that I was thinking about doing it, they said: “I’m in!”  Then they read the script and said: “Holy shit!  Consider it done.”

Tom Lodewyck, who plays Aaron Burg the newspaper reporter, was the most excited to do it.  In my opinion, he was the most interesting of the characters between the two movies.  In the first one, maybe people didn’t find him that interesting, but in the second one it’s a full process: who he was, who he became, and what happened to him.  He actually told me that this is an actor’s wet dream, to do all of these different turns and twists with the character.  And everyone else was really into it, and we added a couple of new characters [who] blew everything out of the water.  It was easy to get everyone back and on board.

The toughest part about doing these movies isn’t the cast, but the crew.  It’s hard to get people to dedicate to this stuff.  People that were with me 100% on the first one, who said they couldn’t wait to do the second one, came up with every excuse in the book to never be around.  I had found a guy who had a dolly – which I actually got to use for one scene – and he had a crane and all this other stuff.  In my mind, as a filmmaker, I couldn’t wait to use [them].  He showed up at one shoot and then ignored emails and everything else.  You get a lot of people who say they want to help out, and then when you tell them what you need they don’t really want to do that.

Basically my crew was Annie Clift, who was pretty much my crew on the first one.  Between her and I, we did everything on the movies.  There were times when she couldn’t make the shoots, so there were times when I was doing the cinematography, the directing, and I was running sound!  I guess you get what you pay for.

Y Spy: Was the production any easier on this one?

Udler: It was awful!  It was an absolute nightmare from the word Go.  My sound guy that I had on the first one showed up to the shoot with a microphone that was broken, so then I ordered a whole boom kit, just to have for myself.  But [the order] kept getting delayed, so I had to keep going out 40 miles from where I lived to get a microphone every single time we shot.  Every time, it was a different microphone.  There was a member of the cast who I think was going through some personal stuff, so it was difficult dealing with that.  My God, man!  It was one thing after another.  It was horrible, the entire time.

As we shot, I would just cut entire pages and scenes out of the movie just to go: fuck this; I’ve gotta get this thing done.  Actually, I think it helped the movie.  The runtime is about 72 minutes, which is about six minutes shorter than the first one.  I don’t think it needs to be any longer than that.  Also, it made [the film] super angry, because I was angry.  Everything in the movie’s pissed off and vile and jet black.  It helped the overall tone of the movie, but shit, it was terrible.

Y Spy: Do you subscribe to the theory that one must suffer for one’s art?

Udler: You’re putting yourself out for the world to scrutinize, and for everyone to take potshots [toward].  You’ve gotta be Teflon.  It’ll be two years in October that I’ve lived these two movies, from when I first started casting for Incest 1 to when the second one is premiered and out on DVD.  During that time it’s been making the movies, trying to get locations, trying to get money that never comes in from anywhere, looking for distribution – which is a complete racket.  A lot of this stuff is really joyless when you do it.  At the end of the day, you have to look back and ask: “Why the hell am I doing this?”  If it isn’t because of money, or glory, or fame and fortune, but because this is what you like to do and you don’t know any better, you’re doing it for the right reasons.  But yeah, it is complete suffering.

I’ll see a lot of terrible, terrible movies with wooden acting and bad scripts that have $500,000 budgets.  I basically have to give folks blowjobs for $5,000!  To get five dollars!  I can’t raise anything.  I guess that’s part of the suffering.

I think the one thing that I don’t think enough people in our society do anymore is suffer for what they want.  A lot of people have this sense of entitlement.  They’re willing it to happen, but doesn’t it just happen?  No!  You’ve gotta work, and you’ve gotta suffer.

I think Lewis Black was on Larry King one time, and Larry asked him: “What is the scariest thing in the world to you?”  Lewis Black said: “American Idol!” Because these kids come up, and they don’t have to suffer for anything, and they just become millionaires overnight.  It’s not like the bands that used to come out, where they played their songs, and maybe their songs weren’t great at the time, but they’d get up in front of people, and people would throw shit at them.  The next night, they’d do the same thing!  They’d keep getting up and plying their trade, and getting better, all while people threw shit at them.  Then it all paid off in the end.

Even if it doesn’t pay off in the end, I’m making movies that I like, and I enjoy doing it.  And I get to do a lot of exciting things that I would never be able to do if I wasn’t making films.  I get to do fun stuff like this [interview] and go to conventions.  I’ve also gotten to know and become friends with people who I idolized growing up, people like Lloyd, Ted V. Mikels, Frank Henenlotter, Bill Rebane – people that I would never have any way of meeting and knowing.  Now it’s having some common ground and being able to work for and with these people.  It’s a dream come true!

Does it almost kill you?  Is it a nightmare?  Absolutely.  It’s a really tough racket, and you really can’t make a living doing this stuff, so you have to have another job or two or however many you need.  Then you have to have time to make your movies and to do them right, which means you sleep about four hours a day.  It’s okay.  I think it’s important to know the value of your successes through your failures and disappointments.

Y Spy: So are you satisfied with how Incest Death Squad 2 turned out?

Udler: I am super proud of the movie.  Actually, the second one is a lot closer to the vision I had when I wrote the script than the first one.  In the first one, the scene with Lloyd was written a month before we shot with him.  Initially, he was a gas station attendant, and Tom Lodewyck’s character goes in, and that’s how he finds things out.  I had to come up with a way to get him from Point A to Point B with Lloyd, so then [Lloyd’s] the newspaper editor.

And a lot of things changed on the Incest 1 script because I didn’t have the money to do a lot of it.  About 65% of that script made it to screen, whereas with this one it’s almost 100%.  I cut some stuff out to save time and money, and it didn’t hurt the end product.

I’m super proud of both.  The first one has some blemishes, and I made a lot of mistakes.  It is what it is.  A certain painter may put out a painting, and maybe it’s terrible, but it’s the only one of its kind.  That’s how I look at Incest 1.  But everybody who has seen it has been blown away by it, because they didn’t know what to expect.

I told people that I didn’t want to make the same goddamn movies.  If somebody would have come forward with $50,000 and said to make the same ones, I’d say sure!  But nobody came forward, and I had to basically sell all my stuff on eBay to get enough money to pay people for gas and food and special effects and locations.  But I’m really happy with it, because these movies have been like friends to me for a long time.  Now I’m saying goodbye to my friends, which is a little bittersweet.

I like the first one, but the second one is a better movie.  I just think everything is better about it, because I learned a lot making the first one.  That’s really the only reason to do a sequel; if you can’t expound on the story and make it more interesting, and if you can’t correct the mistakes on Two that you made on One, what the hell is the reason to make a sequel?  Nobody’s paying me to do this!

Y Spy: Do you feel like most sequels are just rehashes of the same formula?  Even among the classics of the horror genre, there are examples in sequels to Return of the Living Dead or Evil Dead.

Udler: Yeah!  Return of the Living Dead was weird, because the first one was dark, super gory, and had great practical effects, but also had a pretty good sense of humor.  The second one went campier and you couldn’t tell what the motives behind making it really were.  Evil Dead was the same; the second one, a lot of people regard as the superior movie.  I don’t; I love the second one, but I think the first one is great.

Chainsaw, I think, is my favorite One and Two.  The first Chainsaw and the second couldn’t be more different, but they go a little further with the story, and where people are, and what happened.  There’s Nubbins, the hitchhiker from One, [who] is now this mummified corpse that Chop Top carries around.  I think that’s the perfect example of a One and Two that worked and seemed to be done for the right reasons.

In Hollywood now, that’s all they do!  What’s coming out now, Saw 7? And thank God it’s the last one, because the last three have almost been unwatchable.  Rob Zombie’s Halloween 2: you see it and wonder, what the hell was the point of this movie?  It doesn’t further the story; it seems like it was a hideous production.  And then Twilight!  Harry Potter. They keep pumping these things out.  How long before we get Avatar 2? It’s completely uncreative.  Hollywood’s not in the business of being irreverent and creative and provocative.  They’re in the business of making a lot of friggin’ money.  Saw did well, and they have milked this thing dry.  Now it’s the seventh one, so let’s throw in a gimmick too, the gimmick of 3-D.  Hollywood will do sequels until people stop going, and they’ll stop doing remakes when people stop going.  But they won’t stop going.

But on the indie scene, if you’re going to make a sequel to your movie, do it for one of three reasons: to further the story, to make a better movie, or if somebody’s giving you a shitload of money.  You’ve got bills to pay, children to feed, or meth to buy, so fuck!  Do it!  I didn’t want people to think that was something I was doing.  I really wanted to reward the people who supported the first one, and I wanted to give them a better movie, tell more of the story, and wrap it up and move on.  My head’s always up my ass, but my heart was in the right spot.

Y Spy: Do people see art as growing on trees, and thus just want the final product without supporting the process?

Udler: Absolutely!  I‘ve had this discussion with Lloyd.  People think that Lloyd, because he’s everywhere and has movies out, has got a lot of money.  Lloyd’s got nothing!  He’s been able to put his kids through college by making films, but he’s not rolling in money.  The funniest thing I ever did was pick Lloyd up at the airport in Chicago.  I couldn’t spot him!  Finally, I saw what appeared to be a homeless man, and it was Lloyd, with this ratty suitcase and old coat.  He kind of gets the same thing: “It’s Lloyd Kaufman from Troma; why hasn’t he done Toxic Avenger 5? He’s got millions of dollars.”  No!

I see people get that with me, too.  I’ve got jobs I’ve gotta do, and I don’t make any money at these jobs.  I’m cheap as hell, and I don’t do anything and I don’t go anywhere ’cause I can’t afford it!  The only thing that I’ve tried to be smart about with the movies is that I don’t finance the movies on my nest egg, on my meager amounts of money.  Maybe a hundred dollars here and there, but I don’t think I’ve spent more than $500 of my own money on these two movies.  It comes from donations.  It comes from cutting corners.  It comes from selling shit that I’ve had since I was a kid.

I don’t think people really realize that, in order for this stuff to happen, you need some money.  Even if you don’t need a lot of money, you need to at least pay people for gas, and you need to feed people.  I do think people feel like this stuff appears out of nowhere.

On the flip side, there are a lot of guys that I personally know, or guys I know of, who somehow are getting hundreds of thousands of dollars to make movies, and they’re basically pocketing most of the budget and spending 12 cents on the movie.  The movie never comes out.  The investors never see their money.  And that’s a real shame.

It’s not me blowing my own horn, but I’ve done these two movies for nothing, and I’ve got fans from around the world.  We’re screening in the United Kingdom at some point.  I don’t have a marketing budget, and it aggravates me to see that go on.  My next [movie] is $5,000!  That’s all I need!  What does $5,000 really get you?  It doesn’t even get you a new TV or a handjob down at the Manhole Club.  And I’m making movies on this.  It is frustrating to see that.  People’s perceptions of what’s fame, and what’s success, and what’s commerce are fucked up, in this country, anyway.

Y Spy: I recently spoke to two people who made a film about Wesley Willis, and a point that one of the directors had in explaining why Wesley was such a wonderful musician and artist was that art often comes from a place of privilege, a paradigm that Wesley, with all his disadvantages, flew in the face of.  Are we too content to let the rich entertain us?

Udler: Oh yeah.  If anyone really watched Incest 1 and listened to the words and script and how I played around with words and Bible scriptures, I took a lot of time on it.  The second one is a more personal movie, but those came from really deep within.  But I didn’t have CG dinosaurs, so it’s not entertaining.  My budget was shit, and we made movies that people around the world like and care about.  I get emails every single day from people who saw the movie and loved what I did.

But look who our celebrities are now: the Kardashians and Paris Hiltons, who are only famous for being famous.  Or rich.  That’s why people do movies like Avatar, which they spent millions of dollars on.  “They spend a bunch of money on it; I know it’s gotta be good!”  That’s just not true.

It’s the same thing in horror, with horror remakes.  A lot of people who go to these are almost like lobotomy patients.  “I saw the Chainsaw remake.  It was shit!  I’m never doing that again!”  Nightmare on Elm Street remake comes out: “Oh, I’ve gotta go see this!”  They plunk $10 on it, and they walk out and say “That was shit!”  What do you expect?  It was Michael Bay; it was a remake of a classic.  He’ll piss in your face and laugh at you!

I think Hollywood and music and television are responsible for that kind of mentality.  Most people don’t take the time to really look around for something entertaining.  They work all day, they gotta take the kids to soccer, they gotta clean the house, the dog just crapped on the rug, and they gotta make dinner.  So when they sit down they click what’s on, what’s easy.  Most people don’t look to the underground to find these things.  Basically, the big studios and the major guys tell you what to eat – and if you’re hungry, you’re going to eat what’s there.  It’s not until you get burned enough times with enough garbage that you decide you might like the taste of [something else].

We live in a society where it moves too fast, nobody stops and looks around and thinks they might like to read a book or a newspaper, or watch an art film or a foreign film.  Give ’em Larry the Cable Guy and Avatar, and people are pretty happy.  Give ’em something where they don’t have to think, and they’ll buy it.  And Hollywood knows that.

Y Spy: To play devil’s advocate, are there any examples of corporate entertainment that you have enjoyed?

Udler: Oh, absolutely!  I hope that it didn’t come across that I think that the majors don’t put out good stuff, because they absolutely do.  Of some of the great movies that I’ve seen in recent years, There Will Be Blood is probably my favorite movie that I’ve ever seen.  The Assassination of Jesse James with Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck, that’s gorgeous storytelling.  The Wrestler from Darren Aronofsky is a great movie.  The Harvey Milk movie was really good.  There are guys that are in the system that are making really interesting, good stuff.  Christopher Nolan’s stuff is phenomenal; everything that he touches turns to gold.

The studios still know that nothing replaces story.  You can put flashy shit in it, but that’s popcorn.  Some people actually want to see stories and characters.

Y Spy: Do you think that the industry as a whole uses these instances of great work to justify pumping out the rest of the crap?

Udler: A lot of the old guys I’ve talked to have always said that each frame of a movie means something.  It’s a moment in time that you’ve captured.  I kind of believe that.  I think cinema represents where you are as a society at any certain point.  It confuses me sometimes when a movie like There Will Be Blood comes out, and I wonder why this is so wonderful, and then Scary Movie 15 comes out, and it’s a piece of shit!  My wife is a big Sex and the City fan.  My wife wanted to go to see Sex and the City 2, and I said oh hell, I’ll go.  And it was the worst movie I’ve ever seen.  Honestly.  It was unwatchable, nothing happened, the characters were rotten, and it was almost two and a half hours long.  I just thought to myself, this is a perfect example of Hollywood.  It says Sex and the City, and everybody’s back.  Just give them something; you don’t have to do anything.  The TV show was kind of a smart show, and then they put this movie out that is an abomination.

I don’t know what the thought process is behind them saying: we’ll put out There Will be Blood, but then here’s Larry the Cable Guy with Armpit Farts, which will be a big hit, too.  They come out under the same company, and they pump more money into Larry the Cable Guy.

It boils down to a drive-thru mentality.  Now we have vending machines for movies!  It’s crazy.  You can’t pick up the box and ask who’s in it, who directed it.  You see the cover and go: oh, Squirters 3; that’s a winner.  That’s how sad things have gotten.

The only way they can get people into movie theaters now is to give them something safe, that’s not challenging, and probably put the damn thing in 3-D!  Give them another gimmick, another reason to go so they’ll sit through a half hour of commercials for cars they can’t afford and phones they can’t figure out.

Y Spy: How does independent cinema fit into that?

Udler: I think that if you’re a fan of independent movies, you’re a fan of independent movies.  You’ll see through the Hollywood stuff that they regurgitate.  The stuff’s pretty transparent; it’s not real deep.  If you’re a Troma fan, you’re probably not plunking $10 to go see Saw. That’s my guess.  Most people that like the big budget stuff, they’ve maybe seen one independent film, and the acting wasn’t good, so that’s their point of reference.  Maybe it didn’t have explosions, or karate.

The thing that I love the most is that these movie companies put out their own subsidiaries.  Paramount has its own indie subsidiary.  Paramount Independent is a contradiction in terms if I’ve ever heard one!  It’s an independent film because you only spent $20 million on it instead of $50 [million]?  You’ve gotta be kidding me!  That’s not an independent film!  An independent film doesn’t have Don Cheadle in it.  It’s made completely independent of any studio money or influence.

That was a big thing with Paranormal Activity; that thing comes out and everybody says that it was made for $10,000.  Then all of a sudden you’re thinking that you’re doing the art world a favor.  But if whoever was behind it didn’t pump $50 million into the marketing budget, you’d never hear of it.  You wouldn’t go seek out a $10,000 ghost movie.  You just wouldn’t do it!

Y Spy: So in your view, an independent film is defined as such from the entire process, not only from the production.

Udler: I think so.  When I think of independent film, I think of Troma.  You’re not going to find Troma films on the shelves of Blockbuster.  Once in a great while you’ll find a Toxic Avenger set on a shelf at Best Buy.  But they’re not in the theaters!  Troma movies don’t even get released at independent theaters.  So Troma is really the definition of what independent cinema is.  There are a lot of companies that I know of that call themselves independent, but they have tie-ins with this company or that company.  Well, you’re not really independent then.

That’s not saying that an independent movie can’t be made independently and then picked up by someone and marketed well, but you don’t put a lot of money into the marketing budget on this stuff, because a lot of it isn’t very commercial.  A lot of it is story driven and character driven.  Some of it is super controversial.

I guess there are varying definitions.  Sometimes an independent film costs a dollar to make, and they spent five dollars to market it.  Sometimes it costs $100,000, and they spend a million to market it.  It’s shades of gray, but when I think of an independent film, I think of no studio tie, at all.  Maybe that’s shortsighted; maybe it’s because I’m in the thick of a lot of this stuff, and I know so many guys who are really doing super independent stuff that barely have a pot to piss in.  But that’s what I think of when I think truly independent.

Y Spy: Are there any theatres and scenes which remain supportive of independent film?

Udler: I live in a very, very small town in Wisconsin.  The nearest town to me is Madison, and Madison doesn’t do any of that!  There’s one theater in town that will maybe show a foreign film once in a while; otherwise they show first runs.  We have Sundance, which is big budget stuff, $3-4 million stuff.  That’s a big budget!  And it’s Sundance, and they have their own agenda anyway, so you’re not really getting true independent films.  But I know the Landmark Theaters in Milwaukee do a lot of that, the Portage Theater in Chicago.  In Tulsa, Oklahoma, they’re getting a pretty decent scene.  Los Angeles of course; there’s so much shit going on there.  New York has a few places.  But overall, it’s here and there, a smattering of theaters that do that.  There aren’t groups and clusters.  And when you make a movie like Incest Death Squad, Jesus.  Nobody wants to show that.  They’ll be showing that at the XXX theater.

Overall, the death of the drive-in and grindhouses and the porno theaters put a damper on it.  It was kind of like the VHS boom; people asked why they should go here and have some guy jerking off behind them, when they can stay at home and watch this filthy thing in their own chair.  [With] the influx of home video and Blu-Ray and hi-def, people don’t have any reason to go to theaters and see this stuff.  And they can go find it on the internet, which is a shame.

I was talking about it to Frank Henenlotter, who directed Basket Case, Brain Damage, Frankenhooker, all these great movies.  He grew up in the grindhouses on 42nd Street; he’d go to three grindhouse movies a day, six days a week.  He saw everything.  He said: “I don’t go to the movies anymore.  And it’s okay.  It’s a different time; it’s a different era.  But my scene is gone.”  Frank actually took 16 or 17 years off from doing movies.

So the death of the drive-ins really hurt the exploitation filmmakers and the indie filmmakers who made weird fringe stuff.  There’s Stacy Davidson, who’s doing a movie called Sweatshop, which looks like great horror/exploitation fun.  Ryan Nicholson is doing great movies.  Brandon Slagle is doing a movie called Songs of the Shattered. There’s a movie that I think is called Scars of Life, and I saw the trailer and said: “My God, that’s exploitation!”  It’s so filthy and so gory and so weird that not even so-called independent theaters would show something like that – whereas if we still had the grindhouses and drive-ins, these guys would be doing okay!   Now there’s nowhere to show it, whereas before – hell!  You could maybe get on a double bill with Star Wars!

Y Spy: Do you see horror conventions and magazines as attempting to fill that void?

Udler: Maybe.  Rue Morgue is a great magazine.  Videoscope magazine is really good.  Fangoria has always kind of been the flag-bearer, but for a long time Fangoria has lost its way.  I think they started to become the establishment, which didn’t do the little guys any favors.  Hopefully with Chris Alexander taking over the editing duties from Tony at Fangoria, [he’ll] maybe breathe some new life into that.

With horror conventions, you go to those and [realize] that there’s a huge audience for all of this stuff!  If you gave it a chance, there would be an audience for it.  We’re basically run by four or five devil-worshipping megaconglomerates.  I think they’re to the point now where they’re telling us what they think.  They’re sitting in their board rooms, and everything is just charts and graphs, and that’s the only option you have.  [With] the horror conventions, people can say “Fuck you!  I’m gonna go buy this independent guy’s film.  I’m gonna do what I want, and you ain’t gonna tell me any different.”

That’s why I think even the remakes do well, because horror fans are so starving.  They want stuff; they want to see horror, suspense, science fiction, monsters, gore, and hot chicks – all the things that make a good horror/exploitation movie.  Hollywood looks down on them.  It’s the same thing as with metal music; people look at it as a lesser form.  “Can we make some money off it?  Yeah, so just give them some shit, and they’ll buy it.”

Y Spy: It’s a lot like comedy, too.  Neither comedy nor horror gets taken seriously in mainstream cinema.  It’s easier to be stupid and dopey and stereotypical in either genre.

Udler: Well, yeah, and these are guaranteed hits for the studios, and they know that.  Comedy and horror are hits, if done right.  And they’re gonna have franchises off them.  But that almost seems like a supplement, because the stuff that they really get off on is giving James Cameron a billion dollars to make Avatar.  They get off on the Academy saying that they made a wonderful or visually stunning movie.  But they’ve gotta recoup some of the money they’re pissing away on movies that don’t do well, that some asshole in a board room thought was a good idea.  They go and put out a horror movie, because they know the horror fans are loyal and will go see it.  And then they’ll pump this into the next train wreck.  Mel Gibson and Lindsay Lohan star in Train Wreck.

Y Spy: And how often do you see either a comedy or horror movie nominated for an Academy Award?

Udler: That’s what blew me away this year, seeing District 9 up for Best Picture.  Of course, they nominated 75 movies for Best Picture, but it was still really nice to see.  That was a smart movie, and it was a sci-fi/horror film!  But it’s few and far between.  Exorcist was 40 years ago.  Otherwise [horror] just doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, not even in the visual effects.

Rick Baker won for An American Werewolf in London. That was 30 years ago.  Here’s a prime example of how clueless Hollywood is: they make this Wolfman remake, which was putrid.  And what a cast!  It doesn’t get any better: Benicio del Toro, Anthony Hopkins, and they had Rick Baker doing the visual effects!  [Baker’s] a practical effects guy, but what did they choose to do?  Rick Baker does the makeup for the final Wolfman, but the transformation scenes?  Nah.  We’re gonna CG those, so it looks like Roger Rabbit turning into a fuckin’ wolf, with Rick Baker sitting right there! That seems insane, but that’s the kind of puzzling shit they do.

Y Spy: Thus far, what’s the reaction been to your work?

Udler: There’s a nice indie horror community.  It’s fucking spectacular.  Everybody supports what everybody is up to, whether it’s telling somebody that they’ve got to see this movie or picking up this person’s movie, or helping out.  James Hawley, who did Sewer Chewer, is now working on one called Jesus of Nebula: Alien Cannibal. Greatest title of all time.  The basis of it is that Jesus really was the son of a gay couple.  That’s the immaculate conception.  I thought, oh boy!  He’s Oklahoman, so he’s really gonna get punched for doing that in the Bible belt.  I loved that.

He sent me some script pages, and asked me if I could play a TV preacher.  He said: “Go crazy.”  So I took some time and shot some footage for him, and it’s going to make the movie!  I’m in Wisconsin and he’s in Oklahoma, and I shot something for him and sent it down.  He had a need for it and I did it.  And then he wanted Greg Johnson who played Jeb Wayne in Incest for another part.  We got together, shot the scene, and now James has got it in the movie.  That’s just an example of the community banding together and being one.  Everybody lends their support to everyone’s projects.  It’s really nice.

You find that guys who are making bigger movies are kind of done with it.  That happens, and you understand that, but it’s nice to have people like Lloyd who slum with the imbeciles like me.

Y Spy: How have you grown as a filmmaker between Incest Death Squad 1 and 2?

Udler: I‘ve had people ask me how to make a movie.  Well, you just go make it!  You don’t think about it too much; you go out, fuck up, and come back to look at footage.  That’s what I did.  I learned more doing that then I could sitting in a classroom or studying movies.  Until you go out and make the mistakes, you can’t even imagine.

After I made and edited One, and we had the screenings and sat through the movie many times, some stuff just drives me nuts.  That’s how I learned.  There’s irritating shit in this; it probably irritated the viewers, so I’m not doing that again.

I think I learned to tell a more streamlined story.  In One, there was a lot of explaining, a lot of talking head stuff where it was two shot, coverage, coverage, etc.  A lot of blah blah blah.  I learned a lot about pacing.  I learned a lot about timing.  I learned that you don’t have to explain every single thing.  If it’s nighttime, you don’t have to have a shot of the sun going down.  As far as the writing goes, I feel like I didn’t need to be so verbose.  I thought I’d let the scenes and actors take their time.  I know my actors wanted to kill me after the first one, with some of the stuff they had to memorize and read.  I think I grew a lot.

Going back to people’s reactions, people have said that this is just a better movie.  I think that was because of making the first one, and being critical of myself, but also getting reviews from everywhere.  Getting the horrendous review from Fangoria – it helped!  I took everything he said into consideration.  From his perspective, the almighty throne at Fangoria, he’s got a point.

To make a movie: have a big set of nuts, have alligator skin, and – most of all – make the movie, fuck it up, force yourself to watch it, confront the mistakes you made, and listen to the reviews.  If somebody says that you’re a piece of shit and your movie sucks, ask why.  You’ve gotta take that stuff, as hard as it is.  It makes you a better person, I hope!

Y Spy: The scathing Fangoria review locked onto the incest part of Incest Death Squad. So let’s cut to the core.  Why incest?

Udler: I don’t know that it was conscious to do it that way.  When I sat down to write it, I thought: what’s good exploitation?  What’s something I hadn’t seen before?  That’s really what I wanted to do.  I didn’t sit down and say that I gotta make an incest movie.  I just gotta have exploitation.  What would really freak people out?  What makes people uncomfortable?  Politics and religion.  Keep both of those in there.

When I initially wrote the script, it still had the incest with the brother and sister in it, but the title of the movie was Moonshine – which is a shitty, terrible title!  It doesn’t say anything; it doesn’t mean anything.  When I was getting ready to send it to Lloyd, because he was having a contest on his website, I called Bill Rebane, who made Giant Spider Invasion and a bunch of great drive-in movies.  He had been friends with Lloyd for a long time, and I asked what I should call it.  He says: “Call it Incest Death Squad: A Tale of Boobs, Shine, and Sline.” Well shit; that’s the most beautiful title I’ve ever heard!

So it was Bill’s fault that we brought the incest to the forefront.  Otherwise, it was a subplot.  But while making an exploitation film, it’s all about the title and the cover art, and I don’t think a title grabs people any more than if you put something in like incest, or cannibal, or cornhole.  They’re sold!

Y Spy: Great.  Now I’m just thinking: Cornhole Death Squad!

Udler: That’s the prequel!

Y Spy: Do people need to be freaked out like this?  Is it helpful to individuals and society to have things like Incest Death Squad hit them in the face?

Udler: I think the only movies that can do that are exploitation movies or horror films.  You go back and look at some of the most jarring movies of all time – they’re horror movies!  They’re things that people don’t want to confront.  Even for a movie like Deliverance, that’s primal fear; you’re lost in the woods with crazy hillbillies.  You’re not gonna get that stuff from the next M. Night Shyamalan movie.  Even in a movie like Frank Henenlotter’s Bad Biology, this is a movie [where] in the first five minutes, you know if you can hang with it or not.  His movie Brain Damage was kind of a drugsploitation movie.  Frankenhooker was sexploitation.  Even Night of the Living Dead was a very daring statement, and Chainsaw was as well.  Those movies prey on the fears that people won’t talk about.  These things don’t come up in everyday conversations, and yet the horror and exploitation filmmakers who are worth their weight push that envelope.

You try to explain to people who didn’t grow up with the exploitation films, that a lot of the exploitation films were just made to put bare boobs on screen.  Well yes, they say, but what’s the point?  Bare boobs!  On screen!  But who starred in it?  Bare boobs!  What was the name of it?  Bare boobs!  That’s the whole point of it.

Look all the way back to the ‘30s: Reefer Madness. It was drugs; how uncomfortable was that for people?  The movie tackled it – in a very deluded way.

Incest Death Squad is a fun way to get people to go: what the fuck did you just say?  And then people watch it and see it’s not all incest.  Maybe it’s not all death or squad!  I hope that people who check it out understand that it’s not just goofy for the sake of being goofy, that there’s actually a point, and a script, and a lot of time was spent on it.  But at this level I have no money to spend, I don’t have a big budget, so I’ve gotta do something to get people’s attention.  I don’t think there’s anything better to do that than Incest Death Squad.

Y Spy: So tell me about what you’re doing next.

Udler: The next movie is pure exploitation; it’s not horror in any way.  (I actually don’t see Incest 1 and 2 as being horror movies, either.)  It’s called Mediatrix. I’ve always wanted to do one “based on a true story,” and it kind of is.  The source material was something very interesting to my co-writer and I.  It’s the story of a woman; we pick up on her life when she’s in her 30s and she’s living with her mother, who is a false spiritualist selling spiritual snake oil.  Really, they’re just terrible people, and she’s kind of a whore.  She gets pregnant and has to leave, and does that.  It takes us through her dementia, where her mother has trained her to be a false spiritualist, and it goes all the way to her being even crazier and starting her own cult.  The she’s (supposedly) visited by the Virgin Mary, suffering the stigmata.

We have Debbie Rochon, and she’ll be playing the Virgin Mary.  We’re very, very fortunate to have her in the movie.  Everybody says that’s the greatest casting ever; that’s her greatest role.  I know!  When I was coming up with the idea I had one person in mind to play the Virgin Mary.  I won’t even make the goddamn movie if I can’t have her in it.  Luckily enough, she’s a sweetheart, very accessible, and is really into the movie, and we’re excited to have her.

It’s Christploitation, it’s sexploitation, it’s a lot of manipulation, a lot of bad language, but it’s not a horror movie.  People asked me what style it was.  My answer is that it’s my There Will Be Blood, with a lot of boobs!  There Will Be Boobs!

We’re shooting it in October here in the quiet charms of Wisconsin, and hopefully we’ll have it out by Christmas.

Y Spy: So what are the release plans for Incest Death Squad 2?

Udler: The release of Incest Death Squad 2 will happen on September 17th at 9 o’clock pm, at www.horrorsociety.com.  The reason I’m doing it online is [that] I spent a long time going through distribution companies, and I was fighting with some movie theaters to find a place to screen the premiere.  With the distributors, your main goal is to get people to see it, but I want to have my cake and eat it too, because I want people to see the movie but also maintain some control over it.  So fuck it!  Let’s do an online premiere, for free.  Everyone from around the world can tune in and watch it.  I’m not asking you to do anything but watch a free movie.  You don’t even need to put your pants on!

After that night, it will be available on DVD, and hopefully everybody enjoys it enough that they want to get the DVD and see the special features.  We’ll probably do some screenings; there are some cool places in Chicago, and somebody in Tulsa wants to run the movie.  We’ll probably do Milwaukee; we probably won’t do Madison, unfortunately.  That’s kind of the plan.  Then we’ll dig into the next one.  We’ll keep putting movies out until we start making money.  That’s all there is to it.

Y Spy: So if you could make a big studio film, would you accept the loss of artistic freedom?

Udler: Absolutely!  Where do I sign?  Ti West, who did House of the Devil – a brilliant film, Hitchcockian in a way – went studio and made Cabin Fever 2, which was not a good movie, at all.  He basically said: hate the movie, don’t blame me, blame the studio.  So he got the royal screwjob from the studio system.  But I’ve always said I would absolutely do it.  I’m not a greedy person; I’m not an egotistical person.  So I’d probably take the money and crawl right back underground and make something completely demented and hope that the people who supported me up to that point don’t jump off the wagon.

Everybody says it, [but] I would never say: “I would take it, but I would do it my way!  I’d make sure to tell the studio where to stick it!”  Nobody does that!  If you want to make the money, you go and make the money.  Saw 17? Great!  It’s in 3-D, and Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan are starring?  Good, let’s make it!  Action!  Where’s my check?

I don’t like jobs!  I did radio for a long time and I liked that job, but that’s really been the only job since I was 16 that I’ve liked.  Otherwise, I hate working, and I hate schlepping, but I love doing this stuff.  If I never make any money doing this, that’s okay.  The fact that I’ve been able to do this is enough.

Oh yeah. He hit that.

“Incest Death Squad” premieres on September 17th at 9 pm Central time, at www.horrorsociety.com. More information can be found at www.incestdeathsquad.com.

HorrorHound Weekend 2010: Armageddon

Horrorgasm.

Louise Robey, Actress, Joe Bob Briggs, Drive-Thru Master, Lloyd Kaufman, Film Legend, and the Gay Boy of Tromaville

Y Spy: Who are you and why are you here?

Louise Robey: I’m the Countess of Burford, and I’m here because I exist. [From here, Robey and Kaufman launch into an extended conversation in French. The only thing I can make out is when Kaufman mentions a Chevrolet Coupe Deville and Charles de Gaulle. I suspect that Kaufman might be bullshitting his French, but if he is he does so convincingly.]

Lloyd Kaufman: Next question!

Y Spy: So I write a review column called “Bizarro Masterpiece Theatre.” You can pretty much assume what it’s about. Turn me onto some movies.

Robey: I know Hugh Hefner, and I go to his Sunday night things all the time.

Kaufman: [Growing progressively more French] Hugh Hefner is a fucking dick! I hate Hugh Hefner! So fuck him!

Robey: Well, Dino de Laurentiis…

Kaufman: Oh, he’s cool…

Robey: He wanted me to be in a movie, and I turned him down. I was very young. I said: “It’s a bit naughty, this movie!”

Kaufman: Well, you had been in the Roman Polanski Quaalude movie, so I don’t blame you for turning him down.

Robey: How do you know Roman?

Kaufman: How do I know him? He tried to give me Quaaludes! I refused! I wouldn’t do it. I was 13 at the time.

Y Spy: You were just an innocent young lady.

Kaufman: I was an innocent young woman at the time. Gyno. We say gyno-american. Louise! What else have you been working on, besides your chateau? Chateau in French means cake, by the way.

Robey: It means very old house. I write songs, and I produce songs…

Kaufman: Wow! Here’s the young Gay Boy from Tromaville!

Gay Boy of Tromaville: I am the Gay Boy from Tromaville.

Kaufman: Tell us what’s new in the gay world of Tromaville.

Gay Boy: “The Killer Condom” is an inspirational movie, not only a philosophy but a state of life.

Kaufman: And who made the special effects? H.R. Giger, who made the special effects for “Alien!”

Y Spy: How does the Roman Catholic Church feel about killer condoms?

Gay Boy: Actually, I am Catholic. We feel extremely great about it! Couldn’t be better.

Kaufman: And thank you to the Pope, who has done so much to protect the children from the Catholic priests. He’s a real brave Pope. He and Hugh Hefner are the same hypocritical, well, anyway…

Robey: You want to be Hugh! You want to be him!

Kaufman: I wouldn’t shit on Hugh Hefner! The only reason I bought Playboy stock was because I was hoping he’d die and the stock would go up.

Robey: You bought Playboy stock?

Kaufman: Stupidly. And he won’t die! I lost a huge amount of money.

Robey: It’s bankrupt! You know that?

Kaufman: When I bought it, it wasn’t. And stupid me, because he’ll never die! God dammit!

Y Spy: What’s new in the Troma world?

Kaufman: We have a very good blu-ray we’ve just put out. Actually it’s a brown-ray called “Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead.” I’m working on my seventh book “Sell Your Own Damn Movie.”

[Suddenly, a round of applause bursts out behind us, and Joe Bob Briggs arrives on the scene.]

Kaufman: Hey! You should interview this guy! Bobby!

Robey: [To Briggs, taking note of his cowboy shirt] Do you ride horses?

Kaufman: He rides pen and pencil and paper! He rides words!

Robey: So do I! I’m a writer and producer.

Y Spy: Mr. Briggs, what does Troma mean to you?

Joe Bob Briggs: Troma is the essence of the three Bs: blood, breasts, and beasts. They have all of those three, in enormous quantities, in every film they’ve ever made. I can’t say that about any other company.

Y Spy: Were there breasts in “Cannibal: The Musical?”

Kaufman: Yes, but they were eaten! So you didn’t see them. But Joe Bob Briggs was very responsible for discovering Troma, many years ago, when we were shunned. We’re still shunned, but at least Joe Bob Briggs appreciated us.

Y Spy: [To Briggs] So what have you been up to lately?

Briggs: I’m here, doing the convention.

Y Spy: Any writings or film commentaries coming out?

Briggs: I’ve got 12 commentaries that I’ve done, and lots of books, and lots of other projects.

Y Spy: So what scares each of you?

Kaufman: Hilary Clinton scares me! I’m Lloyd Kaufman, failed filmmaker for 35 years!

Briggs: Lloyd scares me. [Lloyd screams.]

Robey: I don’t know any of these people. What scares me is my ex-husband, who wrote Shakespeare!

HorrorHound Weekend 2010: Ari Lehman

Ari Lehman

Ari Lehman, Actor, Musician

Y Spy: Who are you and why are you here?

Ari Lehman: My name is Ari Lehman, and I am the first Jason Voorhees from “Friday the 13th,” here, at HorrorHound Weekend in Indianapolis, because the friends and fans of Jason Voorhees mean more to me than life itself.

Y Spy: How did jumping out of a lake dressed like a half-rotted mongoloid affect the rest of your life?

Lehman: In fact, when I did it, it was a fun summer job. I was very fortunate to be able participate with the greatness of Tom Savini and Sean Cunningham.

Y Spy: How old were you at the time?

Lehman: I was only 14 years old. It was a great honor and a great opportunity. But let’s look at the image of the pond and the water, of all that decaying vegetation, of the mother image, of the girl in a boat image, the decapitation. There’s so much there. The first “Friday the 13th” is mythological, and it has so much room for expansion. I want to let all the fans know, there’s more coming to this story. Every story has a beginning, and that story will be told.

Y Spy: And how do you fit into that?

Lehman: I wish I could tell you, but let’s just say this: all signs are good, and all systems are go for something that will satisfy that need in the fans to understand the origins of this wonderful character. They’ve never told how he made this transformation, why he behaves the way he does.

Y Spy: Tell me about your band, “First Jason.”

Lehman: I’ve been a musician all my life. First Jason is a punk/metal band; we play all over the United States and Europe. I just returned from Spain, where we played at the Festival de Cine de Terror in Barcelona. I just did a singing presentation – a concert and a finale – at the Fantasy Horror Awards last weekend in Italy, where I presented gold awards to Dario Argento, Robert Englund, and many more. That was a lot of fun.

Y Spy: So when did you first learn to tickle the ivories like a mad motherfucker?

Lehman: Thank you! When I was a kid. The same time I was being little Jason.

Y Spy: What else has been happening?

Lehman: I’ve been participating in many independent films, most notably “Vampira: the Movie.” I did the soundtrack. First Jason has been an element, but working on soundtracks has been another. Also acting in independent films like “Terror Overload.”

Y Spy: What scares you?

Lehman: Alienation.

First Jason Album Cover

Ari Lehman can be found at www.firstjason.com.