CRU was a softbound (and comics-friendly) Portugese magazine. The writers had heard of my Memphis-based Guerrilla Monster FIlms thanks to the fledgling internet. CRU printed a 2 page popography of my work, 8 pages of my HELVIS comic, a four-page interview, and two pages of music reviews of my soundtracks and related Oblivians / Sympathy for the Record Industry product - all in SPANISH. CRU gave an image from my upcoming SUPERSTARLET A.D. the front cover slot - a Marty Perez photo of the 'Satana's' Beauty Cult (this would never have happened in American print). As I discovered, all things in Europe are political, even American artists from the South. My wild theories that here in America were ignored (or labeled me as a crackpot artist) were taken seriously and analyzed by CRU. I realized (even then) that I was kicking against the writerly (and to my mind, bizarrely anti-visual) 'auto-bio' trend in comics or the falsely promoted "underground cinema"of the day; I was opposed to the somber 'dogma 95' bunch through my playful use of sexuality as epic fantasy in my films as well as my use of faces instead of actors.
And my friends in the garage rock scene were making no money, yet influencing the next generation of trends. I was opposed to everything that was popular in the underground because I was not popular. Therefore, I saw it as a lie. It caused me to think that the true underground was in being 'unpopular'.
In re-reading this interview now, I realize how in love I am with the CAUSE rather than the EFFECT; namely that period of American culture that I just missed. I am proud that I come off, not as a rare-breed in my obsessions with comic books, rock and roll, and drive-in cinema, ...but as perhaps the only witness to such irony.
I am barely a witness to a model that no longer exists.
This interview was conducted in the Spring of 1999 as I was a year away from my first Euro travels. Thankfully, this interview was printed in English. Thank you, CRU magazine.
CRU: What made you move from illustration and comics to filmmaking?
JMM: This is the second time in my life I've outgrown comics to mess with film. Legends Harvey Kurtzman, William Gaines, and Jack Kirby died (just as I was being published by Fantagraphics) and I reexamined what I was doing. I thought it would be cool to direct my comics as films. Perhaps the way Wally Wood might have done it.
CRU: What are the ideals behind Big Broad Guerrilla Monster FIlms?
JMM: Movie star Elvis Presley read comic books. Elvis Presley believed in Captain Marvel, Jr.. I believe in Elvis Presley and (his stillborn twin) Jesse Presley. I want to influence unpopular culture with American iconoclastic images: Comic Books, Rock & Roll, and Drive-In Cinema. I believe that the real culture is not in the underground, but in the unpopular.
CRU: Not every filmmaker in the whole world makes his own company. Why did you start with yours? Nobody wanted to produce your motion pictures?
JMM: The ghost of a stillborn twin tells me what to do. I am an auteur savant. I create and control everything with what little money I have.
CRU: Some of the concepts you work with are a bit strange to us Europeans. So can you explain what is exploitation/sexploitation? What is a starlet, Stoopid, and Gospelvis?
JMM: Sexploitation in the proper historic sense, was the first wave that brought out the censors and their hypocritical morales. My sense of "sexploitation" offends liberals who think pornography is okay. "Stoopid" as a movement merely viewed things upside down, (to be ironic and surreal, to love and hate the same thing, keeping a healthy sense of anger as you grow older).
The "Gospelvis" is my regional and mystical theory based on the true boyhood of Elvis Presley in Tupelo, Mississippi and his twin brother Jesse (who was with him always, yet dead).
(Read the "Gospelvis" in the new Impala soundtrack record to my 1995 film "Teenage Tupelo" on Sympathy For The Record Industry this summer. Catalog #581).
Regarding Starlets: Actresses take lessons. Starlets take overdoses.
CRU: In your films, women are always the strong characters. However they are also the ones who end up with no clothes on. Don't you think that featuring naked birds can be seen as sexist? Or do you find the female body so beautiful that it must be admired as a great work of art?
JMM: I hope so.
CRU: Don't you get bothered with knowing other men watch your wife's body?
JMM: It can be more awkward for them if they are in the room with me.
CRU: In "The Sore Losers", Kerine blames the hippies for the decline of western civilization and hippies are the ones who get blasted. Do you really think that every dead hippie is a good hippie?
JMM: At it's core, punk is conservative. At it's extreme - fascist. It can make up for a male's lack of discipline in today's world, where unfortunately, there is no draft. Hippie music is liberal and represents the anarchistic but peaceful by being in power. Note the Prez.
Punk shall hate hippie and hippie shall hate punk!
CRU: Which one is more glamorous? Black and white or color?
JMM: Black and white.
CRU: Which are your favorite starlets?
JMM: My little three month old: Hanna Mildred McCarthy. The Guerrilla Monster holds her in his hand.
My favorite movie stars are the dead ones.
CRU: Does the name "Superstarlet A.D." have anything to do with the comics magazine "2,000 A.D."?
JMM: No. It's a 'millenial expression'. Content-wise, (Superstarlet A.D. is) "Beneath the Planet of the Apes meets Beyond the Valley of the Dolls". Beauty cults with machine guns hunt cavemen at the end of the world while searching for ancient stag films.
CRU: Are bikini girls with machine guns an image of power and female superiority?
JMM: No, they are a symbol of total power, female/sex and male/violence: she is superior because she is femme au naturelle. She is masculine because she holds an instrument of power created by a man. This is merely an updated mithraic symbol.
CRU: Do you find vintage undergarments more sexy than nowadays ones?
JMM: Yes. Taboo is best contained by ancient forces.
Starlet Kelly Ball by Marty Perez
Starlets Ashley, Susan, & Michelle (1998) Superstarlet A.D. by Marty Perez
CRU: In both "Teenage Tupelo" and "Superstarlet A.D.", girls are manhaters. They find men totally useless, apart from the face that they need them to make more girls. So, (from "Teenage Tupelo"): Topsy Turvy's Manhater Rule #2, "Since woman gives life, she should be allowed to take it! Therefore, if a man dies by a woman's hand, it should be considered....an accident!"
And (From Superstarlet A.D.) "Why be equal when you were born superior." are incredibly similar words to Valerie Solanis (the founder and only member of SCUM - Society for Cutting Up Men - who shot Andy Warhol in 1968). Solanis says "the male chromosome is an incomplete female chromosome. In other words, the male is a walking abomination; aborted at the gene state. To be male is to be deficient. emotionally limited; maleness is a defiency disease and males are emotional cripples." Isn't it ironic that an exploitation film director and a terrorist defender of women's liberation have the same ideas about men?
JMM: Sure, but Solanis refers to "men" (as if she knew them all personally) and I refer to "man". I think I just like the ancient conflict between men and women that political correctness tried to sweep under the rug (and failed), the old stag behavior, the attitudes of world war 2 veterans who read men's magazines in the sixties and seventies. All this boils down to acknowledging how different the sexes are. And in movies or comics, it's fun to stand that on it's head.
In TEENAGE TUPELO, for instance, Thee Madd Madd Manhaters worship Topsy Turvy, who professes these 'manhating rules". Then they catch her making love to the (male) theater manager. D'Lana (who relates to, and looks like) Topsy Turvy, is set free from Tupelo at the end of the movie to give birth to me, the director, of TEENAGE TUPELO.
SUPERSTARLET A.D.: Again, without irony you don't have a good story, and without stereotypes you don't have good genre. The women of Superstarlet A.D. have come to terms with the facts: women are good at some things, men are good at others. Without Man, they have no geometric structures, and without gay men, they have no clothes! They accept this without challenge, because they have evolved to the max: they are women.
I am intrigued by the fact that (at the beginning) all fetus is female. I am also intrigued by opposites: in being superior, women may also be closer to animals. Women feel things; intuitively, instinctually; hysterically, that man does not. Estrogen equips women to deal with creating life. Testosterone merely cuts a path through the wilderness to build a fortress in which to protect that life from mother nature. It is most ironic that Solanis chose to cut a path through a jungle to make her point.
CRU: Some European film directors, not related with exploitation / sexploitation films, such as Lars Von Triers and Thomas Vinterberg with their "Dogma 95" manifesto, are trying to go back to a more elementary cinema. The films produced under that manifesto have to low-budget, can only be done if the camera... (this part of interview is missing, and picks back up with:) ...you were given the money and means you would aim at a blockbuster?
JMM: Things that I cannot afford, make me what I am. Natural limitations create style - not forced limitations. I think if a cameraman can afford a tripod he might as well use it, or dissatisfaction may set in. "Elementary cinema" and "low budgets" kind of go together, right" Of course, I would love to have big budgets for my films - but 'blockbuster' has negative connotations (just like 'trash rock' does). Oh, and I am not interested in anything that is not 'exploitation' (real).
CRU: What does "alternative American cinema" really means to you?
JMM: It means nothing. It's an old Hollywood marketing tool.
CRU: What did you (mean when you) said that you were the "heterosexual John Waters" and a "Homosexual Russ Meyers"?
JMM: John Waters favorite film is "Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill" so really, both statements cancel each other out. I mean it just as it sounds. (I was being Stoopid).
CRU: Some film reviewers said that your work was more important than Tarentino's, and that it should be a role model for other artists. Are you a role model for other filmmakers?
JMM: Absolutely. Big Broad Guerrilla Monster is a boot camp for art. But Tarentino knows a genre when he sees it.
CRU: SHINE ON SWEET STARLET was filmed during THE SORE LOSERS tour. Touring with a film is another strange concept for us, poor, sorrowful European bastards. Was it a good tour?
JMM: Yes! That was the original 1997 Vice Party Tour of the North and Southwest. Over a dozen starlets took off their clothes for our Super 8 cameras on the road. I had the help of Emmy Collins and Victoria Renhard in her 1964 Falcon. Buy the SHINE ON SWEET STARLET soundtrack (again) on Sympathy For The Record Industry (catalog #537).
CRU: The '50's and it's memorabilia are very dear to you. Do your films reflect that past and somehow more glamorous world intentionally?
JMM: I think the nineties is a huge garage sale where only certain 'concepts' are being saved for the next millennia. There's cool stuff from every decade - depends on your concept. It was hard to look bad in the fifties.
Starlet Rita D'Albert (1998, W.C. Handy Club) by Victoria Renard
CRU: Which filmmakers are inspirational to you?
JMM: No one currently.
CRU: Rock and Roll is a constant presence in your movies. There are musicians who play at some parts. The soundtracks, the rock and roll way of life...How important is the interaction between music and image and which is more relevant?
JMM: Garage rock of the nineties is the most romantic resurgence since glam rock. The Makers and Guitar Wolf are as much comic book images as starlet D'Lana Tunnell. These people share an abstract ideal regarding unpopular American culture.
CRU: What can you tell us about the making of Guitar Wolf and The Makers videos?
JMM: Guitar Wolf was in August 1997 for Sony. I just wrote an article about it in the new issue of a Greek rock and roll zine called "THE THING".
CRU: On the Gearhead interview, you've said something like "Rock and roll was born in Memphis backyards so there is no point in you boys, from around the world, to try to be a 'rock and roll band'. Is this true? Only Memphis based musicians can be true rockers?
JMM: You're trying to get my ass in trouble in Europe, aren't you? I'm saying that rock and roll started in Memphis and people who say otherwise are full of shit.
CRU: Is Memphis / Femphis the center of your universe?
JMM: My mind is the center of my universe. Femphis is where my muse resides.
CRU: Do you really think that you are Elvis' son?
JMM: Yes. I am the First Disciple of the Blue Light of Capricorn. I was conceived in East Tupelo as was Elvis Presly. Read the liner notes to the new TEENAGE TUPELO soundtrack LP that Sympathy for the Record Industry is putting out this Summer.
Starlet Kelly Cox (1998) Superstarlet A.D. by Dan Ball
CRU: Which are Big Broad (Guerrilla Monster's) next projects?
JMM: "CADAVERA: Monster Starlet!" (a girl made from the parts of dead movie stars!)
A movie about the Keane paintings (Margaret and Walter Keane divorce trial) but I need investors!
"The Four Tracks" (Archie Mueller, Alicja Trout, Poli Sci Clone, Tim Feleppa) which are four track recordings by these artists packaged as a single band concept.
The current movie SUPERSTARLET A.D. will premiere on Elvis Deathweek August 16, 1999.
CRU: In this issue of CRU we're going to print some pages from HELVIS. Why did the story stay unpublished for so long?
JMM: In 1993, I wanted HELVIS the comic book to be an oversized (book) with a flexi-disc but no publisher would agree to it. I thought such a character made from the parts of REBELVIS (1950's), PSYCHEDELVIS (1960's), and ELVICIOUS (1970's) demanded it! My books never got promoted and knew the HELVIS project would be no different. Also, all my ideas of what the HELVIS archetype would finally be - were unfinished at that time. HELVIS remains an elusive character because he is PSYCHO-ICONIC! Which basically means larger than life. HELVIS will be part of the love triangle in the CADAVERA feature film.
(CRU MAGAZINE, 1999)
Starlet Kerine Elkins with Gun (1998) Superstarlet A.D. by Marty Perez