So how aware of Doris' films were you when you signed
up for the part?
Well, by the time I agreed to do it, I was familiar
with who she was. I admit that I hadn't heard the term
"roughie" or "nudie cutie" until after I got into it
a bit. And then, I was really excited about being in
a roughie. When they approached me I tried to get some
of her stuff on videotape and I found "Let Me Die A
Woman" which is my favorite Doris movie.
This is the documentary about the transsexual.?
Yeah. She does a wonderful job. She actually shows a
sex change operation in the film. It's difficult to
watch but at the same time - the fact that she did this!
My God! And the way that she created a story around
it was incredible. And hilarious. And pathetic, because
these were real people that you felt sorry for. I thought,
"Oh my God, this woman's a genius." Then I saw some
other films of hers and I admit that I didn't think
they were genius. But I got what she was doing. And
I knew I had to be a part of it.
Technically, she wasn't the greatest filmmaker.
Yeah, there's all this stuff about the "Wishman style"
but most of it had to do with the fact that she had
There was a real level of commitment to doing it. Especially
in the early films where she's doing pretty much everything
except for the acting.
And in a lot of the older films she was doing the voices.
There'd be this beautiful, statuesque blonde and this
little Doris voice coming out of her.
Another project you did was an independent film in 1998
called "Men Cry Bullets," which was a highly acclaimed,
award winning film. Roger Ebert called it, "the best
cult film of the future"
Yeah, this was an independent film with another female
director. (Tamara Hernandez.) Oddly enough, those two
reminded me of each other.
From what little I've read about Tamara Hernandez there
seems to be a forceful, opinionated aspect to her that
you also find in Doris.
There's a similarity. Doris is a much more grown-up
version. She is after all, older and wiser. But I see
Tamara having that same sensibility. They both knew
what they wanted and created their own world in their
There actually are a lot of parallels between the films
"Satan Was a Lady" and "Men Cry Bullets." In both films
you're playing this character who's rather disturbed.
to put it mildly.
Yeah, horribly disturbed. But they are different. I
worked really hard to keep the differences there. I
think Satan-Woman (Cleo) was more of a sociopath and
Men Cry Bullets-girl (Gloria) was different. she wasn't
(Laughs) You can say that in her favor.
Yeah, she would do horrible things and then cry about
it, whereas Cleo felt very justified about what she
did. And yet, Cleo was also very tortured. From the
moment we see her, we see the angst in that look. You
go, "Oh my God, this woman is so messed up!" The second
she takes her mask off we see what's behind there. That
was really important to me.
"Satan Was a Lady" has a kind of a Twilight Zone feel
to it. You can tell this character is doomed from the
Right, there wasn't a whole lot to redeem her. She was
doomed, but how was it going to unfold. It's that bad
girl who has to go to hell. It's a Chinese opera. If
you do something bad, then you have to pay for it at
And that's a theme that runs through Chinese opera?
Yes, and it runs through most films.
I think in French cinema, regardless of who you are,
you will die.
(Laughs) Good or bad!
You can be the greatest person in the world, but you'll
end up dying. And you'll probably commit suicide.
I think in America we like more of a happy ending. But
certainly there is the idea that if you're bad, you
have to die.
Another thing that you kind of see running through both
films is that they rotate around these strange, old-school
burlesque halls. You look at the strip clubs today and
they're filled with eighties music.
.and girls with g-strings.
Right, whereas the clubs in the films are ones where
the girl does a show and then a midget gets up, or someone
sings a song.
In "Men Cry Bullets" it wasn't really a strip club.
It was more of a freak show. In "Satan" it was a depressing
kind of strip club. I love the woman who does the reverse
strip. That's a Doris moment if there ever was one.
Do these clubs actually exist anywhere? 'Cuz I want
to go to one.
There is one in Los Angeles, I believe. The girls still
wear pasties, and they have little theme outfits.
At the end of "Men Cry Bullets" you appear as a drag
king, which is something I hear you had some experience
Well, no, I wouldn't say I had experience with it. I
was with a group of people in San Francisco called the
Angels of Light. They were a spin off of the Coquettes.
who were a drag troop way back when. Divine and Sylvester
and all those people were part of it. Over the years
they turned into the Angels of Light, and women started
to join. So I was in this group mostly made up of drag
queens doing theatre. They would take a year to put
on a show and then it would run for five years.
One of the co-stars in "Men Cry Bullets" was Jeri Ryan,
who was Seven of Nine in one of these Star Trek spinoffs.
Right, on "Voyager." She did "Men Cry Bullets" during
the time she was getting that role. She's a good actress.
Now she's on "Boston Public." I haven't seen it yet
but I want to watch it. She's very good and she's very
She's very popular with the fellahs.
Yeah, very popular. She's a good actress, but I don't
think she ever liked "Men Cry Bullets."
Was she too much like her character? (Her character
being a somewhat elitist farmgirl.)
In that sense, yeah. I think it was an odd choice for
her to make as an actress, to do the film. She seemed
to be happy making the film, but she didn't get out
and promote it, which was a shame because she had nothing
to be embarrassed about. Running around hacking up a
pig! That was funny. Good stuff!
Yeah, that was a great scene. And what you're talking
about here gets into another area I wanted to explore,
which is the fact that sometimes as an actress you end
up in roles that you wouldn't necessarily see yourself
in. I think that the impression of someone who is not
really connected with the acting industry is that, if
you want to be a Meg Ryan type of actress, you go out
and audition for the Meg Ryan type of roles - the dramas
and comedies. And if you want to be a Sybil Danning
type of actress you go out and audition for the sci-fi
and horror types of roles . But that's really not how
it works, is it? You could wake up and find yourself
to be a scream queen or a comedy actress or soap opera
star. It could go in any direction.
Yeah, it could go in any direction, though I know that
there's a likelihood that it wouldn't go in some directions.
But I also don't choose to do B-movies. People say,
"Oh you do these freaky cult films." Yeah I do that.
But I don't do sex movies. I don't do soft porn, hard
core or B-films. I choose not to do that.
I was reading an interview with Heather Langencamp,
who was in several of the "Nightmare on Elm Street"
films, and she was talking about how she'd hardly even
seen a horror film before she did those movies.
Yeah, I believe that. Sometimes you find yourself in
these things. Of course if I was hired to do one I'd
probably go watch a few myself. But I'm sure when she
was hired it was kind of thrown at her. Sometimes that's
how it happens.
Is there any genre you'd like to work in?
Oh yeah, I love television. People who work in film
always say, "Why would you do T.V.?" but I l find it
fun and pretty satisfying. So I'd love to be doing more
And you have done quite a lot.
Yeah, I have done a lot. But I wouldn't mind having.
I dunno, maybe it's the paycheck. (Laughs) Just to have
a real, regular series, where you get to be a cop or
something a little more mundane than the average psycho-woman
that I usually get to play. Those are really hard parts.
I don't think people realize how difficult it is to
do those things. You have to really jump in there. I'm
not being lazy when I say I'd love to do a T.V. show,
because there's a lot of good work on television. I
just think it'd be a fun diversion from the kind of
stuff I normally get. The T.V. I've gotten has always
been really fun. Making movies is torture.
In terms of the hours you're putting in.?
Well, you know, you don't always have the greatest working
conditions. I remember rolling on the sidewalk in downtown
Florida (while filming "Satan") in this scene where
I have to stab a girl in the face and this huge three-inch
cockroach starts crawling over my body. You know, just
Stabbing people in the face is more difficult than it
Oh yeah, it's a lot of work! And I'm thinking, "God,
I have got to stop doing this."
But the next thing for me to do would be to do a John
Waters film. That would be wonderful, that would be
like working in the mainstream compared to this stuff.
Especially with what he's doing now.
Yeah, but he's still John Waters. He's never lost his
wonderful campiness. To me, he's a genius. When I saw
"Pecker" I felt so much better coming out of that than
I did other films.
Well, I think, as you were saying, Americans like a
happy ending. And the big budget films have to play
to that whereas the smaller budget movies can say, "We're
going to do it the way we do it and screw the test audience."
Though I do like those big budget films, don't get me
wrong. I think they're fun.
Certainly. They're great as a sort of fun escape.
They're a lot easier to work on.
Yeah, well, I like them in terms of viewing them and
you like them in terms of being in them. (Laughs)
It's definitely a much easier deal. I think "Zoolander"
would be an easier film to make.
Have you seen it?
No, but I'm dying to. I think Ben Stiller's really cute.
The guy who really steals the show in that one is Will
He's wonderful. He was in that Molly Shannon film. ("Superstar")
And "Meet me At the Roxbury" or whatever it was called.
"The Roxbury?" I'm totally bastardizing these titles.
"Meet Me At The Library?"
"Meet Me At Gene Roddenbury."
(Laughs) I love the comedy genre. It's so much easier
to make a comedy than some of these films. But at the
same time. when it's all over, they're all fun.
Another interview I was reading was with Heather Graham.
And she was discussing how you can do a picture, and
while you're working on it you really can't tell whether
your working on a great of piece cinematography or a,
you know, piece of crap.
Usually things turn out better than you might anticipate.
When you're doing it your like, "Oh my God!" and then
the film is released and you think "That came out I
better than I thought."
Because so much of it is with the editing and the film
Absolutely. And you have to trust your cinematographer.
Sometimes in these big budget movies they have all these
lights that make you look absolutely flawless, and in
these lower budget films, you don't. You have to surrender
With so many of these films, there's an aesthetic that
really has to do with the camera itself.
Yeah. And the budget. Look at "Moulin Rouge." Have you
ever seen a more beautiful film? Everyone was flawless
in that movie. Perfectly lit.
I was watching the new "Apocalypse Now," and I was overcome
by how much control Coppola had over the environment.
Each scene has it's own hue, like brown or red or blue.
But everything is coordinated to that one color. I saw
the same thing in "Last Man Standing."
Yeah, those directors are visionary. They get in there
and they know how they want their films to look. I did
see "Last Man Standing." I thought Chris Walken was
amazing in it. He played the Irish guy with the big
And of course, you're the female Christopher Walken.
(Laughs) I'm sure he's thrilled about that.
Have you ever met him?
I have, yeah... I've met him about five times. He's
a really nice man.
The interesting thing about him is that he started out
as a dancer.
Yeah, so did I.
Wow, you really are the female Chris Walken!
He was a good dancer from what I've seen in the work
he's done. He was the real deal! I'm in awe of him.
I always have been. So when I got that comment written
about me I was floored. He's been in my consciousness
since I was 12 years old.
Oddly enough though, I watched Harvey Kietel in "Bad
Lieutenant" four times before shooting "Men Cry Bullets,"
and yet they called me the female Chris Walken. So go