Accueil > Interviews > Suzanne Donahue & Mikael Sovijarvi - Gods In Spandex - Gods In Polyester

Suzanne Donahue & Mikael Sovijarvi - Gods In Spandex - Gods In Polyester

Si nous aimons rire d'un certain cinéma déviant, nous sommes très loin de mépriser les hommes et les femmes qui s'y sont impliqués ou compromis. Il nous a ainsi paru enrichissant de faire raconter le nanar et son univers par les gens qui l'ont vécu de l'intérieur. La diversité des intervenants et de leurs réponses nous a rendu encore plus proches du cinéma que nous aimons : vous découvrirez, au fil des entretiens que ces différentes vedettes ont bien voulu nous accorder, des informations précieuses pour le cinéphile et le cinéphage, des anecdotes cocasses et, en esquisse, le portrait attachant de personnages souvent hauts en couleur.
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Suzanne Donahue & Mikael Sovijarvi - Gods In Spandex - Gods In Polyester (page 2)


How long does it take to make such books (from the original idea, to the 1st sale)? What are the main steps ?

MIKAEL: Anything from six months to three years to come up with a reasonable number of contributors and wait for them to finish their pieces. After that, anything from two weeks to two months of sleepless nights, no food, and wrecked nerves to finish the layout. Whatever time it takes to find a ridiculously cheap printer who won't fuck up the books completely. The good people at Headpress in the UK had already sold Polyester so it didn't take too long to find a store/distributor willing to carry Spandex. The books are printed here in Finland, and the audience is located almost completely in the UK and the States. Having a distributor abroad is a necessity.



SUZANNE: It's kind of like putting a big puzzle together. Once you have the idea, you'd be surprised at how quickly the list of potential films and people to talk about them falls into place. Just start with your favorites in each genre and the possibilities grow easily from there. Plus you can always be doing one thing related to the project while waiting for another, which saves a lot of time. For example, while the contributors are writing their pieces, you can play with ideas for the cover design and interior layout. When a new piece comes in, you can edit and proofread it right then instead of waiting until the end to do all of them at once. While everything is at the printer, you can decide where the review copies are going and what stores might be interested in stocking the book. And I cannot stress enough how important it is to have reviews in magazines (both printed and online) and on websites. This step is essential if you're going to sell what you've done. People need to know about it before they'll buy it, plain and simple.

Have you encountered difficulties due to the subject you chose (in other words, how did people react when you talked about your project of writing books about obscure cinema to editors, friends, etc.)? Would you qualify this project as "easy" or "hard" to build ?

MIKAEL: No. I don't really talk much about my, eh, "artistic pursuits" with others, this is a part of my life that I keep almost entirely to myself. I have friends I've known for years who don't even know I do these things. People who aren't my friends think I'm completely insane. People who are my friends think I'm not entirely sane. C'est la vie. Life is life and when it's over so are you. The hardest part is coming up with the money to pay the printer. Doing things like Spandex isn't exactly a road to riches and neither is my day job. Everything else is easy. Don't talk about doing something. Do it. Easy.



SUZANNE: My general philosophy of life is to spend as much time as possible working/playing with people who "get me," and as little time as possible working/playing with people who don't. So while I never make announcements about my personal creative projects because I find human beings who spam themselves all the time to be extremely unpleasant, when friends and colleagues have found out about Gods In Polyester and Gods In Spandex they've been 100% supportive. Some of these folks share my taste in film, and the rest have the courtesy to respect it, but all of them know how passionate I am on the subject and therefore also know that I'll throw everything I have into the books I do. So there's never a problem with the subject matter. And as far as easy or hard, it's a piece of cake when you have the opportunity and the privilege to create something out of what you love. Just decide and go. The rest takes care of itself.

There are in your books tons of wonderful anecdotes about obscure cinema film-making. What is the one that you preferred / that astonished you the most / that you find the most touching ?


Gary Graver

MIKAEL: Everything Hy Pyke wrote for Polyester and Spandex. He was a true original as an actor, writer and a human being, and a walking embodiment of the 60's-70's counterculture era which has a special place in my heart. The closing words to Pyke's piece on Lemora in Gods In Polyester really got to me. "France loved the idea of a tale envisioned in the hidden mind of a child with a crush on her pastor. During a brief choral of Rock of Ages, so did I. Cheryl, rest in peace." That's the most beautiful eulogy on Cheryl "Rainbeaux" Smith I've read so far. It was also astonishing to read that Killpoint had no shooting script. Neither had Fireback. While Killpoint is not necessarily the Citizen Kane of low-budget action films, the difference between it and Fireback is like the difference between Glen or Glenda? and Clockwork Orange.



SUZANNE: In Gods In Polyester, one of my personal favorites is the late Gary Graver's piece on Texas Lightning. It's a brutally honest account of how the film he wanted to make was transformed into something else entirely by "the powers that be," and at the end you really feel an incredible sense of empathy for the man. Oddly enough, Graver's intended version of Texas Lightning--called The Boys--somehow made it onto cheap video in Europe, and I've had the chance to watch it and compare it with the version of the film most people have seen instead. It's like night and day...two different movies entirely. No wonder he was bitter. In Gods In Spandex, I have to give a big nod to Kenneth J. Hall's piece on Evil Spawn. It's hysterically funny and filled with so many bits of real life moviemaking absurdity that you'll never forget a word. By the time he gets to talking about the contributions of a porno maker who is responsible for such riveting titles as Return To Anal Castle and Boot-Licking Pony Boy, I guarantee you'll be rolling around on the floor with the most uncontrollable case of the giggles you've ever had.

Sometimes, by getting in touch with people that you only know through film, you discover a person or a personality that you did not even expect to be so kind / funny / sincere. That was our case when we interviewed Max Thayer or when we met Richard Harrison, for example. Who in your books surprised you the most, and why ?

MIKAEL: John P. Dulaney. Before Polyester & Spandex, he was "the guy with the beard who played Ballarin in the Nico Giraldi flicks," whom I knew next to nothing about. The man turned out to be a walking encyclopedia on Italian and Filipino B-movies with a dry sense of humor that I find very amusing. In my opinion, Dulaney's contributions on the Silver Star/Kinavesa films and Robowar are some of the funniest bits in Spandex. Since Gordon Mitchell has passed on, he is also the only living actor to have worked for both Federico Fellini and K.Y. Lim, which is, if nothing else, an amusing bit of trivia. Also, Jerry Ciccoritti was "The guy who did Graveyard Shift and agreed to do the book." I had no idea on what to expect from him. Ciccoritti's pieces ended up in my personal top five. An irreverent man who is wickedly funny.



SUZANNE: Among the Gods In Spandex contributors, Jerry Ciccoritti really wowed me, too. And he's as much of a riot in regular emails as he is when talking about his films. A great guy all around. I was also completely surprised by Rolf de Heer. Beyond being a huge fan of Incident At Raven's Gate, I had very little information about the man other than that he lived in Australia. But his intelligence, humor, and warm spirit completely won me over. With Gods In Polyester, both Ed Adlum and Jeff Lieberman made me sit up and take notice--Adlum for having such a fantastic hindsight attitude about his films and Lieberman for being even more entertaining than a new batch of Blue Sunshine.

In the Gods In Spandex foreword, you write that "the era of low budget independent genre filmmaking was born during the late 60's, flourished in the 70's, came to a slow death with the 80's and is likely never to come again." Could you elaborate on this point of view ?

MIKAEL: The Golden Age of the independent genre/exploitation/horror movie in the United States is long gone. The drive-ins are dead and the independents were swallowed by major studios or turned out into factories churning out soulless imitations of the same crap the majors put out. There is no European genre scene to speak of outside of Spain. The occasional exception to the rule pops up every now and then but in general, there are no mad, driven visionaries or cynical snake oil salesmen putting out these low budget wonders. The eccentrics that made films like Toy Box and Malatesta's Carnival of Blood don't gravitate towards genre films anymore. With horror in particular, all of the uninspired SOV Fulci, Romero and Hooper homages that I've had the misfortune to see over the past few years have killed off my interest in the genre almost completely. The films aren't interesting and neither are the people making them.



SUZANNE: Independent filmmaking now bears absolutely no resemblance to its 60's/70's/80's predecessors. On the one hand, you have people who call themselves "independents" but who actually have millions and millions of studio-style dollars at their disposal--money which, unlike in the past, does not have to be scraped out of the directors' own pockets or donated in pieces from friends, family, and local small businessmen. And on the other hand, you have the affordability of camcorder-style equipment--which means that anybody in the world can head over to Wal-Mart, pick up the cheapest microphone-ready model possible (preferably one where every environmental noise is abnormally loud and every line of dialogue sounds like it's coming from underwater), and then, with as little thought/drive/enthusiasm/vision/creativity as possible, slap together what I refer to as "non-movies." These "non-movies" have no personality, no style, no substance...not much of anything, really. In all honesty, you could watch paint dry and be substantially more entertained. By contrast, in the 60's/70's/80's independent film scene, you almost always had the distinct sense that these people were at least trying their very best to make a REAL film. It wasn't a weekend project to kill some time between football games. It wasn't something to do simply because they could buy the gadgets on sale. It was, in fact, something they believed in and something they attempted to make as unique as possible--with all of the blood, sweat, and tears effort to prove it. Big difference.

Could you tell us about your next projects ?

MIKAEL: I don't believe in self-promoting anything until it's finished and ready to be published. Plugging away on projects that fizzle out or end up delayed for years is embarrassing. If Spandex sells reasonably, Gods In Polyester will be revised and put back in print with a revamped layout and probably a few extra contributors. As long as there is a demand and money to keep the books in print, the books will in all likelihood be kept in print. Nothing is definite. Other than that, I don't know where I'm going and what I'll do in the future.



SUZANNE: There is a new book project in the works featuring one of the contributors to both Gods In Polyester and Gods In Spandex; however, the specifics must and shall remain classified until the deed is done. As for other upcoming endeavors, you never know what might be around the next publishing corner. But of this you can be sure: no one will have ever done it before. That's a promise.


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