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The Thrillville Beat

By Will ("The Thrill") Viharo



Social protest is only effective when it’s constructive. The civil rights demonstrations and anti-war rallies (not to mention the cool drive-in movies and great music) of the 1960s seem like they took place not only in a totally different era, but also on another planet; today, flat out conformity or, worse, abject apathy seem to dominate our society. Fear – perpetuated by Government propaganda as much as violent, overt acts of terrorism – now dictates the course of our national conscience. Where’s the dissent, the anger, the rebellion? I mean, is anyone really noticing how rapidly this world is unraveling at the seams recently? Not even pop music is fighting back anymore – the popular weapon of choice being Britney Spears. I admit – I took some flak for picketing a movie theater last year during my infamous protest of the stupid Ocean’s 11 remake. People standing in line for the movie were asking why I wasn’t devoting my time and energy to more critical issues? The fact is, I do – I write about politics too often in this column, and I vote. My stand against mainstream Hollywood was a sincere goof-off that took up maybe three hours of my life. My response to my critics was – why weren’t the people standing in line to see this idiotic rip-off instead sending that eight or nine bucks to a starving child, and why was the media covering my tiny boycott instead of devoting attention to the rising crime and poverty rates? They preferred to just blame me for making too big a deal of a frivolous matter. Hardly anyone would’ve known about it if the media hadn’t jumped all over it. What hypocrites. I learned my lesson, though. You never know what will strike the popular fancy, so be careful what you put out there. It’s a dice roll into a snake pit.

But then, in late September I got my own panties in a bunch when Critical Mass once again tied up rush hour traffic on a Friday afternoon in San Francisco. Normally I barely notice this annual event, since I try hard not to leave my house at all, but on this particular day, I was under pressure to get Monica, Tiki Goddess across the Bay Bridge and all the way over to Bimbo’s 365 Club in North Beach in a timely fashion, since she was co-hosting the epic burlesque extravaganza, Tease-o-rama, put on by our good pallies Alan Parowski and Baby Doe. In case you don’t know, annually for the past ten years, thousands of bicycle-riding protesters clog the streets of downtown San Francisco to make a statement against gross gas-consumption and the destruction of the environment. At least that’s the general idea. But I have to say, on this particular Friday, the whole thing rubbed me the wrong way. I know many lefties in my audience probably were part of that protest, and this may piss them off royally. I often go off on conservative hypocrisy in this column, with nary a complaint. Of course, I live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is not exactly Bush country, to say the least. And I always welcome disagreement. Several Republicans support my show loyally, and we bury the hatchet when it comes to politics. Agreeing to disagree is the key to a harmonious community. That said, whenever someone imposes their opinions on me, whether they’re oil-burning rednecks or flag-burning radicals, I feel violated and defensive – even hostile. Maybe I’m just being too selfish here, but Critical Mass seems more like a massive publicity stunt and ego-booster for the disenfranchised in our midst than an honest attempt to transform transportation.

Critical Mass is like a supposedly strategic assassination attempt where the shooter randomly fires into the crowd with a machine gun. Rather than just taking out their intended victim – in this case greedy auto corporations and gas-guzzling SUV drivers – they hit everybody who happens to be in their way, even their spiritual allies, like me. I agree with their message, but not the method. Forcing me to sit in traffic for hours – or making any honest worker have to wait to get home that night so someone else can achieve their own agenda – seems selfish to me, and ultimately unproductive. Critical Mass has been at this for ten years now. Does anyone really think there are fewer cars today than a decade ago? Hey, don’t get me wrong – nobody hates SUVs more than I do. Not only are they inefficient fuel-wise, they are the god damn ugliest vehicles in the history of automobiles. So politically and aesthetically, I agree with where the organizers of Critical Mass are coming from. But c’mon – NONE of those bikers has EVER been in a car? They all WALK or RIDE A BIKE to Burning Man in the middle of the fuckin’ desert every year? Let’s be reasonable, guys. It seems to me – and I could be totally wrong – that many of these bikers just revel in the attention and temporary sense of power. I relate to that awful sense of helplessness when you feel you have NO representation in your own Government. But by screwing up my day, you’re just alienating your brethren. I’m not going to stop driving. Neither are you, probably. It’s too big a convenience to sacrifice in this modern age, in this complex world, and you know it. But I do support the idea of more fuel-efficient vehicles, or better yet, solar-powered wheels. I will NEVER own an SUV. The new semi-retro two seater Thunderbird is our first car of choice, though we can’t afford it anyway. This isn’t really my point of contention, though.

What I suspect is that – like after the Rodney King verdict, when moronic malcontents randomly broke store windows to vent their “righteous anger” but actually were merely taking advantage of a chaotic situation – many of these bikers are just in it for the sheer random anarchy. Otherwise, why do they keep doing it? It’s not achieving a particular objective, that I can see, other than pissing a lot of people off, who are powerless themselves, in many cases, to affect any lasting change. Can’t you think of a more selectively targeted and possibly more effective method of protest? I mean, it’s not like it’s an anti-war rally – if that was the case, I wouldn’t mind rotting in a traffic jam, probably because I’d be on my way to join you (though to be honest, I’m pretty lazy when it comes to physical protesting – I prefer the written word.)

You can’t change reality until you accept it. That’s just my two cents. You can pick it up and make a wish, or drive right over it. It’s a free country. Sort of.


I’m sick of it all – I hate all politicians, all corporations, all wars, all terrorists, all bicycles, and all obnoxious baseball fans. (My wife is a diehard A’s fan – fuck the Giants. Of course, if she suddenly switched allegiance and became a Giants fan, which I doubt will ever happen, I’d immediately say fuck the A’s and Go Giants! I can go either way. I’ll say whatever I have to in order to get laid – that’s always been my policy when it comes to sports, since deep down, I’m apathetic about any grown man in a uniform chasing a ball around, no matter what the uniform, and no matter what shape the ball is.) The one thing I never get sick of is the sight of a sexy woman in various stages of undress. Does that make me sexist? Do I care?

I did wind up getting Monica to Tease-o-rama on time anyway, by circumventing downtown SF altogether and hitting the Bay Bridge right before the big jam. Plus we had to pick up visiting Atomic Magazine editor Leslie Rosenberg and her pal from New York, Dixie LaRue, two real swingin’ chicks whose company was pure pleasure. I got over my indignant anti-bicycle stance right away, especially in anticipation of seeing all that female flesh on stylish display. After two full nights of witnessing stage-side a virtual torrent of twirling titties, creamy asses and juicy thighs, I was practically gay. Monica did a bang-up job as co-MC (along with Luigi Babe and our pally, the amazing Connie Champagne, the Eydie Gorme of the 21st Century) and, as usual, she was the most beautiful gal in the joint, though my favorite performer, Cherry Malone from Sacramento, Miss Exotica World 2001, gave her a run for my money. Well, a brisk walk anyway. All the gals on stage – including of coruse the Devil-ettes - were incredibly inventive and talented. Atomic cover girl Dita Von Teese (also on the cover of the December issue of Playboy) showed up with her current beau, Marilyn Manson, whose glass eyeball was glowing in the dark right behind me. The beauty of it was, so many of our close friends were there, it was hipster central, so it was like a big retro house party on Bimbo’s dime – Mr. Lucky, Otto Von Stroheim, Johnny Marr, Auggie Ragone, Eddie Dane, Dr. Jon, and many more. All in all, it was an extremely memorable, entertaining, enriching experience. And rather than feeling sleazy and degraded, like one might after visiting a regular strip joint, we all left feeling elated and in total awe of Womanhood. This was no crass exercise in cheap exploitation – it was a raucous, eclectic celebration of female sensuality. I highly recommend you all attend the next Tease-o-rama in 2003, whatever the location (last year it was New Orleans – the next one could be in LA, Vegas or New York).

Nothing like using the power of sex to get your priorities in order. Make love, not war, like the old saying goes. Now I now that doesn’t just apply to hippies. Tease-o-rama should take place next time at the United Nations. I think all those stuffy world leaders need a titty tassle or two tossed in their kissers. Wake up and smell the pussy!


I find it very amusing when various ethnic and sexual subcultures claim united allegiance against The Straight White Man (like me, gulp) but secretly still hate each other, i.e. Blacks and Chinese, Latinos and Gays, etc. Everyone seems to be somewhat prejudice in their own way. Me, I admit it – I really have a thing against Presidents who weren’t actually elected by the majority of the citizens and yet somehow have the balls to claim a Moral Mandate. That’s just me, though. Those types of people really rub me the wrong way. I know, maybe it’s unfair of me to have that attitude, but I just can’t help it. I’ll work on it. Okay, I won’t.

I also am prejudiced against uptight people with no sense of humor. Being politically correct doesn’t automatically have to make one a stick in the mud – there’s no excuse for dullness. My wife is a feminist. She actually cried when Ronald Reagan became president in 1980 – when she was eight years old. She also used to carry around Pro-Choice signs in her grade school. But she has no problem when it comes to harmless, and artful, exploitation of the female form. Probably because she’s bi-sexual, sorta (our marriage kinda put the kibosh on that, though I don’t see why it should….). My point is that, appreciation of both pin-up art and feminine empowerment is not mutually exclusive. Tease-o-rama was a tantalizing testament to this fact. Further proof of this will be offered at The Parkway on November 7 when Thrillville presents a book release party for Oakland writer Lynn Peril’s acclaimed new tome, Pink Think, with a screening of the obscure 1954 cult Western OUTLAW WOMEN, starring Marie Windsor as the leader of a band of cowgals who take over a town – including its men. Lynn (already famous for her cult ‘zine Mystery Date) is an old pal of ours – she’s married to Johnny Bartlett, who is in one of our favorite bands, the Saturn V. Johnny is a loyal Thrill seeker, too, and I am very proud to host this celebration of his sexy, savvy wife’s book, which explores the feminine mystique in mid-century popular culture. A tomboy by nature while growing up, Lynn slyly and astutely mines the irony and humor in the commercial conspiracy to keep women pregnant and pretty in the kitchen. Of course, nowadays the mass marketed female ideal looks more like an emaciated twelve year old boy, with twin lead-filled balloons grafted to their bony chests (when will this just die??). The truth is, all pre-sold mass media images suck, basically. Everyone should just be themselves, the way their own nature intended, whatever that is, and screw the status quo according, to Beaver Cleavage or anyone else. Come embrace your right to your own unique individuality – especially if you have a vagina – on this very special evening, featuring an extremely rare flick I have never seen, in beautiful 35mm Cinecolor, from the atomic archives of Uncle Bill, which means of course cool classic trailers will also share the thrill-bill. Lynn will be selling and signing her book in the lobby, too, so you can hobnob with the local intelligentsia and enjoy a cheesy movie at the same time. Only in Thrillville, baby.

There was an all too brief time in the ‘60s and ‘70s when movies themselves were artistic acts of social protest. Even – or especially – B movie makers used this mainstream platform to slip in subversive messages of popular revolt. The blaxploitation genre was especially notorious for this, though many people today saw those movies as simplistic excuses to showcase black people killing and fucking each other. But they often killed and fucked whiteys in those movies, too, and the black stars were not bitching about the consistent paychecks. At the very least, these movies were entertaining as hell, and are valuable time capsules of a topsy-turvy era. On November 21 at The Parkway I am showing The Werepad’s 35mm print of THE BAD BUNCH (1973) – which mixes a volatile cocktail of action, Viet Nam, racial hatred, and lotsa bad hair. This is yet another movie I have never seen, but if I don’t book it, no one will get to see it, and with a title like that, how bad can it be? The answer: SUPERBAD, motherfucker!

Keep fighting the powers that be. If you hear me honking, just get the hell out of my way while you’re doing it. You may be blocking my view of a naked lady.


Order a copy of
"Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me,"
a novel featuring Vic Valentine, Private Eye
by William Viharo from Wild Card Press: