Saturday, May 29, 2010
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
DEBBIE PAINTER: 30 years…
JM: 30 years, she says with a mischievous grin. So, since the 60s and 70s. During the peak reemergence of classic Universal horror and the slay-day of Hammer British horror - ramping up to modern day slashers, huh? Uncle Forry has said that back in the ghoul-den age of horror, "female fans were as rare as Pterodactyl Pteeth".
DP: Back then I thought there were plenty of female fans. There was always an abundance of female fan letters in genre publications. Primarily Sci-Fi, but horror as well. I never dreamed that in the year 2010 female fans would be regarded as rare?
JM: Did you attend many fan events back in the day? What was the population of female fans at those early Cons?
DP: Actually, the first Cons I went to were Sci-Fi oriented. I didn’t start going to specifically “monster cons” until the 90’s. There were definitely more women in Sci-Fi but I would estimate nearly 30% females at classic horror oriented conventions I attended.
JM: What are some of the specific contributions you feel women have made to the horror genre over the years?
DP: Generally, I think women tend to be more involved in the artistic creation of art and costumes. Jewelry. Architecture of film. Set designers. And there’s no shortage of female actors in classic horror - and modern horror as well.
JM: Can you name some influential women in the genre?
DP: Let’s see? Obviously authors like Ann Rice who stoked and evolved Vampire lore. We also have spitfire Jovanka Vuckovic (former editor of Rue Morgue magazine) who always makes a space for classic horror. Jessie Lilley who was publisher of Richard Valley’s seminal genre mag Scarlet Street and then publisher of Worldly Remains mag before assuming the editor's chair at Mondo Cult mag. Jessie is now moving on to editorship of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. And let’s not forget Pamela Keesey who wrote Women Who Run With the Werewolves and Vamps. Those are some accomplished contributors. Just the tip of my particular iceberg.
JM: Would you say the oft perceived “boys club” in the horror community has been more receptive to women fans as time has gone by?
DP: I’m probably gonna get myself in trouble…
JM: Do it!
DP: Well…(way too long pause)
JM: That’s a no! (Debbie laughs raucously) So, tell me why?
DP: I think it’s true, Joe. I don’t think many male fans think of female fans as much more than attractive loiterers. If you’re pretty, like horror host Penny Dreadful for instance, you’re in! If you’re not, well…
JM: Hi, Penny! A talented horror host, filmmaker and writer. Love her!
DP: She is terrific! Generally speaking, there seems to be a lot of ignoring of women fans. There’ve been female writers forever. For example, Pamela Caron and Deborah Felan wrote for many genre magazines. I found their writing to be equal to the best of the boys. I don’t know why their work hasn’t been given as much attention as it deserves?
JM: In your opinion, what entities in our community have the best track record for honoring the talents of female fans?
DP: Book publishers are becoming more and more receptive. Producers are opening up to women filmmakers too. Midnight Marquee Press told me that I was the first woman who had ever written for their book series when I wrote “Hollywood’s Top Dogs – The Dog Hero in Film.” That was in 2008.
Debbie Painter's Doggie book!
JM: A lot of husband and wife teams putting out quality product. Gary and Sue Svelha put out the Midnight Marquee imprint, right?
DP: That’s right.
DP: I heartily endorse all their efforts.
JM: They are the best of our community. So, wrap it up for us, Monster-sis!
DP: I don’t want to sound like I’m sucking on sour grapes. I just hope that the day is coming when male fans will look upon us female classic horror fans as equal contributers and not just as someone who resembles the Mom who threw out their Famous Monsters of Filmland mags when they were ten years old!
JM: Ha! Testify!
[Deborah Painter has written articles for such magazines as Filmfax and Horse and Horseman. She is currently an environmental services director for REMSA Incorporated. Debbie's McFarlane-published biography: "Forry: The Life of Forrest J Ackerman" is due out on October 31st or November 1st, 2010 - with a "Forryword" by ME! Please support this wonderful woman of horror!]
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Thursday, May 6, 2010
Monday, May 3, 2010
The one and only Bic
In a taxi from the Bangkok International airport. The petrochemical perfume of the darkness was smeared by the slash of factory lights. Elevated freeways studded with too many traffic cops in surgical masks, dark glasses and helmets. An army of peanut butter bowling pins. Down an off-ramp, joined by a swarm of motorbikes with leaf-blower engines crowding around the minty, air-freshened cab like pilot fish jockeying for a stray morsel. Finally, the highway roar turned to a low buzz as my cab angled down a quiet side street.
John Goss was waiting for me on the curb in front of his Utopia gift shop, pub and guest house. John, best friend since high school in Hawaii. Utopia. A giant pair of Calvin Klein underwear in the window. Six feet wide by four feet tall. Too big even for me! Utopia was an oasis cobbled out of ambitious hospitality. From the outside, it seemed a goofy-seductive beacon on a dingy street. The shop gave a whimsical pulse to the atmosphere around it. Through the window I saw the man-treats: racks of novelty greeting cards made of abs, prismatic lube-bottles displayed like jewelry, obscure and mysterious objects scattered throughout - and lots of artwork featuring tan and glisten. Orchid and ass. Temple and bulge.
Entering the shop, John had my suitcase, which left me free to flail about as if I’d stumbled into a musical theater meadow that demanded that I flail. It is a natural instinct for a person to wave their arms around in nature. Flailing in nature feels perfectly normal. But I’m in a shop in Thailand. Still, it feels normal. You just have to tuck your arms in when you get going, so you don't give the magazine kiosk a whack on the way around.
Then I saw “him.” When John saw me see him he ushered me out of the store and into the adjacent coffee shop. My neck tested its limits as I strained to see “him” forever. John looked at me through a facade of tolerance. “Joe, don’t fall for Bic…everyone falls in love with Bic. He…blah…blah-be-dy…blah-blah…” I couldn’t hear anymore. I only spoke Thai and the only Thai I spoke was the word “Bic.” From behind his counter in the retail shop, Bic yanked my soul out the top of my head with his teeth. He returned it all smudgy and with his tattoo all over it. That very first smile - custom made for me. And by someone who must know me so well. If right then I had collapsed from an aneurism, the life that flashed before my eyes would be: I enter the shop, flail, then Bic. Enter the shop, flail, then Bic. Enter the shop, flail, then...
John cautioned me again, this time enunciating and with gestures, “Everyone falls in love with Bic. Everyone…beware…beware…beware...
Old gigantic me couldn’t hear it at first. But I let it settle in. I trusted John with my life and John knew how fumbly I could be with my heart. So, I set about ignoring Bic and exploring the city called Bangkok. Cocktail bars where phantoms massage your shoulders, whispering a pipe dream in exchange for a handful of American paper. Cabaret shows where beautiful men float on a sea of feathers and stilettos like swans breaching the moss brûlée on a cool pond. Shops of endless blue rope. Temples made of broken dishes and gold leafed deities. Sidewalk carts roasting custardy sweets on dimpled grills. The smell of fish guts, candy, incense, blood, flowers, motor oil.
But at the end of the day, I came back to Utopia and to Bic. Whether he was behind his cashier’s counter or D.J.ing in the pub upstairs, Bic was the last person I saw before climbing the last flight of stairs to my room. He was the last image I weighed as I closed my eyes to dream. Then he returned in my dreams. What happened next is happy, but not as important as all that lead up to it and came after it. A memory of Bic's love and a cab ride that brought me to it. The "at first sight" moment we say we believe in but have never tapped or tasted. I am so grateful that Bic was mine for a time. Grateful that he chose me to love. His image is tangled up in a trunk full of memories that might be trivial by themselves, but taken together ward off any specter of loneliness. Blue rope, feathers and holding my breath in the sunlight of the famous smile of my Bic.
[The want. We spend most of our lives chasing a solution to the doubt that occupies the space of that want. On the rare, if any, occasion we "get", it doesn't last forever. But it's the mere shadow of that success that lets us hang on in the knowledge that love can happen if we never relent in looking for it. Bic is that proof for me; That someone too good for me could become a partner in fulfillment. Today, on the eve of my birthday, my friend Mookie wrote to tell me that Bic had died of Malaria. He died on his own birthday; April 22nd, 2010. I will miss him forever. Starting...now.]