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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Maestro Dario Argento carries us with him.

The iconic Italian Master of Horror, Dario Argento with his personal copy of my slasher-movie: RED VELVET, seen at the Los Angeles Weekend Of Horrors. Having intended the movie to be partly homage to the great man, it's been so gratifying to hear that he likes it!

Maestro Argento lugs our baby around...

Hope you'll have a look at RED VELVET. It's quite an accomplishment. There are actually some dumb folks bad-mouthing the movie for purely personal reasons and we need to counter their petty negativity with legitimate reviews of the movie based on its merits! Smart people unite! Don't let the dullards win! Thanks!!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Rondo comes home to Horrorwood and Forry!

A special "Thank You" to Horror-hero David Colton for administering the Classic Horror Film Board and for taking time out of his already ridiculous schedule to present the Rondo Hatton Awards to acknowledge outstanding achievements in the world of classic horror.

Forry would be proud...

This year's Rondo Award for "Best Fan Event" was handed out to ME for organizing the Forrest J Ackerman Tribute at the Egyptian Theater. Boundless thanks to all those who contributed to the success of the event; Tim Sullivan, Dan Madigan, Kevin Burns, Sue Stiefvater, Mat Sampson, Margo Gerber, Marc Doten, Denny Moynihan, Heather Lockie, Barry and all the speakers and attendees! It was a great send-off for our favorite Uncle.

New relics from The Haunted Mansion

I don't know of any horror fan that doesn't have a special love affair with Walt Disney's Haunted Mansion. As a kid, that magical attraction (calling it a "ride" would be sacrilege) was the landmark of my dreams. Growing up, I felt that place was made just for me. So, naturally when I visit I MUST take a piece of it home with me. And Disney has made it easier for us to do just that by manufacturing an ever-changing flood of reasonably priced, gorgeous - but painfully limited editions.

Haunted Mansion 40th anniversary ear hat (by SHAG) with lenticular ears and groovy sateen hat box. Retail around $40

Coffee Mug (cool wallpaper imprint inside). Retail $12

A couple of T-shirts - gray one (early ad) already sold out. Retail $24 ea.

The most recent, elegant ear hat with bat stanchion. Retail around $15

Most of these items are already out of print. Of course, they can be had on eBay at up to triple their retail price. Yuck! Best thing to do is visit the park soon and pick up a few souvenirs. The Haunted Manison is the last attraction I ride before the park closes. I hang back and examine every detail I can. The skull sconces. The carpet. The gratings above the doors. Then I hop in the very last Doom Buggy possible and wind my way through the place. As I round the corner into the graveyard, I make a silent wish that the ride will break down in front of the singing busts so that I can watch and listen to my hero Thurl Ravenscroft sing the entire Grim Grinning Ghosts song...Happy haunting!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Debbie Painter on Womandom in Horror Fandom!!

I recently spoke to Debbie Painter about women in horror. She’s a writer, historian and close, long-time Forrest J Ackerman friend (mine too). Her much anticipated Forry-bio is about to be released! She’s also an equestrian and a dinosaur expert! Horses and Dinosaurs? She must love Valley of the Gwangi! Anyway, we’re gonna have a casual chat about women in genre fandom through the ages.

Debbie Painter

JOE MOE: Debbie, you’ve been a fan for a while now...


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?

Some Horror-fying ladies: Donna Lucas, Jovanka Vuckovic, Ann Rice, Pam Keesey & Jessie Lilly

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?

Penny Dreadful

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.

JM: Tim and Donna Lucas publish the highly respected Video Watchdog mag. Jim and Marian Clatterbaugh produce Monsters From The Vault mag.

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!

Debbie smacks Ack!

[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

More than half way home...

It just happens. You wake up one morning and you have to confront how you're gonna deal with the news. You probably have less years ahead of you than you have behind you. All of the things you thought you wanted have morphed into things you actually need and the few dreams you've maintained may not have come true yet - and probably won't on your timetable.

But thanks to the presence of the friends you've earned over time, you won't have to suffer. Those friends will come together, celebrate your life and remind you of what good you've made. Sure, they'll lavish banana and chocolate cake on you and give you nice presents. But mostly, they'll reveal your soul's footprint on their lives and happiness.

As I approach this new version of this life of mine, I don't have any desire to collapse or feel disappointed. Happily, I have surrounded myself with such high-quality people and more than my fair share of love. Those who call me "friend" really get me. And I get them. I have a terrific relationship with my entire Mo'e family and extended family.

I hope time marks you in the same generous way I have enjoyed. With a well-founded optimism, energy to spare, good health and an army of gentle soldiers who make me proud to call them my people. Onward!

Old age comes to Mr. Moe

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Two Tors. Johnson & Johnson.

Aritist Gray Morrow's concept and ultimate
Monster World #5 cover.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Utopia = a mythical smile. Bye, sweet Bic...

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.

Mookie and 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.]