In certain circles, Shade Rupe is nearly omnipresent. He has a presence back stage and onstage at theaters, concerts, horror conventions, and film festivals spanning several continents. Tall, excitable, and constantly spewing film viscera, it’s not surprising to see him post photos of himself with celebrities almost daily on his Facebook page. Rupe has been a film journalist and programmer, screenwriter, actor, PR man, tour concierge for the late Ken Russell, and most recently, half of the directorial package of Play Dead (Teller of Pen & Teller was the other director).
In 2011, Rupe released Dark Stars Rising: Conversations from the Outer Realms, a 568-page monster from Headpress. It’s a compendium of interviews conducted over 24 years, with such outré weirdos as Divine, Tura Satana, Alejandro Jodorwsky, Udo Kier, and Gasper Noé. The book has received a huge amount of press (no doubt due to its author being a former publicist), but more notably, landed on the short list of the 2011 Bram Stoker Award nominations alongside authors like Stephen King, Peter Straub, Joe Hill, Mike Mignola, and Alan Moore. Rupe spoke with Diabolique on his ambitious compilation:
DIABOLIQUE: How did Dark Stars Rising come together?
SHADE RUPE: I’m very lucky that my publisher David Kerekes took on the design duties for the book. I would not have come up with his ideas, which have really worked well on this project. David’s work combined with my cover artist Howard Forbes’ designs is true kismet. The whole thing came together because of their work, and all the people who helped with images and reads and the interviewees themselves. I’d be happy if someone shellacked a copy and propped it up as a tombstone. I’d be quite proud of that.
DIABOLIQUE: After two decades of interviews, why publish the collection now?
RUPE: Well, winter 2010 was the time to publish the book because the publisher had listed it a year earlier and I had spent eight years working on it by then! I sent him more corrections and he wrote “already sent to the printer.” Otherwise I’d probably still be working on it! It’s hard to pick a favorite (interviewee) because it was so much fun getting to talk to anyone I interviewed. Divine was the earliest in the book, I was 17 at the time, and he was already a legend, so that was pretty spectacular. Tura Satana was thrilling because she had such an amazing life and even her regular speech was peppered with tonal movements that made the whole conversation into almost its own art piece. As far as born storytellers, Richard Stanley takes the prize. You don’t even have to wind him up, he’s just ready to go. Nobody turned me off, at all, they were all quite pleasant, though Brother Theodore kept his short as he didn’t want me to “write a book.”
Fans of underground art and film will be happy that Brother Theodore didn’t get his wish. And although Rupe’s book is comprised almost entirely of interviews with deviant, left-field cinema filmmakers, there’s a review section of cult and horror films and books. However, rabid devourers of these types of films will likely be most interested in the interviews; the questions aren’t the usual, nor are the answers. The artists interviewed here do not have handlers or publicists present, and there are no such construed and tired questions like “Who are your influences?” Instead, what you get are transcripts of conversations between artistic and sometimes insane-sounding friends.
Readers will learn why William Lustig’s Uncle Sam languished in “movie hell”; how Elizabeth Smart/The Black Dahlia wasn’t a full woman from Floria Sigismondi; how Alejandro Jodorwsky can cure depression (it’s terrifying and gross), and who Udo Kier would like to have a love scene with (you can’t possibly guess). Then of course, there’s the link between Tura Satana and Elvis Presley, the tale of Charlie Sheen reporting Chas. Balun to the FBI over a snuff film, and what Richard Stanley wants for Christmas every year.
Curious? Order your copy from amazon.com or learn more at shaderupe.com and headpress.com.
~ by Michele Galgana