volume 2 number 9.5
Over a decade ago, when we first began publishing this magazine, our goal was to bring forward people and phenomena that deserve acknowledgement regardless of their place in time. We’re happy to say that this mission has never changed. We still believe that the best art is timeless, and very few creative personalities embody this trait as strongly as Harmony Korine. While this special issue of ANPQuarterly is focused on Korine’s new film, The Beach Bum, it should not be understated that this movie is part and parcel of a two-decades long string of creative endeavors from this artist. The Beach Bum is arguably Korine’s most realized film to date. It can honestly be said that with this particular work, through his writing, casting and overall mise-en-scene, he has masterfully honed his skills into what can only be described as a well-oiled machine of a film. We believe it will go down in history as one of cinema’s best. But, great art should not always be judged by the artist’s most current offerings. In fact, it is only through the lens of history that we as a society can truly bring into focus the meaning of an artistic legacy. This special issue is the first and possibly only time that we have dedicated an entire publication to the work of one artist. The occasion is The Beach Bum, but our reasoning is more than that. Consider it a more of a celebration of an overall vision than the lessons one particular film. For the last two decades, Harmony Korine has continued to seduce us, challenge us, shock us and push us to reassess our ideas of what art and movies can be. In our own way, ANPQuarterly has always strived for the same. With that in mind, we consider this issue a meeting of the minds. A wonderful collaboration between creative souls, all of us in search of what it means to be an artist in the 21st Century.
Ari Marcopoulos, Harmony Korine, New York. 1995
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch, If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you, If all men count with you, but none too much; If you can fill the unforgiving minute With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run, Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son! -If by Rudyard Kipling, 1895
PRAISE THE BEAST
What people don’t understand is that we choose to live like free…free people. -Trash Humpers, 2009
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process of shining a light where most people didn’t dare to look. Even though he has denied this repeatedly, choosing instead to hide behind a persona of nonchalant, nonsensical, non-sequiturs, in Korine’s heart there is a creative being who truly understands the struggles of humanity. I often feel that his comedic public persona actually serves as a type of psychological armor. Protecting that sacred personal space behind smoke and mirrors, so that only those closest to him ever see the real man.
To begin to understand an artist’s motivation, one must always look back to the source. Not just the source of the collected works, but also to the core of the person who created them. There are few contemporary filmmakers who have been both as celebrated and misunderstood as Harmony Korine. His oeuvre of work, not just in film, but also in painting, poetry, photography, music and literature defy all categories of classification. Like the artist, they are an entity unto themselves. A complicated collage of ideas and imagery, seemingly disparate, yet upon further examination reveal a very distinct worldview. With that in mind and upon the release of The Beach Bum, Harmony Korine’s sixth feature film, it seems a fitting time to look deeper not just into this particular movie, but into why this work marks an important milestone in the history of this artist.
Like Moondog, Korine looks at the world differently than most people. Drifting through the human experience with an almost blind faith in the process. The characters he writes are almost always deeply flawed yet possess an almost child-like innocence. Never before in film history had we seen such eccentric roles with such a blatant disregard for what were considered societal norms. He is not afraid to address the darker truths of life, but for those of us who are willing to look, there are valuable treasures to be found. However, in order to discover these riches one has to understand that within these hyper-real narratives featuring sometimes-unbelievable personalities, there lie inherent truths. Though perhaps only tethered to reality by a small but solid root, the message of Korine’s films go far beyond simple pedestrian perceptions. Korine shows us this world in such an extreme fashion not only to shock us (though that can be one of his lesser tactics), but more so to allow us to feel sympathy towards the plight of his characters.
Korine has always had a particular fascination with the forgotten people. Some would call them freaks, outcasts, or even “special” people, but to this artist, these personalities are not strange. They are not fringe characters, nor are they somehow lesser than those who choose to live mainstream lives. In the mind and heart of Harmony Korine, these people, are God’s masterpieces. In all of Harmony’s creations, he looks unflinchingly at the bizarre, the unusual, and even the grotesque things in life. Then through the use of a masterful command of unconventional visual devices, he forces the viewer understand their abject beauty. Korine is a teacher, a magician and a seer. His works are alternately painterly and documentarian, but at his core, he is dedicated to creating beautiful images of unbeautiful subjects. These themes appear more subtly and not so subtly in his earlier films, but they truly come home to roost in The Beach Bum.
As the result of this Korine shows us what freedom looks like. As an artist, he has afforded himself the autonomy to adhere to an unfiltered exploration of some of his own thematic whims and obsessions via a series of films, publications, exhibitions and anything else he might dream up. As an audience we should take careful note of what he’s doing. Not just as fans or devotees, but as fellow searchers. We have a duty as artists and citizens of this Earth to be the best we can be. Like Harmony, and the characters he writes and directs into his films, we all fail sometimes. But let the man be the man. We live in an environment where too much focus is put on whether or not we’re doing the right thing… with the word “right” being interpreted in ways that we try to present our work in the most innocuous fashion as possible. We have a higher value than that and Harmony understands these conflicts.
I’ve known Harmony for over 25 years and if there is one thing I’ve learned it’s that in order to understand this particular artistic/ cinematic legacy, one has to forget everything they know about art. In Korine’s work, the medium is essentially irrelevant. To some, it could be helpful to think of his film work in the context of visual art, as many talented polymaths of the past have seen this happen to their careers, but in the case of Korine, even that comparison falls short. Perhaps it’s best suited to consider his work as a whole as a singular personal movement rather than an adherent to any particular medium or school of creativity. Anyone who has followed Korine’s career seriously will probably understand this. It can be said that every artist’s work is autobiographical, and Harmony does not escape this cliché. But, while his personal motivations are evident, there’s something deeply proletariat in his approach to his choices. Regardless of how a particular viewer might react to his style, it cannot be denied that he always strikes a nerve. The Beach Bum will undoubtedly foster the same result. Of the various works (in all mediums) that Korine has created, this film is perhaps his most honest. That is not to say that his other creations are less-than, it’s simply that The Beach Bum gives an incredibly pure look into Korine’s psyche, and a virtual roadmap to the simple thrulines that run through all of his work. Moondog, the protagonist of The Beach Bum, wonderfully portrayed on screen by Matthew McConaughey, is as Harmony as Harmony gets. The character, a published poet, is consistently being lionized for his past work and how it has changed peoples’ lives, yet he exists in a middle-space, a place where his past constantly informs his future. He is stuck in a conundrum, an identity crisis he is not aware of. He’s just doing his thing, following his whims as he always has, constantly in the process of writing his next masterpiece. For those of us who know Harmony, it is starkly obvious that this is straight autobiography. From his earliest foray into film at the age of 19, when we first became friends, Harmony has dealt with a similar set of circumstances. Moondog is, without a doubt, the cinematic embodiment of Korine’s inner vision. Except that while Korine is a man, Moondog actually is a God. In this character, Korine has taken his personal life experiences as an artist and as a human being; his struggles, triumphs, successes and failures and wrapped them up into a package that manifests itself in the form of a stoned out, sunburnt hippy that cruises around South Florida in a speedboat. There has been evidence of Harmony’s personality in many of his characters throughout his filmmaking history, but never has there been one that cuts as close to the bone as
While The Beach Bum is tinted in flickering neons and beersoaked Florida hues, it also shows us that everything in life exists in the grey area. In the film, people drink and smoke their way to oblivion, cheat on their partners, have problems with the law and live lives essentially on the most extreme edges of society. There is no political correctness here, only raw emotion and pernicious desire. They are prime examples of the id run amok, yet if we dare to scratch the surface we can all see ourselves in these personalities. In our current 21st Century age we all strive to be “good” people, and some of us come close to achieving it. Yet, to push aside or pretend to bury our deeper flaws prevents us from ever seeing the full picture of our lives. Harmony Korine’s body of work serves as a stark reminder of this.
production stills on set of Gummo, photographer unknown. 1997 production stills on set of Gummo, photographer unknown. 1997
Moondog. It takes enormous courage to be able to sublimate one’s own life into the form of a fictitious character. Having the skills of self-examination so deftly honed is not for the faint of heart. Additionally, to then create a character so complicated that his deepest and most troubling emotions are projected in such a way that we can all laugh along with him is an even bigger accomplishment. This is the primary function of art as a spiritual practice… that through the realization of another person’s suffering we may hope to find ourselves.
We all start with a blank slate in life. A hand is dealt and we must play it to our best ability. Harmony has done the same. Kids, Gummo, Julien Donkey Boy, Mister Lonely, Trash Humpers, Spring Breakers and a host of smaller projects that only the truly dedicated have sought out now culminate in The Beach Bum. But they are just a roadmap. Sure, each of these creations build on each other to create a cohesive narrative, but in true Harmony Korine style, just when you think you have it figured out, life throws in a twist. In this writer’s opinion, art is a religion. Harmony might not be a savior but he’s doing his best to sail right up next to it. We should all be on a daily quest to do the same.
Unlike any other modern filmmaker in recent history, Korine’s films have reached a cult-like status that most directors could only dream of. His fans have been described as “devotees.” Religiously following each and every project with a rabid fervor usually reserved for spiritual leaders. This is not to suggest that Harmony Korine is some sort of divine incarnation. However there is a resonance in his works that undoubtedly strikes an incredibly strong emotional and psychological nerve with this devoted audience. Perhaps the primary reason for this allegiance can be found in the essential subject matter of Korine’s films. While other filmmakers have walked those paths before, few, and I mean a handful in the course of film history, have approached it with such brutal honesty. Throughout in his career, and perhaps only subconsciously at the beginning, Harmony had begun a
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Praise The Beast.
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A PORTFOLIO OF NEW PAINTINGS COURTESY OF GAGOSIAN, NEW YORK
Twitchy Coupe, 2018, Oil on canvas, 58 1/2 x 46 inches
Twitchy Tiles, 2018, Oil on canvas, 60 5/8 x 48 3/4 inches
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Twitchy Slingshot Boy, 2018, Oil on canvas, 60 x 48 1/2 inches
Twitchy we are one, 2018, Oil on canvas, 60 1/8 x 49 3/4 inches
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Twitchy and Me, 2018, Oil on canvas, 58 1/2 x 46 inches
Twitchy Cosmic, 2018, Oil on canvas, 60 5/8 x 48 3/4 inches
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w e h t Mat Conaughey Mc ANP: Moondog is perhaps one of the most “out there” characters you’ve ever played. Curious what kind of preparation went into developing such a unique personality? Matthew McConaughey: Well, it was really getting to know Harmony through the pre-production process and seeing how there’s a lot of Moondog in that trickster. Also, Moondog is kind of a stew of a bunch of cats that I’ve crossed paths with in my travels. There’s this guy Kris Kringle down in Australia that sits on the beach everyday with big 5-foot speakers and just jams out! He sits there in a speedo and looks across the ocean. There’s another guy Captain Steve who was a smuggler. He finally got a date with this one lady. After eight tries he took her out on a boat, kidnapped her and sailed around the world. He married her and now they’ve been married 27 years and they have a beautiful kid. There’s some Bob Dylan, Bear Mountain, you know? Moondog is sort of a folk poet. It was also about finding the music of it. This is all music. It’s all rhyme, no reason. It’s all music, no arithmetic. This was a vacation without condemnation. This was like, “Oh yeah? You have indigestion? I’m still very hungry.” Moondog has an incredible appetite for life. Life is music and he’s the conductor. Everything he bumps into, whether it’s good fortune or bad fortune, he has no crisis because he gives crisis no credit. So he’s kind of levitated off of reality in a way. In a beautiful way…and he has incredible endurance! If he sees something that doesn’t go his way he’s like, “Oh, that’s the next note in the song of my life!” So lets go on to the next situation and I’ll reverb off of that and then another. He’s playing one long massive song and that’s his album until the day he’s out of here. ANP: It’s a really transformative performance. Did you begin developing the character with the mentality of Moondog? McConaughey: Yeah, the mentality. Again, it’s about appetite. If you walk the branches of appetite you sit there and go, “This guy consumes!” He trespasses on everything. Sex, drugs and partying are his diet. Yet he’s a poet. He’s not a disciplined, conscientious, considerate man at all. He’s one of those artists where his order is chaos. He finds order in the chaos. He’s also a ruthless cat! He demands that the world entertain him, and if it doesn’t, he’ll dust you off and move on. There’s these little vignettes of people that he runs into through his life. He’s kind of like how Trump was on John McCain. He likes the guys that didn’t get captured. That’s very Moondog right there. He’s hard to keep up with. ANP: There’s that beautiful montage where you and Minnie (Isla Fisher) are dancing to Peggy Lee’s “Is That All There Is?” It’s so touching, we were wondering if you have worked with Isla before? McConaughey: I had met Isla before. Isla and I used to work with a lady, Penny Allen, she was my acting coach, but she hated me saying that. She was my muse. I worked with her for 19 years. She recently passed away. She moved on. But she would always sing Isla’s praises. Penny loved people that were “out there”. You know, people that were savagely out there. But yeah that scene! I remember saying to Harmony, “I think I have a song for this.” You know I always had this speaker on the periphery of set and Harmony was like, “Why don’t you just wear the jambox?” Isla had never heard that song and she wanted to hear it before we shoot and I was like, “Nah, let’s just see what we do. Let’s just dance!” It’s a beautiful, tragic song that just kinds sums it all up. ANP: While it’s under the surface, there’s something quite spiritual about Moondog. It’s almost as if he has a god-like quality. Is this something you noticed? Did you think about spirituality when approaching the role? McConaughey: Yeah. Well again it’s music. It’s reciprocation. It’s how his energy bounces off of someone and how their energy bounces off of him.
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You know, just because it says anonymous doesn’t mean there wasn’t an author. His spirituality lives in that. ANP: From speaking with other people involved in the production, it seems like once you got to Florida you rarely broke character. Is this something you do on all your films, or was there something unique to Moondog that inspired this approach? McConaughey: Well, there were certain nights where I had no choice! Like, the scene where Moondog goes to see Lingerie (Snoop Dogg) and Lingerie is gonna turn him on to the magic weed. I told props to make sure I had some prop weed, and also it’s a long scene. Harmony wrote it at like seven minutes. So we’re doing the scene and Moondog’s not the kind of guy who takes a little puff off a joint. Moondog takes a fucking hit! Well we do the scene and the joint gets passed back and forth about six or seven times and Snoop goes, “Hey, Moondog! That ain’t prop weed. That’s Snoop weed.” I’m like, “Oh, here we go man! Put on your seatbelt!” This is also like the first take of the night! We still had like nine hours to go. Now I don’t remember most of the rest of the night. I do remember that I rapped a lot, and that I didn’t say many words that are in the English vocabulary. I basically broke down to mammalian sounds and I kept thinking I had potato chips stuck to my feet, even though there were no potato chips anywhere near me. I remember getting home at like 4 am and I had lost my keys and my wife opened the door and she was like, “Whoa! You alright?” I was like, “Yeah, I’m ok, but I’m not anywhere close to going to sleep!” So we watched the sunrise, I stayed up the entire next day and went to work at 5 o’clock. It wasn’t really until 5:30 the next day that I finally caught my breath. When I showed up to work I said to Snoop, “Man I don’t remember much of last night because you Snooped me.” He goes, “Oh Moondog, you were spectacular!” I said, “How so?” and he was like, “You hit four in the park home runs!” It was great. ANP: What was your experience like working with Harmony? McConaughey: It was a dance. I was the music he was the DJ. You know, Harmony get’s inspired randomly, like after we’ve wrapped and we’re on our way to go home and walking by a vacant, lit-up gas station. So he goes, “Moondog, what if you go over there and dance around and if someone pulls in to get gas, maybe get them dancing too!” Next thing you know the camera’s going and we’re in! That’s the extent of the discussion. Let’s do it! He also likes to shoot the same scene with the same dialog in different places, you kind of wonder where you are. It’s kind of transcendental, or shape shifting, almost. He’ll get inspired by the moment anywhere and at anytime. When I’m in music mode I’m in “yes” mode. It’s not about logic. Also, our funny bones seem to be similar. That was it. As soon as I clicked into Moondog, I clicked into this absolute epidemic of joy. It was an almost transcendental joy and all the anarchy of that. When Harmony dug that line that I was on and that note, then it was just free for both of us. ANP: How much of Matthew McConaughey is there in Moondog? McConaughey: I mean a whole lot of Moondog is in me! All of the characters I play are like an old 1980’s equalizer. I’m just tuning the equalizer. You know Moondog has a lot of bass, so he’s the lower end. He’s a through line. He’s a verb. He’s a denominator and a spirit unto himself. So I’m just turning down the sides of me that are very conscientious. Turning down the sides of me that are considerate. Turning down the sides of me that love logic. The sides of me that love to study, to take notes. I love order. I do! But not Moondog. Turn those way down and crank up the Saturday at 3am where there’s no backdrop and the end zone is way out of sight. There’s no responsibility coming up in the next 172 hours, and the walls are padded and everyone present has a mouth guard!! Shazaam!
H A Y E S SAM A PORTFOLIO
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Benoît Debie is the Belgian cinematographer who is responsible for the highly-saturated and over the top visual look of The Beach Bum. His first collaboration with Harmony Korine was on Spring Breakers, where the two formed a very special collaborative relationship. Here, Debie speaks to us about how the look and feel of The Beach Bum came together, recollections of some interesting and hilarious moments from the set and a very enlightening conversation about some very unique differences between the process shooting on film versus digital.
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ANP: How did you first start working with Harmony and how did you meet? Benoit Debie: The first time we met was on Spring Breakers. He asked me to do the film. We met by phone and we talked together and that’s it! I went to Florida to shoot the movie and we met during the prep of the film. ANP: Wow, so it was really just a phone call and you did the film? Benoît: Yeah. Harmony is friends with Gaspar Noe and Gaspar told him that he needed to work with me. He felt it was important for us to meet. ANP: The marriage or Harmony’s aesthetic and your aesthetic really are a perfect match. Benoît: Yeah, you know for me I was impressed. Because you know the thing with Harmony is that he gives you the freedom to try your style. It’s really nice because in the end sometimes when a director chooses a DP, he’ll push you to do something that not his style. With Harmony, he pushes the DP to do what he likes or exactly what he is feeling. This is really the best thing for a good collaboration. ANP: Yeah I’ve always heard that Harmony tends to let the individual departments do their own thing on his films. Benoît: Exactly! He does that with every department. That’s a very cool thing about him. Sometimes I’m working with a director but you cannot do your stuff. It’s quite strange to me. ANP: I’m curious about how you approached the look and feel of The Beach Bum as opposed to Spring Breakers? Both are shot in Florida, but the films feel very different. Benoît: When we were prepping The Beach Bum, Harmony told me, “You know we have to go even further than Spring Breakers.” I said, “Wow, that might be quite tough because Spring Breakers is already quite extreme!” But it’s nice because we learned together on Spring Breakers and so it was ok to take it a bit further. It was really interesting because the idea was not to do the same thing, but to go even stronger and even more visual. That’s really what we were trying to do and I think it was really quite cool. ANP: Would you that the approach on The Beach Bum came down to more changes in the lighting or the camera movements? Benoît: The lighting was really about the colors. The really vivid colors. When we were doing Spring Breakers we created a stylish way to shoot a film together. So with The Beach Bum the idea was to use this way to shoot and just take the whole thing further, you know what I mean? ANP: So it wasn’t really like you did a total 180; it was maybe more about perfecting a language that you had developed together? Benoît: Exactly. It was more about using what we had done on Spring Breakers and then to perfect the style and get even more precise with it. We were trying to understand the way we were shooting even more. The great thing is that because we knew each other much better it was much easier to shoot this movie. When we were shooting we didn’t have to speak so much. It’s more intuitive. I think I know exactly what he wants and so he trusts me. That way I can do my stuff and have the freedom to do everything I want and I think this is the best! For me this is the best way to work. When I can have the freedom to do what I do, but then also respect the way Harmony wants to shoot. ANP: You also got to shoot on film! Benoît: Yes! We shot everything on film. At the beginning of the movie, the producers were trying to push us to not shoot on film because it was more expensive. But at the end, we were able to convince them to shoot film. This is always incredible. I’ve done a lot of stuff on digital there is no way to reach the colors, the contrast, the darkness, that you get on film. After two day of shooting the producers said, “My god! It’s incredible!” They loved the way it looked. That’s only because we were able to shoot on film. ANP: I read somewhere that you said when you’re shooting on film the focus is really on the action. Maybe like what’s happening in front of the camera is perhaps more sacred? Benoît: Yes. You know this is the big difference between film and digital. With film, for sure it’s about the quality of the image but it’s not only about that. When we’re shooting film everybody on the set is much more focused. When you start to shoot, you know this is only for three or four minutes. Everybody is intensely focused on the scene. Even the actors! When you shoot on digital you can shoot forever! Sometimes you don’t stop the
camera for 40 minutes and at the end of the take everybody is a bit lost. People don’t know what they’re doing. The actor has to deliver this line over and over again forever. So I prefer shooting film for the quality, but also for the way we are shooting. Everybody is ten times more focused when we shoot film. Sometimes when I’m shooting on digital, some people will say, “It’s fine. We’ll fix it later in post.” But if you don’t have the image now, you definitely wont have it in post! For me this is a strange new language. ANP: Since you work in both film and digital I’m curious if you noticed that the performances by the actors are better or worse depending on the format. Benoît: It’s funny. I met with Ryan Gosling when I was prepping for Lost River. He asked me what I thought about shooting on film or digital. I started to explain the differences to him. I told him for sure there is a difference of quality, but what I hate the most is the way we are shooting. He said, “You know what? When I’m working as an actor, I hate digital because sometimes we shoot forever and during the take the director is telling me to change my lines and I get lost!” So he told me the same thing from the actor’s point of view. So we decided to shoot Lost River on film just because of that conversation. Also, the beauty of that film would have been impossible to achieve on digital. ANP: Yes, and when you hear people speak about this debate they only talk about picture quality. Benoît: Yes! For sure the quality is really important, but it’s not only about that. It’s about the way we choose to shoot the entire film. Also, I think using digital is just a new way to shoot a film. Sometimes when I’m shooting digital I have the feeling that we are shooting on set, but the film really will happen during the editing. The shooting becomes almost irrelevant. They shoot forever, just trying to capture as much as they can, then after that they try to build the movie in the editing. I can’t understand this, but maybe it’s just a new generation with a new way to shoot. ANP: In what way would you say, especially in the context of The Beach Bum, that working with Harmony is different than the process with other directors you work with? Benoît: Well he’s different in different ways. Harmony, for sure, is an artist. You can tell that immediately. Also, when he asks you to shoot a movie, you know he trusts you. He trusts all of the people he is working with. So you have a nice freedom to work throughout the process. Also, when he’s working with the actors, he allows them to give a lot of themselves. The actors have a lot of freedom as well. Because if this he really pushes everybody to give their best. This is really interesting for me. If the director is just always telling you what to do, of course you shoot the movie, but you lose interest. Harmony’s approach to making a movie is quite unique because of this. Also, when we are shooting together we really enjoy the moment. The way we shoot, the way he plays with the actors, with the music it’s nice because at the end everybody enjoys the set. Even if it’s a long day and we shoot a lot, the day still seems short. It’s hard, but you really enjoy your day and I think this is the best. ANP: Well that’s the dream right? Benoît: Yeah that’s the dream! You know I shoot some movies and it’s really hard and the director is not happy and he is complaining all the time. That makes it hard for us because we start feel like what we’re making is not good. With Harmony that’s never the case. Even if sometimes he doesn’t like something, we just change and do something else. It’s fine. It’s not a big deal. ANP: What would you say is your fondest memory from working on The Beach Bum? Benoît: Well, this is quite funny but Mathew McConaughey asked to have a big subwoofer on the set to play music all the time. There was one guy and his job was to hold this subwoofer and just play music all day long. Sometimes when the music was good everybody would start to dance. Harmony would be dancing with Matthew and it was quite fun! I’m with my camera shooting and then I see Harmony and Matthew dancing in the middle of a take. It was so nice! Even for the crew. I’ve done a few things since then with some of the same crew, my gaffer and my first AC, and everybody was super happy about the situation because it was completely unique. Usually working on a film is really stressful, but those situations on The Beach Bum are probably my best memories from the film.
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i d i e H
Heidi Bivens is an American costume designer, fashion stylist, and editor. Her first collaboration with Harmony Korine was as the costume designer for the 2012 film Spring Breakers. Since then the two have developed a special bond. Being that the costumes in The Beach Bum play such a prominent role in the story, we thought it would be interesting to get Heidi’s take on the process. with them. Harmony is so respectful of his department heads and really gives people an opportunity to shine. He doesn’t micromanage, which is a gift. If I could pave the rest of my film career as a costume designer, I really enjoy working with directors who are artists. I’ve had a tendency to gravitate to people who are artists in my fashion work as well. I like to nurture artists. There’s definitely a side of my personality that really enjoys nurturing people. I love being able to support an artist in creating a vision. I find that very satisfying. ANP: Let’s talk a little bit more about your creative process. How do you usually work? Heidi: Well I start by pulling references and inspiration. Mood boarding is a big part of it. When I’m working on films that are modern day, I’m usually not sketching so much because I’m sourcing from existing clothes. Actually, on The Beach Bum I would be sketching a lot in the beginning because I was building the costumes, and I knew that I could create a world that didn’t exist already. But then I would find fabric and find vintage silhouettes that I liked and then fit them on Matthew McConaughy and then create versions of those in original fabrics. A lot of the wardrobe in The Beach Bum are items of clothing that exist and we see all the time, and his character’s look exists in the how he combines them. ANP: Yeah, in so many ways it was the combination of elements. The garments are regular enough, but the power in the total look was the way they were all put together… Heidi: Yes. There was something that I kept referring to during the shooting. Whether we were sourcing or whatever…I called it “Same but Different”. I’m really into that as a concept. I love things that visually look the same, but on closer inspection you realize the difference ANP: Kind of like when you meet a person with a lazy eye… Heidi: Totally! So that was a running theme for me. Also, the idea that Moondog was wearing ladies clothes was a thing that we approached in a sensitive way. I wanted to understand why someone who is not homosexual would wear women’s clothing. His motivation to wear those garments in the movie doesn’t outwardly have anything to do with his sexuality. It’s introduced as a joke as a means for him to be incognito and hide from the authorities. It’s a disguise. It’s all pretty tongue and cheek. But then there’s a line in the film towards the end, where a reporter asks him why he’s still wearing ladies clothes. He replies that it’s just comfortable. I really wanted to understand the character’s motivations, so I did do some research about men who cross dress who aren’t homosexual. There’s something about the idea behind the male gaze and them wanting to feel what that’s like. There’s a lot that goes into that psychology that I was trying to understand. ANP: For sure. I could see it almost as a power trip thing. That’s really interesting that it’s not purely visual for you…that you’re trying to get behind the motivations of the characters. Heidi: For sure! I need that so that it feels authentic. I’m always interested creating a back-story even if it doesn’t mean anything for the narrative of the film. They’re things that nobody would ever know, but for me I need to understand the where and the why. The same goes for the “homeless homies” in the movie. In terms of sensitivity, that was a big one for me too. I didn’t want to create these one-dimensional homeless characters. ANP: What did you bring to their wardrobe to elevate them? Heidi: Miami has an amazing community of homeless people, so we took a lot of street photos. The city is pretty “wild west”. There is a lot of inventiveness in terms of the clothing looks of the people living on the streets. We tried to observe so that our references felt real. We didn’t want them to be caricatures. I realize that might sound affected when you’re talking about
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ANP: How do you begin a project with Harmony? Heidi Bivens: Harmony usually likes me to begin a project by getting down to wherever the location is as soon as possible. He likes it when I can soak up the vibe, do people watching and really get a feel for the locals. Surprisingly, Miami has a lot of good resources. So I started out by doing fabric sourcing and trying to find local fabrics. ANP: Where do you find them? Heidi: I usually go to places that have dead stock fabrics. I pretty much just go to every fabric store. There isn’t really a good costume house in Miami. So my assistant, Kat Danabassis and I pulled things from Los Angeles before we went to Florida, but I try to always find stuff from all corners. I don’t like it when things are coming from one place. Hopefully that helps me to create something new. The Beach Bum was the first time I was given the opportunity to build most of the costumes. Usually I’m given a budget that allows for some of the costumes to be created, but not all of them. On this film I was given a seamstress to be on our crew. It was such a luxury, because if I had an idea I could just execute it. Most of the time I’m trying to find things like a needle in a haystack. I’m not even sure if these things exist even, because it’s just an idea that I have. ANP: I could imagine that could be fun, but also kind of a nightmare? Heidi: It can be, but this was a great experience. I collaborated a lot with Elliott Hostetter, the production designer. I was able to share references with him, like I would show him a fabric and then he would take the same fabric and do book covers for Moondog’s poetry books. There’s a scene where he’s reading a book and wearing a shirt and the book cover is the same fabric. ANP: I love those little secrets in films. Nobody would ever notice that, but it adds so much craft. Heidi: Yeah. Also, a lot of the Florida old-timers were a big inspiration for me. Harmony would send me photos of old guys he saw around Miami and Key West. ANP: Where do you source most of your reference images? I know some come from the director, but how do you approach it personally? Heidi: It’s pretty random. I try to find references that come from diverse enough places that nobody can ever pinpoint where I’m getting things. I guess you could say that’s my M.O. throughout all my work. Just to be able to glean enough information from a wide enough spectrum that nothing feels derivative. It’s been important to me that what we come up with in the end feels original or reinvented. ANP: How did you get into doing this work? Heidi: I went to school for filmmaking at Hunter College in New York. I started working in fashion at the same time, because I was interested in that as well. At the time, the only job I could get on a film set was as a P.A. and I realized that to build a career in film starting as a P.A. could take quite a while. I remember trying to get a job on an Abel Ferrara movie and I couldn’t even get a P.A. job. I didn’t have a foot in, but I did in the fashion world as I had already been working at magazines. I realized I could make money in styling, which was kind of a new thing at the time. The industry wasn’t as saturated as it is now. I got a little distracted by that for a while, but then I was given the opportunity to work on Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind in the costume department, so that was my foot in the door. ANP: Do you work in film almost exclusively now? Heidi: It’s really just by chance because I keep getting good opportunities. It’s been nice to find directors like Harmony who I can work with regularly. It’s been a real joy to have those kinds of collaborations and have a real shorthand
dressing homeless people for a feature film, but I think it’s important to try to understand all the characters you’re dressing. I hope we were able to accomplish that on some level. ANP: How much consultation do you usually have with the individual actors when you’re dressing them? Heidi: It depends on the personality of the actor. Matthew was pretty respectful of the costume design process. He’s a pro. He would sometimes say he liked one thing more than another thing, but he trusted us. Working with him was the most fun I’ve ever had in a fitting. I don’t know if he would agree that he’s a method actor, but I would say he’s pretty method. Once he got to Florida and became Moondog, everyday when he would come to set and talk to people he was always in character. Our first fitting with him was pretty incredible. Throughout the film he wears a G-string, you know, like a thong. You’d think he would know how to put one on because of Magic Mike! So on the first fitting we gave him a purple metallic thong and he went behind the curtain. When he came out, he was wearing it sideways! It was the craziest thing to see. We were all like, “Wait. Something’s not right!” It took us a minute to figure out what happened. That was amazing. ANP: Do you think he did it on purpose? Heidi: I truly don’t know. He’s a hoot. ANP: So from there is your process really about editing down? Heidi: Well yes and no. I always try to get as much done in the first fitting as passible, so I can hopefully nail it then. In terms of Moondog’s costumes, my secret weapon was Jams World. The reason I say secret weapon, and everyone should know about this because they recently had their 50-year anniversary, is that they’re an amazing company! You can still buy fabrics by the yard from them. Also, their cut of shirt is kind of like a dad-cut, which is perfect for Moondog. From day one, one of out first inspirations was a shorts set that had turtles on the shirt and then matching shorts. We found it in Key West, but it was for a little boy. So we went on this hunt for short sets. They were popular in the 1950’s, but the cut of those wasn’t right. I looked everywhere for, but nobody makes them. So we decided to make our own. It made total sense that Moondog would only wear sets. That’s his thing! He’s so rich, he can wear whatever he wants and he probably has these custom made for him. That’s his uniform. ANP: Which is super-authentic! I’ve known guys like that over the years. Heidi: Totally! They don’t want anyone else to have what they have. So that was a lot of fun. Then it just became a question of which prints to use. It was Harmony’s idea for the sequence where Moondog wears what we called the “flame suit” that he really wanted him to look like he’s on fire. We tried cartoonish flames, but it didn’t make sense. We took Harmony literally. But this was a great example of something where flames, as a pattern, are not new, but the way we interpreted it was unique. So many of the things I search for that don’t exist end up becoming part of the zeitgeist. That’s an example to me of a creative ether that I believe must exist. One can predict trends that way. Because of that, I hope that our film can leave its mark on this moment in time.
ANP: How did you approach the wardrobe for the female characters? Heidi: Minnie’s character was great to work on because Isla Fisher was such a great collaborator. She had her own ideas for her character, and like me, she totally does her homework and brought ideas of her own to the fitting. She’s a joy to work with. I really appreciate it when actors and actresses have good instincts and they’re not afraid to say what they want. The first few minutes of every fitting is a time when we’re figuring each other out… ANP: I’d imagine sometimes an actor would have very distinct ideas about what they think the wardrobe should be. Heidi: Yeah, sometimes. Other times actors will come in and they want you to tell them exactly what to wear and they don’t want to think about it. Isla ended up being a great collaborator because all of her instincts and opinions were right on. That makes my job easier because there’s no second-guessing an idea. I love to collaborate and work with a team. That’s why I work in film. If that’s happening then it’s the best. ANP: She’s incredible in the film. Heidi: She really made the most of that role. Being one of the only females in the movie, it was important to her to do what she could with that role. In my opinion, the scenes with Isla Fisher and with the daughter Heather, really make Moondog feel like a fully formed character. With the daughter character it was really important to me that she plays like a total contrast to him. She’s very conservative and a bit proper. She’s reacting to his wildness by wanting to be in control but also learns from him how to be authentic to self. ANP: Can we talk about Snoop for a second? Heidi: I love Snoop! Well if you didn’t know this already, he chose his name, “Lingerie”. They called him “Ray” for short. He was definitely invested and thinking about his character. Some might say he always plays a version of himself. There’s a sequence in the movie where I had a costume that was built for him. He came onto set wearing this robe that was his Snoop robe. It actually says, “Snoop” on the lapel. But you know, you don’t really tell Snoop he can’t do something. So I went o Harmony and I was like, “He’s wearing his own robe, what do you think?” Honestly, I’m not trying to rock the boat. He looked good in it. My only issue was that it said Snoop on it! But Harmony thought it was funny. He was like, “It’s obvious that it’s Snoop!” It’s like your suspension of disbelief isn’t going to be gone because you see the lapel. It was like it was totally fine to break the third wall with him. He’s wearing that robe on the poster actually! ANP: What would you say has been your biggest takeaway from working on The Beach Bum? Heidi: I would think in most stories and in most films, as a costume designer you’re either approaching creating in a historical way, because it’s a period piece, or it’s modern day. With The Beach Bum, I was given the opportunity to approach it from the place of creating a kind of hyper reality. Not exactly as open to defining as say some Sci-Fi genre would be, but it didn’t necessarily have to be grounded in reality today. There were no real rules. We were creating our own world, or Moondog’s at least.
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G N I T R O P P SU
I L L U S T R AT I O N S B Y LORIKA PERZHAKU
Perhaps more than any other contemporary director working today, Harmony Korineâ€™s casting choices have helped define his unique voice. While most filmmakers tend to focus on famous names, Harmony has always held personality as paramount. This is not to say that he is a director who is averse to using big names. The leading cast of The Beach Bum is testament to that. Itâ€™s just that the characters that compose the supporting casts of each and every film he has made have added a truly visionary, almost documentary feel, to his productions.
THE CASTING DIRECTOR
LASHAWNNA STANLEY LaShawnna Stanley is Harmony Korine’s casting soul mate. Harmony loves interesting characters with interesting looks and backstories and sometimes it’s hard to get in his head to understand exactly what he is looking for. But when it comes to casting, he met his match when he met LaShawnna. For The Beach Bum, she was able to cast exactly what he was looking for, something that was hard for other casting directors to comprehend because he wasn’t looking for people you can find with regular talent agencies. Harmony likes real people with real stories in order to fill his productions with people that become a part of the overall cinematic design as well as add to the intrigue of his infamous storytelling.
ANP: How were you introduced to Harmony Korine and how did you get involved with The Beach Bum? LaShawnna Stanley: I was introduced to Harmony when he came to Miami to do a music video for Rihanna. He doesn’t generally do music videos, but they sought him out for this one. I guess the casting directors they were referring him to just could not get in his head. They couldn’t understand what he was looking for, so someone suggested me. I have a reputation for doing extraordinary, off the wall casting. So he came over and told me what he wanted and I gave him some samples what I thought he was interpreting. He just said to me, “It’s perfect!” I was able to take things out of his head and show him exactly what he was looking for. If you know Harmony, getting in his head is not an easy thing to do. ANP: That’s the understatement of the year. LaShawnna: So, I nailed the Rihanna video and he just said that I was his casting person for life. Now, every project he does he just calls me for it. He likes real characters. He likes to be able to look at you and see a story in you. He needs to find something interesting about the person. ANP: Well that always shows up on the film at the end of the day. LaShawnna: Yes. Definitely. ANP: So when he started doing The Beach Bum, he just called you up and told you he was doing this thing… LaShawnna: He called me first! He called me long before the production even started. He was like, “Hey! I’m doing a movie. They’re going to be calling you.” He kind of gave me a heads up about the types of people like the Rasta’s and everything. So I actually started on the film before anybody else. I had never done a feature film before… ANP: Really? This was your first feature? LaShawnna: My first feature! So I was like, “I need a jump start.” I’ve got to act like this is a commercial or a music video every day for like six weeks! I knew I had to make it happen so I started pretty early on. Based on what he was telling me I started sending him some samples to make sure it was what he was talking about. I felt I really needed to get in his head before we started, because sometimes it can sound like one thing, but in their head it’s something else. ANP: Did he send you the script? LaShawnna: I would just talk to him, mostly. I got the script just before they were about to get started. But yeah, people on the crew just thought it was the best casting. Everyone was just interesting characters, plus they were nice and they had good stories. One thing I really love about working with Harmony is that I love giving the unassuming person the opportunity. A lot of times when I was recruiting people for the film they thought it was a bunch of crock! I love the feeling of giving people the opportunity that never thought they could do this. Especially, because of how so many of the people look, they would never have a place in a regular casting agency. ANP: Yeah, most casting agencies are looking for people who are quite normal. A lot of them look the same. LaShawnna: Yes! Me and Harmony both feel that way. When we have to see normal people, because we did have to meet with some regular actors for the film, we were both like, “Bro! We’re dying! This is horrible!” You really have to go out in the world and find some interesting characters. You have to walk up to them and grab them off the street and change their lives. ANP: Is that your regular technique? LaShawnna: I have a team, and we do, we hit the streets! If I know we’re filming in Key West, then I’m going to Key West to find the people who are really hanging out in these bars. That way, when we shoot a scene there, it’s an authentic Key West scene. It’s not a bunch of actors. If I need cops, then I’m going to get real cops. That way they know how to hold a gun and pose themselves in a certain way. I always want to make it as real as possible. So yeah, we actually go up to people. I mean, where are you going to find ten Rasta’s? We needed that for the movie, so I sent one of my people to a Reggae festival. But also, the key is you have to send people who look like them or they wont trust you. So if I’m casting a bunch of white people in Key West, I have to get me a white team member, who lives there, who actually goes to these bars. ANP: Do your team members always have to know people? LaShawnna: Well, they should at least know where to go. For most people, if someone comes up to you that looks like you you’re going
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to feel less skeptical. When some stranger comes up to you and says, “Hey, you want to be in a movie?” most people are like, “Yeah, right.” You really have to have people who relate to the people you’re trying to cast, because to most people it does sound too good to be true. ANP: You must know a lot of people? LaShawnna: Yeah, I’m pretty much like one degree of separation from every scene. I’ve always been resourceful and a problem solver. One time Harmony called me for something, I don’t remember if it was a movie or a commercial, but he needed a bunch of midgets that wrestle. I hit him back almost immediately with about ten of them. I texted him photos straight to his phone. I was like, “Don’t play with me, Harmony!” It’s like a game to me. The more challenging the better. No matter how weird it may seem. Before The Beach Bum even started Harmony demanded that they hire me. It wasn’t up for negotiation. ANP: Yes, and casting really does make or break a film. LaShawnna: But you know they don’t give casting enough credit! Casting is possibly the second most important thing in a film. You can have a script, but if you don’t have the right cast you don’t have a movie. The academy awards don’t even have a casting director category! They almost treat us like the help. ANP: A lot of the technical craftsmanship in films don’t get the respect they deserve. When did you realize you could be good at this job? LaShawnna: I used to have a clothing boutique and I used to recruit people to model that didn’t look like typical models. I wanted girls from different ethnicities. Some short, some tall, some thick, some curvy…I didn’t want to fit into the norm. So that is what got me into it. First with the exotic models, but then I started to be known for that. People used to tell me I needed to get some white models, that there wasn’t a niche for ethnic models. There actually really wasn’t. I had to create it. Like, you build it and they will come… ANP: So your casting started dictating the creative in some ways? LaShawnna: Yes. I had all these beautiful ethnic girls, and then people started thinking of reasons to use them. So first the Hip Hop videos wanted them, then the clothing ads, the hair product companies, they all wanted these girls. Then people started asking me if I had guys, if I had kids, and it became something bigger. I started to become known for this. ANP: So it was totally organic. LaShawnna: Yes, and I think growing up poor made me resourceful. I just figured it out. One time, years ago, I was doing a music video and they wanted a homeless guy with a certain look and we could not find it anywhere. So one day I saw this real homeless guy on the street and he was perfect, but he had to tell me where he slept because we had a really early shoot. ANP: So you had to go get him from where he was sleeping on the street? LaShawnna: Dude! He was like, go down this alley, climb up this ladder…he slept on the roof of this building on South Beach. So I climbed up there early in the morning and woke him up! I always go that extra mile. I think that’s how my name got passed down to Harmony. ANP: So you and Harmony hit it off because of that. LaShawnna: Yeah, but the thing about Harmony is that you never really can get in his head. As soon as you think you’re there, he changes it. But I really think I’m the closest that anybody has come to figuring out what he wants. ANP: Well, it seems like you’re both looking for the oddballs. LaShawnna: Well yeah, like I said before, he sees a person and then he’ll imagine a story around them. ANP: What was your biggest takeaway from The Beach Bum? LaShawnna: I learned so much from the experience. But my biggest takeaway was from when we watched the first screening of the film. It was the first, first cut. It was long, uncolored, really like the first cut. At the end of the movie, Moondog was being interviewed by a reporter and she asks something like, “What gives you all these creative juices to write this award winning poetry?” and Matthew’s character says, “ The fuel that’s in the fun. Take life by the balls, and live life and just have fun!” I got chills. It reminded me that whatever it is you’re doing, make sure you’re having fun.
N A V O N O D WILLIAMS
THE BLIND PILOT Donovan Williams is plumber that had never acted before The Beach Bum. He was scouted at a Reggae festival and he thought they were full crap when asked if he wanted to be in a movie. But showed up to the audition anyway, just to see what they might be up to. He has a very strong Jamaican accent that is hard to understand. The casting team sat in a room with him for hours coaching him to get it right because Harmony and Matthew really liked his look for the part. Even though Donovan is a good 60 years old he’s recently had a newborn son. ANP: Can you tell us a bit about the character you played in The Beach Bum? Donovan Williams: I played a blind pilot. ANP: How did you find out about this part? Donovan: Well somebody saw my handsome face and said, “Um, you know, for the person we’re looking for, your face fits directly what I’m seeking out.” So they took some pictures of me and showed them to Harmony and Matthew and they said, “Oh! I like this guy!” After hearing my voice, they said, “Ok! I might not understand every word he says, but I like him.” ANP: They liked your energy. Donovan: Yeah, because that’s what I’ve got! I’ve got good energy because I believe in myself. ANP: You’re not a real pilot, right? Donovan: No. But I’ve been piloting my life. ANP: We’re you an actor before this film? Donovan: No! But it comes natural because life is a stage, you know! The whole life is a stage. You can do it good and be good at it or you can be bad and bad at it. You understand? That’s what life is all about. I’m easy to get along with, so I’ll go with the flow. ANP: So the whole thing came very natural for you? Dovovan: That’s the thing about me! I love the camera. I love being behind the camera and I love being in front of the camera. I love taking pictures. Whether
it’s a roof or some kind of scenery. I like sceneries. But at the same time being in front of the camera doesn’t affect me at all. I’m a very reserved person, but I have my time. If there’s something you’ve got to get done, then you just get it done. ANP: What was your experience like working with Harmony? Donovan: To tell you the truth? I have no complaints. You know he wanted to get his job done, so there might have been a little stress. But that’s work! It happens everywhere. So don’t come to the set with an attitude. What I really and truly loved about him was that if you make a mistake, he didn’t come down on you with a hammer. He’d just say, “OK, Let’s do it again.” Matthew and Snoop Dogg were the same. Wow. I would work with them right now if they had a job for me. They were professional. They didn’t look at me like I was a guy they picked up off the street. They didn’t look at me like I was worse than another person. They didn’t look at me like someone who went to acting school and this and that and that and this. They treated me just like a person is supposed to treat another person. I really and truly appreciated that. I don’t like to say “appreciate” though cause it sounds like “hate”. I like to say that I “apprecia-love” that. I don’t like the emphasis on hate. ANP: I might steal that. Donovan: It’s not stealing! Those are words that I don’t want to keep it to myself. If I’m dealing with love, why should I keep that to myself? It doesn’t help anyone that way! How is it gonna help you if it’s locked up in a cage? People can’t use it! ANP: Can you tell us about your life story? What’s the man like behind the character? Donovan: I’m from the mean streets of Kingston, Jamaica. I was born there. When I say the mean streets, I mean the mean streets! The rough part. I knew Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, all of them. I used to talk to them like I’m talking to you now. I’m a few years younger than them, but we used to hang out on the beach. The beach was called Bullbay, and we’d be there all day long. When I was growing up, my father used to say, “You may be born in the ghetto, but you’re not of the ghetto.” So from the time I was a child I learned to respect people if they respect me. My parents were providing for me, but they always told me to say “please” and “thank you”. When you go to the store, you say please. When they return with the goods, you say thank you. I’m not going to tell you I was a straight “A”, straightforward person and that I didn’t get into any problems. I did. Somehow no matter what you do, trouble catches you somehow. It just sometimes seeks you out. ANP: That has something to do with your neighborhood also. Donovan: Yes. So you say you’re going to be the best person you can be, but when you try, some people think you’re very soft. Sometimes you walk away from stuff. But sometimes you have to defend yourself. But I didn’t stay in trouble, because I love myself a lot. Because of that, it means I love everyone else. Because what I want for me, I also want it for you. Even for people who read the bible, there’s these verses that say, “Do unto others as you have them do unto you.” I think that’s one of the only parts that I love. I don’t want you punching me in my mouth, so I’m not going to punch you in your mouth. No matter what color, class or creed you’re from, we’re all one. If we feel pain, we actually cry all the same. But anyway, so I dropped out of high school. Actually if I had to live life over again I’d finish. But I was also told that it was a good thing that I dropped out because they thought I was too smart!! ANP: I was always told the same thing! Donovan: Yes. They couldn’t wind me up and twine me up into things. Even to this day, if you see me drunk in the street, if the police are there, get me checked out. I will never lift my hand. I will never drink till I’m drunk. I will never take drugs until I’m spaced out. I can get high on a bottle of water. As long as my inner being is around you and it gravitates to the things you are doing. Like right now, I love sitting here talking to you. As long as you’re nice to me, I’m gonna be nice to you. But at the same time there are certain things I will not do. ANP: It’s like you have a built in filter. Donovan: Yes, since I was a child. Like I said, sometimes you stray a bit, but you always come back to the teachings of your forefathers. Like when I was growing up they used to hang people in the penal system. There was a man that they said was the hangman at the jail. Everybody knew his name. Whether or not this was true I don’t know. Maybe it was just a name they made up to scare you straight. His name was Wanda. In those days, when you were 21 you could go to prison for a capital offense and they stretch your neck. So they used to tell me that if I did anything bad Wanda was going to get me. So I decided to prove to them that I’m not gonna go to jail. I’m going to live my life as clean. My father, god rest his soul, he said to me, “I have money to bury you. You will get a nice funeral. A lovely funeral. But I have no money for a lawyer if you if you do something wrong.” ANP: Wow, that’s quite a heavy statement. He was a smart guy. Donovan: If he was alive today, he would be 190 years old, but he had so much philosophy on life. He was a teacher. You know a lot of children back in my day used to get spankings, right? My father only spanked me once. I was about 18 or 19 years old. You want to know the reason why? ANP: That was obviously going to be the next question… Donovan: Here’s the story. They sent me out with some money to pay for the house. Back in those days, you would go to the lawyer’s office or the real estate office and pay the money. This was on a Saturday. Mark you, that place closed on a Saturday at midday. So I went there and I reached it about 10 o’clock in the morning. So I went and I paid the money. I got the receipt, but I didn’t go home. I stopped with my friends and we were having a good time. You know, I was young. I was starting to have girlfriends and everything. There was this big man. He was an elder person. He owned this shop, but the only children that could go in there were those who have respect. His shop was like a hang out spot. You could hang out in his grocery store. But only those who he and his parents get along fine and they have respect. Because no matter what dirty things we
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talked in there, he didn’t lose respect for us and we didn’t lose respect for him. We could go the extra mile, but it stays there. We would always say, “Yes Sir. No Sir.” ANP: So if you walked into the store and you acted like you were too cool or something, then no way. Donovan: No! Being rude that’s not cool! Being good and decent…that’s cool. I know words change around though. When I was growing up, gay means you’re happy and you love the sunshine. Now it has a totally different meaning. Being cool in my day meant something different… ANP: But we were getting to the spanking! Donovan: Oh yeah! So he spanked me that day because when he got home, his wife, she wasn’t my mom, but she was a good stepmother, and when he got home she was crying. Because it was the mean streets of Kingston, she didn’t know where I was. I didn’t go home, put the receipt down and go back. So my father says, “Nah, nothing is wrong with him. I know exactly where he’s at.” So he came there to the grocery shop and he saw me. He came and he dragged me out in front of my friends. Then he dragged me all the way home by my shirt collar and then he laid three slaps on me with a machete. He was skilled. Don’t worry. I’ve seen where people will beat someone with a very sharp machete and you don’t get no cuts. You get welts. They know how to flick the knife. Then my father says, “Do you think I like to do this? I never used to beat you when you were younger. Why do I have to spank you now?” Then he explained it to me in simple ABC’s. You come home. You let it be known that you’ve reached home. And then you ask if you can go on the street.” Then he would know I was at the shop having fun with my friends. ANP: Would you say that that’s a lesson that you learned as a kid and have kept with you your whole life? Donovan: I’m going to correct you. I was never a kid. Listen, kid belongs to goat. Goat has kid. Sheep has lamb. The bear has cubs. A lion also has cubs. So why do we call our children kids? Maybe it’s because children are very active and they don’t know their danger. A goat kid behaves the exact same way, but the goat is very, very, fragile because the umbilical cord of a goat takes a long time to fall off. Young goats are very active. They jump up on rocks and they scrape it off and it gets infected. That alone will kill him. Just like a human child will pick up poison and drink it. They want to taste everything. I think that’s where it comes from. But I’ve never had any kids yet. I have children. It’s a child! I don’t call them boys and girls either. I call males “man-child” and females are “woman-child”. She’s small, but it’s still a woman. If I want to make you feel submissive and not up to par with me, I call you a boy.
THE DRAG QUEEN
ANP: Well that term has a long history of bad connotations. Donovan: Yes. Even sometimes the police do that. It makes them feel like they are high and mighty. They use it to put you down. But they are intimidating as they are without even saying a word. But they use it to make sure you know they are the boss. They are the top dog and you are nothing. I might even be older then him, but he looks at me and calls me a boy. I would never call you a boy, and I would never call a woman a bitch either. Those are not my words. When I was growing up, the word bitch was a female dog! So why should I marry to this woman and then call her that? I didn’t marry a dog. I married a woman! ANP: Why do you think that word has stuck with the culture? Donovan: I think women caused it. I’m going to tell you something about why men walk around with their underpants showing with their ass out in the street. Women caused it. When I was growing up, you might not have been the most handsome guy, but in your attitude, your mannerisms, you show respect to everyone. Back then if you didn’t live to certain principals, the female didn’t like you. You get no woman! The girls that you might be going goo goo gaga over won’t even look at you! Now times have changed. Today if you go to prison, women think you are the best thing since sliced bread. No! Keeping out of prison is the best thing since sliced bread! You might not have had two pennies to rub together, but you weren’t in jail. That woman would take you up and lift you! Elevate you. Now, she wants a prisoner. Now she wants a man who can’t even run because his pants are down. ANP: That saggy look started in prison right? Donovan: No, it started before prison. It started from being poor. Wearing handme-down clothes. But when I was young I learned how to sew so I could fix them. Even if sometime people take a good look and see that the pockets are coming a bit too close. But then it went on to the prison system. So these low trousers make people think you have a bad boy attitude, and a lot of women like bad men. Some want protection. They want them to defend her. But how can you defend a woman when you can’t even run? If they come up to me and say something to me, the first thing I would do is pull their pants down! By the time they get their composure, I would be gone! So they end up looking dirty, they look depraved. Where is the upliftment in that? ANP: What would you say is the most important thing you’ve learned in your life? Donovan: Like I said before. I live by my principals. What I don’t like for myself, I’m not going to give it to you.
Crystal Hill is a Miami-based female impersonator who has been practicing her craft for almost 30 years. She is a very well know popular hair stylist in Miami and owns the crown for winning many drag shows around the world. ANP: How were you introduced to The Beach Bum project? Crystal Hill: I was introduced by a friend by the name of Marquiesa. She asked if I wanted to be in a movie and I was like, sure! So she told me where to be and I was there and everything happened from there. ANP: Did you have to actually audition for the part? Crystal: No, I didn’t have to audition. I just came there, showed up and did what I had to do. ANP: Do you have any specific memories from being on set? Crystal: The most memorable part was when I was dancing with Zac Efron. That was the most memorable part of it for me. It’s was very smooth sailing. Very smooth and very insane. He’s a good guy. ANP: We’re given direction for your role? Crystal: Um, there was some direction, but it was also about just being myself. It wasn’t hard by any means. It was smooth sailing. Like I said I was mostly being myself more than anything. ANP: Had you ever acted before? Crystal: Um, no. I always wanted to get into the business, but I’ve always mostly been a backstage person. Behind the scenes. I do hair and make up, so I’m not really ever up front. But you know it was an awesome opportunity and I really enjoyed it, so I was actually thinking about getting into the career of acting. Now I’ve got something under my belt. ANP: Are you originally from Florida? Crystal: Yes, I’m originally from Miami, Florida. I actually have performed. I’ve done lots of pageants. I’m a pageant person. So that being said, I’m on stage but I also do a lot of behind the scenes. But I’ve been in the pageant circuit for like 22 years now. I’ve been involved for quite some time, but it just came natural to me. One day I just decided to get into it and I never left. I enjoy it, I enjoy the people, and my mom, when I was young just said, “Go for your goals!” So I did. ANP: Do you feel like any of the work you’ve done in pageants informed your character for The Beach Bum? Crystal: Of course! I took on the role like I was entertaining for the people. That was the mind frame that I had after getting direction from the producers and director. So I took that and I applied what I do in my life, which is the art and skill of female impersonation. So I just took that and applied it to the movie. So it was like second nature pretty much. I always try to give at least 110% of what I can do when I’m working. I try to give it my all. ANP: So now what kinds of things do you see yourself doing in the future? Crystal: I see myself doing more film. You know, getting calls. Who knows maybe one day I’ll be a headliner. But I would love to do more.
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THE WOMAN IN THE BAR Sharon Pfeiffer has a crazy story. Before getting into acting she was married to the mob. At first sight she still looks a little like a mob wife, and she has the accent and spicy personality to back it up. The role she plays in The Beach Bum, where Moondog meets a sexy woman at the bar and has sex all over the bar with her was originally written for a young, sexy Latina. But as soon as Sharon walked thru the door, Harmony loved her. He even wanted her to wear the same exact outfit she wore to the casting to the shoot. Her and Matthew had a very automatic chemistry and had lots of fun with the crazy sex scenes. Ironically, she is a grandma and this unique role should be very interesting for her grandkids to watch.
ANP: How did you come to learn about this project and what were your first impressions? Sharon Pfeiffer: You know, I’m an actor, so any time there’s a feature film in town, of course, we all clamor to our agent to say, “Please, please, get me an audition.” So, I was actually sent out for every role, almost. I went for the tourist mom, I went for the drug counselor, I went for the lawyer…I went for whatever role. So then this audition came up for a prostitute. And Marty, my agent said, “Sharon, go for the prostitute.” I said, “Prostitute? Really? Okay.” So an old prostitute, what the hell, I’ll go. ANP: That was a bold move!! Sharon: Yes!! So he sends me out to audition for the part of a prostitute in this Asian themed brothel. So I’m always one to dress for the occasion, and I wore the most hideous outfit I could think of in hopes of booking the role because it had dialogue and I thought, “Well, what the hell.” It’s a comedy, with Matthew McConaughey, so why not? ANP: Right. You figured you could go the extra mile. Sharon: I figured, hey, if I could get dialogue in a feature film, I’m all for it. ANP: Makes sense. Sharon: I’m open for anything. I’m very open-minded. So I went to this casting, thinking it’s going to be not a cattle call, but a legitimate SAG casting. Well, no. I walked in and there were 100 women, 95 of them were playboy bunny material, you know, between the ages of 20 and 30, they were spectacular and here I am with four other women in my age group, which I will tell you, I am a grandmother. And I was horrified!! I was just sitting in the corner saying, “What the fuck am I doing here?” ANP: So you were freaked out about it? Sharon: I actually called Marty and said, “Why did you send me here? What am I doing here?” And he said, “Oh, Sharon, just give it a shot.” So I said, “Fine. I’m here. I drove almost an hour, so I will give it a shot.” Because I had memorized the dialogue, so what the hell? So I went in, and I did my thing, and I left and never thought about it again because it was stupid. ANP: You just knew, you’re like, “That’s not gonna happen.” Sharon: It was stupid. ANP: Yeah. I could maybe understand why you would feel that way… Sharon: And I went home and never thought again about it until a week later when Marty called me and said, “You have a callback.” And I’m thinking, “For what?” ANP: Exactly. For what?!! Sharon: Like, the lawyer? The drug counselor? The tourist mom? And he goes, “No! The prostitute.” And I said, “Get the fuck outta here.” Which is what I said because that’s how I talk and forgive me if you don’t like cursing, it’s my second language. Actually, living in Miami it should be Spanish, but no. So I went thinking there would probably be 20 other women, because generally in a callback there won’t be 100 women, there’ll be 10. No. There were now 120. ANP: No way! Sharon: Am I lying? I guess they said that Moondog has no type, he likes old, he likes skinny, he likes fat, he likes black, he likes Spanish, he like every type of woman. So any woman they didn’t see first time, they decided to bring them to the callback. ANP: Right. That must have been incredibly frustrating. Sharon: Yes! So now there’s 115 playboy bunnies, and P.S., can I tell the whole story? Is there a time limit here? ANP: No. Sharon: ‘Cause this a spectacular story. ANP: Okay. Go for it… Sharon: Now they’re asking, “If you’re willing to do nudity, let us know because we’re gonna put an “N” next to your number, and if you’re not willing to do nudity, you will not have an “N”. And I’m like, “Oh, hell to the no.” Nudity? Now, by the way, I’m not a prude, I’ve posed for Playboy, hot housewives, I love nudity, I love naked women, but not for this. Okay? Oh, and P.S., this is a cattle call callback? What? So I was like, “Oh my god, what’s going on here?” I was really thinking like... ANP: What kind of movie is this? Sharon: I was angry. So I went with my little, my five girlfriends, and we were huddling, I’m like, “What the fuck are we doing here?” And now these girls with just their little silk robes, and they were butt ass naked under there, and I’m thinking, “What am I doing here?” And no “N” next to my number, and you can imagine there were lots of N’s, by the way, girls or boys. And so yeah, so I had no N, and so now they’re separating us into groups of five to narrow it down, because yeah, how are you gonna break down 120 girls? ANP: And was the “N” like a do or die? Sharon: It kind of sounded like Harmony didn’t want anybody that wasn’t willing. He didn’t want to stifle his creativity. So, they were doing groups of five. And now I’ve got my little cute outfit and my shoes were tall! No joke. I could barely walk. So we’re ready to walk in, and I’m thinking, “What am I gonna do to differentiate myself from these four spectacular playboy bunnies.” ANP: Oh, so your group was four playboy bunnies and you? Sharon: Four playboy bunnies and grandma. ANP: Holy crap. Sharon: I don’t know who Harmony is, ‘cause I don’t know Harmony. I don’t care. I’m never thinking it’s the director, not in a million years am I thinking it’s
him. So I walk in, and I notice immediately he’s smiling. He’s just looking at me just like you’re looking at me. And I’m thinking, “OK, I got him.” So I went just like this (motions opening her top to expose her breasts) I figure, I have great tits. I do. So I went like that, and he starts laughing. And I said, “OK, I got him.” Now, what they said to us, all five girls is, “Just please state your name, your age,” or whatever. Not your age, something. And do a pirouette. Now you have to understand I don’t wear anything that’s not jacked up. Like, these shoes were that high. I went, “Seriously? I can’t even walk.” Now they’re laughing again. So now the four girls, they’re like, twirling around, and now remember, this is an over the top comedy. You already know this is a comedy. They’re spinning like it’s runway show. So I’m like, “This ain’t no fucking runway!” The other girls are like, “My name is Tiffany.” I’m thinking, “I’m Lucille Ball! I can’t do this.” And he’s laughing, he’s just watching me the whole time, not even looking at them. When finally it’s my turn, I’m like, “I’m Sharon Pfeiffer, but I can’t do no fucking pirouette.” Harmony says, “I love her! What about her instead of the thick-leg Latina?” ANP: Wait, so now he wanted you for a different role? Sharon: Yes!! Now the role that I’m auditioning for, true to God, is a 20-something year old thick Latina girl who’s gonna go up to Matthew McConaughey and like have sex with him, and they end up in the bathroom. That’s it, no dialogue, no nothing. It’s a part for a young beautiful girl, okay? Now this is the role I’m auditioning for!! ANP: This is getting bananas!! Sharon: The role I thought I was auditioning for is the prostitute. A prostitute that leans over the balcony and says, “Hey cutie, whatcha doing?” You know, something like that, right? This is what I’m auditioning for. So now we all go back out and I’m like, “Yeah, all right.” So they come back and say, “Okay, ladies, if we call your name come over here. If we don’t call your name, thank you very much, we’ll see you. Maybe you could do background or something.” So we’re all sitting there, and I’m like, “All right. Whatever.” All of a sudden I hear, “42.” Or 41, whatever it was. I went, “Oh, shit.” It was like Miss America. You know? I’m like, “Oh my god, oh my god, I got picked.” We have to go now in pairs of two, two at a time. So I’m with my girl, and then they came down with all the dialogue, everyone’s grabbing the dialogue, “Oh, we have dialogue.” ANP: You hadn’t read the script yet? Sharon: Of course, I read the script, I already had it fucking memorized. All the girls are going, “Can I have that?” I’m like, “You don’t know your dialogue? You’re going in front of the director, you don’t know your dialogue?” So we’re the last ones to go in, but I don’t want the girl with me to go ahead of me, I’m like, “Uh-uh, I’m going in first.” So we both walk in together and, I forget what her name is, the poor girl, I felt bad ‘cause I jumped right on the mark. He jumps up, Harmony, and he goes, “Don’t say anything.” And I’m like, “Okay.” ‘Cause I’m all ready, I want to do my dialogue, and be the prostitute. He goes, “I don’t want you for this role.” I went, “Really? Okay. “What do you want me for?” ANP: Were you pissed? Sharon: No, I was like, “What do you want me for?” He goes, “You’re sure you won’t do nudity?” I went, “Really? Nudity? Do you see an N next to my number?” ANP: Right. That was pretty clear. Sharon: He goes, “Well, before you say no, why don’t you just let me tell you what the scene is?” ANP: Were you like, “Okay.” Sharon: No I wasn’t like, “Okay,” ‘cause I was like, “I have an eight year old grandson who’s gonna see this movie. No, I’m not doing nudity.” He goes, “Let me tell you about the scene.” And he walks over to me, and I’m like, “Who am I?” In my head, “Who am I?” And, “Sharon, don’t fuck this up,” in my head. So he goes, “It’s you and Matthew McConaughey. Just you and Matthew and you’re in a bar, and you pick him up and you take him in the bathroom, and you fuck him.” And I’m like, in my head I’m going, “Sharon, don’t be stupid, don’t be stupid, you’re fucking Matthew McConaughey!” but, but I’m like, “Sharon, don’t be stupid, don’t be stupid, you don’t wanna just fuck him, you want dialogue, you’re not that pig up on the screen that’s just gonna fuck him and that’s the end.” ‘Cause then you’re only gonna be a pig for the rest of your life. I said, “I’ll tell you what…” ANP: You actually had that internal dialogue, you remember thinking that? Sharon: Oh, I was totally having it. I said, “I’ll tell you what. I’ll think about it if you give me dialogue.” Now, remember I still didn’t know who he was. ANP: Right. Oh, you didn’t know he was the director yet? Sharon: I had no fucking clue. I said, “I’ll think about it if you give me dialogue. You make sure I have dialogue and I’ll consider it” He leans in close and he goes, “I’ll guarantee you dialogue if you come to set just like this.” ANP: Wearing exactly what you’re wearing? Sharon: Just like this, he goes, “That flower, that dress, your makeup, your nails, those shoes, just like this.” I go, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll throw in the dress and I won’t even charge you.” We’re having this whole dialogue, I swear on my grandson I’m not making this up. Now thank god I didn’t know who he was, if I had known who he was, I never would’ve done it. I would’ve been too scared, and I would’ve been like intimidated. ANP: You thought he was a producer? Sharon: I didn’t know who he was, and I didn’t give a shit. I was like, “Fuck that, I want dialogue. I’m not gonna be a slut up on the screen, you know, like
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no, fuck that. Let him get one of the pigs with their fucking nightgown with no clothes on underneath. Let him get one of them, why you gotta come to me? I’m a grandma.” Right? You want me? Right? ANP: I really wish I could have been a fly on the wall! Sharon: So he goes, “I promise you you’ll have that.” I said, “Okay.” I said, “I’ll have my people call your people.” And he started laughing. Now, my knees started to shake, ‘cause I was pretty cool customer up until then. I was. And then my knees started going like that. I said, “Holy shit, am I fucking getting a role in a movie fucking Matthew McConaughey? What did I just do?” Harmony goes, “I look forward to working with you,” or something, I don’t remember the exact words; I wish we were taping that. I really do, because it’s a beautiful story. I stole a role from a fucking kid! Grandma stole a role from a kid. ANP: So how was it when you finally got to set? Sharon: I kept saying, “Where’s my script? Where’s my script?” And I never got a script. ANP: Was he just going to let you improve? Sharon: Yes! ANP: But I can see Harmony just being like, “I could never write anything good enough for her.” How was your chemistry with Matthew? Sharon: Oh my god. From the minute we met, he comes over looking like a nut. He leans down like this, he’s looking at me, he’s got the joint hanging out of his mouth, and he had this crazy outfit on and I go, “Nice outfit,” and he goes, “You should talk.” And I said, “Fuck you,” and we both burst out laughing. And we were beautiful. Five minutes later Harmony comes over, he goes, “I’m gonna give you two a couple minutes to get to know each other.” We went, “We’re good, let’s go.” ANP: Was the scene hard for you? It’s a pretty crazy scene. Sharon: What was hard for me was the two days before. ANP: Yeah. Sharon: ‘Cause what I like to do before I do anything is I like to research everything, so I drove down there, I checked out the place, and I was horrified because it was like a biker bar. You know, I checked out the bathroom and it was disgusting, you know? And then I watched all of Harmony’s movies and I was like, “Oh my god, what am I getting myself into?” And I cried for like 12 hours, and then I was zen. ANP: You mellowed yourself out. Sharon: Yeah, I woke up at 3:00 in the morning, it was November 20th, I only remember the date because it was my mother’s birthday. I woke up like four hours before I even had to, and I was just so zen and cool and chill. I was like, really, I was in another place. ANP: Which is great. Sharon: But that’s what I do when I do what I do. ANP: Right. Sharon: Matthew was fucking inspiring. ANP: What a great person to play off of. Sharon: At one point he was playing with my tit and I’m like, “That’s a conduit to my pussy, you know.” Just all kinds of crazy shit we were saying to each other that just you can’t make up. And then when he’s spanking my ass with the spatulas, it really actually hurt, and I’m like, “How do I make him stop?” You know, in my head I’m like, “How do I get him to stop this?” Finally I’m like, “What are you doing back there, making a hamburger?” You know? And that’s like, one of the funniest things. But I’m just trying to get him to stop because it fucking hurt, you know? ANP: Well, you guys were obviously in the roles. Sharon: We were just so in it. Matthew gets lost. He is Moondog. I don’t know if he ever had more fun ever. Like, ever. But we just…we had fun. We just had so much fun. And then that was it, it was like, “Okay, buh-bye.” And he was wonderful, and just so nice and sweet; We talked about his children and his wife. He’s just a wonderful human. ANP: There’s a lot of god-like qualities in the Moondog character. Sharon: He’s so deep. And he’s super cool. And he’s just a great guy, you know? He’s just a great guy. And I loved working with him. If I never get to do ever another movie ever in my lifetime like that, it’s okay. I’m good with it. You know, like, what an experience. For me as an actor, I mean, it was such a privilege. You know? Cause I’ve done some cool shit in my life. ANP: Seems that way. Sharon: Yeah. ANP: I know you have a very colorful past. Sharon: Yes, I do. ANP: It would be fun to talk about it but I don’t think we can talk about all of it. Sharon: No. ANP: Can you give us just a quick history? I mean, that story was so beautiful I almost wanna just say, “We’re done.” Sharon: It’s up to you, babe. Whatever you want. ANP: I kind of do. Sharon: Well, I’m originally from New York. ANP: Long Island, right? Sharon: I grew up in Long Island, and I grew up one of six children, large family, very, we grew up not well off. You know, people hear Long Island they think you come from money. No. I grew up in Central Islip, you might think of MS 13,
whatever it’s called, that gang? That’s where I grew up, when we were little. And we were, unlike most Long Islanders, we moved towards the city to get away from the crap that we were living in. I went to college, really one of the only people in my family to go to college, and I left the house very, very early and lived on my own. And I ended up marrying, you know, for the lack of a better word a quote-unquote “wise guy” and that was my life for a long, long, long time. So I’m known as a former mob wife. I say former because I’m not, I left that world. I escaped that world. ANP: Did you know this guy socially or whatever? Sharon: Yeah, well that’s, you know, what happened was, and you know I always say to people, “If you wanna know about that life, just look up I Married A Mobster, season two, episode eight, rule breaker, you can get the shortened version, it’s only a half hour, it’s really cool.” ANP: OK, noted. Sharon: So, yeah, I met him socially, and ended up marrying him. We have a beautiful daughter, she hates when I talk about this. But it’s part of my life, it’s part of my fabric, so yeah. But it was interesting, it’s part of what makes me, me, and who I am. It was, you know, it was just my life. And I ended up leaving New York because I had to, because once you’re in that life as a women, you kind of end up staying in that life. You know, I got divorced from my daughter’s dad, but then I ended up with another one of those quote-unquote guys. ANP: Is that because your whole social scene was like that? Sharon: Yeah, exactly. ANP: It’s its own world, right? Sharon: Yeah, and then I was known as Carmine Fiori’s daughter-in-law. You know what I mean? So normal guys don’t wanna be with you. You know, they’re intimidated, they just don’t even ask you out…they’re like, “I don’t wanna go out with her!” You know? So I ended up leaving there and coming to Florida to get away from one of them. And I tried to reinvent myself. I went into real estate, but that was short-lived because I hated the people. I don’t have temperament for that. It’s cut-throat. I’m not talking about the other agents; I’m talking about the actual clients. Buyers are liars, and I don’t like liars, believe it or not. You know what I mean? My background? But you wanna know something, those wise guys, you knew how they were, they were what they were, and I knew what they were. ANP: It’s all on the table. Sharon: It’s all on the table and that was that. And then I ended up, I’ve always been into cosmetology, the beauty field, and that was always my life. You know, I always did nails and whatever. ANP: You said you had nail salons back in New York. Sharon: Nail salons and I also ended up opening up a spa here in Miami. Believe it or not tanning, everyone goes tanning in Florida. But we live in Florida, we don’t get to go to the beach or tan ‘cause we’re working ‘cause we can’t afford to live here. So I did very well with that and I ended up, well listen, I always wanted to be an actor. I never pursued it in New York, and I ended up starting an acting career down here believe it or not. ANP: Did you just start taking classes? Sharon: Well, what happened was I got divorced from my second ex-husband down here. ANP: Okay. Wow. Sharon: My daughter went off on her own, she became an adult, and she moved back to New York, she went to Brooklyn. And I found myself at a crossroads. What do I want to be when I grow up? And I finally got the opportunity to, you know, pursue a childhood dream. I wanted to act since I was a baby, honestly, and I never could do it. ‘Cause I was always either working, doing nails and taking care of my daughter who I had when I was 22. I always say I was a child bride. But you know it was my time to do something for me, for Sharon. ANP: It’s a very bold move! Sharon: So that’s when I started acting, nine years ago. So here we are, you know? For me this is an opportunity of a lifetime, this role in The Beach Bum. This is all just been a dream come true. All of it. ANP: Pretty cool. Sharon: Yeah. ANP: Especially to start that late in life, a lot of people wouldn’t have the guts. You know? Sharon: Well, if I’ve had anything ... ANP: A lot of people when they get older, they settle in and they’re like, “Okay.” Sharon: If I’ve had anything throughout my entire life it’s guts. Living with murderers, I’ve had balls. ANP: Yeah. Sharon: …and then to become an actress at 45 years old? I had balls. And to be in a scene having sex with Matthew McConaughey, I have balls. And I will probably always have balls. I’ll be the little old lady with fruity earrings and lipstick up under my nose and I will have balls. ANP: I’m sure you will. Sharon: That’s Sharon. ANP: And that’s an ending.
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T H E P R E S I D E N T O F U G LY Lance Davis (aka The President of Ugly) was one of the ten homeless guys that Moondog hangs out with throughout the movie. He is famous on Instagram (@presidentofugly1) for embracing his ugliness and claiming himself to be the president of ugly. Because of this he has gained over 80 thousand followers. While filming the movie he had no idea who Matthew McConaughey was or that it was actually a real movie production. ANP: How did you get involved in The Beach Bum? President of Ugly: They found me through my Instagram. They told me they thought I would be perfect for the role of the homeless guy. ANP: Did you prepare for the role in any way? President of Ugly: No! I had already lived that life. I was homeless before a few times and I actually look like a homeless dude. I look all crazy all the time, you know? It just went naturally cause I could just be me. It went easy. ANP: Was it intimidating to be in front of the cameras? President of Ugly: No sir! I guess I’m a natural actor cause all I did was play off of Mr. McConaughey. He just said, “Just have fun!” It was a good direction. ANP: Besides the videos you put on Instagram have you ever been involved in films before? President of Ugly: No sir! That was my first time ever in a production. I never thought I would ever be in a movie. Not as an extra or anything. I never saw myself doing that. ANP: Do you have any vivid memories from being on the set of the movie? President of Ugly: Well when we was in the jail scene I felt energy waves coming off of Mr. McConaughey. That was a strange experience. I had never felt that before. ANP: In what way? President of Ugly: Like a good way. I could physically feel his energy. I was actually in that jail in 2001. I spent nine months in that jail. I was smiling when we were there. To be inside there again and not be locked up? It felt good! Plus when I went to the mansion…that was nice too! Seeing all those fancy cars. That was a nice experience too. It felt good! It just felt good! ANP: How did the president of ugly come about? President of Ugly: About five years ago, I saw Instagram come around and I thought I could do something that could make people happy. People that are ugly like me and down and out. The name just popped into my head, The
President of Ugly, so I just started doing it. I wanted to make people who are ugly feel great about themselves. It’s an ugly world and it isn’t easy to feel like a beauty. But you don’t have to be beautiful. You can be ugly and still be a beauty. ANP: People seem to really love it right? President of Ugly: Yeah. People love it and gravitate to it. ANP: Do you think about what you’re going to do before hand or do you just riff it off the cuff and throw it up there? President of Ugly: Sometimes I do and sometimes I just do it straight off the brain. ANP: Why do you think you’re ugly? President of Ugly: Because that was the first word that was ever told to me when I was little and I was always mad about it. My auntie said that when I was first born that was the first thing she ever told me. She said every time I came into the room, she would call me little ugly big-eyed little boy. ANP: That’s so mean! President of Ugly: No, it’s not mean! I like it! I’m smiling right now as I say it! ANP: I guess we all become who we’re going to be, right? President of Ugly: I guess so!! ANP: Can you tell us a bit about what brought you to this point in your life? President of Ugly: My whole life I’ve really just been in the streets. Just surviving. Drugs, Going to jail. Just surviving! Based on a true story. ANP: What’s the most beautiful thing that’s happened to you as the result of your President of Ugly Instagram? President of Ugly: Probably being asked to be in a movie and people telling me that because of me they are happy to be ugly and that they understand where I’m coming from.
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e i r a m jo payton THE JUDGE
You may recognize JoMarie Payton from her role on the 1990’s sit-com, Family Matters as well as a host of television roles over the course of her long career in show business. The role of the judge in The Beach Bum was originally slated for a white male in his sixties but being a vet in the acting game she decided to go for that role anyway. As soon as Harmony saw her audition he said, “Now that’s a real actor. She has a fantastic story about growing up in Miami, trying to be an actress against tremendous odds. ANP: How was it working with Harmony? JoMarie Payton: He was wonderful. I loved him. ANP: You liked working with him? JoMarie: Yes. So the short time that was with them I liked him very much. And he liked me too. Even the audition, that’s where I fell in love with him at the audition. He was very nice. Yes. ANP: Just because he was nice? JoMarie: Yes!! Because he was nice. Because sometimes they’re not so nice. And even when they hire you, you don’t want to work for them because they’re not nice. You just go in there and get the money and you leave. ANP: Right, right, yeah. It’s good to work with someone who’s coming from a place of respect for the actors. JoMarie: Yeah. Sure it is. Absolutely. Absolutely. ANP: So how did you get involved in the project? JoMarie: Well I was called by my agent to go in on an audition. But they said they wanted men, they didn’t want women. They weren’t pressed on women to play the part, which is a judge. So my agent told me that she told them, “Well I have a lady, and she can do this role and give her a shot.” So she submitted me, and I came down and auditioned the first time, and I got a call back. And then I waited a week or two, or whatever and I said, “Oh well they got somebody else.” They really were looking for a man, you know? Even though I thought I did a pretty good job. So when I got a third call back, I said “A third? I never get a third call back.” They know what they want. All and she said was, “Well I apologize, but they say they lost the film or something like that.” I started laughing. I said, “They didn’t lose the film.” My hair was totally different because I had something else I was doing, totally different. I looked totally different. So they probably bypassed it and didn’t recognize me. ANP: You think that’s what happened? JoMarie: Shoot, I think that’s what happened. So anyway I’m not sure, but I think that’s what happened. So I laughed and I told her it’s not a problem, I’ll go back and do it again. So when I went back the third time. I went in and I didn’t really see anybody outside when I went in. I went in, I auditioned and I had my judge robe on. The two previous times I didn’t have the robe on. I had it in a bag because it was kind of long, I had got it from a costume shop and I didn’t want to trip on it so I just put it on when I went in to do the audition. So I auditioned, it was wonderful, and I thought I did pretty good. I came out and I saw this gentleman that I had seen previously auditioning for a judge, he had a suit on and he had his robe over his arm like that. And when I walked out he said, because he had nodded before and this time he said, “Oh, hi.” I said, “Hi.” He said, “Oh you,” because I had on the robe, he said, “Oh you, you’re in the choir.” ANP: No way! He actually said that? JoMarie: I looked at him…kinda mean. But then I went to my car, I’m not going to say the words. I said, “MF, I’m here auditioning for the same role that you’re auditioning for.” And then I got in my car and the next thing I know I had gotten the call that I had gotten the part. ANP: Right On. Good for you. JoMarie: I mean, women can’t be judges? ANP: I’ve only ever been before woman judges. JoMarie: Exactly! We’re the best judges in the world. And it starts with motherhood. ANP: It’s true, huh? JoMarie: They’re the ones that hit the gavel down like that in the family a lot of times. ANP: I can see it immediately. Just meeting you I’m like, “Ah she’s a judge.” JoMarie: I can lay down the sentence!!! I’m going to tell you something though. The biggest compliment I have had, and I’ve been a union card carrying actress for 42 years. And the biggest compliment I received maybe in the last ten years actually came from Mr. McConaughey. We were actually shooting, and we had a break in between, so the scene wasn’t but so long.
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Harmony and those guys were doing some other lighting or something they wanted to do. So they stopped and when they stopped he leaned over to me, and he says, “Are you a real judge?” And when he said that I think it was Harmony and somebody else said, “That’s Mrs. Winslow from Family Matters.” He said, “Oh, I’m so sorry, I don’t watch much TV.” I said, “Well I tell you what, I watch everything that you do, and I consider it a compliment.” But then he asked me if I was actually a real judge. ANP: Holy smokes! That is the best compliment... JoMarie: So I said to myself when I saw that trailer, “Maybe it came out pretty good.” But it truly was wonderful. It was a short experience, but it was a wonderful experience. Sometimes you have them, and they last a very long time, and it’s a miserable thing, but you do it because it’s your element, and you’re in the zone. But for this it was short, and it was sweet. Like people say, short and sweet. This was short and sweet. Okay? ANP: How long were you on set? A day, two days? JoMarie: I wasn’t even there for a day! I went there for a day, but I think I was there, what, about four hours? ANP: You must have really nailed it. JoMarie: Yeah, it was seriously like four hours. ANP: Then you seriously are a pro. JoMarie: We did like about three, four takes something like that. Then Matthew gave me a big ‘ole hug, and I skipped out of there and went and told everybody about it. I was mad though because they didn’t get a picture. I know he would have. Yeah, but it was very nice. ANP: Wow that’s amazing. So you did it real quick? JoMarie: I did it real quick and all and during the time even there waiting to go on, there were a lot of young people, because like I say, I’ve got two or three generations of Family Matters fans, and all because I started doing it when I was 29 and I’ll be 69 August 3 of this year. So when I walked in there, there were a lot of them and they said, “We know you because you haven’t changed.” So I talked to a lot of them and they asked me a lot of questions about the business and the show. So they made the time go by really nicely. ANP: That’s great! You had a little fan club. JoMarie: Yeah, yeah. It was wonderful. It was wonderful you know so, a lot of the crew, probably weren’t even born when we did Family Matters, you know because they have young people on there, or they were very small and then a lot of them knew Sugar Mama. That old crazy voice I got for Sugar Mama. So it was a wonderful day. It really was. It was a great experience. ANP: That’s very cool. JoMarie: And then when I see him and I see the snippets of the movie and everything, I see Snoop and I remember when I was in LA, living in LA because I lived there 32 years. This was when Snoop was just starting out with Gin and Juice all that stuff, and I see Martin Lawrence and all of them and I said, “Oh wow, this is great.” This is great. ANP: Yeah. It’s going to be great. Everyone is really excited. So how did you start acting? Let’s get a little bit into your personal history. JoMarie: You know what, I’m actually from Miami so my being here now. I’m actually from home. I started first grade in a play and the play was Little Red Ridinghood. I was cast as Little Red Ridinghood and I didn’t want to be her. So I remember I went home that day and I was crying and my dad said, “What’s the matter?” And I said, “I don’t want to be Little Red Ridinghood.” He said, “Why that’s the star.” I said, “I don’t care.” So he said, “Why don’t you want to be Little Red Ridinghood? What do you want to be?” I said, “One of the flowers in the forest.” Because all of those little girls had on the pastel tutu’s. ANP: Oh right. Better costumes. JoMarie: Yes, and every time, the little guys, they fell in love with them. There I was with that damn cape and that red hood on and I didn’t like that, but at any rate my teacher said, “No, you’re Little Red Ridinghood.” So the week before we were supposed to do the play at the school, this is elementary school, it’s actually still there. Rainbow Park Elementary, it’s a landmark now. Rainbow Park Elementary, I must mention that. But anyway, I got the measles so I had to come out of school. Then when it was time for me to go back, they pushed the play back to the day I went back. Then I got the mumps. Then I went back again. Then I came back and I had the chicken pox. I had all three childhood diseases together. My body just went crazy. ANP: What a trauma for a little body! JoMarie: It was, but at any rate after I got straight and all, the teacher came to my mom’s house, because they had gotten permission for me to come back to school. I did the play and then after that I just started acting all the time. I kept doing plays or operettas, as they called them back then, and all these different things. Then I didn’t get a chance to do anything in junior high and I always thought it was...I’m just going to tell the truth, I don’t care because it’s coming out in the book. I always thought it was because my family was poor. Because the kids that always got the best classes or got to do the most exciting things, their parents they either owned a gas station or they worked at the school in some capacity. Parents weren’t just housekeepers like my mother, who worked right across the bridge here, in downtown Miami Beach. My father was a construction worker. So I always felt like I didn’t get it because of that. And then at that time my mother was a single parent because my mom and dad split when I was 11 years old and there was nine of us kids and I was the second oldest.
ANP: Wait, nine kids? JoMarie: Yeah. ANP: Wow. JoMarie: And I was the oldest girl. So anyway, it was really crazy and my school, I was in the first integrated class to go to another school. That was in 1965 when they integrated our school and I went to Miami Carol City, which is up the road there. ANP: That must have been really different? JoMarie: It was wonderful because I had my first teacher, my drama teacher. He was a little Jewish man by the name of Shelly Frome, and I think he was involved with or a writer for the actor’s theater in New York or something like that. So Shelly, when he came, he fell in love with me and I fell in love with him. But there was tension at the school. They were auditioning for… what’s the name of the play they were auditioning? Sister somebody? No, that ain’t right. Anyway it was a Caucasian show… ANP: It’s incredible that you even remember that much. JoMarie: Even though there were no black characters, I still wanted to be in the play. You know I wanted to act, and I didn’t get a play in junior high school. So he told me, he said, “Kiddo, you know something?” He said, “You know it’s not going to happen.” But he said, “You know what I’ll do, I’ll do a talent show for you.” And so I said, “Okay.” So he did a talent show, and he and he told me I could be the emcee. He said, “You know how to sing don’t you?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “This is what you do, you do a song in the beginning, a song in the middle and a song at the end. That first song you got to pop it, okay you got to pop it! Pop it! Pop it! The middle song he said, “You can kind of sway with it, choose whatever you want,” he said, “but that last song,” he said, “You’ve got to make them want to jump through the ceiling.” And he called me kiddo. I said, “Okay.” He said, “You got it kiddo?” I said, “I got it.” So I went home excited to tell my mom that I was going to emcee our talent show. ANP: And he did this just for you? JoMarie: He did it just for me. I had a friend named Ernie Bentencourt who was a Cuban friend of mine. He was my best friend and he was Cuban, and he was kind of in love with me to, but he called me Joey. He said, “Joey,” he said, “Good you got the part that’s great, what are you going to wear?” I said, “I don’t know.” I said, “Ernie my mom doesn’t have any money, I really don’t know what I’m going to wear.” So anyway I told my mom that I had been blessed with this and I asked her if she could help me out and she said, “Baby I don’t know, I’ll do the best I can.” So anyway it got close to time for the show and my mom was working overtime back and forth and she did some parties and stuff like that and she called me in one day and she said, “You know something, I know you say you’ve got three songs to sing, I don’t have the money to give you all that, but I’m going to give you something.” So my mother gave me $50. You know what $50 was back then? ANP: That was a lot. JoMarie: That was a lot of money!! But she knew I needed some clothes. I needed my hair done. It was a big ta-doo and she wanted to make it nice for me. So anyway, she gave me the money and I went to North Miami Beach and at that time there was a store by the name of Richards. You don’t have to use all this, but I got to tell you since I’m on a roll now. So the store called Richards, you couldn’t go in the store if you were African American, you couldn’t go in the store and try on the clothes. ANP: What? JoMarie: Unless you put something over your head because you couldn’t get makeup and stuff on the clothes, that’s just the way it was. Anyway, I didn’t see what I wanted there, and I looked on the sale rack, everything was on sale or discounted or whatever. And I didn’t find anything. So I came back to another shopping center that was in my end of the town called Northside Shopping Center, it was on 79th and 27th Avenue. A lot of people that read this are going to know what it is. It’s a flea market now. So I went into the shop and I saw this dress. I looked at a few different dresses, but I saw this dress and it was silver. It was silver lamé. I never will forget it…and it was Lillie Rubin dress. ANP: I don’t know Lillie Rubin. JoMarie: Lillie Rubin got a big line. She was up there. So this dress, I don’t know how many times, but it was marked down, then it was marked down, then marked down again. And then when I got it the dress was like, I don’t know, like 19.99 or something. So I said, “I’m going to get it.” So I got the dress and because it was lamé, it had, like you know how you rub up against something and stuff starts coming off? Well I didn’t care, I got the scissors and cut it off. And then I said, “Oh I need some shoes.” I was looking for silver shoes. So I went over on the discount rack and I saw a pair of silver shoes, and I paid for those. Then I said, “Oh, I don’t know what to do with my hair.” So I bought this can of spray stuff, because I understood about show business because it’s, I didn’t get into the business, it go into me. Okay? ANP: Right. JoMarie: So I got this can of this hair spray stuff and I sprayed my hair burgundy. So anyway, I never will forget, I went to school the day before, I didn’t have it done, the hair sprayed then, and Ernie said, “JoJo, did you get your clothes?” And I said, “Yeah, Ernie but I was only able to get one dress.” He said, “Aw man, one dress?” He said, “What does the dress look like?” I said, “Well it’s silver.” He said, “Yes. Yes. Yes.” So, he said “I’m doing the lights, I’m doing the fresnels, when you sing the first song it’s going to be
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red. When you sing the second song it’s going to be blue. When you sing the third song… ANP: And the dress will change. JoMarie: It will turn all colors! Baby let me tell you. That first song was “My Guy”. You know that song, Nothing you can say can tear me away from my guy. They loved it, because I was looking cute. I was looking different too because nobody else had that red hair. And then the second song was “What Becomes of a Broken Heart”. It was kind of slow. It was a real famous song. ANP: Yeah of course. A classic! JoMarie: Then at the end, after everybody had done their thing it was time to do that last song…that music kicked up. At that time you couldn’t take the vocals out you had to just turn it down, you know, but you still had to be louder than the vocal. That music said, da da da da lun da. “Dancing In The Streets”. Calling out around the world are you ready for a brand new beat. Bop, bop. Boy, they got it! They started dancing and it went crazy!! From then on they fell in love with me. Now, this was the 11th grade, they still hadn’t done a play for me and Shelley was leaving because his dad or somebody got sick. He was moving back to New York. And I said, “Oh my God, oh my God.” He said, “Listen kiddo, there’s another lady coming in and I know she will get it done for you. She’s very strong willed.” Her name was Peggy O’Hara Gibble. “She’ll make it happen for you, I promise you she’ll make it happen because Peggy’s like that.” ANP: She was going to be the new drama teacher? JoMarie: She was my drama teacher, yeah. Peggy came in for 12th grade and she decided that she was going to do “A Raisin in the Sun”. She’s a little Irish Lady. She used to dance on Broadway and her waist tiny, little feet, you know little figure. But she was tough though. She was though! She was tough with the improvs and stuff she knew how to make you cry and make you laugh and she just didn’t let you get away with anything that wasn’t honest. So anyway, Peggy said, “We’re doing A Raisin in the Sun and you guys are going to audition.” And she said, “I already know who you’re playing, you’re playing Mama.” She said that to me point blank just like that. ANP: So she really was going to make it happen. JoMarie: Yes! So, we did the play. We won the drama competition out of all the schools here in Dade County. The first award the school won was the drama award that we got. I got best actress! Peggy was my everything, she really was, and she was friends with Dr. Hank Deers at the University of Miami, and after we won that drama competition she talked with him and part of the reward we got was to get a special scholarship to the University of Miami. ANP: Wow. Pretty cool. JoMarie: My mom couldn’t afford to send me anywhere, but Peggy believed that I was talented and Peggy was getting ready to leave also. So I went to the university where I met Dr. Hank Deers. ANP: Did you get a full scholarship there? JoMarie: I got a partial scholarship. So I went there and like I said I lived in what was called Miami Gardens now. So it was really almost just close to 20 miles to come from my house to go to the University of Miami, and I used to take three buses to get there and I had to be at class at 8:00 in the morning. But I did it. I was the only African-American in that class at that time. So I finished that and after I finished that, I had to go to work because I had to help my mom. My oldest brother was in Vietnam, he was the only one older than me, and like I said there was nine of us. So I started working in an architect’s office, a lawyer’s office, something. ANP: Nothing related to acting. JoMarie: No. I was folding towels. Nothing related to it. But I would always audition for stuff. There was a place called the Merry Go Round Playhouse on Coral Way and Peggy was directing a show there just before she left. It was Harold Pinter’s “The Landlord”. I was the landlord and I did that play so I had a following there also. And then Ivan Torres was here. Ivan Torres is a gentleman that did “Flipper” and “Gentle Ben” and all those 1960s TV shows. He had studio here off of North Miami, Northeast Second Avenue, I think it’s called Green Leaf now or something like that. That’s what it’s called. And so they gave me a special scholarship. ANP: So he was based here in Miami, but he was doing all those TV shows? JoMarie: Yeah. He was based here. So they gave me film training. You know video training and put me in stuff that they were doing. ANP: Behind the camera? JoMarie: Behind the camera. In front of the camera. They were teaching me how to perform in front of the camera. ANP: Got it. Okay. JoMarie: So anyway, I was the only female and there was one black male. When I went in on the first day, I have to tell you this, and then I’m going to let you ask me another question. ANP: Sounds good. JoMarie: You can chop it up anyway you want to but I’ve got to tell you this because it’s coming out in the book. Anyway, so when I went in the first day, and because we still had the race relations thing, it was just what it was and all. So I went in and so nobody was mean to me but they weren’t very warm either. But they were there for the same reason I was there and I was determined to do it. And that was after rushing home from work and making
sure that my brothers and sisters ate and then I would go to the class on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And so Monday I went in and nobody was very friendly, I didn’t care. On Wednesday after they saw that I really liked what I was doing, you know the camera men liked it and everything, they kind of warmed up to me a little bit. ANP: They saw that you were serious. JoMarie: Right that I was serious. Then on Wednesday it was a little better, and then that Friday I didn’t go. The next Monday I went and I remember this little red headed girl, I don’t know what her name was, but I remember she had red hair. She said, “Jo,” and they knew I took that long bus, she said, “Can I give you a ride anywhere?” And I said, “No, because the bus stop is right there.” I said, “But thank you.” And she said, “Okay, see you Wednesday.” I said, “All right.” I walked out to the bus and I had my sides. We didn’t call them sides then, I just had my paper script, we didn’t call them sides. Anyway, I had it and I walked out to the bus stop and I was sitting on the bus stop and then all of a sudden all hell broke loose. Bottles were being thrown at me… ANP: Wait. What? JoMarie: Rocks were being thrown at me!! And they were saying, “Nigger, what are you doing here?” I’m telling you honest to God truth, “Nigger what are you doing over here?” And I said, “Wait, wait, stop, stop!” Then I got behind the bus bench, I got down. They said, “We better not ever catch you over here again. We better not ever catch you here.” I was so shook up I did not know what to do. When they left I got up and the bus came. I got on the bus. I didn’t even say anything to the bus driver, so I figured maybe it would be a one-time thing and knew I couldn’t tell my mother. If I told my mother she wouldn’t let me go back. And I was getting close to finishing. ANP: Such an intense and scary experience! JoMarie: Yes! So anyway, nothing happened the next two times, so I figured it was just a one-time occurrence, you know? So I’m walking out and I got my paper with me and I’m happy as a lark, and I’m sitting out there, and this is maybe, I don’t know, two, three weeks later, and this time it was worse. It was like they saw me and said, “Oh she’s back again. We’ll show her this time.” I’m telling you everything but a bullet came after me. Glass was everywhere. I couldn’t even get down on my knees because there was so much broken glass. All I could do was scream and yell and scream and yell. ANP: Terrifying! JoMarie: This time when the bus came by I was banging on the bus. I was banging on the bus doors and they open and I said, “Let me in, let me in!” And the driver said, “What happened? What happened? Calm down.” And I was by that time I had lost it, so he said, “What is going on?” So I told him and everything and he said, “But why are you over here?” I said, “Because I want to do my class and I’m almost finished.” And he said, “Well just calm down a minute.” His name was Lafayette Fussell. ANP: The bus driver? JoMarie: The bus driver’s name was Lafayette Fussell. ANP: You have an incredible memory!! JoMarie: Anyway I got on the bus and after I calmed down I told him what was what and this, that and the other. So he said, “Listen, you know if you tell your mama, she’s not going to let you come back right?” ANP: Was he black? JoMarie: Mm-hmm (affirmative). A fair skinned black man because that’s who was driving the buses then. He said, “Tell you what, can you see the bus stop from the door? When you get out can you see the bus?” And I said, “Yes sir.” He said, “I’ll tell you what, just as I’m getting ready to come across I’ll blink my lights, when I blink my lights I want you to haul booty over to that bus stop. Don’t come until you see me blink the lights.” He said, “But I can’t stop if you ain’t there baby, I can’t stop because I never know when a supervisor is following us. So if you’re not there I can’t stop and wait on you. When I blink those lights you’ve got to make it to the bus stop.” I said, “Yes sir.” So that’s how I did it and that’ how I made it. ANP: What an incredible man. JoMarie: He really was. So I finished that class. All right in 1975 “Pearly” closed on Broadway with Melba Moore and Cleavon Little and the tour started here in Miami. I had been doing stuff back and forth different theaters. Joyce Brown was the first African-American conductor on Broadway. She was our conductor for the musical. Stockton Brickell was our director. So when I went in my teacher that I had in junior college at Miami Dade he said, “You ought to go and audition for this.” And I said, “No, I don’t have any music, I don’t have a resume.” I didn’t even know what a resume was. I don’t have money to go down because I had to come all the way down to Coconut Grove Playhouse. So he said, “I’ll take you.” So he took me to the Coconut Grove. So I signed up, I went in there, they said, “Hello.” I said, “Hello.” They were looking at me like, “You have any music?” I said, “I don’t have any music.” They said, “You have a picture and a resume?” I said, “I don’t have a picture and a resume, but I can sing.” And so the guy was on the piano and he was ready. I said, “I’ll have to do it acapella.” So anyway I sang, “If I should take a notion to jump into the ocean, ain’t body’s business if I do.” They went crazy! I said, “Okay, where do I sign?” And before I left there that day they said, “Okay you’ve got the role.” I had the role of one of the principals, which was the old captains cook. And that’s when I got my equity card and then from then on we just toured all around the place.
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ANP: Was it a bus tour? JoMarie: It was flying. But mostly flying, that’s what it was. ANP: Nice. All right. JoMarie: But the strange thing about it is, it’s how God works, when I landed in LA, because we toured the country, we landed in LA at the Aquarius Theater right off Sunset and Highland I think it was. And we were supposed to do LA, Vegas and then go to Europe, but the show ended in Los Angeles. I was going to come back home and my mother said, “You can’t come back home because it’s not going to happen here sweetheart, it’s going to happen there.” I was lonely. I was 3,000 miles away. I didn’t have a friend of a friend and I was scared. You know, in Miami I had never seen people pushing baskets, homeless people. Even where I lived, there were a lot of apartments. We were poor, but we lived in a little house, so I wasn’t used to Los Angeles. It was like culture shock for me. ANP: For sure. Even though they’re both coastal cities, they really couldn’t be more different. JoMarie: I was scared to go outside! I got what was called agoraphobia. After the show closed, I was running out of money and I lost my car and my mother was trying to keep it for me and I said, “Ma, don’t keep it, just let it go.” You know this, that and the other. And the last money that I had I gave to her to get my brothers and sisters school clothes and to get a new refrigerator and stuff like that. ANP: So after all that you were just sitting there broke in LA? JoMarie: Yeah. So anyway, somebody said I could draw unemployment. I didn’t know about unemployment, because I never saw my mom draw unemployment. I never say my father or my grandparents, they all worked. You know what I mean? I didn’t know what it was. Then somebody said, “Well try general relief.” I didn’t what that stuff was. I knew what welfare was because we had welfare food and all that, but I didn’t know about all these other ways to get money. All I knew was that my people worked. So anyway I went to an agency to get me a job and I started working and I left on lunch break to go on auditions and things like that. The first film thing I got was with Richard Pryor, but I didn’t do it. It was called “Which Way Is Up”, but my agent and the union made them pay me anyway because they had cast me in it. And that’s how I got my SAG card. ANP: That’s a nice relief. JoMarie: This was back in 1977. But I was going to change my name because I never liked the name JoMarie. I didn’t like it and so I went back home one day and I had a Spanish lady, her name was Lydia Hernandez and she was like my adoptive mother in LA because she felt sorry for me because I didn’t know anybody. She thought I was a smart girl and a nice girl. So I went back on a lunch break after I’d gone down to SAG to change my name. I told my mother I was going to change it and she said, “Please don’t change your name Jo! Don’t change your name. I gave you that name, it’s special, don’t change it!” And she was so sad I said, “Okay, all right I won’t change it.” So I didn’t. I went back and I walked in and Lydia said, “Mija, you look so sad, what’s the matter?” I said, “Well I wanted to change my name because I don’t like it, I’ve never liked it.” And she said, “You’re going to change your name?” She said, “Oh my God Mija, if I had thought of your name when I had Yolanda I would have named Yolanda that.” She said, “Do you know how special your name is?” She said, “You mother name you after Jesus’ mother and father, JoMarie.” She said, “I’ve never heard JoMarie before.” So ever since then I fell in love with it. ANP: And is it one word? It’s one word JoMarie? Or two? JoMarie: It’s one word with two caps. My mother did it like that because she wanted people to pronounce it and call it JoMarie instead of Jomarie or Jamarie or whatever. So that’s what people would call me. And my grandmother said, “I told you when you named her that they was going to call her everything but JoMarie.” But at any rate… ANP: That’s good you didn’t change it. JoMarie: Yeah. It’s good. ANP: So, then from then one thing led to another? JoMarie: One thing led to another you know and then it just popped. You know it’s work. I had done “Silver Spoons” with Ricky Schroeder and Jason Bateman. When I saw Jason get the award the other night I said, “I remember Jason.” He was about 10 or 11 years old, because I had done six episodes of “Silver Spoons.” ANP: That was a big show. JoMarie: It was all Ricky. I mean, it was Jason too, it was Alfonso Ribeiro. Right next to us was Kim Fields and they were doing The Facts of Life with all those kids too. But it was good. Then I did another show, it was another kids show, and the producers wanted me to just beat the kids, he said, “What they need is behind whipping Jo, I wish I could just beat them.” I can’t think of the name of that one… ANP: You mean, not on camera. JoMarie: No, no. Not on camera. ANP: You mean, just like, to get them in line? JoMarie: I just wish I could just ... I forgot what that show was titled. Anyway, I did quite a few shows. And I worked with Carol Burnett on a talk show and you know because they wanted me to do the Tarzan yell. But the first show I got, the first national exposure I got, was on the Redd Foxx Variety Show. After Sanford and Son he did a variety show with Slappy White, Prince Spencer, and Gerald Wilson played in the band.
ANP: I remember that show! JoMarie: I was Georgia Brown. ANP: I was in the studio audience once when I was a kid. JoMarie: I was Georgia Brown the jazz singer. ANP: I probably saw you. JoMarie: I went to audition for it out in the Valley and I sang “A-Tisket, A-Tasket”, I still didn’t have any music. I had a picture and resume. So when I sang that they said, “Meet us over at the Bentley Studios over on Bentley Blvd and Fairfax, over the CVS it was. ANP: Yep. The CVS. Yep. JoMarie: So I went over there and Redd, he was the most incredible man. He was wonderful to me. Wonderful! Right across from us was where Carol Burnett was shooting her show with Vicki Lawrence and Tim Conway and all of those guys. Anyway Tim Conway would come in when ever we would be rehearsing on stage where Gerald was and I would be singing my song. He fell in love. He’d just be jumping up, jumping up, jumping up! Every time he’d say, “When is she going to be on.” He came over and the next day and somebody knocked on my dressing room door. and I opened the door and she said, “Hi, I’m Dinah Shore.” I said, “You sure are!” Tim said, “What did I tell you, what did I tell you?” She said, “You’re an incredible singer.” I said, “Thank you so much.” I closed the door and I said, “Dinah Shore was at my door, oh my God.” But Tim Conway loved it. ANP: I love that you’ve gone from all that classic TV to playing the judge in The Beach Bum. JoMarie: Yes. Then I had a whole hour lunch with Dick Van Dyke and I remember having lunch with Redd Fox, it was just he and I one day, and he was telling me stories about how he was discriminated against because he was too light to get in on the other roles for darker people. He said they thought he was ugly and disgusting. ANP: He had an amazing face. JoMarie: Yeah he did and he did. But he said it became about being nasty and it did, that was true. But he was an incredible artist too. Oh my God, he was an incredible artist. ANP: He was a painter as well, right? JoMarie: Painter? No, he could draw. He could draw like nobody’s business. But anyway, I had a conversation with him, but one of the best conversations I had was with Mr. Gerald Wilson who was the bandleader at that time. And I was having lunch with him and he said, “You know something you are such a sweet girl.” And I was 27 then and he said, “I need you to promise me something.” I said, “What is it Mr. Wilson?” He said, “Promise me you will never get caught up in drugs. Drugs are not a good thing. Don’t get caught up in drugs.” He said, “You’re going to make a lot of money. I know you will.” He said, “But promise me JoMarie, promise me that you won’t get messed up in those drugs.” I said, “I promise you Mr. Wilson.” I never did. I said one day if I ever run into him I was going to tell him. ANP: He would be like, “She didn’t do it.” JoMarie: I’m sure he knows. You know, I was going to tell you something else about that bus driver Mr. Lafayette Fussell. When I got my first TV thing, I got a holding contract from ABC. I don’t know if you even know what a holding contract is? ANP: No. JoMarie: They just pay you to sit still until they try to find something for you. ANP: But you can’t take any other jobs? JoMarie: Exactly. You can’t take any other jobs. So for a whole year, they just sent me a check just to be still. So when I came home on that break and everybody had seen me on TV and everything, I was so happy to tell Mr. Fussell. And my girlfriend picked me up from the airport and I used to like to stop and get a Miami Times paper because Miami Times was our black newspaper with everything in it. So we stopped to get the Miami Times and I flipped through it and I saw the obituary that he had died. I cried all the way home. I said, “You know I wanted so bad for him to know that he helped me get to that point.” So what I did was I went to the phone book, and they had people’s names listed then, and I saw his address, so I called his wife. She answered the phone and I said, “Hello Mrs. Fussell.” And she said, “Yes.” And I said, “You don’t know me but my name is JoMarie Payton and your husband helped me out so much…” I told her about the school. And she said, “He knows, he knows sweetheart.” I was messed up. I was messed up. But you know it’s just... Ask me something else. ANP: I think that’s a beautiful ending. JoMarie: OK, just one last thing... ANP: Go for it. JoMarie: I tell people in this business, you’re going to see and hear more than you’re wanting to. I’ve been up and down so many times my name should be “Yo-Yo”. But what I do know is that I understood how important it is to be honest and genuine. That was something that my mother taught me. I’m grateful that my mother told me that I could always come home. She was that kind of mother. She used to say, “You don’t have to be mistreated and do all kinds of nasty and dirty things. You can always come home.” You can always sit at the table, drink some Kool-Aid, eat some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Remember, you can always come home.
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There was originally a scene in The Beach Bum where Moondog gets robbed in an alley. He tells the robber, “You forgot another $20 in my sock.” The scene didn’t make the final cut, but Dustin Greer has a very interesting story. Dustin and his buddy decided to ride out Hurricane Irma on their boat instead of evacuating Key West as advised. They went live during the storm and thousands of tuned in. In the middle of the storm their phone signal went out, and the world was wondering if they survived because the keys were hit pretty bad. The story made national news. Two months after the storm, Dustin was cast as the robber. Harmony and Matthew watched his audition on a phone and selected him for the role one day during a lunch break.
THE KEY WEST ROBBER ANP: We heard that your scene got cut from the movie. Dustin: Yeah. I’m quite depressed about that. I feel like taking my sailboat about 20 miles offshore and sinking it. But then I got the phone call to do this interview, so I turned around and came back. ANP: Oh come on!! Dustin: Seriously it was a lot of fun doing the scene with Matthew and it was work. I even mentioned to Harmony at the wrap party what the chances were of this ending up on the cutting room floor? He said, “No! You were great! Everything was perfect!” Then suddenly Bam! ANP: You jinxed it man! Dustin: Yeah, I guess I did huh? ANP: How did you first get involved with the movie? Dustin: Well I had heard around the way that these was going to be this movie with Matthew McConaughey filming around Key West where I live. It was on everyone’s lips here around the docks. I spend most of my time out on my sailboat, but you know it was bar talk, people talking about the movie. At that point I didn’t even know it was a Harmony Korine movie. So one day, me and my buddy were just hanging out at the bar having some mid-afternoon cocktails. I’m leaving the bar walking down the dock heading back to my boat and the casting director yelled out to me. She was actually right in the middle of an audition with somebody else and she pretty much stopped that and yelled across the dock at me, “Hey you! Are you a local?” I just started laughing. ANP: That’s hilarious. Dustin: Yeah, so she comes up to me and asked me to audition. She was like, “Read this and let me know when you’re ready.” I actually had a buddy with me at the time and both of us read for the part. So I read and I could tell she was pretty impressed with the audition because she kept saying, “You’re a natural!” I thought it was pretty cool, but I thought that would be the end of it, you know? ANP: Yeah, you never assume you’ll be called for those things. Dustin: Yeah, it was a long shot. So one day I was sitting in the airport and I got a call and I could just hear it in her voice that she was going to give me good news that I got the part. Man, I was blown away. I thought it was awesome. By that point I had found out that Harmony was involved with it so I was super excited about it. So, yeah, that’s kind of how it all played out. ANP: Since the scene isn’t in the movie can you tell us about it? Dustin: Sure. Well not many people can say that they got paid to whack Matthew MacConaughey over the head with a gun about 50 times. I’ll tell you that. I basically beat up Matthew McConaughey with a rubber gun. The scene was actually me and my thug buddies are casing a bar
looking for our next mark. So we see Moondog across the bar and he’s snockered. He’s been drinking all day I guess. So we approach him in the alley, I come up behind him, spin him around and whack him over the head with a gun. Then after he hits the ground, my character realizes who he is! I figure out that he’s Moondog. So I’m like, “Oh my god, you’re Moondog! I read you in college man, you changed my life!” or something like that. Matthew had a little kitty cat. A little white cat that he was carrying through the whole thing. It was the cutest little cat. He was very protective of the cat and we always made sure that the cat was nice and safe. It was a lot of fun. ANP: Had you ever acted before? Dustin: Just little small things. A buddy of mine was doing a student film where I played a hit man with an addiction to whisky and gummy bears. But I never had any education. I guess I’m good at…whatever. I don’t even know what that is…that thing. Also, this comes right on the heels of all that hurricane stuff that had just happened. ANP: Yeah, we had heard something about your experience in that. Can you talk about it? It sounds totally insane. Dustin: Yeah, it was nuts man. Hurricane Irma was on its way. It was barreling down and we were projected to get hit here. The whole island was buzzing about the whole thing. So some people were leaving. Some people were taking their boats out of there and we couldn’t really figure out what to do. Me and my buddy had almost ten boats that we were responsible for. We couldn’t just leave all those boats there. Our first idea was to tie all the boats together and take them to Mexico. But something happened last minute, I can’t remember exactly what it was, but we hit that crossroads, you now that fork in the road. We could either do this or do that and we decided to stay. To stick this out. I mean I’m a Florida dude. I’ve been around hurricanes most of my life. I’m not really afraid of them. I got my name in the paper when I was thirteen years old for surfing during a hurricane. So I could face down a hurricane with a surfboard. So a sailboat is much bigger than a surfboard. I actually feel much safer on a sailboat. ANP: Still it seems pretty crazy! Dustin: Yeah, but my buddy and I decided that we were gonna ride it out. So we provisioned, we got everything ready. We tied the boat to the dock and put his Harley on the back of the boat and tied it down which was pretty funny. We were doing Facebook live during all this and our videos went viral. There was no news allowed in Key West because they had evacuated the island, so everyone who was searching for information on the impending fall of this storm on U.S. land found us. I was getting thousands of friend requests. My phone sounded like a pinball machine. Man, until viral happens to you, you have no idea what that feels like. It’s bizarre! Out of the blue, the whole world is watching you. ANP: Yeah, and on top of it you’re trying to navigate this storm. Dustin: Man, we looked like shit! We were going through a hurricane! We were soaking wet, our hair was sticking out. We didn’t have hair and make-up you know what I mean? It was insane. It was as rough as you could imagine when a category four hurricane hits you. ANP: Were you out at sea or were you always tied to the dock? Dustin: No, we were tied to a dock. Being out at sea would have been crazy. That’s suicide. There’s one thing taking a chance, a calculated risk, but being out at sea that’s just silly. ANP: So you were saying that coming right off of that is when you were approached to be in the movie? Dustin: Yeah, so the hurricane hit. We went viral and all this stuff and everyone kept saying, “They’re gonna make a movie about you.” Then we had a woman approach us and she paid us for our story. A sizeable amount. Which was great because the hurricane wiped out our entire business. We were able to make it through that because of the money that she had given us. It was serendipity. She came along like an angel. So yeah, right when that whole thing was finally winding down, next thing you know I’m walking down the dock and being asked to audition for The Beach Bum. ANP: I think they call that being on the beam. Dustin: I think that’s it. Yeah. And you know you’ve only heard a small part of my life story. That story I just told you that isn’t all. It’s been like that my entire life. One thing after another. There’s actually a woman who is writing a book about me. ANP: What inspired her to write a book about you? Dustin: Hmm. You know people either love me or hate me. The writer is a young woman from my home town of Jacksonville and I’ve become a bit of a legend around there due to all my craziness and wildness. Like I said, people there either love me or hate me and there’s about equal parts of both. You know living the life that I’ve lead, you can’t expect not to break a few legs. ANP: What’s the ending of that book going to look like? Dustin: Well it’s still being written as we speak so we’ll see. You know when she approached me to write this book I told her I wasn’t going to tell her a damn thing about me. I told her I’d give her the names of every person who loves me and every person that hates me. I told her they should write the book. I’m not gonna confirm or deny the lies or the deceptions, all of it. Put it all in there. The good, the bad and the ugly. RVCA /A NP QUA RT E RLY / 46
HOMELESS PHIL David Bennett is an improv comedian that has done stand up and other small roles. He is a character actor with a long story. One of his most unique traits is the fact that he has a glass eye. He came in to read for the role and snapped out his dentures at the end of the audition for shock value and it worked! Harmony loved him and the whole production was laughing for hours at his audition. He says that playing homeless Phil was the best thing that ever happened to him. ANP: So you told us you’re a Miami native? David Bennett: Yes. I’m from Miami Beach, Florida. ANP: How were you first introduced to The Beach Bum project? David: Well, I had been in sales my entire life, and I got so bored with sales that I got into acting. Then when I got into acting I started doing some extra work, but I wanted to do speaking roles. I asked someone how to do it and they said I had to have a demo reel. So I said, “How do you get a demo reel?” They said, “Oh, you have to have spoken in films!” ANP: It’s like a catch 22! David: Yes. So I was into comedy and stuff, so I did a five-minute comedy video. I actually went to my librarian and asked her if she’d film me. I sent that in and I actually got some work. I got a part in an infomercial and some other things too. So my agent called me one day, cause she swears by me as a homeless role, and she says, “David, I’ve got you one of the biggest roles in South Florida! The Beach Bum is coming to town, and you get to use your homeless skills.” I was getting by as an actor, but I was also looking for a big break. So before this I actually prayed to get something that offers homeless and comedy. That seemed impossible at the time. So when I found out, I went down there. I don’t have a car anymore, so I usually bike and tri-rail to wherever I gotta go. So I got down to the audition, I loved it, but it was a while before I heard anything. There was a friggin’ hurricane. ANP: Yeah, I’ve heard that people were worried the movie would go away. David: Yeah, but then I got the call back. You know I always think that when everything is going wrong that’s bad luck. You aren’t going to get whatever you’re doing. The day I went for the call back the weather looked ok. I left my house and I was biking, then all of a sudden there was a friggin’ thunderstorm! I had my homeless clothes in a plastic bag, which was ok, so I biked and tri-railed down to Miami and then I went into a Wendy’s because I had to change. My clothes were soaked! But my only dry clothes were my homeless clothes! But I didn’t want to walk the streets homeless like that, so I took a car and went in and did it! ANP: I love these crazy stories. David. Yes, and LaShawnna was a big help, because part of the role required me to take my teeth out. The lines were something like, “You ignorant, toothless idiot!” ANP: You wear dentures? David. Yeah. Harmony was nuts about that. He added another scene that I actually improved, and he thought it was awesome. But anyway, when I was leaving I told LaShawnna that I did the whole thing with my teeth out. She was like, “The whole thing?” She told me to go back in there and do it again, but at a certain part, I should take my teeth out. So I did that and it was epic. ANP: That must have been hilarious! David. It was! Harmony laughed for hours. Then that last scene was crazy. There was a line that said I was laughing so hard my teeth fell out… ANP: Oh man, a perfect situation. Have you always had a desire to act?
David: I’ve been funny ever since I was a kid. I have always wanted to be a comedian. I have made people crap their pants. When I was young, my favorite comedian was Red Skelton. I wanted to be like him. That’s why I made the comedy video. It’s called The Versatile David Bennett. I wrote most of the jokes, but I threw a couple of Rodney Dangerfield’s in there too. Actually, America’s Got Talent once called me up to do an audition. ANP: Any other good stories you remember from being on the set of The Beach Bum? David: Well it was really nice feeling so important. A lot of the crew came up to me and asked me to do things again for them that I had done on camera. They would say, “That’s my favorite line of the movie!” So improved a bunch of stuff. Harmony’s brother in law was saying, “You can’t write the stuff this guy is coming up with!” One of the lines was, “If it don’t rhyme, it don’t count for shit, Moondog!” and Moondog goes, “No, you suck.” So I go, “Here’s one.” He’s goes, “What?” and I just burped. Also I loved the Fu Manchu part. I really got into that. I was barking like a dog and stuff. Everyone was just cracking up. Harmony comes over one time after I took my teeth out, and I have denture cream, so the saliva just thickens, saying he almost lost his cookies. ANP: What’s your biggest takeaway from your experience as an actor? David: Well, always be early. Always be professional. Always do what they want, but if they give you the chance to add a little something more it’s great. Like that line in the movie, “Fuck you Fu Manchu!” I don’t know, I always look for something hysterical. ANP: Life can be pretty funny sometimes. David: Yeah, I always look for the good. I saw one time that Sir Winston Churchill said someone asked him how he would deal with the most serious things in the world. He says, “In order to deal with the most serious things in the world, you have to find the ones that are most amusing.” Humor is the sunshine of the soul.
John Debney is an Academy Award-nominated film composer who developed the wonderful score for The Beach Bum. The son of Disney Studios producer Louis Debney, John grew up in Los Angeles, California where he got early inspiration for film and music growing up on the Disney Studio lot. As a film composer he has worked on films such as Elf, Spy Kids, The Passion of The Christ and The Jungle Book amongst many others. While at first thought, a composer like John Debney might seem an unlikely choice for a Harmony Korine film, this conversation sheds much light on the process of how he came to be the composer of The Beach Bum.
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ANP: How were you first introduced to this project? John Debney: I’m a huge admirer of Harmony’s work. I had seen Spring Breakers and his other movies. I don’t really know the series events that went into how I got hired, but when I got the call one day to meet with him I was so excited! Simply because I was such a fan! So we just started talking and things clicked. I kind of fell in love with him and he liked all my quirky ideas and there you go! After that we were kind of off to the races! ANP: So you were familiar with his films before this? John: Definitely Spring Breakers. I saw that a few times. I loved that movie! ANP: When I first heard you did the music I thought it was amazing, but you also seemed like such an odd choice for a Harmony Korine film. John: You know what? It was! I told him that when I went in to meet with him. I remember saying, “Look, I’m probably not the most obvious choice for you, but let me tell you why I’d love to do this!” I really told him from my heart. First of all I love the movie. It’s so cool. It’s so funny and yet it has so much heart. He’s created, in my opinion, an incredibly relevant contemporary funny movie with this big heart in it. The film has this big emotional depth to this guy and al the characters in the film. I just loved it. You know I guess I kind of convinced him to hire me, but I said all that with real sincerity because it’s such a great movie. ANP: Hopefully audiences see the genius in it too. John: Yeah, I do too. ANP: Films like this don’t get made very often. John: They really don’t. But you know I was in from the very beginning when I saw McConaughey and Jimmy Buffett. It’s such a fun ride. Also, Harmony was so gracious and collaborative with me. He really invited me to go as far out as I wanted to go…which I did. There are moments in the film that are sort of like high opera and there are other things that are really Caribbean inspired. You know, kind of more Miami-ish. That was really exciting for me. Just to wear those different hats. That’s something that I’m really not known for. ANP: Yeah I wanted to talk to you about your process in fusing these completely disparate styles into a single composition. John: It was a process of the way Harmony had temped his movie. You know, temping is the way filmmakers will put in temporary pieces of music to highlight what they’re thinking. He did a very good job with that. There were a number of pieces in his temp that were Caribbean inspired and there was a little bit of Reggae and I really loved all that. But the pieces that he didn’t have in were those pieces that I think were kind of the most fun things in the score…those operatic kind of Puccini-like moments. There’s a scene where Moondog is riding in his boat at night and you hear this opera music. Using that music was such a fun discovery with Harmony. I remember he was in my studio that day and I was playing him a bunch of stuff and he would be like, “Yeah, that’s cool. Maybe a little note for here or wherever…” Then I said, “Now look, I’m gonna play you this. It could be completely wrong and just suck. But for some reason I just felt like there should be opera here.” He looked at me and he was just like, “Cool!” He ended up loving it. In fact he ended up putting it in a couple more places that I hadn’t even anticipated. But it works. I think the original idea that I had was that Moondog sort of thinks he’s that character. ANP: For sure! Totally get that. John: Well he is! He’s bigger than life and that’s what he does. So I really lucked out there. Actually, it didn’t quite work, but I had an opera singer, a guy who’s a wonderful tenor, come in and he did a version, but it kind of sucked. So we stripped the vocal out and what you hear is just the track. Pretty fun. ANP: Did the version with the vocal go to far? John: Yeah it pushed it too much into that strange place. It became too much of a Puccini opera. The dancing strings were really the best choice.
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ANP: Were those marimbas that used in there a lot? John: A lot! We used all kinds of stuff. There’s Latin trumpets in there, there’s marimba; there’s steel drums in a bunch of those pieces. There’s the steel drum in the movie that’s on camera during the funeral scene. But yeah, there are all those instruments in there that you would equate with the Caribbean vibe. Interestingly enough, we recorded most of the big music in Nashville. So I had to find a steel drum player that could read music in Nashville! We actually found one, which was really cool. There are a couple of cues where we used this wah-wah guitar and Harmony really loved that. We just did everything that we wanted and tried to have a lot of fun along the way. ANP: Well it shows in the score. It’s also interesting how deeply emotional a lot of the music is too. There’s a lot of fun stuff, but there’s also some really serious music. John: That’s so nice of you to say! Perhaps that’s why Harmony gravitated to my take on the film. I really felt like there was tremendous heart and pathos to Moondog’s journey. Especially, and without spoiling it, he loses people in his life and it’s pretty touching! The story is told in a wonderfully funny way, but there are those moments where it’s heavy. All kudos to Harmony and Matthew and the whole cast. Snoop Dogg! One of my favorite scenes was when Snoop Dogg and Matthew are having this heart to heart. They’re both high as a kite in the scene and I just put this kind of heartfelt music under it. Harmony loved it. He was like, “Yeah man, these guys are really like soul brothers.” They’re really relating to each other on that level. It felt right to use that music. It felt right because there is a lot of sweetness to the film. He did a beautiful job on that. That could be difficult as you could imagine. When you’re walking the tightrope between comedy and emotional heart, but he did it brilliantly. ANP: Yeah, that’s really hard to do. I think what you did with the score really helped him achieve that goal. It takes it to another level. John: He said that exact thing. He said he wanted me to take it to another level, so if that’s your reaction I’m thrilled by that. That’s what he wanted, he wanted the music to play the comedy when we needed it to, but he also wanted it to play the heart and the soul of this guy’s journey. ANP: I consider The Beach Bum to be an incredibly spiritual film. John: It is! It truly is. I’m right there with you. I don’t know if audiences will grasp that but I think they will. I hope they will. There’s some profound stuff in there. Even though you’re laughing and you’re looking at Matthew as this guy, it’s hilarious! But I think Matthew would agree that he’s playing this very noble guy. He’s trying to do the right thing and he’s having a lot of fun and then he kind of loses his way. Yet in the end he succeeds. It was really cool to impart musically some of those themes in the film.
E L B E O N N O R Y T & K N A R F
inside the bum
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ADDITIONAL WORK NEEDED - FRANK THIS IS A DIGITAL MOCKUP
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Wrapped around each other Trying so hard to stay warm That ﬁrst cold winter together Lying in each other’s arms
Bertie Higgins is an American singersongwriter. In 1982, Higgins wrote the romantic classic “Key Largo”, which referenced the Humphrey Bogart & Lauren Bacall movie of the same name. The song eventually reached #1 on the Billboard charts. A native of the Florida Keys, Higgins began his career in show business at the age of twelve as a ventriloquist. He won prizes in local talent contests and became a favorite at school assemblies. After graduating Tarpon Springs High School, Higgins enrolled in St. Petersburg College to study journalism and fine art. He eventually left college and became a drummer for the Tommy Roe band and The Roemans, and played alongside such groups as The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys. Bertie Higgin’s song “Key Largo” was a big inspiration for The Beach Bum, which led Harmony Korine to ask him to make a cameo and sing the song live in the film as a duet with Matthew McConaughey.
ANP: Was your character written into The Beach Bum script? Bertie Higgins: Well, I played myself, so I’m not sure if it was ever written into the script. I never read it. I just got up on stage and sang. When Matthew came up on stage and was singing with me we just couldn’t stop laughing! We could barely get through the song! It was really funny, actually. ANP: Was it funny just because of the hilarity of the situation? Bertie: He was trying to sing harmonies with me, and I could tell that Matthew was not a great singer. So with him and I trying to get through this song together it just got so funny that I could hardly sing. It was pretty crazy, but really interesting. ANP: How did working on this compare to other projects that you’ve done in film and music? Bertie: I’ve actually produced five feature films on my own. In the other films I’ve been in I’ve had fairly large speaking parts. But Matthew turned out to be a really great guy, which I’d hoped he would. You know I’ve got my heroes in the entertainment industry that I love, and I always hope that when I meet them that they’ll be everything I hoped they will be. Matthew was certainly that. He was a very interesting guy. A lot of fun. ANP: That must have been a huge relief, because sometimes those meetings can go south real fast. Bertie: Yeah. There’s some guys out there that aren’t the greatest people in the world. I’ve noticed though that the one’s that are the most successful are great people. Willie Nelson for example. I did a bunch of shows with him over the years and he was always a great guy to meet. But sometimes you’ll stumble into a guy who’s ego is out of proportion. That’s the only way I can put it. But you know I figure if someone’s been around for a long time that they’re sweet people. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be around for a long time. ANP: Exactly. Part of your career is obviously your performance, but the other part has so much to do with how you are to deal with as a person. Bertie: Especially in film. If you come on like a prima donna then your crew doesn’t like you and then it’s very difficult to get the job done. It’s the same with concerts. You have to get along with your sound and lighting people. You especially have to be careful with how you handle your sound guy. ANP: The sound guy is the secret puppet master right? Bertie: Oh yeah! If he doesn’t like you he can sabotage your whole show. But you know, over the years you get used to the good and the bad.
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ANP: You’re originally from Florida right? Bertie: Right. I was born and raised in a little town called Tarpon Springs. It’s a big fishing village right on the gulf near Tampa. ANP: So the song Key Largo has a lot of personal meaning for you? Bertie: Of course it does! I’ve spent many, many, times in Key West so I know the town well. I had a bar in Key Largo for a while, so I know the Florida Keys very well. I used to go there when I was a boy with my father to catch lobsters. It’s a great spot. I love Key West it’s a great town. ANP: Am I correct that you began your career as a Ventriloquist? Bertie: When I was twelve years old, yeah. But when I turned fourteen I started stuttering for some reason. So that wasn’t great for ventriloquist so I had to back out of that career. Then I started playing drums and ended up playing for a singer called Tommy Roe. He played bubblegum type music. ANP: How did you get into ventriloquism? Bertie: It’s a long story. When I was about 10 years old they had this old man come to the movie theatre and he had a puppet on his knee. I was just fascinated by it. But I’ve always been interested in the entertainment aspect of the world. So when the guy took a break, I got up on stage and stuck my hand in the puppet’s little body and started messing with him. The next thing I knew I was making my own puppets from scratch and I won a couple of talent contests. I won not just because of the performance aspect, but also the fact that I created my own dummy. Then my grandmother finally sprung for a real dummy from the Meher Company. That got me used to being in front of people and that’s how this whole thing started. ANP: So performing has been in your blood since you were a little kid? Bertie: Yeah, since I was a little guy. Later on I formed my own band and we played all the sock hops at the high school, the homecoming dances and all that stuff. ANP: So you were working for a long time before you received chart success? Bertie: Yeah, I started writing songs when I was about 18 or 19, but they were so bad! But we did manage to get a small following around the Tampa Bay area and I began to write better songs. Then in my late-20s I moved to Atlanta and within 18 months I had the number one song in the nation. It scared the hell out of me. I didn’t know what to do. ANP: After all these years, what is it about the song Key Largo that still resonates with people? Bertie: I don’t know what it is. My publisher at the time, Bill Lowry had published a lot of hit songs. I remember the day I was sitting on the edge of his desk playing Key Largo on my old Martin guitar. He listened to it, and then he got up from behind his desk and started dancing around the room. He said, “If that song ever gets released it’s gonna live forever.” and he was correct. I’m still making great royalties off my back catalog and that song is right at the top of that. It started me off in a direction where even today I try to touch as many people as I can with the writing. ANP: I was reading an old interview with you and they asked you if you always have to be depressed to write good songs? I thought that would be a good one to ask you again. Bertie: Ironically, I don’t. In the beginning it helped some, because my girlfriend (who’s now my wife) and I split up for a while. I was just pained. But it’s funny man, sometimes I’ll have a song floating around in my head for almost a year. Then one day I’ll just sit down and write it and it just pours out of me. But sometimes I do get panicky if I haven’t written a song for a while. ANP: What kinds of lessons have you learned over the years as a working artist? Bertie: Never quit. Especially of you have the burn for it. You’re going to go through some times when people kick you in the ass. It’s tough, but never say never.
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Watching those old movies Falling in love so desperately Honey, I was your hero And you were my leading lady We had it all Just like Bogie and Bacall Starring in our own late, late show Sailing away to Key Largo Here’s lookin’ at you kid Missing all the things we did We can ﬁnd it once again, I know Just like they did in Key Largo Honey, can’t you remember We played all the parts That sweet scene of surrender When you gave me your heart Please say you will Play it again Cause I love you still Baby this can’t be the end We had it all (we had it all) Just like Bogie and Bacall Starring in our old late, late show Sailing away to Key Largo Here’s lookin’ at you kid (here’s lookin’ at you kid) Missing all the things we did We can ﬁnd it once again, I know Just like they did in Key Largo We had it all (we had it all) Just like Bogie and Bacall
CONTRIBUTOR BIOS SAM HAYES
Sam Hayes is a Miami-based photographer and filmmaker. After going to Werner Herzog’s infamous Rogue Film School, he assisted The Beach Bum director, Harmony Korine. In addition to his photographic work, Hayes has also directed numerous short films and music videos including a 1960s Andy Warhol’s screen-test inspired silent film featuring Bruno Mars for Rolling Stone. He is now directing his first feature-length documentary in Panama.
Nora Atapol is a short story author, essayist and award-winning poet. Her work has appeared in numerous literary venues, including Slapshot Mag, various underground poetry anthologies and the fantasy journal Black Horizons. When she’s not frightening people with her writing, she’s most likely terrifying her husband Kevin or playing with their two mischievous cats, Zippers & Snaps.
ANPQuarterly Volume 2/Number 9.5 Publisher PM Tenore Editor-in-Chief Aaron Rose Art Director Casey Holland (front cover) Sam Hayes, Moondog and Kitten , 2019, C-Print (inside covers) Sam Hayes,Moondog Phonecall, 2019, C-Print (back cover) Sam Hayes, Moondog in Robe, 2019, C-Print
Atsushi Nishijima aka JIMA is a Japanese-born photographer who is now based in New York City. Jima has truly mastered the art of the spontaneous snapshot. His works celebrate everyday humanity, but he is able to intuitively distil these moments into arresting visuals that intrigue and inspire. He has worked extensively in fashion, photojournalism and on film sets, where he is a highly desired collaborator.
Aaron Rose, Nora Atapol, Clark Rayburn, Kenneth Barbee and Donald Bliss
CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS: Sam Hayes, Tyrone Lebon, Atsushi Nishijima, Frank Lebon, Heidi Bivens, Bertie Higgins, Rob McKeever
SPECIAL THANK YOU TO: CLARK RAYBURN
Clark Rayburn is an investigative journalist based in Los Angeles. His works have been published globally including writings for Amok Journal, Film Threat and The Atlantic. His first non-fiction book, Canine Cyberbullying is currently being developed into a PBS documentary. Additionally, Rayburn once appeared on Jeopardy, where he lost to a dancing waiter from Iowa.
Lorika Perzhaku is a Berlin-based illustrator, musician and actress. Her work has appeared in numerous international magazines. Perzhaku’s highly-graphic drawings are inspired by current political and social topics such as sexuality, gender as well as personal experiences. She is currently in the process of recording her first album.
Tyrone Lebon is a London-born photographer and filmmaker has built a reputation in the fashion industry for his candid, sun-soaked photography. Lebon’s, evocative portraits often focus on perceived imperfections, ruminating on the question of what is beauty. A selfconfessed camera enthusiast and addict, the photographer shoots using a range of film cameras from a large format 10 x 8 plate camera to a grainy half frame.
Lashawnna Stanley, Evie Shandilya, Stephanie Pereida, Brian Cassaro, Chelsea Flores, Christian Parkes, Sara Cushman, Christina Zisa, Jean-Christophe Chamboredon at Neon, and Lily Mortimer and Kelsey Tyler at Gagosian, New York.
ANPQuarterly is published by RVCA Corp © 2019 RVCA (All rights reserved). Printed March, 2019 on Borracho Drive in Key West, Florida. Reproduction in whole or in part is strictly prohibited by law. Opinions expressed in articles are those of the authors. All rights reserved on entire contents unless otherwise noted. Artists, photographers and writers retain copyright to their work. Every effort has been made to reach copyright holders or their representatives. We will be pleased to correct any mistakes or omissions in our next issue. ANPQuarterly™ is a Registered Trademark
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Frank Lebon is an artist and filmmaker based in London. He works across animation, photography, drawing and film; with a specialty in analogue processes. Having recently finished his studies at London College of Communication, he now works on both commissions and his own projects. He is also the main organizer behind ‘Reely and Truly’, a bi-annual film event produced by DoBeDo.
While this special issue of ANPQuarterly is focused on Korine’s new film, The Beach Bum, it should not be understated that this movie is par...
Published on Mar 26, 2019
While this special issue of ANPQuarterly is focused on Korine’s new film, The Beach Bum, it should not be understated that this movie is par...