Swelter in Vogue!

Extreme Trivia

Back in October 1999 I received an email from the Art Department Coordinator for the then new John Waters film going into production called Cecil B. Demented. He asked if I had any "underground movie posters and magazines" to send them to use as possible props on the set. Hell yes, of course! I quickly sent off a package of posters from my short film Swelter in Vogue! and some copies the old Essential Cinema magazine I had edited a few years back...

Going to the opening night of Cecil B. Demented was one of great aniticapation. Would anything get used? Or even seen? And to my wonderful surprise, eagle-eyed viewers that don't blink (like myself) could catch glimpses of the Swelter poster in a couple of scenes! I was floored! Adding to the fact the film is about a bunch of underground filmmaking denizens made this the perfect film to "get a cameo" in! I felt proud.

Cecil B.Demented Cecil B.Demented The lovely Melanie Griffith next to refrigerator with poster.

Cecil B.Demented Cecil B.Demented Stephen Dorff and Alicia Witt with poster in background.

Discovering John Waters films when I was in high school was formative experience for my own filmmaking. The first time I saw the name John Waters was mention in this magazine called Cinemagic, an independently published periodical from Perry Hall, Maryland that detailed techniques of homegrown film special effects. In the late '70's, after seeing Star Wars, and then Alien, my first thoughts about working in the film industry centered around becoming a special effects technician.

Anyway, I saw this press notice in Cinemagic about Desperate Living. Just the title alone intrigued and stuck with me for very long time. I was becoming corrupted at that time by listening to punk rock music like the Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys and Devo and started to cultivate an interest in "midnight movies" like Rocky Horror Picture Show and (my favorite of them all) David Lynch's Eraserhead.

Through more reading I began to learn more about Waters films, particularly Pink Flamingos and Female Trouble. When I somehow learned about Polyester, and saw it in the summer of 1981, I became an instant fan. I picked up a copy of his new book Shock Value that August, just before going to film school at Humboldt State University that September.

Shock Value became my filmmaking bible of sorts, giving me unending inspiration as I navigated through film class after film class of students and teachers obsessed with the "true" underground filmmakers like Stan Brakhage, Bruce Baille, Will Hindle, etc. I just wanted to make films with real people in actual stories, that dreaded "N" word -- narrative. I was continually accused of being "Hollywood". I finally saw a retrospective of the famous "Trash Trilogy" my second year of college, at time when I was being opened up to Bergman, Tati, Resnais, Fellini, Godard, Polanski -- and, thank god, John Waters!

I ended up loving Desperate Living so much, that in early '83, on my second 16mm film (That Numb Stare) I paid homage by writing an opening scene of a dinner table being set up and by filming it from a high overhead angle. (only my shot didn't end with a rat on a plate!)

These days I think of John Waters as a true American fimmaking icon, and every new film of his that comes out is a ray of hope for the future.

Swelter in Vogue!

the original Swelter in Vogue! poster

...hey, hey MPAA, how many movies have you censored today?... © Kulture Void Pictures 2015