Congratulations, David Rothenberg!

Last night marked the 25th Annual Village Awards, presented by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation! GVSHP is a leader in protecting the sense of place and human scale that define the Village’s unique community. GVSHP recognizes those people, places, and organizations which make a significant contribution to the quality of life in Greenwich Village, the East Village, and NoHo. This year, David Rothenberg was one of the Village Award winners!

00138534David Rothenberg’s multilayered life thrust him into Broadway’s brightest lights, prison riots, political campaigns, civil rights sit-ins, and a Central American civil war. In his memoir, Fortune in My Eyes, his journey includes many of the most celebrated names in the theater: Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor, Bette Davis, Sir John Gielgud, Peggy Lee, Alvin Ailey, Lauren Bacall, Christine Ebersole, and numerous others.

He produced an Off-Broadway prison drama, Fortune and Men’s Eyes, which reshaped his life. John Herbert’s chilling play led directly to the creation of the Fortune Society, which has evolved into one of the nation’s most formidable advocacy and service organizations in criminal justice.

Rothenberg was Elizabeth Taylor’s opening night date at the Richard Burton Hamlet – a distant cry from his entering Attica prison during that institution’s famed inmate uprising; these are just two of the experiences revealed in this memoir. As a theater publicist and producer – and as a social activist – he shares experiences with politicians and with anonymous men and women, out of prison, who have fought to reclaim their lives. The human drama of the formerly incarcerated that unfolds in this book is a match for many of the entertainment world’s most fabled characters.

Check out the GVSHP blog about Rothenberg here!

7 Invaluable Pieces of Advice for Recent Music College Grads

Bobby Borg, author of Music Marketing for the DIY Musiciangives advice for recent music college graduates in his latest article from SonicBids!

7 Invaluable Pieces of Advice for Recent Music College Grads

Probably the scariest thing about going to music school to become a more competent musician is graduating and having to find a paying gig. The pressure is on to start repaying those student loans and prove to your friends and family that you haven’t wasted the last four years of your life. While there are no surefire tips to take you from being a student to a celebrity, these seven invaluable tips will help set you and keep you on course for many years to come. Pay attention.

1. Locate yourself in the most opportune city to succeed

New technologies have made it more possible than ever for you to get discovered from virtually any part of the world. However, big cities are where the action is 24/7, and living in or near one is more likely to lead to networking opportunities and big auditions unavailable in small towns.

Research the city that makes the most sense to you given your goals, and then plan out a short visit. Utilize your school’s resources (such as the alumni outreach department) to get a few numbers of people who may be willing to meet up with you and provide some advice. Attend jam sessions. Visit the local musicians’ unions. Thoroughly check out the scene. Just don’t rush your decision. Once you move to a new city for your career, you should prepare to stay there and put in the work for several years.

[Top 10 Cities in North America Whose Music Scenes are Exploding Right Now]

2. Prepare for the long haul by becoming financially sound

Whether it’s New York, Los Angeles, Nashville, or somewhere else, there are countless stories about people who move to the big city and give themselves six months to “make it” while living on their friends’ couches. Needless to say, that’s a completely unrealistic plan.

Be prepared — both financially and mentally — to spend several years pursuing your goals. Look for work immediately to help cover your basic expenses and settle in by joining a local songwriters’ organization or networking group that will bring you a sense of belonging. Just remember that success won’t happen overnight, so be prepared for the long haul.

3. Bridge long-term goals with short-term goals

While finding work to meet expenses is crucial, stay as close to the music business as you can. Look for music-related opportunities such as private instruction, music transcription for educational books, equipment sales, equipment repair, or even stage production.

Who would have ever thought that one of my buddies would end up with a huge touring gig by setting up and moving equipment for SIR studios in Los Angeles? A band was holding auditions there one night and his boss and the music director were cool with him giving it a shot. He nailed the audition and his career took off from there. Moving gear wasn’t fun, but it paid off.

4. Don’t lose touch with your college friends

Remember that the majority of the work you do will be based on word-of-mouth recommendations. The genuine relationships you form today can lead to the gigs of tomorrow.

After graduating from Berklee College of Music in Boston, I got hired to play weddings by my former teachers with whom I kept in touch. Within one year, I got hired onto my first pro session in New York City by two college buddies that I contacted all the time — this gig led to joining a band on Atlantic Records. Bingo! I was in!

Today, I run into friends from school all the time who are playing with some of the biggest rock groups and working on the biggest films. We still all help each other out in small ways. Remember that connections are one of the biggest reasons why people invest in school.

To read the rest of the article, click here!

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Morrissey is Officially on Tour!

Morrissey’s US tour has officially begun! If you’re a fan of Morrissey, hurry and get your tickets! And also, pick up a copy of D. McKinney’s new book Morrissey FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About This Charming ManFor now, please enjoy the following excerpt from the book:

Introduction

From Metalhead to Mega-Wuss: How I Became a Fan of the Great and Powerful Moz

You obviously know who my favorite performer is. But guess who is my second favorite?
KISS.
And my third favorite?
Alice Cooper.
Sparks and Devo are my other two favorite bands, so I’m not THAT cheesy.

But still—people always give me a strange look after I am asked about my favorite bands. Morrissey and Gene Simmons have absolutely ZERO in common: Moz likes veg, Gene likes vag. Both of them do have sideburns, so I guess that counts. So what made me go from “Detroit Rock City” to “My Life Is So Shitty”?

I credit my love of music to two things, the first being that I was fortunate enough to have young parents. There was always music in our apartment (and lots of weed). My mom was into Frank Zappa, David Bowie, and Alice Cooper. My dad liked a lot of southern rock, white-boy blues, and Loverboy. Both of them liked oldies and soul music, so being the oldest and only child (at that point), I liked what they liked. I remember someone asking me what my favorite record was, and I had two—Private Eyes by Darryl Hall and John Oates, and Alice Cooper Goes to Hell (which are still two of my favorite albums). I never got totally into Frank Zappa or Loverboy, but it would have happened eventually if it were not for the second thing that turned me into a musical genius. 

MTV.

Oh yes, the glory days of MTV. Dee Snider versus Neidermeyer, Pat Benatar pretending to be a teenage runaway, and Madonna’s floppy “Borderline” hat with the bow—it did not get any better than that. The older I got (and the older MTV got), the more I started to lean toward the metal side of things. I still listened to all types of music, but as soon as I was welcomed to the jungle by Guns N’ Roses, it was on. Big hair, tight pants, and falsettos became my favorite. It did not help that I was starting to go through puberty, so besides being attracted to thundering drums and hot guitar licks, I was also attracted to thundering bums and hot guitar d . . . well, you know what I mean. I even stayed loyal to the “metal cause” through the grunge years, although I did like Alice in Chains because they were a little harder than the other Seattle bands.

I admit it, I got a little lost in high school. That is because metal kind of died on me. Grunge broke its legs, alternative stomped its head, and hiphop peed all over it. But that was okay, because like every other teenager, I discovered punk rock. Even my taste in punk rock was tainted by metal—my favorite band was the Misfits, which led me to Samhain, which then led me to Danzig. Man, I loved me some Glenn Danzig. He was going to be my future hairy husband. After punk, my tastes started to broaden again in the absence of metal. I started listening to goth music and industrial while revisiting my ’80s MTV favorites. And it was during this time that I fell in love with my other future hairy husband. 

I can tell you exactly when and how it happened.

I was hanging out at my friend Mark’s house. It was the usual gang of idiots and the usual Saturday night filled with cigarette smoke, cheap rum, and Jack in the Box tacos. Because I did not smoke and I did not want to listen to the Melvins, I was sitting on the couch in the living room watching 120 Minutes  while everyone else was in the dining room with the turntable. 

It was the usual college music crap fest: Hüsker Dü, the Replacements, and lots of PJ Harvey.

And then they showed “Tomorrow” by Morrissey.

 At first I rolled my eyes and was all “whatever” about it. But I continued to watch. I watched him slink around France in black and white. I watched him pout at me, asking me about “the one thing that I’ll never do.” And when he demanded “tell me that you love me” with that sly crooked smile, I was hooked like a vegan fish.

At first I was embarrassed by my Morrissey crush. I was “punk rock” and madly in love with Glenn Danzig at the time—no way could I let anyone know that I preferred sensitive sideburns now. Plus, I still was not all that crazy about his music. I had tried to listen to the Smiths in the past, and I just could not get into it. I liked “How Soon Is Now?,” but EVERYONE likes “How Soon Is Now?” And forget about even listening to his solo stuff—my friend Mark poisoned me by playing “Ouija Board, Ouija Board” to show me how dumb Morrissey was: “You’re right,” I said, “that song is pretty fucking stupid. Let’s listen to ‘Walk Among Us.’”

But after that, I would feast my twenty eyes on Morrissey’s hairless chest and pompadour. I borrowed Your Arsenal  from a friend and loved it. It was surprisingly harder than I expected it to be, and it encouraged me to check out more of his stuff. Surprise! Most of it was pretty hard, and I loved how the slow jams were over the top. Soon after, I found myself giving up the devil lock and accepting the pompadour poof into my life.

I was now a member of the Church of Morrissey.

Whenever I meet people and Morrissey comes up in the conversation, I find that there are two kinds of people: Morrissey Lovers and Morrissey Haters. I am totally understanding and tolerant of other people’s tastes, and I usually don’t get mad when people disagree with me—as a record collector, there is nothing I like more than having a conversation with others about music. But when people tell me that they hate Morrissey, and I ask them why, they can never give me a good reason. It is always:

• He is stupid.

• He is whiny.

• He is all gloom and doom.

• He is still stupid.

I never get a good reason because there is not a good reason to not like Morrissey. They realize they can’t hate on someone who writes witty and insightful lyrics. They can’t hate on someone who was a great front man—Morrissey brought just the right amount of mystery, sexiness, and audience interaction. They can’t hate on someone who wants some privacy. And how can you hate someone who wants to save the animals? You can’t, so that is why I get barraged with lame arguments, insults, and jokes about my Morrissey love. But the joke is really on them—after all, if you have such passionate feelings (both negative and positive) about someone or something, then it is obviously affecting you more than you would like to admit.

Like him or not, Morrissey has an effect on pretty much everyone. 

But don’t think for a minute that I am a blind worshipper. I fully believe that the only true fans are real fans, and to be real, you have to remain truthful. I love me some Morrissey, but there are songs that I do not like. He has said stuff that I do not agree with. And there have been times when I just shake my head and roll my eyes. I have met other Morrissey fans who blindly love everything he does and have gotten belligerent if anyone says anything negative. I always point out that underneath all of the hair and satin shirts, he is a normal person like you and me. And then I out-asshole them and remind them that he is human and needs to be loved—just like everybody else does!

So now let’s talk about love. 

Why do I love Morrissey? I think the one thing I love the most about Morrissey is the “drama.” I love the mugging, the curling up in a fetal position on stage, the brooding, and the microphone cord whipping. I love the songs where he is mock crying, mock angry, or mock in love. I love the moaning and groaning and the yelping. I liken him to menopause: sometimes he gets you hot, sometimes he gets you depressed, and he changes your life forever.

I hear a lot of Morrissey fans speak about why they love Morrissey, and usually their #1 reason is “I can relate to him.”

Well, I guess that works for some people, but not for me. I am sorry, but I cannot (and could not) relate to Morrissey—I did not grow up in gloomy, dreary, working-class Manchester; I did not feel like an outsider; I am capable of loving someone other than myself; and I prefer cardigans to pullover sweaters. Yeah, we both buried ourselves in music and literature, but other than that, we really have nothing in common. After a long time thinking about what my deep-rooted reason is that I love Morrissey, it suddenly came to me.

I love Morrissey not because I can relate to him, but because he was there for me.

I have loved Morrissey literally for most of my adult life, and he has been the one solid constant thing throughout. Always there with a great album, always there to be judgmental of my meat consumption, and always there when I needed a laugh (or a well-deserved snicker). I knew that if I wanted to feel better or to tune out life, I could just turn on Morrissey.

Morrissey and the Smiths in general proved that you can really just be yourself when it came to music. Sure, they promoted the consumption of flowers during the early years, but other than that—no gimmicks, no bullshit. They brought a new and fresh sound to listeners and paved the way for indie bands to become indie bands. Morrissey also proved with his lyrics that no matter how tragic life was, you had to see the humor in it—because as Morrissey has proven for many people, humor is the only thing that can keep a person going in life.

Morrissey FAQ will look at and explain how a shy and quiet introvert became the hero to millions just like him. Because of the worldwide fan base, fans and information regarding Morrissey are widespread— Morrissey FAQ will provide a complete volume of everything a new fan or old vet needs to know about Morrissey.

I want you to think for a minute: Have you ever met people who have admitted that the Beatles saved their life? That Elvis Presley knew how they felt about getting bullied in high school? Not that the Beatles and Elvis aren’t just as important as Morrissey, but they’re just not as real as Morrissey. Real people have emotions and real people are very much human in nature, and that is why real people can relate to pretty much anyone. And Morrissey is very much real to a lot of people.

Other than the Beatles or Elvis Presley, I cannot think of anyone else but Morrissey who evokes such a crazed and passionate following. From the sweaty dudes who climb up onto the stage to hug him to the legions of fans lined up for his autograph, we are there for Morrissey because he has been there for us. And he represents us: the misunderstood loners, the sexually repressed, and the sardonic chubby people like myself. And although I could not relate to his life, Morrissey represented mine: all of my trials and tribulations, loves current and lost, and late nights lamenting about life.

I have said it once and I will say it again: “There Is a Light That Never Goes Out” is the “Free Bird” of my generation. 

I have evened out my musical tastes again, liking a little bit of everything (except Zappa). I am at peace with my eccentric tastes—Black Flag sounds great next to Bell Biv DeVoe on a playlist, and I love to get into conversations with fellow music nerds about Duran Duran stealing everything from Japan (I am talking about you, Nick Rhodes!). Writing Morrissey FAQ was quite an adventure for me: I continued to work full time while writing in my spare time, I had two major surgeries, and I dealt with an abnormal number of ups and downs. But the one person who was there for me throughout it all was Morrissey.

My boyfriend was also there for me, but he doesn’t have the cool sideburns.

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1 Funny Lady, 6 Hilarious Monologue Books

Alisha Gaddis, author of both Women’s Comedic Monologues That Are Actually Funny and Men’s Comedic Monologues That Are Actually Funny, was recently interviewed by Rebecca Strassberg of Backstage.com!

00123100“You have an audition. One where you are supposed to be funny. Really funny. They want you to actually make them laugh…in an audition,” writes Alisha Gaddis in the introduction to her book Women’s Comedic Monologues That Are Actually Funny.

“But you have to have a comedic monologue, and if you see another person do that tuna fish one one more time, you may gouge y
our eyes out! And wedon’t want that. You need your eyes to see the standing ovation that you will get once you snag the job that one of these monologues helps you land.”And with the help of Applause Theatre & Cinema Books and Hal Leonard, humorist, writer, and performer Gaddis is just beginning to deliver on that promise.

A go-getter by nature, the Indiana native currently stars with her husband on the PBS show “Lishy Lou and Lucky Too”—the music for 00130770which won the duo a Latin Grammy—and has been doing standup comedy since her days at NYU. She has acted on and Off-Broadway and has a long list of credits on TV shows, including “Mad Men,” “House,” and others. But Gaddis says she’s always been writing, and she started weekly magazine Say Something Funny…B*tch in 2010.

In conjunction with the magazine, its writers put on Say Something Funny…B*tch live shows until Gaddis saw yet another opportunity.

“Only a select number of people were hearing the words at the shows, and I thought these could really be funny monologues,” she says. “So I wrote the pitch in the middle of the night and sent it to my literary agent.”

Leonard and Applause “thought they were really fresh, really funny, and really current,” she explains.

Since the00130749 book’s publication, five more in the series have been ordered, including collections for men and teen boys (both coming in July), teen girls (currently being edited), kids (set for 2016), and the one Gaddis is most excited about: an LGBT 00130748version.

“There’s not anything like that right now out there, and I’m, like, ‘Come on, let’s be strong for our community!’

“It’s going to be more all-encompassing, so it’ll be all different ages, different categories,” she adds. “I’m working with one of my friends, the president of Swish [Ally Fund], and he’s going to help me guide it and make sure everything’s sussed out properly.”

With over 60 monologues in each book, Gaddis is establishing a monologue empire—the success of which was unanticipated.

Read the rest of the interview here.

WWE Legend Dusty Rhodes Passes Away

Yesterday, we were forlorn when we read this announcement on the WWE website:

“WWE is deeply saddened that Virgil Runnels, aka “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes — WWE Hall of Famer, three-time NWA Champion and one of the most captivating and charismatic figures in sports entertainment history — passed away today at the age of 69.”

In celebration of the life of this WWE legend, we present an excerpt from Pro Wrestling FAQ, in which author Brian Solomon writes of Runnels’ amazing career.

Dusty-Rhodes

The American Dream

Ever since the advent of TV, pro wrestlers have required a lot more than pure athleticism to be successful and “get over” with fans. They needed to be uniquely charismatic, and, if possible, have a special way with words that could win the attention of fans, as well as convince them to turn over their hard-earned money, of course. In the annals of wrestling history, Dusty Rhodes is a watershed figure— a talent who was able to establish himself as a national attraction based on pure charisma and determination. It was of little consequence that he couldn’t really wrestle technically, or that he appeared overweight and out of shape. For the first time, the character  was everything.

He was born Virgil Riley Runnels, Jr., in Austin, Texas, on October 12, 1945—the “son of a plumber” as he would famously and passionately intone during countless TV promos. Growing up against a working-class background that would be represented by the persona he would cultivate for years, the young Runnels became a football standout during his college days at West Texas State, an institution known for the many future pro wrestling legends it boasted on its team.

Changing his name to the catchy “Dusty Rhodes,” he enjoyed his first taste of wrestling success as a heel, one-half of a tag team known as The Texas Outlaws, rampaging through the AWA with fellow Lone Star native Dick Murdoch. But Dusty was a born babyface, and when fans in Florida embraced him after he turned on his former partner, the villainous “Korean Nightmare” Pak Song, he never looked back. He took to calling himself “The American Dream” (a response to Song’s moniker), and became the biggest superstar ever produced by Eddie Graham’s Sunshine State promotion.

Rhodes was one of a kind, a dynamic performer who spoke to his audiences like a zealous gospel preacher, relating to fans as one common man to another. His interviews were even more entertaining than his matches. Just as Elvis did for rock ’n’ roll, Rhodes co-opted mannerisms and vocalizations identified with African-American culture, and it made him one of the most beloved fan favorites of his generation. His drawing power extended way beyond Florida, and his 1970s exploits in the WWWF, the Sheik’s Detroit territory, Georgia Championship Wrestling, and other locales, are the stuff of legend.

Up to that point, the National Wrestling Alliance had been careful to place its World Heavyweight title on “credible” athletic competitors only, preferably those with solid amateur credentials. But the overwhelming popularity and ticket-selling charisma of Rhodes led the NWA brain trust to dramatically break from tradition. Between 1979 and 1986, Rhodes would win three NWA World Heavyweight Championships, defeating Harley Race for the first two, and Ric Flair for the last. The shift to the concept of wrestler-as-entertainer was complete.

More than just a talented performer, Rhodes also demonstrated a great creative mind for behind-the-scenes booking. He first spent time as one of the main bookers for Jim Crockett Promotions in the mid-1980s, crafting the storylines during the company’s hottest period, and also infamously coming up with what would become known as the “Dusty finish”—a choreographed match conclusion in which a referee is knocked out and later controversially overturns the original, more popular decision. Innovative ideas like this have made Rhodes a creative groundbreaker, and he has since enjoyed booking stints in more recent years, first for TNA Wrestling, and currently for WWE, for whom he has been a member of the creative team since 2005.

Dusty wound down his in-ring career during the 1990s, enjoying final runs in both the WWF, where his “common man” gimmick was accentuated with ill-conceived polka-dot attire, and in WCW, the company for whom he had first made his creative bones during its previous incarnation as Jim Crockett Promotions. In recent years, he has enjoyed watching the careers of his wrestling sons, Dustin “Goldust” Runnels and Cody “Stardust” Rhodes in WWE. Most recently, he has been given creative control over WWE’s NXT farm system, using his enormous talents to help groom the next generation of pro wrestling superstars.

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Creative Music Product Pricing – Eight Strategies that Paid Off

Bobby Borg, author of Music Marketing for the DIY Musician, provides examples of creative music pricing strategies that paid off in this post on the Discmakers blog!

These eight examples of creative music product pricing might just change the way you think about pricing your merchandise and services.

For many young and developing artists, music product pricing is usually the process of arbitrarily coming up with a number, slapping it on your product or service, and forgetting about it. However, as illustrated below, pricing is something that can be far more strategic. While you won’t be able to pull off all of the following strategies, these eight examples will get you thinking about price like never before.

1. Kid Rock rocks

As concerts are costing anywhere from $65 to $150, and as much as $300 to $1,250 on the secondary market, Kid Rock charged a low $20 for his “$20 Best Night Ever” tour. By taking the exact opposite approach of what other artists were doing, Rock created quite a buzz among fans and the media. In fact, the strategy apparently worked so well, rock is repeating this idea on his US city tour to support his album, First Kiss.

2. Wu-Tang Clan got a plan

Upon release of its double album Once Upon A Time in Shaolin, Wu-Tang Clan announced that it would release only one album (i.e. one single unit) that fans can pay to hear in art galleries, museums, and festivals. Since people, in general, love exclusivity, the group received bids for the album for as high as $5 million. The concept was that music should be treated as a valuable and respected piece of art, not something people download at no cost. Clever!

3. Nipsey Hussle does an impressive hustle

Unsigned rapper Nipsey Hussle pressed 1,000 units of his album Crenshaw and sold them at a price of $100 each. Under a campaign he entitled Proud2Pay, customers were also rewarded with concerts, priority access to new material, and one-of-a-kind gifts, such as an old rap notebook or signed photo. Nipsey’s intention was not necessarily to sell out the units to his target audience, but to attract the attention of a few big wigs in the music business. And it worked! Jay-Z swooped up 100 copies of the rappers music.

4. Prince creates a triple win strategy 

On his Planet Earth album, Prince cut a deal with British tabloid The Mall on Sunday, distributing three million copies of his record in its Sunday edition for free (all it cost was the $3 price of the newspaper). Prince was paid a flat fee by The MailThe Mail made money from all the advertisers that wanted the extra exposure, and fans got a free CD. Everybody won.

To read the rest of the article, click here!

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Two Inches Down – Saving Arlene in Tarantino’s Death Proof

Dale Sherman, author of Quentin Tarantino FAQ, provides us with a fan-fiction post exploring what might have been if Arlene had survived in Tarantino’s Death Proof.

Two Inches Down – Saving Arlene in Tarantino’s Death Proof

by Dale Sherman

00122479When writing about Death Proof (2007) in the manuscript for the Quentin Tarantino FAQ, I started writing my own alternate version of the film. Oh, sure, that’s a neat thing to do as a fan; but for the author of a book discussing Tarantino? Here I am telling readers about the history of and ramifications facing a movie and suddenly I go all fanboy on everyone. Fortunately, I saw that I was heading down a … well, not a dangerous road, but a rather useless one for the book – who wants to pay to read fan-fiction, after all – and edited the material out soon after finishing the chapter.

Still, the things that bugged me a bit as a viewer kept rolling around in my head, as I know it does for a certain number of Tarantino fans who never have taken to the film as they have to most of his others. We spend half the film with extremely irritating characters who get bumped off, only to spend even more time with a new group of characters re-enacting the first part of the film. Could there have been a better way of handling it? Why bring our old friend Sheriff McGraw in for exposition that doesn’t really mean much to the rest of the film? Why are we introduced to other movie people, including two stunt-women, who are making a movie in essentially the middle of nowhere but don’t know about Stuntman Mike? What is he doing there anyway? Is he working on the film with everyone else? If so, wouldn’t everyone be creeped out that the stuntman who killed several women with his “death proof” car is working on the picture? The community of stunt people is rather tightly knit, wouldn’t Stuntman Mike be like the John Wayne Gacy of stunt-people? Known, hated, and avoided at all costs by everyone else in the profession? The stunt Zoe performs is neat and nail-biting, but could there have been a better way to get her on the hood of the car rather than “this will be cool”? And after all that, the film’s final image may be satisfying, but it seems almost too quick as well.

As I state in the book, the setup of the women partying in the bar and then being wiped out is obviously a type of Psycho influence on the storyline. In Hitchcock’s film, we’re supposed to side with Marion and even come to identify in some ways with Norman Bates as they have dinner and discuss their problems nearly a third of the way into the film. Then Marion dies and the character the audience identified with is gone, leaving us to take on new characters and go into a new direction with the film.

Same here with Stuntman Mike. We’re supposed to like him a bit in the first half of the film and we’re supposed to feel a connection between him and Arlene (Tarantino has stated he purposefully filmed scenes in such a way to make the audience see Arlene as the girl who survives to the end of the slasher film). Then he kills her off and – boom – the audience has to readjust to new character (Zoe Bell and the gang), while knowing Mike deserves to have something nasty happen to him for what he did. Yet we see that his new car isn’t exactly “death proof” and then there’s the odd way he pranks the women and then heads off as if that would be it, instead of the stalking deaths he caused in the first half of the film. And while we know that he’s a killer, why would the new group of women suddenly be out to kill him? Sure, he’s a jerk as far as they know, and dangerous perhaps, but they have no way of knowing that they need to get him. Because of that, their “roaring rampage” seems to make them out to be crazier than Mike.

Yet what if things had been different?

In the scene midway through the film, where Stuntman Mike kills the women in the other car, we see Arlene lower her head right before impact. The wheel of the car then comes flying through and gets her at the tip of her head, snapping her head back and does a lot more damage as it kills her.

Now suppose that Arlene had lowered her head just an inch or two further down? What if that tire had gone through and missed her by “that much”? Furthermore, with it missing her, there’s not only a possibility that she would have survived, but let’s go one step further – what if she emerged alive and without major injuries?

Here’s Stuntman Mike living, as McGraw states in more provocative terms, his sex life through his “death proof” car. He gets injured, but he’s still the survivor. But now there’s Arlene, the woman who he talks into dancing for him and being her own person, walking away from the wreck. She’s “death proof” without the need of a car. How would that affect Mike? More so, how would Arlene be affected in knowing that Mike intentionally killed everyone with his stunt car?

McGraw can’t be involved, but he can certainly put the thoughts into Arlene’s head that Mike is a deviate who killed her friends “for fun” and will likely do so again. Meanwhile, as in the film, Mike is all banged up and needs to stay in the hospital for several months. Arlene can’t do anything to him there, but she can plot her revenge for when the time comes. With this, you can still bring in Zoe Bell and the other stunt people. Have Arlene train with them to get a better understanding of stunt work, how Mike would build such a car, and how to counteract him when she (or they) get a chance. Sure, in reality there’s no way she’d become an expert at any of that within the six months or so Mike is recuperating, but this is the movies after all. You can even throw in Sheriff McGraw with his own thoughts and actions to help catch Mike (little knowing that Arlene has more in mind than simply catching him “in the act”).

In order words, the movie no longer is simply a twist on the slasher film, but one on the revenge thriller. You avoid the odd chase at the end of the film where Mike puts a scare into everyone and then seems to be happy to drive off into the sunset. Instead, we have a cat-and-mouse game between the obsessed killer, Stuntman Mike, and the obsessed avenger, Arlene. Will she push too far and endanger everyone or will he get his chance to claim his “death proof” girl? Will the others try to get her to do the right thing instead of simply get her revenge? Eventually it would all wind up in the car chase as seen in the film, but you could then add in the extra ‘70s spice of a sheriff in pursuit along with them, just like in so many Hal Needham (Smokey and the Bandit) type films of the period, along with the uncertainty of who is actually out to get who. Imagine them working on a film with that stunt on the hood of the car, but with Mike as the other stunt person who has now been pushed too far and wants to see them dead. They go “off-script” by continuing the chase past the filming point and into the main roads, while McGraw is in on the chase, trying to bring them all to justice.

I’m not going to kid anyone. I’m sure that many reading this may think that it’s a bad idea, and certainly that what we got is better than what I’m suggesting. After all, there’s no way anyone is going to say, “let’s remake the film your way, Dale!” Still, it’s hard to not look at all the brilliant work put into that film and wonder what “could have been.” That shows that there was certainly something there worth watching in the first place and therefore not the failure that some make it out to be.

And as for the above fanboy rantings? Well, it is a blog, and it is for free. Simply an added bonus for the fans who want to read more about the film and others done by Tarantino in the Quentin Tarantino FAQ. Just be reassured that you won’t find me going off-track like this in the pages of the book, no matter how fun it is to do so here.