When Henry met Alex
by Henry Rollins
interviewer and his subject keep a professional distance in New York's Central Park
There's a lot of things on my mind right now. I am sitting in a hotel room in Houston, Texas. I am out here doing a movie called The Chase. It stars Charlie Sheen and Kristy Swanson. In the film I am chasing the two of them through southern California. We are heading towards the Mexican border. Tonight is the start of the night shoots. Several stuntmen and extras are on for tonight. The fun starts at sundown and goes on and on until the break of dawn. Kind of like a rave but the music in my trailer is far better being Die Cheerleader, Public Enemy and James Brown and none of us will be wasted when the sun comes up. Another thing. How can U2 release a horrible selection of sub B-sides, the terribly weak "Zooropa", to critical and commercial approval? The album that contains a song that rips off Lou Reed's classic "Satellite Of Love" so closely they should have titled it "Lou Reed Is A God And We Are So Full Of Shit And Have Nothing To Say" and no one calls them on it. And then they have the audacity to play the real article in their "live" set?! Pack it in you fucking fakes.
On the other hand I played with Iggy Pop in Copenhagen and it was a turn-on all the way. He doesn't have blood in his veins. It's gasoline, napalm and a relentless, liquid electricity. A 46-year-old terror. He shredded. As the body is in either the anabolic or catabolic state, I think that existence is spent on different levels of triumph and humiliation. You triumph when you don't sell out and do the right thing and you get humiliated when you get compromised by yourself or others. Getting to work with people you admire and respect is definitely on the triumph side of things. Several months ago I had the great experience of working with a pal of of mine named Alex Winter. I first met Alex through a friend of mine. Back then I only knew him as the guy in the Bill and Ted movie - the one who wasn't Keanu Reeves. We turned up at the same jazz club every once in a while. I respect Alex because he's intense and always working on something. A film he was starring in and co-directing called Freaked needed a song for the opening credits. He asked me if I was interested in working with the band Blind Idiot God on the track. I agreed. I don't know how well Alex is known over on your side of the Atlantic yet, but he's someone you should definitely keep your eye on. A show he and partner Tom Stern put together for MTV called The Idiot Box was the best thing that ever graced that channel. Brutally hilarious. I've seen every episode a few times and I still can't believe how they got them past the higher-ups. The duo have also produced videos for Ice Cube and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Now Freaked is set for release at any moment. I went back and saw it for a second time the other night. It was even better. Alex's character Ricky Coogin, a pitchman for the Everything Except Shoes Corp, goes to South America to promote the bio-genetic fertilizer Zygrot 24 with his buddy Ernie. They meet up with a girl named Julie at an anti-Zygrot 24 rally and wind up getting trapped on the property of the freakshow pro-prietor Ellijah C Skuggs, played brilliantly by Randy Quaid. On his property are carnival games like Spit On The Bat, Inject A Stranger and Feel Up A Corpse. Rick and his two friends are transformed into hideously mutated freaks by Skuggs' Zygrot 24-fuelled Tasty Freekz Machine.
They team up with other freaks already trapped there and plot their escape. The special effects and mechanical prosthetics were created by Screaming Mad George (Nightmare On Elm Street 4), Steven Johnson (Ghostbusters, The Abyss) and Tony Gardner (The Addams Family, Darkman). The assortment of mutants is staggering. Two Rasta eyeballs, Eye and Bye, are the Uzi-toting security guards. The Worm, Rosie the Pinhead, the Toad. Mr T plays the Bearded Lady, and in my opinion steals the show. Apparently T left the set early because he couldn't take wearing women's clothing any more. And then there's Alex. His rig is so extreme that he had to sleep in some of it because of the time it took to apply. The humor in Freaked is the same kind found on The Idiot Box. Extremely punishing, physically abusive and constantly over the top. The film business is hard for directors starting out. Even a guy like Alex with a proven track record of success bumps his head with the guys in the suits. The film has had its release date changed more than once. The whole thing has Alex pretty vexed but he says it's par for the course. Alex has no great love of the film industry: "It's a boy's club. If you have an original idea they immediately want to fit it into a genre. The idea of changing what you're doing to make it fit into a certain classification destroys the purpose of having an idea in the first place. If they don't understand something, then it's threatening. If it's threatening, it's unmarketable. It's frustrating to say the least." Alex is in New York right now working on another script with Blind Idiot God guitarist Andy Hawkins. I think the pace of this city suits him better. I think his mind moves a little too quick for the reptiles on the West Coast. I hope people go check this film out. It's not like it's A Streetcar Named Desire, but it's a good time all the same.
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