I’ve put off writing this for the last couple of days because this has really hit me hard, but this week we lost a very big part of the Diabolique family: Mike “McBeardo” McPadden. To me he wasn’t just another writer, he was one of my closest friends, my creative partner, my brother, a fellow working class upstart in arms, lover of smut, trash, weird and wonderful films and music. People have been writing to me, or commenting on social media, “I’m so sorry for your loss” — because what else can you say in awful tragic circumstances like this? — but the loss isn’t just mine: it’s everyone’s, the entire film community’s, his loved ones’ (and there were many), his family’s, and anyone else whose life he touched. And if one thing is becoming apparent in the wake of his tragic death, it’s that he made an impact on the lives of everyone who came into contact with him. I only wish he were here now to see what a difference he made. To see how much he was loved, and how much he changed people’s lives for the better. Mike was the champion of the underdog, whether that meant weird obscure cinema, or the misfits he met along the way, and we all loved him for it.
We always say when someone dies young, “they shined too brightly for this world,” or “they had so much to give,” — again, what else can we say? — but this was especially true for Mike. He was a veteran, who had been in this industry longer than almost anyone I know — from his early days writing for publications like Hustler, his Happyland zine, to his work with Mr Skin and beyond, his beautiful books, his podcasts, his commentaries. Most recently he had moved into producing films, with his first, (of many more planned projects) Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies, released earlier this year. He was so excited about the future and where things were heading.
It’s a difficult industry, full of wild ego and territorial bullshit, yet, you never got that with Mike. He wanted everyone to champion the things they loved (even if he didn’t like the same things you loved, he just believed in YOU). Whatever project you were working on he thought it was the best thing ever, and would sing from the heavens that everyone else should love it too. There was no ego with him, only passion for the people and the things he loved. Of course, that’s when he loved something, but his passions were just as extreme when it came to hating things too, especially mainstream Hollywood, Star Wars, and recently Mandy, but you couldn’t help but admire him for his intensity and zest, his beautiful humour, even in hate. I love The Goonies (and I also love Mandy) but smile when I think of his rants on these subjects in particular, especially his masterpiece review of the latter: “Mandy is not a movie, it’s a meme.” (you can read it here).
Mike and I started our podcast Busted Guts earlier in the year, dedicated to comedy, a subject we both have a huge passion for. He was particularly delighted about the strange brew the combination of our accents made; his heavy Brooklyn versus my English West Country. The pandemic hit, we both got really busy — including working on commentaries together — so we kept putting things off. I was due to record with him this week, for Busted Guts and for a special Christmas episode of one of his other podcasts, Crackpot Cinema, and now it will never happen. You always think there is time, until there isn’t. And with Mike there was never enough time because he wanted to write everything, podcast everything, share the overwhelming love he had inside of him far and wide. We also planned a book, which we were due to start working on in January. All I can do is kick myself that we idled along on the preparation stages for the last several months, but I will find a way to honour that project as part of Mike’s already huge legacy.
Mike wasn’t a particularly spiritual person in a traditional sense, but he believed entirely, utterly, in people. In that respect he was like nobody else I’ve ever known — so unique was his generosity of spirit, his belief in the people around him. He lived to showcase and support the work of others; be it through cheerleading and encouragement, introducing people, giving young writers opportunities they might not have had otherwise. When he came into your life, when he decided he liked you, or that you were worth listening to, he brought a fucking party along, just for you. He wanted to crack open the world for you, hand it to you on a silver platter complete with an all-singing, all dancing stripper party, balloons, and lots of cake. He had a special love for the people on the fringes, the outsiders, the people who might not have ever had a chance. He wanted them to succeed the most.
It can’t end like this because McBeardo never ends. His legacy is only just beginning. I feel blessed that I got to share a part of that with him — when I wrote the introduction for his Teen Movie Hell book, our podcasts together, our commentaries on Jeremy (Fun City Editions), Amazon Women on the Moon (Kino Studio Classics), 40 Pounds of Trouble (Kino Studio Classics), Let’s Kill Uncle (Kino Studio Classics), My Science Project (Kino Studio Classics), and one more which is yet to be announced (again there were many more to come and I weep that these will never happen now), his writing for Diabolique. I will miss his constant presence in my life, his wit, his verve, his brilliant mind. Now it’s time to start honouring that legacy, so McBeardo can live on. His beautiful wife Rachel summed it up perfectly in a recent post on his social media:
“The best way to honor Mike McPadden:
Buy, borrow, steal his books. Read his writing. Watch the movies he championed. Watch all movies, and talk about them after. Seek out his DVD commentaries. Listen to his podcasts, listen to podcasts he appeared on. Share these all with your friends. Share your stories and memories. Write. Paint. Make movies and music. Create. Do the thing you’ve always wanted to do. He wanted you to invent the things you needed to exist. He wanted to experience, read, listen to, gaze upon, all the amazing things you created.”
To me personally, Mike’s loss is beyond comprehension. The only thing I’m sure of now is that he will always be part of my life, my work. He might not be on the end of the phone anymore, or skype, or messenger, but he will still always be with me, because his spirit, his heart, were just too big for one person, one lifetime. And as we mourn him we must never lose sight of the fact that while he was here, no matter how short the time, he gave with every inch of that heart. For that we have truly been blessed.
There is a GofundMe running to support his family. You can contribute here:
You can buy Mike’s books here:
You can listen to his podcasts here:
Crackpot Cinema: https://soundcloud.com/user-155342494
70s Movies We Saw in the 70s: https://www.stitcher.com/show/70-movies-we-saw-in-the-70s
You can listen to him talk about his life and career here on Supporting Characters: