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.

 

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.

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.

HorrorHound Weekend 2010: Catherine Mary Stewart

Catherine Mary Stewart

Catherine Mary Stewart, Actress

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

Catherine Mary Stewart: I am Catherine Mary Stewart, and I was kidnapped, bound, and dragged here against my will.

Y Spy: I know you from “The Apple.” What was it like starring in the greatest disco musical ever, and participating in one of the most wonderfully strange film endings of all time?

Stewart: It was weird! That was my very first film ever, so I really had no clue what I was getting myself into as an actress. I just went along with it, thinking that it was kind of strange. When I saw it completed, I thought that my instincts were correct.

It opened in 1981 in the World Film Festival in Montreal, to a mixed review, I’m sure. But the guy who ran the festival said: “This is the greatest movie, especially if you’re stoned!” I can totally see that! For me, it was my intro to the whole business, so I have to say that it was the greatest thing ever.

Y Spy: What have been your favorite roles since?

Stewart: It’s such a hard question. Every movie that I’ve done has been so wonderful in a different way. I guess there are some that are more awful than others, and I have worked with some people who I didn’t necessarily like or get along with. Some of the most gratifying are some of the movies I’m representing here: “The Last Starfighter,” “Night of the Comet.”

When you’re shooting a movie, you have no idea what to expect. You do your work as best you can, and then it’s completely out of your hands. I’ve done a lot of movies where the end result is completely different from the script’s intention. Afterwards you put that part of your life on the shelf and move on. So when you get the response that you get at conventions like this, you never know what to expect.

There’s a whole generation of men and women that tell me how influential these movies are to them. You’re one of the odd ones out about “The Apple!” That was not a widely seen movie! It always takes me off guard. As an actor it’s so cool having a positive effect on people that they still treasure in their 20s and 30s. You don’t expect it at all, so you don’t take it for granted.

Y Spy: Do the unexpected reactions from fans come because you have such a diverse body of work?

Stewart: That’s something that I’m really thankful for, because as an actor you want to do as many different things as you possibly can. I live vicariously through the characters; I get to be a Mac-10 wielding teenage, or I get to be a sweet innocent girl, or I get to go into outer space, or I get to be a cowgirl. I’m thrilled to be able to do the different types of things I do, and I hope I’m not pigeonholed. And that attracts such a diverse audience.

Y Spy: What have you been doing recently?

Stewart: Recently I seem to be playing a lot of alcoholics! I’ve done two films recently, one for Lifetime and one for Hallmark, where I’m a middle-aged woman who drinks too much, which is actually a gas. I have so much fun playing that character. The Hallmark movie was called “The Class.” I play the wife of Eric Roberts – the unhappy wife of Eric Roberts, which drives me to drink. In every scene there’s a glass of wine in my hand. But of course I redeem myself in the end, because it is Hallmark, after all. I also just finished a movie called “A Christmas Snow,” which is a family Christmas movie, really a nice movie. I’m the lead in it, which is sort of unusual because I’m not the young little ingénue that I was. I play a character that hates Christmas, whose father left when she was young, which she’s never gotten over. Through the film you learn lessons of forgiveness and redemption, and in the end it’s a really lovely story. Not really a HorrorHound movie!

Y Spy: Is there a big difference between making TV movies and feature films?

Stewart: I have found over the years that it is less and less different. Movies can be made so quickly and for very little money, which is kind of great. A TV movie has always had shorter schedules. Feature films have always taken longer. But the great thing about digital these days is that they don’t have to worry about takes anymore. As an actor, there’s a lot less pressure. Making a TV movie still doesn’t feel as grand as a feature, but they’re becoming similar.

Y Spy: So what’s your take on the entirety of your career?

Stewart: I’m really thankful for it. I was so busy and had the greatest time in the 80’s and early 90’s. When I got married and started having babies, I kept working, but not as much. My priorities changed. My kids are now 13 and 16, and I’m really trying to get back into it again. It’s kind of a struggle to get back into it. Everyone thought I had just left the business, so you’ve got to work it to make the connections again. But I’ve had some success, and work begets work, so I’ve been doing okay. I’m so much luckier than so many actors.

Y Spy: What scares you?

Stewart: You know what scares me? Tom Noonan scares the crap out of me! In “Manhunter,” that guy creeped me out so much. When I knew that I was gonna be [at a table] next to him, I was a little scared. But he’s a pussycat!

If I’m gonna watch a horror movie, it has to be at home with the lights on, with my husband, because I get scared easily.

Bizarro Gold!

Catherine Mary Stewart can be found at www.catherinemarystewart.net.

HorrorHound Weekend 2010: Miguel A. Nuñez, Jr.

Miguel A. Nuñez, Jr., after too many goddamn enchiladas.

Miguel A. Nuñez, Jr., Actor

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

Miguel A. Nuñez, Jr.: My name is Miguel A. Nuñez, Jr., and the reason why I’m here is because I was blessed early in my career to have done two of the biggest franchises in horror and movie history, a “Return of the Living Dead” and a “Friday the 13th.” I also am a connoisseur, and horror has been my favorite genre since I ran away from home in North Carolina to go to Hollywood to be an actor. I said when I got to Hollywood I was gonna do horror movies and westerns. Well, niggas ain’t doing westerns unless they hitchin’ up horses, so I decided to do horror movies, and there I am!

And this place is off the chain! I had turned down so many of these in the past, and then Sean Clark talked me into doing one. I was so amazed at the level of genuine respect and admiration that the fans had for these movies. It blew my mind, and I decided that even if I don’t want to go, I’m going to go to every one that I can. I’m here, and I’m committed to the fans who love these movies.

Y Spy: Your best known roles in horror movies have a lot of comedy in them. Do you consider yourself a comedic horror actor?

Nuñez: Somebody said something a few moments ago: “When you got killed in ‘Friday the 13th Part 5,’ you were really frightened, you were really scared.” That’s how I played it. There’s a wee bit of comedy to all drama. In everything I do I add comedy, but there’s a fine line to walk. A lot of people don’t bring comedy to horror, but I can make somebody laugh and cry at the same time.

Y Spy: But it’s not slapstick.

Nuñez: Not at all. If you play it real in the context of the scene, it’s not slapstick. If you act out of the context of the scene, it’s gonna show.

Y Spy: And then there are your roles outside of horror, like Dee Jay in “Street Fighter” and Juwanna Mann. How did you approach these roles?

Nuñez: The one thing I never do is expect anything from a film. I try to go into it and do the best job that I can possibly do. If you’re doing a movie, you do whatever you would do for real in that situation. Then you never have to act.

Y Spy: For the “Street Fighter” movie, did you feel limited in playing an already established character from a video game?

Nuñez: Not only that, he was a Jamaican! But I was already a fan of the game, and I studied it. And remember that, in the game, they don’t really give you a back story. All they say is that he’s a Jamaican kickboxer. It was up to me to bring it all; whatever I gave them was whatever it was. I tried to stay true to the video game, and let the script and studio guys deal with that. And it worked out.

Y Spy: What is “Prince Def Rock?”

Nuñez: “Prince Def Rock” is an old school breakdancer who has to come back when he’s over 35, and join a dance contest. It was a movie I did with Jamie Kennedy [called “Kickin’ It Old Skool]. It was really fun, but hard because I had to dance and I thought we looked stupid.

Y Spy: Can you dance?

Nuñez: Oh yeah. I used to be able to do it better, but yeah, I can do it.

Y Spy: What have you been doing recently?

Nuñez: I just finished a Farrelly Brothers movie called “Hollywood and Wine.” I did a movie called “Black Dynamite,” and I’m doing a new series starring me and John Schneider from “Dukes of Hazzard” called “Back Nine.” It’s a half our sitcom about golf.

Y Spy: What scares you?

Nuñez: Nothing. I’m not afraid of anything. Anything!

HorrorHound Weekend 2010: Hare Krishna Zombie

Hare Krishna Zombie

Mike Christopher, Hare Krishna Zombie

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

Hare Krishna Zombie: I’m the Hare Krishna Zombie from George Romero’s classic horror movie from 1978, “Dawn of the Dead.” I’m here because I’m here to meet the fans and talk about movies.

Y Spy: Who are you when you’re not a Hare Krishna Zombie?

HKZ: I’m an electronic music composer, an actor, and an auto detailer.

Y Spy: How has this role defined your life?

HKZ: When the movie was over I moved to Los Angeles to do laser light shows. From there I made synthesizers and drum machines. Then I colorized black and white movies, got into video post-production, moved to Florida, and was a graphic artist. Really until about three years ago the movie had very little effect on my life. Then I found out about horror conventions, and they came out with a plastic action figure of my character, so I started getting back into movies, acting, soundtracks, and stuff like that.

Y Spy: What’s your take on being in one of the most influential zombie movies of all time?

HKZ: Back then it was a very small thing that I did for a couple days. It was real intense; the time went by real fast on the set. It took about three days to film my part. The first day was establishing shots of my character, me walking around the mall with the other zombies. The second day was the stuff in the hallway with Ken Foree and David Emge. The third day was shot in George Romero’s office building. They had a set built there. None of the stuff that happens upstairs in the hideout was filmed in the mall.

After that I went on to do a bunch of different things, and it faded into my memory. Every once in a while I’d invite a friend over to watch the movie and talk about it for a little while. Since finding about the horror conventions and meeting all the fans, it’s become a fantastic experience. It’s amazing to learn that there are thousands upon thousands of people who really care about “Dawn of the Dead.”

Y Spy: Would you consider your role in “Dawn of the Dead” to be a supporting character or a glorified extra?

HKZ: At the time I considered it to like a glorified extra, but I realized that I got what I consider the best zombie role, because I got to go after one of the main characters. They called us lead zombies; it’s kind of somewhere inbetween.

Y Spy: Are you doing any acting or music projects now?

HKZ: Sure. I’m doing the soundtrack for “Bikini Monsters.” I was also Captain Nicholson in that movie. I was Crazy Old Guy in a movie coming out later this year called “Boobytrappers.” I’m a ticket scalper and audience member in Herschell Gordon Lewis’ new movie.

Y Spy: What scares you?

HKZ: The New World Order. International bankers. Politicians. Well, not actually politicians, because politicians reflect the apathy that’s going on in our society. The reality is more frightening than any horror movie I’ve ever seen.

Y Spy: If there was a horror movie about what’s going on today, what would it be called?

HKZ: That’s a really good question; I don’t have an answer to that. I guess the closest thing that comes to mind would be Jesse Ventura’s “Conspiracy Theory.”

Hare Krishna Zombie can be found at www.facebook.com/HareKrishnaZombie.

HorrorHound Weekend 2010: Matt Youngerman

Matt Youngerman

Matt Youngerman, Insect Artist

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

Matt Youngerman: My name is Matt Youngerman, and a lot of people call me “The Bugman.” I sell framed insects and butterflies from all over the world. Taratulas, scorpions, scary stuff that I think goes pretty well with the horror genre.

Y Spy: How did you get into that?

Youngerman: When I was five years old, the Dayton Museum of Natural History in Dayton, Ohio had a summer program. There were different classes, and one was called Backyard Bugs. Since then I was always one of the kids who would carry a butterfly net around, catching bugs. My degree is in zoology, and in grad school I studied insects. I started my business of selling framed insects about seven years ago.

Y Spy: What’s the process involved in gathering and displaying your insects?

Youngerman: We travel all over the world and find villagers who raise butterflies and insects on what are called butterfly farms. They ship them to us all dead and dry, legs and wings folded up, and then we have to take each one and rehydrate them. Then I put them on special mounting boards and spreading boards, opening their wings up, opening their legs up. Then I let them dry for another day or so, and then I can put them in the frames.

Y Spy: So they’re otherwise as you’d find them in the wild.

Youngerman: Right. Because some of the colors are so metallic and so bright, people assume that we paint them or alter them in some way, but everything that we sell is natural colors. In the United States you don’t see insects that have colors like tropical insects do.

Y Spy: Do you get flak from people who claim that you’re exploiting insects?

Youngerman: Not really. Sometimes when they first come, [people] are upset because they think that we went out with bug nets in the rainforest and caught a bunch of insects. But they’re raised on farms, so it’s sustainable, and the primary purpose of butterfly farms is to supply zoos with living butterfly exhibits. My dry insects are what they do with the extra insects that they don’t sell living. Most people understand that, but you always have people who don’t agree with that. That’s fine; as long as I can educate them as much as I can, they can make their own decision.

Y Spy: The insects don’t have long lives, so it’s not as though they have to be killed for your exhibits.

Youngerman: Right. Most tropical butterflies only live in the wild for three weeks, as a butterfly. Most of their lives are spent as a caterpillar, eating leaves. Butterflies can only mate one time, so really their only purpose once they have wings is to fly around and find a mate. Insects, compared to other animals, have a very short lifespan.

Y Spy: How do the tarantulas and scorpions work?

Youngerman: That started with people raising them for the pet industry. For the tarantulas, male tarantulas on average only live three years. Female tarantulas live a long time, 20-30 years. I only sell male tarantulas, because the way that the breeders work is that they’re not going to sell or kill their female tarantulas. They let the males and females breed, the males die, and they prepare them and ship them out to me. It’s really the same with scorpions.

Y Spy: How does having a pet like that even work?

Youngerman: I honestly don’t know, because I’ve never had one. I wouldn’t want it to get out and not be able to find it. A lot of people do, though. I ask them how it is, if they can play with it. A lot of people don’t even play with it. It’s more or less a living piece of artwork that stays in the cage. But that’s okay, because tarantulas and scorpions in the wild never move very far from one spot. They’re perfectly happy in a cage, as long as they get food. In that sense, it’s not as though you’re torturing them.

Y Spy: Are they dangerous to own?

Youngerman: Some are. A lot of the ones in the pet trade aren’t dangerous, but there are some that you can mail order that you wouldn’t want to get bit by. That’s what freaks a lot of people out – you don’t know. Even if it’s a relatively harmless tarantula or scorpion, you don’t know how you’re going to react to that venom until it bites you. It might not be dangerous to most people, but if you’re allergic to it, what are you gonna do? I’ve never had one, which might sound weird. Maybe it’s because I know enough about them, and I see them all the time in the wild, which is pretty cool.

Y Spy: So your sign says that you’re donating some of the proceeds you make at the convention?

Youngerman: The countries that have butterfly farms highly regulate them. The farmers have to pay a certain tax to become farmers. Those proceeds go to these countries’ fish and wildlife departments. They use them to buy and maintain parkland, which in return helps protect land for wild butterflies and insects. It’s actually a pretty big business. Whenever I buy insects from another country, I usually have to pay an export tax to that country, and that money is usually used for the same thing. It’s not necessarily an individual charity.

Y Spy: What are your environmental beliefs?

Youngerman: I’m really big on conservation. That’s why I only work with butterfly farmers. I understand that people are always going to want products like this, but I think it’s really important to find the best way to give people these products without taking them from the wild. I’ve been to over 30 countries, and some of them are in desperate need to protect their land. It’s really sad and bad, and there are so many animals that have been lost forever because they haven’t been protected.

Y Spy: So is this all you do?

Youngerman: Yeah. I used to have real jobs; I say real jobs because people look at what I do now and say that it’s so cool. I started this seven years ago, part time, and turned it into [what it is now]. I travel all over the country, go to different shows, I have a storefront in Ohio, sell online.

Y Spy: Is it a profitable business?

Youngerman: Yeah, it is, and the reason why is because I actually go to the countries and find the farmers. There’s no middleman for me. A lot of people who do this as a hobby buy from people like me, and it’s not as profitable.

Y Spy: And you’re offering a physical art form that can’t be duplicated.

Youngerman: Every butterfly is different and unique, even if it’s the same species. There are so many different insects and butterflies that you could collect for years and come nowhere close to having everything. It’s a very unique product, and if done right, it’s a good business.

An Example of Work.

Matt Youngerman can be found at www.theinsectkingdom.com.

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