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October 31, 2002

"STEWARDESSES IN CHAINS"! EXCLUSIVE HALLOWEEN INTERVIEW WITH DAVID (2000 MANIACS, SHE FREAK) F. FRIEDMAN! (Pictured right, Montreal's own she-superfreaky Isabelle "Necrophilia" Stephen with exploitation legend David F. Friedman)

David F. Friedman's incredible book A YOUTH IN BABYLON: CONFESSIONS OF A TRASH-FILM KING is requisite reading for anyone seriously interested in the history of "exploitation cinema" (which is what cinema in general is). His humorous anecdotes detail the shenanigans of borderline-criminal fly-by-night exploitationers throughout the last half of the last century, "ankling the joint" (skipping town), a fistful of bills clutched in their hand & the law on their tale after suckering rubes into watching titillation zero-budgeters whose barks were worse than their bite ("selling the sizzle, not the steak"). Book comes replete with glossary of carny terms to better follow coded lingo (I.E.: "pickles & beaver" = frontal nudity, etc...). Friedman was behind such sleaze classics as The Defilers, Scum of the Earth & the world's first gore-for-gore's-sake abomination, Blood Feast (with Herschell Gordon Lewis). Necrophilia & I met up with him at New Jersey's Chiller Convention last weekend guest-hosting the Something Weird Video table (where much of his oeuvre is available)...

Snubdom: What would you consider the equivalent of exploitation from your heyday, the equivalent today?

David F. Friedman: Ah... (laughs)…

Snubdom: If you were trying to do the same thing as back then today…

David F. Friedman: Well, I uh…

Snubdom: Because taboos are broken all over the place now…

David F. Friedman: Well, you gotta give me some time to think about that for a minute, about current product… To a large extent… Let's take a picture like BLUE CRUSH, ok? A really nice little picture, I loved it. What sold it? In my opinion, great looking one-sheets. Beautiful little girls in bikinis & the idea of freedom, Hawaii… in my day, Blue Crush would've been an exploitation picture. I mean, that's just picking one example.

Snubdom: Have you seen BRING IT ON, the one about the cheerleaders?

David F. Friedman: Oh, absolutely, same thing. Certainly.

Snubdom: Can't believe those are mainstream big-budget movies.

David F. Friedman: Well, you know, in my day a guy named Sam Katzman... When kids on sunset strip were acting up & the cops were coming up there & giving them a bad time… Sam right away made a picture called RIOT ON SUNSET STRIP. These were timely items, timely things. Right now if I could get a picture into release right at this moment I would be making a hijacking picture with the Arabs hijacking an American plane & keeping the young stewardesses. In fact I've got the title: STEWARDESSES IN CHAINS (laughter).

Snubdom: But that's not gonna happen is it, because of the so-called sensitive times we're in…

David F. Friedman: Yeah, you gotta be too politically correct today. But the art of exploitation, the majors have it down pretty pat right now, the only difference is, you know, they open at 3 thousand situations at one time. They can do it all on television. We had to go town to town, that was the basic difference. Like a traveling circus. That's overwith now. That's over. You can't do that. First of all there aren't any theaters. The theaters are all booked up 6 months in advance. There's no little independent one-screen theaters anywhere except those playing art pictures or something like that. All right, I'm gonna give you a great example of exploitation today & a wonderful, wonderful picture; MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING.

Snubdom: Haven't seen it, but heard about it. Wanna check it out.

David F. Friedman: Here's a picture that's a charming picture, it's very funny, went on to an independent distributing company nobody ever heard of, IFC, which was part of the Independent Film Channel on cable. It caught on in maybe a half-dozen situations & it just kept building. It was playing only in New York, two or three theaters, wasn't even playing on the coast, then it kept growing & building. Then every week they would add some more houses. To the day, here we are middle of October 2002, it's got a hundred & sixty-million dollars in the gross. It's now on something like nineteen-hundred screens. Another perfect example, also by the same company; Y TU MAMÁ TAMBIÉN, the Mexican picture. Ah… This, as I say, is a Mexican picture, it's very charming, it's got, oh, I guess one of the key things in it is that it has a male organ exposed…

Snubdom: That's the gimmick?

David F. Friedman: I don't know if that's the gimmick or not, it's just a wonderful, wonderful film, but it started on one screen & just caught on from there. There was no national campaign, no television, no anything else, it was a picture that people found, & to a large extent exploitation was the same way.

Snubdom: Do you think the critics have a hand in the success of these kinds of small pictures?

David F. Friedman: Critics didn't really figure in early exploitation. Oh no, I mean the worst review I ever got in my life was from Kevin Thomas of The Los Angeles Times, who said BLOOD FEAST is a blot on the American film industry. I should have paid him for that quote. I think today, the critics have some influence on the smaller pictures that are playing the so-called art houses, the single-screen houses, yes. I know that if you've got an art picture, you pretty well have to wait 'til it opens in New York & the thing you have to wait for is what The New York Times says about it. So far as an art film per se. Insofar as general release films are concerned, I don't think the critics mean anything.

Snubdom: The big blockbusters, you mean.

David F. Friedman: Yeah, you take a picture like the submarine picture that Paramount had, The Widowmaker, whatever it was called, K-19. Critics raved about the picture, the picture dropped dead. You know, & conversely you see pictures that the critics absolutely destroy & they go through the roof.

Snubdom: Remember SHOWGIRLS?

David F. Friedman: Oh yeah, there was an exploitation if there ever was one.

Snubdom: But the critics hated it and the audience hated it.

David F. Friedman: Well, yes I guess so, but it was pure exploitation. There was no reason in the world for that picture except to show some skin.

Snubdom: It wasn't too raunchy.

David F. Friedman: Wasn't too raunchy but you had frontal nudity in the thing. But it was an excuse & that again can be traced to exploitation.

Snubdom: Beautiful production values.

David F. Friedman: Yeah. I'll tell you a picture that I thought was a wonderful picture. It certainly was an exploitation picture; the Paul Anderson picture BOOGIE NIGHTS. Boogie Nights was what? A so-called expose of the X-rated business, right?

Snubdom: Yeah that's the funny thing, it's an exploitation picture about exploitation pictures.

David F. Friedman: Absolutely. Extremely well done. I don't know, I think everybody that was in this business from Radley Metzger to every director, producer... everyone including myself, we've all been asked, were you the model for the Burt Reynolds role? (laughs) It was a picture that had all of the elements. A lot of it was true, a lot of it was fictional. A lot of the characters rang true to others, but it was kind of a fun picture besides.

Snubdom: The way mores have changed, I mean I can't believe the Linda Lovelace story is being considered by Opie (Ron Howard).

David F. Friedman: Well, yeah, let's face one thing. Linda Lovelace made her whole career doing one thing, right? And she became a pariah. And she became something of a joke & everything else. She did one act very well. Let's fast forward now to 2001. A little lady named Monika Lewinski made her career doing the same thing & this little lady is invited to the best parties in Hollywood by the liberal crowd & every other thing, lauded in Daily Variety… It just depends on whose you do (laughs). Linda Lovelace did the same thing Monika Lewinski did but Lovelace was shunned & Lewinski was idolized. The times. Got a little politics into it (laughs). Someone will always be there to seize upon some subject. This horrible sniper thing in the Washington area now, etc… In my day, there would've been a picture out on the streets next week about snipers. Today, if there is a sniper picture in the can, the studio will hold it, they won't release it until this case is decided, the guy's tried & convicted & everything else…

Snubdom: They don't want their name brand associated.

David F. Friedman: That's the basic difference.

Snubdom: There was more anonymity in your day.

David F. Friedman: Right, but if there is a sniper picture in the can somewhere, I guarantee you, it isn't gonna be released anytime soon, until this case is adjudicated. All right?

Snubdom: I think they were holding one (note: the new Joel Schumacher movie PHONE BOOTH, written by Larry Cohen about a guy trapped in Manhattan phone booth as a sniper terrorizes him).

David F. Friedman: Uh huh…

Snubdom: OK, well thanks a lot.

David F. Friedman: My pleasure.

October 24, 2002

I wrote a poem about the cold...


The cold, the cold, the bike path's gonna be closed down soon & it's gonna be too icy to ride my ten-speed anymore so I'm gonna have to start paying for the goddamn metro again which I hate because they've been circulating the same smelly air through the ventilation system since the 60's which is why I always feel faint when I'm in there. The cold, the cold, my throat is sore & my skin's all dry from the electric heat in my apartment so I'm gonna have to start running my hissing humidifier every day again which means no more genuine air for me for months. The cold, the cold, I'm gonna hardly be ever getting out of the house anymore because the frozen air agitates my asthma so I better get used to these monotonous four walls until next spring I can't believe people in my neighborhood are already putting up goddamn Xmas lights it's not even Halloween yet. The cold, the cold, I'm too demoralized to continue writing this poem.

October 17, 2002

TRAUMATISM TROMA-STYLE: DIARY OF A FIRST-TIME TROMETTE! (pictured below: Exclusive report from Tromaville! Montrealer Isabelle "Necrophilia" Stephen recounts the harrowed road trip to Hell's Kitchen she took last weekend just so she could spew blood for NYC director Lloyd Kaufman in brand new upcoming Troma film TALES FROM THE CRAPPER! Photo by Mia Dee. Isabelle's original French text is followed by my English translation below)...


Mon bus partait de Montréal à 7H30 du matin, un trajet de 9H00. "Vous devez vous présenter à la porte d'embarquement au moins une heure à l'avance pour vous assurer d'avoir une place" me dit la charmante employée de la Station Centrale. Si je dois être là à 6H30 du matin cela signifie que je dois me lever à 5H30. Urk! Etrangement le levé a été beaucoup plus facile que je l'imaginais. Tout allait bien, la température extérieur était extrêmement agréable. Tout ce que j'espérais a ce moment était de ne pas être malade en autobus (j'ai souvent mal au coeur en voiture...) et d'arriver a dormir. Le bus n'était pas pleins, j'avais les deux sièges à moi toute seule. Yé! J'étais bien préparé pour les 9 heures de routes: nourriture, lecture, musique. Ce que je n'avais toutefois pas prévu c'était de m'emmener des vêtements plus chaud… C'est fou ce qu'il faisait froid dans ce bus! J'ai heureusement réussis a dormir quelques heures et je n'ai pas été malade! Je gelais, mais bon, c'était le seul point négatif... Jusqu'à ce moment...

Jamie devait me téléphoner a 4H00 pour me donner rendez-vous dans la station de bus de New York. Jamie est l'assistante de Lloyd Kaufmann (président de Troma) et aussi actrice, avec qui je tournais la scene du film Tales From The Crapper. A 4H00 pile mon cellulaire sonne, on venait tout juste d'arriver a la station, 30 minutes d'avance. J'avais du mal à entendre Jamie, je lui dit que je suis a la porte numéro 36, j'entends vaguement quelque chose au sujet d'un caméraman de Troma. Je sors du bus pour me rendre compte que je n'étais pas a la porte 36 mais 24. Je cours jusqu'à la porte 36. Au loins je vois un gars avec une caméra, puis je reconnais Jamie a ses coté. Oh non! Ils s'apprètent à m'interviewer et je suis moche comme c'est pas possible! Je n'ais pas eu le temps de m'arranger avant de partir et je ne suis même pas maquillé! Je porte très peu de maquillage, mais cette fois ci j'en aurais eu vraiment besoin, ne serais-ce que pour cacher les imperfections! Soupir! C'etait tout de même très agréable d'être interviewé de la sorte. Je me sentais presque importante! Je me demande si cet interview va etre utilisé sur le DVD de Tales From The Crapper. Peut-être bien que oui! Jamie, Chad (le sympathique caméraman) et moi, nous arrêtons dans un café pour prendre une petite bouché. Jusque là tout allait quand même assez bien…

L'enfer a commencé lorsque nous sommes sorti à l'extérieur de la station de bus. "L'endroit du tournage est tout prêt d'ici" me dit Jamie, "On va y aller a pieds." Ajoute t'elle. Le problème c'est qu'à l'extérieur il fait froid et il pleut. En fait ce n'est pas ca le réel problème, non, c'est plutot que mes souliers qui sont extrèmement comfortable pour la marche prennent l'eau comme c'est pas possible! A peine deux minutes à l'extérieur que mes pieds sont trempés. Entre la station de bus et le lieux du tournage , nous avons fait trois arrêt pour acheter des dents de vampires en plastique cheap et tout pleins de chocolats qui vont être utiliser lors du tournage du film. Nous avons marché au moins 20 minutes. Lorsque nous sommes arrivé à l'endroit où on devait tourner le lendemain matin Jamie dit a Chad qu'il devrait préparer la caméra pour filmer ma réaction lorsqu'elle ouvrirait la porte de l'appartement. C'est alors que j'eu un doute… Et si l'endroit décrit dans le script comme un "crackhouse" était en fait un vrai "crackhouse"… Et bien c'était presque le cas! L'appartement était terrible! Plus entretenue depuis très longtemps. Une boîte de conserve sur un vieux frigo a attiré mon attention, elle était entouré d'une toile d'araignées et juste en dessous j'ai cru reconnaître les restes d'une peau de banane pourrite... Yeuuurk! Ais-je mentionné que je suis allergique a la poussiere? Ha ha ha! L'endroit était immonde! Et je n'ais encore rien dit sur l'odeur… Ouf! Heureusement j'avais une autre paire de souliers et de bas dans mes baggages. Sauf que ces chaussures sont des sendales… Enfin, c'est toujours moins pire que les souliers trempés! C'était extrêmement humide dans ce lugubre appartement, même plutot froid, mais j'étais bien habillé. Du moins je l'étais jusqu'à ce que Jamie me demande de revêtir ma mini juppe et mon mini top, soit les vêtements que j'allais porter pour le tournage… Donc ce qui deva arriver, arriva! Notre pratique terminé Jamie et moi, après un bref arrêt aux bureaux de Troma, nous rendons au restaurant, un très agréable petit resto Mexicain, et là une douleur que je ne connais que trop bien commence a envahir mon bas ventre. Ca y'est! Une autre infection urinaire qui commence! J'en ais souvent ces jours ci. La seule chose qui arrive a calmer la douleur c'est des capsules de canneberge. Evidemment je n'en avais pas apporté. Alors pendant tout le souper je souffrais terriblement, mais je ne voulais pas trop le laisser savoir a Jamie. Je me disais que de toute façon, tout de suite apres le souper, je n'aurais qu'a arrêter à une pharmacie, acheter les capsules, retourner aux bureaux de Troma, et aller tout de suite me coucher. Car oui, j'ai dormis dans les bureau de Troma! Mais ca ne pouvais pas être aussi facile… Après le souper je vois bien que Jamie fouille nerveusement dans sa bourse. Elle me dit qu'elle ne trouve plus la clé des bureaux de Troma. Enfer et damnation! Je lui prête mon cellulaire pour qu'elle appelle un autre employé de Troma qui habite dans le coin, mais malheureusement pas de réponse. Je me doit de lui faire savoir que je commence a souffrir horriblement et que je dois absolument me rendre à la pharmacie la plus prêt. Nous y allons et, Ô bonheur! Il y avait des capsules de Canneberge! Je n'ais pas pris de chance et j'ai aussi acheté des anti-douleurs. A la sorti de la pharmacie Jammie essait de téléphoner à un autre employé de Troma et heureusement il est là. En fait, non seulement il est là mais en plus il va se déplacer jusqu'au bureau pour nous ouvrir la porte! Merci Brian!

A ce moment j'ai déjà très mal. Nous attendons Brian en face de l'édifice de Troma, il arrive a peine 10 minutes après nous. Aussitôt entré, je me dirige vers la salle de bain pour ingurgiter 4 capsules de canneberge et 2 anti-douleurs. Malheureusement l'infection est assez avancé et je me doute bien que ca va prendre quand même du temps avant que les médicaments fasses effet. Jamie me dit que le meilleur endroit pour dormir serait au deuxième étage. C'est une petite salle avec quelques ordinateurs et tout pleins de boîtes, mais avec assez de place au milieu pour que je puisse m'étendre. Jamie à trouver pour moi une couverture et du papiers-bulles pour me faire un oreillers. J'ai donc mis par terre mon menteau, qui est assez long, j'ai enveloppé le papiers bulles dans un morceau de tissu, puis dans ma veste, et je me suis habrillé avec la couverture. Heureusement il faisait assez chaud, mais comme je suis de nature très frileuse j'avais tout de même froid. Le pire évidemment était la douleur constante. J'étais couché sur le sol, la douleur m'empêchait presque de respirer. Tout ce que j'avais envie de faire c'était de me jeter par la fenêtre pour cesser de souffrir, je ne pouvais pas arrêter de pleurer. J'ai téléphoné à mon copain qui a été assez gentils pour me parler pendant tout le pire de la douleur. Ca m'a beaucoup aidé. On a parlé pendant exactement 57 minutes. Ce que je peux avoir hâte de voir la facture de mon cellulaire! Ouch! Mais bon, il m'a fait tellement de bien moralement que ca va me faire plaisir de la payer cette facture! Je me suis endormis tout de suite apres avoir raccroché avec Rick. C'etait la fin du jour un, la fin de l'enfer!

Je me suis réveillé à 6h30 du matin, on devait partir vers le lieux du tournage à 8H45. J'ai donc eu tout le temps de me préparer. La douleur n'était plus qu'un souvenir, j'étais très heureuse! Avant de partir j'ai mangé en guise de déjeuner deux beignets et une barre granolas. Moi et Jamie sommes arrivés sur le site vers 9H15. Tout les techniciens étaient là. Six en tout si ma mémoire est exacte. Deux cameramans, un perchiste, deux accessoiristes et un photographe. Ils ont rapidement nettoyés l'appartement et tout préparé pour le tournage. J'ai aidé en tenant le sac à ordure... Wow! C'est fou ce que je me sentais utile! Suzi Sharreaux, une copine qui est aussi modèle et actrice, est arrivé vers 10H00. Nous avons fait une répétition générale. Tout se passait bien, jusqu'à ce que Suzi me demande où était la salle de bain... Un jeune homme qui habite le bloc nous avais offert d'utiliser sa salle de bain, alors pas de problème! Quel naiveté! Suzi, Jamie et moi, allons cogné à la porte du jeune homme en question. Il nous ouvre et là j'ai vécu les cinq minutes les plus perturbantes de la journée! L'appartement était presque totalement noir. Le locataire nous dit que c'est la dernière porte à gauche, mais de ne pas faire de bruit pour ne pas réveiller sa femme. Nous marchons à la file indienne vers la porte de la salle de bain, nous devions traverser deux pièces. Je me rends compte que dans la première pièce il y a un lit d'où provenait une respiration très étrange... C'était sa femme! Alors là je suis prise d'un fou rire quasi incontrolable. J'ai heureusement réussis à rire plutôt silencieusement. L'atmosphère de l'appartement était tellement étrange... Je n'ais jamais rien vu de comparable auparavant. C'est fou toute les histoires d'horreur que je peux imaginer à cet endroit!

Lloyd Kaufmann est arrivé vers 11H30. Nous avons commencé à tourner presque immédiatement. Ma premiere ligne était: "I'm a gorgeous lesbian art student with an insatiable yearning for sexual gratification". Ca donne une bonne idée de la scène que j'avais a tourner non? Le tournage c'est plutôt bien passe. J'avais une scène assez osé à faire avec Suzi et Jamie. C'etait surtout de l'improvisation. D'ailleurs Lloyd nous à demande par quelle position moi et Suzi pourraient terminer la scene et c'est moi qui ait suggérer "le sisceau", ce fut accepté tout de suite! Cette position semble facile, mais je peux affirmer que ce n'est pas évident physiquement! J'en ais encore mal aux jambes! Et ce deux jours après! Les acteurs du sketch iétaient moi, Suzi, Jamie, Lloyd Kaufmann lui même et Joe Fleishaker (un acteur fetish de Troma de 500 livres). Joe n'était que dans la toute dernière scène alors il est arrivé beaucoup plus tard. Le tournage c'est passé sans grands évènements. Toutefois la scène ou je me fait tuer fut assez amusante! Le monstre-penis devait me sortir par la bouche, alors Lloyd m'a fait prendre du Bromo Seltzer avec une grosse gorgés d'eau avec du colorant alimentaire rouge. Il me dit: "Tu en mets beaucoup dans ta bouche, tu prends une grosse gorgés d'eau et tu vas voir ca va sortir tout seul." Effectivement ca sort tout seul! C'est vraiment dégoutant comme sensation, surtout que sans faire exprès j'en ais avalé un peu. Yuki! Mais bon, je l'ais fait et ca a bien réussis. J'ai hâte de voir ca sur grand écran! Je ne peux malheureusement en dire plus sur le film, mais je peux me permettre de dire que l'orgie de chocolat avec Joe Fleishaker va surement devenir un classique!

Nous avons terminé le tournage vers 7H30. Mon derniers bus était à minuit, mais j'ai décidé de partir tout de suite parce que je n'en pouvais plus. J'étais fatigué et affamé. Nous n'avions pas eu de pause pour dîner pendant le tournage alors j'étais presque sur le point de m'évanouir. Lloyd à eu la gentillesse de venir me reconduire à la station de bus. J'y suis arrivé vers 8H00 et mon bus était à 9H30. J'ai été m'acheter un chips et une limonade, je me suis assise par terre dans la file d'attente, et j'ai lu "American Psycho". Le bus est arrivé à 9H00. Il était pleins. Une jeune fille très sympathique est venu s'asseoir avec moi. Nous avons parlé tout le long du trajets. Nous sommes arrivé à Montréal sans problème vers 4H15 du matin. Je dit sans problème, mais c'est avec un début d'infection urinaire que je suis arrivé à Montréal. Eh oui! Encore! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!!!

Mais ne vous faites aucune illusion, on m'aurait arraché les ongles un à un que j'aurais voulu tourner ce film!

Isabelle Stephen a.k.a. Necrophilia

TRAUMATISM TROMA-STYLE: DIARY OF A FIRST-TIME TROMETTE! (Pictured above: Necrophilia's sleeping accommodations; bubble-wrap pillow on an office floor. The things she does for "INDEPENDENT CINEMA"!)

My bus left Montreal at 7:30 AM for its 9 hour trip to NYC. "Show up at least an hour in advance to make sure you get a seat," I was warned by a charming employee at the station. If I have to be there by 6:30 in the morning it means I have to get up at 5:30. Erk! Strangely, waking up so early was easier than I expected. Everything was going well, the temperature outside was extremely agreeable. All I was hoping for at that point was not to get nauseous in the bus (I tend to get carsick) & to be able to catch a nap. The bus wasn't full up so I got 2 seats to myself. Yeah! I was plenty ready for the 9-hour journey: snacks, music & reading material. What I didn't predict was that I'd need warmer clothing. It's crazy how cold it was in that bus! Luckily, I managed to sleep a few hours & didn't get sick! I froze, but that was the only negative point… at least for now.

Jamie was going to call at 4PM to give me instructions how to meet at the NYC bus station. Jamie is Lloyd Kaufman's assistant (president of Troma Films) & one of the actresses I was to have a scene with in TALES FROM THE CRAPPER. At 4PM exactly, my cell phone rings, we'd arrived a half hour in advance. I was having a hard time hearing Jamie, but I told him I was at door number 36 & then vaguely heard him say something about a Troma cameraman. As soon as I get off the bus I realize I'm not at door number 36 after all, but door number 26! So I run off to number 36 & far away I can see a guy with a camera & recognize Jamie by his side. Oh no! They're getting ready to interview me & I'm completely unprepared! I didn't have time to fix myself up before leaving & I'm not even made up! I don't often wear much makeup but this time I really needed it in order to hide something (I.E.: a zit)! Wow... Still, it's quite something to be interviewed this way fresh off the bus. I almost feel important! I wonder if this interview will end up on the TALES FROM THE CRAPPER DVD. It's possible! Afterwards Jamie, Chad (the sympathetic cameraman) & I stopped by a café for a bite. Up until then everything was going quite well…

Hell commenced once we got outside the bus station. "The shooting location is right near here," Jamie told me... "we can walk." Problem is, it's cold out & raining. Actually no, that wasn't the real problem. The real problem was that my shoes, which are extremely comfortable for walking, happen to be able to take in an impossible amount of water! Two little minutes go by outdoors & my feet are soaked. Between the station & our destination, we made 3 stops to buy cheap plastic vampire teeth & tons of chocolate for use during shooting. We walked at least 20 minutes. Once we were at the location that we were going to shoot at the next morning, Jamie tells Chad that he should ready up his camera to film my reaction after the door to the apartment opens. That's when I really started to get cold feet… Was the location described in the shooting script as a "crackhouse" really going to be an actual "crackhouse"? …well it sure seemed to be pretty much the case! That apartment was terrible! Unattended to forever, a can of food on top off an old refrigerator caught my attention, surrounded by spider webs... & just underneath, I thought I recognized the remains of a rotting banana peel… Yuck! Did I mention I was allergic to dust? Ha! The place was horrible! And I haven't even begun to describe the smell… oof! And this is the building I was expected to stay in overnight? Happily, I had more footwear in my bag, but they were only sandals… still, it's better than wearing wet shoes! It was extremely humid in this creepy apartment, even quite cold but I felt dressed well enough for it. At least up until Jamie asked me to don my mini-skirt & micro-top for a dress rehearsal. Oh well, que sera, sera!

After practice & a brief stop at the Troma offices nearby we ended up at an agreeable little Mexican restaurant & that's when a pain I know too well began to invade my lower body. Just great! Another urinary tract infection! I've been getting them a lot lately (brought on by cold & dampness, they're harmless but a bitch to suffer through) & the only thing that can calm the hurt are cranberry capsules which I neglected to bring with me. But I didn't want to let on to Jamie how terribly I was suffering throughout dinner. I told myself that all I had to do was run to a pharmacy after supper, buy some capsules, return to the Troma offices (I'm not sleeping in no crackhouse) & crash out. Yes, that's right, I ended up sleeping at Troma headquarters!

But for the time being (it just couldn't be that simple could it)… after dinner, I watched Jamie fuss inside her purse for a while & then she tells me she can't find the keys to the Troma offices! Hell & damnation! I lend her my cellular to call another employee who lives in the neighborhood, but no response. So I break down & tell him that I'm suffering horribly & absolutely must find the closest drugstore. Good news! They have cranberry caps in stock! I didn't want to take any chances so I bought painkillers too. Once out the store, Jamie was finally able to reach a Team Troma member willing to come down to open the office doors for us (thanks Brian!) At this point I'm in real agony. We wait for Brian in front of the building & he shows up in 10 minutes. Once inside, I run to the washroom to gobble 4 caps & 2 painkillers, but unfortunately the pain was so advanced that I wasn't expecting relief anytime soon.

Jamie tells me the best place to sleep would be the 2nd floor in a small room full of boxes & computers, but spacious enough in the middle for me to lie down. He found me a blanket & some bubble-wrap. I made a bed from my coat & wrapped the bubbles in tissue & bunched them into my rolled-up vest for a pillow. Luckily the place was warm enough although I was still shivering. The pain was constant, it was practically impeding my breathing. I wanted to throw myself out the window to stop to the aching. I couldn't stop crying. I called my boyfriend long distance & he was nice enough to talk me through the worst of it, which helped a lot. We spoke for exactly 57 minutes. Can't wait to see my phone bill! Ouch! Considering the moral support that came from this call, it's a bill I'll be happy pay! I fell asleep after hanging up with Rick. Finally it was the end of day one... hell-day one!

Next day I got up at 6:30 AM. We were supposed to be on set for shooting at 8:45 so I had plenty of time to prepare. Last night's pain was nothing more than a memory anymore, so I was quite happy! I had 2 donuts & a granola bar for breakfast & arrived at the set with Jamie at 9:15. The technicians were already there; 2 cameramen, a soundman, gaffers & a photographer. They quickly cleaned up the "crackhouse" & I helped by holding up a garbage bag… Wow! Crazy how useful I felt! Suzi Sharreaux, a friend of mine who's also a model/actress, showed up at 10. We rehearsed, & everything was going well until Suzi asked where the washroom was… Previously, a young denizen of this "crackhouse" had offered us use of his bathroom no problem! How naïve of us!

Suzi, Jamie & I went knocking. After being let in, the most disturbing 5 minutes of my whole day were spent within those walls! The place was almost completely pitch black. The "crackhouse" denizen pointed us to the last door on the left & asked us not to wake up his wife. Walking single-file, we passed through 2 rooms until I noticed strange breathing coming from a bed… oh no, his wife! I began to uncontrollably giggle (quietly, luckily for my sake). The atmosphere of the place was so peculiar, I'd never seen anything like it before. The horror stories I can imagine from this place!

Lloyd Kaufman showed up around 11:30 & we started shooting almost immediately. My first line was; "I'm a gorgeous lesbian art student with an insatiable yearning for sexual gratification." Gives you a good idea what kind of scene I was in, huh? The shoot went more or less well. The scene I had with Suzi & Jamie was risqué enough. It was mostly iprov. Lloyd asked us in which position Suzi & I would like to end up & I had to suggest "scissors." It may look easy, but I can now confirm how physically demanding it is… my legs still ache 2 days later! The actors I did this sketch with were Suzi, Jamie, Lloyd Kaufman himself, & 500 pound Troma staple Joe Fleishaker. Joe was only in the last scene so he showed up much later. The scene where I get killed was amusing; a monster-penis comes out my mouth. So Lloyd made me gargle Bromo Seltzer & red food coloring for it. "Put a lot in your mouth, then take a big gulp of water & you'll see, it'll just spew out by itself," he instructed. Indeed it did! It can make for a disgusting sensation, especially when you swallow some by accident like I did. Yuck! But I did it, & the shot went well. Can't wait to see what it looks like onscreen!

Unfortunately, I can't tell you much else about the secret plot line, but what I can say is that the chocolate orgy sequence with Joe Fleishaker is surely destined to become a screen classic! We finished around 7:30PM. My last bus was at midnight but I decided to leave earlier because I was beat. Tired & hungry. We had no dinner break on set so I was on the verge of fainting. Lloyd was nice enough to walk me to the bus station. I got there at 8 & my bus was at 9:30. I bought some chips & a lemonade & sat on the floor reading "American Psycho" waiting in line. The bus showed up at 9 & got filled to capacity. A sympathetic girl sat next to me & we talked the whole way home. Got back to Montreal no problem around 4:15AM. I say no problem, but it was with the inklings of another urinary tract infection that I arrived home! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!!!

Don't get me wrong here, they could've asked to tear my nails out one-by-one with pliers & I still would've done it just for the honor of becoming an official onscreen Tromette! Woo Hoo!

Isabelle Stephen a.k.a. Necrophilia

October 10, 2002


Here's a stop-motion animated rock video idea for my band I wrote back in '84 describing the secret origins of a proposed character with rock & roll prenatally scarred into his face & psyche…

While flashing back to the past, "Fuckface" remembers his pop & how much of a hard worker he was. A specialist in his own cluttered office, we see the father typing away at some kind of futuristic-looking video monitor. "He took it too seriously, I mean he really sweat urine over his work," Fuckface thinks aloud. Fuckface's father, "Makimbah" aims one of his armpit nipples (in a muscle-flexing pose) at one of two urinals built into his workspace & gracefully "sweats" on target. Functioning simultaneously as a tollbooth, after the urinal registers the required amount of "sweat" it rewards him with permission to take a pacemaker recharge break. Opening own chest to expose his pumping heart, he hooks something up to it, sips his coffee & looks out the window. "He probably worked so hard to make up for what lacked at home with mom," thinks Fuckface. Makimbah dials the phone. Cut to soap-opera TV-room décor & focus on foreground telephone ringing but remaining unanswered. Soft moaning & gentle sighing can be heard from an out-of-focus, gyrating, fleshy shape in the background building up & punctuating to a sharp little "ah!" Phone stops ringing simultaneously. Camera focus pulls off phone & sharpens in on background figure, a nude pregnant woman (Makimbah's wife carrying Fuckface's fetus) masturbating to the TV. Camera zooms in, away from phone & towards mom, framing TV screen with her. Sexy vocalist of hot band rips into a song. Number-one fan, mom, furiously masturbates to her teen idols, finger-thrusts synchronized to the beat. Reveal via x-ray vision fade-in how her unborn child's malleable head & face is being violently pushed & shoved & shaped to the beat.

Rick Trembles

October 3, 2002

DEVICES 1980! Cool. I just heard that the original founder of The Devices, Phil Nylon has a new band together called The Other Thing & they're ready to play. Good timing, 'cause I've been itching to rock out & play a Devices gig before the year's out & we needed an opening act. They said they'd be into it. Stay tuned in the following weeks for more info. Phil left The Devices shortly after this 1980 interview by James Malloch in "Blow Up Montreal," a short-lived precursor to Montreal's present-day alternative weeklies. (Pictured above, part of the photo that accompanied the article, with me [R] sporting a black eye provided by Nylon [L] himself days before. The caption read: "Montreal's most innovative band, the dreaded D-Vices")…

The D-vices are coming! The D-vices are coming! You may not know it, but you are already under the influence of a new world outlook as prescribed by Montreal's latest musical madness. The D-Vices sound is the new kid on the block, but look out. It brings to mind the factory scenes in Lang's Metropolis.

"Yeah, I went to art school for four years." Phil Nylon, lead singer for the D-Vices, has been reclining in an upstairs Saint Jacques Street studio listening to one of the many impromptu jams which electrify the local atmosphere.

To the uninitiated, these sessions might sound like the devil's own Muzak system. Nervous spider melodies & reptilian rhythms. There is a tendency to compare the finished material with that of groups like DEVO, but Phil is not flattered. "I think they're really bleeding-heart liberals, DEVO now. They sing about determinism & scientific reductionism. I think they're a reaction to technological totalitarianism. Yeah, they're almost like hippies."

Phil can be very much the detached observer when it comes to contemporary music, & his erratic analyses have a strong tendency to jump the rails at most junctions. On the heavy-metal scene: "People have a need for it. They blindly want to love something. Some people blindly love everything. For example, the way people took to Nazism which had certain ideals. They wanted to unite and feel proud. They never considered a few "questionable" policies. The Nazis made Germany filthy rich. They made it into a real productive machine, because they were fascists. The trains ran on time."

But, once bolstered by the futuristic structures & furious dissonances of the D-Vices' music, Phil's madcap logic at least translates into remarkable lyrics. "Hitler Was a Jew," which sounds like 15 minutes of the Decarie Expressway played backwards quickly, is punctured erratically by a wild resume of Mussolini's dictatorship: "He marched into Rome/To raise the glory from the dirt/The trains ran on time/The unions starched his black shirts/He marched into Rome to restore the Empire/He became Il Duce & got hung by piano wires."

Flaccid, inertia-oriented Van Halen & Blackfoot fans would not stand up to any one of the D-Vices' scrutiny. Says Phil: "There's probably some kind of contempt I have for ordinary people. I don't care what they think. In our songs I'm doing a character study that appeals to lots of people because it's anti-hero. He rationalizes his way out of things. I do a parody, so you can see the kind of values I hold. I'm not Catholic now, but I was, & I was very preoccupied with morality. I used to have hallucinations about the devil when I was a kid. Used to feel really guilty."

The five D-Vices are not especially renowned for sane, rational, or predictable behavior, & Phil offers his insights: "With Carl Cups Von Helm (drums), it's a long story; it's very involved. Early childhood trauma. No one would play with him, he would have to play with himself. They thought he was autistic. And one day, I dunno, he started banging a drum set. Rick Trembles (six-string bass) has been reliving his childhood; he always looks like he's just entering puberty or something. Susan Joseph (keyboards) I haven't quite figured out; probably some kind of religious dilemma. Robert Labelle (guitar) only wants to be loved. You can just see the yearning."

In addition to singing, Phil adds his patented caterwauling lead guitar lines to a rhythm backing which he describes as "kind of schizophrenic, sort of like being hypersensitive, allergic to life or something. But we try to arrange it like pop music to make it accessible to reach more people. I'm kind of short, I sit on telephone books so I can type. I write songs especially while watching TV. I write down clichés. Television is like supply & demand. Soap operas are intense for a lot of housewives. They're raunchier now. You see them in bed, but the lens is out of focus. And they're always wet-kissing things."

Allergic to cosmetics, then, the D-Vices give no quarter, & ask for none. "Touches Me" is their contribution to rock's wealth of softhearted love songs: "You know I love you/You know I love you, dear/You know I love it/Your tongue in my ear/I'll try & hold back/I'll try not to cum/We wouldn't want to lose all this fun,/You know I love you & your IUD/You know I love it when it touches me."

The D-Vices' appearance at the Broadway Live & Blues have attracted a nasty gang of followers. Violence comes part & parcel with these underground performances. For a group to survive, they must have an intimidating reputation, & Phil is not without his.

"There's a story that I run around in crowds & attack people with knives. It started when some big creep came one night to our show & beat up my friend. I saw him a week later. He was really big, but I knocked him down. I was really upset & I had a knife on me. Someone said, "He's going to kill you," so I pulled out the knife & said, "don't come near me or I'll carve you up," because if this guy hit me, I'd probably get brain damage. But I'm not really a hostile person. I hate violence. But I hate bullies even more. I think all that violent behavior at new wave concerts is boring. I'd much rather that everyone dressed in drag & hung around the men's room. People find the violence reassuring, I suppose. It's the same as playing football or beating up faggots. It's intense, give them that credit."

The group is aware they will have to deal squarely with the fact that this city neither pays much attention to interesting music nor holds any substantial sympathy for new, original bands. "I don't feel any affinity to the Montreal music scene. I think what we're doing is more interesting, but really, there is not even anyone to compare ourselves to. I used to like The Ulterior Motive, but they've broken up. There's not a hell of a lot going on. Most other groups are just going through the motions. To think that we're avant-garde or at least different is what sustains us. We have egos, you know. And ultimately a kind of status. It's very difficult doing what we're doing. We could just do cover material, but…"

"We'd like to get temporary working permits for the States. If people want to see the D-Vices, they'd better come while we're still here in Montreal. Otherwise they'll have to go to New York &, like, at CBGB'S, $2 Canadian won't buy you a Bud."

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