indie

Happy Birthday, John Waters!

John Waters as William Castle and Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford on FX's FEUD

William Castle (John Waters) addressing the crowd at STRAIT-JACKET’s (1964) premiere as Joan Crawford (Jessica Lange) listens on FEUD (2017) episode HAGSPLOITATION

I grew up in a John Waters household, so when I caught up with FEUD (2017), I was delighted to watch his cameo as shockmeister William Castle. My parents went to Waters’ movies, and my mom owns an ODODRAMA card gotten at a first run screening of POLYESTER (1981). Living in Massachusetts close enough to The Cape that Provincetown could be a day jaunt, she thinks she shopped in Dreamlander Divine‘s thrift shop, which he ran in his poor, pre-fame days. It was only a matter of time until we shared some of Waters’ movies together. I’ve now seen most of his films and read most of his books.

Which is how I know it was an honor for him to play Castle. Physically, the two men were very different. Waters has remained trim while Castle was heavier in comparison and thicker haired. FEUD show creator Ryan Murphy didn’t want Waters costumed to resemble Castle. No, fat suit as Waters said. Murphy was aware those in this know would delight in how meta it would be for Castle disciple Waters to appear as himself when portraying the other director.

If you haven’t read Castle’s memoir STEP RIGHT UP! I’M GOING TO SCARE THE PANTS OFF AMERICA, you need to. Waters wrote a loving and nostalgic introduction on how seeing Castle’s gimmicky movies as a kid inspired a love of cinema and the outrageous. There’s a joy in both directors’ works at defying convention to pursue their own visions. Keep on reading after the introduction, and you’ll learn a lot about B-movie making on shoestring budgets, including what it was like to work with Joan Crawford on STRAIT-JACKET (1964).

Happy birthday to John Waters, who doesn’t think he’s ever topped William Castle, but got to be him for a day! That must have been his best early birthday present.

Leave or Read Comments.

Friday Fun: Betty Boop in Tokay

The latest music video vixen is–Betty Boop! About 85 years after her first screen appearance, Max Fleischer‘s cartoon flapper is back on screens dancing her way through pop rock band Dengue Fever‘s video for their single Tokay.

No new footage of Betty has been drawn. As the group stares into 3-D View-Masters, we see what they see: scenes of Betty and her friends from classic cartoons. Betty’s antics are cut into a new adventure to harmonize with Tokay’s sounds.

Dengue Fever merge Cambodian pop and psychedelic rock. Their singer Chhom Nimol‘s birdlike vocals seductively weave through the song. Her hyperfeminine voice plausibly could emerge from busty Betty’s mouth.

Nimol’s lyrics in Khmer tell of the Tokay, a gecko of Southeast Asia, whose cries have special significance for lovers. Yearning for auspicious signs, lovers count the cries to determine if they will marry their desired ones or remain single.

Even if you can’t understand the words, the vocals and the psychedelic sounds and the beat give a trippy effect. Fans of Betty Boop will find themselves entranced.

Kudos to my friend Toni from MergingArts Productions for pointing out this video!

Leave or Read Comments.