By Michael Varrati
In gazing upon the kindly visage of Paul Bartel, the first images to arise are certainly not those of “suburban cannibal” or “high-octane racer.”
Prior to his untimely death in 2000, the seemingly reserved Bartel had made a career out of portraying the lovable curmudgeon, winning hearts in movies such as Rock ’n’ Roll High School and Tim Burton’s original Frankenweenie. For a whole generation who was used to seeing him as the befuddled teacher or loveable uncle, it seemed unfathomable that something far more subversive lurked beneath the surface of Paul Bartel. Yet, for those in the know, Bartel has always been more than just a mere character actor. True cult aficionados are aware that Paul Bartel can be cited as the man responsible for some of midnight cinema’s finest moments.
Openly gay in an era where it was considered taboo, Bartel found being upfront about his sexuality afforded him a lot more opportunities in the independent film world than mainstream Hollywood. An outlaw from the beginning, Bartel almost instantly fell in with the “King of the B-Movies,” Roger Corman. In 1972, Corman and his brother passed along a horror script to Bartel, a tale of skid-row lodgers and living dolls called Private Parts. Bartel gave the film his own macabre touch, morphing the horror piece into an outrageous black comedy. With Private Parts, the actor-turned-director was able to establish a presence in the world of cinema, creating an original, outlandish voice that shined from the very beginning. Read More…
By Michael Varrati
One thing Peaches Christ and I have always had in common is our desire to celebrate our artistic influences loudly. The very essence of Peaches’ Midnight Mass is the appreciation and worship of the movies that inspired and motivated her to become the icon of fright she is today. Similarly, a lot of my articles here on the site, including the popular Cult Filmmakers You Should Know series, are all carefully planned to pay tribute to the avant-garde and daring artists that I love.
While film is definitely a huge motivator for the two of us, Peaches and I are also rather multi-faceted in our appreciation of the arts. Recently, Ms. Christ and I got together to discuss praising different aspects of the performance community, and we kept returning to the idea of legendary drag performers. As Phillip Ford mentioned in my Vegas in Space piece, there was an era when drag was certainly not the celebrated part of the LGBT community it is today. For a whole generation, the mere idea of gender-bending was considered to be an outlaw act. Certainly, a far cry from the RuPaul’s Drag Race-era we exist in now. But, because of a plethora of drag pioneers like Divine, Charles Busch, and more, the concept of this fringe performance art began to creep its way into the theatre and movies, creating a veritable cult of its own.
So, in the spirit of the Cult Filmmakers series, Peaches and I would like to open to you the Drag Dossier. Through this series, both myself and special guest writers will reveal to you the stories of some of the most famous, avant-garde, and unique performers in drag culture. Hold tight, my dear children of the popcorn, because it’s going to be a glamorous ride!
For our first installment, I am beyond thrilled to highlight one of the very best of the community:
By Michael Varrati
Stepping out of the shadows of the previous generation can be a process for anybody, but when your parents are two of cinema’s most notorious luminaries, there’s bound to be an extra measure of complication.
For Italian actress and filmmaker Asia Argento, contending with famous parents has always been a fact of life. Her mother, noted actress and screenwriter Daria Nicolodi (Suspira, Deep Red), blazed a bloody trail for the women of Italian horror throughout the 1970s and beyond. Similarly, her father, the hugely celebrated filmmaker Dario Argento, literally changed the face of genre cinema forever.
With two titans of terror as parents and various other relatives in the business, Asia’s childhood was one ruled by the movies. By her own confession, she initially turned to acting not to establish her own identity, but because she sought her father’s attention. Read More…
Zombies return to NightLife for a dose of science—brainy partygoers beware!
Experiment with slimy specimens in a Human Organ Lab, where you can see (and yes, touch) human brains…
Zombie makeup artists will be on the prowl for their next victims of vanity, and guests can step into a zombie photo booth to capture the memories…
Hear from neuroscientist Bradley Voytek of the Zombie Research Society (and UCSF); Kevin Dutton, author of The Wisdom of Psychopaths; and Steve Schlozman, author of Zombie Autopsies: Secret Notebooks from the Apocalypse.
And, don’t miss the Zombie Drag Show presented by hostess of horror and local legend Peaches Christ…!
DJs S4NtA_MU3rTE and Chauncey CC (120 Minutes) will spin a dark and creepy bass-heavy set with custom video projections…
Plus, Miles the DJ spinning in the Piazza.
By Michael Varrati
With the imminent arrival of Barry Bostwick to Midnight Mass HQ, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time pondering the phenomenon that is The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Created by Richard O’Brien and directed by Jim Sharman, the film with the longest run in theatrical history has blazed a bizarre, yet unparalleled trail through the history of cinema. Rocky Horror has throngs of fans who still crowd into movie theaters on a weekly basis, shouting and singing along in a fanatical fervor akin to religious devotion. For many creatures of the night, RHPS is more than a movie, it’s a way of life.
Of course, worshipping at the altar of a beloved film is not a foreign concept to me or my boss lady, Peaches Christ.
By Michael Varrati
Much like Santa Claus, it’s been a whole year since I last saw Lewis Jackson.
However, considering the cause of the filmmaker’s notoriety, that we would be reunited at the holidays is fitting.
To the cult film community at large, Jackson is most well-known as the writer and director of Christmas Evil (aka You Better Watch Out), a prototypical holiday horror film with a turbulent history that laid the foundation for a whole subgenre of killer Kris Kringles.
Long heralded by John Waters as the “greatest Christmas movie ever made,” Jackson’s film has travelled a long, strange journey from its initial release. Disavowed by the studio that produced it, and long held captive by bootleggers, the movie seemed destined for filmic obscurity. However, thanks to Waters’ constant championing and a small, but fervent fan base, the movie was resurrected and rediscovered by horror audiences the world over. Now, Christmas Evil is widely accepted by fans of fright as one of the single best and most important holiday horror films ever committed to celluloid.
For all of the film’s trials and triumphs, Lewis Jackson has lived through each bump in the road. Although the filmmaker admits the journey has been a bittersweet one, he also displays a twinkle of pride for how far his film has come.
By Michael Varrati
When it comes to celebrating the majesty that is Paul Verhoeven’s Showgirls, I think that we here at Midnight Mass HQ have more than proven ourselves. My boss lady, Peaches Christ, has been mounting lavish spectacles worshipping the film for over a decade, and I personally consider the movie to be woven into the very fabric of my cult film identity. Search back in my articles and interviews far enough, and it’s a motion picture that invariably comes up.
Because it’s fierce as fuck.
Showgirls is an over-the-top cult spectacle. It demands to be seen. It begs to be worshipped.
It’s the perfect midnight movie.
…and, as such, we love it dearly.
Due to our undying devotion, we also have an intense love for those involved in making Showgirls the cult spectacle it has become. One such individual, Rena Riffel, who played Penny/Hope in Showgirls, has become a dear friend of the Midnight Mass family and has carried the torch for Verhoeven’s masterpiece since its release in 1995. Even when many of her fellow cast mates shied away from discussing the movie, Riffel held the banner high, knowing that she had been involved in something unique and special. Read More…
June 1st, MIDNIGHT @ Metreon, San Francisco – Peaches Christ Productions, Ain’t It Cool News, and Tugg Proudly Present THE LOVED ONES.
A wonderfully disturbing Australian horror film, The Loved Ones tells the story of Lola Stone and Brent Mitchell. Lola asked Brent to the prom, but Brent said no, and now he’s screwed. What happens when Lola doesn’t get what she wants? She enlists Daddy’s help to throw a prom of her own, where she is queen and Brent is king — whether he likes it or not. The Loved Ones is what happens when puppy love goes horribly, violently wrong. Brent should have said yes…
And we’d like you to attend “Prom” at the Metreon hosted by filmmaker Joshua Grannell (aka “Peaches Christ”). That’s right! Audience members are encouraged to don their finest gore-couture prom wear for a raucous and celebratory screening of this over-the-top splatter piece. Prizes will be awarded to one Prom Queen and one Prom King so dress to impress.
Go HERE to Reserve Your Tickets!
The Bay Guardian Presents BEAUTIFUL REBELS - A celebration of the Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk – Friday, 4/6 @ 5:30pm
Hosted and Curated by PEACHES CHRIST
It’s FREE. However, Regular Museum admission applies for exhibits.
Opening on March 24, 2012 and continuing its strong track record of exhibitions highlighting the work of the innovators and iconoclasts of the world of fashion, the de Young Museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park presents, The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk, the first exhibition devoted to the celebrated French designer and his personal themes of “equality, diversity and perversity.” The de Young is the exclusive west coast venue for this critically acclaimed international exhibition after its premier at the organizing institution, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and its presentation at the Dallas Museum of Art. The exhibition will be on view at the de Young in the Herbst Exhibition Galleries from March 24–August 19, 2012. Read More…
It’s the return of Trannyshack’s Annual Star Search competition!
‘Tis the season when relatively new drag queens perform for a title that’s grown to become VERY important in the world of San Francisco Drag. The upcoming event marks the 13th annual Trannyshack Star Search, and it promises to be the biggest and fiercest competition yet.
Over the years many of the event’s past contestants have gone on to become legendary performers on the local drag circuit including Metal Patricia, Landa Lakes, Holy McGrail, Elijah Minnelli, Lady Bear, L. Ron Hubby, Kegel Kater, Pollo Del Mar, Faux Pas, Miss Rahni, Anjie Myma, Cousin Wonderlette, Sandra O. Noshi-D’int and many, many more.
Hostesses Heklina and Peaches Christ created the event to be a local talent search for new drag superstars. And the show has NEVER failed to deliver on that premise. Witness a brand new crop of fresh-faced, and attention-starved contestants compete for the Miss Star Search crown and be there to say “I saw her first”!