ARF: So please tell us about yourself. Where you are from, what inspires your work, do you believe in true love?
I’m from Buffalo, NY. Currently my work is super influenced by the idea finding divinity within yourself and working with it as opposed to running from it or allowing it to control you. I love dark absurd humor — that’s something I’d really like to bring into my work more. Shows like Wonder Showzen or Gregg Araki’s Teenage Apocalypse Trilogy films had a huge impact on me when I was younger for this reason. As for true love...I believe in it, but I don’t think it lasts forever.
ARF: Where did your love for horror stem from?
My granddad, it’s totally his fault I’m a fucking freak! No, when I was really little we used to watch horror movies together all the time. They freaked me out at first, but then I got super into it. I just remember always watching those Halloween marathons on USA with him. In third grade I told my class my favorite movie was 28 Days Later. …still up there.
ARF: Where do the lines of sensuality and horror intersect for you?
I think it’s the taboo nature of the two subjects. As we know, anything you’re afraid or ashamed to admit to enjoying is probably the thing you enjoy the most. Jenny Holzer touches on this in one of her Truisms, “Murder has its Sexual Side.”
ARF: Your style borders along experimental and art house — tell us a bit more about your particular style?
That’s something I’m definitely still figuring out. My style is has a dreamlike, surreal quality to it since it’s often rooted in my nightmares. Visually I'm drawn to disjointed, abstracted body parts that build up to the full figure.
ARF: What projects do you have in the works?
I’m currently working on a couple editorials and am writing my first feature screenplay!
ARF: Tell us about your short film Seabeast. How did the story come about?
In Seabeast we watch as an amphibious alien life form sheds their skin in order to appear human to stay hidden on this planet. Last year I started getting more into body horror and really wanted to find a way to communicate feeling imprisoned by your body, that was my basic concept. I was playing around with a few ideas for that and around that time my friend Gigi, the Seabeast, and Kaya T, who did the sound were talking about a concept band with aquatic aliens.
7. Name your dream cast.
ARF: Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi! My name is Luzifer Priest, you can call me Priest, I prefer they/them pronouns and I’m from Philadelphia. I’m a witch, a succubus, a siren, a dancer, a writer, a model, art pornographer and event producer in no particular order. I don’t have a favorite medium perse. They all feed my soul in essential distinct ways as well as excite all of my senses so, I don’t like to limit myself. I’m also a Sagittarius with a lot of Sag in my chart so you know how that goes, haha. I’ve always had an affinity for rebellion, adversarial character archetypes and the dark aspects of pretty much everything — the shadow. I was a black sheep in my family and as a dark skin little girl — a black sheep and scape goat in society, so I tend to be more drawn as a witch and creator to subjects that honor the rich full spectrum of the human experience. Light and dark in perfect balance. Above and Below. Luzifer Priest is a name I choose recently to honor all that my life has shaped me into but also allows space for me to become.
ARF: What made you cross over to the dark side?
Honestly, I was spawn from the darkness! But for real, I was never one of those kids who was afraid of scary shit. Quite the contrary, I was always very drawn to the dark nature of things. When I was six my favorite movies were Child’s Play, Pinocchio's Revenge, Sleep Away Camp. Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark? was my shit, but I was always thirsty for more tho, because I could tell the kids horror was censored. So always being drawn to horror really shaped my desires. I always wanted things like ghosts, spirits, witches, vampires, Faeries, werewolves, and the like to be real. When I came into young adulthood a partner of mine introduced me to metaphysics and witchcraft and it was like "ohhhhh shittttttt all that shit IS real!" So around about 20 is when I started pursuing the dark side seriously.
ARF: What inspires you?
Nature is my greatest muse. Nature tends to influence a lot of my work — I just wanna fuck, sing, dance and play in the woods. Love and being in love inspires me. Music inspires me. My favorite musician and composer is Chris Corner of IAMX and Sneaker Pimps. Also, Willow Smith, anything metal, trap or dark wave. I inspire myself. The “pursuit” of enlightenment, seduction, spell casting, the occult, my mom mom, fucking, being a whore, being kinky — all inspire me. Black people and being black myself. Queers and People of Color being joyful and thriving while creating the individual and collective worlds they desire. Fairytales, Faeries, religion, Astrology, God,Satan, Lucifer, Trickster spirits — all inspire me.
"I want motherfuckers to get weirder, get more vulnerable, go there!"
ARF: Do you feel as if you are rewriting the history of Black Satanic Witches? Do you feel that the world is ready to witness your lived experiences and creations?
It’s so funny that you ask because yes and absolutely yes! I feel like through living my own truths and following my path I have helped to co-create the reality of what it can mean to be a Black Satanic Witch especially one in this country. So in that sense, for sure putting myself out there in the ways that I do as an artist allows people to experience me and my perspective being a Black Satanic Witch. Gaining more visibility and mainstream acceptance is creating history. I feel like the world is soooooo fucking ready to witness my lived experiences and creations. I feel like for so long I’ve still been hiding for fear of rejection, oppression, judgement, but I’m feeling more accepting and loving of myself, and beginning to see myself and the world change in the ways that matter to me. I believe these are good times for allowing yourself to be who you truly are, a divine creator. I feel like we’ve devalued it for so long and that’s for sure symptom of the values our society pushes on us, but now we crave it. Connection to our infinite selves, and the infinite creative universe — so fuck yeah! I’m about to be weird as shit this year. Naked as fuck, fucking and sucking, singing, dancing, creating and slaying all for my joy.
ARF: What’s your biggest issue with most ‘mainstream alternative’ burlesque troops?
They still predominantly represent white, gender conforming, slim — or because of the popularity of sexualizing “blackness” and being “exotic,” curvaceous, tan humans, sometimes with tattoos or colored hair. There isn’t much difference from what has always been depicted in the history of burlesque. The point is we want to be careful when labeling things as alternative or radical or even feminist if we’re continuing to perpetuate the same ideals and not valuing the very people we enjoy and consume. I’m very excited about these times though, because even with what I just said, there are so many talented queer performers of color who are ascending and creating the best fucking troupes, shows and art I’ve ever fucking experienced and I’m so eager for more. Also! I want motherfuckers to get weirder, get more vulnerable, go there!
ARF: Please tell us about Raspberry Royale!
Raspberry Royale! Well, Raspberry Royale is an all queer PoC burlesque troupe I started with Jessa Jordan and Lilith Von Terror. Lilith, Jess and I were very unimpressed with our experiences within Philly's gay performance and burlesque community to say the least. To say the most, lots of corny white people and their micro aggressions, sexual harassment, comedians making sexist jokes and creating a corny environment for humans to get naked on stage in — being tokenized and feeling undervalued, etc. Just wack shit! All of us have history together as friends, or connected through friends of friends, so we came together and got RR poppin. Jess was sharing all their experiences with me in the scene and they were like, "let’s start a troupe." I think I remember them saying they had already been kinda talking to Lilith about it, so then things got into motion, in secret and came together really beautifully and swiftly. Since our birth in 2016, we’ve evolved into a troupe of five performers. Lilith, myself, The Deva Arazel, Icon Ebony Fierce, and Mia Secreto with new guest performers every show. We produce shows quarterly and pretty much just do what the fuck we wanna do. We love to produce shows that are fun, creative, empowering to queer and gender non-conforming PoC and safe for everyone. Right now Raspberry Royale Presents: The Divine Feminine is in pre-production. (IG @Raspberryroyale)
ARF: Tradition vs the New Art Renaissance of Black Queers: where do you see yourself in that world?
Well, I see myself as being very rooted in both — I was a performer before the new Art Renaissance. I sang in things for school and at my families wedding in my adolescence. I am most known for performing both singing and dancing. My generation was also apart of the emerging age of the Internet, so I feel very comfortable in virtual reality as well. I love creating worlds for people to step into. I like seducing people. I like casting spells and media has always inspired me in that it’s all witchcraft, spells, basically the power of influence.So New Media Art is super fun for me as a witch because I’m crafting spells. I love the power of symbolism and programming. So creating whole worlds on the Internet allows me to understand myself as a witch and creator — it improves and influences my performing and my performing influences it. Producing events allows me to satiate my desire for physical connection. I love planning events that are stimulating to all of the senses. It’s like one big fucking party to me and I want everyone to be happy, have a good time, eat good food, connect, feel inspired and feel very, very fucking aroused. So basically, I’m just all up in everything and in my own little world at the same time!
ARF: What are your top three horror films? *you know we had to ask that question*
Five is my lucky number and life path number tho, hehehe... Black Swan, May, Get Out, Hellraiser, Evil Dead
"It’s about sex and death though for real, I love fucking and transformation."
ARF: What is Lifting the Veil and what do you have in store for us this year?
Right now I’m coming out of a hibernation period in time for Imbloc to start planting seeds for the Spring! Basically that just means all of the queer femmes of color, witches and weirdos in my life are about to carry on creating these whole new worlds with our intentions and inspired actions! Lifting the Veil is one of those things for me. It’s a three- day dark arts and harvest festival I’m curating this fall. It’s a festival that seeks to honor and explore the approaching seasons of coldness and retreat, the shadow self archetype, the left hand path, and the ability of the spirit to prevail in what seem like our darkest times. It’s about sex and death though for real, I love fucking and transformation. The first Lifting the Veil was an online unfolding (unveilandunravel.com) in which each segment an artist and I created a new media piece together exploring a different occult or esoteric theme. I really wanted to expand Lifting the Veil 2 as well as bring that element of physical connection to it. The designer I worked with on LTV, Jon Lewis, and I were talking about how dope the fringe festival was and an interactive life and death festival was born. I also want to feature collabs of my own as well as other solo work from other occultists, witches, satanists, light workers, pagans etc. who feel drawn to making this kind of art in all mediums. Lifting the Veil 1 was more me fleshing out the idea and seeing what works, doesn’t work and where I want to go. In addition to the LTV festival, I’m still producing local shows on my own and with Raspberry Royale If you’re in the Philadelphia area and you desire to connect in the flesh come to Luzifer Priest Presents — Psychedelic Soul: A Tribute to Childish Gambino March 1st and Raspberry Royale Presents: The Divine Feminine March 10th both will be at Front Street Dive.
ARF: Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Born and raised in Chicago, but as a child I was raised in Mexico. I’m a lover of horror, an amateur film photographer and metal/horror disc jockey at 105.5 F.M., Lumpen Radio, in Chicago. (LISTEN TO A SHOW HERE!)
ARF: Where did your love for horror come from?
My love of horror stems from my respect for Death — before any fantasy story or movie, it started as a coping mechanism for me. As a child I became obsessed with the macabre and anything related to it due to losing close relatives and trying to understand it all. Horror films only seemed natural to me and I became a full-blown addict! The thrill of watching horror films at night was exciting and of course late nights with horror hosts like Elvira: Mistress of Dark and the Son of Svengoolie, now officially Svengoolie, did a great job of shaping my childhood. Showing cheesy ‘80s campy horror films and, most importantly, schooling us on the Classic Universal Monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolf Man and The Mummy. I couldn’t help but to relate with them. So yeah, long story, short, I was the weird kid in class.
ARF: You are also a radio DJ, what’s do horror and music have in common for you?
For me, music and horror have always been equally addictive and attractive in their otherworldly strangeness... In other words, it ain’t just a fuckin’ costume. Growing up listening to anything related to “Rock n Roll” from industrial, goth rock, punk, hard-rock, glam, on and on, etc., was such a big part of my upbringing. As far as the rock and horror connection, and its sub-genres go, many rock and roll songs were featured in horror films in the ‘80s. I love movies like Return of the Living Dead, with bands like The Cramps and 45 Grave! Accept “Fast as a Shark” in Demons! I loved hearing these songs coupled with the movies I grew up on. Horror films and their soundtracks have become very popular over the years, so much so that you can even see live performances from composers like director John Carpenter and musical acts from the Italian horror maestros, Goblin. How cool is that!?!? But as a radio host DJ, I like to create an atmosphere filled with heavy riffs and killer soundtracks of horror for other living misfits.
ARF: Do you try to create narratives under the lens of horror that are specific to your own identity?
Absolutely. It’s therapeutic. There are moments where I can’t find the right words to express myself; therefore, expressing through imagery is vital! Through photography I’m able to create narratives and create a voice by documenting my surroundings or experimenting with darker imagery. Working in the darkroom is also therapeutic especially with the process and the work that goes along with it. It keeps me sane!
ARF: What’s your top three horror films and why?
Tobe Hooper’s “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is possibly one of the best horror film ever produced, in my opinion. When viewing TCM for the first time, I had never seen anything like it before. It blew my mind especially the way the film is shot — to see the sheer terror of what the characters endured on screen had me at the edge of my seat. That’s fantastic movie making! No CGI, all hands on. Anyway, there’s nothing more frightening than a family of isolated serial killing cannibals out in the middle of nowhere. The chase scenes had me tired and I wasn’t even doing the running — definitely one of my favorite films! The soundtrack alone is amazing! It has a genuine eerie feeling that keeps me wanting more.
Mario Bava’s “Black Sabbath.” This horror anthology is a masterful cinematographic work of art! There are three stories, all which are different from each other, but each have strong plots. The Telephone, it’s more of a giallo type story, The Wurdulak, a wonderful vampire story with Boris Karloff, and The Drop of Water, a ghost story and personal favorite. Bava’s creative use of composition and vibrant colors in these stories, especially Wurdaluk and The Drop of Water, made the film look like live paintings.
This is tough, but another favorite would be ”City of the Living Dead” aka “Gates of Hell” 1980 Directed by Lucio Fulci. Besides that, the soundtrack is off the chain and this movie steps up the gore and splatter. After all, Lucio Fulci is the grandfather of gore! From the moment the film begins at the hanging of a clergy and the opening of the portal to the gates of hell — I was sold. There’s nothing better then a good unleashing of flesh rotting zombies to roam around city. Sure it’s got some terrible dubbing, but still a great film! The regurgitating gut footage in this film is sublime! …heheh.
ARF: Do you have any upcoming projects planned?
Now that I have the time and space to work on my photography, I’ll be starting some flesh, ghoulish ideas! Also, I’m planning on collaborating and hosting other DJ’s who are involved in horror and metal on my radio show, “Release the Hounds.” Awoooo! That’s it for now, witches.
ARF: Where can folks enjoy your show and how can we find you on the interwebs?
Find me on Instagram @lidiavomito and tune in online at 10 pm central every first and third Monday of each month on www.lumpenradio.com or if you’re in the Chicago area, tune in at 105.5 F.M
Introducing collective member Sunday Banks, discussing film and their short "A Valentine" inspired by Edgar Allan Poe.
Introducing our beloved collective member Sunday Banks. Sunday has been instrumental in ARF media primarily as an editor. Soft-spoken and behind-the-scenes lurks a talented, skilled and artistic person. Check out the trailer below for their short film A VALENTINE, inspired by the poem with the same title by Edgar Allan Poe.
Patrick Salvani / Ms. Nookie Galore talks to us about their FilipinX drag horror cooking show SARAP and creating QTPOC realities.
Please introduce yourself and what you do.
Boo, my name is Patrick Salvani or Ms. Nookie Galore. I am not your average genderqueer pansexual hairy asian panda horror-storytelling Drag Queen. I create new worlds that anchor us in the places we have been to creating space to dream of places we need to go.
How did you discover your love for horror?
I appreciated horror at a really young age where I would be fixated on stories from both my grandma and mother about ghosts, manananggal (evil witch/vamp), duwende (goblins), Filipino Folklore. My mom and I only watched horror movies together, a lot of Wes Craven films, despite her tries to make me watch Filipino romantic comedies and dramas. My fixation around these stories were because they instilled fear in me and being raised to fear everything I felt an un/comfortable relationship to stories that haunt us. Now imagine me as a kid, very very quiet and scared of my own voice. However, anytime we were allowed to do creative writing I would write some twisted shit like being lost for an eternity in portal of complete darkness and stories where death is the least torturous way to survive. I realized how much I loved the horror genre when I carved out a space to create my own horror stories where the darkness is deep, nuanced and frighteningly beautiful. Stories where we are not the other: we are past, present and future. In essence, discovering my love of horror came with loving myself.
What does the genre mean to you – as far as aesthetic and the crafting of your drag persona?
Patrick on the Streets, Nookie in the Sheets, Patrick in the sheets, Nookie on the streets. I classify my overall aesthetic as a Vamp Tropical Goth. If you were to put Leonard Cohen, Asian Horror revenge spirits, Angela from “Night of the Demons” and all my western Filipinoness into a blender, you’d catch my vibe. I grew up fat, chubby, feeling undesirable and only wanted in pieces, so Ms. Nookie Galore came to life as way to connect to my body, sexuality, explore both masculinity and femininity, and an opportunity to accept myself as whole. Eventually both myself and Nookie’s aesthetic bleed into one another. I consider Drag a storytelling genre, so when I’m in Drag whether it’s a lip sync or theatre and performance piece, there is always gonna be some scary story to tell.
"In essence, discovering my love of horror came with loving myself."
How important is it for you to infuse your Filipinx heritage with your love for horror? What cultural narratives play a significant role in your act, SARAP?
My friend and one of the most amazing spoken word poet’s Kym Nacita told me once that sometimes food is our only way back home. In my FilipinX Drag Horror Cooking Show, Sarap, I view the audience as my dinner guests and I, as the host – actively engaging all their senses as I cook Adobo, play and serve samples of the final dish. With just one bite of the right dish, you can taste the stories from back home – each ingredient and way of cooking providing its own lesson. These stories tell of our homeland, our bodies and our Monsters. Through re-imagining the origin story of the Filipino Vampire, the Manananggal, as a migrant worker, I take the audience on a journey of how colonization and a history of erasure has affected our most vulnerable memories around gender, race and class. I consider Sarap to be culinary terrorism. It refuses to reproduce marginalized communities as a valuable commodity to be consumed while dismissing the importance of family and community in shaping our own queer histories.
Can you talk about your activism within the queer community in Toronto? What are some of the benefits of teaching the art of drag to the young QTPOC community in 2018?
I actually wrote in depth about my work in community co-founding the longest-standing queer and trans youth of colour program in Canada, The Drag Musical. It can be found here.
Can you tell us about some of the events you have hosted with said community in the past few years?
Apart from the shows highlighted in the Marvellous Grounds link, I want to talk about my birthdays. You’re probably wondering “why?!” In the Philippines, on my Birthday, November 1st, all saints day, it's a time to go to the cemeteries and clean the graves, honor your ancestors, party and camp out overnight. So I’ve grown up knowing that if you love the dead, the dead will love you back. I looked at my birthdays as an opportunity to be celebrated the way I want to be. My birthdays have been big events from haunted dinners, to a community event themed murder mystery (i.e. I made everyone play exaggerated characterizations of themselves ie. the Active Listener), Tourists in the Philippines Escape room and most recently Let Me Rest in Peace – Funeral Birthday Party. I’m a good party organizer because I’m a good partyer that knows how to actualize nightmares and make everyone feel important and seen. So my birthdays also becomes an opportunity to celebrate community – I cook A LOT of food, decorate like Guillermo Del Toro’s house (with everything-halloween-is-80%-off-on-November-1st budget), make “IT” work and surrender everything else to the universe. I put a lot of work into my birthday, into each community event I organize, because to NOT practice white supremacy, patriarchy and classism is to hustle hard for everything you’re entitled for.
"A lot of traumatic things happen in this world, and we forget that dreaming is part of our survival and essential in creating new realities."
Tell us a bit about your newest project “I Don't Fuck with You - A Goth Drag Musical.”
“I Don’t Fuck With You: The Goth Drag Musical” is a Krafty Queers Production and along with my work partner/dreamer in crime Afi Browne. We’re taking an “almost” backseat this time around and letting two past participants, past mentors and current Directors, Franny Galore and Kamika take charge of the direction of the participants. Expect excellence because they were both mentored by me :) The Goth Drag Musical is a celebration of the emo, the too much, the not enoughs, the ones who love to wear black clothes in the summer, the people some won’t fuck with and the portals of never-ending darkness that have sucked away many a living soul. You can see the musical at Pride Toronto 2018. “Like” Krafty Queers to get the latest updates!
What was it like growing up as a queer Goth queen in Calgary? What drew you to Toronto?
Google: ‘Calgary Stampede.’ I give credit to Calgary for their raves tho! It was an amazing opportunity to feel community. Being in a space where I felt comfortable being weird, wearing all black and having manic panic all over my hair without feeling judged felt good. Experiencing freedom and connection between my body and the music, and the occasional handjob made it the most fun teenage community experience. Drugs saved me! Otherwise, ‘Calgary Stampede’ :( Honestly, Toronto was something very different and I was at a place in my life where I was cool with people I didn’t know, and willing to put in the hard work to nurture relationships and community to make Toronto feel like home. I do appreciate Calgary more and more each time I visit my family tho, especially when I don’t leave my parent’s home and go back to Toronto less than a week later.
Do you have any advice for the inspiring drag stars trying to find their voice?
Join The Drag Musical. If that’s not possible, find a space, set a time to play, have fun, write down your nightmares and drag up your fears. A lot of traumatic things happen in this world, and we forget that dreaming is part of our survival and essential in creating new realities.
Mexico City filmmaker Michelle Garza Cervera has been part of recent Audre’s Revenge North American Screenings with her startling and terrifying film La Rabia de Clara. We enlisted the help of our friend Stephanie Suárez to interview Michelle. Stephanie is an Industrial Designer/Engineer from Mexico City interested in technological disobedience, pursuing her Masters in anthropology. She also plays guitar in a great punk band with her friends called Riña. Translation by Ximena Suárez, Intro by Mariam Bastani. Puede encontrar la versión original en español a continuación.
STEPHANIE: I was going to start the interview by saying something about you and what you do but it is kind of weird since I have known you for a while, hahaha. So maybe you could tell us something about yourself?
MICHELLE: Well, I am a girl living in Mexico city that makes movies that are classified as horror or suspense movies, I also play in some punk bands and I have really cool friends that wanted to do this interview to talk about movies.
STEPHANIE: How did you decide to make movies and focus on directing films instead of, I don’t know, photography or art direction?
MICHELLE: Since I was a little girl, I liked writing stories and for some reason I always gravitated toward more audiovisual ideas than literary ones. As a teenager, I spent a lot of time watching movies and I realized that they address issues that are important to me, issues that often times are hard to distinguish or process on a daily basis. I started making films and I realized that, for many reasons, it’s a nightmare, but in the end it is worth as it has allowed me to express ideas that I would not be able to convey otherwise.
STEPHANIE: Where did the idea of your short “La Rabia de Clara” come from? I know that Clara is a very important person in your life. Can you tell us a little bit about this?
MICHELLE: Clara was my great grandmother. She lived in Mexico City during Mexico’s revolution. Her family had resources, but little by little they lost everything until Clara realized it would be a good idea to start working even though it was taboo for a woman to join the workforce back then. This made her family upset because it reflected poorly on their image and was further evidenced tof heir economic hardship. So, after much family strife and arguing, Clara disobeyed her family and started to work as secretary.
They disinherited her and ultimately she even changed her last name. She started a new life from scratch and the first thing she bought with her money was a desk that she gave to me when she died. I still use the desk now to work. Discovering this history affected me a lot and created my great admiration for her. Sometimes we just need to say “fuck the world” to free ourselves. The short does not exactly tell Clara’s story, but I found a metaphorical way to talk about the same issues.
STEPHANIE: Spoiler alert: The relationship in your short between rabies, the illness that these aggressive dogs supposedly have, and anger is really powerful. Since Rabies and Rage is the same word in Spanish, was this an intended and strong political statement? Did you purposely mean to have that double entendre in the title of the film?
MICHELLE: The character is locked in a world where there is a constant struggle to annihilate “savageness” and where rabies/rage to survive, the dogs and the forest representing liberty, is being broken. Well said, Fanis! I found the way of talking about oppression and gender roles through these representations. I was also playing with the use of so many symbols, haha, and yes, I took advantage of the double meaning of the word “rabia” for the title since it is the same rage, sickness and struggle for liberation that consumes Clara.
STEPHANIE: How difficult is it to make a film or short in Mexico? Which are the main obstacles here as Mexican and as a woman?
MICHELLE: In Mexico a great deal of films, most of them, survive from government support. There is almost no private investment in independent cinema because it’s not considered good business. Now, as things are, the situation is worse because this year there has been a 70% cut to funding, of an already low amount of funds, for Mexican movies. I was lucky enough to be in a public filming school and they financed my short films. My fellow students helped me with the production so nobody asked me for a wage or payment. But nowadays, filming without a budget is hard. I find motivation in the fact that I have a group of friends and colleagues who support each other and we trust that we will be able to continue doing independent projects, with little money but a lot of motivation, haha.
Now, about being a woman...it is hard, as in many other aspects, I have had several bad experiences. It is important to stress that discrimination in filming takes place everywhere, the time I felt insulted the most was a shoot in Chicago. What is important, then, is to surround yourself with people that will respect you no matter your gender or race. In the movies, like in every other place, there are morons but there are also nice people, it is just a matter of finding them. Once a friend of mine resigned to a job in a filming project after being insulted, and she was told that if she wanted to be in the filming world she would have to get used to sexism. She responded that one is entitled to make the films that one wants and that if there is not such space, one can always create it. She made the photography for my last film and it was an awesome experience creating something like that with my best friend, so now for us it does exists, the films that we want to do.
STEPHANIE: This year you participated in a short film for the second edition of México Bárbaro (a compilation of Mexican short horror films). How was your experience as a woman directing in this type of film and working with other producers or directors? Did your opinion change about the way of doing these films as a woman?
MICHELLE: I really enjoyed doing this film because I could choose my team and I worked with friends with whom I feel comfortable sharing ideas. The short film was part of a compilation so sometimes we had meetings with other directors to read scripts. First, I was excited about these meetings and about meeting others that are also obsessed with horror films. Honestly, we had many differences. Sometimes I felt like in those family gatherings where you are the outsider, the one that does not fit and does not laugh at the jokes.Not all the time and with everybody, but it did happen in some meetings with certain individuals and regrettably it had much to do with the fact that I was the only woman director. I do not think this is specific to horror movies as I had the chance of interacting with other groups and people in the business that are the opposite to that. But well, in the end it was a good experience and some of the short films included in the compilation are super cool.
STEPHANIE: Sometimes Mexican horror portrays a universe full of severity, blood and gore scenes. Do you think that this version of Mexican horror has something to do with Mexican chauvinism? If so, why? How do you think one can portray sharp visions of Mexico with conscious of feminine and non-binary bodies and gender differences?
MICHELLE: The movies are a reflection or representation of how one perceives life, so it is common to find that Mexican movies reflect chauvinism and terror. One tells the story that is attached to one’s life. We live in a violent world, so it is difficult to tell stories without showing that violence and ultimately it depends on how each one of us lives that violence. The position and privileges that we have affect all that we do. So I think is a matter of awareness: being aware of what you are saying from where you are standing; for me storytelling just for the sake of it does not make sense, just like the gore for the sake of gore loses its strength when it does not have a goal. Of course I like using gore s a resource to say what I think, it can be poignant and disturbing. I am not saying that there should be limits to filmmaking, but I do think it is important analyzing the grounds of your work, otherwise, why making fiction? We might as well read the newspaper or wander around the city if we just aim to transgress just because.
Many of the rules of horror movies are tied to gender roles. Some characters are attractive for this type of movie, like the weak woman that is raped, tortured or killed. I personally have a conflict with this because I disagree with using such painful situations to provoke a morbid reaction. We live in a country with a lot of femicides and killings of trans people, no I do not understand the need of using this terrible reality when you have not even stopped to empathize with those who are living it and just to make any film more “attractive”. When there is a authentic interest in these issues there is a way to address them in horror movies without resorting to the easy maneuvers of showing abuse scenes. What I like about horror and speculative fiction is that it allows you to talk about politics and how we see reality my using metaphors and fantasy. Filmmaking is a lie that allows you to say many truths. No matter the amount of blood, violence and rawness when there is something else to say.
STEPHANIE: I recall that when I started to play the guitar in high school there was always this group of guys really jealous of “music, their girlfriend.” They were pretty aggressive and said that women would never be able to play: the typical guy obsessed with music that felt like a badass because he played fast and his masculinity was based on that. The other day I was recalling all those bands that remind me of those guys, like Tool (particularly the song schism), Porcupine Tree or Pantera, hahaha, some of them allowed themselves to listen to Kittie because they are “super hoy” and played “fast”. Do you have a similar example for movies or directors for this sort of guy?
MICHELLE: I think that a Tool or Pantera for movies would be hard to know. But I have noticed that some people behaving similarly like they are Rob Zombie and Alexander Jodorowsky, hahaha.
STEPHANIE: What are your future plans for films? In a cooler and fairer world, how do you think filmmaking would be?
MICHELLE: I am writing my first feature film, so that is going to take a while. Hopefully I will also be able to collaborate more with friends that I have known thanks to short films. The movies that I like the most are those about an unfair reality, haha, so maybe if the world was more fair I would like it less, but it would be cool if things were different. I wish we could like reality more and fiction less. But, for now, what seems fair to me is to give the cameras to those who have not have them so we can say all that is constantly silenced.
STEPHANIE: Thanks for responding all these questions; would you like to add something else?
MICHELLE: Thanks for inviting me to say nonsense and getting me into trouble with the Mexican chauvinist elite of horror, hahaha. Love you girls.
La Directora de cine de la Ciudad de México, Michelle Garza Cervera, ha sido parte de la reciente Audre's Revenge Proyecciónes Norte Americanos con su película aterradora La Rabia de Clara. Hemos reclutado la ayuda de nuestra amiga Stephanie Suárez para entrevistar a Michelle. Stephanie es diseñadora industrial / ingeniera de la Ciudad de México interesada en la desobediencia tecnológica, persiguiendo a sus Maestros en antropología. Ella también toca la guitarra en una gran groupo punk Riña con sus amigas. Traducción por Ximena Suárez, Intro de Mariam Bastani
STEPHANIE: Iba a empezar la entrevista diciendo quién eres y qué haces pero igual es raro porque te conozco ya de un rato jajaja. Igual tu puedes decirnos algo sobre ti?
MICHELLE: Pues soy una chica de la ciudad de México que hace cine que suelen clasificar dentro del terror o suspenso, también toco en algunas bandas de punk y tengo amigas muy chidas que quisieron hacer esta entrevista para hablar de cine.
STEPHANIE: ¿Cómo fue que decidiste dedicarte a al cine y entrarle como directora en vez de otra actividad relacionada al cine como no sé, fotógrafa o directora de arte o así?
MICHELLE: Desde chiquita me gustaba escribir historias y por algún motivo siempre tuve ideas más audiovisuales que literarias. Durante la adolescencia me la pasé viendo películas y descubrí que tienen la fuerza de hablar de temas que me afectan y que muchas veces son difíciles distinguir o digerir en la vida diaria. Ya que me puse a hacerlo me di cuenta de que es una pesadilla hacer cine, por muchos motivos, pero al final vale la pena ya que me ha permitido expresar ideas que no podría sacar de otra manera.
STEPHANIE: ¿De dónde sale la idea de tu corto La rabia de Clara? Sabía algo de que Clara es una mujer muy importante en tu vida ¿Nos cuentas algo de eso?
MICHELLE: Clara era mi bisabuela. Ella vivió en épocas de la revolución en la Ciudad de México. Su familia era acomodada pero fueron perdiendo todo hasta que a ella se le ocurrió que era buena idea meterse a trabajar, a pesar de que era mal visto que una mujer lo hiciera. Esto alteró a su familia, ya que afectaba su imagen y evidenciaba sus problemas económicos.
Así que después de un tiempo de discusiones, decidió desobedecer y se metió de secretaria. Ellos la desheredaron y terminó por cambiarse hasta el apellido. Empezó una vida sola y lo primero que se compró con sus ahorros fue un escritorio que dejó para mí al morir, en el que ahora trabajo yo.
Cuando conocí esta historia, me afectó mucho y me generó mucha admiración por ella. Hay veces en las que tenemos que mandar al mundo al carajo con tal de ser libres. El corto no cuenta la historia literal de Clara pero encontré una manera que me pareció metafórica para hablar de lo mismo.
STEPHANIE: Spoiler Alert: Me parece que la relación entre rabia, la enfermedad a propósito de que salen unos perros agresivos y la rabia, el enojo, en tu corto es muy poderosa. Me preguntaba si había alguna relación entre las dos rabias cuando elegiste el titulo porque ambas tienen contenidos políticos muy fuertes.
MICHELLE: El personaje está encerrado en un mundo en dónde hay una lucha constante por aniquilar lo salvaje. En donde la rabia, los perros y el bosque representan la libertad que está siendo quebrantada, así que lo dijiste muy bien Fanis! Encontré la forma de hablar de la opresión y de los roles de género a través de estas representaciones. Yo también me volé con tantos símbolos jaja y sí, me aproveché del doble sentido de la palabra “rabia” para el título. Ya que es la misma rabia, la enfermedad y la lucha por la liberación, la que invade a Clara.
STEPHANIE: ¿Qué tan difícil es hacer una película o corto en México? ¿Cuáles son las principales trabas acá como mexicanxs y como mujer?
MICHELLE: En México gran parte del cine, la mayoría, sobrevive de apoyos gubernamentales. Casi no hay inversiones privadas porque el cine de autor, usualmente no es negocio. Ahora como están las cosas, va a estar peor, este año cortaron como el 70% del apoyo (que ya era bajo) al cine mexicano. Yo tuve la suerte de entrar a la escuela pública de cine, quienes financiaron mis cortos y el trabajo lo hicimos entre compañerxs, entonces nadie cobró sueldo. Pero el hecho es que hacer cine de presupuesto ahorita, está difícil. A mí me motiva que me he rodeado de amigxs y colegas, con quienes se ha creado un círculo de apoyo mutuo y con lxs que confío vamos a poder seguir haciendo cosas independientes, con poca lana pero con muchas ganas jaja Hablando de ser mujer, es difícil como en todos los ámbitos, yo la he pasa mal muchas veces.
Es importante decir que la discriminación en el cine pasa en todos lados, yo la vez que más agredida me sentí en un rodaje fue en Chicago. Lo importante es rodearte de la gente indicada que no se va a basar en tu género para respetarte. Dentro del cine, como en todos lados, hay mucho imbécil pero también hay gente chida, es cosa de encontrarles. Alguna vez una amiga, renunciando a un trabajo dentro de una filmación por haber sido agredida, le dijeron que si quería hacer cine se iba a tener que acostumbrar al sexismo dentro de este. Ella respondió que una hace el cine que quiera y si no hay uno en el que pueda estar cómoda, pues es cosa de crearlo. Ella fotografió mi último corto y fue una experiencia demasiado chingona crear algo así con mi mejor amiga, así que ya existe para nosotras ese cine que sí queremos hacer.
STEPHANIE: Este año participaste con un corto en la segunda edición de México Bárbaro (una compilación de cortos de cine terror mexicano). ¿Cómo fue tu experiencia como mujer dirigiendo en este ámbito y trabajando con otros directores o productores? ¿Cambió tu opinión sobre la manera de hacer cine en ese ámbito siendo mujer?
MICHELLE: Dirigir este corto fue muy chido, pude elegir a mi equipo y pues estuve con amigxs con los que me siento cómoda trabajando y con quienes comparto ideas.
El corto forma parte de la compilación, entonces a veces teníamos juntas de directores para lecturas de guion que en un inicio me emocionaban mucho, me ilusionaba conocer gente más clavada en el cine de terror. Honestamente, tuve muchas diferencias. Me sentía a veces como en una de esas reuniones familiares donde eres la tuerca incómoda que no embona y no se ríe de los chistes.
No siempre y no con todxs, pero si sucedió en varias ocasiones y lamentablemente creo que mucho, o todo, tenía que ver con ser la única directora mujer. No creo que esto sea específico del terror ya que tuve la suerte de conocer otros colectivos y gente dentro de este mundo que son todo lo contrario. Pero bueno, finalmente fue una buena experiencia y varios de los cortos de la compilación están muy chidos.
STEPHANIE: A veces el cine de terror mexicano más reciente parece un universo lleno crudeza, sangre y daño a cuerpos femeninos o disidentes. ¿Crees que esta visión del terror mexicano tenga que ver con el machismo mexicano?¿Por qué? ¿Cómo crees que se pueden hacer retratos crudos de un lugar como México pero con conciencia de los cuerpos femeninos y las diferencias de género?
MICHELLE: El cine es un reflejo o una representación de cómo alguien percibe la vida, así que claro que es común que el cine mexicano refleje machismo y el terror no se salva para nada. Uno cuenta una historia que está atada a uno mismo. Vivimos en un mundo violento, así que está difícil contar historias sin mostrar esta violencia pero todo tiene que ver con cómo cada uno la percibe. La posición y los privilegios que tengamos afectan todo lo que hacemos. Así que creo que es cosa de tener conciencia de lo que se está diciendo desde donde se está paradx, para mí narrar por narrar no tiene sentido, así como el gore por el gore pierde su fuerza cuando no tiene un fin.
Claro que me gusta usar herramientas del gore para decir algo que pienso, puede ser algo crudo y perturbador. No estoy diciendo que se tenga que limitar al cine pero sí creo que es importante analizar la premisa de tu trabajo. Si no ¿para qué hacer ficción? Mejor leemos el periódico o nos damos una vuelta por la ciudad si es que sólo se trata de transgredir por transgredir.
Muchas de las reglas del cine de terror están atadas a los roles de género. Existen personajes que resultan atractivos dentro de este tipo de cine como la mujer débil que es violada, torturada o asesinada. Este es un tema que me genera conflicto ya que creo que usar algo tan doloroso para generar morbo me parece de lo más chafa.
Vivimos en un país donde abundan los feminicidios y transfeminicidios, no entiendo la necesidad de usar esta terrible realidad cuando no te has ni detenido a empatizar con quienes la viven, para hacer más atractivo un cortometraje o una película. Cuando existe un interés genuino en hablar de esos temas, se puede encontrar la forma dentro del terror de hacerlo sin caer en lo fácil y efectista de mostrar las escenas de abuso. Lo que a mi me gusta del terror y de la ficción especulativa es que te permite hablar de política y de cómo vemos la realidad haciendo uso de metáforas y fantasía, el cine es una mentira que te permite decir muchas verdades. No importa la cantidad de sangre, violencia y crudeza cuando hay algo más que decir.
Me acuerdo que cuando empezaba a tocar la guitarra en la prepa, había siempre un grupo de hombres muy celosos de “su novia la música” que eran bastante agresivos y decían siempre que no podía tocar y nunca iba a poder hacerlo: el clásico wey clavado en la música que se sentía muy vergas por poder tocar rápido y su masculinidad se basaba en eso. El otro día pensaba en bandas que cuando las escucho siempre me recuerdan a ese tipo de weyes como Tool (esa rola se schism sobretodo), Pocupine Tree o Pantera jajajaja, algunos se daban chance de escuchar Kittie porque “estaban buenas” y tocaban bien. ¿Tienes algún equivalente en películas o directores que están hechas por o para este tipo de weyes?
Creo que tal cual un Tool o Pantera del cine, está difícil pensar qué sería. Pero si he notado que a varios que se comportan así les encanta Rob Zombie y Jodorowsky jajaja.
STEPHANIE: ¿Qué otros planes tienes a futuro en el cine? En un mundo más chido y justo ¿Cómo crees que se debería hacer cine?
MICHELLE: Ando escribiendo mi primer largometraje, así que eso me va a tomar un buen rato. También ojalá pronto algunas colaboraciones con amigxs que he tenido la suerte de ir encontrando gracias a los cortometrajes.
El cine que más me gusta suele hablar de la realidad que es injusta jaja entonces probablemente si el mundo fuera más justo el cine me gustaría menos pero pues estaría chingón que así fuera, ojalá pudiera gustarnos más la realidad y menos la ficción. Pero por ahora, lo justo es darle las cámaras a quienes menos las han tomado para que se diga todo lo que se intenta silenciar constantemente.
STEPHANIE: Gracias por contestar esto, ¿Quieres agregar algo?
MICHELLE: Gracias a ustedes por invitarme a decir sandeces y meterme en pedos con la élite mexicana machocineasta del terror jaja las quiero.
Audre's Revenge is a collective of creatives, determined to promote visibility of QTIBIPOC in the Sci-Fi and Horror Universe. In 2015, we created this space to network film makers, writers, actors and artists, to inspire timeless and important work.