Greg Stacy’s FAT LOT OF GOOD

October 13, 2008

What it is

Filed under: OC Weekly,Weird — gregstacy @ 10:29 am
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Hello, all you happy people. Here’s a rambly, unedited, just-before-bedtime update on what I’ve been up to lately…

I am doing regular art criticism for OC Weekly, but I don’t post those columns here. OC Weekly has a rights policy where I need to wait for a while after an article’s printed (a month, I think) before I can post it here, and by that point the art show has probably closed. Art show reviews have a limited shelf-life. When I was reviewing movies, those reviews could be read and (theoretically) enjoyed by people all over the world, for years to come! But a review of an art show is generally only going to be relevant to locals, for a few weeks at most. So, things have been quiet, here.

I was a film critic for ten years, and it took time to get used to this new gig. Reviewing movies, I rarely had to deal with outraged directors. But fine artists are very, very tempermental! I know, that’s not exactly news, but I’ve been surprised by just how angry artists get about reviews… even the positive ones. I went through a period where I was getting these furious emails about almost every review. I suspected a lot of them were coming from the same person, but still, it got old.

It’s pretty rare that I’ll write a negative review of an art show. What would be the point of that? “Here’s an awful show at some gallery you’ve never heard of, and I hate it and you should avoid it!” As a film critic I felt like it was my job to warn people away from the crap, but as a fine art critic I feel like it’s more my job to point out the stuff that’s worth your time. Occasionally I’ll single a show out for abuse if it exemplifies something about the art world I dislike, but as a rule I don’t like to harshly criticize living artists. These people are lonesome weirdoes just trying to express themselves and make a living. I can relate.

I don’t do the OC art social scene at all, and as a result I’ve apparently developed a reputation as a rather mysterious character. The fact is, I’m just very shy. The idea of walking around at some glitzy art opening and trying to make clever small talk sounds like pure torture. I don’t want to deal with people fawning over me in hopes of getting a good review, and I don’t want to deal with people giving me the stinkeye over a bad review. I don’t go to galleries to make friends! I like to look, and I like to lurk.

All that being said, I have been toying with the idea of trying to curate a show at some point. If anybody in the OC or LA art scene would be interested in something like that, drop me a line and we’ll talk.

I do miss film criticism sometimes, but I really like being an art critic and it’s probably a better fit for my talents. I definitely plan to stick around as long as they’ll have me. Oh, and for those of you who asked, my cat is still doing fine. He’s touched that you cared.

Hopefully I’ll update this thing again sometime soon. If not… See you in 2009, the world of tomorrow.

April 18, 2007

I got blurbed!

Filed under: Movies,OC Weekly,Weird — gregstacy @ 12:13 pm

A few weeks back I was at the local Fatburger, paging through the latest LA Weekly, when I read the blurb featured at the top of an ad for the new indie picture Ten ’til Noon and damn near spit out my turkeyburger:

“Best movie since Pulp Fiction” – Greg Stacey, OC Weekly.

Talk about mixed feelings. I’ve always wanted to see myself quoted in a movie ad, like I was Roger freaking Ebert or something. But unfortunately that quote was taken completely out of context, giving the impression that I consider Ten ’til Noon to be the very best movie, of any kind, since Pulp Fiction. Well, I absolutely do not. I saw this Tarantino knock-off at the 2006 Newport Beach Film Festival and quite enjoyed it, jokingly suggesting in my review that Tarantino himself secretly directed it and that this was his best film since Pulp Fiction. In other words, I thought Ten ’til Noon was better than, say, Jackie Brown… which is a long way from calling it the best movie made since Pulp Fiction in 1994. The really nutty thing is that there were plenty of legit quotes they could have pulled from my original review, the thing was basically a rave. Whoever put this ad together is a sleaze or an idiot… or maybe both.

Oh, and they spelled my name wrong. 

February 16, 2007

EYEBALL FOOD: NO GNUS ARE GOOD GNUS

Filed under: Eyeball Food,Geekery,TV,Weird — gregstacy @ 10:08 pm

Here’s one for my fellow aging Gen-X’ers. You know that crazy-ass kiddie show that was on in the morning when you were a kid, the one that nobody but you seems to remember? With the kids on the asteroid and the weird-looking puppets and the cartoons and stuff? Well, here are the psychedelic credits. And here’s Knock Knock the bird busting Goriddle Gorilla’s balls. And one of those freaking cartoons about the the little line man with the gibbering baby nightmare voice. And finally, Gary Gnu! (“I’m a gnu! How do you do?”)

Weird bit of trivia: Kevin Clash, the guy who did the voice of Goriddle, went on to do the voice of Elmo. While normally Elmo would be enough to earn somebody a piece of prime real estate by the Lake of Fire in Hell, it’s possible that Clash has earned a free pass through the pearly gates thanks to Goriddle. We’ll just have to wait until the Day of Judgement to know for sure.

February 10, 2007

EYEBALL FOOD

Filed under: Eyeball Food,Geekery,Music,Weird — gregstacy @ 10:27 am

Just reprinting my old articles is getting a little tired, so I’m going to start up a new section here on FAT LOT OF GOOD. EYEBALL FOOD will showcase all sorts of interesting video crap I find online: obscure music videos, geeky tech stuff, people in gorilla suits… whatever the heck I feel like, really. So, here is today’s deliciousness.

MARGO GURYAM’S AMAZING, TERRY GILLIAM/YELLOW SUBMARINE-ESQUE, ANTI-W MUSIC VIDEO . As much as I love this thing, even a pinko like me has to admit the last few seconds are rather thumpingly unsubtle. (Spoiler warning!) Either show the dummy growing devil horns, or have its nose grow, but both? Why not go all out, and show him speaking with a forked tongue while his pants catch on fire?

DINOSAURS! LIVING! LIVE DINOSAURS! This thing sure makes the modern Hollywood CGI crap look like the crappy crap it is. I almost want to hop on a flight to freakin’ Australia, just so I can see this show in person.

HOW THEY BROUGHT THE DINOSAURS BACK TO LIFE. Behind the scenes special effects geekery, with giant rubber lizards. Heaven.

NORA, THE PIANO-PLAYING CAT. Admittedly her music is an aquired taste… but what stage presence!

January 4, 2007

There’s a Shadow on the Fair…

Filed under: Art,OC Weekly,Weird — gregstacy @ 11:05 pm

(Published in OC WEEKLY… Oh, let’s say 1998 or so.)

 Circuses scare the heck out of me, they scare the heck out of you, and they scare the heck out of everybody else. Let’s all just admit that right now. Hapless drifters being fired out of cannons, men with greased mustaches snapping whips at surly beasts, guys with missing (or extra) fingers trying to sell you bags of greasy, overpriced popcorn. And the clowns! Lord, don’t even get me started on the damned clowns. Those floppy shoes, the greasepaint dripping down their necks and staining their hideous clownsuits, the mirthless cackling. Oh, the horror, the horror.

Roy Hassett’s art achieves the seemingly impossible; he takes the world of circus and carny folk and somehow makes it seem three times as skuzzy and nightmarish as it already is. A typical Hassett composition features a sneering, troll-like little girl-creature riding a swing that hangs from the gaping, toothless maw of a wild-eyed elephant. The colors are psychedelic in their intensity, and the linework squiggles across the page like thousands of little neon worms. The clowns and other carny folk in Hassett’s art reek of failure and perversion and shame; you get the feeling that they’ve run away with the circus because they had nowhere else to go. If you took way too much acid and stayed up all night reading Something Wicked This Way Comes, the resulting hallucinations would play like a particularly chipper Disney cartoon compared to the freaky world to be glimpsed through the window of Hassett’s work.

Drawn with those eyeball-blistering, citric colors that only magic markers can provide, Hassett’s work has the weird, crude vitality of the best outsider art. But this outsider is actually an insider; in real life, the weirdest thing about Hasett is how very unweird he apparently is. Yes, Hasett does work for the circus (at least in a sense), but no, despite what his drawings would lead you to imagine, he’s not the salty, half-mad old cuss who sweeps up after the animal acts. As half of the Hasett and Davis Co., Hasett is a marketing whiz who books games and rides for fairs and carnivals all over the land. In a wacky little twist of fate, one of Hasset’s recent gigs was Long Beach’s Fourth Street Fair, which took place a few weeks back and mere yards away from Artscape, the delightfully funky little gallery-boutique where Hasett’s art is currently on display. Step through Artscape (be sure to check out Rick Frausto’s fantastic little monster-robot sculptures, recently raved about in these pages by our own Rebecca Shoenkopf) to the little room-within-a-room at the back of the gallery; journey within, and you’ll be surrounded on all sides by Hasett’s work, an experience I suggest you prepare yourself for with a strong meal and perhaps a shot of liquid courage. Hasett has somehow taken the colorful, corrupt spirit of every circus everywhere and penned it up in one little room, and those four walls are putting out some NASTY energy.

There’s plenty of nastiness to be found just a few doors down from Artscape at The Metamorphosis show at the cavernous Long Beach studio gallery recently re-christened The Space (it was previously known as the ARK Gallery), along with lots of charm, some real stunners, and a dab of the usual art-school bullshit. As soon as you enter, your eye is caught by two works zig-zagging across the floor like big origami snakes; Carol Powell’s Girls in T-Shirts & Underwear and Girls with Teddy Bears feature depictions of preadolescent girlie hijinx drawn in a moody, noodly style with what appears to be a bic pen. It’s more subtly disturbing, and more poignant, than Hasett’s work, calling to mind some of the best prisoner art. By comparison David Knight’s two paintings, Jump and Dream, are more technically accomplished yet infinitely less interesting; Jump depicts a chair engaged in an Evel Knevel-style daredevil act, jumping through a flaming hoop and emerging with its upholstery unsinged, while Dream shows a chair in the midst of a Henri Rousseau-like mirage. Knight’s obviously grasping for surrealism here, but unfortunately these paintings do not so much evoke the dream-state as they simply make you drowsy.

Your senses are jolted back to wakefulness by Jim McCamant’s Self Portrait, a solid gold turd mounted on a wall plaque (I still haven’t figured out if this guy has zero self-esteem or if he really needs to get over himself), while Vladi Komanska’s two works, the pleasantly hideous collage Lovely and the wacky-ass acrylic painting There is a Frog in Everyone, leave you feeling concussed and whoozy, in a good way. Unfortunately somebody has to tell Komanska that the little Black Flys and Parental Advisory stickers he adorns his work with aren’t quite the clever touch he apparently believes them to be. His art isn’t tied to a specific era, yet those stickers ensure that it’ll seem dated by the century’s end, if it’s not already. It might not be too late to save these paintings; I’d strongly reccommend that Komanska gets busy with a razor blade, some sand paper, and a little turpentine… whatever it takes to get those damn stickers off of there. Greg Lama’s Flying Lama is an odd bird, literally; a creature of the air cobbled together out of feathers, little leafy bits from artificial plants, and the remains of a Klingon spaceship model. Can’t say I get his point, but I applaud his ingenuity in devising such a thing. Misha Mar Heo’s Archetypal Barbie, on the other hand, strikes me as being both haphazardly crafted and groaningly obvious. It’s Barbie… and she’s knocked-up! For decades Barbie has endured the barbs of feminists, wise-guys, and snooty cultural critics, and it’s hardly affected her at all; she’s simply gone about her merry way in her fantastic plastic world, working hundreds of careers simultaneously (everything from tending the counter at Mcdonalds to being an astronaut, and this was years before Sally Ride) and yet still finding plenty of time to frolic with all of her little plastic pals. Jeez, no wonder so many little girls grow up to hate her so. Artists can (and do, endlessly) put Barbie in bondage gear, cut off all her hair or smear her with menstrual blood, but they’ll never succeed in wiping that little smirk off her face. If Heo thinks she’s gonna take Barbie down a peg by sticking a bun in the old girl’s oven, she’s got another think coming.

While Heo’s Barbie is about as shocking as buttered wheat toast, the same could hardly be said for Antonio Tomaselli Montalva’s She Waited Screaming, a small treasure hidden in The Space’s east end. Montalva’s sculpture depicts a fearsome, sphinx-like female creature with big cat haunches and wiggly wire claws. She’s not much larger than Heo’s Barbie, which you’re thankful for. This girl eats fellas like you for breakfast and then gobbles up real tough guys for lunch. She’s the scariest little wonder in the dark carnival that’s currently camped on Fourth Street. Step right up!

December 28, 2006

To Infinity and Beyond!: The Naked Cosmos

Filed under: Art,Geekery,OC Weekly,TV,Weird — gregstacy @ 1:53 am

(Printed in OC WEEKLY, June 23, 2005)

Once in a great while, usually when it’s very late at night and you’ve been restlessly flipping around the more disreputable end of the TV dial, you come across a show of perfect, transcendent strangeness. It could be Dr. Gene Scott’s mix of fierce televangelism and dancing bimbos. Or Dr. Franklin Ruehl at his desk in outer space, discoursing on the Phantom Army of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Or some forgotten Spanish-language B-picture where fat guys in wrestling masks battle vampire babes. Or even (you lucky dog) your first Ed Wood movie. Whatever it is, you wake up the next morning wondering if it was real, or if you dreamed the whole thing.

Gilbert Hernandez’s new, straight-to-DVD TV series, The Naked Cosmos, is like all of those shows put together into one mind-frying package; this is concentrated public access weirdness and should not be taken without first consulting a physician. Hernandez, the justly acclaimed cartoonist who co-creates the Love and Rockets comic book series with his brother Jaime, made his name crafting bittersweet stories of life in the fictional South American town of Palomar, stories that are often compared to the works of such writers as Carson Mccullers and Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But with The Naked Cosmos, Hernandez lets a different side of himself out to play, cutting loose with a wild parody of/homage to all the kitschy TV he grew up loving as a dorky Oxnard kid.

The Naked Cosmos is a kind of surreal kiddie show hosted by Quintas (Hernandez), a Beatle-wigged, pop-eyed, psychic dandy who takes us on an unforgettable journey through inner and outer space accompanied by the lovely Mistress Velda (Hernandez’s wife, Carol Kovinick) and Ego (Hernandez again), a mellow hippie boozer with the power of teleportation. Quintas faces opposition at every turn from his masked clone, the seethingly envious Kalisto (Hernandez yet again), and both are rivals for the affections of the cheerfully oblivious Velda. All of them report to the Chief (Kovinick), a lady who wears a bondage cat hood and issues her orders over the phone in Spanish. Every now and again the action stops cold for a short film presented by Zansky, a jolly expatriate from another dimension. Hernandez portrays Zansky via the old summer camp trick of drawing a face on your chin and standing on your head, a perfect example of the show’s nutty, low-budget ingenuity. The budget for this thing is so low, in fact, that Hernandez doesn’t even use split screen effects when he holds conversations with himself: the camera just cuts back and forth between Hernandez in different costumes, emoting with hammy gusto and clearly having the time of his life.

The DVD features four 22-minute episodes, bloopers, portraits of the characters by Hernandez and other artists, and an original, 20-page comic book, making this an absolute steal at $15.95. Issued in a limited edition of 2,000, The Naked Cosmos is only available for purchase online (at http://www.brightredrocket.com/nakedcosmos) or at America’s very hippest comics shops. The next time you’re restlessly flipping the TV dial in the dead of night, fire up this thing and you’ll go to sleep a few hours later confused but happy.

December 21, 2006

“Leatherface” interview

Filed under: Darkworlds.com,Geekery,Interviews,Movies,Weird — gregstacy @ 11:04 am

(Originally posted on DARKWORLDS.COM)

At a hefty 6′ 4″, with piercing eyes and a voice that makes Darth Vader sound like a big sissy, Gunnar Hansen at first seems only slightly less intimidating than Leatherface, the mindless, hippie-killing freak he portrayed in Tobe Hooper’s ‘70s horror classic THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. But you don’t have to chat with Hansen for long to realize that this thoughtful actor has little in common with the role that made him famous.

Born in Iceland, Hansen moved to America at the age of five and grew up in Texas. A gentle giant with an academic temperament, Hansen was not far out of graduate school when he auditioned for Hooper and won the role of Leatherface. The character has become an icon in the years since the film’s release, inspiring a figure from McFarlane Toys, comic books, a punk band and a lot of ghastly nightmares for anybody who has ever seen the film. Hansen has stayed active as an actor, but he’s also worked extensively as a writer for film and print while also dabbling in web design.

Hansen was kind enough to chat with us at the 2002 Fangoria Weekend of Horrors, answering questions while excited Leatherface fans buzzed around. (Interview for Darkworlds conducted by Greg Stacy.)

DW: Will we see you playing Leatherface again anytime soon?

Hansen: No. They’re making TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 5 right now, actually, and I’m not in it. They offered me a part, but not as Leatherface. I was going to play Ed Guinn’s role from the original picture, the cattle truck driver. I told them I’d be happy to do it, but they’d have to pay me more than scale. So, I’m not in it.

DW: So, is it safe to say you don’t think you’ll ever play the character again?

Hansen: I wouldn’t think I would, no.

DW: Out of everything you’ve done, what role are you the proudest of?

Hansen: Well, I’m very proud of TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE. I think it’s one of the best horror movies. And I’m also pretty happy about MOSQUITO, a movie I co-wrote and starred in a few years ago.

DW: Are there any films you regret?

Hansen: Sure. There was a picture years ago that was just a disaster, the director couldn’t direct because he was too busy in the kitchen trying on his dresses.

DW: Sounds very ED WOOD.

Hansen: It was awful.

DW: Do you have any projects coming up?

Hansen: Right now I’m trying to find funding for a horror parody I wrote with a friend, it’s called THE LAST ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW. It’s a parody of a bunch of movies, but in it I parody CHAINSAW MASSACRE. Except instead of Leatherface I’m called Babyface, and the reason he never talks is because he’s always stuffing food in his face. He always seems like he’s ABOUT to talk, but then he just eats a chicken leg or something. I really hope we can get it off the ground. I’m also waiting to see what happens with a project called THE NEXT VICTIM, an anthology film where I play a mental patient in the wrap-around segments. In the meantime, RACHEL’S ATTIC is just coming out on DVD now, so people can go buy that.

DW: Lastly, how do you feel about being so closely associated with the horror genre? Are you comfortable with that, or would you rather work on more mainstream projects?

Hansen: Oh, I’m not one of those actors who are so hung-up on that sort of thing. Really, I consider myself primarily a writer, and for me, movies are just fun.

A chat with BUFFY’s Clem the demon

Filed under: Darkworlds.com,Geekery,Interviews,TV,Weird — gregstacy @ 11:01 am

(Originally posted on DARKWORLDS.COM in 2003)

When Clem the demon first made his debut on UPN’s BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER in a scene where he and a group of other vile-looking creatures were playing poker for kittens, it was immediately clear that a floppy-eared, saggy-skinned star had just been born. Hideous though he was, Clem’s cheery, homespun personality immediately won the hearts of both the show’s characters and fans; he’s since become something of a regular on the series, frequently babysitting Buffy’s younger sister Dawn and advising the tortured vampire Spike on the mysterious ways of the human heart. Clem is a true stand-up guy, the kind of demon anybody would be glad to call a pal, even if they did have to keep a close eye on the cat whenever Clem dropped by.

Whatever Clem fans imagine the actor who portrays him looks like under all those pounds of rubber, they’re not imagining James C. Leary, a slim, young fellow who looks like he just stepped out of a toothpaste commercial (and possibly just did, given all the commercials on his resume). We sat down with Leary at the 2002 Fangoria Weekend of Horrors in LA, and the actor proved to be every bit as charming as the character he portrays. (Interview for Darkworlds.com by Greg Stacy)

DW: Can you give us any spoilers for the coming season of BUFFY?

Leary: Nope. I would, but honestly, I don’t know anything! Right now they’re filming the second episode and they’re still writing the rest of the season.

DW: Can you say if we’ll we be seeing Clem again anytime soon?

Leary: I hope so! But honestly, I don’t know yet. I’m not even sure if (BUFFY’s creators) know, it’s still just too early in the season. They’ve told me that they’d like to use me again, though.

DW: Clem is such a great character. He’s been really popular with the fans.

Leary: Yeah, (BUFFY’s creators) originally only planned to use him for one episode, but apparently he was pretty well-liked, so they’ve kept bringing him back.

DW: Clem looks like a character who would require a lot of time in the makeup chair, with that saggy neck and the floppy arms and everything.

Leary: Ah, it’s about two and half hours, it’s not too bad. I’m a lot better off than some of the people who work on the show.

DW: I’ve heard that after a while under the hot studio lights, heavy prosthetics can really begin to stink. Is there any truth to that?

Cleary: Not so I’ve noticed, no. Although the rubbery smell can be pretty strong when I first put the makeup on.

DW: Looking up your bio, I didn’t see many credits besides Clem. Is he your first onscreen role?

Leary: I’ve done a lot of commercials and lots and lots of theater. My biggest part before this was on a Telemundo sit-com called LOS BELTRAN, I was on there for a couple of years as the gay neighbor.

DW: Oh, so you speak Spanish?

Leary: No! It was all completely phonetic for me. It worked out ok, because I was supposed to be kind of the token goofy gringo on the show anyway, so my language skills weren’t really a barrier.

DW: Would you prefer to continue working in genre projects like BUFFY, or do you hope to work on more mainstream fare eventually?

Leary: Oh, I’ve always been a big sci-fi and horror buff, I was a fan of BUFFY before I got on, so this has been great. Mainstream, genre, I’m fine with anything. Right now, I’m just happy to work on anything I can get paid for!

George Romero on what might have been

Filed under: Darkworlds.com,Interviews,Movies,Weird — gregstacy @ 10:52 am

(Originally posted in 2002 on DARKWORLDS.COM)

During a recent appearance at the 2002 Fangoria Weekend of Horrors in LA, director George Romero (NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE DARK HALF, BRUISER) consented to a lengthy interview with Darkworlds, video excerpts of which will soon be available on this site. Having already discussed THE GIRL WHO LOVED TOM GORDON, Romero’s upcoming collaboration with Stephen King, in this excerpt the director provides details on other upcoming projects and talks about his involvement during the early stages of the RESIDENT EVIL film. (Interview for Darkworlds conducted by Greg Stacy.)

DW: Can you tell us what you’re working on right now?

Romero: I have another zombie film in the works, I have the script finished. I think we’re real close to a financing deal on that.

DW: Can you tell us anything about what it’s about? (Romero looks uncomfortable.) Obviously, you don’t want ALL the secrets to get out there.

Romero: No. Well, basically, people are holed up, in a city this time, in a section of a city. And they’re trying to lead a normal life (amid the zombie attacks), which is of course impossible. And the heroes are the guys that they send out in these armored vehicles to procure things, you know, (to) get some wine. (NOTE: The film Romero is discussing was of course eventually released as LAND OF THE DEAD.)

DW: You’re very strongly associated with the horror genre. Have you ever been interested in doing something more mainstream, a drama or a comedy or something like that?

Romero: I’d love to do other things. I came real close, last year. I was working on a thing with Ed Harris (THE TRUMAN SHOW, POLLOCK). Ed got me involved. It was called THE ASSASSINATION; it was this political thriller about the assassination of Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. It was great, it was all set to go. Ed was going to be in it, James Coburn (was going to be in it), we had Anthony Quinn. And then Anthony Quinn… went away (Quinn died) and the project sort of blew up on us. They were insisting that the role of Trujillo be played by a Latino, and there aren’t a lot of 71-year old Latino actors that have any meaning on the marquee. They just said they weren’t able to find a reasonable replacement for him. But it’s still sort of in the film miasma, it might still happen.

We were ready to roll. I spent five weeks in Puerto Rico scouting, getting it all together, the designers were on (the project) already. Things blow up for a million different reasons, (such as) somebody just doesn’t like what you do. That’s what happened with RESIDENT EVIL. I was having a ball with that.

DW: That’s right, you were attached to the RESIDENT EVIL film for a while. We would have loved to have seen what you would have done with that.

R: You can read it, apparently. People tell me that my screenplay is on the web. I wrote seven drafts for those guys.

DW: What happened with that?

R: It’s a long story. This was a German company, and there was a little bit of a language problem. The executive I was working with loved what I was doing, but the man upstairs was the guy who made DAS BOOT, and he had some vision of making some realistic suspense movie. That’s not eventually what they did, but he just didn’t like what I did in the end, and they said forget about it. And they got Paul (Anderson).

December 19, 2006

Thankyuhverymuch: Kavee Thongprecha’s journey from Thailand to Graceland

Filed under: Humor,Interviews,It's a Living,Movies,Music,OC Weekly,Weird — gregstacy @ 12:38 pm

(Printed in OC WEEKLY, September 25, 2003)

For far too long, those lucky hound dogs in LA have had Kavee Thongprecha, the Thai Elvis impersonator, all to themselves. Well into his 60s, Thongprecha still performs nightly at Hollywood’s Palms Thai Restaurant, and he is sometimes glimpsed cruising the streets in a spectacular automobile adorned with Elvis gewgaws and a license plate reading, T ELVIS. But next Thursday, the humble people of Orange County will at last be graced with the presence of this singular entertainer, as he performs at the UC Irvine screening of the Elvis Presley film Flaming Star. Our conversation was complicated by Thongprecha’s somewhat uncertain English and a phone line that sounded more like he was calling from Thailand than LA, but I’ll always treasure our brief encounter for the sheer, wonderful strangeness of it all.

 

OC Weekly: Have you seen Flaming Star, the film that’s going to be screening at UC Irvine the night you perform?

Kavee Thongprecha: It’s . . . I’m sorry, there is a film?

Yes. Flaming Star.

I . . . no. I don’t know this.

Oh. Well, do you remember when you first discovered Elvis?

Nineteen fifty-seven, I think. Yes.

This was back in Thailand? How is Elvis regarded over there?

Oh, people love him, I think. He is very popular, of course.

When did you come to America, and when did you start performing as Elvis?

In 1957. I came to America in 1972. My mother was living here. I started performing then.

Wait . . . you started performing in 1957? Or in 1972?

[Very long pause indeed.]

Hello? Mr. Thongprecha?

[Otherworldly, echoing sounds on phone line, until the voice of Thongprecha returns, forlorn and far away.] Yes? . . . Hello?

Uh, okay, let’s move on. How often do you perform, and how would you describe a typical performance for those who’ve never seen one?

Five nights a week. From 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Wow! That’s a long performance!

Oh, I don’t perform the whole time, no. They have other things there, too.

Still, five nights a week is impressive. How long do you see yourself doing this?

[Very long pause.]

How long do you think you’ll keep performing . . . ?

[Another long pause.]

. . . Before you retire?

Oh. Well, it depends on my health. I am getting older, and I have some health problems now, you know. But I say, as long as I can still do, I will do.

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