HorrorHound Weekend 2010: Armageddon


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.

HorrorHound Weekend 2010: Neil Autry

Neil Autry and his Amazing Shirts

Neil Autry, Proprietor

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

Neil Autry: My name is Neil Autry, and I own Western Evil, and we are currently running a booth at HorrorHound Weekend.

Y Spy: Did you make these cross-stitches yourself?

Autry: Yes. My girlfriend sews these professionally, and she’s going to be opening a website for them soon. She’s done them all by hand, and all original designs, each unique in their own way.

Y Spy: Did you make the shirts yourselves as well?

Autry: Yeah. I do all my own designing. I don’t silk screen them; I send them out, and they’re sent back to me. We have such great designs as the “C.H.U.D. Nelson” and “Your mom swallows period blood.”

[At this point, I noticed the C.H.U.D. Nelson t-shirt, which features the head of a cannibalistic underdweller on the body of the bad boy from “The Breakfast Club.” For a few seconds, I’m stunned by its magnificence.]

Y Spy: So how did you get Elvira’s tits in a box?

Autry: She actually posted a thing on her website connecting to her eBay store. She was having an estate sale; she sold a lot of rare items and autographs. Among the things that caught my eye was the fact that she was selling a life-cast bust of her tits. I paid $198 for Elvira’s tits, and really only had to outbid one person. It’s completely bizarre; you’d think something as historical as Elvira’s tits would bring more than $198.

When I purchased them on eBay they were said to be from the “Haunted Hills” Elvira, but I recently had them signed and she informed me that they were from “Allan Quartermain and the Lost City of Gold.”

Y Spy: How awesome of a marketing technique has charging to see Elvira’s tits worked out?

Autry: I have had a lot of people buying $2 stickers and $1.25 pins just to take a look at Elvira’s tits. It’s working out, slowly but surely. I definitely made my money back.

Y Spy: What scares you?

Autry: Death! Actually dying.

Best for Job Interviews, Bar Mitzvahs, and Funerals.

C.H.U.D. Nelson and his friends can be found at www.westernevil.com.

HorrorHound Weekend 2010: Mister Hamilton

Mister Hamilton

Mr. Hamilton, Artisan, Sideshow Performer, and Owner of a Sweet Mustache

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

Mr. Hamilton: My name is Mr. Hamilton, and I am a sideshow performer. I’m here to perform tonight and sell my artwork.

Y Spy: What do you do in your performances?

Hamilton: I do hula-hoop tricks; I put hands and other body parts into mousetraps and rattraps, have shit smashed on my body with sledgehammers. But mainly I talk.

Y Spy: What do you talk about?

Hamilton: Whatever comes to my mind at the moment. I’m called a talker; it’s kind of an emcee, but goofier.

Y Spy: Like a carnival barker?

Hamilton: No, a barker is a hack. We look down on the barkers. With sideshow talkers, there’s an outside talker and an inside talker. The inside talker is more of an intimate emcee and explains what’s happening with the show as you’re watching it. They do a lot of improvisation, cause they’ve gotta work with live audiences, drunks, and morons – and also some really educated, fun people. So you gotta play off of them.

Y Spy: When did you begin pursuing your interests?

Hamilton: I’ve always been a talker. I’ve done a lot of improvisational theater, a lot of street performing. I’ve always been a bit of a ham. The artwork I’ve always done as well, and I realized that I can do these shows and be creative and combine it all.

The first time I put my dick in a mousetrap was last year. We had this ongoing thing where for a hundred dollars I would do it. We played a fetish night at a gay bar in Champagne-Urbana. We performed at this thing, my old troupe and myself. We did the usual offer, and no one’s taking us up on it, when a little voice in the back goes: “Hold on, I’m going to the cash machine!” At that point I realized that I have to do this! I thought about the logistics and physics of it, and thankfully it went off without a hitch.

Y Spy: You didn’t take any practice runs before?

Hamilton: Nope! I’d been putting them on my tongue. The rat traps are very dangerous, though; I would not put my dick in a rat trap. With a rat trap, if you do it right, it’ll hurt like hell. If you do it wrong, you’ll fuck yourself up.

Y Spy: How do you go about making your art?

Hamilton: These are original paintings, and then I took my paintings and made a laser print. These are called bas-reliefs, which are images that pop from a background pieces. The backgrounds are just pieces of wood with fur and bits of fabric on them. With the front, I color copy the painting and use a template to cut everything out, and then I hit it with glitter glue, because everything looks better when it looks like a transvestite took a shit on it.

Y Spy: I’m in full agreement.

Hamilton: You should have seen my prom date! I looked great afterwards! Couldn’t walk right for a week, but I was shiny, like a vampire in the sun!

Y Spy: What do you do when you’re not working conventions?

Hamilton: I’m from Austin, Texas. I emcee once a month at a thing called “Sessions,” which is like an Austin City Limits showcase. I also work at a place called the Museum of the Weird. In future shows I’m going to be traveling with the Oddity Museum. I tour quite a bit with my sideshow, which varies from member to member. I’ve yet to tour with the same person twice.

Y Spy: Is there a reason behind that?

Hamilton: I am a fucking taskmaster! Nah. Circus performers do things called spots. You do a spot somewhere. They are more transient, and they’ll get offers, because there’s not many of us. A lot of people do it, but sideshow performing is a lot like burlesque or poetry. It’s often really horrible, or else it’s all right, or else it’s fucking amazing. There’s a giant gap between all right and amazing, so a good performer is often in high demand. I work with people from Coney Island, and for my next tour I’m probably going to be performing with one or two ex-Jim Rose Circus people.

Y Spy: So you just don’t want to be stuck in one place.

Hamilton: Yes, and it’s also about coordinating. If you’ve ever had a band, doing shows with four consistent people is difficult. One guy has a job and a house, one guy’s a big asshole and no fun to travel with, and another guy’s on drugs. It’s the same thing for sideshow performers, but we have more places to go.

For this particular performance, I’m working with a gentleman who does contact juggling, and I took him up from Texas with me. I’m going to be collaborating with one of the Horror Hosts; he’s gonna be eating razor blades. Another Horror Host from Dark Carnival will be doing a blockhead routine; we’ll be hammering nails into his head. The band Shriek is going to be doing some incidental music behind us. It’s nice to be able to collaborate.

Y Spy: How easy is it to keep your life running?

Hamilton: You have to have the right attitude. Is it easy? Probably not, but it’s all I do. If you love doing something, whatever it is, you’ll have a better chance of success at that thing than anything else. If you hate something, even if you’re successful, you’ll be resentful.

Do I make a lot of money? Sometimes. Most times, not. It’s a feast or famine situation, but I’m always doing what I love doing, so I don’t notice the time going by. We were on the train coming up, and it was a 23 hour train ride from Texas to St. Louis, where we caught a ride with a friend to here. And the gentleman I’m with, he’s bored shitless, while I’m like, that was the shortest train ride ever! But the whole time, I was painting and finishing up my artwork. I didn’t even notice.

Y Spy: What can I expect tonight?

Hamilton: I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised, hopefully shocked, possibly amazed.

Mr. Hamilton can be found at www.museumoftheweird.com, and on Facebook under the fan page “Mister Hamilton.”

HorrorHound Weekend 2010: The Zombie Rights Campaign

The Zombie Rights Campaign

The Zombie Rights Campaign

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

Zombie Rights Guy: We are the Zombie Rights Campaign. We are here to promote the cause of zombie rights and try to reduce the anti-zombie hostility in the horror community.

Y Spy: What is the history of zombie oppression?

Guy: Zombies were long used as manual labor by voodoo witch doctors, and then the U.S. government created a lot of them with secret programs and chemicals, usually for cannon fodder. Recently, they’re something you take out your aggression on. If there’s an apocalypse, you blame the zombies. You occupy a mall and start shooting everyone around who doesn’t have a heartbeat. It’s really unfair.

Zombie Rights Girl: You make a game out of discovering how many you can kill, in how many different ways. These are people. This is not how you treat people.

Y Spy: Will mankind always be looking for a scapegoat? Did the Civil Rights campaigns of the 60’s force our society to find another target?

Guy: Zombies are a convenient target. If you can’t oppress the living, people are generally willing to oppress the dead.

Y Spy: Like Jesus!

Guy: He did come back from the dead after three days. We would let him into the Zombie Rights Campaign!

Girl: That is an explanation, but it’s not an excuse. This is another stage in the process of trying to make it so that we give everyone an equal shake, an equal share of respect.

Y Spy: Are zombie rights similar to animal rights?

Girl: That is a harmful stereotype. We have this idea that’s perpetrated by the media, by movies, by George Romero especially, that zombies are mindless automatons; all they want is to eat our flesh. People don’t realize that zombies are more than the desire for brains. They have higher desires, like anyone. They enjoy art, they enjoy culture, they want to live, and they want to have families. They want to have all the things that we do, but they’re not allowed.

Y Spy: Is George Romero the Glenn Beck of zombies?

Girl: I think that’s giving Glenn Beck too much credit.

Guy: George Romero’s been around a lot longer, to be fair.

Y Spy: But in “Day of the Dead” he did make an intelligent zombie. He did seem to open himself up to the idea that they were more than just rabid animals.

Girl: It’s a step in the right direction, but we haven’t seen anything more, from him or media in general.

Guy: It’s a small step forward, to go from zombies that you just kill to zombies that you lock in a room and teach repetitive antics.

Y Spy: How did you feel about the ending to “Shaun of the Dead,” when zombies became megamart employees?

Girl: That’s sort of admitting the possibility that they can be useful, but they’re being used. They’re not being treated as people who went out and got a job. And there are the other depictions of them being used for reality shows. We wouldn’t do that to living people, but it’s alright to do it to the undead.

Guy: It’s clear that Shaun knows better, because he protects his zombie friend and they play games together. They share a living environment; they share video games and fun.

Girl: This is another bright spot, but those bright spots are few.

Y Spy: Why do zombies never eat dogs in movies?

Guy: Maybe dogs aren’t tasty. Some people eat dogs, so I don’t know why zombies would be averse to it.

Girl: Maybe there haven’t been movies with Korean zombies.

Y Spy: That brings up another idea: that zombies only eat humans because that’s all there is to eat in an urban setting. There aren’t any cows in the middle of a city street. You go for what’s available, like what people do when they go to McDonald’s.

Girl: But why can’t zombies just go to McDonald’s?

Guy: They wouldn’t be allowed in McDonald’s. It would be a violation of the health code.

Y Spy: But a smelly guy can go to McDonald’s. There are some pretty rotten people who can get in while still alive.

Guy: But then we’re getting into the issue of passing for a living person, and a zombie shouldn’t have to pass for a living person to order a Big Mac.

Y Spy: How can people help your campaign?

Girl: We’d just like to get the word out so people start thinking about how they feel about and act toward zombies, and whether those attitudes are at all justified.

Y Spy: Is there any danger that acceptance will turn into patronization? Will there be people who befriend zombies not because of who they are, but because they’re zombies?

Girl: That’s a possibility, and another thing we have to worry about. But we’re not even to that point yet, which is perhaps worse.

Guy: Maybe someday Stephen Colbert will have his one zombie friend along with his one black friend. Even that would be a step forward.

Y Spy: Would zombies have a place in a Gene Roddenberry Star Trek utopia?

Guy: Well, Spock came back from the dead!

The Zombie Rights Campaign can be found at www.zombierightscampaign.org.

HorrorHound Weekend 2010: Emil Hyde

Emil Hyde

Emil Hyde, Filmmaker

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

Emil Hyde: My name is Emil Hyde, and I’m here at HorrorHound Weekend promoting our film, “The Landlord!”

Y Spy: What is “The Landlord” about?

Hyde: “The Landlord” is a heartwarming tale of a young man who inherits a demon-infested apartment building from his devil-worshipping parents, and with it the responsibility for finding new tenants for the demons to devour, and cleaning up the mess when they’re done!

Y Spy: Is this your first time as a director?

Hyde: Yes. This is my first time directing a real movie. We had a few cases where it was just us running around a backyard with camcorders. Those don’t count.

Y Spy: What is the difference between then and now?

Hyde: Money. And people.

Y Spy: How much did it cost to make this movie?

Hyde: This movie cost an affordable $20,000 to produce, paid largely on credit cards. The other ones cost about $175.

Y Spy: What is your take on horror?

Hyde: You can’t watch a “horror” movie; you’re always watching an individual movie. You might be watching our film, which some might call a horror-comedy. I don’t know how one can say: “I don’t like horror-comedies,” when there’s probably one out there that’s good. I generally don’t like remakes, but occasionally you’ll get something like the remake of “The Hills have Eyes” that kind of kick ass. There’s an audience for the genre, and as for the art itself, there’s good films and bad films.

Y Spy: What has the reaction been thus far to “The Landlord?”

Hyde: We started showing it at film festivals in August, and as with any little film that doesn’t have the Hollywood bullhorn people were looking at us as if we were trying to sell them a vial of the Ebola virus. But as word got out that it was a really funny film – almost a sitcom version of “Hellraiser” – and not just another backyard zombie film, it’s been getting easier and easier to sell.

Y Spy: Would you be okay with making a Hollywood film, considering all its restrictions?

Hyde: You’re dealing with some major restrictions when you’re working on the independent level. Yes. I’d absolutely take a job doing a Hollywood movie. I’d figure out how to fuck with the system later.

Y Spy: Is there anything coming down the pipe?

Hyde: Yeah, we’re working on a couple of projects. One that you’ll probably be hearing about soon is called “The Dog Cage.” We’ll be producing a graphic novel first and a movie later. You should be hearing about that this fall.

The Landlord

“The Landlord” is available now. More information can be found at www.thelandlordmovie.com.