EDITOR'S NOTE: Every once in a while, some flat-out weird stuff comes across my desk. I've been approached with many wild stories and projects in my time, but this interview may take the cake.
Dave Davids is one of our esteemed writers, and over the years, he's produced some great pieces for Kotori. He's one of those guys who is way over-qualified to be writing for a publication of our caliber. But like most of our staff, he seems to relish in the generally free reign afforded to our contributors. We go for truth, quality, and creativity. After that, whatever format or approach a writer wants to employ, is up to them.
So when he asked if we could set up an interview with the legendary Lloyd Kaufman- co-founder of Troma Entertainment, and one of the true godfathers of independent cinema- I was more than happy to make the calls. After all, our dear friend Bob Freville had just released his movie HEMO through Troma, and we were more than happy to talk to everybody involved.
Kaufman epitomizes what Kotori is all about: creating great art because it comes from the heart. Not because it will make you a millionaire, not because it will earn prestige. Because it's something the artist NEEDS to do, plain and simple.
So, Dave conducted his interview in December 2012, and turned it into us. We transcribed it...and then for reasons I can't explain, I totally forgot to post this interview until now. I apologize to everybody who may have been waiting to see this, but I just got caught up in other things.
Having said that, what we have here is one of the strangest, funniest yet still insightful interviews I've ever been a part of. When you do dozens of these things every year, you feel yourself having the same conversation over and over...and eventually, you get bored, and need to shake things up a bit. When I talked to Amanda Palmer, I interrupted our conversation to ask her for dating advice. I insisted that Penn Jillette set me up on a date with Sarah Silverman; I made Johnny Polonski so uncomfortable, he threatened to hang up on me; I confused Alcazar so badly, they called me back to make sure I knew their parents had nothing to do with the JFK assassination.
All of that pales in comparison to Davids' conversation with Kaufman. It is so bizarre, that I decided to post the uncut audio, to prove the conversation actually went down like this:
You'll hear Kaufman talk about Hemo, some new movies he's working on, and how they've kept Troma viable. Then Kaufman introduce Davids to online porn.
Yeah...it's like that.
How has Troma changed since you first started it?
Lloyd Kaufman: I don’t think it has changed much. It’s still fueled by a love of cinema and a desire to express themes that are important to Michael Herz and to me, so overall I don’t think it has changed very much.
In this day and age of digital media and editing, is it still possible for underground, independent filmmakers to make a real living outside the major studio system?
LK: I think it is almost impossible, unless you join the elite.
Who would the elite be these days?
LK: There are a small number of devil-worshiping international media conglomerates. They have names like Viacom, News Corporation, Sony...names like that. They are vertically integrated, and they control the marketplace. The business has changed. The rules that used to protect the public against monopolies have been done away with, thanks in large part to the William Jefferson Clinton administration.
So the result is, you have very few long-living independent movie studios. You probably can’t name any that have lasted longer than a few minutes. Troma is almost forty years old. We are by far the oldest and the longest lasting. You will find very few independent movie studios...that’s because they can’t compete. The rules, the laws are all against the little guy. They all favor the big guy.
Coming after the mom and pop.
LK: They destroyed the mom and pop.
I guess we’ll try to lift this up a little more. We’re huge fans of Hemo over here at Kotori. What was your first reaction to that movie?
LK: I loved it. I thought it was a real vampire movie, a real vampire movie from the heart, and Pamela Price is spectacular in it, and it’s a wonderful film. It’s much better than Twilight.
Yeah, that’s what we think. We love Bob over here.
LK: I’m very happy that you appreciate it, and the reason that Troma is still around is that we have a very strong and active fan base. Troma is a brand that people know that, when a movie is either produced by or released by Troma, that movie is one of a kind. It will be special and it might be kind of dark and depressing, like Mr. Bricks: A Heavy Metal Murder Musical. Have you seen that? I know you’ve seen Hemo, but have you seen Mr. Bricks?
No, I ain’t seen that one...
LK: Oh, you need to see Mr. Bricks. Also we got 250 free movies, totally free, on Troma’s YouTube channel. Check out Troma’s 100% free movie channel on YouTube, and they’re all director’s cuts. You can see Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead and Combat Shock, and Diabolos Lesbos, all sorts of great movies there.
Ah that sounds excellent. Now, YouTube is on the Internet?
LK: ...YouTube, yes.
Excellent! So we just head on to YouTube.com, free Troma movies. That sounds great.
LK: Yes, YouTube, that’s right. YouTube’s on the Internet.
You just go to Troma’s movie channel. We also put up a lot of free Make Your Own Damn Movie lessons. A lot of my super-duper pooper, Make Your Own Damn Movie lessons they’re on that YouTube channel called Your Own Damn Channel, and there are all sorts of Lloyd Kaufman lessons about making movies and distributing movies and financing movies.
Excellent! Yeah, we’ll get back to the YouTube thing, but you just went into my next question…so what are some basic pointers we can find to sell your own damn movie, eh?
LK: That you should embrace file sharing.
What is that? Like when my secretary brings me a file?
LK: Exactly. You’re exactly right. Embrace it. It will help you as an independent artist.
LK: Embrace your secretary too, actually.
Oh I will. Man, oh my God, I got in trouble once embracing my secretary…
LK: Well, it’s a good thing around Christmastime. How many secretaries do you have?
Well, I usually only have one at a time. I go through ‘em like nothing. They’re always opening their mouths, ya know?
LK: Where you located?
I’m in Pittsburgh.
LK: Oh, Pittsburgh. They have very good secretaries there.
Oh, the best.
LK: Good files, too. Very good files.
Oh, the filing. I can’t even believe the filing that’s going on over here these days.
LK: I know, it’s amazing, especially over at that Warhol Museum.
Oh I can only imagine how that guy got filed over there.
LK: Yep...yep, yep.
Oh man. Oh man. See now you got me all worked up thinking about the secretaries.
LK: Yeah...well, I don’t blame you
Ooh, man. Whew...man. Yeah, I’m just sittin’ here in this bubble bath, ya know?
I’m just sittin’ here in this bubble bath, ya know?
LK: Cool. Any other questions?
Ah...oh yeah, the next Toxic Avenger movie...anything you wanna share about that?
LK: Well, all I can tell you is there’s a big remake in the works that the Hollywood people are doing…there’s gonna be a $150 million budget. I don’t know much about that other than they’ve been paying us.
LK: We’re trying to write Toxic Avenger: Part 5, that’ll be one that I do, but we haven’t gotten a very good script yet. We’ve been working on it for three years, and hopefully we’ll get a good script for you. That’ll be the Troma version; it’s called The Toxic Twins: the Toxic Avenger Part 5.
Oh, that’s good. Those bigwig assholes bought the original movie?
LK: Yeah, they’re gonna remake it. I think they’ll do a good job. They got a good director and they got Steven Pink who directed Hot Tub Time Machine, who’s very good. So, we’ll see what happens.
Hot Tub Time Machine. That was good masturbation material.
LK: Yeah it was excellent.
Yeah, hoping the new Toxic Avenger may be as well, ya know?
LK: You never know.
Fire one off in the tub.
LK: Let’s hope so.
Yeah, I’d fire one off in the tub. Oh, man...those secretaries, man.
Just got me thinking.
LK: You know...you shouldn’t be ashamed that you like the male secretaries. It’s ok. You know, I know you had a little trouble with your sexuality, but I would not worry about it. I think today you can come out of the closet, it’s alright, come out of the bubble bath, whatever you wanna call it, it’s perfectly acceptable.
That’s not something my parents would ever accept though, ya know?
LK: Really? Times have changed, man. Step into the light. Don’t feel guilty. Anyway, what else are we gonna talk about?
Ah, man...well... How does Troma keep ahead of the curve, continue to release entertaining movies?
LK: That’s all we got. Our fans are our biggest asset. They also tell us what to do. Our fans were the ones who told us to make Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead. Our fans came from all over the world to sleep on the floor recently, and learn how to defecate in a paper bag, and we made Return to Nuke 'Em High, a revisiting of Class of Nuke ‘Em High.
So we got a big movie in the editing room right now, Return to Nuke ‘Em High. It’s gonna have a volume one and a volume two just like Kill Bill, except maybe it’ll be better.
Oh excellent. Is that like a sequel to part 3 or is that like starting over?
LK: No, it’s a revisiting…a re-imagining of Class of Nuke ‘Em High. They’re very different.
That was one of my favorite Troma movies, ya know?
LK: Oh great, well I think you’ll like the volume 1 and volume 2 of Return to Nuke ‘Em High even better. It’s gonna be like an event film. Two volumes, just like Kill Bill.
Oh excellent. Excellent. Yeah I’ll bring my secretary.
LK: Yeah. Yes. He will like it very much.
Well...we didn’t say it was a he, ya know. Could be...
LK: Well it should be, maybe it should be a he.
Oh I don’t know.
LK: You shouldn’t be ashamed. It’s alright. I don’t know why you’re so uptight about being gay, it’s perfectly alright you know, I mean…
I don’t know, when I was a boy, you know, I never wore no dresses or nothing.
LK: Well, it’s never too late. Anyway, what’s your next question?
Ok, I got one more question for you. Does Oliver Stone still come to you for advice?
LK: No, he dropped me as soon as he got successful like most people do, with good reason.
That son of a bitch.
LK: Yeah, what are you gonna do? But he is one of America’s great movie directors and he followed me into moviemaking. So, uh, thanks to Lloyd Kaufman, you have Oliver Stone as one of your great American film directors.
That’s what I heard. Now he did Porkys, right?
LK: Uh, I think so.
Yeah, that was a good movie.
LK: He also did Deep Throat.
Deep Throat? Ah, that’s a good one. Aw man… So what should I do about my secretary?
LK: Well, I’d give her a big Christmas bonus.
Heh heh heh hehe. It’s kind of a small Christmas bonus you know, between you and I.
LK: Oh well, that’s your luck. What else? I gotta go back into the editing room. If you have any other questions I’m happy to answer them.
Oh, I guess I should probably let you go. I was hoping we could talk more about what was going on with my secretary, but if you gotta go, I should let you go.
LK: Yeah, probably, but if you want any photographs you could go to, there’s a Lloyd Kaufman fan site...are you on the Internet?
I can get on the Internet, yeah, I go through Google.
LK: If you go to LloydKaufman.com. Dot com after my name otherwise you can’t...
Now is that on AOL?
LK: Well, it’s on the Internet…you can just go on the Internet...do you have a browser on your Internet?
Browser? Yeah, I mean I can browse with my eyes and my hands, yeah.
LK: Perfect. Then go to…there’s a fan site called LloydKaufman.com, and there should be a press section there where they have some pictures.
Ok. Now that comes up in my You Got Mail?
LK: Yeah, it should be. Or go to Troma.com. They may have a better section there, they may have better photographs.
Oh, that sounds like a good site.
LK: It’s very good, yeah. It gets about a half a million people every month.
LK: Yeah, you should check it out. Troma.com.
Yeah, I will if I can get on there on my AOL and my You Got Mail, ya know?
LK: Yeah, you should be able to get on [chuckles]. Can you get onto um, you know, CNN and things like that?
CNN, that’s the news. Ah…I don’t know, you know, I don’t know, my son logs me on, I don’t know.
LK: Well then he’ll get you to uh...how old is he?
LK: Oh, then he should be able to get you on. He can get you to all the porno sites too, I’m sure.
Ooh! What they got on there?
LK: Yeah, there’s good stuff, very good things there, and it’s all free.
Ah, you’re opening my eyes now.
LK: Just like the Troma movie channel. Your son will know all about it. And he’ll know how to get on to Troma.com and Lloyd Kaufman.com
Ah that sounds excellent. So you’re telling me they got nudes on the Internet?
LK: Well, I don’t do that myself, but I’ve heard that there’s lots of the, uh, porno, yes it’s true, but I’ve only heard about it. So I’ve heard about it from so many people, that I’m inclined to believe that it is true, but I would never go to such evil places.
Ah man that sounds fascinating. I’m kicking my feet in the tub now.
LK: Yeah? Well I think you owe me now. I’ve given you so much wisdom and practical knowledge that you’ll never forget this interview as long as you stay in that bubble bath.
No I will not. I gotta get on the AOL, ya know?
LK: You better believe it. And also the Warhol Museum. Andy Warhol was a big influence on my career. I've lectured there at least twice, I think more than twice. I was there fairly recently, lecturing, I was showing a Troma movie, I think it was Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead. Warhol was a big influence.
Warhol was a great man.
LK: He sure was. No question about it.
He was integral to this frickin’ city, ya know?
LK: No question about it. He and um, um, what’s his name the guy from the Pirates...Bill Mazeroski....
Clemente. Roberto Clemente. And Barry Bonds. Bobby Bonilla.
LK: Bill Mazeroski, Bob Friend, Roy Face, they were the Pittsburgh Pirates...they were the Pirates. Nothing like ‘em. The series when Mazeroski hit that homer…I got a baseball signed by Mazeroski.
LK: Do you know him? It’s probably before your time but they were...those were the Pirates.
Oh, the Pirates.
LK: Those were the real Pirates.
That was a team!
LK: Smoky Burgess, Bill Verdon was on the Pirates.
And then, of course, the famous Butt Pirates who worked with Andy Warhol quite a bit, they were even more exciting.
But uh...I guess, in the end, we should wrap all this up.
Ah mean if you want to. I got nothing going on. I’m sitting here in this bubble bath, ya know.
LK: I gotta finish Return to Nuke ‘Em High. It’s very important, because it’s a movie made for you and our fans, so I want to get it edited.
Sounds like a wonderful movie. What’s the nudity like in that movie?
LK: Excuse me?
What’s the nudity like in that movie? You got any titties in there?
LK: Well of course, but eh, but it’s mild compared to what goes on in the White House, and behind closed doors of the United States Congress. Can you imagine what Hillary Clinton is doing right now? She got a concussion...
When I’m not on the phone with you, I’m here in this bubble bath imagining it, you better believe that.
LK: Yeah, well, you keep thinking of that bath, and that amazing image of Hillary Clinton.
I wanna, I imagine wrapping those big legs, you know, around my waist.
LK: That’s pretty cool. Well, maybe you could think about her and David Axelrod getting it on…
No, I think her and myself, that’s what I think about, ya know?
LK: ...he’s got a very dirty mustache. I gotta go, so best wishes, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year.
Oh very much so, thank you! Merry Christmas to you.
LK: Okey dokey. Best wishes, thanks, bye.