P ROWLER MAGA ZI N E HALLOWEEN
HORROR STORIES b y LO R I A N N S C OT T
Q & A with Naomi Grossman
Beauties, Beasts and All Hallow’s Eve “Pepper”- American Horror Story
Like the Greeks loved tragedies, the modern American loves a dark tale chock-full of tormented characters, epic beauty, unspeakable events and so often the ironic, twisted ending. We sat down with a few favorite TV and film stars and asked them to reveal in their own words why this love affair with all things grim and grotesque captivates our culture. When and where did your acting career get it’s spark? My parents were always very good about exposing me to culture. We frequented the theatre and movies, so from a very young age I knew that’s what I wanted to do. When I was about 11, I got involved with a children’s theatre company in Denver. Every Saturday morning, we sang, danced, and did sketches at a comedy club downtown. (Amazingly, a lot of those kids are still in the biz— now heavy-hitter comedians, writers, and producers in Hollywood). Soon I/we were acting in anything and everything that came out of Colorado— “Father Dowling Mysteries,” regional commercials, etc. Got my SAG card when I was 15... Then went to Northwestern University as a
theatre major. Four cold, Chicago winters later, I traded in my wooly coat and went west to Hollywood! H ow did you find out about the part of Pepper and were you intimidated by playing this outrageous role? Oh, I’m not intimidated by outrageous roles. On the contrary— have you seen my YouTube channel?— that’s what I excel in! As far as finding out about Pepper, it was an audition like any other. My agent called with the appointment and sides to prepare, though they were very vague as to what the role actually was. The breakdown read, “4-5 feet tall, possibly malformed, childlike.” Which is obviously a tricky to prepare for! So I did what I could, wore flats and a
baby-doll dress, and just did a good job. That’s all you can do. The other girls auditioning were actual little people, so I really didn’t think I had a chance. But the same folks that cast “AHS” cast “Glee,” “The Mentalist,” etc. so I just treated it as a chance to meet casting in hopes they’d consider me for something in the future. So no, to answer your question, even if I were daunted by outrageous roles, I couldn’t possibly be intimidated because I didn’t even know what I’d gotten! It wasn’t until I was cast, and saw the photos the makeup department had manipulated to show what I’d look like as Pepper did realize what the role even was. And even then, with such a star-studded cast, I never dreamt they’d entrust such a meaty role to an unknown actor like me. For all
I knew, I was just one of an army of pinheads. It wasn’t until I was on set for the first time that realized I might be the craziest in the asylum. (Or the craziest-looking anyway.) By the time I’d figured it all out, it was too late to be intimidated... cameras were rolling, and Sister Jude was in the house! It’s funny to see how lovely you are in your pictures of you beside the pictures of you as Pepper. You obviously look nothing like her. How long did it take to do your makeup? About 2 1/2-3 hours, and that’s with two SPFX guys working feverishly on me the entire time. The makeup department deserves mad props for my transformation.
Though I suppose I had a little something to do with it too... At the end of the day, it’s just prosthetics. They sit on the counter unless you do something with them! Any inspiration for playing Pepper? How did you become her? I can’t take the credit for that. That’s all Ryan Murphy. He’s a big fan of Tod Browning’s 1933 film, “Freaks,” which starred a microcephalic character named Schlitzie. He’s who Pepper was modeled after. So I obviously watched that on a loop for a month before shooting. As far as how I “became her,” the makeup did a lot of the work. It’s kinda like putting on a costume or wig— it informs the way you move, speak, everything. You do your internal work first, then put on the external layers, and hopefully it all comes together!
Were you aware at the time of filming what a huge hit AHS has become?
general. My actor-friends on procedural dramas aren’t enjoying the same freaky fandom!
Not quite. I’d never even seen it before when I auditioned. Then once I was cast, I watched the entire first season in a week. Didn’t sleep too well after that! I was especially struck by how excellent the acting was, and how high the production value was. So I knew it would catch on, if it hadn’t already. But I had no idea how vast the fandom is. That there are people creating fake Facebook accounts, role playing as their favorite character... Animating gifs, painting portraits, composing songs, posting “Pepper for President” signs around town, even tattooing me on their limbs! The sheer creativity that Pepper has inspired is astonishing. Part of that is of course due to the show’s popularity, but I think it’s also the horror genre in
I love it! I mean, if in forty years I’m still signing pictures of Pepper, I may need an intervention. But for now, it’s what’s happening! Besides, I get to travel, see old friends, make new ones... I mean, it’s not exactly what I want to be doing necessarily— it’s a far cry from acting— but shoot, a year and a half ago nobody wanted my signature! So it’s a nice change. As far as odd fans and stories, I wouldn’t know where to begin! In fact, I was thinking about writing a Christopher Gueststyle mockumentary about it. So I’m going to deflect that question, and let you come and see those stories in the theatre instead!
How do you like the convention circuit? Any odd fans or stories?
What upcoming projects do you have planned? The really juicy stuff I of course can’t talk about! But in addition to a full slate of personal appearances, I’m developing an animated project with one of the stars of “SOA.” It looks like I’ll be doing a Lucha Libre, sci-fi film with Mexican wrestling star, Mil Máscaras. I’m always looking to remount my solo shows (in case your readers are in school, and would like to have me come be their campus entertainment!). I’m even looking to adapt one of my shows into a TV series. So, I’m busy! American Horror Story has become one of the top shows on TV with legions of addicted fans, has nearly 5 million “Likes” on Facebook and episodes are now available on Netflix.
b y T E R E S A B A R A N O W S K I A N D LO R I A N N S C OT T
Q & A with Mark Torgl
Our Prowler gals caught up to Mark Torgl—the Toxic Avenger—a cult favorite enjoying a fresh round of fandom. The Super-Hero from New Jersey was on-hand for the Mad Monster Party here in Charlotte this past February and posed with fans, signed mops and showed just how to fight off bullies. The rest is history. The next year when they were casting for the “Toxic Avenger” apparently they auditioned hundreds of kids for Melvin and didn’t like anyone. Lloyd finally said what they were looking for was what I did on “First Turn On”. They called me up and said if I wanted the part it was mine. Tell us what you have been up to since we saw you last? After I moved to Hollywood I was working regularly in post production, which I really enjoy. I’ve also made a bunch of short films and I did a cameo in Toxic Avenger 4 as Evil Melvin. Hollywood is doing a big budget Toxic Avenger remake with Arnold Schwarzenegger. I would love to get a cameo possibly asToxi’s dad. Everyone call the producers at Lions Gate Entertainment and insist on a part for me. I’m also acting in my own film which is currently in production, “Toxic Tutu” The almost true story of what became of Toxic Avenger’s Mark Torgl! Which Toxie movie is your favorite? The original of course, The Toxic Avenger has a life that just won’t quit. Being part of this cult classic never gets old. And of course, Toxic Avenger 2 and 3 with Fake Melvin just didn’t cut it. Lloyd says he regrets not giving me the $50 I asked for in 2 and 3. Prowler Girls: How did you get in the acting business? I’ve been acting like an idiot since I was a little kid. Seriously, I was always in the high school and college plays, but getting cast in Toxic Avenger was kind of a fluke. I was attending NYU Film School to be a filmmaker and Troma posted a notice on the Job Board at NYU to come work on a “real” feature film for “The First Turn On” —the film they made the year before Toxic Avenger. So I met with Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz and they asked what I wanted to do. I said I wanted to be the Script Supervisor, Lloyd said “OK, you can be the Script Supervisor, what else do you want to do?” I said I liked writing, Lloyd said “OK, you can write some additional scenes, what else do you want to do?” I should have said that I wanted to direct. So, I didn’t sign on as an actor initially, but typically everyone on the crew ends up in the film somewhere. When the actor who was hired to play Dwayne, a real social misfit, didn’t show up, Lloyd said, “Mark you go in and do the part”.
What is your favorite toxic substance? The new film I’m working on “Toxic Tutu” there’s a drink called “The Intoxicator” It’s green and very contagious. How’s your relationship now with Lloyd Kaufman? Really good, I did an autograph signing with Lloyd and the Troma Team at ComiCon this year and I’m also appearing with Lloyd at Stan Lee’s ComiKaze in LA Nov 1, 2 and 3. Lloyd also appears as himself in “Toxic Tutu.” Any advice to the aspiring janitors out there? Keep your mop handle clean. Everyone always wants to hold my mop at monster conventions. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve been asked to sign? I’ve signed a real janitors mop, a breast, and a butt. Breasts
and butts can be difficult, you have to stretch the skin out so the signature looks right. What advice do you have for kids that are being bullied today? A part of “Toxic Tutu” has to do with Bullying. Kids should not let bullies get away with it no matter what—stand your ground and let someone know. I think often if a kid stands up to a bully, the bully often ends up not being so tough. Tell us about your new Kickstarter project and how can we get involved? It started when I was pursued by the people of The Mad Monster Party to be a celebrity at their convention in Charlotte, North Carolina in March. I had never done a convention until this one, and my best friend from NYU and I decided to document it. We created a fictionalized story around the monster convention backdrop and continued filming at “Days of The Dead” Los Angeles and then at ComiCon San Diego where Lloyd and the Troma Crew participated. We are going to be launching a Kickstarter campaign October 18th for 30 days to raise funds to continue filming and finish the mockumentary project. So please everyone go to KickStarter.com and look up “Toxic Tutu”—we have some great fun incentives for supporters. And even if you can’t make a pledge, please spread the word to anyone you know who is a Toxic Avenger fan, The world needs “Toxic Tutu”. Also, go to my Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/ToxicAvengerMarkTorgl and give me a “Like”. We will also be updating our progress at www.toxictutu.com.
QUEEN CITY SCREAM QUEEN
HOW DID YOU GET INTO ACTING? IT WAS A LIFE-LONG DREAM. I ALWAYS WANTED TO TRY IT BUT IT WAS MY HUSBAND MARK THAT GAVE ME THE CONFIDENCE TO GO FOR IT. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST MOVIE? IT WAS A FILM SHORT CALLED "DESPAIR". WHAT IS YOU FAVORITE CHARACTER THAT YOU HAVE PLAYED? NICOLE FROM "EXPENDABLE" SHE WAS A VAMPIRE. WHO WOULDN'T WANT TO PLAY A SEXY VAMPIRE? WHO WOULD YOU WANT TO PLAY YOU IN A MOVIE OF YOUR LIFE? MILLA JOVOVICH. PEOPLE HAVE SAID WE BARE A RESEMBLANCE. DO YOU HAVE ANY PROJECTS COMING UP? YES. MY HUSBAND MARK AND I ARE CURRENTLY WORKING ON A NEW THRILLER, "BUNDLE OF NERVES". YOU CAN ALWAYS KEEP UP WITH WHAT’S GOING ON WITH ME BY VISITING LIFEOFRYLI.COM AND MY FACEBOOK PAGE facebook.com/ryli.morgan