August 9th, 2006
|11:44 pm - I L V 2 K + 6|
Last night I hung out with crabmoon, and she stumbled upon my copy of Irish Lesbian Vampire 2.
Some of you remember the fervor surrounding Irish Lesbian Vampire 2. Some of you were part of it, either as instigators (hi Rob!) or fanatics (hi, members of Us!). Some of you, on the other hand, have no idea what Irish Lesbian Vampire 2 is. And, of course, I imagine that there are a couple of you -- and I s'pose I'd better not point fingers -- who are covering your eyes and shaking your heads and going "why? It's not even Rob's best work."
Irish Lesbian Vampire 2 (or ILV2K) was a play by rob_matsushita which ran at the Broom Street Theater in the Fall of 2000, and for six weeks it filled a social void for me and several of my friends. The Rocky Horror Picture Show had played at the Majestic Theater until March of '99, and we missed it sorely for more than a year. ILV2K, while not an audience participation show, gave us something similar to look forward to during its six-week run. We went opening night -- theenigma42, inle_the_rabbit, crabmoon, lord_alucard, poriginal, mlitiagrl, chromwolf, and a few others. Most of us came back more than once. It's funny that I have all of these people listed as livejournal friends; it wasn't long after that first viewing of ILV2K that much of the group split up. It's only been in the last year that many of these friendships have renewed. But I digress.
ILV2K was the sequel to a previous play written by the late Joel Gersmann and predictably titled Irish Lesbian Vampire. I never saw that show, but I did read the book it was based on (that's J. Sheridan LeFanu's Carmilla, for those keeping score at home). ILV2K took the same approach to sequeldom as, say, Gremlins 2 or Army of Darkness, in that the sequel and the original are so unrelated as to make comparison impossible. ILV2K probably did not function well as a sequel, but it did make for fantastic entertainment, and I saw some things on stage that I never thought possible.
The story is straight out of a good B-movie, and follows a group of unrelated characters -- a lesbian couple, two detectives, a hitman/priest, an actual, genuine vampire hunter, and others, as their lives intertwine and they all find themselves at the grand opening of a horror-themed hotel run by the titular Irish Lesbian Vampires. It was a really weird show, and it's hard to explain its greatness to someone who hasn't seen it. Simply, it was an action movie on stage. Special effects. Bullet time. The best fight sequence ever choreographed. If you took the best aspects of Quentin Tarantino, John Woo, and uh, Mel Brooks, you'd have some of the appeal of ILV2K.
The ideas behind the spectacle were even better than the spectacle itself, but that's hard to explain. It's hard to explain the potential of a character who can spontaneously generate music until you've seen it done well. It's hard to discuss the play in terms of entertainment, and then point out its weighty subject matter (child abuse, civil rights...). It's hard to explain that Come On Eileen is the perfect soundtrack for a gunfight, or how the addition of telekinesis and mind-control can elevate a fight scene from the station of Pointless Time-Filler to Best Thing Ever.*
Rob gave me a copy of ILV2K on VHS which had been shot from above the audience during one of the performances. The quality isn't great -- the sound is lousy, and the camera tends to reach the sudden visual flares just after they happen. It would be a very poor introduction to ILV2K for someone who hadn't seen it, but watching it last night made me and Lindsay very nostalgic.
I have often wondered how Rob feels about ILV2K, and the localized lump of stardom it generated for him (i.e., my friends and me). It is unlikely that ILV2K will be the work for which he is most remembered (heck, it's probably already been supplanted by something newer), but ILV2K is the only one of his plays that most of my friends were willing to go see. I've seen much of Rob's work since then, and I find it consistently impressive and entertaining, but theater is always a hard sell for my friends because... well, I don't know why. It shouldn't be.
Anyway, where was I going with all of this? I don't know. Rob, if you're reading this, Lindsay and I think you oughta muscle your way into Hollywood (or maybe Troma) and start making movies. We figure that ILV2K could be easily enough adapted for screen (couplea hints: find somebody else to kill in the opening sequence, cast Jason Lee as Helsing and Janeane Garafalo as Rice. Possibly Tilda Swinton as The Woman, though possibly not). It'll be a good way to get your foot in the door. After that you can do new stuff, though if you ever wanted to cater directly and only to me, I think your remake of Psychos in Love could easily secure the title of Second Best Thing Ever.
Oh, and while we're all waiting for Rob's 15 minutes, I'd like to point out that he is featured the character Lloyd in the very excellent Chad Vader: Produce Manager.
* This statement, though not evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (why would they bother) is probably true.
Current Mood: nostalgic
Current Music: Minibosses -- Kid Icarus
I liked ILV2K alot but of corce I am scotish..."and gay";)
then agen i quote "Count Fagula" more often than ILV2K, go fig
Country music is orange and it itches.
Ted: Ah, you must be the Victims.
Mr. Victime: That's Vic-TEEM!
Mrs. Victime: It's French.
Ted: It's appropriate.
I would seriously kill some more people for a denver omlet.
Hey, if you have some free time, thik you could fire up the shoesaw?
Sounds to me like you should be encouraging him to send a script Merrie's way.
is a friend of mine who is trying to get her foot in the door with Troma. Well, actually, her foot's already in there, but she's trying to get the rest in, too. She's looking for short screenplays to produce. I'll point her toward this discussion.
It's so weird that Troma keeps coming up--I was just at Debbie Rochon's MySpace page just now.
It should be mentioned that I'm in love love LU-HUV with Debbie Rochon. That is all.
Mother of God, do I have scripts for YOU.
My job here is done...
Yeah--right now, they're plays, but it doesn't take too much imagination to make them film scripts, given the way I write.
It's already there--the current version, which is already in screenplay format, btw--is 24 pages.
I'll send it to you, right now.
I did the same--and I've got a myspace page, too, so expect a friend request.
Thanks for looking at my stuff!
We should all really go to a play while I'm still at this appartment. I think most of the reason I didn't join in the funn was the whole, living in Stoughton thing.
It's funny--I know I've mentioned this before, but I have sort of a love-hate relationship with ILV2k.
On one hand, I've always considered it the least of my own shows...I've referred to it as my "Mallrats," a movie that I know has its followers--and admittedly, I'm among them...
And on the other, it, so far, is the only one of my shows to have a fan following. And that can't be ignored. (Actually, "Meeting Jerry Springer" had the most people come back for a second, third, and fourth viewing--but that was designed for it.)
But I also feel weird saying that, because I know how much you guys liked it, and I sort of don't want to take that from you...but also, I know that most of my reasons for how I feel about it are connected to other things that you guys probably didn't know, such as...
1. My ex-wife and I had planned our wedding around the show. It's true. We decided that the only time to make it happen was less than a month after the show closed. We also decided that she would handle all the wedding stuff, so I could work on ILV2k. During my rehearsal, she sorta snapped from the pressure, so I ended up having to sorta do double duty.
2. My ex-wife and I had planned on writing ILV2k together. That's one of the reasons why the plot is so insane--I was trying to come up with ideas that were as huge and macho as possible, and she was going to come up with stuff from sort of the opposite direction. We'd also planned on co-directing it. When we edited it together, then it would be a show we'd collaborated on. So why didn't that happen? Joel Gersmann, partially. He wanted to ban an actress from the theater (in fact, the original actress who played Isabella), saying on my answering machine something to the effect of "She can go back where she came from and kill herself." My ex-wife was so offended (she lost her own mother to suicide) that she quit the theater entirely, leaving me to work with the ideas I already had. (Side note: My personal take is that she also sorta chickened out when it came to writing the script--she'd never done it before, and didn't seem comfortable trying.)
3. It almost got me banned from Broom Street. The first time. Joel Gersmann was so insulted that I killed him off in the opening of the show that, yes, he wanted to ban me from the theater. He was also pissed because I didn't invite him to the wedding. Considering he once called the bride a "fucking useless cunt" to her face, it seemed on the safe side to leave him off the guest list. So, what was I thinking, killing off Joel in the opening scene? Was it (as one BST friend assumed) a big fuck you to BST? No. I'd actually told Joel that I was planning on killing him off in the opening scene, and he thought it was funny, and said, if there's ever a ILV3, they should kill me, and I agreed. Later, Joel totally forgot this conversation ever happened. Also, and this is really important to know because no one remembers...that scene was in Irish Lesbian Vampire 1!!! That's right...Joel himself forgot that he created and killed a character that was basically him. And since not a lot of people saw or remembered the first one, a lot of BSTers were offended that I did that. Honestly, folks, considering how many people Joel and BST have made fun of or killed, you'd think they'd have had thicker skin.
4. It's the show I've done that has had the worst critical reaction.
But I did that to myself, what with naming several characters after local critics, and killing them horribly. I've actually become friends with a few of the people I killed in the show. Debra Neff-Nathans, I heard, was a little freaked out by her death (she got her tongue sliced open and THEN her face jammed into the crotch of one of the lesbian vampires), and Jeremy Harrell (who actually never gave me a negative review--I just included him to be fair) thought it was actually kind of funny. I actually remember watching Nadine Goff in the audience, whose character in the show has three lines: "What's going on?" "I don't understand." "I don't get any of this." And then she gets shot in the face. I saw the smile drop off Nadine's face, and it never resurfaced. So, I was basically asking for it. The MATC paper gave us a nice review, however. So, you can't piss off everybody. I still don't know why I did that.5. There were cast problems up the ass.
We had one actress accuse everyone in the cast of doing drugs (while she and her boyfriend showed up to every rehearsal stoned). We had a small cast war going on regarding how much space was neccessary for each actor's props and costumes--one actress felt she needed more than anyone else. We had another actor take on the stage manager in a power play. Oooh! Oooh! Here's my favorite! We had an actress refuse to wear the fangs, or meet with the dialect coach to learn the accent, and had no chemistry with the other lead actress. Once again, the title is IRISH LESBIAN VAMPIRE. Oh, yes, and there's also what happened on the infamous closing night show.
It's also the only show where I've had to remove an actor during the run or yell at an actor during a performance. 6. The phrase "Irish Lesbian Vampire" is considered bad luck
We actually just call it "The Irish Play." The previous show had its problems, too. There was a massive cast walkout when Joel went ballistic on one of the actresses in that show, and it almost didn't go up. Yeah. ILV3? Not with fucking ME.7. I truly, truly hated being in that show.
See, when I direct a show, I want to actually see it. It actually pissed me off to not get to see some of my favorite stuff in it. (like the cast walking out of the elevator with their laser sights out--that's my favorite image)
Buck Hakes, who played Joe in "Psychos In Love," correctly guessed that "Psychos" was basically what I'd wanted ILV2k to be. I told him: "Even if the cast was perfect, and no one had to be kicked out or replaced, even if my writing partner didn't abandon me, even if there weren't too many ideas in the script, even if I hadn't decided to add a musical number while having no musical talent whatsoever, even if I hadn't created a show that seemed to alienate its target audience* the show still probably would have sucked."
But maybe I'm just making fun of it, or tearing it down because I want to get there before anyone else? There are things in the show I really like, like the releationship between Shelly and Stoke--as well as this exchange that had to be cut for time reasons:
STOKE: You’re gonna make me throw down the gauntlet, aren’t you?
SHELLY: Do what you gotta do.
SHELLY: Got one?
STOKE: Yeah. What’s the name of Snoopy’s sister?
SHELLY: Belle. Don’t waste my time.
STOKE: Fuck. (thinks) Where was Snoopy born?
SHELLY: The Daisy Hill Puppy Farm. Years later, during the sixties, he went back to give a speech, but a riot broke out in protest over the dog P.O.W.s in Viet Nam. In the confusion, he was hit in the head with a brick. When he woke up, he met a fine little bitch who he decided to marry--but she ended up running off with his brother Spike.
STOKE: Thank you for not showing off.
They playfully grimace at each other. Stoke thinks again.
STOKE (cont’d): Okay. Get this right, and not only do you not have to go, but I’ll shut up about it.
SHELLY: And if I get it wrong?
STOKE: You have to go, and you have to dance. At least once.
This gives her pause.
STOKE: What’s the name of the little red-haired girl that Charlie Brown was always in love with?
STOKE (cont’d): (smiling) Dress nice.
So that was fun. But as noteworthy as fan reaction was (it was a first show for a lot of current friends of mine, and they've actually really liked it), it was also noteworthy for its extremely negative reaction as well. That's right--I had a heckler. Actually, it was a real stinger, too, and it came at the end of the show:
SISTER KING: Is it over?
HECKLER: God, I HOPE so.
And the audience burst into laughter.
So whenever I think of ILV2k, a lot of stuff goes through my head. Not all of it good, but not all of it bad, either.
And if the show meant something to you, that's great.
That's something that I often forget--sometimes the timing is just right for how you feel about a movie, or play. Would I have liked the movie "The Killer" as much if I hadn't seen it right after getting into a fight with a friend (after watching it, I called him back and made up)? Some movies, they mean something to us because of who we were when we saw them, or who we were with. Rocky Horror means something to me because I saw it every weekend for a summer with a girl I was in love with.
And now, for a shameless plug: If you liked ILV2k, chances are good you're gonna like "Thug Passion 2: Discordia's Sunshine Death," a short musical I co-wrote with Morey Burnard (he wrote the music, I wrote the story, and we collaborated on the lyrics). That's gonna be at the Bartell as part of their "Revenge of the Mini Musicals II" show, which is April 20 - May 5, 2007. It's a short slasher musical about a good little catholic girl who does some awful, awful things.
Discordia, the title character, will also be a character in the upcoming "Death And The City" web series coming up. (About which, the less said right now, the better.)
*We had a lot of lesbian walkouts. Go figure, it was sort of more of a guy's show.
For what it's worth, I don't think ILV2K is your best work either, and I always feel weird talking to you about it. My very favorite Rob Matsushita production is definitely Psychos in Love, with ILV2K and FACEValue vying for second place (depends on when you ask me, I guess). Don't read that as "I like you best when you're rehashing somebody else's material," because that's not the case at all. I've seen Gorman Bechard's film, and I don't think I'm particularly in love with the source material. My enjoyment of Psychos had everything to do with the very recognizable style you've developed as a director. You have great comedic sensibilities, and your particular amalgam of action movie cliches and pop culture references really works for me. You have a terrific understanding of your medium, and work very well with music, lighting, and creative blocking in a minimalist production. How do I explain this without gushing? I have seen you control the audience's perception in ways that I would have though impossible without a camera. If Psychos beats out ILV2K and FACEValue, it's because you were a better writer/director by the time you did Psychos. I'm still upset at my friends for failing to make it to that show.
So anyway, about ILV2K and my irrational love for it... I always say that it filled the void left by The Majestic's cancellation of Rocky Horror, but that's an oversimplification. Like your experience with Rocky Horror, my love for ILV2K has less to do with the play than it has to do with what was going on in my life when it happened. ILV2K provided a common interest for a social group which I needed very badly, and which might have fallen apart sooner without it. Eventually the social group did fall apart and then re-formed with everybody in different roles, but we all look back on ILV2K with great nostalgia. Our discovery of ILV2K in the Isthmus was the catalyst for a short by very important period of my life.
And all of this strikes me as kind of funny, because people connected to BST seem to regard (oh God, I hope this sentence doesn't open up a messy can of worms) ILV2K as more nuissance than masterpiece. I think your comparison with Mallrats is very apt. It was -- let's be honest, now -- sheer, mindless entertainment (in the best possible sense). I get the same thing from Bruce Campbell movies.
Anyway, thanks for plugging your play -- I appreciate knowing about anything you want to plug, and I promise that I'll try to rope some of my friends into purchasing tickets.
Oh, and ILV2K being "more of a guy's show?" Totally.
Name the time and the place. You've piqued my curiosity.
For what it's worth, I don't think ILV2K is your best work either, and I always feel weird talking to you about it.
Let the record show that I never mind talking about my own work.
My very favorite Rob Matsushita production is definitely Psychos in Love, with ILV2K and FACEValue vying for second place (depends on when you ask me, I guess).
It's funny, because just last night, I was saying to someone that of all my shows, FACEvalue is my favorite script--mainly because I really worked the hell out of that before it went to rehearsal, and it's also got my favorite structure of my shows (essentially because it's the structure of Chuck Palaniuk's Invisible Monsters).
Psychos was probably the most laid-back and enjoyable of processes--mainly because I'd finally figured out how to do a show like that (I call those types of shows that I do "cinematics") without killing myself.
Don't read that as "I like you best when you're rehashing somebody else's material," because that's not the case at all. I've seen Gorman Bechard's film, and I don't think I'm particularly in love with the source material.
Oh, God, no offense taken at all. Even Gorman Bechard doesn't really regard PIL as any kind of great film. (Actual exchange between him and me: Him: "So, what's it like to produce a show at a real theater." Me: "Oh, Jesus, I wouldn't know." Him: "Well, in the same way that we're going to pretend 'Psychos' is a real MOVIE, we'll pretend Broom Street is a real theater..."
And for me the big challenge with that was to adapt other source material. I'd always wanted to do that, and I had a real idea where to take it. And when you've got friends like Buck and Molly, the script kind of writes itself.
That was another one where I wrote a draft, then I went through it and said, "if I have to THINK about whether or not it's funny, it's cut."
You have a terrific understanding of your medium, and work very well with music, lighting, and creative blocking in a minimalist production. How do I explain this without gushing? I have seen you control the audience's perception in ways that I would have though impossible without a camera.
Thanks! As a kid, I was always trying to make movie-like stuff for show-and-tell, and for years, my drama teacher would say, "no, no, you can't do that." When I did "Yoshi's Heroes," I decided that I was going to do everything I'd wanted to do onstage, even if it killed me and everyone in the surrounding area. As much as I may knock BST now, it always has that going for it (which both hurts it and helps it).
These days, I don't really do cinematics anymore...but there's no saying I won't in the future.
(Plus, with me now getting into digital film, dot, dot, dot...)
And all of this strikes me as kind of funny, because people connected to BST seem to regard (oh God, I hope this sentence doesn't open up a messy can of worms) ILV2K as more nuissance than masterpiece.
No worms, here. Everyone seems to be in agreement that ILV2k was the kind of theater experience only spoken about in hushed whispers.
That said, it wasn't the worst BST experience by far (backstage or onstage). It was an idea that was too big to be done at all. Too many stories, too much stuff--but that said, those who di like it, I think reacted to the energy and the attempt. As I always say, aim for the stars, you might hit the moon.
In the end, I'm glad it happened, and I'm glad I did it. I learned a lot on that show.
I think your comparison with Mallrats is very apt. It was -- let's be honest, now -- sheer, mindless entertainment (in the best possible sense). I get the same thing from Bruce Campbell movies.
Oh, yeah, I'd never intended it to be anything but a fun Halloween show. The comparison I always made was that we were the "Mission: Impossible 2" to the first ILV's "Mission: Impossible." In other words, we were a more exciting, less intelligent sequel to a bad first film. (Even Gersmann told me that he'd thought the original ILV was a bad show. And, yeah, it was.)