Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dark Stars Rising: Conversations from the Outer Realms 

Shade Rupe writes about film and entertainment for genre magazines such as Panik and Timeless. As a journalist covering artists in alternative film he has interviewed many of his idols over the years. Dark Stars Rising is a compilation of these conversations. The commonality of these artists is their determined pursuit of art on the fringes, frequently related to horror or alternative sexuality.

The cover art gives an indication of an unusual aesthetic – with a background of deep red, various portraits of artists are framed in circles of different sizes. Staring out from other circles are eyeballs rendered in saturated tones of green, blue, orange, and magenta.

The majority of the subjects interviewed are actors or directors of avant-garde, sensational, "transgressive" film.  These are films the sorts of films that grace the venerable Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film.  Others are performance artists who push to the limits of what seems reasonable or possible.

Each chapter is devoted to a different artist. The table of contents is a grid with a photo of the artist and the page number. Interspersed with text of the interview are photos from Rupe’s collection. Photographs from other sources are credited. The overlapping photos, and photocopied graphics give the book the look of a zine. The interviews are casual and it’s evident that many of these artists have a sense of humor. In the first chapter the author interviews Harris Glenn Milstead, better known as Divine. Rupe asks Divine whether he’s considered writing down his stories. Yes, replies Divine,
…one day I would like to write a book, but I don’t know who they could get to play my part, though, if they made the movie. I guess Rob Lowe. We look a lot alike.
As “the most famous large actor in women’s clothing” Divine is one of the least outrageous artists in this collection. In his introduction to the chapter on Hermann Nitsch, Rupe writes,
The first viewing of a Hermann Nitsch action isn’t just seeing something it is an experience. The blood seems so carefully placed as it runs down flesh, the positioning of the corpse so delicate, the straining of the human wrapped in a carcass so natural. The granddaddy of Viennese Aktionism, Hermann Nitsch is also one of the warmest, cuddliest Austrian teddy bears you’ll ever come across.
Though this book won’t appeal to everyone, for those horror fans with an open mind, it will be a fascinating glimpse into alternative film and art.

Dark Stars Rising: Conversations From the Outer Realms by Shade Rupe (Headpress, 2011).

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