A Burlesque Guide to Dragon*Con

Posted on: Aug 31st, 2011 By:

Shellie Schmals. Photo credit: Billy Gilbert.

Annual Bettie Page lookalike contests were a sexy staple of early Dragon*Cons. While those were replaced with the Dawn contest in more recent years, that enthusiasm for pin-up and burlesque culture has found new ways of expression in the midst of one of the nation’s biggest pop culture celebration. With so much going on, we asked Minette Magnifique’s beautiful Shellie Schmals, aka Baroness von Schmalhausen, to sort through the schedule to see what some of Atlanta’s burlesque ladies are up to for your Retro entertainment…

By Shellie Schmals
Contributing Blogger

Seriously, I can hardly wait! It’s my first official DragonCon (Sept. 1-5, 2011). Alas, Labor Day is a pretty popular time to get hitched and I’ve found myself out of town every year up to now and unable to attend this glorious tribute to everything pop culture, historical + science fictional. But now watch out world – there’s so much to do + see, especially for those who LOVE and adore everything vintage and retro. These are just a few little things I have on my MUST DO list …

Kessel & ATLRetro's Philip Nutman.

To Learn: If you’re a fan of burlesque and want to learn a background of the undergarments that slip off so gracefully, then Costumes of History is for you!! Enjoy a panel discussion, which includes Atlanta’s MUAH extraordinaire, Andrea Mast-Kessel.
Day + Time: Sun 11:30am-12:30pm
Where: Costume Track, M103-M105 (Marriott Marquis)

To Spend: Now that you know about the bustles, corsets, + petticoats, you’ll want to spend your money with Delicious Boutique. Delicious Boutique specializes in edgy and unique men’s and women’s independent designer lines such as Skingraft, Junker, Wild Card Leather and, of course, their own line of Delicious Corsets! Where: Dealers’ Exhibit Hall, Marquis Ballroom (Marriott Marquis)

Talloolah Love. Photo credit: Mark Turnley.

To Party: Hosted by none other than Voltaire and Atlanta’s own Talloolah Love, The Grand Pirate and Time Traveler’s Ball will be THE event to attend for the distinguished and refined person at Dragon*Con! So grab your first mate and biggest sword.
Day + Time: Sunday 8:30pm – Mon 1:00am
Where: Westin Peachtree Ballroom

To Dress Up: Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, was the first horror host ever to be syndicated nationally. It only makes sense that she’s the host of Dragon*Con’s very first Comic Book Babes Costume Contest. She’s a legend, and if your costume makes the cut – you will be legendary!!
Day + Time: Sat 8:30pm
Where: Centennial Ballroom I-III (Hyatt Regency)

Stormy Knight.

To Watch: Well, ladies, you’ll want to keep your comic book costumes on for Dragon*Con Cabaret. Produced by Stormy Knight, a leading lady in Syrens of the South Productions, this show features a bevy of burlesque honeys from across the nation performing classic-style burlesque acts as your favorite superheroes and villains! Harley Quinn! Poison Ivy! Dark Phoenix! Oh, my!  I’m way over-the-top excited to place a top hat on my head, as Mistress of Ceremonies, Zatanna Zatara!!
Day + Time: Sat 11:30pm – Sun 1:30am
Where: Regency Ballrooms 5 & 6 (Hyatt Regency)

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Retro Review: A Boy and His Bike: Is PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE a Hero’s Journey into the Heart of a Child?

Posted on: Aug 31st, 2011 By:

By Tom Drake
Contributing Blogger

Art Opening & A Movie Presents PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE (1985); Dir: Tim Burton; Written by Phil Hartman, Paul Reubens & Michael Varhol; Starring Paul Reubens, Elizabeth Daily, Mark Holton; Featuring pieces from the citywide Sopo Art Bike Show 2011;  Tues. Sept. 6, opening reception 8 PM with movie at 9:30 pm; Encore Sat. Sept. 10 at 3 PM; 35 mm; Plaza TheatreTrailer here.

In the spirit of Atlanta Retro, I shall mimic a feature of the old Infocom games with a short, medium and verbose description of this review of PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE.

Short: A man. A plan. A Bike. A Truck. The Alamo.

Medium: Pee Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) is a dork, nerd and geek who has never grown up and owns a house full of interesting crap. He has all kinds of gizmos that cook him breakfast and stuff. His prize possession is a bike which has secret magical powers. The village idiot (who happens to be rich) pays someone to steal the bike. The rest of the movie consists of Pee Wee Herman trying to get his bike back. He runs into all kinds of weird characters and finds weird places. In one memorable scene, he runs into the ghost of Large Marge (Alice Nunn). Be sure to pay as much attention as possible to the expression on Large Marge’s face when Pee Wee asks her what happened to her. Oh, and there is a happy ending.

Pee Wee races his beloved bike in PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURES. Courtesy of Warner Bros.

There is a romantic subplot with his friend Dottie (Elizabeth Dailey), as well as a movie being made about the movie you’re watching. Look, just leave common sense at the door; it’s just fun to watch. The music is by Danny Elfman and is some of his better stuff. Finally, there is an extremely memorable scene in the bar where Pee Wee dances for his life. Indeed, it’s probably the most well-remembered scene of the movie.

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This Week in Retro Atlanta, Aug 28-31, 2011

Posted on: Aug 29th, 2011 By:

It’s the calm before the pop-culture hurricane when Drive Invasion and DragonCon take over our weekends, so This Week will be a little different (if you will excuse the repetition) this week. Today, we’re only going to post Mon.-Thurs., and Weekend Update (including Labor Day Monday) will go up early on Wed. Plus look out for a separate preview of Drive Invasion (including the Sat. night Official Pre-Party at Star Bar), and Retro guides to DragonCon and also the Decatur Book Festival. In other words, we’ll do the squinting at those long, detailed schedules so you don’t have to. So be sure and check back or follow ATLRetro on Facebook or Twitter.

Monday August 28

From 3 PM on, savor tropical sounds and libations, as well as a Polynesian dinner during Mai Tai Monday at Smith’s Olde BarNorthside Tavern hosts its weekly Blues Jam.

Tuesday August 29

It make sound like an oxymoron, but Bacon & Beers truly does present Tiki Tuesday at Diesel Filling Station with Flathead & B cooking up some boat/tiki cocktails inspired by bacon, DJ Rev. Andy spinning Luau surf rock, and Bruce smoking up a few pigs Hawaaian style starting at 7 p.m. If you prefer more animal-friendly fare and want to support the nonprofit independent and historic Plaza Theatre, head to Sauced, which is located in an awesome Retro building itself in Inman Park, where Chef Ria Pell is cooking up delicious vegetarian prix fixe meals at just $35 (or $45 with wine pairings) each to benefit that great cause in honor of Plaza owners Jonny and Gayle Rej who are vegans. ATLRetro is excited to hear that both seatings (7 p.m.  and 9 p.m.) are close to selling out, but if they do or you’re on a budget, you can still drop by the bar for a cocktail, snack or dessert and proceeds will go to the Plaza.

Grab your horn and head to Twain’s in Decatur for a Joe Gransden jazz jam session starting at 9 PM. The Hold Steady! bring straight-up Brooklyn rock n roll to Variety Playhouse, with Donkeys opening. Crosstown All Stars play Southern rock and blues at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack. Notorious DJ Romeo Cologne spins ‘70s funk and disco at 10 High in Virginia-Highland. Catch Tues. Retro in the Metro nights at Midtown’s Deadwood Saloon, featuring video mixes of ’80s, ’90s and 2Ks hits.

Wednesday  August 30

Man or Astroman?

As the countdown to DragonCon reaches T-1, get into the sci-fi groove surf-rock style with Man or Astro Man! at The Earl, with The Purkinje Shift and The Grenadines opening. Or it’s a hard-rockin’ night at Star Bar with West Virginia desert rockers Karma to Burn, Bigfoot and The Accidents. Get ready to rumba, cha-cha and jitterbug at the weekly Swing Night at Graveyard TavernFrankie’s Blues Mission bring the blues to Fat Matt’s Rib Shack and Danny “Mudcat” Dudeck blues it down at Northside Tavern respectively. Dance to ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s hits during Retro in the Metro Wednesdays presented by Godiva Vodka, at Pub 71 in Brookhaven.

Thursday  August 31

Get into the Drive Invasion spirit at your friendly neighborhood Star Bar with Freefall Thursday: Monster Edition, a no-cover pre-pre-party with some ATLRetro favorites mysterious surf rockers The Mystery Men?, Sixties rock revivalists Andrew & the Dysapyramids (read our Kool Kat with Joshua Longino here), Clay “Subsonics” Reed, Kenny Howes and What The?, plus horror movies till midnight in The Little Vinyl Lounge and then HOTBOX! with Skooter & friends, plus special $5 Bombay Sapphire cocktails.

Mike Geier in Tongo Hiti mode with two of The Dames Aflame "hula special teams" unit.

With Dragoncon registration taking off tonight, you may even spot a sci-fi celebrity or two at Trader Vic’s, always the retro-Polynesian place to be on Mai Tai Thursday when you can get cheap cocktails and listen to Tongo Hiti’s luxurious live lounge sounds, as well as trippy takes on iconic pop songs. Taste Nepalese food and listen to honky tonk goodness as Whiskey Belt strums at Kathmandu Kitchen (formerly Pho Truc) in Clarkston every Thursday in September from 8-10 p.m. Party ‘70s style with DJ Romeo Cologne at Aurum LoungeBreeze Kings Chickenshack bring on the blues respectively at Northside Tavern and Fat Matt’s Rib Shack.

Ongoing events after the jump, and remember to keep checking back for the rest of the week’s Retro-hot happenings…

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Shop Around: V.A.M.P. It Up Saturday with Vintage Apparel from the 1920s through ‘90s

Posted on: Aug 26th, 2011 By:

 

VAMP founders Marji Ayati and Jacqueline Stringham of Pony Up! Vintage. Photo courtesy of Pony Up! Vintage.

Pony Up! Vintageis hosting what it bills as Atlanta’s first Vintage Apparel Market Place, or V.A.M.P. for short, at Scott Lowden Photography Studio (634 North Highland Ave. in Poncey-Highland) this Sat. Aug. 27 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Entry is just $5 to browse some of the Southeast’s finest vendors of vintage clothes and accessories dating from the Roaring Twenties to the Nineties, snack on tasty vittles from the Good Food Truck, sip a relaxing, listen to music spun by DJ Zano and pose in a vintage photo booth courtesy of Sweet Darlin’ Photography.

Pony Up! Co-proprietresses Jacqueline Stringham and Marji Ayati dreamed up VAMP as a one-stop vintage market, where both casual and serious Retro couture enthusiasts can expect to find everything from floral frocks to cocktail couture to everything in between. While teaching English in Japan in 2009, Jacqueline fell in love with Japanese fabrics and collecting vintage Japanese clothes. Back in the US, she and Marji teamed up to sell vintage clothes and host vintage pop-up sales, culminating in VAMP. She was kind enough to give us a sneak peek, clue us in on why she loves Japanese and Sweden wares and share a few tips on starting up a vintage sales business.

How many vintage vendors have signed up and what range of items can shoppers expect to find?

We are happy to announce there will be 14 vendors at VAMP (for a complete list, click here) VAMP concentrates on quality vintage clothing and accessories (bags, jewelry, footwear). We deem vintage to be anything 20 years or older and will have items from 1920-1990s. We do have two vendors that deal vintage jewelry.  Nothing is vintage-inspired and made today; everything is vintage.

 

I understand there’s a special bonus for the first 100 people through the door?

Yes, there is a Catlanta-designed tote bag [and a Rooster 14 cookie] for the first 100 people with their $5 admission.  Meow!

 

Bunny Day Vintage is one of 14 vendors at VAMP this Sat. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Stringham.

What other fun stuff is in store?

Sounds will be provided by DJ Zano, there’ll be a vintage photo booth by Sweet Darlin’, food by The Good Food Truck….and BEER!

What kinds of places did you shop in Japan and what did you collect?

I shopped at vintage stores in Tokyo and Osaka. It was hard for me to find vintage anywhere else as they don’t have thrift stores like we have in USA. I bought dresses! They have a lot of USA vintage in their vintage shops, so it was a struggle to find items actually made in Japan as they really don’t value old things.

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Weekend Update, Aug. 26-28, 2011

Posted on: Aug 26th, 2011 By:

Friday, August 26

Nophest 2011 rocks 529, The Earl and Joe’s in East Atlanta tonight from 7 p.m. on, including plenty of garage, blues, alt and bands with cool Retro-inspired names like Swank Sinatra and MataHaris. All-female Elvis tribute band The Pelvis Breastlies, Japanese-monster-inspired garage group Gargantua, hard rockers Ledfoot Messiah and whiskey-fueled rock rebels The Six Shot Revival make for a sizzling pop culture-fueled Friday night at the Star Bar. It’s the popular Tango Nightat Callanwolde. Come at 8 p.m. for lessons with Tango Rio, or at 9 p.m., just for a dance party in the vintage mansion.  The Breeze Kings bring on the blues at Fernbank Museum of Natural History’s Martinis and IMAXThe Rockaholics play blues, classic rock and soul at Fat Matt’sWhiskey Belt honky-tonks it up at Hottie Hawg’sCineProv! trips up THE RUNNING MAN, the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger actioner based on a Stephen King novel, at Relapse Theatre.

GSU’s Cinefest celebrates its 20th anniversary with special screenings of two ’90s cult classics with plenty of Retro spirit, PULP FICTION and TRAINSPOTTING. Friday showtimes are 6:30 p.m. and 9:15 p.m. respectively.  DOCTOR ZHIVAGO graces the big screen at art-deco Marietta movie palace, the Earl Smith Strand Theatre.

Whiskey Belt.

Saturday August 27

Get outdoors and enjoy live music, vendors, Corks and Forks – A Fine Food and Wine Event, a 5K run and kids’ activities in one of Atlanta’s oldest parks during the 9th Annual Grant Park Summer Shade Festival. Sat. band highlights include one-of-a-kind ’60s/’70s/’80s AOR tribute band AM Gold at 7 p.m. and one of our favorite local country duos Whiskey Belt at 5:30 p.m.

V.A.M.P. it up at the Vintage Apparel Marketplace, a vendors showcase organized by Pony Up! Vintage from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Scott Lowden Photography Studio in Poncey-Highland. Good Food Truck will provide tasty vittles, and Sweet Darlin’ Photography will take vintage photos. Watch for a Shop Around preview with co-hostess Jacqueline Stringham soon.

H.P. Lovecraft meets Boris Karloff in DIE, MONSTER, DIE (1965), this month’s Silver Scream Spookshowcreature feature at the Plaza Theatre. OK, it’s light on the Lovecraft but this mad scientist tale of a radioactive meteorite that mutates plant and animal life is fiendish fun and a cult classic. Plus it’s preceded by 30 minutes by another of Ghost Host with the Most Professor Morte‘s horror-ifically humorous pre-shows. Be there or be scared. Kids under 12 get in free to the 1 p.m. matinee (adults only $7) or stay up late for the 10 p.m. adult show. Tune back later this week for our Retro Review by long-time Fangoriawriter Philip Nutman. Also screening today is a rare 35 mm print of 1970 horror cult classic EQUINOX at 3 p.m. at Cinefest, along with more 20th anniversary screenings of PULP FICTION and TRAINSPOTTING. And it’s one enchanted evening with SOUTH PACIFIC on the big screen at 8 p.m. at the Earl Smith Strand Theatre.

Nophest 2011 continues to rock 529The Earl, Joe’s, and Eastside Lounge in East Atlanta today from 3 p.m. on, with more garage, blues, alt and more, including ATLRetro retrobilly faves The Serenaders (Joe’s, 5 p.m.). You don’t have to wait till Drive Invasion next weekend to party with that event’s most notorious cocktail-hounds. Trailer Vic’s Beach Party promises a tiki hut, rug-cutting good time at The Earl with multiple musical acts spanning a variety of Retro-groovy sounds, including rock to the max from The Booze, Goth-Rockabilly Troubadour sounds from Dan Sartain, local garage favorites Ghost Bikini, all-star Astro-chimp superstars The Disasternauts, surf sounds from Grinder NovaOs Ossos playing next to a pool with actual beach sand in the parking lot behind, and more. Oh yeah, there’ll be cocktails. Pool opens at 2 p.m., bands start at 3 p.m.

Mudcat plays Northside Tavern.  Cazanovas bring Chicago style blues to Hottie Hawg’s BBQ. And of course, DJ Romeo Cologne transforms the sensationally seedy Clermont Lounge into a ’70s disco/funk inferno late into the wee hours.

Sunday August 28

Another great silent movie FLESH AND THE DEVIL (1926), starring Greta Garbo in her first American screen appearance, plays at the Earl Smith Strand Theatre. While not as big and ornate as the Fox, the Strand, built in 1935, nevertheless is another stunning art deco venue to see a classic film with its own Mighty Allen Theatre Organ and Ron Carter providing the score live. In fact, for preserving a 1920s tradition, Ron is this week’s Kool Kat.

Meanwhile, over at the Fabulous Fox, the Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival closes out with a 70th anniversary screening of the Orson Welles classic CITIZEN KANE at 7:30 p.m.; arrive by 7 p.m. not to miss the Mighty Mo organ singalong, cartoon and classic newsreel. The 9th Annual Grant Park Summer Shade Festival continues with Ghost Riders Car Club hitting the festival stage at 2 p.m. Read ATLRetro’s Feb. Kool Kat with Spike Fullerton here. Lots of other great local bands, so be sure to check the Website for the complete schedule. Whiskey Belt plays blues “dunch” between 1-4 PM at The Earl. Watch for his interview soon. Kevn Kinney, of Drivin n Cryin, plays a solo gig at Park Tavern.  Tony Bryant reps four generations of Georgia blues at Fat Matt’s.

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Retro Review: DIE, MONSTER DIE! Silver Scream Spookshow Invades the Plaza with Mutant Killer Plants and Karloff!

Posted on: Aug 25th, 2011 By:

By Philip Nutman
Contributing Blogger

Silver Scream Spookshow Presents DIE, MONSTER, DIE! (1965); Dir: Daniel Haller; Starring Boris Karloff; Sat. Aug. 27;  kids matinee at 1 PM (kids under 12 free & adults $7) and adult show at 10 PM(all tickets $12Plaza Theatre; Trailer here.

Originally released by American International Pictures in 1965 on a double bill with Mario Bava’s  PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES, DIE, MONSTER, DIE (aka MONSTER OF TERROR) is another ’60s fright-fest loosely based on an H. P. Lovecraft story, in this case “The Color Out of Space.” The movie marks the directorial debut by former art director, Daniel Haller, who worked extensively with Roger Corman in the 50s and 60s, his distinctive design work adding to the atmospherics of  Corman’s THE LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1960),  THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM (1961), THE PREMATURE BURIAL and TALES OF TERROR (both 1962), and a whole slew of other great old Corman/Vincent Price/AIP flicks we love here at ATLRetro.

Like the Corman/Poe films, DIE, MONSTER, DIE! follows the familiar narrative format of a stranger arriving in a strange town – in this case, Lovecraft’s infamous Arkham, transposed to a rural English setting – only to encounter hostility from the locals who shun the inhabitants of the Whitley estate. The stranger in question is Stephen Reinhart (THE GREEN SLIME’s Nick Adams), an American coming to visit his fiancé. Unable to rent even a bicycle to get to the mysterious house, Reinhart notices there’s something wrong with the vegetation the closer he gets to the Whitley place – and discovers a strange crater.

Managing to get into the grounds of the permanently fog-shrouded estate, Reinhart is rebuffed by Whitley patriarch, Nathum (Boris Karloff), but as soon as his daughter (and Reinhart’s love), Susan (Suzan Farmer, who went on to appear in Hammer’s DRACULA, PRINCE OF DARKNESS and RASPUTIN, THE MAD MONK, the following year) learns Stephen has suddenly shown up, the old man agrees to let him stay. Reinhart, it turns out, was summoned to the house by Susan’s mother, Lettia, who is dying a a strange disease which is making her waste away. The mother, played by Freda Jackson, another Hammer veteran (1960’s THE BRIDES OF DRACULA), confides that Helga, the housemaid, has disappeared, that there’s something strange growing/lurking in the greenhouse, and, fearing, for her daughter’s safety, begs Stephen to take her away. Of course, he agrees…by deciding to stay for a few days. Big mistake! And what about that mysterious meteorite Nathum has hidden in the basement?

DIE, MONSTER, DIE! is a fun film and a competent debut by Haller. It’s not the best Lovecraft adaptation (Haller’s  1970 THE DUNWICH HORROR is a much better H.P.- inspired film), and it’s not a great Karloff flick, either. But it’s always fantastic to see Uncle Boris on the big screen, especially at The Plaza, and particularly in the presence of Professor Morte and the Silver Scream Spookshow gang!

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Kool Kat of the Week: Silent No More: Organist Ron Carter Restores the Music to Garbo’s FLESH AND THE DEVIL and More at Marietta’s Strand Theatre

Posted on: Aug 24th, 2011 By:

One might almost think it was the 1920s this week in Atlanta. This city is lucky to have two vintage movie palaces with mighty organs, and both are playing classic silent movies this week with live accompaniment. First at the Fabulous Fox on Thurs. Aug. 25 at 7:30 p.m.  is THE MARK OF ZORRO (1920), one of the final three features in this year’s Coca-Cola Summer Film Festival. Then on Sunday at 2:30 p.m., the Earl Smith Strand Theatre in Marietta presents FLESH AND THE DEVIL (1926), a dramatic romantic gem fraught with passion and betrayal that stars Greta Garbo in her first appearance in an American movie.

And just a few weeks from now on Sun. Sept. 11 at 3 p.m., Callanwolde is going to be hosting PIPES ON PEACHTREE, a program by the Atlanta Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society (ACATOS) on Atlanta’s movie palaces of the 1920s, ‘30s and 40s, and their organs including Joe Patten, Atlanta’s “Phantom of the Fox”; noted organist technician and teacher John Tanner; and John Clark McCall, author of ATLANTA FOX ALBUM and other articles about Atlanta’s theatres. Highlights include a pictorial tour, playing of Callanwolde’s own 60-rank Aeolian residence pipe organ and the opportunity to tour the 1920s Gothic-Tudor mansion.

Inside The Earl Smith Strand Theatre. Photo courtesy of The Strand.

ATLRetro caught up with Ron Carter, who’ll be playing the Mighty Allen Theatre Organ at The Strand on Sun. for a sneak preview of all these upcoming events and why in the digital age, it’s still an amazing experience to see a movie in a vintage venue with live musical accompaniment. And frankly it gives us chills that Ron also be accompanying DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1920), starring John Barrymore, on Oct. 30, at The Strand, closing out what has been a four-film silent series.

Let’s start with your take on what’s so special about seeing a classic movie at The Earl Smith Strand Theatre? Why should people in 2011 want to spend a summer Sunday afternoon watching a silent movie in a vintage cinema?

The Strand is a very unique venue. It was built in 1935 and at that time was the largest neighborhood movie theatre in the Atlanta metro area. Now it is the only neighborhood theatre in the Atlanta area which has been restored (I call it an adaptive restoration) to what it was originally intended to be and more! Our marquee is an exact replica (except for the state-of-the-art digital reader board) of the art deco one with real neon that was installed when the theatre opened in 1935 but then replaced with a “modern” one in 1964 during a remodeling by the Georgia Theatre Company. UGH—it was ugly!

Then when one walks into our outer art deco lobby and views the etched glass above our entrance doors, the ceramic tile floors and granite countertops, and the metal ceiling, you are transported back into a time when a theater was more than just four walls with some curtains hanging to cover up the cement block. Then you reach the inner lobby with its grand staircase, copper-painted ceiling, ornate chandelier and mosaic-covered lighting fixtures. All of this creates an expectation and wonder of what lies beyond the ornate auditorium doors! Samuel Rothafel (aka “Roxy”), who built the largest movie palace in the world in New York’s Times Square (over 6000 seats), had a famous quote. He said “The show starts on the sidewalk.” He felt that the building, the environment, the overall experience  was just as important to the patron as the show on the stage.

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Really Retro: Lisa Stock Explores an Older, Darker Side of Fairy Tales in Her Play of Neil Gaiman’s SNOW, GLASS, APPLES

Posted on: Aug 22nd, 2011 By:

Carrie Anne Hunt as the Snow White Princess in Lisa Stock's play of Neil Gaiman's SNOW, GLASS, APPLES, which opens Aug. 24.

SNOW WHITE has a reputation for being a cheery story about a cute princess and seven mostly affable dwarves, but the only time I ever hid my eyes in a movie as a child was when the evil stepmother queen transforms herself into a hideous wicked witch in the Walt Disney version. Trust author Neil Gaiman (SANDMAN, AMERICAN GODS) to cleverly latch onto the darker side of that familiar tale and consider that mere jealousy might not be sufficient motive to drive the queen to murder by poisoned apple. And maybe the prince wasn’t exactly your normal kind of hero either. “I was reading Neil Philip‘s [PENGUIN BOOK OF] ENGLISH FOLKTALES, and a rereading of a version of SNOW WHITE made me stop and wonder what kind of person she was, and what kind of person sees a dead girl in a glass coffin and wants to keep her…,” Neil said in an email last week when asked what led him to write the short story, SNOW, GLASS, APPLES. Now Snow White’s white skin, blood-red lips and coffin-sleeping take on a new meaning with disturbing erotic implications, and the queen becomes a protagonist with a difficult moral choice.

Lisa Stock. Photo credit: Jaclyn Cook.

Originally published as a benefit book for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund in 1994, SNOW, GLASS, APPLES captured the imagination of so many readers that it was reprinted in two anthologies—TWICE BITTEN: LOVE IN VEIN II (1997), edited by Poppy Z. Brite, and Neil’s own collection SMOKE AND MIRRORS (1998). One of those readers was Lisa Stock, who like the storytellers of old, had her own thoughts about taking the tale in a new direction from page to stage. Through a few mutual friends, the then-New York-based writer/director for theater and film politely asked Neil nicely for a chance to have some fun with his story of bloodlust and mistrust. Charmed by her vision, the idea of seeing his creation come to life and the fact that all proceeds would benefit charity (East Atlanta Community Association), he granted her wish. “I love live theatre,” Neil said. “There’s a magic you cannot get from anything else when it’s good.”

While this real-life fairy tale so far may seem more CINDERELLA, it’s Atlanta audiences that really are the lucky ones. SNOW, GLASS, APPLES has its world premiere here Wed. Aug. 24 through Sun. Aug. 28 in the unusual venue of the East Atlanta Village Farmers Market, re-envisioned by Lisa as a dreamlike Spring Fair. Artists and photographers also will have a chance to draw and photograph cast members in costume and preview the phantasmagoric sets during a Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School Atlanta field trip on Mon. Aug. 22. Performances are rated “R” for simulated violence and adult themes, but a special family-friendly show will be held Aug. 28 at 6 p.m.

ATLRetro recently caught up with Lisa to find out more about what drew her to the dark story, crafting a truly unique audience experience, why it’s the perfect fit for a Dr. Sketchy and a little about her other mythic projects, including the upcoming independent feature film TITANIA.

For those unfamiliar with Neil Gaiman’s SNOW, GLASS, APPLES, without giving away too much, how is it different from the Disney version of SNOW WHITE we grew up with? And more like the original darker versions that date back to Medieval times?
For me, Neil Gaiman’s version reflects the earliest forms of the tale, some [of which] trace back to the myth of Persephone (eating pomegranate seeds and falling into a half-life in the Underworld). The tales were originally much darker in nature and true morality tales. SNOW, GLASS, APPLES for me is just that—a cautionary tale about trusting or mistrusting your instincts. It’s also about self-preservation in a brutal world, and how you deal with the choices that have been handed to you. Our protagonist doesn’t get saved and have all that’s hers by birthright returned to her. She makes her own decisions—for better or worse—and goes out to protect, on her own, what she holds dear.

How did you discover SNOW, GLASS, APPLES and what drew you personally to the story?
I discovered SNOW, GLASS, APPLES through a haunting illustration by Sarah Coleman of the princess that led me back to Neil’s story. I love new perspectives on old tales and those that speak to human instincts. Instincts are such a basic, fundamental part of being human, and yet we often ignore them. The Queen does that in this tale; I’ve done that more times than I can count. I’ve made mistakes, I’ve been defeated. We all have. And I think this short story brings out a side of us we may not want to own up to—it talks about fear and failure, but also responsibility and integrity. Though Neil has made the Queen the protagonist, she hasn’t lost any of her edge or her darkness. Instead, with the perspective in her corner, we recognize that in ourselves.

I also love all the visual reminders of her fear in the story: the vampiric princess who keeps coming back to life, the princess’ heart strung above her bed, the forest folk disappearing, nothing is as it seems, reminders to look deeper. Think about it. What are you afraid of? It takes up a lot of your time and space. That’s our nature. And in Neil’s story, the Queen goes out to do something about her fear; whether she’s successful or not, she tries to survive it. Was it the right thing to do or not—that’s for each of us to decide.

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This Week in Retro Atlanta, Aug. 22-28, 2011

Posted on: Aug 22nd, 2011 By:

Monday August 22

Tim Brosnan and Madelaine Hoptry in TAKEN IN (2011).

The innovative black-and-white films of Jim Jarmusch were one of the inspirations for TAKEN IN, South Carolina filmmaker Chris White‘s indie feature about an estranged father and daughter set at the kitschy Pedro’s South of the Border resort, which screens tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Plaza Theatre. White and other crew members will be on hand for a Q&A. Read his own musings about the many Retro influences on this movie in his guest blog post here.

 

 

Artists and photographers, get a sneak peek and craft your images at the unusual set of the stage production of bestselling author Neil Gaiman‘s SNOW, GLASS, APPLES on a special Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School field trip to the East Atlanta Village Farmers Market tonight. The show starts Wed. but you can read a preview here from director/playwright Lisa Stock, who is also co-hostess of Dr. Sketchy’s Atlanta. From 3 PM on, savor tropical sounds and libations, as well as a Polynesian dinner during Mai Tai Monday at Smith’s Olde BarNorthside Tavern hosts its weekly Blues Jam.

Tuesday August 23

Grab your horn and head to Twain’s in Decatur for a Joe Gransden jazz jam session starting at 9 PM. Crosstown All Stars play Southern rock and blues at Fat Matt’s Rib Shack. Notorious DJ Romeo Cologne spins ‘70s funk and disco at 10 High in Virginia-Highland. Catch Tues. Retro in the Metro nights at Midtown’s Deadwood Saloon, featuring video mixes of ’80s, ’90s and 2Ks hits.

Wednesday  August 24

Carrie Anne Hunt as the Snow White Princess in Lisa Stock's play of Neil Gaiman's SNOW, GLASS, APPLES, which opens Aug. 24.

 

SNOW, GLASS, APPLES, an immersive stage production based on bestselling author Neil Gaiman‘s dark vampiric retelling of SNOW WHITE, starts tonight at the East Atlanta Village Farmers Market. Read our Really Retro interview with playwright/ director Lisa Stock here. Get ready to rumba, cha-cha and jitterbug at the weekly Swing Night at Graveyard TavernFrankie’s Blues Missionbring the blues to Fat Matt’s Rib Shackand Danny “Mudcat” Dudeck blues it down at Northside Tavern respectively. Dance to ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s hits during Retro in the Metro Wednesdays presented by Godiva Vodka, at Pub 71 in Brookhaven.

Thursday  August 25

Experience a silent classic as if you saw it back in the 1920s at Atlanta’s own movie palace, the Fabulous Fox tonight. Organist Clark Wilson plays the soundtrack of THE MARK OF ZORRO (1920), starring vintage heart-throb Douglas Fairbanks, on the Mighty Mo. The film rolls at 7:30 p.m., but be sure to come a half-hour early for sing-a-long and cartoon, or at 5:30 p.m. for a wine tasting. For a completely different kind of classic cinema experience, catch what our contributing blogger Dean Treadway calls “The greatest car chase movie in history,” the original GONE IN 60 SECONDS (1974) in a rare 35 mm print screening at GSU’s Cinefest. Read Dean’s full Retro Review here. Go Retro-Polynesian to Tongo Hiti’s luxurious live lounge sounds, as well as trippy takes on iconic pop songs, every Thurs. night at TraderVic’s. Party ‘70s style with DJ Romeo Cologne at Aurum LoungeBreeze Kings Chickenshack bring on the blues respectively at Northside Tavern and Fat Matt’s Rib Shack.

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Category: This Week in ATLRetro | TAGS: None

RETRO REVIEW: GONE IN 60 SECONDS Smashes Up Cinefest with the Greatest Car Chases in Movie History

Posted on: Aug 21st, 2011 By:

By Dean Treadway
Contributing Blogger

GONE IN 60 SECONDS (1974); Dir: H.B. Halicki; Screenplay by H.B. Halicki; Starring H.B. Halicki, Marion Busia and Jerry Daugirda; Thurs. Aug. 25; 35 mm print; 7:30 p.m.; Cinefest at Georgia State University. Trailer here.

If you’re looking for the greatest car chase movie in history, Georgia State University’s cracking theater Cinefest has got it, and will serve it up on glorious 35mm for a one-time-only showing at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, August 25. Now we’re not talkin’ THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS or BULLITT, neither THE ITALIAN JOB or THE SEVEN-UPS. And it’s not the crappy Nicholas Cage remake that bears this movie’s title. It’s H.B. Halicki’s 1974 drive-in masterpiece GONE IN 60 SECONDS. It is a smashing movie.

The title refers to the time it takes for this movie’s thieving crew to get into and steal someone’s ride. Their task here is to steal 48 cars of varying makes and deliver them to a South American buyer in a short amount of time. That’s nearly all you need to know about the plot. Character and dialogue run a distant second to action in GONE IN 60 SECONDS and that’s the way it should be. Somehow, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced remake from 2000 screwed this simplicity up, giving away precious car chase time for a ridiculous, boring family-revenge plot involving Cage and his brother, played by Giovanni Ribisi. (Why, I ask? Why?)

One of many high-speed car chases in GONE IN 60 SECONDS, Copyright H.B. Halicki Mercantile Co., 1974.

The original GONE IN 60 SECONDS does contain some family strife plot elements, yes, but it’s more concerned with seeing how Halicki—who plays lead stunt driver AND lead car thief Maindrian Pace—plots to nab the final and most coveted buggy of all: a 1973 orange Ford Mustang Mach I code-named “Eleanor.”  This effort serves as the backbone for the film’s centerpiece: a nail-biting, 50-minute car holocaust that was often staged on the real highways of California with barely a notice given to police, onlookers, and uninvolved fellow drivers (there’s one smash-up involving Eleanor and a light pole that was really an accident—one so hairy that the production had to be shut down while Halicki healed up).

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