The town of Mansfield, Ohio, lies about halfway between Cleveland, on Lake Erie, and the state capital Columbus in the center of the state. The city is known for hosting the Miss Ohio pageant and as the birthplace of Luke Perry of Beverly Hills, 90210—and as the location of BibleWalk, purportedly Ohio’s only life-size wax museum.
The full name of BibleWalk is the Living Bible Museum. It has been in operation since 1983 and welcomes 40,000 curious visitors through its doors annually. The purpose of the museum is to illustrate scenes from the Bible with wax figures in dioramas, much like exhibits at the Museum of Natural History.
The museum features more than 300 figures, many of them reclaimed after having been discarded from other museums—which means that there are more than a few celebrities and famous people in the mix. When the figures “true” identities shine through the Biblical costumes, it can make for an odd experience.
Among the Hollywood movie stars you might spot in the museum are Tom Cruise, Elizabeth Taylor, John Travolta, Steve McQueen, and two figures from British royalty: Prince Philip and Prince Charles.
Julia Mott-Hardin, the director of BibleWalk, will not admit patrons if she thinks they only want to see the celebrities in this odd context: “I’ve had calls from people who wanted to take the tour, but only if I accompanied them pointing out the celebrities. I refused. The museum is about glorifying God and his work.”
Some of the figures have not been identified (if they indeed are celebrities). Feel free to guess—is that one Al Pacino? Margot Kidder? Do you spot Gloria Steinem in there?
Tom Cruise as Jesus Christ
Elizabeth Taylor, looking startled
George Harrison as God
Not the easiest to identify, but this monarch was originally John Travolta
There were many different versions of Sexual Trivia put out after the first one debuted in 1984 from Baron/Scott Enterprises - the same perverted geniuses behind the Dirty Words dice game from 1977.
A sort of deviant play on Monopoly, the first player to collect 100 orgasm dollars, wins. Because, of course they do. On the pamphlet that lists the rules for gameplay, it is recommended that Sexual Trivia NOT be played while riding public transportation. And as you might imagine, there is a pretty good reason why. I wasn’t kidding around when I said this is a board game for folks with a deviant streak. Best enjoyed by those who have no problem admitting they know that the average age of a prostitute in Europe is actually 25 (an actual question straight from the game) and not 19. HA!
Image from Sexual Trivia Strikes Again (the second edition, 1984)
The saga of Heavy Metal Parking Lot is practically indie-filmdom’s Greatest Story Ever Told. In 1986, Jeff Krulik and John Heyn brought a camera to a Judas Priest show and interviewed the fans milling about in the parking lot. The result was just about the funniest 17 minutes of nonfiction film ever produced—drunken, stoned, and just plain old amped-up metalhead kids mugged and preened for the cameras, and generally just obliged the videographers by absolutely reveling in the attention being paid to them. It’s people being people in some of the best slice-of-life filmmaking ever made, and no less an indie-film godhead than John Waters is said to have claimed that the film gave him the creeps.
Krulik went on to a career in video, working for Discovery Networks and the National Geographic Channel among other enviable gigs, and the notoriety of HMPL (nth-generation VHS dubs were practically a required possession of any self-respecting weirdo by the early ‘90s) allowed him to continue making short docs exploring the endearingly odd fringes of American culture. Most of them by far were NOT about parking lots, but the theme proved durable. In 1996, ten years to the day after he shot HMPL, he went back to the same concert arena to make Neil Diamond Parking Lot, which IMO was seriously way more fucked up than its forebear. The actually quite charming Harry Potter Parking Lot followed in 2000, and in 2004, the now-defunct Canadian cable channel Trio even commissioned Krulik to produce a parking lot documentary series called—yeah—Parking Lot.
HMPL was released on DVD in 2006. Rights issues concerning Judas Priest songs made it hard to release legitimately for a long time, though a legit-enough-seeming underground VHS compilation of Krulik films was commercially available at one time, if you were resourceful enough to find it. The DVD is blown out with extras, one of which is a wonderful short documentary Heavy Metal Parking Lot Alumni: Where Are They Now, wherein Krulik and Heyn tracked down four of the people featured in the film (three quite prominently, one for literally half a second), all by then approaching middle age. Amusingly, for years, none of them had even the foggiest idea that they had been part of an underground sensation. In fact, the iconic “Zebra Man,” a loudmouth young guy in an amazing and preposterous zebra-striped jumpsuit who made himself a spectacle by loudly proclaiming the merits of metal and calling Madonna a “dick,” is shown on camera as an adult watching HMPL, of which he’s inarguably one of the stars, for the first time. (There’s another revelation about the guy that I thought was HILARIOUS, but which I will not here spoil.)
One downer: they didn’t find the shirtless dudebro in suspenders who seems to have rather brashly called Judas Priest singer Rob Halford’s homosexuality a dozen years before Mr. Halford actually came out—or at least that’s what I always assumed his “Robert Halford, I don’t know about you” remark was supposed to mean. I don’t want to call some guy out as a homophobe if I’m misunderstanding what he’s trying to get at, but either way, there doesn’t seem to be any way that could have been an uninteresting follow-up interview. UPDATE 08/20/15: Via internet magic, he found me! He’s Zev Zalman Ludwick of Silver Spring MD, and since HMPL he’s become a Hasidic Jew, a bluegrass musician, and an aquarium designer. (There’s auto-playing media on that last link.) We had a lovely chat on the phone, and he confirmed that his remark in the film was indeed a potshot at Halford’s homosexuality, but that time has softened his views on gay people considerably. He also confirmed that he was, indeed, an interesting follow-up interview.
If you have a Roku device, both the original doc and the alumni follow-up can be seen on the SnagFilms channel (or you can watch the follow-up right here at the end of this post). And really, if you haven’t seen the original, it’s on YouTube. You should get on that, there’s a reason it’s been a stone classic for almost 30 years. Plus, absent the context of the original, I can’t imagine Where Are They Now having a whole lot of impact.
Propers to Mr. Marty Geramita for suggesting this post.
I have this love-hate relationship with stock photos because they’re just so damned staged and corny. Case in point, images of hackers according to stock photos. So, as you can imagine my sheer delight when I stumbled across these stock regular people “portraits” taken sometime in the 1970s. I love ‘em.
There are more porn ‘staches here than a night at Plato’s Retreat…
You know what I remember about the 80’s? Not a lot. And the things I do remember I generally dismiss as useless, with some exceptions. Like the time I decided to put an actual cassette tape (it was Blizzard of Ozz in case you were wondering) in the back of a Teddy Ruxpin that belonged to a kid I used to babysit. Those were good times.
Back in 2012, artist Sean Hathaway created an interactive installation called “T.E.D.” (Transformations, Emotional Deconstruction) that featured 80 Teddy Ruxpins hanging from a wall that seamlessly culled 24 different human emotions that were expressed through social media. According to Hathaway, the installation was kind of like “taking the collective emotional pulse of the Internet.” The speech that flows from the Teddy is accompanied by music composed by Portland-based musician, Carlos Severe Marcelin. The dreamy, sometimes creepy and often sad video from the installation that may ruin your childhood (in case someone hasn’t done that for you already), follows.
“T.E.D.” or Transformations, Emotional Deconstruction interactive exhibit
On Saturday August 15, 2015, Akron Ohio’s finest post-rubber export DEVO were honored in their hometown with the dedication of a piece of public art. The iconic 1978 Janet Macoska photo of the band in full stage uniform in front of the late, lamented hot dog stand Chili Dog Mac was colorized, enlarged to life size, and placed over that onetime landmark’s former facade next to the Akron Civic Theatre. This dedication is the first part of a planned renovation of that entire block, which has become a bit rundown and suffered vacancies despite having an anchor in the popular theater.
The event was a stone hoot. DEVO’s bassist/co-mastermind Jerry Casale and photographer Macoska were present, free chili dogs were available to all assembled, and the event began with a surreal and hilarious stunt, the Running of the Booji Boys. A couple dozen revelers in identical Booji Boy masks and blue jumpsuits danced in the middle of South Main St while a DJ pumped out DEVO music. The masks, not incidentally, are recreations by Akron’s SikRik Masks. DM has told you about them before. (All photos are by Ron Kretsch except where noted.)
A couple of weeks ago, DM’s Amber Frost showed us a pretty ridiculous TV news feature taking the gargantuan ‘70s arena rock band KISS to task for having the temerity to market themselves. The whole thing was full of tedious old-fart tut-tutting, and it frankly felt like the band wasn’t actually being scolded for their publicity machinery, but rather for being young and nothing at all like Tony Bennett.
So when I ran across this Gene Simmons interview on the old Mike Douglas show from 1974, I expected more or less the same vibe—the show, after all, was one of the champs of a soon-to-be-obsolete style of daytime variety programming that gave a reliable home to fading stars and alter kocker holdovers from the late vaudeville and early television eras for a demographic of stay-at-home housewives that was about to shrink significantly. So when it turned out that Douglas and his other guests reacted to Simmons’ startling kabuki-ghoul appearance in stride and just joked with him like anyone else, it was quite a surprise.
This was in the early days of KISS, so Simmons didn’t really have his schtick nailed down yet, and his efforts to project a menacing, demonic character fall WAY flat, as if to answer the question of what shock-rock looks like without shock. His professed desire to drink the audience’s blood and his self-characterization as “evil incarnate” barely seem to elicit much more than a shrug from the audience.
The interview is saved by a pretty amazing exchange between Simmons and old-school comedienne Totie Fields, who joked that it would be funny if Simmons, under the makeup, turned out to be “just a nice Jewish boy.” Simmons, of course, is not just an actual Jewish boy, but an Israeli sabra born Chaim Witz, and he drolly (and pretty Jewily) retorted “You should only know…” Fields owned the moment by interjecting “I DO! You can’t hide the hook!” Fields herself was born Sophie Feldman, and could probably spot a Member of the Tribe using a showbiz pseudonym a mile away.
The appearance also includes Douglas interviewing the winners of a kissing contest (*eyeroll*), and a band performance—as in an actual live-in-studio performance, it’s not mimed—of the early song “Firehouse.”
Cecil B. DeMille was a peculiar, yet lovable, producer of Hollywood balderdash, and Madam Satan just might be his most bizarro film.
Actress Kay Johnson as the alluring “Madam Satan”
The black and white film came out in 1930 and had originally contained Technicolor scenes that were sadly somehow lost. Despite its occult-sounding title, Madam Satan is a vintage romcom that tells the story of a married couple, Angela and Bob, who are having a relationship crisis. When Angela finds out that her husband is screwing around with a chick named Trixie, she creates an alter-ego of herself called “Madam Satan.”
Actor Theodore Kosloff as “Electricity” in Madam Satan
After Madam Satan makes her debut at wild masquerade ball, the film just gets weirder and more wonderfully excessive as it goes along. There are elaborate song and dance routines, flirtations with electricity, and actors dressed in boundary-pushing and visually stunning costumery (much of which was created by the head of wardrobe for DeMille’s studio, Adrian Adolph Greenburg) that were far beyond their time. Madam Satan is truly a film that must be seen to be believed. A remastered version of Madam Satanwas released on DVD in 2010 and I highly recommend tracking down a copy so you can see it for yourself. You can also take a peek at more stills from Madam Satan, as well as a clip from the movie that will likely induce a good old-fashioned case of the bed-spins. Hail Satan!
Madam Satan star Kay Johnson strikes a pose with her masks
A strange chorus line of cats from Madam Satan
More great stills from the curious classic after the jump…...
God save us all, some Simpsons fans in Phoenix have started a Ned Flanders-themed metal band called Okilly Dokilly. They’ve only been together about a month, so they seem to have more band photos than songs at this point, but what band photos!
The band is singer Head Ned, keyboardist Red Ned, bassist Thread Ned, guitarist Stead Ned, and drummer (and pseudonym winner) Bled Ned. Head spoke with Rip It Up about the band’s formation.
Myself and our drummer were in line at a grocery store, entertaining ourselves by coming up with really cutesy names for really hardcore, brutal bands. The name Okilly Dokilly came up and was very funny to us. We ran with it. I contacted a few friends, and here we are. Most of us have played in other bands around our hometown. This is definitely the heaviest sounding project any of us Neds have done.
And in case the thought crossed your mind, yes, Head Ned is left-handed, so hooray for cosplay authenticity. The band’s debut performance is scheduled for September 5th, so Phoenician DM readers, mark your calendars. The rest of us will have to be content with scouring YouTube on the 6th, to see if Okilly Dokilly is as good in concert as all-time dork-metal champs BlöödHag.
When I’m King of the Universe, it will be a law that all home video releases of films must include the option of watching the edited-for-broadcast version wherever one exists. I first began to lean toward this policy when, stoned as fuck, I caught The Breakfast Club late at night on a local UHF station (yeah, I’m kind of old.…) and found myself howling with laughter at some of the preposterous dialogue substitutions—for example, the immortal “hot beef injection” line was bowdlerized into “some hot wild affection,” as if the original line wasn’t a euphemism in the first place. But the need for such a law was confirmed to me when, one Christmas, my then-girlfriend gifted me a boxed set of the 1983 Al Pacino remake of Scarface.
It merits mentioning, so I may as well mention it here: Scarface isn’t nearly as good a movie as its reputation would suggest. Which is not to say that it’s bad. It’s not. It’s just not a great movie. If you’re in the mood for astoundingly over-the-top tough-guy posturing and GIANT FUCKING MAYHEM, it’s one of the single most badass films in history, but as a narrative work in the immigrant crime drama genre, it’s far eclipsed by plenty of films you could name, a fair few of which also star Al Pacino. And of course, it distinguished itself in its day as one of the most unabashedly profanity-laden mainstream films ever released, almost in a class all it’s own before the f-bomb-a-thon The Big Lebowski emerged as a challenger. And one of the DVD extras in that boxed set was a montage comparing the original dialogue to the censored scenes in the movie’s broadcast TV version. It’s some pretty entertaining shit. I honestly would have thought it couldn’t be done, and really, I was kinda right.