Surfin' the Cess Pool with Dave Markey
by Al Flipside & Joy (Published Flipside Magazine #58 1988)
Rinnggggi!i rinnnggg!!! The phone rang like it always does in the late afternoon- "probably another damn label publicist" I though to myself as I reached for the phone . But no, thank god, it was only Dave Markey ... but before I could say one word the room started to quiver- quiver in a familiar fashion that only means one thing, EARTHQUAKE!! The intensity grew as more and more things fell before my eyes, the panic set in, "RUN!" ... 1 dropped the phone, the quake stopped, I woke up... Shit I wonder what Dave Markey is up to? Oh well, another day... Later on, that Saturday night found myself, Joy and Dave Markey walking down Hollywood Blvd. in search of whatever excitement was out to meet us . Besides collecting a few jaywalking tickets, and doing the usual sightseeing, we talked about those whacked out old Hollywood musicals, which brought the subject to Dave's movies. In case you don't know who Dave Markey is, well, he's the one man motivating force behind a lot of bands (Sin 34, Painted Willie, Anarchy Six and Tusk), records (numerous records with the formetioned bands as well as his movie soundtracks, The 'Party Or Go Home' compilation series and now “The Melting Plot” compilation), movies (numerous short films as well as the 'Teenage Lovedolls' series and Redd Kross film 'Macaroni and Me'. He even used to work on a major fanzine (We Got Power). The dude gets around.
Al: So hey Dave, what have you been up to?
Dave: I just compiled a compilation album called the 'Melting Plot' as well as compiling a series of short films of mine onto video tape (titled “Some Shit”.) Right now I really want to plug the record. I think it is a darn good record- a lot of great stuff from all over the country as well as a lot of bands from LA. All of side one Is LA.- newer LA. bands like L7, Celebrity Skin, I Love You, Chemical People and of course the usual suspects like Redd Kross. They appear under two ficticious names (“Revolution 409” & “Ledd Kross”). There are also great contributions from Algebra Suicide, Das Damen, Dez Cadena, & Jack Brewer, no coincidence then Sonic Youth do an old Saccharine Trust song on it.
Al : Will there ever be the third Lovedolls?
Dave: 'Lovedolls In Outerspace', yeah, maybe in the next decade once the dust clears . The Lovedolls became a real band now and from there it became real hectic. To make a movie about an (now) established rock band that was originally a satire would be like a double dip. I figure, they're a “real” band now & they only have a couple of original members at this point- it's evolved into a very separate entity from the film. Right now it's so goddamned complicated it's silly.
Al : You've got 16 millimeter equipment now?
Dave: Yeah, I've been piecing together 16 millimeter equipment . The collection of short films are my experiments with the film gauge. I shot the film entitled 'Macaroni and Me' which was a take off on summer film entitled 'Mac and Me' which was produced by the McDonalds corporation. We figured we'd make our own film for a different McDonalds corporation (Jeff & Steve’s). We actually shot it specifically for a Redd Kross concert introduction at the Variety Arts Theater. We then did a mini tour of Cali and used it for the opener.
Al: There must be some good stories shooting that one, considering the scene where the nude girl get hosed down by Jeff in somebody’s front yard.
Dave: Right... That was Wendy, a fan from the East Coast who moved out here specifically to be around our scene. Actually the way it came together- we got the concept and shot the whole thing the weekend before that Variety Arts show, improvising, sort of like how we did the Lovedolls films. We didn't actually sit down and write out a script, we just had a few basic ideas. We're having an easier time conning people into doing more whacked out shit... because of the Lovedolls films.
Al: Just how successful were those films? I know you got some above-ground distribution.
Dave: Right. The first, 'Desperate Teenage Lovedolls', we had no intentions of making anything above a small film to show to our friends at parties, as we were surprised when It just took off. That was when the VCR thing first started and people were just looking for more whacked out stuff, I guess. We just made the film on weekends, just a group of friends and it took us about a year to complete. We would just basically jam in a sense, as a musician would, but do it as film-making. It didn't have any structure or anything and it all came together in the end.
Joy: Did you go out and try to market it?
Dave: Well, we learned as we went along, we had no idea what we were doing at the time. We did everything ourselves, we patterned it after how you did the Flipside video series. Flipside Video was an inspiration, we even used the same price! ($22.50). (Pauses, with a look of concern…) Is this an Earthquake or is there a train going by? Is there a subway underneath us? I think it was just a blast of beat box music coming out of some Toyota... (Later the news confirmed that there was a small earthquake that evening!) . Anyway, we took out an ad in your fine publication, Flipside and we were bombarded by orders for the film. We were selling it a lot in L.A. and we were showing it a lot in the clubs. We never got into movie theaters at the time because you just can't get in there with Super 8. I thought the appeal would be very limited to L.A., but we were surprised when we were getting orders from all over the country. In the meantime we managed to get a distribution deal through Hollywood Home Video, they got us the full color package and got us into the video stores, like straight videos stores across the country like Blockbuster. We were all so stoked that we decided to do the sequel, 'Lovedolls Superstar' . That is it's own story. We took 'Lovedolls Superstar' to SST, who were trying to start a video department, that was SSTV number three and I think that was the last video release they did. We killed it! They were too busy concentrating on all of the records they were doing.
Al: Is the compilation record 'Melting Plot' a benefit record for your new film?
Dave : I’ve have had a hard time getting money together for the kind of film project I’d like to do. Initially it was supposed to provide the funds for my next film, however we ran up such an enormous bill in the studio that it is less of a benefit record per se, it's now just a compilation record trying to break even.
Al: Your band is on that record.
Dave: Painted Willie did it's last recording for that record before it officially disbanded. That was just with Phil Newman and myself recording.
Joy: Are your films appealing to a different audience than you would with your records, your music?
Dave: I think so. Redd Kross fans can get into the films and SST music fans can get into the films, but they have actually held their own in video stores.
Joy: As far as your films go, who is the 'we' that you refer to?
Dave: Basically the core of We Got Power films is Jordan and Jennifer Schwartz and myself and Jeff and Steve McDonald helped a lot on the Lovedolls films. We Got Power films evolved from We Got Power fanzine, published from 1981 to 1983.
Joy: Did you ever want to go back and do the zine again?
Dave: Yes, yes. So many times we've wanted to. We've had issue 6, which we called issue 666 ready to go but it never came together- we actually had half of it completed. It was a great zine, I'm very proud to have been a part of it. We all just got into different things- Jordan's first move was to get the We Got Power 'Party Or Go Home' record going, 40 US hardcore bands on one disk. I actually sequenced that record. I then rediscovered my Super 8 movie camera and really got into films and I was also in so many bands. The magazine just kinda dwindled away.. We couldn't really compete with Flipside! And then there was Maximum Rock and Roll, which I used to write for.
Al: You were in Sin 34 at the time and went on to Painted Willie and Anarchy Six...
Dave: And now I'm jamming in this band called Tusk, sort of a superstar assembly, Steve McDonald is in it, Jennifer Schwartz ex- Lovedolls. We have a revolving door concept, Pat Smear played bass at the show the other night. I really like playing music but I'm really concentrating on film right now. I have three scripts that I've completed.
Al: Isn't that a change of pace for you to actually write out the screen play.
Dave: Totally. Up till now it's been just shooting stuff that pops up in our faces. We would just use people off of the street, any street people, we'd just give them a bottle of wine afterwards . Yeah, writing a script is definitely a sign of moving ... somewhere, I don't know where, just moving.
Al: What are some of these scripts about?
Dave: One is called 'Criminal Groupies' which is about a cult of violent criminal worshippers. It was inspired by the whole Richard Ramirez (“The Night Stalker”) thing, there was this woman that was just completely in love with Richard Ramirez, she was just totally insane, she was worshipped him like he was a rock star . I just thought it was interesting and wrote a script on that. I'm not exactly sure what my next production will be, I've been tossing around the concept of the disaster film for awhile. A 1970’s styled disaster film. I have actually been conceptualizing 'LoveDolls In Outer Space 3D' but the politics around that project just sort of shelved that concept for awhile.
Al: I guess in the 'Lovedolls Superstar', Jello Biafra (president of the USA) lead Into the Lovedolls in Outer Space?
Dave: Yeah, Jello... I think it would be hot to combine with Biafra on a screen play, that would be amazing.
Al: So what about Anarchy Six?
Dave: Anarchy Six was formed out of 'Lovedolls Superstar', Steve McDonald’s character Rainbow Tramaine was a peacenick hippie that comes to L.A. and is corrupted and engulfed by the L.A. hardcore scene. After the movie, we decided we'd play some shows and from there we did the record “Hardcore Lives!”.
Al: A lot of the real cynical type really love that record!! Like all of our friends.
Dave: If it would have come out six years ago, it would have been the foremost L.A. hardcore record.
Al: Then it would have been serious .
Dave: Anarchy Six was a play on the dogma surrounding hardcore. Hardcore died because of clone conformity, people weren't adding any new ideas to it.
Al: Have you gotten a lot of reaction from that record?
Dave: Yes. People thanking us for saving the hardcore scene, saying "you're my favorite band next to the Sex Pistols and they broke up", "Hey man, do you get shit for the way you look, just the other day I was in the mall. ..", 'We should unite against society .. .". It rivals the best of the Flipside or Maximum Rock and Roll letters.
Al: It's a lot like what you were doing in Sin 34.
Dave: Yeah, that's how I understood it. I went through it. A few of the songs on there are old Sin 34 songs, and the band is Sin 34 fronted by Steve McDonald. Everything sort of connects, from the fanzine, to the records, to the films and stuff. It all just kind of spawns each other.
Joy: I guess you're just a Renaissance man.
Dave: Well, I don't know about that. I hate the Renaissance Fair.
Al: Are you financing all of this by delivering L.A. Weeklys?
Dave: I'm barely financing my rent and food. I'm just trying to do the Hollywood Shuffle, slowly rearing my head in this cesspool. Basically I'm just trying to get the films happening, I'm redistributing both Lovedoll films myself again to get it into places the other people can't get it into.
Al: Well, what else, I know you have an engagement to play bongos with Sonic Youth at the Roxy tonight.
Dave : Yeah, I have to run across town. My closing comment, I'd like to say that my main inspiration for living is just to get together and expose the true devolution that Is Hollywood. The true nightmare that is Hollywood. As long as things keep going down the tubes I'll keep rolling the camera. I think the Bush years are going to really be insane.
Al: Yeah, Hud is convinced things are really gonna go to hell.
Dave: I was convinced of that when Reagan got in. Things change, the whole mood of the country went to the right, everything got conservative, and we all barely lived through the 80's . But going into the 90's, I'm just keyed up and ready to go. I'm ready for the sky to start falling.