CRAZY GIRL’S JUKEBOX
Is there anything Crazy Girl can’t do? She is a musician, she has her own radio show, she animates her own videos and stories plus she designs teen-freaking computer games. All the latest info about the ultimate 21st-century Renaissance woman is on her website, including the details of the new, luxurious 12′ box set due out on the Tummy Touch label in August. This is her film jukebox.
1- Tommy (1975)
We got cable TV when I was a kid. There was only 1 channel, HBO, and it showed the same 3 movies over and over. Tommy was on constant rotation in 1978 and I watched it every day after school. At first it scared me, but then I became obsessed with it and to this day, I can recite the dialogue from beginning to end. The Who’s music plus Ken Russell’s keen direction equals a beautifully styled, psychedelic wonderland. It’s beautiful, twisted, has killer music and outfits, lots of star cameos and the hero is a pinball champion. What more could you want? When I was little it really captured me, I knew one day when I grew up I wanted to be a gypsy acid queen, just like Tina Turner. Recently I was home visiting my mom, and Tommy was on, she had never watched it, after a while, she started crying. I asked her what was wrong and she said, ‘I was a bad mother to let you watch this film when you were so young, I can’t believe this is what you were watching!’ I had to reassure her; ‘Don’t be upset Mamma, this film really influenced me on so many levels, if I hadn’t of seen it so young, I wouldn’t be doing what I am today!’
2- Always for Pleasure (1978)
Growing up in the deep south of Columbus, Georgia, USA, there was one thing I looked forward to with a vengeance; spending my vacations in New Orleans with my grandpa Stuart and my uncle Diggie. Leaving the drab beige Bible belt town for this rainbow city of exploding fabulousness! My family had an intense pride for their city. Grandpa was a jazz trumpeter. He’d played with the old jazz legends but when I was a kid he was the bandleader for the circus, which was pretty cool! My uncle was a musical playwright who wrote shows based on New Orleans culture and he was also an amazing costume designer. Going to visit them was like being on another planet where you dressed in sequins and feathers, ate yummy creole cuisine, and danced to the blaring sounds of trumpets and banging drums. This beautiful film by Les Blanks is the only film I have ever seen that truly captures the magic essence of New Orleans and what it once was. It’s set in 1978 at Mardi Gras. Witness the Mardi Gras Indians – Wild Tchoupitoulas chiefs doing their patois battle (kind of a folk rap), learn how to boil crawfish, Irma Thomas talks about how to make perfect red beans, see a rare performance by Professor Longhair, and much more. This is the New Orleans I remember – the beauty, the carefree way of life, the fun, the golden days.
3- Waiting For Guffman (1997)
In 1976 I played a young Scarlett O’Hara in my hometown’s sesquicentennial (150 year) celebration. That was my introduction to my local community theatre company. That’s why I love this film so much, it mirrors my small town upbringing. From the guys that brought out classics like Spinal Tap and Best in Show, this particular film is my favourite of theirs. Set in the fictitious town of Blaine, Missouri, the local theatre company writes a musical to celebrate Blaine’s 150th birthday. As the story goes, in the early 1900s, a presidential candidate was campaigning on a train that stopped in Blaine, a local boy gave him one of his father’s hand-crafted foot stools, that created the stool boom, and Blaine became known as the stool capital of the world. The theatre group does a song and dance number all about stools, it is the funniest thing I have ever seen.
4- Fantastic Planet (La PlanÃÂ¨te Sauvage, 1973)
Back in my early 20s, myself and 3 friends took acid and tripped at this folk artist compound in South Georgia called Pasaquan. It was built from the 1950s to the 80s by this wacky man who went by the moniker St EOM. He believed he was a Pasaquoan and he was to teach the world of Pasaquanism. Pasa from Spanish meaning the past and Quan from Chinese meaning the future – bringing the past to the future was his philosophy. All throughout the grounds were these giant space creatures with pressure point suits with their hair standing up in the air – that was another part of his mantra, that the hair must stand up to receive cosmic messages from the galaxies. Supposedly they could levitate as well. It was an intense, magical 3 days. We dressed in his outfits and tried to contact his spirit. Afterwards, one of my friends handed me a videocassette and said, ‘All will become clear’. Boy, was he right, it was like all the mysteries of the world were revealed, right there and then. Fantastic Planet was almost a reflection of St EOM’s vision. I believe the 1970s were the last renaissance on earth, just look at the outfits and music that was made then. Particularly 1973. The film was made by French artists in Czechoslovakia. It’s a story about the Oms and the Draags. The Oms are humanoid creatures broken into 2 groups, savage Oms that live in the forest and domesticated Oms who are pets of the Draags – the overseers of the planet. The Draags are giant space creatures in pressure point suits that levitate – see the similarities? The story is about the Oms trying to break free from the Draags’ tight reign. On top of a brilliant story, and wonderfully weird animation, the soundtrack is utterly superb!!! Composed by Alain Gorguer, the top track for me is ‘Ten Et Medor’, it’s also my favourite scene from the film.
5- Bottles (1936)
When I was little I really wanted to go to Disney World, just like all the other kids, but my parents were totally against the blatant consumerism, so instead we did Swiss Family Robinson type adventures, mining for amethyst, sapphire, ruby, rose quartz and even panning for gold in the Appalachian Mountains. I thought it was totally unfair and if I could have charged my parents with abuse I would have. Oddly enough, I was never ever a Disney cartoon fan, not even Fantasia (gasp!), I just wanted to fit in, I guess, and be normal. Every day there would be old cartoon shorts on the TV. This one in particular really grabbed me, made by one of Disney’s rivals – Harman & Ising. It’s set in a chemist’s shop, the chemist is making a drug and the fumes make him pass out. When he awakes everything is upside down and topsy-turvy. The entire chemist shop comes to life, the Alka Seltzer sings to the lipstick, the hair brushes dance with the perfume bottles, it’s all so mad. I think this made me want to try psychedelic drugs. I mean if it makes you see dancing lipsticks, it can’t be that bad, can it?
6- The Cockettes (2002)
I was born in the wrong time. If only I had been born in the late 40s, I would be in my late teens or early 20s living in a San Francisco commune. I am a total idealist and wish for a perfect utopia, it seems for a brief time in history, there was one in San Francisco. There was a printing commune, a food commune, art commune, music commune, and they all came together to work as one; but the best most fun commune that I would have joined had to be the drag commune. They had a drag box you could pick outfits from, they danced and took acid and covered their faces in glitter. They soon called themselves the Cockettes and formed a musical performing troupe, who counted Divine and Sylvester as members. It wasn’t long before famous people like Andy Warhol and Mick Jagger were lining up to catch their performances; but sadly it all crashed when they tried to recreate the San Francisco magic in New York City. This documentary has amazing vintage footage of their shows, with cameos by John Waters and Allen Ginsberg. A brilliant look into the wacky world of the acid-taking, beard-wearing, glitter-covered queens. Let’s hope that style makes a comeback soon.
7- Auntie Mame (1958)
Like I mentioned previously, going to New Orleans when I was a child was my favourite thing to do. One reason was because of my uncle, he could make a funeral fun, and he did when my grandpa died on my 13th birthday! I was devastated. But, Instead of staying home crying, he dressed me in sequins and feathers and took me to a play he was in at the time, that happened to star Dr Tony Jones from General Hospital (a popular soap opera from the 1980s). I forgot all about gramps and stayed up all night with Dr Tony Jones drinking virgin strawberry daiquiris. My uncle was a true bohemian, who travelled the world in the 60s with this theatre company called La Mamma. Their claim to fame was this series of ancient Greek tragedies performed in ancient Greek, at old theatres in the rounds in the Middle East. It was pretty ground-breaking stuff at the time, and original members included Sam Shepard, Susan Sarandon and Merryl Streep. Going to visit him was a real learning experience. He was a true artist and non-conformist, who on top of showering me with love, affection and lots of gifts, always taught me to be myself, not to judge others and to see life in a different light. Auntie Mame always reminded me of him. The story is about an orphaned boy forced through boarding school, who spends his vacations with his wild, wacky, bohemian aunt who shows him life through a different perspective. The outfits and sets are truly glorious, and again there is a moral message – be yourself and do not judge others. This classic film is a true old Hollywood gem.
8- Dancing Outlaw (1991)
When I first saw this film I thought it must be a hoax. Is it possible that a paranoid, schizophrenic, glue-sniffing, clog-dancing Elvis impersonator could exist? But the answer is ‘YES!’ Oh, I love this film. It is the story of Jessie White. Jessie has 3 personalities – Jessie – the sweet clog-dancing man, Jesco – the angry, glue-sniffing, devil-worshipping criminal, and Elvis – duh – the king of Rock and Roll. This fly-on-the-wall doc follows him around his home town of Boone County, West Virginia. A poor, coal-mining community nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. The film starts off with Jesco, in an Iron Maiden T-shirt with a boom box blaring ZZ Top, clog-dancing across a wood-slatted bridge over a ravine. Jessie’s deceased father had been a clog-dancing champion of Boone County and he desperately wants to follow in his father’s clogsteps. It’s quite evident when his personalities change. Jessie is sweet, Jesco is mean, and Elvis can be mean too. At one point his wife asks, ‘ Jessie, when will you make love to me?’ He replies, ‘Bitch, you call me by my right name or I’ll cut your fuckin’ head off’. So she asks, ‘ Elvis, when will you make love to Priscilla?’ A funny, poignant peek into a true character’s life. Apparently, there is a Jessie White music festival, one day Lord, please let me play there.
9- Mule Skinner Blues (2001)
My other grandparents lived in Florida and every year we would make the journey down to visit them. Along the way my dad would drive us through a trailer park and say, ‘This is where the carnies live’ and we would all peer out the windows hoping to catch a glimpse of the lobster man, bearded lady or obligatory midget. Sadly, all we saw were trailers, but I’m fascinated by trailer parks. This sweet little documentary is set in a trailer park in Florida inhabited by a group of misfits. Beanie – an alcoholic, drifter, and also king of the misfits, has one dream – to make a horror film. And together with his merry neighbours, and the documentary film crew, his dream comes to fruition. One lady sews the outfits, others provide the soundtrack, and with the magic of a gorilla costume – a monster is born. It’s a great feel-good film and nice to see a quirky community pulling together for art’s sake.
10- Belleville Rendez-vous (2003)
This animation is about a grandmother’s undying love for her grandson and the lengths she will go to protect him. Set in France in the ‘olden days’, the thing I love about this film is there is no dialogue, except when Les Triplettes de Belleville, a band of jazz-singing old ladies, do their occasional performance. That’s what is so great though, this film transcends words, it’s just a beautiful, moving story about love, protection and lots of bikes. My favourite is the dog, he’s so life-like. He has these funny doggy dreams which remind me of my dog Boo Boo Bee Bee, he has doggie dreams all the time.
Interview by Nick Dutfield