Cinematic Wanderings: the Sinful Dwarf, Naughty Nuns, and Varied Pulp Smut

I realize that the TRVER members of the cult film community will get the vapors upon reading this, but I’ve become a convert to the world of streaming cinema. HEAR ME OUT, friends–I retain enough firing neurons from back in the day to tell you that your local mom & pop video store wasn’t exactly the Library of Alexandria, so you can leave your belly aching about “selection” at the door. Unless the specific thrill of the DVD hunt moistens your undercarriage, I defy you to have a better movie-watching experience than the one provided by the archives at Fandor (a site that I pay for and that in no way compensates me for saying nice things). Below are just a handful of titles I’ve watched over the past few months on this thoroughly wonderful site.

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The Sinful Dwarf: OK, so a lot of you have told me to watch this, and I ignored you. Joke’s on me, because this was exploitation bliss. For the uninitiated, this is the tale of Olaf, a little person who traps unsuspecting young women into lives of drugged-up sex slavery in a bordello run by his mother, a fading former cabaret star. It doesn’t sound appetizing, and it is indeed a thoroughly unsavory viewing experience. The Sinful Dwarf is elevated past similar fare by its details: close-ups on wind-up toys, lengthy song and dance performances, and an underlying moral about the dangers of a career as a screenwriter combine to make this an unforgettable trash cinema classic. Thanks, Denmark!

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Cloistered Nun: Runa’s Confession: The Japanese have weird ideas about both consent and Christianity, so proceed with caution. Should you be able to deal with that, then boyfriend-stealing, double-crossing, sexed-up melodrama awaits you!

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The Secret of Dorian Gray: Look, I already wrote about this one five years ago. It’s got Helmut Berger in all states of sexy dress and undress, plus it’s a Harry Alan Towers “literary” adaptation. I love those things. You should love those things, too.

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The Sin of Nora Moran: This is THE most melodramatic title on the list. A pre-Hayes Code doozie, this tale of a young woman wronged by the men around her is much more than the sum of its story. The frequently clunky acting combined with numerous montages and utterly absurd plot details (ALERT: vintage circus nonsense) make this a wonderful artifact of its time and place. I hesitate to use the word “underrated” since the relative buzz about a work shouldn’t impact the degree to which one appreciates it, but this movie might qualify as an “underrated” gem.

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Christina: I feel like this is the real DISCOVERY from my Fandor wanderings. This 1984 sex adventure is the second Harry Alan Towers pulp adaptation on this list. I don’t even seek these out–they seem to find me! Based on an expansive series of pulp novels written under the female pseudonym Blakely St. James (a psuedonym that was shared by multiple authors, including noted science fiction author, journalist, and computer programmer Charles Platt), Christina was intended to be a star-making vehicle for Jewel Shepard. The director of this slice of 80s culture is Paco Lara, whose version of The Monk I found so baffling at one point. Recounting the adventures of the world’s richest heiress, Christina screws her way across the Iberian peninsula while attempting to evade lesbian terrorists, pirates, and other assorted ne’er do wells. The plot hardly matters; what’s of importance here is that this is the sort of movie that thinks black leather gloved hands rolling toy cars across a woman’s abdomen is a reasonable representation of lesbian sex. Pure stupidity, pure joy.

Nine Circles of Pet Cinematary: Profile and Podcast

I just can’t quit the world of weird movies! My good friend Wendy Mays has started a podcast about animals on film, so I jumped at the chance to discuss two of my favorite animal movies with her (I got to pick two movies for a single show because I am greedy and spoiled). Check out our conversation about “Unmasking the Idol” and “Order of the Black Eagle,” which feature a karate-chopping, tank-driving baboon, over at the Pet Cinematary website. Topics discussed include baboon boners, cake Hitler, and how ninjas are a lot like pimps.

Should you wish for even MORE Boon the Baboon related content, you can read my review of “Unmasking the Idol” here and my thoughts on “Order of the Black Eagle” here.

Photo by SylivieTheCamera.com
Photo by SylivieTheCamera.com

I was recently given the honor of an artist profile over at my heavy metal blog of choice, Nine Circles. I talk about how much I love the people I collaborate with, list some of my favorite music, and reveal how low I’ll sink to get to work with especially exciting new folks. You can read the article here.

Elsewhere: Horizontal Collaboration, More Jean Rollin, Miro Snejdr, More Artwork…

It’s true, friends–gone are the days when I’m blogging about every single thing I’ve watched. Your devastation resonates directly into my black, patent-leather heart, but don’t despair. My graphomania is now dispersed across the web on various *other* platforms.

Living Dead Girl by Sarah Horrocks
Living Dead Girl by Sarah Horrocks

The second part of my look into the work of Jean Rollin and his connection to the world of visual art and comics can be read over at Dirge: Pulp Surrealism, Collage, and the Influence of Jean Rollin

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December’s Great Moment in Historical Sluttery discussed Isadora Duncan, the Mother of Modern Dance, whose life was dramatic on every conceivable level, privately and publicly. Isadora Duncan: The Ritual of Dance and Freedom

Photo credit: Kate Lamb
Photo credit: Kate Lamb

At Heathen Harvest, I had an opportunity to chat with musician and composer Miro Snejdr, probably best known for his work with Death in June. Miro is one of the most organically gifted individuals I’ve spoken with, and the sort of person who thinks that it’s “boring” to be able to sit at a piano and create music as if touched by the hand of a higher power. The Magic Hand of Chance: An Interview with Miro Snejdr

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Also at Heathen Harvest, I reviewed Horizontal Collaboration, the latest book by my favorite historian, the amazing Mel Gordon. His book on Weimar Berlin, Voluptuous Panic, has had a tremendous impact on my life, and Horizontal Collaboration is a worthy successor. Horizontal Collaboration: The Erotic World of Paris, 1920-1946

I also contributed my top three albums of the year to Heathen Harvest’s Best of 2015 list. It’s not terribly surprising if you’ve been reading this site for any period of time. Heathen Harvest’s Best of 2015/Best of the Quinquennium

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In the midst of all this other running-about, I have a new print available for purchase. You can buy a copy of my Death and the Maiden shown above in the Heretical Sexts shop.

Should you be interested in working with me, I’ve also got a brand-new portfolio site you can visit to learn more about my work style and availability: www.TenebrousKate.com

Around the Web: William Mortensen, Jean Rollin, Piracy, and The Unknown

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I realize I express delight a lot; I have a boundless well of enthusiasm for dark and obscure things. But it’s with a true and noteworthy sense of delight that I announce that I’ll be contributing to Heathen Harvest, an absolutely mighty, fearless resource for underground music and culture. My first contribution to HH comes is a review of Feral House’s 2014 releases American Grotesque and The Command to Look, covering the work, career, and philosophies of William Mortensen.

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Dirge Magazine continues to let me ply my trade in bizarro cinema. November saw my peek into the kinky world of The Unknown, a circus-set Tod Browning thriller starring Lon Chaney as a murderous performer who carries a torch for smoldering young Joan Crawford.

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I’ve also written a two-part exploration of the films of Jean Rollin, the first of which posted recently and covers the director’s use of symbolism. Well, symbolism and bucketloads of sex. The sex is pretty important, really.

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Speaking of sex, the babes at Slutist published November’s Great Moment in Historical Sluttery, which covered the pirate queen of the Chinese coast, Ching Shih. Pirates are great, but pirates with bisexual, incestuous threesomes are super-fucking-great. You should go read about her.

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OH AND! Should you be in the NYC area this Sunday December 6, I will be manning the Heretical Sexts table at the St. Vitus Holiday Flea Market. I have brand new holiday cards as well as new prints, and the remaining copies of Die Mensur and all HS zine titles.

Around the Web: Mary Shelley, Horror Literature, Fantômas

In addition to publishing two very different titles over the past month via my micro-publishing imprint Heretical Sexts, I’ve also been blogging for two excellent websites that have been kind enough to say “yes” when I pitch them ideas like “GIFs about silent movies” or “essays about female historical figures with a sexy twist.”

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Over at Slutist, you can read my latest installment of Great Moments in Historical Sluttery features Mary Shelley. For those of you who think of Mary Shelley only in terms of being the author of “Frankenstein” (no mean feat, mind you), prepare your brains to learn that she was also a prolific author and free thinker who was responsible for elevating her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, to the status of literary royalty after his untimely death. There’s also some stuff in there about graveside sex, because lurid historical details delight me to no end.

I’ve also started writing for Dirge Magazine, where I’ll be contributing a couple of posts a month on signature “lurid, weird, and fantastique” topics. Dirge is a great resource for articles on what I like to think of as Pan-Spooky-ist topics: movies, music, art, writing, and general creepy-sexiness.

I kicked things off in style with an essay on why you guys should be watching the Fantômas serials. It’s got rad GIFs like this:

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I also made a list of seven songs inspired by dark classics of literature and graciously provided links to where folks can read these wonderful books, because I am only capable of loving old, anachronistic things. A lot of people read that article, which is pretty cool. I hope they all listened to Toto Coelo’s “Dracula’s Tango” all the way through (I still think that song is woefully under-appreciated). Then again, if they just played The Velvet Underground’s “Venus in Furs” over and over again, I am comfortable with that outcome as well.

Photo by SylivieTheCamera.com
Photo by SylivieTheCamera.com

Finally, dear friend and fellow lover of weird, old things Mlle. Ghoul took some time out to interview me on her blog Unquiet Things. We chatted about Tinto Brass, Mensur, and Scooby Doo. I also reveal that Duran Duran’s “Girls on Film” was single-handedly responsible for getting MTV banned in my household.

Die Mensur – Handmade, Illustrated Book on German Academic Fencing

***Die Mensur is available for purchase in the Heretical Sexts store***

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I’m thrilled to announce that my first hand-made, limited edition book Die Mensur will be premiering this weekend at my table at the St. Vitus Halloween Flea Market in Brooklyn on October 25 from 1pm to 5pm. I’ve finally been able to get my arms around the topic of the Mensur by collaborating with Gilles de Rais of Porta Nigra, and the product is this 32-page, illustrated book.

Mensur, the ritualized fencing technique still practiced by German fraternities, is veiled in mystery and controversy. This hyper-stylized tradition that’s part character building, part blood rite, and part male bonding is practically unchanged in over a century. Mensur a topic that has fascinated me for a number of years now, bobbing up to the surface of my consciousness from time to time and offering a morsel of information from a book, movie, or article. Through Gilles, I was able to interview two current members of a fencing fraternity in Cologne, and their generosity and candor finally filled in many of the missing pieces in my understanding of the Mensur.

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Included in the book is a brief history of fencing fraternities, a discussion of the rules of the Mensur, an overview of equipment, and full-length interviews with fraternity brothers. There are eight full-page illustrations plus interstitials throughout (the result of essentially gluing myself to my drawing board for multiple weekends in a row–I have extremely patient and understanding friends).

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I’ve gone out of my way to give the book a traditional feel, hand-trimming and hand-binding each copy. Title lettering was drawn by The joey Zone, who created beautifully lettered artwork for the recent NecronomiCon H.P. Lovecraft convention this past summer. The covers have been screen printed in metallic gold on black textured paper by a small-run, local artist and interior pages are printed on 32 lb. soft white Arturo paper imported from Italy. Translucent chevron-printed endpapers complete the vintage feel.  Books are sewn by hand using black waxed bookbinding thread and spines are covered in black and gold handmade paper. I’m more than a bit of a fetishist when it comes to my materials selection and it’s entirely possible I went overboard here, but people of Taste and Distinction will appreciate the superior hand-feel on these books.

The edition is limited to 45 copies, and retail will be $15. Copies remaining after Sunday will be available for sale in the Heretical Sexts storefront.

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Also: I’ll have a limited number of vinyls of Porta Nigra’s demo plus their debut album Fin de Siècle on CD at my table at St. Vitus. I recommend that anyone whose interests cross over between late 19th Century history and literature and sophisticated, extreme heavy metal swing by my table and grab some excellent listening accompaniment.

Playlist: It’s Bleak Inside the Artist’s Studio

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In the interests of sharing AND caring, I’ve put together a playlist of some of the music that’s been keeping me company in my Art Dungeon lately. I’m putting finishing touches on a chapbook that’s due out at the end of this month, but in the meantime please enjoy this musical offering.

Track listing (plus links to where you can–and should–buy the albums):

    1. Dernierè Volonté – “Je Tuerai Qui Tu Voudras:” I’m deeply frustrated by the fact that I can’t tell if this project is still active, but I will remain sustained by this delightfully disaffected interview with Geoffrey D in which the answer to so many questions is “no.” I love him with every sinew of my ossified heart.
    2. Lupi Gladius – “L’elogio Dell’alterità:” more martial pop, this time with accordions. Remember when accordions were a punchline? That’s some misguided shit right there. Accordions forever–they’re mournful and mournful is inherently good.
    3. Ghost – “Cirice:” still love these guys. Still not sorry.
    4. Novo Homo – “Sexual Panzer:” Bain Wolfkind’s mishearing of the name “Sancho Panza” is what led to the writing of this song and now I believe that magic exists in the world.
    5. Electric Wizard – “Time to Die:” you’re not getting out of here without Wizard.
    6. Lychgate – “A Principal on Seclusion:” loud screaming and pipe organs: just reading that, you should either be sold on Lychgate or not. To provide a little more evocation for the curious but stubborn: Lychgate is the soundtrack to being tormented by visions of your sins in the crypt of a Spanish cathedral in the 16th Century. It should therefore surprise no one that this is my runner-up for favorite album of 2015.
    7. Mgła – “Exercises in Futility VI:” so hot right now, but also a very good record.
    8. Eïs – “Im Noktarium:” the second black metal band in a row on this playlist that will force fellow English speakers to Google the pronunciation of the band’s name. I like the Germans–they’ve got melancholy down to a science.
    9. Der Weg einer Freiheit – “Requiem:” I’m still bummed out that their US tour got canceled due to visa issues, but my deep feelings on the shittiness of visa issues have surely been unpacked elsewhere. Listen and be sublimely bummed-out.
    10. Porta Nigra – “Der letzte Ton:” What more can I say about these guys that I haven’t already expressed thoroughly? Superb, intelligent, unorthodox heavy metal that you should listen to over and over again (lord knows I have).

New Zine: My Dream Date with a Villain Vol. 2

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I’m delighted to let you guys know that the second volume of My Dream Date with a Villain is now available from my zine imprint, Heretical Sexts. Copies are available for purchase in the shop now. I’ve also added a bundle deal that gets you ALL four zines I’ve put out plus a pack of buttons for your bag/battle jacket/hoodie/what-have-you.

There are some prrrettty seriously talented folks who agreed to play along with the self-insert fan fiction theme, including:

Heather Drain‘s date with Radu Vladislav from the Subspecies movies

Dana Glover bringing more Mordor romance to the HS world with her comic about life with Sauron

-Newly-minted Heretical Sexts staffer Jack Shear “Getting Head from Red Skull” (that title, guys)

-My blood-drenched and also very sapphic affair with Carmilla Karnstein

…Plus so very much more, including a Russian demon, the worst Beach Boy ever, and a New Wave James Bond villain.

***Click here to visit the Heretical Sexts store***

Kevin Geeks Out About the Apocalypse – September 17, 2015

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It’s that time again! I’m returning to Kevin Geeks Out on Thursday September 17 at 9:30pm at Nitehawk Cinema for a show all about the Apocalypse (and what comes after). That’s right: I get invited BACK to events after I tell an extended Nazi/necrophilia joke like I did at the Super Villains show, and I plan on making you all delightfully uncomfortable once again.

It’s a fantastic line-up of guests and I’m excited to be a part of it:

  • Emily Asher-Perrin (Tor.com)
  • Peter Miller (Founder of The Post-Apocalyptic Book Club)
  • Matt Glasson (Editor, Filmmaker)
  • Nathaniel Wharton (SportsAlcohol.com)

Watch the trailer below for a sneak peek:

Trailer: KEVIN GEEKS OUT ABOUT THE APOCALYPSE from Nitehawk Cinema on Vimeo.

The past two shows have sold out (including the Super Villains show that I co-hosted, a fact that warmed my black patent leather heart), and this one will too, so advance tickets are HIGHLY recommended. Grab your tickets here and I hope to see you at the show!

Recent Work: Mata Hari, Dr. Sadism, and Historical Sluttery

Below are some recent additions to my  portfolio of illustration work–enjoy!

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Mata Hari – 11.7″ x 16.5″, ink and watercolor on bristol board. Private collection.

drsadism-SCREENTorture Chamber of Dr. Sadism – 11″ x 17″ ink on bristol with digital color. For Spectacle Theater in Brooklyn.

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Great Moments in Historical Sluttery – Empress Theodora for Slutist. Read the accompanying article I wrote and see the entire illustration on the Slutist website (which you should really be following if you love kickass women as much as I do). Illustration is ink on bristol with digital color.

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Great Moments in Historical Sluttery – Calamity Jane for Slutist. So I kinda missed my July deadline because I am sometimes bad at life (I make up for it with gobs of charm), but she’s technically July’s History Slut. Read the article and see the full illustration on the Slutist website.