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Book Review: Dark Stars Rising: Conversations from the Outer Realm by Shade Rupe

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What is transgressive art? Is it a movement by photographers and filmmakers (et al) that breaks down the previously-set boundaries of traditional “good taste” art and attempts to pull its audience in via a little “shock treatment?” Or, is it just a collection of whacked-out weirdos that have managed to figure out how to use a camera? For me, the world of transgressive art — in particularly the cinema of trangression — is a bit of a 50/50 thing: there are a number of underground filmmakers whose works I have come to admire (or, at the very least, be amused by) over the years, while there are others whose very names are enough to warrant a hearty “Oh, hellz, no!” from me.

Regardless of one’s opinion about these transgressive artists, you still have to wonder every now and then what the hell is going on inside of their heads. And, while definitely not the first person to wonder that, Shade Rupe was one of the first to actually find out. Dark Stars Rising: Conversations from the Outer Realm is a fascinating look at 27 of the foremost icons in the field of transgressive art. Throughout the years, writer/actor/PR guru Rupe interviewed many actors and artists for underground magazines such as Screem and Fun Magazine, but his tête-à-têtes were usually edited down by publishers to make room for ads from all of those dubious mail-order companies.

But now, thanks to the folks at Headpress Books, Rupe’s intimate chats with folks like Alejandro Jodorowsky, Richard Kern, Tura Satana, Udo Kier, Chas. Balun, William Lustig, Brother Theodore and even Teller (from Penn & Teller fame) are available in newly-transcribed, unedited form. Put together just like one of those good ol’ fanzines from the ‘80s and ‘90s (complete with its share of rare, outrageous and often-explicit photos), Dark Stars Rising: Conversations from the Outer Realm is a venerable feast for anti-art lovers everywhere.

Want to know what Divine thought of his first on-screen performance as a man? Or perhaps you want to find out how truly twisted Crispin Glover really is? Well, at last, you can dive into the dark grey matter of these unconventional artists to find out what makes ‘em tick. Will you be able (or even want to) return to the “normal” world of art after reading this? Well, that depends entirely on how sick you are to begin with, I suppose — but this collection comes highly recommended nevertheless.

Dark Stars Rising – Conversations from the Outer Realm includes interviews with:

1. Richard Kern
2. Alejandro Jodorowksy
3. Buddy Giovinazzo
4. Udo Kier
5. Jim VanBebber
6. Dennis Paoli
7. Tura Satana
8. Teller
9. Brother Theodore
10. Peter Sotos
11. Johannes Schonherr

12. Chas. Balun
13. Divine
14. Floria Sigismondi
15. Hermann Nitsch
16. Genesis P-Orridge
17. William Lustig
18. Dennis Cooper
19. Gaspar Noe
20. Johanna Went
21. Zamora, The Torture King
22. Andre Lassen
23. Arnold Drake
24. Richard Stanley
25. Dame Darcy
26. Stephen O’Malley
27. Crispin Glover

For more about author Shade Rupe, please visit www.shaderupe.com. To gaze in disbelief at the wonderful layout of Dark Stars Rising: Conversations from the Outer Realm itself, click here (yeah, this is a little on the NSFW side, kids).

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About Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. He currently lives in Chico, CA with four cats named Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Margaret. Seriously.