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Posts Tagged ‘film’

The opening party at MF Gallery went so well, there’s going to be a closing party on August 30th. There will a screening of the classic cult film. Cosplay of all your favorite Rocky Horror Picture Show characters is encouraged. Of course there’s the art. It’s a group art show, in tribute to the Rocky Horror Picture Show itself. So if you missed it the first time around, here’s your second chance!

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Flyer for the closing party at MF Gallery. Rocky Horror Picture Show art tribute.

I’m one of the artists exhibiting a painting in this fine exhibit. All art is available for purchase, including mine. (hint-hint!) There’s even RHPS tattoos available.

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Dr. Frank-N-Futer painting by Michele Witchipoo. Medium: Acrylic and glitter. On display and sale at MF Gallery. Aug. 2019.

If you’re local in the NYC area, see you there. You’re probably ‘waiting in anticipation…’

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This is extremely short notice. This Tuesday, July 30th, 2019, I will be giving a small talk about my illustrations and artwork at the monthly Trans-Cen-Der. The event runs from 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm. The location is at Brooklyn Fire Proof in Bushwick, Brooklyn NY. There will be four other artists as well, working in all mediums. Admission is free but seating is limited.

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Monthly Trans-Cen-Der artist event/lecture at Brooklyn Fire Proof, in Bushwick, Brooklyn NY.

This Saturday will be a busy day. During the day I’ll have a table at the Trashland Zinefest II, located at The Footlight in Ridgewood, Queens NY. Admission is free, the event runs from 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm. I’ll be selling my comics, greeting cards and other items.

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Poster for the Trashland Zinefair II, taking place at The Footlight NYC. Located in Ridgewood, Queens NY. Event August 3rd, 2019.

At Trashland Zinefest II, copies of my latest comic The Temptation of Squeaky will be on sale. Drop by my table and buy your own copy.

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The Temptation of Squeaky. Latest comic from artist and writer Michele Witchipoo, on WitchesBrewPress. 2019.

On Saturday evening, I will be attending the MF Gallery opening party for their Rocky Horror Picture Show art exhibit. Opening party is from 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm. Costumes and Rocky Horror cosplay is encouraged. There will be a screening of the classic cut film as well.

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MF Gallery’s flyer for The Rocky Horror Picture Show art exhibit. Opening party Sat. Aug. 3rd, 2019 in Brookyn, NY.

Below is the painting I did for the Rocky Horror art exhibit. It’s classic Dr. Frank-N-Futer. The mediums were acrylic paint and glitter, inside a refurbished vintage wooden frame.

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Painting of Dr. Frank-N-Futer, main protagonist of the classic cult film The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Mediums: acrylic paint and glitter, inside a refurbished vintage wooden frame. Painting by Michele Witchipoo, July 2019. Painting for sale.

If you’re local in the NYC area, then come down to at least one of these events.

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Star Wars probably heard by now. British actor Peter Mayhew, who portrayed the original Chewbacca, passed away. He was just weeks away from his 75th birthday.

Besides my rambling Chewbacca post, here’s a tribute to the 7’11 man. Introducing the Psycho Bunny sketch of the week for May 6th, 2019.

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Psycho Bunny doesn’t get along with Chewbacca or R2D2. Based on the comic written and drawn by Michele Witchipoo, on WitcheBrewPress. May 2019.

So far I have two comic con appearances lined up. Cradle Con in Long Island, IncrediCon in the Hudson Valley area of Upstate NY. If you’re around those areas, drop buy, purchase one of my comics and say hello.

May The Force Be With You…Here’s Some Social Media:

Facebook: pages for Psycho Bunny and for Michele Witchipoo – WitchesBrewPress.

 Twitter: One account for me, and one for Psycho Bunny.

Tumblr: World Ov Witchipoo

Instagram: there’s WitchipooArt.

Get yourself some cool stuff on RedBubble, featuring my designs.

Stay tuned, next week the latest Psycho Bunny sketch will be posted.

 

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All you geek rejoice! This upcoming Saturday, May 4th means two things. We not only have the annual Free Comic Book Day, but also Star Wars Day.

Although technically the very first Star Wars installment premiered on May 25th, 1977, it hasn’t stopped dedicated Star Wars fans to choose May 4th as its commemorative day. “May the fourth be with you” as it is told.

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As of this blog post, Ben and me were discussing actor Peter Mayhew. He’s the British 7 feet tall three inches actor who portrayed Chewbacca, one of the most beloved characters in the Star Wars universe. His family broke the news via Twitter about Mayhew’s recent passing.

Chatting about the world’s most famous Wookie, I relayed my own Chewbacca story. It’s both amusing, yet sad with a slight sprinkle of Hollywood Babylon.

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Chewbacca realizes Han Solo needs help for his gambling addiction. Originally drawn in 2014 for Sketch Lottery, by Michele Witchipoo.

It was the year 2007. The setting was at the second annual New York Comic Con. I was walking around the Javitis Center with another friend, Mario. We found ourselves upstairs in the autograph section. Our purpose was to locate the three top winners of the SyFy Channel program “Who Wants To Be A Superhero.” As someone who usually despises reality shows, “Superhero” was one of the rare exceptions. So as Mario and me sought out Major Victory, Fat Momma and Feedback, we glanced over at the other celebrities. There was actress Hayden Panettiere from the then-popular show Heroes. Her signing price was, at the time, $100. That was considered a lot for autographs back then. Since 2007, pop culture autographs have become more lucrative. Charging $100 and up is now standard for actors like Mark Hamill, David Tennant, Matt Smith and Jason Momoa. Anyhow, before all the A-list actors jumped onto the John Handcock racket, autograph signings were formerly reserved for washed-up celebrities.

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This is where Gary Coleman comes in.

If you grew up during the late ’70s and early ’80s, then surely you must remember the American TV sitcom “Different Strokes.” Gary Coleman was the breakout star. Unfortunately, once the network canceled the comedy, Coleman’s career was never the same. When Coleman’s star fell, it fell pretty bad. The actor tried everything. I even remember Coleman pretty much grasping for straws when he tried to become a rapper. It was a very short-lived venture. My accidental discovery happened during my late teens. Having yet another insomniac moment. Couldn’t sleep, so I turned on the television. Since I lived in the NYC outer borough of Queens, we were stuck without cable. No MTV, no HBO, no nothing. Which meant there was nothing to watch but filler. Local station programming consisted of forgotten ’60s syndicated shows, Time/Life info-commercials, ads for the Jessica Hahn party line, and rejected talk shows. The latter is where Gary Coleman wound up with his rap act.

Below are two videos to prove I’m not making this up:

(Below is an example what I had, living in Queens, NYC late ’80s/early ’90s. Late night TV. Sans cable. We got stuck with this bullshit.)

It got worse as time went on. Turns out Gary Coleman was broke because his own foster parents and former manager stole most of his money. Despite a judge ruling in Coleman’s favor later on, the only work he could secure was as a security guard. His fate seemed to be resigned to supermarket tabloid articles along with the occasional self-deprecating appearances. His health problems didn’t fare any better. Coleman suffered from congenital kidney disease causing nephritis (an autoimmune destruction of the kidney). This stunted his growth from an early age. Up until his death he required daily dialysis. This was additionally compounded by his anger management problems.

So back to 2007. We’re at the second annual New York Comic Con. Mario quickly turns to me, stammering “Ohmigod, don’t turn around!”

Me: “Why?”

Mario: “That’s Gary Coleman! I can’t look at him! Don’t look at him! I’m going to laugh…”

After we both snicker, I look over Mario’s shoulder. Sure enough, there was Gary Coleman, sitting in a booth. He was hawking autographs. The actor was trying to put on a friendly face, but nobody was lining up for his signature.

Suddenly commotion ensues. A whole crowd of rabid Star Wars cosplayers and fans rush past us. It wasn’t a stampede, yet as they sped, we swore we felt out hair blow back. Our spot was soon crowded with these fanatics, overcome with glee. They surround a very tall man as if he was a demigod.

“Who’s that?” Mario asked someone.

“That’s the guy who played Chewbacca” was the response.

Various Stormtroopers practically dance around this man as if they were Ewoks from Return of The Jedi. More people approach this impromptu homecoming. It casts a dark shadow upon Gary Coleman’s booth. In their rejoicing, the Star Wars fans inadvertently eclipse Coleman. It was as if Coleman didn’t even exist. This was a comic book convention after all. Upstaging wasn’t Peter Mayhew’s intention. This didn’t matter to Coleman. The man of 4ft and 8 inches looked visibility upset. Mario and I silently watched as Coleman chomp down on his hot dog, garnished with a painful mixture of anger and sadness.

Mario shares his observation: “Wow. He bit into that hot dog with such bitterness…” 

After watching the Star Wars fans worship the original Chewbacca for another few minutes, we walked off to find the winners of “Who Wants To Be A Superhero.” Left behind was the clashing juxtaposition of Chewbacca and Arnold Jackson. Ironically, those two characters were symbols of my ’70s childhood.

We all know about what became of the Star Wars franchise after 2007. In fact, I saw Last Jedi twice during its theatrical release. Last Jedi has become my personal favorite next to the original trilogy. Rouge One was also fantastic. Just recently I caught Han Solo on Netflix. Star Wars has outgrown and will outlive George Lucas. Regardless of how Disney currently handles the Star Wars property, it’s become part of the American storytelling mythos. It’s just like the retelling of ancient folktales from various cultures, such as Norse, Celtic, Greek, Egyptian, Japanese, Indian, English, African, Buddhist, Jewish, Islamic, Christian, Pre-Christian/Pagan, etc. Only substitute them with various stories from the Star Wars universe, along with classic Marvel and DC characters.

After NYCC 2007, I heard another personal Gary Coleman antidote. It from my other friend Bejay. So I mention seeing Coleman at the comic con. Bejay tells me that he met the actor once. It was during Bejay’s time as a party promoter. Gary Coleman complimented Bejay on his Club Kid platforms. Unlike Mario, Bejay expressed more compassion for Coleman: “I felt sorry for him…”  Gary Coleman passed away in 2010. On April 30th 2019, Peter Mayhew, aka, the original Chewbacca also passes away. He was 74.

On May 2nd, 2019, I talk to Ben about the time I saw Chewbacca and Gary Coleman at NYCC 2007.

Me: “…so that’s my Chewbacca story. It’s both funny and sad…”

Ben, as he refers to Gary Coleman while having a horrified expression upon his face: “…That’s kinda depressing!”

May the fourth be with you.

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Chewbacca. Drawn with a portable Pentel ink brush, other with other art pens. Michele Witchipoo. May 2019.

 

 

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A few months back, my friend informed me about some documentary about Wax Trax Records. For those who don’t know, Wax Trax Records was both a record store and label based in Chicago, Illinois. Before Grunge took over the U.S. during the ’90s, there was the Post-Punk strains of Industrial music.

The Industrial music genre dates back to the ’70s, pioneered along the way by bands like Throbbing Gristle. (Which I was fortunate enough to catch their reunion tour back in 2009, over at the Brooklyn Masonic Temple.) There’s different sub-genres of Industrial Music, which branches out to Noise and Experimental. Associated acts range from Skinny Puppy, Coil, Psychic TV, Chris & Cosey, Test Department, Einstürzende Neubauten, Clock DVA, Fad Gadget, Nurse With Wound, Foetus, Swans, etc., etc., to more Avant-Garde stuff like Merzbow and Current 93. If you want sheer noise, you can always do Whitehouse. If your goal is to piss off your neighbors, there’s always ‘Christianity Is Stupid’ by Negativeland. By the mid-’90s, Industrial hit the mainstream with acts such as Nine Inch Nails.

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Prior to bands like Nine Inch Nails, Rammstein and others, there was Wax Trax. Wax Trax hit its peak during the late ’80s and early ’90s, prior to Grunge as previously noted, and before Rave culture hit the States. Wax Trax became very popular among the Alternative music set. This led to Wax Trax nights across the country. There were tours focusing on the Wax Trax label. Back when I was a teen, I remember seeing one Wax Trax event with a band called Front Line Assembly. One of my own Wax Trax favorites was Front 242.

Fast forward to 2010. By then, both the founders of Wax Trax label had passed away due to AIDS. Julia Nash, daughter of co-founder Jim Nash discovers the label’s inventory was kept in storage in an Arkansas barn. After Jim Nash’s death, his partner in both personal and business moved back to his hometown, taking the overstock with him. When Dannie Flesher passed away, Julia Nash took it upon herself to keep the Wax Trax legacy going. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, The Industrial Accident film was released in 2017, and the soundtrack in 2018.

Thus leads to my own personal events. My friend Christine had been telling me about the upcoming film showing for months. Eventually she got me hyped up to see the documentary. Nostalgia kicked in. Couldn’t help but reminisce about the days when the label “Alternative” actually meant something. Now, I owed a few favors to Christine. After all, she hooked me up with tickets to see Television and Front 242 (first time I saw then was way back in 1988 or ’89…second time was in 2017) within the past two years. She’s done other things as well. Let’s just say she’s an awesome pal. Christine was going to be in another state during Record Day. She asked me if I could pick up the exclusive Record Day release, being sold at places like Rough Trade NYC.

First things first. Lately I’ve been attending a local Queens writing workshop. It’s something I’ve fallen in love with as of late. It’s facilitated by an amazing woman. She reminded me about F. Scott Fitzgerald while introducing me to Marcel Proust. A local paper even wrote an article about the writing class. I’m in the article photo, even though I look fat. Eh. What can you do. Actually, don’t answer that.

My immediate goal was to attend the writing class, then go down to Rough Trade. It’s been a while since I’ve been in touch with vinyl culture. Within the past ten years, vinyl has been having a cult-like resurgence. I hadn’t had a turntable since 1997. Which meant I’ve been completely out of touch with record collecting culture. Access to my own huge collection of valuable vinyl was blocked, thanks to my father. Basically lost my whole entire record collection. The only vinyl I managed to rescue are my 45’s. There’s a few rarities among the 45s, like a Poison Girls single. That’s another story altogether, but I won’t dwell on that.

As I’m sitting in the writing class, I get this nagging feeling that my ass should be heading to Rough Trade ASAP. But I’m an old fart now; I’m no longer that 17 year old who once ripped down a large Skinny Puppy concert ad near NYU. The wheat paste was barely dried on the back when I tore it down a late Manhattan night. It was for the sole purpose of decorating my teenage bedroom walls back in Queens. Then there was that promise that I would get the Record Day exclusive for Christine, who’s done so much for me. As soon as I was pondering all of this, Christine texts me. Guilt kicks in. Need to learn how to be cold blooded. So I pull an ultimate douchebag move to all my writing workshop peers. Claiming it was an emergency, I pack up my junk, and walk out of class. In my haste I even left my Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee behind. Well, it was an emergency.

As luck would have it, the bus heading towards Williamsburg took like, forever. Despite that a Lyft would’ve brought me there in max, fifteen to twenty minutes depending on traffic. Finally arrive at Rough Trade, jumping at the end of the line like Mark Spitz. A few people standing on the line give me harsh eye daggers. Like they want to cut a bitch.

“Is this the end of the line?” I inquire.

Nope. A Rough Trade employee informed gently that I was not at the end of the line. In fact, the line for Record Day exclusives continued…across the street…down the block…almost at the very end of the block.

Oops.

In my embarrassed Lucille Ball moment, I excused myself. That wasn’t good enough. Slinking away, I felt the judgmental glare of the others. I knew they were silently, but yet viciously accusing me of cutting the line. When I slithered to the end of the snake trail, another employee with a megaphone approaches. He’s holding a paper. The paper contains a list of all the Record Day 2019 exclusives, now exclusively sold out. He reads the list through the megaphone.

The Wax Trax soundtrack, particularly the Record Day exclusive, was one of the first to sell out. Then came all the others. Captain Beefheart exclusive was sold out. Hmmm. I would’ve gotten Captain Beefheart. Motorhead exclusive, sold out. Would’ve brought that one as well. Madonna exclusives, sold out. Hard pass on Madonna. What else? Duran Duran exclusive sold out. Hey! I still love Duran Duran. If I was still collecting vinyl, I definitely would’ve brought that one. The sold out exclusive list was long. When it was announced that even Mutant Ninja Turtles Record Day exclusive was sold out, it was time to jump ship. Yes. Even music by fictional fighting turtles was sold out.

Even if most of the Record Day exclusives seem to be reissues, it was still discerning. On one hand, it was good to see hard copy media still selling. On the other hand, not getting the Wax Trax exclusive really meant one thing, which I have yet to explain. You see, that Wax Trax Record Day exclusive had a valuable item attached. It was a much coveted item. The Record Day Wax Trax soundtrack exclusive contained two tickets. They were VIP tickets to the Wax Trax documentary screening and the Q&A that followed.  Plus a free concert by Cold Cave and Ministry who was doing strictly a late ’80s/early ’90s set, connected to the Wax Trax era. Now who wouldn’t want that? That’s what my friend Christine really wanted. That’s what I was hyped up about. Those VIP tickets.

All hope was abandoned. The consolation prize was going home to finally catch up on some much needed sleep. It was an unusually hot Spring afternoon. Global warming wasn’t kind to me, as I stood overdressed on the gentrified pavement. As I was walking towards the L subway, I hear someone call my name. Turning around, it was my friend Michael. Michael was someone I had met two years ago at a Gary Numan concert. We followed each other on Facebook. Michael and me begin a conversation. He was on his way back to Rough Trade, to get his Bauhaus Record Day exclusive signed by David J. David J’s signing wasn’t scheduled until five p.m. It’s been a long week for me, so I suggest we should sit down somewhere to continue the conversation. Michael informs me that he also had purchased the Record Day exclusives for Duran Duran, and the Wax Trax soundtrack.

We locate an OG bar, one without the stench of pretentious hipsters. It wasn’t a dive bar per say. Instead it was a well maintained watering hole, one that had been opened for decades. Only the tap was updated, featuring some IPAs, and of course, Williamsburg’s own Brooklyn Beer. Michael asked me about my birthday, which had recently passed. There were other subjects discussed. I buy him a drink because we have one thing in common. Our all time favorite band is Siouxsie and The Banshees.

As I’m fetching our drinks from the bar counter, Michael pulls a Hail Mary.

“Happy birthday” he says, giving me one half of the VIP tickets that came with the Wax Trax Record Day exclusive.

I was in shock. Asked him if he was sure, and he was. I profusely thanked him. Michael then heads over to Rough Trade for the David J signing. In pleasant disbelief, I head over to the L train. Of course I texted Christine about what happened. My assumption was she was going to be a bit miffed. Fortunately she was completely cool about the entire situation.

Monday comes around. It’s the day of the film showing, the Q&A, and the concert. I’m more psyched than ever before. Suddenly I’m 17 all over again. There was plans to meet up with Michael before heading over to the venue, which was I head over to the venue, Music Hall of Williamsburg. Gut instinct kicks in again. So I decide to hit up Williamsburg earlier than usual. Sure enough. By the time I arrive, the lines are long. There’s two lines. One for VIP tickets, one for general admission.

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Two lines waiting to enter Music Hall of Williamsburg for the Wax Trax event, featuring the film, Q&A and concert. Two lines. One for VIP, which came with the Record Day soundtrack exclusive, and one for general admission. April 2019.

They let the VIPs enter the venue first. I was lucky enough to get a seat for the film showing, last seat on the left, first row. It was the only seat left. The rest was standing room only. A DJ was spinning classic Wax Trax era tunes as everyone waited for the documentary to begin. Others decide to go downstairs to the bar.

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VIP ticket which came with the Record Day exclusive of Industrial Accident:The Story of Wax Trax soundtrack.

The documentary itself was quite good. It was a candid, first person look into the rise and fall of Wax Trax records. During the viewing, I got caught off guard by being a bit emotional. One thing about this film, it helped bring legitimacy to a underground phenomenon. Wax Trax and relative labels like 4AD, Play It Again Sam (later to be distributed by Wax Trax), Caroline Records, along with others, was a viable part of music during that era. The film could’ve left David Grohl out, though.

Most of the Wax Trax acts were mentioned, such as Thrill Kill Kult, Laibach, Revolting Cocks, KMFDM, Pailhead, Legendary Pink Dots (who were on Play It Again Sam) and of course, Ministry. How can one forget Ministry. Al Jourgensen and his crew played a massive part in the history of Wax Trax records. Ministry also reconstructed themselves from being a dance New Wave synth band, to the endeavor of the Twitch period, to the Industrial Metal hybrid they later became more known for. ‘Uncle Al’, as Jourgensen is now affectionately known by fans, had his fingers in many pies. As a multi-instrumentalist, he spread himself around with numerous side projects. Besides Revolting Cocks, he was involved with Lard, Acid Horse, and 1000 Homo DJs.

After the film was the Q&A.

The panel, moderated by Andy Wombell, a former employee for Wax Trax records, featured Julia Nash, her mother and former wife of Jim Nash, Jean Payne, Chris Connelly from Revolting Cocks and other bands, and Frankie Nardiello, aka Groovie from Thrill Kill Kult.

Alright, you want to hear about the concert. It was Cold Cave, then the main headliners, Ministry. Strange for me, this was my third time seeing Cold Cave live. Second time seeing Cold Cave within months. First time catching Cold Cave live in 2009, opening for NON.

Back in February or March, I saw Cold Cave live over at Brooklyn Steel. Psychic TV was supposed to open for Cold Cave, but Genesis P-Orridge hasn’t been in good health lately. Psychic TV had to cancel their slot last minute.

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Cold Cave did an upbeat set. Not to be rude, but I was waiting for Ministry.

Ministry did not disappoint. Uncle Al was never,ever going to do anything before The Land of Rape and Honey era. Not anything from ‘With Sympathy’, not anything from ‘Twitch’. Probably will never touch material from those two releases for the rest of his life.

What albums he did perform: ‘The Land of Rape and Honey’, ‘Psalm 69: The Way To Succeed & The Way To Suck Eggs’, and ‘The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Waste’.

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Chris Connelly was brought on stage, performing No Devotion, a Revolting Cocks song.

The timing could’ve been more perfect. There’s a line in the song that goes “burn the temple…” Meanwhile, there was news about the fire at France’s famous Notre Dame cathedral. Afterwards they did a song from 1000 Homo DJs. Doing a cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘Supernaut’.

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Overall it was a fantastic night. Christine managed to get to the show via general admission, Michael showed up later, it all worked out. Didn’t hang with either one though. I ended up being close to the front row, sans ear plugs. Not being prepared, my ears were ringing for two days after the concert. To recover, I had to forgo listening to music on my headphones during the rest of my weekly commute. Not 17 years old anymore.

 

During the Ministry set, some 40 years olds decided to mosh for old time’s sake. Why was I not surprised. One old fart decided to stage dive. I’m thinking “dude, how old are you?” His body almost landed on top of me. As I quickly stepped back, his body slammed onto the floor. Nobody caught him. Guess crowd surfing wasn’t in the cards. Me and another woman who was around my age, yelled “asshole” at him, but he didn’t hear. The music was too loud. He got up, shook himself off,  heading back into the audience. The woman who jeered along with me started to complain about another woman. It was a younger lady, tattooed all over with pink hair, going nuts to the songs. Yet by the end of the Ministry set, both ladies ended up becoming friends. As I was leaving, the two generations of women exchanged Facebook info. If anything unites people, it’s music. There was good vibes all around that night. Such a brilliant event. Which was capped off with an acoustic version of ‘Everyday Is Halloween.’ If only everyday was like this.

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My concert high continued all throughout the next day. Eventually it came crashing down Tuesday evening, while riding the R train back to Queens. Some crazy homeless man threatened to climb into everyone’s bedroom windows with the intent to kill. His reasoning was to avenge himself for not receiving any spare change on the subway.  Welcome back to reality, kiddo.

Additional Links:

https://cherryberry321.wordpress.com/

https://www.indymetalvault.com/2017/12/01/a-beginners-guide-to-wax-trax-records/

https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/the-new-documentary-industrial-accident-portrays-chicagos-wax-trax-records-as-a-romance-etched-in-vinyl/Content?oid=49381095

https://theknow.denverpost.com/2018/11/07/wax-trax-denver-history/200444/

https://kimsloans.wordpress.com/colorado-local/local-vinyl/wax-trax-records/

https://www.revolvermag.com/music/ministry-nin-10-things-we-learned-wax-trax-doc-industrial-accident#6-ministryfront-242-side-project-revolting-cocks-signature-sound-was-born-happy-accident

https://www.oregonmusicnews.com/wax-trax-reel-music36

https://www.chicagoreader.com/chicago/the-ballad-of-jim-and-dannie/Content?oid=888822

https://www.treblezine.com/industrial-accident-wax-trax-records-fearlessness-folly/

https://www.decibelmagazine.com/2019/04/25/live-film-review-industrial-accident-the-story-of-wax-trax-records/

https://consequenceofsound.net/2019/04/live-review-ministry-wax-trax-brooklyn/

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The first time I heard about the film Liquid Sky, it was through the American television show Siskel and Ebert. If you don’t know, Siskel and Ebert were two film critics who reviewed movies. Originally titled Sneak Previews, it was broadcast on PBS stations until it switched to commercial syndication, and the title change. Siskel and Ebert  created a new genre of television through their discussions and occasional polite arguments. It’s no big deal now, thanks to podcasts, blogs, social media, etc. It’s the internet, after all. A place where everyone and their mothers has an opinion about everything.

Anyway, back in the early ’80s, when everyone was watching The A-Team, I was more interested in watching Sneak Previews. Sneak Previews helped introduce me to art house, cult, and foreign films. So one day they reviewed this little ditty titled Liquid Sky. A few years later after entering high school, I saw the movie on VHS. Within the group of misfit friends I hung out with, Liquid Sky became our coming of age film.

When a local video store decided to go out of business during the early ’90s, it was celluloid paydirt for me. Every week I would go in, purchasing cult classics such as Andy Warhol’s Bad, Eraserhead, and yes, Liquid Sky. In fact, there was one time during my brief “Rave” phase. My parents weren’t home. After one of those Rave parties, a few of us, still tripping on some psychedelic, went back to my place to watch Liquid Sky.

In recent years, Liquid Sky has been making the promotional rounds again. Every time Liquid Sky had a theatrical showing, I had schedule conflicts. A few months ago, I opened an email saying Liquid Sky was going to have a screening right in Queens, New York. I thought to myself “Hey – that’s where I live!” Within the email it mentioned a showing at a public library in the Jamaica, Queens area. Huh. That was slightly off putting. Didn’t think the Jamaica area wasn’t the best place to show Liquid Sky. Still, I went with it.

Arriving late to the showing, my instincts were right. Most of the audience were broke locals who were happy to see a free movie. Unfortunately, the film’s plot of aliens feeding off sexual orgasms from downtown New Wave junkie club goers went right over their heads. There was a few others, similar to me. Fans of Liquid Sky who had seen the film numerous times, who decided to commute to the screening. We were either in the same age bracket or older. A group of us started reminiscing about how the East Village and Williamsburg used to be before all the super hyper-gentrification. Who would’ve thought we would’ve been so nostalgic for all those dive places years later.

During the screening, the film kept on freezing. On top of that, the film they showed was fricken’ edited! C’mon now. While this was going on, some audience members started heckling. For a brief moment I felt as if I was transported to a Times Square movie theater before the Giuliani clean up. Stranger still, there was a part of me that had missed public heckling. Like the time I saw Judge Dredd in 1995 in some East Village movie theater. Judge Dredd was so bad, the entire audience started loudly mocking the film. I digress.

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Anne Carlisle and Slava Tsukerman during a Q&A over at the Queens Library in Jamaica, Queens, NY. Summer 2018.

After the screening, the film’s star, actress and writer Anne Carlisle along with director Slava Tsukerman showed up to do Q&A. They graciously answered questions from the audience. Even when some burn-out kept on rambling. As much as I tried to retain my cool, I eventually geeked out. After all, this was a film that was a part of my formative years. It was through the Q&A that the audience learned what had become of Paula E. Sheppard. Better known as the brutal lesbian drug dealer Adrian in Liquid Sky. Sheppard dropped out of acting soon after Liquid Sky was completed. She’s now a yoga teacher on the west coast, wanting nothing to do with the film.

Another local, an older sweet woman made the observation that the characters in Liquid Sky weren’t exactly “nice” people. That comment took me back slightly. She was right though. Many people in the underground subcultures weren’t exactly “nice.” Yet I grew up within some of those counter-cultures. Sort of made me reflect.

I’m also reminded of a time back in high school. My friend was struggling with her sexuality. She eventually came out as a lesbian. Last time I spoke to her, she volunteered describing herself as pansexual. She had really identified with the film during her teen years. So Liquid Sky also reminds me of when someone is first exploring gender, androgyny and sexuality. Particularly when Anne Carlisle plays both male and female characters. Even if her portrayal of a guy comes across like an early ’80s version of David Bowie.

Liquid Sky has plenty of illicit drug references as well. During the Q&A, both Carlisle and Tsukerman reminded the audience that Liquid Sky was originally slang for heroin. Here’s a bit of a spoiler, so if you’ve never seen the film, you might want to skip this part. The premises of the film is based on aliens who come down to earth. The aliens feed off endorphins given off the brain during sexual climax. Once a human reaches orgasm, the aliens attack. The only sign of their attack is a crystal bolt left in the victim’s head. Margaret, the bisexual promiscuous cocaine addict realizes that she can kill people by having sex with other people. Meanwhile, on the other side of town, a German scientist attempts to track down these aliens. While the German scientist tries to track down Margaret, Margaret uses sex as a way to seek revenge upon others, such as her rapist. Why Margaret has survived is because Margaret never reaches orgasm. The film ends with the scientist being killed, and Margaret doing heroin so she can go up with the aliens. Heroin has similar endorphins as a sexual orgasm.

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Anne Carlisle and Slava Tsukerman during a Q&A over at the Queens Library in Jamaica, Queens, NY. Summer 2018.

Both Carlisle and Tsukerman dropped hints that they’re attempting to create a sequel to Liquid Sky. Liquid Sky just had a blu-ray release. So if you’ve never seen the film, you can purchase a copy here.

Capping off this blog post is a sketch I did loosely based on Liquid Sky. When the aliens come take Margaret from the roof top. While doing some online research, I discovered that Anne Carlisle also practiced psychotherapy in Miami during the 2007, thanks to her IMDb bio. Given that she co-wrote the Liquid Sky screenplay, this doesn’t surprise me.

LiquidSkySept2018PSWEB

 

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Catching up with blog posts that should’ve been online last week. Here I contributed once again to the Sketch Lottery site. That week’s character was the best known bounty hunter in the Star War universe, Boba Fett.

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Boba Fett quick sketch as seen on Sketch Lottery. Michele Witchipoo, May 2017. 

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