In 2007, Vancouver based artist, editor, journalist and pornographer, Robin Bougie, collected several of his acclaimed Cinema Sewer movie magazine issues and, along with an abundance of additional content, released them as a single volume with FAB Press. Reaching an even wider audience, the popularity of the book led to the publication of another five volumes. The latest collection, Cinema Sewer, Vol. 6, includes issues #27, #28, and #29 of the original moviezine, and is now available to purchase.
The self-proclaimed “Adult’s Only Guide to History’s Sickest and Sexiest Movies!” documents and reviews films within the horror, porn, and exploitation genres. Bougie describes the magazines, and subsequent collections, as having “all the research of an academic paper, but with all the personality of a letter from a friend.” This statement captures the knowledge, humour and inclusivity contained within all of his works; the books, like the magazine, are a welcome space for the community of cinephiles interested in the unloved, unknown, and uncouth underbelly of the Cinema Sewer – which is where Diabolique joined Bougie to discuss the latest volume…
Diabolique: What can readers expect from Cinema Sewer, Vol. 6, both in terms of the issues it collects and the new content? How does it compare to previous instalments?
Robin Bougie: As with the other Cinema Sewer books, this one collects about 120 pages of the best of the magazine, and then about 80 pages of brand new, never before seen content. Like the other books, it also doesn’t really have a differentiating theme, but is just more of what people really seem to like about the publication, which is reviews of weird and wonderful genre films, and the unearthing of the secret history of said movies. I really do my best to make each book better than the last one – otherwise why even bother continuing with it? So to that end, I think it’s one of the best books in the series yet, if not the best one.
Diabolique: How does the series fit in with your other work, such as your Graphic Thrills collection?
Robin Bougie: Cinema Sewer encompasses horror, porn, sexploitation, blaxploitation, honkeyspolitation, – pretty much all of the ‘sploitations! Graphic Thrills is a poster book focused directly on the history of American Adult movies made from 1970 to 1985, so it’s far more focused and primed on that one topic. And I did my best with that series to really delve, not just into the films themselves, but to uncover the little known story of the theaters they played in, the people who designed the poster art, and of course the performers and directors. Graphic Thrills was a really fun coffee table book project, and I got to meet so many interesting people who were involved in the porn industry in the 1970s and 80s because of it.
Diabolique: Cinema Sewer is a medley of minutiae; each page is handcrafted to include incredibly detailed illustrations and facts. How do you approach the formal aspects of the magazine and book design to create this unique style?
Robin Bougie: The aesthetics of what I do are a big part of it for me! I’m an artist – a comic book artist, so the artistic aspects and the way it has a very handmade look to it is so important. The hand-lettering is there to remind you that this thing you’re holding was crafted carefully and painstakingly by a person, for you. Not by a committee, or by a machine, but by an individual. And I think the reader taps into that even if they don’t realize it. It’s the same premise behind what makes folk art (or anything that is handmade) feel like it has inherent value. I don’t think a lot of other movie magazines give much thought to that kind of thing. The publishing industry in general is preoccupied with professionalism, which makes sense, but to that end the imperfection of artistry gets sort of left behind. I think it has value, though. I think it makes the reader feel closer to me.
Diabolique: The research within your magazines and books is not only comprehensive, but the style in which it is written feels very personable, and the content itself features a lot of behind-the-scenes information; each page tells a story. What does your research process entail, and how do you frame this in terms of the content and themes within the series?
Robin Bougie: Well thank you, first of all. That’s really nice of you to say! Research for me is often a slow process. At any given time, I have 9 or 10 articles in various stages of progress, and sometimes they get left open for years as I slowly find info to add to them. And then, you know, other reviews I do in a single sitting, and that’s that. So it’s different all the time, I suppose, and I just work it out dependant on what is needed each time out. The thing that I find a lot of the time is that the genres aside for horror have been left far less picked over. I would say 90% of the indie movie zines and blogs that exist are specifically focused on horror. That makes the industry kind of incestual, in my opinion, because then even the most obscure horror movie has had every rock on its beach flipped over by someone, at some point. I cover horror too, but no more than any other genre, and I find that when I track down, say, someone who was in an old porn or sexploitation movie, they’ve often never been contacted by anyone. So there is room there to do fresh research, get original quotes, and tell a story that hasn’t already been told a dozen times by other film historians. That’s important to me.
Diabolique: Your writing, and accompanying artwork, is very much shaped by your own experiences, which both distinctly flavours your work, and also permits a welcoming dialogue for readers. Is this process cathartic for you, and does it completely shape the content?
Robin Bougie: Yeah, I implicate myself directly all the time. I think I’m a bit of an exhibitionist, or somewhere along the line I’ve gotten the idea in my head that the reader will be more interested in my opinion or trust me if I embarrass myself or tell some secret within the context of my writing. So I mine my own life and my experiences constantly in the pursuit of that, and yeah, that is really cathartic and freeing, at least when you’re in the middle of it. Another writer I really respect (and who is also published by FAB press) Keir-La Janisse, does that in her HOUSE OF PYSCHOTIC WOMEN book. It’s as much a book about her own life and her own mental issues as it is about the mental issues of the women in the movies she is writing about. That’s page-turning stuff, man. She strips herself bare. That’s my goal: To be as good as her. To be as open and fearless as her. To have the guts to wear my heart on my sleeve.
Diabolique: Cinema Sewer, Vol. 6 will be the last book in the series for a few years, as the magazine itself has just reached issue #30. What can we expect from the next batch of instalments, and can you tell us about any additional projects you’ll be working on in the interim?
Robin Bougie: Hmm, I can’t reveal what’s coming up in Cinema Sewer #31 yet, but it’s really good stuff! It’ll be out in Feb 2018. Right now I have a comic book I’m working on with a fellow comic creator named Maxine Frank. It’s a pornographic comic called BUTTLORDS. We’re trying to find a publisher for it, but the porn comic industry basically doesn’t exist anymore outside of the internet, and we’re really married to the idea of doing a print-version and not just doing web comics only. I don’t know why, we’re just old-fashioned or stupid or something but we’re up there in my art studio pretty often, these days, scribbling away at this goddamn thing. With comics, I really try to apply a lot of what I love about genre films, and bring that to sequential art. There’s lots of sci-fi elements, and horror imagery, and other assorted odd-ball weirdness. All the stuff Maxine and I love. If we can’t find a publisher, we’ll just end up self-publishing it, I’m sure. Regardless, you’ll be able to find it, along with all my other work, for sale in my online store at cinemasewer.com
Cinema Sewer, Vol. 6 is now available from FAB Press