Stevie Ray Fromstein [Interview]

Today’s interview subject is just about as perfect of a fit for Trainwreck’d Society as we have ever had. Stevie Ray Fromstein is an absolutely amazing writer and producer in the world of television (which you all know we love and support) AND is a hilarious stand up comic! Over the last year alone we have spoken with dozens of comics and comedic writers, it is sort of becoming our thing. A lovely, lovely thing.

And today’s generous interview subject happens to have worked on three of my favorite sitcoms of all time. That’s right, not just a couple….THREE! And that is just in my personal opinion. He has worked on several other brilliant shows that definitely somebody’s favorite, but it was his work on shows like Roseanne, Grace Under Fire, and the severely under appreciated Two Guys A Girl and A Pizza Place. The last one was what really drew me to try and get some words from this great fella. When I was a teenager in the late 90’s and early 00’s, there was no one cooler than Ryan Reynolds to me. Obviously, he has become a massive star since then on a whole new level, but to me he will always be Berg! There was also my strange fascination with Suzanne Cryer, but lets not get into that.

Yes, Stevie Ray Fromstein is a man who has been making people laugh in different capacities for decades now, and he is showing no signs of slowing up. Whether he is on stage interacting directly with an audience, our putting his wit and wisdom of what is hilarious to the proverbial (or literal?) page to be acted out by others, this man is a god damned national treasure, and we are so happy that he was able to give us a few words and a bit of insight into the amazing world he has contributed so damn much to. So without further blabbering and bumbling, please allow me to introduce the great Stevie Ray Fromstein!

So how did you get into the world of comedy? Was stand up your first passion? Is it still so?

Growing up in the 60ʼs, about the only items I ever borrowed from the Public Library were comedy albums. Anytime a comedian was on television, I ran to the set. But becoming a comedian wasnʼt one of my dreams because I never thought it was a possibility. I was a class-clown throughout my childhood which concerned my father because my grades were also a joke. Beside himself, he told me my classmates werenʼt laughing with me, but at me. Perhaps it was the budding comic in me, but that lingered. Months later a kid I knew said to me, “Too bad youʼre not in my class

this year. You were so funny.” And I thought, they were laughing with me.

Your work in television has been amazing and stacked with greatness. My personal favorites were Grace Under Fire and Roseanne, but all of them have been amazing. So how did you get your start in the world of television writing?

The Roseanne show was my first sitcom writing job, all from a chance meeting with Tom Arnold & Roseanne, who recognized me from my appearances on Late Night with David Letterman. Writing on Roseanne was an incredible learning experience, and obviously, a career-making opportunity. But it was also intense and grueling. I went from working 50 minutes an evening to 14 hours a day. And there were never any women hanging outside the writerʼs room, waiting to compliment me on one of my pitches. But my first dream was to be a writer, and I took to it. (Although standup was always, and will always be, my first love). My first day on the job I got a joke in the show. Returning home from grocery shopping with her young son, Roseanne notices heʼd swiped a candy bar and says, “I told you, DJ, unless you finish it in the store itʼs stealing.”

You were also behind the amazing Two Guys, A Girl, & A Pizza Place that so many people agree was cut short to early, but not without creating a lot of flourishing careers. So, how did the concept for this show come around? And what do you think it was that made it unique from other somewhat similar show set ups?

I enjoyed writing on Two Guys and a Girl. As well as talented, it was one of the nicest casts Iʼd ever work with, second only to Reba McIntyre, who is in a class of niceness all by herself. “Nice” on a sitcom cast is something that has to happen from the top down. If the star never acts out, no one else dreams of doing so. Two Guys was a much better show than was given credit, I think partly because the original Pizza Place title became an easy one to mock. Weʼd even be mentioned in another showʼs bad reviews. But I liked that show and the cast quite a bit.

When you look back on your career as a comedian, writer, etc., what would you say you are most proud of?

I guess what Iʼm most proud of is my standup. A comedian is responsible for everything from conception to delivery. And no one has the authority to rewrite your act. If a joke bombs, at least it bombed the way you wanted it told. Youʼre not writing for someone elseʼs persona (even though doing so does have its own fulfilling challenges). Thereʼs no compromise in standup. I like the writerʼs room and the collaborative process. I enjoyed many fine hours with talented, funny writers. But thereʼs no more helpless feeling for a creative person than someone else making final decisions about your work. For all but a few, thatʼs the nature of film and television. A sitcom writerʼs room can be highly enjoyable, but there are times when youʼd like to strangle somebody.

Can you tell us a bit about The Holy Atheist? How did this come to life?

My original standup act was based on character humor, especially regarding under-assertiveness, especially regarding meeting women. After 12 years of writing sitcoms, I got back into standup because I was doing a lot of thinking about religion from a skeptics point of view. The challenge was to make a topic like that funny. The first time I tried it was a disaster. Normally if a joke bombs, itʼs the joke the audience didnʼt like. But a joke about religion goes flat and they donʼt like you. Youʼre a bad person. But one of the jokes that first night worked a little, and when I gave it one more try on another night, I opened with that one. That helped a lot, and I expanded from there. Eventually, I was able to do an entire act on religion. My favorite compliments were from traditionally religious people who enjoyed my act.

So what is next for you? Any upcoming projects you would like to tell us about?

Now Iʼm bored with religion. And itʼs no longer controversial. Currently Iʼm obsessed with politics and race relations, and am writing a book on the subject. I seem to be creatively attracted to things which go against the grain. Thatʼs not what attracts me to a subject. I just like to write and talk about the things Iʼm interested in.

Trouble is, youʼre not likely get rich, for example, with a message such as “After you die, you rot.” Iʼm a life-long Liberal who voted for Trump. I tweet about it a lot (still under my @TheHolyAtheist handle — I need a new one), and all my Liberal friends, who are all my friends, hate me.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Iʼm writing this in a hotel room in Boston, opening for my old friend Norm Macdonald. One thing interesting thing about Norm, whoʼs a very interesting person, is that sometimes heʼs being Norm as a character, other times heʼs the same character Norm, but itʼs for real. After all these years Iʼm still often not sure in the moment if he means what heʼs saying, or if heʼs putting me on, but either way, he definitely keeps me smiling.

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Martin Guigui [Interview]

 

Today’s interview has been a long time coming. Years, actually. 4 of them to be even more precise. I became interested in the work of filmmaker and writer Martin Guigui around the time his film The Bronx Bull, an alternate take on the life of legendary boxer Jake LaMotta, was being created (later released in 2016). So I hit him up then. But, as it tends to happen, people become very busy and life continues on towards the slow march of death, and both parties seemed to forget it ever happened. But cut to four years later, we have a new (and disappointing) president, the world has changed significantly….and Martin has a new movie out! I hadn’t put it together that I hit him up so long ago, until I received these amazing responses to the original questions that had been buried in the depths of a Gmail Outbox. And let me be the first to say, it was well worth the wait!

Martin Guigui has been working in the world of film for over 25 years, and is also a Grammy Award nominated music producer and engineer, as well as a respected author and so much more. Basically, this cat is an artist through and through. His latest film is the recently released, and to some unnecessary controversy if I must add, 9/11 featuring Charlie Sheen with his return to dramatic acting. The film also features Whoopi Goldberg, Luis Guzman, Gina Gershon, Wood Harris, and Olga Fonda. The story of 9/11 is one of specificity and spectacle. A group of people are trapped in an elevator during one of the most infamous terror attacks in world history. Despite the recent bullshit backlash, I am very intrigued by the concept of this film. In recent years, theatrical depictions of the events that occurred on September 11th, 20o1 have been based around the after effects of the event, rather than the event itself. And they have been pretty good (i.e. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Reign Over Me). But, the films depicting the event itself have been less than noteworthy to say the least. Oliver Stone’s disaster of a film, World Trade Center, was simply insulting to the heroes of this terrifying day. United 93 was slightly better, but extremely rushed to put it gently. So with that, and knowing what Mr. Guigui has created in the past, I am very excited to see what his take will be on a very challenging event to to depict theatrically, with his adaptation of Patrick Carson’s play.

So with that, while we spend the day reliving one of the most terrifying events of not just America, but of the world, please take a moment to understand that through their art, people like Martin Guigui are simply attempting to use their work to express the heartache and terror that we all felt on that fateful day, and the pain that still lives within all of us in remembrance. Ladies and gentlemen, the brilliant Martin Guigui!


You were born to the acclaimed Symphony Orchestra Conductor Maestro Efrain Guigui. In ways obvious and not, how did your father influence your career in the world of film as well as music?

I learned 2 important lessons from my Dad, that still to this day resonate in both my music and film work.

The first; Be true to the intent of the story, or composition. Meaning there is an exact code, map, and blueprint that the writer (or composer) has created for us to channel as we manifest it in either a cinematic story telling process or sonically in a piece of music. By being true to the intent of the writer we proliferate its message, in its purest honest form.

The second lesson; there is a perfect tempo for every story or piece of music. Finding that tempo (or groove) is key to creating timeless art.

If push came to shove and you were left with the possibility of working in either only film or music, which would it be? 

I wouldn’t survive without making music.

Music is the greatest healer (other than love, and laughter).


What was your inspiration behind your debut film My X-Girlfriend’s Wedding? What made you choose to make this film as your debut?

It’s a true story. I lived it, which made it relatively effortless to write, and because it was personal it organically made for a perfect choice as a debut film.

You have accomplished so much in your long running and brilliant career. What would you say you are most personally proud for when looking back on your years in film and music?

My most recent feature 9/11 is certainly the film I am most proud of having had the privilege to make. In music, my collaboration with Billy Gibbons on his first solo record Perfectamundo stands out, and a solo record I self produced called “A Moment In Time” is a project I still enjoy sharing. But my proudest accomplishment is the beautiful family I have.

Would would you say is your most proud non-artistic accomplishment? 

There is no such thing as non-artistic accomplishment. Lol!

There are those moments when I connect someone to another person, and when great things come of that, there is a deep sense of being. Karma etc.

I know my true purpose on this planet is to give.

I understand you spent some time as a stand up comedian. How was this experience, and how has it helped you in your career as a filmmaker, producer, and musician?

Stand up comedy was a blast, especially when I bombed. It taught me to develop and define a voice, a point of view, and an illusive layer of self confidence you can only tap into standing by yourself, on a bare stage, talking to and interacting with an anonymous audience. Stand up comedy is the single most challenging art form to tame. Stand up made me a better listener, because you have to find those quiet short rests in order to have the punch line work. It taught me to read, feel and sense an audience.

Can you tell us a bit about the Martin Guigui All Star Band? Who is the band comprised of, and how did it come to form?

For many years The Martin Guigui Band was based out of Vermont and performed throughout the northeast. Mostly in the 80’s and 90’s. When I moved to LA in 97′ the all-star band became an extension of that musical entity, only west coast version. Over the years it has given me an opportunity to play with some of the best musicians in the world, which I am always grateful for.

One of your latest film The Bronx Bull is another telling of the story of the great Jake LaMotta. Tell us, what are some of the unique characteristics of your film as compared to other films previously released?

The Bronx Bull was a wild and challenging experience in the sense that it touched upon subject matter that had been previously covered brilliantly in a highly stylized and artistic piece. So there was always an air of intensity on the set which translated to an elevated and heightened collaborative creative journey for everyone, whether you were playing a lead, or the office P.A. – and the end result turned out to be an honest emotional portrayal and psychological character study of an iconic boxer – but mostly to me it’s a New York story of the son of an Italian immigrant. In spite of the challenges in making, finishing, and distributing the film, it has been well received, and I’m happy it made it out there, as the producers, Joe Allegro and his Dad fulfilled a promise to Jake LaMotta to set the record straight.

The Bronx Bull is yet another biopic or documentary on a fascinating person in history that you can add to your catalog, and I hear there is even more to come. Tell us, who are some other figures you would like to profile either in documentary fashion or as a biopic?

Jesus Christ; because of his bizarre impact on this particular moment in history.

Groucho Marx; there’s so much we don’t know.

JFK Jr; because he was the future that never happened.

My Dad; a unique original inspiring story, but mostly because it’s my duty as a son.


What else can we expect to see or hear from Martin Guigui in the near future?

I’m just completing a book called The Rythem of The Planet, which contains nuggets of wisdom regarding my point of view on how this funny place called Earth works. I’m also in the middle of writing another book called Between You And Me about my experiences in show biz thus far.

And there’s always a movie to make and a song to play…

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My son’s face.

Sunday Matinee: Hell Ride [Film]

“Veteran AIP genre star Larry Bishop (son of famed Rat Packer Joey Bishop) directs and stars in this gritty revenge tale concerning a biker gang that rallies to avenge the violent murder of a fellow gang member. An homage to such classic biker films as Chrome and Hot Leather and Angel Unchained, Hell Ride was conceived when director Bishop was invited to Quentin Tarantino’s home to view a print of The Savage Seven. Upon realizing that there hadn’t been a true biker film in years, the pair quickly contacted Bob Weinstein and conspired to produce a lean and mean two-wheeled revenge flick that would more than make up for lost time.” – Rotten Tomatoes

Today’s Sunday Matinee is for a film that both new and old readers are sure to appreciate. It is easily one of the finest genre pieces of the last twenty years, especially if that genre you adore is classic biker films. This is just about as god damned good as it gets. The film’s director, writer, producer, and lead star is known other than genre legend Larry Bishop, who we were fortunate enough to get some words from last July. The film also features one of favorite interviewees (can’t believe it has almost been 4 years!) of all time, the wonderful actress, Laura Cayoutte, who was also an associate producer on the film and is somebody I have personally dubbed as the Queen of NOLA. And as you may expect if you are recognized an uncommon theme here at the Sunday Matinee series, we will soon be featuring yet ANOTHER wonderful member of the Hell Ride team. Only not this week, but in coming weeks. SPOILER ALERT: She is an amazing actress from the film, and she is pictured below next to a smiling Michael Madsen. And we are so excited to share it with you! With that, your homework is the watch Hell Ride, if you have failed miserably to do so already. Which is absolutely unacceptable.

 

Hell Ride also features legendary performances from two brilliant actors that have sadly left us. I am obviously speaking of the great David Carradine and Dennis Hopper. Both of which gave dynamite performances in roles that were written so beautifully, almost any one could have done them. But when you have legends like Carradine and Hopper involved, you are going go get brilliance. There are few guarantees in life, but exceptional performances form the likes of these cats is one you could always count on. And while we are speaking of legends, one that is still with us and was wonderful in this film is definitely the great Michael Madsen, who is always phenomenal. In fact, I would say Madsen gave one of his best performances of all time, aligned with his work on Kill Bill Vol. 2 and Donnie Brasco.

 

And I will be damned if this isn’t just an amazing film to look at. It is a brilliantly written and directed film obviously, because Larry Bishop is genius to say the least. But it would be absolutely senseless not to note that cinematographer Scott Kevan did an absolutely brilliant job!

Seriously folks, there is absolutely nothing to hate about this film. Critics tended to be assholes about the film with some serious biased assumptions and unfair judgements. But, this is a film you are either going to enjoy a great amount, or you just aren’t going to understand or care about. Which is fine. Different art forms appeal to different people. I’m just saying that if Hell Ride is a film that appeals to you, you are a person who would probably appeal to me. Because it is an all around wonderful film with a lovely cast and beautiful premise that the world should enjoy. Even if your just looking for a bit of nostalgia in your life, you are going to absolutely adore this brilliant piece of cinema!

Check out this trailer for the film courtesy of The Weinstein Company:

Ron Jeremy [Interview]


Today’s interviewee may very well be the most recognizable figure we have ever had here at Trainwreck’d Society. Simply because, he is one of the most recognizable figures in the fucking (literally & figuratively) world! When trying to make a comparison to somebody being absolutely amazing in their chosen profession, I tend to use sports analogies. Michael Jordan gets used a lot for this. So it is almost fair enough to say that Ron Jeremy is the “Michael Jordan of Adult Entertainment”. But, honestly, that isn’t quite enough because you could still get the point across using names like Kobe Bryant or Lebron James. All great at what they do, and all viable.

But Ron Jeremy is something much more than that. If I were to drop a sports analogy (which I will now, and again in the questions), I would immediately go with Wayne Gretzky. Why hockey, you may ask? Well, the answer may very well be in the question. Many Americans do not watch hockey, in fact I’d say that most don’t. And I am one of them. But, I know who Wayne Gretzky is. In fact, I am willing to wager that millions of people know who Wayne Gretzky is, yet have never cared to sit and watch hockey. And that is how fucking phenomenal he was at hockey, and that is why it feels like an appropriate analogy for one of the most legendary figures in American cinematic history, the great Ron Jeremy. Even if you haven’t watched a second of an adult film in your lifetime, you know who the hell Ron Jeremy is.

There really isn’t a lot I can throw into an introduction for this fine gentlemen, as we all know who he is, and how amazing he has been over the years. I do have a series of “well endowed” puns that I could throw at you all in a rapid fire cessation, but I think I will steer clear of that, as it has all been well established over the years. I am just excited to share some amazing words with one of the most fascinating individuals the world has ever known.

So with that, please enjoy some great answers from the legendary man himself, the great Ron Jeremy!

When did you first start to discover you were THE man in the world of adult entertainment? When did you become, if I were to use a sports analogy….the Wayne Gretzky of the adult film world? What gave you that initial realization that you were the biggest star the business has ever known?

When John Holmes died, the day after my birthday in 1988.

Your notoriety as the biggest star in the adult film business is obviously undeniable, and well deserved. It seems as though whenever there is going to be a biopic, spoof, etc. based around the adult film world…you have to get Ron Jeremy. But, sometimes they do not, and I know I am always shocked! I know you are a seriously busy man, but has there ever been a project that you heard about and thought, “Why didn’t they call me – or – That was all wrong!”? 

Every project that I’m not in I wonder why they didn’t put me on it. That’s pretty much every movie ever made that I’m not in. Ha! [Especially] Wonderland. They didn’t ask me to consult. They asked Mark Wahlberg to consult and I am the one who consulted him for Boogie Nights.

When you have been, which seems to be most of the time, on set of these types of films, what are some general questions you receive and advice that you may give to a mainstream only actor/actress who may be trying to portray a character in a world they don’t quite understand? How do you help bring authenticity to these films?

You teach these actors the ropes. You let them know how things work on set what we would do and wouldn’t do. I always try to let them know that it’s very professional on most porn sets. Professional in the way that it’s a small crew and these guys are not being inappropriate instead of working. Not that that doesn’t happen every once in a while. But people have done porn long enough, know that they are going to work.  We are professionals. I try to teach mainstream actors to think of it as just acting. To approach it the way they would any other role and not feel uncomfortable with what they’re doing. Because as an adult star we don’t feel uncomfortable doing our jobs.

We have spoken with a lot of folks who have worked in the Troma world over the years, which you have also worked with several times over the years. In your opinion, what signifies a Troma production from the other productions, adult or not, that you have worked on? Do you have any fond memories of working in this world?

Two words: Lloyd Kaufman. It’s his class and his talent as a director and a cameraman.  I mean he’ll show heads falling off and you laugh. violence with a twist of comedy.  I was Mayor of Tromaville in Toxic Avenger Four and I am saying that was something great and I love working for Lloyd.

The record business has seen a bit of an unusual spike in sales when it comes to vinyl sales, especially in the UK markets. In your obviously expert opinion on the matter, what do you believe is the adult film industry’s “vinyl”. In a world where so much of the content is free and probably shot on a cell phone…what do you believe could be the saving grace for legitimate adult entertainment? If there is one?

One saving grace I’m doing myself it’s called a Ron Jeremy virtual reality.  RJ VR. All the major agents are working with us. I wasn’t excited to be back directing again because I don’t like directing but I got an offer I couldn’t refuse.

 

When you look back on your historically amazing career in film, television, music, on all different levels, what would you say you are most proud of in your career? After all of these decades in the world of entertainment, what makes your heart feel the most joy?

There are so many things. I have met so many incredible people over the years. I’ve been mentioned at the Academy Awards. I’ve met US presidents. I have appeared in more music videos than any other human being of all time. I’ve acted in more films mainstream and adult than any other actor ever. I’m proud of all of it.

What does the future hold for Ron Jeremy? Any projects you would like to tell our readers about?

Next up is The Roast of Ron Jeremy. This will NOT air on Comedy Central. It will air on another premium cable channel. They’re going to be so many celebrities on this roast. And tons of adult stars. This will be the biggest party Hollywood has seen in years. I also have a new line of socks coming out in October called Dirty Socks! I may write another book!

I am doing stand-up comedy and have my own comedy tour called the Ron Jeremy XL comedy tour. I host the show, the feature is Rebekah Kochan and the headliner is Dante from Last Comic Standing. The company Golden Artists Entertainment, who also manage me, get me in at least 4 movies a month.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

My nieces make me smile. I have some adopted nieces and a real niece and I love all of them. My niece Becca is a grown woman and she is so smart. I love her political passion. She’s always calling me up and letting me know what issues I should be talking about on social media. My other nieces are not actually blood relatives, a good friend of mine her and her husband have two little girls. And whenever I go over to their house I just love watching them play. They are the sweetest.  They always sneak me food.

I also smile whenever I do stand-up comedy. I’ve been doing it since the 1970s in the Catskills. I’m on tour a lot doing stand up with my Ron Jeremy XL comedy tour.

David Joyner [Interview]

I will admit, the character that today’s interviewee may have come around just a bit too late for me to truly understand, but it is a truly fascinating character nonetheless. A true phenomenon, to say the least. A phenomenon that was as commonly known in the 90’s, and has a legacy that lives on today. That character my dear readers….is Barney. Yes, THAT Barney. The big purple dinosaur who touched the hearts of millions, literally MILLIONS, of children during the run of television show Barney and Friends, and the subsequent videos and live performances that would simultaneously take over the living rooms and minds of young children all over the world.

And today’s interview subject was the man who brought it all to life. David Joyner is an accomplished actor in his own right, with roles that don’t require him to wear a giant mask (as you can tell in the photo above, he’s a good looking dude, and should be proud to show the world that mug!). But, a huge portion of his life was spent as the actual life behind one of the biggest phenomenons in the world of not only children’s entertainment, but the world of entertainment as a whole. Without David, there was no Barney.

So, I was extremely excited to talk to him about it! And I will be damned if he didn’t have some absolutely amazing stories to tell about his time as Barney, and also gave us some insight on what he is doing now. He gave some amazing responses, and I want to dive into them right away! So ladies and gentlemen, the brilliant actor, David Joyner!

As an obvious expert, what was it like working with child actors for all of those years. Is the old saying I have heard, “Never work with kids or animals”, a truth or just ridiculous?

I’m sure some people have had some bad experiences working with kids, but I can truly say, I absolutely love it. Kids are great to work with. I also worked as an Acting Coach for 9 years to kids from the ages of 3 ½ to 18. I believe the difference is the fact that when you’re working on a show for kids, about the love of kids, it’s a more wonderful experience than working on an adult set and kids are involved in the production.

When did you first discover your love for acting? When did you realize this was what you wanted to do with your life?

When I was in kindergarten, I was told I had a knack for making people love. I’ve always enjoyed being in front of the crowd, Public Speaking, or just entertaining people. When I was around 7 years old, I wanted to be on TV so bad, I would stand in front of the television, lip sync and act out whatever was going on in the TV show. Only God knew that would be apart of my training to be a costume character. I also starting playing the drums when I was 10 years old. I’m a very good left handed drummer. Growing up, I had many passions. Dancing, singing, drums, sports (football, basketball, track & field), entertainment, acting, modeling, girls, and electronics. I was offered a 2 year track scholarship for the Triple Jump, but turned it down. I told my parents I didn’t want to waste money on a 4 year degree, because I knew I was going to become an Entertainer. So I went to ITT Technical Institute and got an Associates Degree in Electronic Engineering Technology, and massage school to become a licensed Massage Therapist. After graduating from ITT Tech with honors, I was offered a job with Texas Instruments in Dallas, TX. When they asked me what my long-term goal was, I told them I wanted to work their for at least 5 years, then quit to pursue my career in entertainment full-time. Of course they didn’t believe me at the time. I resigned from Texas Intruments on September 28, 1990, after working there for 6 years, December, 1990 is when I had my 1st audition for Barney.

I’m fascinated with your work as Barney for all of those years. Mostly because you spent so much time and energy in your craft bringing joy and love to children across the world. So, what was it like to see a child with a Barney shirt on, and you walk right past them, and they don’t know that you are a huge part of what brought them so much joy for so long?

It was a bit of a struggle at first. Because as an actor and an entertainer is all about the next gig. It’s kind of hard to book the next gig, if no one knows it’s you. (LOL)

Once I was able to adjust to the fact that I wouldn’t be known for what I was helping to create, It became more of an art form to me. It was if God sat me down and said, “I’m going to use all of the many talents I have given you to help bring love & joy to many children’s lives.” At that point, it became an honor to be Barney. I traveled all over the world spreading love & joy and made a lot of money doing it.

What a lot of people don’t know about me is that I started studying White Lotus Tantra when I was 19 years old. White Lotus Tantra is all about pulling in God’s Divine Sacred love from the universe through Spirit, Mind and Body, and sharing it. The foundation is Tantra is love. Everything grows through love, heals through love and evolves through love. Because your sexual energy is also your life energy and your light energy, it’s very important to allow that energy to be in harmony with your spiritual energy. Therefore creating a true space of (Spirit, Mind and Body) within. When you’re able to create that true space within, then you’re able to radiant that Divine loving energy throughout. Children are more spiritually connected than adults, so I knew if I was going to be apart of this Special Purple Character, I knew I was going to have to connect with children on a higher spiritual level. So what I would do every time before I would get into costume is take about 30 minutes or so to meditate and pray. I would ask God to allow his Divine, Sacred energy to flow through me and through the costume, and let that Divine energy draw the children in. It never failed. And let me tell you, when you’re able to witness that type of feeling from my perspective, I must say, it is pretty darn AMAZING!!! Sometimes I will be in the grocery store or at the mall, and a little toddler will start staring at me. Then I would look at them and say, “You know don’t you? You know who I am, don’t you?” Of course, sometimes the parents what ask, Who are you? And I would kindly say, I am the Purple One that your child loves. What an awesome feeling.

And for a question you probably are sick of answering, but I have to ask…..What was it like inside of those damn suit? How much hydrating is required to be Barney or Hip Hop Harry?

The costume weighs about 70 lbs and it could get up to 120 degrees inside. I had to kept my Mind, Body and Spirit in peak condition. I would train really hard. I ‘d lift weights. Do sprint workouts at the track in the heat of the day. I would drive around in 80-90 degree weather with the heat on in my car. To control Barney’s mouth, I would wrap a sponge around a bar attached to the bottom jaw. I would then bite on the sponge to grip it in my mouth and nod my head up and down. So imagine every syllable being a nod. Now when the mouth is closed, I’m not able to see anything, so what I would do is practice being blind. I also trained my senses to be more acute. Through my massage training and reiki training, I am able to feel energy form things without touching them. I was a live mannequin and I would stand in store windows at the malls and move mechanically. Because I would make my movements very precise, it helped me when I was costume. I was able to pick up props or set things down without looking at them. I was able to walk/dance up and down stairs without the need to look down. I was able to jump up and do a 360 degree jump without knocking things or people over on set. And the list goes on.

After my first year of taping the show I took a vacation. A Christmas cruise to the Bahamas. The ship left out of Orlando. When the ship returned to Orland, I met up with the family from Dallas who ran the acting school I was coaching at, the Dallas Young Actors Studio and Performance Center. Owned and operated my Linda Seto. They were vacationing at Disney World. What a great discover I made that day. As I was walking the theme park, I found myself being drawn to the movements of the walk-about characters. How they interacted with the children, their subtle movements and mannerisms. I studied everything I could about them. It was great and I learned some great stuff. I also learned some things I never wanted to do as Barney. I noticed they all needed a helper to help guide them as they walked around. And they could only stay in costume for 20 minutes. Well, I made sure I would never need someone to help me get around in costume and I never wanted to limit myself from being able to stay in costume for as long as I wanted or needed. Because of that, I trained even harder. I remember being in Scotland for some Barney appearances and I was asked to walk in one of their major parades. A 2-mile walk. And the last 800 meters going up hill. Not only was I able to walk the parade without any problems, I found myself running from side to side giving hugs, giving high fives, blowing kisses to the fans, dancing, jumping up and down. Doing bell kicks and 360s. It was amazing. I also remember one year doing a 5 hour Mari Gras Parade in New Orleans. It was very hot and very humid that day. The temperature was a record high that day. But I was determined not to let that get in the way of me having an awesome day. I had the best time. It was truly AWESOME!!!

I was scheduled to do a live appearance show in California as Barney and Hip Hop Harry. I worked out the schedule with the events coordinator so I could do both characters, 2 shows each, with a Meet & Greet, and still have enough time for a little break between shows. Of course I also trained very hard for a month to make sure I could everything and not get tired. Well, a week before the show, I get a call from Barney’s corporate office to let me know they feel it could be a conflict of interest if I played both characters at the same event. I was pissed off. All that hard work. Hours and hours of training and prepping. As it turned out, I was able to stay in the Hip Hop Harry costume for longer periods of time. Which allowed us to walk around the event for photo ops, hugs and high fives. And because of spiritual connection with the kids, more kids gravitated to Hip Hop Harry than Barney. Plus we heard a lot of complaints from parents, about it not being the same Barney their kids were use to seeing on TV. LOL

In more recent years, you have managed to appear on some of my personal favorite shows out there, from Shameless to Veep in some great roles! What is it like walking onto a set of such an established show like these, or Southland, or one of the MANY others, and attempting to leave your own mark on the program? Is there a lot of pressure involved? 

It’s an absolute blast to be casted on some amazing shows. I learned a very important technique years ago. And I use to teach this to the kids at the acting school. I would say, “It’s one thing to book the job, it’s another thing to be asked back.” Sometimes to shoot another episode not originally in the contract. Number one, it’s important to be prepared. Number two, it’s very important to be humble. Number three, it’s important to know that you are not the star of the show, but that you are a star.

Make it a point to show up on set very early. I even ask if it’s possible to come a couple of hours earlier to be a fly on the wall, so I can observe the set. I want to see how the Director is interacting and communicating with the other actors and with the crew. I want to study the harmonious dance the DP is having with the camera and the actors. Seeing how everything is clicking so when it’s my time to get on set and deliver, I am one with everything going on. Total harmony. In my spirit, I’m already apart of the family. So I just blend right in as if I’ve been acting on the show for years. I have a Career Concept I say everyday that harmonizing with my spirit. That describes me to a tee.

 

So what is next for you? Anything you would like to plug with our readers?

Besides Co-starring on some amazing shows as myself, I also doing another children’s character, Hip Hop Harry, Hip Hop Harry is a hip hop rapping, break dancing teddy bear who runs an after school center for kids, called Hip Hop Central. Harry using rap as a teaching tool to help kids learn different values in life. We were on Discovery Kids & TLC for 4 years. You can now find Hip Hop Harry has episodes and music videos on his YouTube channels, English, Spanish, Brazil. And our NEW Hip Hop Harry Toy Review Channel. He can also find him on many of the social media platforms. Plus several episodes and music videos can be found the PlayKids mobile app.

HIP HOP HARRY:
YouTube English: https://www.youtube.com/hiphopharrytv
Toy Review: https://www.youtube.com/hiphopharrytoyreview/
YouTube Español: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXLfSC8P5dFWG1b8PUp7uBw
YouTube Brazil: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5ywKMYZMFJjBdxZxTkcrQA
Facebook FanClub: https://www.facebook.com/hiphopharryfanclub/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/hiphopharry
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hiphopharrytv/
Snapchat: https://www.snapchat.com/add/hiphopharrytv

You can also follow me on IMDB, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter:

DAVID JOYNER:
IMDB: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0431645/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/djoyner22/
Instagram: @djoyner22
Twitter: @djoyner22

What was the last thing to make you smile?

Even though I smile a whole lot. I mean, a lot. I would honestly have to say, reviewing these answers to your great questions.

New Music Tuesday: Robin Grey – From The Ground Up [Album]

 

Over the last decade, my love for the work of Robin Grey has been well documented, I would say. He is one of the finest songwriters we have out there these days. I dare to say that he is a damned genius in the world of songwriting. He can strum and sing around topics from politics to love to nostalgia with the greatest of easy, and brilliant flow that is both soothing and exciting.

And with his first full length album in 3 1/2 years, Robin has brought more of that same sort of magic to the world with From the Ground Up. This brilliant songsmith has brought to us another brilliant collection of thought-provoking and compelling tracks. And while Grey’s music has always had a bit of a politically driven force behind it, he really hits it hard on this one. And it so many different ways! He revels in the darkness on a track like “Underneath the Skin”, and then moves a bit more light hearted in the environment driven track “Woodman, Spare That Tree”.

Photo by Sunniva Taylor

Of course it isn’t all politics and uproar filling the time space continuum of From the Ground Up. To say that would avoid talking about the absolutely brilliant track that I have listened to on repeat for over a month now, the lovely “Adieu Sweet Lovely Nancy”, which features vocals from one of my new favorite voices in the music world, the great Chance Kellner. Dammit does she have a lovely set of vocal chords! Chance unknowingly channels the tenderness of Lotte Kestner, and blends it with the a dash of Edie Brickell to create something timeless and original. While I don’t want to take away from the 10 other tracks that Robin Grey’s fantastic singing abilities are displayed, I simply felt compelled to let you all know that you NEED to hear this track with Chance Kellner, and then anything else you may be able to hear her on. She is that damned talented.

Overall, From the Ground Up is a brilliant display of the continuous abilities of Robin Grey. For the close to the last decade or so that I have been adoring his music, he never fails to impress. Time may be of the essence for us in so many different fragmentations of our life, but it is definitely not a hinderance for Robin Grey to continue sharing his passion for the world through music with us all. To know Robin Grey’s music is to know love, compassion, and strength through melody. And we could obviously use a bit more of that in the modern world.

Head on over to robingrey.com to purchase and stream From the Ground Up, right NOW!

And check out this lovely little music video for the very powerful track “Leave It in the Ground”:

 

Marc Cushman [Interview]

When I was growing up in the 90’s there was a short period of transition from the beta world to the digital one. The internet was available, just not as widely in more rural as it is today. But, the world was shifting, for good or bad, it was shifting. Unfortunately, there has been a bit of innocence lost since the transformation came into full effect. I’m talking specifically about one thing here…..adult films.There was a time when adult films were so much more than a random selection of barely viewable and indistinguishable from every other video that can not be rightfully called an “adult film”. There used to be some thought put into these things. It was an art. People had to actually write a script for them. And today’s interview subject is not only one of them, he is actually considered one of the best in the history of the medium. Because that it what we do here folks, we track down the best! And sometimes we convince them to share a bit of wisdom with us here. And that is what we got from the legendary screenwriter, in any and just about ALL mediums, the brilliant Marc Cushman. That is important to note: Cushman is an artist, first and foremost, regardless of whatever medium he is working on.

Having Mr. Cushman on the sites has proven to be one of the greatest digital experiences we have had here at Trainwreck’d Society. His answers are some of the most insightful and well thought out answers we have ever received, and we can not express just how excited we are to share them with you today.  So let’s get to it! Ladies and Gentlemen, the great Marc Cushman.

How did you find yourself in your line of work? When did you realize this was what you wanted to do for a living?
I’d always had a wild imagination, and used it to survive. I’ll explain that. I lived on a dairy farm when I was a kid and had plenty of time to use my imagination to entertain myself while being a shepherd to a heard of cattle. We’d rotate the cows from one field of grass to another, and my task was to take them to the new pasture and then sit and keep an eye on them, since there were no fences surrounding that particular area. Then, at the end of the day, return them to the main pasture that did have fences. Now, the farm was surrounded by mountains, so there wasn’t even radio reception there. I could read a book while sitting out in that field, or use my imagination to help pass the time. I did both. Back then, in the 1960s, TV shows would run a 60-second trailer for the upcoming episode. I’d see one of those trailers and, while sitting on a hillside overlooking the field where the cattle were grazing, I’d imagine the episode based on those 60-second of clips, and I’d run it in my head, real time — 60 minutes! Then I’d watch the show when it came on and see how close I got. Sometimes, my version was better. And that’s when I realized that perhaps I could do this as a living.
And what keeps you in the business after 30+ years in the business?
It’s what I enjoy; where my talent lies; and puts food on the table.
You have close to a thousand credits in the business, so I’m sure some films get lost in the collective memory, but I have to ask about one series in particular that has a stronghold in my memory… The Titty Slickers series. Titty Slickers 2 was my first foray into adult entertainment, which is actually one of the reasons I reached out to you. So, do you have any unique memories from making this film, or the entire franchise in general?

Internet Movie Data Base has a tendency to not fact check, so I’m sure some of those credits are not mine. In fact I know some aren’t. And there are other credits I have that are missing from IMDb. So you can’t take what you see there as definitive by any means. They did get that one right, though. Scotty Fox was the director. I’d written a horror film — a Friday the 13th type thing — for a director named Richard Mailer. Richard needed to raise additional money to meet the budget, so decided to shoot a couple quick adult movies to do so. He’d been a producer in that end of the business a few years earlier. He asked me to write the scripts. Scotty was assigned to direct one of them and liked my writing, so he started calling and asking for scripts, too, which he would shoot for other producers.

As time went by, my name and number got around and I found myself doing a lot of these, but I was also writing mainstream scripts, and, really, writing scripts for every genre under the sun, including music videos, commercials, infomercials, religious shows, children’s shows, and couples’ friendly, story-driven adult entertainment. Of course, I’d use a different name for the screen credits, dependent on the genre. In those innocent times, a writer could use pseudonyms and not worry about some corporate entity like IMDb being on a mission to connect all the dots … and not even bothering to make sure they get it right. Sorry for the sermon; back to Titty Slickers. The way Scotty worked, as with most director’s in that end of the business, was to tell me his budget, his locations, his cast, the amount of time he had to shoot the movie, and then I’d take all of that into account, then pitch him a couple of titles and log-lines to see which one clicked. Then I’d go off and spend a day or two writing the script, and then he’d spend a day or two shooting it. On this occasion, Scotty had a ranch location he would be filming at, so he asked for a couple scripts to use at that location, then he’d share the cast from one movie to another (in order to keep costs down). As for Titty Slickers, the Billy Crystal movie City Slickers was out at that time, and Scotty and I both enjoyed doing comedies, and, in particular parodies, so I wrote that for him. It sold well, and the company Scotty had shot it for (Legend Video, I believe) asked him to make a sequel, so I wrote Titty Slickers 2. I think we stopped after three. Now why we didn’t call it “Titty Lickers” is beyond me. We loved bad puns. Probably, we just felt people would associate it with the City Slickers movie better if we kept the word “slickers.”

Have you had the experience of having somebody tell you that your work has helped guide them into the world of adulthood and sexuality? How would you respond to this type of comment? (P.S. you did that for me, haha)

You’re the first to tell me that. Probably because the only adult movies I was ever associated with were made for cable (although usually there was a harder Home Video version released as well), and there are guidelines for broadcast that require that the sexual situations not be offensive and women not be demeaned. You can make the guy look like a jerk, but never the woman. But I’m not surprised to hear that this movie may have taught you some things, about your own sexuality and maybe even about how to treat a woman. For me, R-rated movies and single-X movies can be far more erotic than hardcore XXX stuff.

Women are beautiful, so it’s never been my desire to see them mistreated and spit on like it often happens in the really hardcore stuff. We treated them with respect. Plus, I always felt that it was story and character that made sexual and romantic situations come alive — and, of course, a good actress and actor. The more you know about the characters, the more you care about them, then the more interesting their interaction is. And the more erotic. So these scripts were usually 30 to 40 pages, allowing enough time and space to create a story and add dimension to the characters. Sometimes we succeeded; sometimes not so well. A good script can be destroyed by lack of money and time on the production end, or a leading actress who can’t act. But I recall that Titty Slickers 2 turned out pretty good, partly because of the script but more likely because of the cast. Scotty did a good job in picking the players for that one.

With the obvious advancements in the world of adult films since you first began, I have to ask what your opinion is on the matter? What have been some pro’s and cons of the advancements of technology and their effect on the adult film medium?

Generally speaking, I thought adult entertainment was better in the 1990’s than today when filmed on the big Betamax cameras, and using older lighting equipment, which was designed to bath a set with soft light instead of the harsher lighting that is used today. I feel that a lot of the newer technology, which is great for TV and mainstream films, gets in the way when used in adult entertainment. The cameramen will tell you this, as well, that high definition isn’t doing anyone any favors when the actors and actresses are nude. Very few human beings have perfect completions, and perfect bodies, and it’s better to use soft light and less revealing focus when people start undressing.

We had fun with 3-D, naturally, but the process of shooting in 3-D has its downside as well. It’s cumbersome and that slows down the production, so you lose spontaneity. With dialogue and pratfalls, its okay to lose spontaneity, because rehearsing and precision are key factors. But a cumbersome filming process is not an asset when shooting romance and sex. Everything becomes orchestrated for the benefit of the camera instead of the players — especially when shooting in 3-D. So, instead of the camera being there to follow the action of the players, thereby freeing them to truly get into the passion of the scene, it becomes stagey. I don’t know anyone in adult entertainment who was happy to see the coming of high definition or 3-D. But we learned to work with it, used its advantages to the best of our abilities, and tried to minimize its shortcomings.

The other change that I think is a bad one is the loss of story. No one, even broadcasters, are as interested in stories as they used to be, because moral guidelines have loosened up so much. I think a lot went out the window when adult entertainment switched over to wall-to-wall sex. The movies are more primal now, and while primal is certainly a good ingredient in sexual situations on film, a dash of story and character believability  helps a great deal. So does theme. Most writers in that genre don’t even know what theme means. I know because I’ve asked many of them.

Theme, of course, is the point the writer is trying to make by telling a particular story, and defining a character. If the writer doesn’t have a point, how can the movie? It just becomes like Reality TV. I’ve done a fair amount of that, too, and no producer ever asked me about theme in Reality TV. Cameras are rolling, stuff is happening, but it never adds up to anything worth remembering. Watching it is just a way to pass the time, and, to me, that’s wasting time. Why not pass the time by watching things that make you think and feel?

Having said that, there of course are still good movies being made. They are just far and fewer between.

 

Another thing I wanted to bring up is that you are a beast in the business, and obviously one of the best. But what the hell is the AVN’s problem? Unless my research is wrong, you have been like the Susan Lucci or Leonardo DiCaprio of the AVN? Do you think they will wise up, or is there a conspiracy at foot here?

I believe I hold the record for the most nominations by AVN (Adult Video News), the leading trade magazine in the adult entertainment business, and the one that gives out awards once a year. I have countless nominations in the categories of Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screen Writer, etc. Even Best BTS (Behind-the Scenes) for a comedy feature I did once for a movie about the making of the movie. Actually, I won that one. But, otherwise, I was always the bride’s maid and never the bride.
One year, out of ten scripts that were nominated, six were by me (not always under the same name).
The critics there always told me it was a greater honor to be nominated than to win. I didn’t understand the thinking… for a while, anyway. Then one year, a couple of the critics called me (individually and secretly) and suggested I attend the award show that year because — and I wasn’t to tell anyone — I was going to be winning Best Picture, Best Director and Best Writer. I think it was for a movie called Lust in America, which was a takeoff on an Albert Brooks film called Lost in America. Or it may have been for Prisoner of Sex, which was a send-up of the 1960’ss The Prisoner series out of England. It may have been for both, because those were done in the same year and both were nominated many times over. Anyway, I went to the show. Before the ceremony began, the presenter came over to my table and whispered “congratulations” into my ear. I had another drink to steady my nerves. Then the show started. When each category that I was nominated in came up, the presenter opened the envelope and then looked surprised, and then announced Jonathan Morgan’s name. And Jonathon would look surprised, then go up and accept the award with no speech prepared. By the third time, he went up and said, “Didn’t anyone see Lust in America?!”
By the way, Jonathan did a cameo appearance in that movie and was hysterical. One of the funniest actors ever, in that genre of any genre.
What I was told later by someone “in the know” was that Wicked Pictures had bought more ad space in AVN that year, so the powers to be decided at the last minute that they needed to give Wicked a “thank you.” I’m not saying this was the case; I’m just passing on what I was told.
Now, I have to say, Wicked makes very good movies. And Jonathan is great and deserves any award he ever got. So there are no sour grapes here. I’m just telling you what was told to me, and, since I mostly worked for smaller companies that didn’t buy a lot of ad space in the trades, it certainly does help explain why there were so many nominations but only one BTS award and a Lifetime Achievement award.
What does the future hold for you? Anything coming up that you would like to plug to our readers?
I always did mainstream as well as side genres. And still do. So I am still very busy, and productive, working under various screen credits. I’ll leave it up to IMDb to try to figure out who I am this week and what I’m working on. It’ll give them something to do.
What was the last thing that made you smile?
Doing this interview. Thanks for asking.