By Will ("The Thrill") Viharo
(click on Schedule link at left for movies and showtimes)
eople say I glorify mediocrity. Okay, nobody has ever actually said that to me, but it was implied. Or maybe it wasn't. Could be I'm acting defensive and paranoid. So I'm writing this just in case you were thinking it but didn't have the guts to say it to my face (or in a cowardly email). The timeless truth is, I do love and worship vintage B movies, atomic age lounge culture, forgotten stars, and listen to strange old music with a worldwide audience that could fit in Britney Spears' dressing room. Comfortably. (Though they would wonder what the HELL they were doing there, and would make for the nearest exit pronto.) The point is, it's all a matter of perspective.
Take the Oscars, which are being telecast at the Parkway this month and hosted by Monica, Tiki Goddess (for this I will be HER disgruntled assistant). To me, the Oscars are worse than mediocre, they are personally insulting. ALL awards shows pander to the destructive competitive spirit that ruins people every day. Just because one person is popularly deemed "the best" at something, everyone else in the running is made to feel like a "loser." The fact that the choice is subjective, or political, is lost because of the attention the media lavishes on the "winners," with condolences all around to the "losers." Awards are silly, stupid, juvenile and worst of all: they worship, perpetuate, and glorify true mediocrity in our increasingly bland, derivative, unoriginal, and boring culture. To me, if you're going to hand out awards, everyone should get one just for being themselves, simply because no one else can do it as well, rather than the establishment publicly rewarding shiny statues to people for portraying other people.
Consider my Tribute to the immortal William Shatner (March 1 at The Parkway), when I am presenting the Werepad's archival 35mm print of Bill's obscure 1974 flick IMPULSE, wherein he portrays a disco-dressing mack daddy who sometimes kills people, including Harold "Oddjob" Sakata. I am also showing some rare video clips of Shatner performing popular hits like "Rocket Man," plus some other surprises. Why am I hosting a tribute to an actor who has never won an award for his acting or his singing, both of which boast dubious merits, to say the least?
Because no one else will.
To passionately pursue careers for which you have little talent can either be an attractive or repulsive quality. To me, Tom Cruise is a waste of money. Johnny Depp can act circles around him, and his salary is probably a tenth of Cruise's, if that. Not that money should be a measure of talent. It never is. Look around.
Shatner may be an unabashed egotist in person, he may even be insane, but his stubborn belief in himself, and the brilliantly bad exhibition of this passion, is worth celebrating. He is something you don't much of anymore: one of a kind.
TV shows like Friends and Frasier are incredibly mediocre to me, but also inexplicably popular. Likewise The Backstreet Boys, Titanic, Julia Roberts, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Jay Leno, Entertainment Tonight, and Survivor : they are all god damn mediocre. William Shatner is not mediocre in my world. He is the opposite of mediocre: he is unique. And he also has something else none of the above can boast: a personality. If you don't believe me, come see us at The Parkway March 1. It's a Thursday, so you can just tape Friends and Survivor.
That's something else I don't get: the sudden mass popularity of so-called "reality shows." Get a REAL LIFE and stop watching rigged TV shows, that's what I say. There is plenty of reality out there to go around without sitting on your ass watching it faked by assholes, bimbos, gold diggers, corporate executives, and other types I wouldn't want to waste any real time with anyway. I don't know about you, but when I watch a movie or TV show, I want to get away from "reality." That's the point.
Speaking of which, The Werepad is also providing me with another unsung and largely unseen classic this month, 1967's sleazy sexploitation masterpiece SHANTY TRAMP (3/15 at The Parkway). Movies like these are why I even do Thrillville: to rescue strange, timeless time capsules from oblivion and present them to those who appreciate them, with style, in the spirit not only of preservation, but of that elusive past time: fun. I must admit, I have never seen SHANTY TRAMP. It's available on video from Something Weird, though I've never noticed it anywhere (Le Video in SF should have a copy). It was produced by legendary exploitation huckster K. Gordon Murray, and stars Lee Holland and Bill Rogers in a steamy swamp stew of lust, murder, bikers, inter-racial romance, and swear words. There is lots of violence, sex and nudity catering to your prurient interests, but it also contains come fairly interesting social commentary along with the vice and pulp. Not that you'll care much, or even notice. It has a killer theme song, is very well shot and edited, and its pace never lets up. I get all this from very reliable sources, don't worry. The assistant director later made Porky's. He should've quit here. By all accounts, it is an exhilarating experience. I booked this partly because I want to see it myself, and partly because apparently nobody else has the guts, or the freedom. I can't wait to see it.
By the way, our first "road show" at the Werepad last month was a sizzling success. Without a wheel to spin, Monica did the Exotic Pagan Ritual Raffle Dance for the prizes, and later indulged in an incredibly sexy latex fashion show! (See the Tiki Goddess Pin-Up Gallery under the Scenes link for some stimulating shots.) We hosted ANGRY RED PLANET plus some rare scopetones and other selections from the collection of Scott Moon. Thanks and kudos to Jacques, Scott (Moffett), and Vikki for letting us invade their ultra cool lounge, and to all the Thrill Seekers who made it out to SF in the storm. We're looking forward to our next gig at the Werepad April 7, a special Tribute to another legend who transcends mediocrity, Ed Wood (see Schedule link for details).
At the end of this month (3/29), I am presenting at The Parkway a movie I showed way back in my Midnight Lounge that not enough people came to see: the 1960 Italian sex-and-monsters romp PLAYGIRLS AND THE VAMPIRE, an absolutely hilarious, atmospheric, poorly dubbed classic of Euro-trash cinema. Here is your second chance to discover a movie you probably won't ever get a third chance to see anywhere else, and trust me, you need this memory embedded in your brain. It's another Thrillville special, the kind of rare flick that comes from a time and place deep inside our collective wet dreams and nightmares. It is a far more worthwhile time killer than any of the movies nominated for Oscars this year. Or maybe even any other year - just because it is, like William Shatner himself, the opposite of mediocre. It is unique, and, in this insidiously shallow, insipidly stupid culture overseen by an insidiously shallow, insipidly stupid president, the art of being unique is getting lost in the crowd.
Be yourself. Your award is waiting.
NEXT MONTH: serials, demons, Ed Wood, rare noir, go-go chicks, androids, aliens and space monsters! CLICK ON SCHEDULE LINK FOR APRIL MOVIES AND SHOWTIMES
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