Alan Sacks co-created “Welcome Back, Kotter.” Alan Sacks gave John Travolta his big break. He produced films for the Disney Channel and the Jonas Brother. Most Recently, Alan Sacks managed the kid rock phenom ” .” But for me, he’s best known for the Ray Sharkey LA Punk Rock art house flick, duBeat-e-o.
On the podcast, Alan Sacks goes into great detail about his experience in the punk scene and what brought him there.
I talked to Alan Sacks and I brought up that I thought he was the manager of the kid heavy metal band, “Unlocking the Truth.” Alan immediately set me straight and let me know that he was let go. Alan’s options are his own. I know nothing of this situation. I invite the parents of the kids or the management to rebut what Alan said. But again, it’s his opinion. Not mine or the show’s.
Anyhoo – We started talking about other careers that Alan Sacks launched, like John Travolta. It’s nice to hear that he was superstar from day one. Then I mined him for whatever “Welcome Back, Kotter” stories I could get from him.
My big question was – How does a guy go from running the biggest show on TV to hanging out in punk clubs? Alan Sacks had an interesting journey. He’s still on it. Alan Sacks just finished writing his memoirs, which includes things that were so awful he wouldn’t repeat it.
duBeat-e-o sounds like a great moment in your life when you get to make what you want and how you want it. I work as a TV talk show producer so I have to follow rules of professionalism and standards and format and all that. It’s hard to break out of that for the podcast. But would this podcast even be listenable if I was all over the place? Or even more than I am now… It’s an interesting situation. How self-indulgent can you be? Very, I guess. But duBeat-e-o would not be worth talking about if Alan Sacks had a full budget and a straight narrative. We would not be searching for copies of it at Vidiots in Santa Monica.
What is something that you’ve done that’s just for you? How did it turn out? Share on our FB page or Twitter using #myduBeateo. I’ll share it on an upcoming show.
What is it about the film that is so appealing?
A programming note – We had to use the phone after Skype decided not to work. So the sound quality is not best on either end. A great interview though. I’m working on it. It’s only be 4 years, I’ll get it.
Plus -I removed the clip of the movie.
Again, all of Alan Sack’s opinions are Alan Sack’s.
Rough transcript of the interview:
Welcome to proudly presents I’m obsessed with cold found good bad movies obscure films.
It’s just that I just love it.
So the movie this week we’re talking about is due Dubeat-e-o.
So this movie the Dubeat-e-o would speak to the director of the movie does a great interview with them. You’d be surprised who made it and his journey and who he is and this is a fascinating story. I need you is the first three minutes and I think it gives you an idea of what the film is like at Prather’s and Stockholm’s slash Allen Sachs is my interview with Alan Sachs’s director BDubeat-e-o. How are you. OK how are you doing that. Are you still working on you’re on tour with unlocking truth. No I’m not. Actually there’s a movie that’s playing right now that actually happens to life first at the Lemley in Santa Monica. It’s a movie about the band.And me I’m some featured in the movie. You’re also producing the movie.
But as it turned out the band’s parents didn’t think I was doing enough for them.I made them probably a million dollars in the first year.
I know the Sony deal is huge right. And so the bands parents thought they could do better without me. So they graciously released me from my contract with nobody even called me. It was really very sad. It was a very sad experience.You know the kids were like you know family to me. Right. But it just wasn’t respected. So you know. Save 70 onto the next thing. So to answer that question no I’m not up to with them could screw them off but fuck them. Fuck them. It’s true. But I you know.
You know it just it was it was crazy. I didn’t nobody even Nobody even thought to call me. What do you mean like going to the show over the bus and there’s no bus no one. One day I called the producer present. Then it got as far as having a bus.
I got to I called the music producer about arranging something for the boys. In Detroit the guy produced the first album.
And he said well they were already here were you.
They went to the producer that I introduced them to without even telling me. So the producer Danny Kaye Told me That The boys were there and so I called my partner at the time Kevin Jonas who was working with me on this project. And he said yeah you know they the attorney called and said they took a vote and it was a unanimous vote and they know what you want. You want the management team. I said you got to be kidding. And that was it. So anyway I got them a book deal I got them a movie deal I got them a record deal with us I got them a merch deal. I got them. You know I supervise them at the channeller.I got them you know neijing television exposure. Silence is called Dead. I mean I can’t even tell you what what I did to them. And nobody thought to even call me to say hey we’re really sorry this didn’t work out.So you know what.
Phantom exactly is the first band you’ve ever managed. Yeah it is.
Would you have done differently. Nothing nothing I would have I not I would have done differently.
I made the mistake of putting two three sets of parents there or they’re not brothers. So three different sets of parents every day. So I brought them into the procedure and I was totally you know inclusive of them and I gave them too much. I to do what I was doing. So they can do it on their own. I mean they thought they can they can. Nothing’s happened for the band. They were supposed to play the Troubadour tonight. They canceled the show.
What do you think.
I said they didn’t sell tickets.
So they they backed out of it. They’re also you know doing something for BGT. But it’s a very minor thing. Before the awards I think they’re playing the end.
I think it’s safe to say I don’t know.
They might be back in a band but to back out of a show at the Troubadour which is your album release show is I think a tactical mistake. Even if nobody shows up. You could’ve gotten people to say all right you could get promoted and they’d show up or you buy the tickets. So I mean I just whatever you know really it was you know it was a sad situation. You know I worked with bands a lot. I to perform with the Jonas Brothers I launched the careers Demi Lovato and I work with town extremely well. I launched Travolta’s this career you know. And that’s what I was doing for my convictions.And how did it work and Travolta How did you meet up with him. A casting director brought him into my office and it was like you know amazing. He was the exact vision that I had for that character any other way know. Gabe was in my office we looked at each other and say this is our guy. Can we do it. You know we do a screen test of him but he was amazing. Ray you hated that hard. Did you know I was gay and you knew this guy was this huge sound that he was or that he was just perfect for your part. I sir courageousness Dave. Sorry to hear that he had a certain charisma that was going to work. And we were validated. By that scene in the taping of the pilot.When you pay for a studio audience you introduce the cast. And when Travolta was introduced he ran out. And made like a move you know one of his dance moves you know. And in the kind of thing. And the audience went crazy. And he was an unknown and nobody knew who he was. And so we all looked at each other we looked at the you know the executive producer Gabe and I looked at each other with a writer we worked with. Holy shit this is this is going to be something it was. And then it’s like you know the type saying the art of watching me. I swear I vacuumed three school show and they rundown on the air and I was like school shows. And then one after that shot the arrow. At the target. And the Arrow took its own. Course. Its own path and it hit the target. So result the casting director brought amendments master brought a man was right on top of all this the pitch the idea. I mean I just never saw it right away and put the script in development. JANSA D’ASCENZO is a buddy of mine was staying in my guest house. I said Hey John do me a favor write a song to this pilot that I’m producing to ABC and he went into the guest cast came back an hour later with. Welcome back. It was all coming together. It was amazing. Welcome back. I was it was based on your life growing up as Sweathog or as it was based on my experience in Brooklyn. I mean I think that was necessarily a sweat. Gabe had a lot of characters like that image act some similar type. And Freddie Prinze brought me down to the comedy store to see Jay perform. I said wow the state is doing the same. Talking about the same kids I’m writing about in my office. We get together much damage so let’s do a show together and I said how we’re going to get you on the show. And then I thought for a minute and I said you should do that teacher. And so we went on to write a presentation. And that’s you know that’s not my started. But you know did I know the kids I knew the kids but when I was a kid that I where I grew up. I mean it was definitely that. I was a kid.
Which one was you.
None of them really you know if anything follows them you know I was the essence of all of them and I’ve seen there’s no reason. Grew up. There was no point in Judo I thought I thought where are you from New Jersey. My dad grew up in the Bronx.
- So I thought that that was Osnes idea when I pitched it to him. He said let’s make Eppstein a Puerto Rican. We had him just like in a tough year which is like an anomaly but we are there to help them. But there’s a couple of us too. Yeah yeah So the president said let’s make them half Puerto Rican Jewish. So I don’t see it as very big this idea. But you know what? I did it.
And it was a great idea. Isen which I didn’t seem to ration was fantastic. And instead of programming it to Michelangelo I had a programming at ABC and his intuition was great and would get a lot of mileage. In the scripts. Of making and half Puerto Rican and which the army officers. Got.Years laterMy cousin. Meryl Winds up being married to a guy Named Joey Gonzales. He’s Puerto Rican.So her kids. I have Puerto Rican and half Jewish and those are like my second cousins half Puerto Rican half Jewish kids. So I thought that was funny. You good. What made him think of Puerto Rican Jew or that came from or that was just.
I have no idea. It just came out of his mouth. Where were the other characters that that is the shack was based on a you know the typical nerd. I had a character like that. Gabe had a character like that in his heart. You know it’s something that he nearly killed in Iraq. African-American kid was like you I remember the African-American kids that went to my school like bebop kids Vinnie Barbarino as I said was based on a character that I knew puff had called him kid but there was Sammy the Bull was in my high school in my elementary school.
I said to the. Yeah it was tough back then.
So there was a lot of that and you know in Bob arena in fact the guy that I really visualized as Bob Arema was a guy named Joe Puchi this really handsome charismatic kid a lot of fun. He was actually the first guy that was whack Sammy the Bull years later.
Wow. And that was my inspiration. Take a look at the true Hollywood style. I watched it was it was amazing what happened with you guys and also the fact that they can make a documentary about your show without showing a scene from the show.
It was really amazing. They told the music I’ve been using them as a customer for what. It talks a lot about kind of the same unfortunate situation. We will keep revisiting it but about you leaving the show and Gabe Kaplan leaving the show. Well that’s you know we don’t have to get through that. You know that was always a different situation. The fighting nature of the business to go see the movie that we just did and unlocking the truth it’s called Breaking a monster it’s going to Wembley next week. So movie I’m happy about it. And here’s a police are you able do you have any influence on the film. A lot of it. A lot of it because I was able to win the camera because I am a writer and a producer. I was able to see what the camera was getting. So in the back of my head I always knew what seems to work when the camera was in my house or in my apartment right. Or when I was interacting with the with the kids.I knew what was going to work. So it was almost as if I were free writing the interviews. So how did you get involved in TV from Brooklyn to. Are you going to man was your first thing. Yeah but I I had gotten a master’s degree in public broadcasting and I got an internship at ABC. But in the research department and wound up in the programming department it kind of worked my way up the up the ladder. I dropped out and became a punk. Yeah you know I have to as a TV producer who joined the punk scene. How old were you at that time. Well when I was a producer I was the youngest TV producer around the time I think I was about 20 something when I was running those shows keep going back.
And welcome back.And then I produced a stream of some TV movies I probably did have that you know 25 of them. It was always a challenge for me to find new work. So I’ve always been attracted to the music scene and the L.A. punk and the grab it was very very appealing to me. And so. Some guys came to me to finish. This challenge head for it. I’m jumping ahead but I was doing videos at the club lingerie. That’s that’s what I was doing. I was doing you know videos of the local punk bands and I was trying to do a show. I was trying to do a TV show of the club lingerie which was the premier club at the time of that scene and we were in Hollywood. And I said Yeah I was in Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard near and near and it was a great club. Who are some of the bands I came out of that are that you worked with. Well there were elements of X.. There was the band called The Knitter’s the chili peppers I worked with they came out of that. The peppers I’m actually be starting my next movie which was what was fiction in my next movie called thrashin an average is it punk skateboarding film.
Which is also a lot of fun I don’t know if you’ve seen that. Yeah that was a lot of fun. That was a great experience. So I was doing stuff. At the club lingerie and there was a band called Texana horse sads. And they were there were they went up in the media. Tex taxicab JONES He was one of the women in ed with Shockley. And me in the dream sequence. And then there was jihad went she came out in lingerie. She did a great piece of performance art called Sing with knives and then Derf scratch. Who is the Adhir he was he was from fear. And then social distortion did a lot of the soundtrack. They run that scene. Circle Jerks when we were in the other movie thrashin. I used it there. The song that they get wild in the streets. That ironically. One of my really close friends that I grew up with. Wrote wild in the streets. And did the original version of that that’s why I’m objec fridge. Oh well yeah he’s a great performer. And he’s in New York. And so that was his song The circle jerks did a punk version of it and I used that version. It was obviously a sweet spot for me because of Garland because I knew the streets that he was singing about. So that that was there. Who else was there a kid named saddlery was the kid in the singing telegram in the movie. It was at the club lingerie and the Simpsons and roses ever played there. But then there was an after hours club at that Concord the 0 club and you would go in there was a third world was it done basement or where there were about six different variations on the second floor above like one of those lingerie stores on Hollywood Boulevard of Hollywood and Wilcox right where they had that mural of all of us with characters was on the second floor of that and everybody would go there after the clubs closed. And Chuckie Weiss came out of there. He was in the movie spied a middle man who seemed to test with a lot of people have passed away in that series. And I gave them a number of people they got in to cab do transcon duty. Who was he in the scene and who was that you. Because he is a big part. I feel like in that film is was sideways sarky of course and you. Yeah well Elwyn’s he did a lot of the voiceover with me.He was bigger than life. It was like a scaredy cat. And he was a big part of it. I mean he was a very creative guy as fucked up and as misogynistic as he was he had some really great creative ideas. I mean one of the things he told me I never forget this is he had some footage of great car crashes like real footage and he said we should string those together and try to sell a reality show. That’s right. That’s right. It’s like car chases on TV. He knew he had intuitively as whacked out as he was. He had some pretty decent ideas. He was like a little bit ahead of the trend in reality programming UNSCRIPTED. You could have made a ton of money if you just use that word maybe. Incredible it was a reaction like there’s no way we could do that. Now you know and I thought it was interesting I thought it was really an interesting concept but I got sidetracked and never pursued it. So the second was the video. So how does a phone call you say that you will have the footage. Joan Jett and the Runaways So they have this footage of Joan Jett and they want to raise her up. I don’t think it was the original lineup we want to raise. So there are a couple of actresses. It wasn’t complete. What was the film was called we’re all crazy now. I think that I think that about 40 minutes of shot film that I really didn’t dig at all and they came to me wanting me to complete this film.
And I said well what the thought of the this was going to be a good break for me from doing network programming. I wouldn’t have to answer to anybody. I could do it my way. I wasn’t making really any money on it. But they were giving me the cash to make this movie. So I said I’m going to go for more. And so I thought that. How can I complete this film and I should maybe do it about me as a character. Completing the film. So. While I was doing was clubbing lingerie stuff and in a video editing room. I thought. Well. What if I was doing. This Joan Jett stuff. And. The character of the Dubeat-e-o. Was Me. As a video as a videographer. And in fact. That was my name the. And it was tattooed on my arm before the movie so in fact when I was in the editing room one day Zachery came in to look at some of the footage and he said yeah the media was a what the fuck is happening. So that should be your name. So what do you mean by wannabes and do BDA BDA. Of the video you know like the French you know spin to it and it’s spelt incorrectly by and says No I don’t so I made it official like the next day I wrote out of data in just around where you know my watches. So there’d be no mistaking that I have three tattoos. Why. This is like a commitment to having a tattoo. You know where I couldn’t hide it. And there was a dropping and I did it and I couldn’t go into the network with tattoos all over my arm. It wasn’t it was like would be unheard of. I couldn’t get money to do something responsibly if that was me. But I did it. And I said stop this now I’m going to live. And that’s what happened. I had a laser removed. That was the essence of how that character happened. And I’ll tell you it’s interesting I know that you know you called me to blog as many of you but just as you might want to listen to another podcast that I was on. It’s called the mystery show. The episode is the lunchbox. It’s produced by the people that this American life. And it was one of the Hyatt’s podcasts of last year. You might listen to them. I said it was really great you did in another podcast before mine this is insulting. I cannot believe this. What the hell are you doing. I swear to god. I’ve been looking for a way. This is a podcast Prather’s And so we’ve been doing it. I’ve been doing it for years talking about cult movies and I’ve been looking for you for about it from the beginning like you were one of the interviews I’ve always wanted to do. I found this movie a video store that had it wasn’t like kids video new york It was the videos or New Jersey where the guy got bullied into getting weird films I think. So I rented your film so many times and watched it a million times. I love it. I love it. So it’s so great. There’s a store in Santa Monica called vidiot. And we were it yeah So lots of reserves still there. Yeah they had that. So you know like for maybe four and five. And it’s crazy because they happen to just call me about the same week you did because they no longer have a copy of it and wanted to copy. And so I’m getting them a copy of the sound. They’ve always loved the sun. And you know there’s always something that happens about that as crazy as it is. There isn’t a month or even a couple of weeks that goes by somebody doesn’t contact me regarding them which I love. It’s great. It’s great. It is so impossible to find now.
There’s one copy for $90 on I don’t know that’s you selling that on Amazon. Nah it’s nothing. Take a good second career for me. It’s funny to get an idea of the time because you know working with the band anymore. So what made you. Well I just I just I’m writing a memoir. So that’s what I’m doing right now. It’s amazing what made you get rid of the tattoo but it wasn’t the time that pop tunes were acceptable. I made it look like Gelhaus. It looked like you know the it was done by the Aryan Brotherhood while I was at that Cochran state penitentiary. So I figured I’d call back. I did go through my mind as a teenager to get that tattoo on my arm like I was going Tetsuo. I was maybe over it even the phase where did that drawing come from of the screaming guy when the video gets hit. It’s on the box. That’s Gary Painter that was actually that was in real magazine I think. So you get the footage and you decide it’s going to be about yourself. How do you get Ray Sharkey was he part of the punk scene at the time. He was a close friend. And he was he said you know he had some. Up and down problems that way. And he was out of work. He didn’t like a lot of great stuff. He’d done the item make and then some series from Steve Kamau and he said you know I’ll do this. And so it was great. So I got ready to do it. And. And he blended in beautifully to the punk scene. It’s like there was a match made in heaven. So he wasn’t in the scene because I totally thought Wow Ray Sharkey was in the punk scene now. I brought him into it. I was there he stated there was there he was at the line.
He didn’t get any it wasn’t like the others you know but it was then that I could go anywhere and you know it was like it was part of it. It was like as a guy since you knew so well. Very very sweet guy very sweet guy that Sidney got mixed up with some you know drugs. Right. Very sad he died in a way way too great at. That rate it really is done. Wise guy. So and that was that’s what I that was I think that was the king also. OK. Where did you guys shoot the film. Where was it. So got million was a post production facility that was on the place in in Hollywood and right down the street from you know the hustlers on Santa Monica Boulevard. And so it was a post production facility and the guys who shot this film originally had some kind of deal with million.
I don’t know what the fuck it was. Where. Maybe they loaned him some money. I don’t know. I don’t know. But he gave them. Caught watch. The key to his place. The post production facility office space for the production is a small stand staged to shoot the film. So it was like a one stop shop. And so we did that. I brought in. Every freakin Hollywood. You know marginal on the marginal side of Hollywood internet for show that he could do this. It was crazy. And I was the adult supervision. And how was it having them in the film. How did that. I loved them. I loved these people. You know I was very close to that. Still I’m close to a lot of them you know. So there was a little bit of a family. I mean at one point I wasn’t making any bread. Having created some you know great TV and produced you know so many movies. I wasn’t able to pay my rent. They did a benefit for me at the music. Alan Sachs you know pay his rent concert was amazing. I’d been up and down up and down a lot. I mean you know it’s just you know I had a very up and down career Fortunately I’m still doing it. I’m doing you know I’m doing Disney movies. How did you move into Disney films. My wife had gave me an idea to do a movie about smot house and I took it to Disney and they put it in development. As a result of that I did five 10 more my movies with a small house. It’s about a computerized task that goes haywire. Stired Cady’s to go out you know Katie. Sure. She actually came out of the punk scene. But then she played the house. There’s a great sound really great Zulu’s the scene like what was it it was just the lingerie was a couple clubs every night as you go. It was the Zerah crowd as I said that was the after hours club. It was for me it was the club lingerie. But then on the west side there was the music. There was the music machine there was downtown. We used to go to one kind of cafe. And the Madame ones were both in Chinatown. The bands played there. Cafe the brand which was in Hollywood. There was a club called Rashi’s on Hollywood Boulevard. And then there were. There were bars there was the firefly on vine street and the Solich bloom still there next to the back page. There’s a club a little closer to Koreatown Corbie Ampad club. Stand on fountain and everybody you know would go from club to club so you you’d go in and you would know every guy. Was a very familiar. Environment. And a lot of drinking right at the door. You know I was part of it. Yes. Were you musician at the time or you’re just somebody who was part of the scene. No I always liked music. You know I was always you know I started out as a kid growing up in Brooklyn going to the Alan Freed rock n roll shows. My first concert I saw our Buddy Holly and The Big Bopper with the first concert I swear they died I’m on that tour so I was there at the birth of rock and roll. You know I think I was 10 or 11 years old. I was at the Lowes Oriental in Brooklyn with all my friends who turned out to be the Sweathog. Watching Blackboard Jungle which was a movie about school in Brooklyn in a day it was like any city it was integrate and call it in a city that there was was and. And that movie opened up and we was there. And it opened up with the score was Rock Around The Clock and there was the downbeat. One two three o’clock four o’clock rock. And this was the first time ever that kids of my generation heard rock n roll music coming over speakers bigger than a transistor radio. We never heard music like this before. We went fucking crazy. We started rioting ripping the theater apart. Had to close it. They had to stop it. To me that was the birth of rock and roll. And ironically. I don’t know if you watched the show final on HBO. But. The lead character it was Ricky and Estra. It’s a play by rather the ballet. He described that exact moment. In the show. And how that was the birth of rock and roll for him. And that was like everybody if you could look it up. Every kid of my generation saw a rock around the clock and all of us went completely fucking nuts. It changed the dynamic. Of Music. And what we were emulating the other films that same summer where we were before that was the wild one. So we got into black leather jackets. Right. And then rebel without a cause. The same summer was James Dean wearing the engineer boots and. And the Levice with cast Levis. And that those are our influences. But for me primarily. Rock Around The Clock. So that was my interest in music right then and there as a kid I was going to the rock and roll shows. And dancing on Alan Freed after school I would go and do that. You know the Alan Freed rock and roll show on TV. You’re on the show as a dancer. Yeah I would go on. Anybody could. It wasn’t special. I was like an audience that would go there and dance on the show. So I would yeah I would dance on the show. I’d love to find some of that footage. Yes. Get a read. That’s amazing. I got to think about that. I got a cut that you know that was my interest how I got involved. And then from there. My projects always. Were about music in a way while I was interested in the music. I was always motivated by it. So if I was doing Welcome back Kotter. The music. Of the show. John Sebastian singing Welcome back. It’s very important to me. I also had the honor to be on in the Belmont. He wanted the same songs we didn’t hire before we went with we went with John. So that was something that you know had intrigued me. So that was you know music was always my thing. What was it about punk that gave you. Did it give you the same feeling that Rock Around The Clock. What was it about punk that you loved. Yeah exactly exactly like no fucking future. I don’t give a fuck my way. That was what punk was. And it’s interesting in my memoir. I write that. I was interested I knew Mary. I was going to lections of the areas that at the lower east side. At the Fillmore. There was chirping about turn on tune in drop out. But I didn’t. I didn’t drop out. I didn’t drop out to the hippies. I loved the hippies. I was part of it. I was right there at the very beginning. I was always at the beginning of new cultures. I was in the beginning of you know I was in the beginning of the beats because I was too young. But I got to this age to look up to the beats. Emulate them and then the hippie thing happened and I was there. Hanging around. You know St. Marks place in the village East. But I didn’t drop out. I was an executive. I stayed you know. I stayed true to that path that I was on. But when it came time for the parts. I took the two year sabbatical and became a hardcore punk. So I dropped out for the pumps and after the hippies. What was it about the punks that you loved so much that made it worthwhile. Do you know the anarchistic attitude of it. I was you know I was very nihilistic. You know my dad had passed away at the time and maybe that moved me along in that direction. I was you know I like to drink. You know I didn’t read just but you know that wasn’t. The freedom of it. Which by the way. Cost me a couple of years in terms of what I could be doing if I stayed true on my path. I would have been president of a network or a production company but I didn’t. Is that something you wanted. No. No. And I don’t regret it. I don’t regret it I regret it. Sometimes having a hard time getting things solved. But I’ve always managed to continue to work within the system and to do that and still do that was my you know path as well as I don’t know if I mentioned or if you read anything that you know I. I’ve been a practicing Buddhist for probably over 40 years. How does that influence you in showbusiness in the punk scene. Well you know Buddhism. It’s just going deep inside yourself it’s being true to yourself. It’s the way I deal with people you know learn the concept of compassion. That’s more than I want to go into at this moment. But other than rest assured I I sat through my meditation for you know half hour this morning and I do that every day. What was the reaction to the punx to an executive or the guy create this huge mainstream so coming into a scene like this. They thought I was going to be a path for them to take the plunge into the mainstream. And it was what they wanted. Mainstream. They were. They were all punka showbusiness. Punk was. Their own entertainment. They were all singing they were all dancing. They they had they were artists. I wasn’t the only one but I was one of them. They are what you call it like the scout. I could lead them into the mainstream world. They were very supportive of. Us and so was the media. People were like oh this is going to be our big mainstream in ways that maybe they were so fucked up. But look at what the fuck is this. No it was you know was probably coming off a nervous breakdown of my own. I toured with the film. Went to a lot of film festivals to got accepted into some acts which was like the way some festival here. And once that happened. It got accepted in some festivals around the country. Around the world. I was at the Munich film festival I was at the concert festival. I was at a festival in Amsterdam. And one of the things I was at a music festival. Where by the way the song played in a town called Tubingen to play for like 2 years late night. You know it was like a real popular film. So I’m sitting there in the BMW screening room in Munich. You know the weather was screaming at the festival. And there were you know. Five hundred people watching it. And during some of the scenes I don’t remember which scene it was. There were kids in front of me punks that are burning themselves with cigarettes. Say holy shit this film is likely to be motivated. One. Day when you’re watching it. You can’t sit still. By the way my concept I made this movie a pre digital editing. There was no digital editing. So we had to edit this thing by hand for over a year and a half. I went to a screening every day in the editing room every day. And sat there with the editor that I was getting crazy just like the Dubeat-e-o was getting his editor crazy. That’s what I was doing with my Joes about how he really feels like so bright that. I would come in I was bouncing at one o’clock in the afternoon every day I get ready to go for day and end the day by going to the lingerie get there before it closed for a couple of drinks and then start the same thing. The next day again. There’s a lot of quick cuts and a lot of things that we use now which is pretty awesome. Where did that come from. It came from me inherently. I just thought I said if you could we could put a lot of things into that movie and just go bam bam bam bam bam. And subliminally and shocked people that would work. So I just. Loaded it with everything I loaded it with. And part of what happened was it came out short. They hired me these guys hired me to make a movie and I brought it in because they didn’t they were never complete. And now I’m fixing it and I’m sure I’m do the same thing. So I have to make it complete. So I said you know what I’m going to get and. I ran out of money. They weren’t going to give me any more money. And I said and I said they said they wanted the movie with breakdancing and I said Get up. Fuck it I don’t want it. These guys aren’t paying me. They paid me in one lithograph. Ride. In a lithograph. That was it John Lennon. One of the bag pictures. And as it turned out. It was a fucking forgery. Because my wife and I went to try to sell it. And when they took the back of the picture they said it was a forgery so I got paid in a John Lennon forgery which I loved. It’s fucking ridiculous. And so anyway that’s you know that’s that was it was his mom. I mean there’s a mob in the movie but he’s the mob in real life. And I to say it was the mob. I’m going to say you know. As much as you know the character in the movie was connected. You know these guys. You probably shouldn’t have fucked around with them. Was there any consequences consequences to video in the film. Nah nah nah. What kept you going with this film after there was no money. I wanted to complete it I thought it was. I thought it was a statement. And so what I did was I went out I shot it. I got stills. I got. I got stills from this guy Ed Culver who shot the punk scene and I was introduced to him by a cage the cap we are not us dead. And I got the footage. That I that I licensed like that meant trust us. They told me about that. And I got to know Gary Panter you know that stuff. Tell me about that. I was finding I wanted to find most extreme stuff I could find. I told my AP I said find the stock footage that is so fucking crazy. And so he found that stuff you know with the head blown off. That’s real execution footage. Well That was like a real man.
And what was your point in having it in the film. I just wanted to shock people. If I had the footage. I saw in the footage. I would figure out a way to make it work organically the way I can put it in the film.
So for instance Ray is holding the gun on Def and his editor is holding the gun and is added. So the editor for a Quick Second.
Flashes. That the gun is going to go so we could have that footage cut and subliminally and see the head be blown up. And then go back to it and have the media laughing crazy. And it worked. Yeah it’s a great scene. Yeah One of my favorites. So how much was the film under you said he gave a movie that was under which you have in common. Yeah you probably had to sell him 10 15 minutes. I don’t know. And what did you use. Well I use I use those still shots I use that stock footage I use the pistol shots of the tank underground. I you know that the boots the pad to my tie. I just start the foot in. I just started building it up the montage the way I was like they use a word today. What is it. When you. Look at things. Like you’re in a museum curator curator right. Like today I created insane shit. They don’t use that. But they didn’t use that part but I was curating that movie. So this show everybody’s opening scene and. So everybody have crazy when it’s made. And so each show the movie what was their reaction when they saw the finished film. Who’s the financers. They didn’t know what to think. They saw it in the south of France. They had no way that they could have that could have taken this. But that my friends loved. Working with distribution. How did that happen. What happens next. You know we had very very bad distribution here. I got him there to take the rights to fire in which a friend of mine had great company John. So John saw the potential in it. It never really had a theatrical release setting but you know say see was the video really is I mean I think it’s just just because people think like me they find they thought they found this film. So he comes from I think foxtails video I think it says on the bottom. Yeah I think they picked it up in a film festival somewhere and and there was a release in Japan which I loved by the way the Japanese released subtitles. So everything I said is in English and not with Japanese subtitles running throughout the film. It’s a whole other dimension where you can hear everything you’re saying with LG ha. And that’s all recorded and. It’s all done you hear it and then it’s on top of that. It’s in Tunji. Subtitles. I think you see that one of the cool things about the film besides all the clips and everything is that you’re talking over the whole movie. Free DVD commentary nothing is stolen. Exactly. Exactly. Where did that come from. It came from me and it also was in conversations I had with Deaf deaf scratch. And so we decided that there were holes in the music. When I finished that there was still a hole so I’m screening it and people were asking what’s supposed to happen. So I said you know what I got to sell this and. I got to fill in exactly what people were asking me. So. Do they. My sister a couple of other people we get around and we watched the movie. And we recorded what we were seeing and we did that a couple of times. So we had commentary that was natural. And when I took all of that recording. That was like 90 minutes twice and I went to the editors and I said man you’ve got to cut this and another is cutting a million shots in the movie. Now you got to cut it.
You’ve got to cut in the sound again.
And so it was like rain upon layer upon layer.
My idea was just to bombard the senses and body visual.
With stuff that shopping Johanna went this is the most extreme thing I’ve ever seen on film.
Was like an amazing performance and it was odd. And it was revolutionary. I mean it was about 20 30 years ahead of its time. I really appreciate you saying that because I felt that it was ahead of its time too you know and you know and even in my book I wrote that when I describe things in the song that it was the commentary was ahead of its time and it was commentary that was wedded to the film. And today it’s like a DVD commentary it’s just a normal thing but it wasn’t. It was like truly unique even on the Disney Channel do it today. Have a running where you know kids are commenting on films. I don’t think they got it from me. But I’m I think I’m one of the first that I’ve ever seen that happening in a movie race for putting out like it’s locked in the film locked and totally locked What have you taken from the Dubeat-e-o that you use in other projects or after school specials or Disney films or anything. That’s a good question.
It’s it’s the Certainly the music the the intensity of the editing but sort of the varied style is fast movement. I would really love to get some money and do something like the Dubeat-e-o you know with real money but you know we’ll see what happens. What scene would it be on. I mean would it be. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. Is there anything like that interesting now. I mean obviously you hear about these kids and you say in the trailer you fly out to meet with unlocking the truth.
Is there something now that you feel like is the cost but you’re on as your watcher?
Well I like it. I like the crust punk scene. I like the train hoppers. I like the kids riding the trains. I don’t know that is and. Kids that are you know hopping on freight trains and riding cross-country. They’re doing it now just throughout the country. And how did you find out about this. My son does it. Oh he does It was amazing. How was your son. Twenty five. So they just they go out to see the country for free and Giovan train. Yeah Sounds like a good film. You could they could be. And after the video comes out what what did you think was going to happen to this film and I thought it was going to have a little more a little more success. But you know that was in my mind because it was so fucking extreme. I didn’t see that. So I have to you know. Monitor my Put a governor on my Selects. And what would you have done differently. Knowledge of all these more years of experience that there is there are things in the media that make me cringe. I don’t want to go through the specifics but there are things that really disturbed me. So you think you went too far in places here. I mean there seems like in my book that I’m writing that are actually creeping me out in my own book I’m saying holy shit. You know I can imagine writing a memoir and writing about things that you’ve experienced that you can’t even read because they get you too pretty. Is there anything you can say now want to get into it right now. Yeah of course. But you read the book. So when when to if I have I don’t know I got I got to get a publishing deal. You got to write it was written. All right. So I’m assuming right now I’m working on the proposal and working on it diligently. Joan Jett obviously didn’t like the movie so she got back to you. How did you hear that her reaction. No I don’t remember how I heard it. She you know she was so not liking it was because it wasn’t about her anymore is it. No I don’t I don’t know. I don’t know. Maybe some of the chase comments you know. You know that was kind of a you know synchronistic stuff.
Yeah I went into this down not not a lot but you can appreciate that. And then so we do we interview people like yourself who made these kind of movies and then we also review kind of the crazier films with the comedians and we talk about those films as well like people’s guilty pleasure movies as well as talk to you like Lloyd Kaufman I interviewed a couple of years ago. Right. It’s been a play it’s been this interview I wanted to do for a long time you’re one of the films that shaped what I do and as a teenager you know I was a kid who watched it a million times so I appreciate that. OK appreciate that man. Very good. All right thank you very much. OK thanks.
Twelve years ago, when I was working in a video store that was selling off its VHS inventory, a coworker put a used copy of this terrible movie in my hands. It’s hard to convey how seedy the tape looked and felt—unevenly shrink wrapped with the aid of a hair dryer, blazoned with a yellow paper sticker advertising a sale price of $3.99. Of course, I loved punk and metal ephemera, the more degraded and disgusting the better; but something about this particular tape just seemed gross. However, I reasoned that it couldn’t be all bad, since they’d stolen The Screamers’ logo for the box. Boy, was I wrong.
Five years before duBEAT-e-o, there was a movie in the works called We’re All Crazy Now that was to have starred The Runaways. Although the Runaways broke up in the spring of 1979, filming went ahead that summer with Joan Jett and three actresses playing the band. In September, Billboard reported:
Set Runaways Film (Yes, that is Cheryl “Rainbeaux” Smith of Caged Heat fame. And who could forget those great “original Runaways,” Karen and Kathy Fallentine?)
The production fell apart and the movie was abandoned. Somehow, by 1984, the footage wound up in the hands of producer Alan Sacks, the creative genius behindWelcome Back, Kotter, Chico and the Man, and, more recently, Jonas Brothers: The 3D Concert Experience. Sacks cast Ray Sharkey as an editor who—get this—is assigned to make a movie out of some old footage of Joan Jett! (I think this is what the credits are referring to when they say the movie is “Based on an idea by Alan Sacks.” Wherever does he get his ideas?) Rounding out the cast this time were El Duce of The Mentors, Derf Scratch of FEAR, and, performance artist ,Johanna Went.
I would recommend heroin addiction before I would recommend watching the whole movie, but I would also guess that Mentors fans (people of discriminating taste) are slightly less likely to hate it than Joan Jett fans. Aside from the We’re All Crazy Nowfootage and a handful of original scenes, the movie is a desultory montage of Ed Colver punk photos, smut Polaroids, religious kitsch, comic book covers and stills of El Duce cavorting with unlucky women. While these images roll by, members of the cast and crew gab in voiceover, sounding wasted and bored. Sure, it sounds like fun now, but give it three minutes.
The most enthusiastic review of duBEAT-e-o came from The Psychotronic Video Guide:
“This thing is nuts! It played in theaters!”