Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Horror Genre and Women Who sCare!

(Loss of Innocence by April A. Taylor)

Who out there doesn’t think we ladies are capable of wandering the darkest back alleys and ghost infested sanitariums of the mind with our smiles sly and a-kilter, knowing we are stronger for straddling one foot in reality and one foot where most men wouldn’t dare tread? It’s true. An increasing number of women out there are richer for possessing our fears, having either fought through some horrific ordeal, or, taking pleasure in creating a twisted labyrinth as a playground to prove we are completely sane amongst the madness of humanity. Who are these women? They are the women who step beyond boundaries and find solace in the genre of horror—Women in horror, and how we love to sCare! 

Truly, some of the kindest, most open-hearted people I’ve ever met have worked in the horror genre. Why is this? Perhaps because when you can honestly face your dark side, you are able to see the light that much clearer. And, which makes it easy to understand why a horror ‘cookbook’ is actually a book with proceeds going to ‘Project Get Safe’ (www.GetSafeUSA.com).

This blog isn’t just about publicity for the ‘Have a Heart for Horror Cookbook’, it’s a dedication to all the women who work in the horror business, and the world is richer because of you ;)

And, with that said, I introduce to you some of these fantastically amazing women putting themselves out there and sharing a piece of their mysteriously imaginative shadows:

Tonjia Atomic

Not only is she a rocker (in a few bands), she also films, writes, and makes jewelry, but I’ll let her tell you more about her ‘witchy-kitschy’ world:

NS: My first question is what inspired you to follow a path in film and music, and more specifically the horror genre?

TA: I've loved film and music ever since I was a baby. I asked for a radio of my own when I was about 3 or 4. I've always wanted to sing and act but never knew that I wanted to direct until I was an adult. I realized that I wanted to create the stories as well. Writing and directing would allow me to have more control in the creation process. When I got my degree in Film and Video Production at Seattle Central Community College I found that not only did I have a passion for filmmaking, but it was also something that I was good at. For several years since then I went back to music where I performed and wrote songs in various bands. I was frustrated with a split focus between my two passions. Recently, I've been able to balance music and film where I can make room for both. It's worked out so well in fact that two of the bands I'm currently in have songs in upcoming indie films and my latest short film has been accepted to several film festivals.

For a long time I'd been making dark and weird films where people get killed or encounter the supernatural. When my film, Companion, was accepted into the Midnight Black Festival of Darkness something seemed to click. I didn't realize it but I had been making horror films. Of course horror comes in many forms and I wasn't making slasher flicks, so I didn't think my projects fell into that category. What inspires me to make horror is the same thing that prompts me to enjoy being entertained by it. Horror is an exploration of the psyche. It helps us explore our fears and desires in a safe environment. It's also fun to scare and be scared. Horror can be a thrill ride, like a roller-coaster.

NS: Do you have any advice for other women out there who have an overwhelming desire to follow a path in filmmaking, or creatively?

TA: My main advice is to keep working at it and meet people with like-minded interests. If you write, keep writing. If you perform, keep performing. If you are interested in filmmaking take classes if you can. If you can't take classes just start working on projects. Start small. Do what you can and work up from there. Go to filmmaking meet ups or volunteer for an indie project as a Production Assistant. Find an online group that fits what you want to be doing. Find an internship or mentor program. The best thing to do is to get yourself out there and meet people until you find people that you click with and that support you. The worlds of music and film are very diverse and there is something out there for everyone. You just have to find your niche. I am personally involved with several groups where we share info on opportunities and support one another. A useful online site is withoutabox.com. When you have a project that is festival ready you can search that site for nationwide festivals and apply right there. You can meet fellow filmmakers through festivals as well.

Tonjia Atomic’s Links:


Pin-up models beware—Inkerbella is one hot mamasita, a tattooed beauty who loves her horror!

NS: Let me start by saying the photos on your gallery are fabulous! There is so much to learn about you, so, why don’t you give the readers a peak into what started you on your current path, and how you came to be associated with the ‘Have a Heart for Horror Cookbook’.

Inkerbella: Well thank you so very much Nishi! Ok...let’s see, I started modeling back in 2006. I had a blast trying out different styles anything from Pin Up to Fetish. I have been featured on quite a few websites, magazines, calendars, books etc. I have my own designer line of products. The Inkerbella Perfume and Inkerbella's Candy Floss that you can pick up in stores here in California or online at A Pin Ups Closet in Westminster, CA or at Viva Dulce Marina in South Pasadena, CA. Along the way of modeling, I was offered a gig doing a music video and fell in love with acting again. I put acting off for a while b/c I was more focused on my modeling at the time. I have always been one to perform. Even since I was little I would put on shows for my parents, and in high school I was in chorus and dance, and also did some plays. I felt like I had conquered pretty much what I wanted in modeling and decided at the end of 2010 to really buckle down and focus on my acting for the upcoming year 2011. I was lucky enough to get some amazing gigs—a handful of feature films with the majority of them coming out this year! I also did some TV gigs with the TV show 8.13 on the America Horrors Channel, where I play a re-occurring role as a Zombie. I was also on CSI, Spike TV's 1000 Ways to Die (airing this month March 2012), and a new show airing soon on Comedy Central. I just recently filmed another music video for the band Neon Trees for their new single "Everybody Talks" (out March 8, 12).
     I have always loved the darker side of things...ever since I was little. I have done a lot of horror type films and just love it! I feel like the horror genre is where I belong and it's like a long lost family to me! I hope to continue to spook you out and entertain you too.
     I just love the cookbook that Lisa Coffelt put together so well! I was lucky enough to see the call for ladies in horror to submit their recipes, and I was so excited to be a part of this project to help the amazing Charity "Get Safe USA". I really love to help people and this was the perfect opportunity to do just that!

NS: If you were stuck in a dark room with your favorite monster, what inspiring words or advice about your life would you give it?

Inkerbella: Well, I'm a very positive person. I always try to see the good in any situation. If I were stuck in a dark room with say my favorite, Freddy Krueger....I would tell him that just like he doesn't give up by haunting people in their dreams....I will never give up on my dreams. That we should all work hard at what we really want in life and not to give up! Sometimes things take time, but if you put your mind to it...you can have anything you want!

Thank you again Nishi for the time to interview me! Wishing you all the best! I want to also say a special thank you to my friends/fans who follow my work. I really do appreciate it lots, you guys rock!! HUGS

Inkerbella’s Links:

Reyna Young

The Queen of Horror: Miss Misery—with that name alone how could you not like Reyna Young! With her own comic book and hostess of ‘The Last Doorway Show’, Reyna is definitely one who intrigues!

NS: I noticed on your website that you do a lot of promoting for other people in the horror genre on ‘The Last Doorway Show’, can you tell us more about the show, and of course about yourself and the horrifically splendid things you do!

RY: Thank you! Well The Last Doorway started off as a promotion show for local
short films. When I didn't receive any, I started doing interviews to fill
in the gaps. Well it sort of took on a mind of its own. I started to
create my character Horror Hostess Miss Misery and from there it just grew
and grew.
     I grew up on Elvira and my Dad later on introduced me to creature
features, so Miss Misery was something I knew I wanted to do.
Now Miss Misery has grown a large fan base, I have comics, a CD single, a
fan club, and now I'm producing two of my own shows and hosting a segment
on creepy kofy movie time Saturday nights in San Francisco. Besides ‘The
Last Doorway’, I now have Movie Massacre, I'm hosting awesome horror films
and I have segments and guests. That show will be hitting television in a
month. I'm so excited. Plus you can catch The Last Doorway out of San
Francisco Fridays at 11pm channel 29 and KCMC 28 out of Hayward. It's
exhausting at times doing so much, but I find it to be so much fun.

On top of Miss Misery I also write and Direct Short films and I am also
getting back into acting, I have done a ‘Women in Horror’ documentary with
32 females in it and gearing up to do another documentary on Female horror
hosts. If you thought that wasn't enough, I have a film festival I throw
every year in S.F called A Nightmare To Remember, dedicated to short
horror films and I have published about eight books including two poetry.
Now this September Miss Misery will be throwing her own Horror Convention
in Sacramento!!

NS: If you were in a castle with Vincent Price and Elvira, what would you tell them about how you followed your dream of working in the horror industry? And, what other tid-bits might you talk about?

RY: First off I love both Vincent Price and Elvira. I would let them both know
how they have been inspirational to me in the horror genre. I started
doing what I am doing now because of Vincent Price's films he was in, also
his awesome acting skills. Elvira taught me how females can be goth, sexy
and charming. I would tell them all about me and what I'm doing plus I
know I would never get tired f hearing them talk. I would have so many
questions. It would truly be a moment that I would want to never end …

Reyna’s Links:

Deryn Warren

A director of film and theater, and trainer of professional actors, there is a lot to learn from Deryn, so let’s find out what she loves about horror!

NS: The readers and I would love to hear about the path leading up to your current professional craft, what enticed you to filming, and acting? Where does your love of the horror genre spring from?

DW: From the age of four I told everyone who asked me that I was going to be an actress. Then I majored in theater at Sarah Lawrence (which I went to because there were no tests) and then I took classes in NYC, had a few leads in television and did some plays is London and NY and then moved to LA where I had roles in film and theater until the great day when I decided I didn’t want to act. I then directed some plays including one with Anjelica Huston who was not yet a star, but people saw her in it and were impressed. Someone suggested I went to the American Film Institute so I took my application up there and saw hundreds of applications filling sacks around a room. I didn’t think I had a chance but I got lucky and was admitted. I was the only one who had never directed a film so I was the one who learned the most, and I did know about acting so my films had talent and pace.

Why do I love horror films? Because they gave me my start. I will be forever grateful, because I was the only one in my class who went on to direct features and we all know luck plays a huge part. I had a ladies lunch (all my films began with ladies lunches) and a friend said she knew a sleazy guy who had been directing soft core and wanted to go legit. I was his vehicle. We did two films together and he made more with my films than he ever had with the nasty ones. We had to sometimes edit over his film – argh. He made at least four times his investment on each film and he was sleazy because he never did pay me all he owed me. The two films, available to this day on the internet, are called Mirror of Death or In the Dead of Night and To the Devil a Son. We once had a 25 hour day. I learned so much it was like another year in film school. I loved it. From the two horror films I got a thriller with Mark Hamill from Star Wars and Apolonia.  The budget was up by 600% but the process was the same and again I loved it.

NS: If you could have dinner with your favorite director of all time and history, who would it be, and what advice would he/she give that you would own (cherish, make your own)? 

DW: I can’t choose! I love and respect so many directors like Mike Nichols, Quentin Tarantino, Woody Allen, the Cohen brothers and Spielberg and now Kathryn Bigelow, who is my heroine for getting the job and then an Academy Award as a woman. It would be so much fun to be in a room with all female working directors giving tips, sharing stories and giving each other hope and heart.

Now I teach professional actors in LA and wrote a book called HOW TO MAKE YOUR AUDIENCE FALL IN LOVE WITH YOU. I hope my fellow directors will take a look at it and maybe I can teach you something, as I can learn from each of you. My website is DerynWarren.com. Read a chapter there and the articles I write for Backstage. Or even buy the book and if you recommend students I will send you funds for a nice lunch to thank you. I wish all of us courage to keep directing and creating and caring for each other.

Deryn Waren’s Links:

April A. Taylor

Ah, what the lens doth hold, it captures our imaginations … and this is extremely true of April’s photographic art. Fancy a trip into the gothic and wonderfilled—then let’s hear more about April!

NS: Your love of horror is very clear in your photography. I’m sure you were an unconventional child, how about filling us in on what stirred in your imagination at a young age to appreciate horror, and how it affects you and your work today.

AAT: Michael Jackson's Thriller video came out when I was six years old, and after spending several weeks asking my parents to let me see it they finally gave in. I was instantly entranced by the images that I saw, and it began my lifelong love of all things horror and of zombies in particular. Over the next few years I sought out every horror film that I could find, starting with the classic Hammer and Universal films and quickly segueing to the Nightmare on Elm Street series. I was also fortunate enough to be an advanced reader, and by the age of ten I was already reading books from the adult section of the library. My love of horror was already firmly established when I first discovered the Books of Blood series by Clive Barker at a local bookstore, but those books definitely changed my life. The short story Dread had the biggest impact on me, and it's still one of my all-time favorite stories. Each of these experiences with horror changed the way that I viewed the world, and I became very interested in the psychology behind horror at a young age. I think it's fascinating to see how different people respond to horror; some people embrace it and acknowledge that safely facing one's fears is healthy, while others are so repressed and so afraid of the world at large that they can't see the importance of fictional horror in society. My work is very influenced by the psychology of horror, and each of my pieces has a dual meaning which encapsulates both a standard horror story and a critique about society.

NS: What one piece of valuable advice would you give to new photographers, and what are your near future projects?

AAT: The most important piece of advice that I can give to a photographer who wants to become a successful professional is that they must learn about marketing. From an artistic standpoint, however, the most important thing is for a photographer to find their own vision and to stick with it, no matter what. As to my future projects, I have several things that I'm working on; including a set entitled The Demon Inside that I've only published one photo from to date. I'm also working on adding more images to my Dark Europe line, and I currently have plans in place for three future horror shoots. In addition to my photography I've branched out into freelance writing as well, and most of my written work has been based around photography and I've been fortunate enough to also write several pieces that tie into the world of horror.

April’s Links:

Andrea Amanda Albin

Horror nerd extraordinaire, I like that, and she’s a bit of a mystery too, so let’s get the scoop!

NS: AKA Ms. Mayhem, I hear you are a horror journalist, can you tell us more about what you do, and write, and the all around awesomeness?

AAA: I am! I am a horror journalist- how freaking cool is that? The fact that I get to write about the boogeyman and bloody massacres is fantastic!

I used to be tied exclusively to
Bloody-Disgusting.com, but now I'm a bit of a freelancer. I'm branching out to Dread Central and I write for Fangoria every so often. I also have a permanent home at STIFF Magazine; this really cool indie publication based out of North Carolina. Recently though my day job has kind of taken over- I'm a talent manager. And not just any talent manager- I rep Kane Hodder (Friday the 13th), Jonathan Tiersten (Sleepaway Camp), RA Mihailoff (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3); basically the connections I made in journalism followed me to other areas of my life. Not that I'm complaining though, I love my monster squad!

NS: I’m guessing you would pick Tarentino to be locked in a dark room with, why, and any hints of where you will be next, and any advice for other aspiring filmmakers?

AAA: Quentin Tarantino is the reason I keep my feet perfectly pedicured at all times. Just saying.  (Nishi is inserting a burst of laughter here! It is so true Andrea!)
Honestly though I think the man is pure genius. His talent when he first came out was so raw and it's undeniably made him one of the best filmmakers in the industry. No one really compares to him and that's why I'm so in love with what he does- and the guys he surrounds himself with? You have Robert Rodriguez, Eli Roth... all of those men make me swoon. Hell, Eli's talent alone is what made me fall in love with the genre all over again. I can't express how important these guys have been on influencing the films I love, and even what I do as a career.

What's next? I'd love to know, but only time will tell. I'm in love with managing talent, but producing is my next endeavor. Maybe later on I'll challenge Tarantino to a battle of the sexes. But there's nothing better for me than doing what I love- because, like my mom said, it's not like you're going to work if you love what you do.

The best piece of advice I can give to aspiring filmmakers, or anyone in the industry for that matter, is to stay true to yourself. Never forget where you came from and keep your eye on the prize; falling victim to the materialization of the industry can cause you to lose focus. And by losing focus, you could lose your dreams.

Andrea’s Links:

Rebekah Herzberg

Film and modeling (and now motherhood) are in this hip-for-horror gal’s repertoire, and I hear there's more to come in the future!

NS: The photos on your site are fun, care to divulge some of the film experience you’ve had, and what caught your interest in the horror genre?

RH: Modeling, theater, and dance are all things I was forced into as a child. I had the typical stage mother that desperately wanted to see me succeed. I always hated the way I looked and couldn't stand how skinny I was. It has always been impossible for me to gain weight until I had a child. Now I finally have curves!
     My mother would always say, "You look like a model!" I spent so much of my childhood wrapped up in the arts, traveling all over the place competing for scholarships and pageants. It was exhausting and stressful. I did win several awards and accomplished more than the average child but as I got older, I had to take a break.
     I became a mother and stepped to the side for some rest. After a relaxing two year rest without being involved in the arts, I got back into it as a hobby. I did begin teaching dance at a local dance studio for a short time but had to give it up after a year because bartending, being a single mother, and putting yourself through college takes up a lot of time.
     One thing I found myself enjoying was nude art. I overcame my struggles with my own body and learned to love the way I looked. Next thing I know, I am being asked by several photographers to do fashion shows and photo shoots. Over the years I have been involved in several black and white nude art shoots and my photos have been featured in numerous art galleries and exhibitions. I still do ballet shoots every so often. It's hard not to stick with your roots. At the moment I am six months pregnant and I've already been involved with 5 photo shoots. That's dedication right there. More maternity shoots are on the way! I have even done nature, fully-nude maternity photo shoots. Not for shock value. Not to get people off. Our bodies are works of art and we shouldn't hide them.
     I am full of confidence and pregnancy is a beautiful thing. I am more than happy to show the progress of pregnancy to the world without feeling sore about it. This isn't anything new. Nude pregnancy photos are featured in a lot of photographers’ portfolios along with breastfeeding. However, I do not care to have any pictures of myself breastfeeding my child. I will continue to do what I love for as long as I can.    

     When I get older, I want to look back and remember how free and beautiful I was in my younger years. My goal is to accomplish as much as possible and love life! Sometimes I get paid for letting people use my image. Sometimes I let them take pictures of me for free. It isn't my main source of income. It's fun! As for the horror genre, I grew up down the street from a rare video store. It had the best collection of horror films. Blockbuster didn't even have some of these tapes. I was a little weirdo on a mission, and that mission was to see every film on those shelves. It wasn't easy. I came from a strict Jewish family and films like this weren't allowed in the house. I managed to get my hands on them anyway. What pulled me in was all the cover art on those big clammy boxes. That's good marketing right there. I became obsessed. This is how it got started anyway. I consider myself to be an encyclopedia of horror films and challenge anyone to go up against me. Now I get to be in horror films but I am not an aspiring actress. I accept these parts in horror films because of my love for the genre and getting bloody is always fun!
     As for film experiences, that would take so long to discuss. I started off working on student horror films. They were never good but it was practice for all of us. Last year I had parts in The Good Friend and Princess, which won seven awards at Splatterfest. Princess was a challenge for me because my character gets raped in the film. I am topless and the actor ripping my top off calls me a kike. I hope my parents and siblings never come across a copy of this. The Good Friend was also a challenge but it helps that everyone involved are close personal friends of mine.

NS: What are your artistic plans for the future, and, any parting advice to all the wonderful readers out there?

RH: I will be involved with a lot of film projects in the future, but I have a baby on the way, so for at least 3 to 4 months I’m going to be in recovery and training my sweet baby boy to sleep at night. I’m excited for what the future has in store for me and my family life. There's no telling what I will get myself into. I plan on having at least one more child after this one. Not back to back but certainly not years later. You can still see me host and attend horror conventions in the meantime with modeling shoots here and there. Having extracurricular activities is important but my main focus will be on family life.
     I am probably not the best person to be giving advice to readers out there. I've made a lot of mistakes. I guess the best thing I can tell you is to treat others with respect. People make mistakes. They can learn from these mistakes and gain back respect if they work hard and continue to treat everyone with respect.
     You don't have anything if you don't have friends and support. REAL friends. Don't ever consider yourself popular or famous just because you have over a million Twitter followers. Real relationships with real people inside and out of this industry are very important. Building a supportive fan base is important but having real friends is more important. No matter how many mistakes you make, you will always have those friends to pick you back up and guide you through.
     Never give up on your dream. Never give up because the people around you aren't supportive or someone doesn't like your artistic endeavors. All you need is confidence. Nothing says NEENER NEENER NEENER better than proving these people wrong and becoming successful in life. Don't act on bitter internet feuds. This is something that's hard to do. I am trying really hard not to have a response to haters’ idiotic opinions and it makes me look bad when I decide to defend myself. I am basically giving them what they want, which is attention because they aren't getting enough from their own friends and family. Prove them wrong and succeed. That will shut them up real quick.

Rebekah’s Links:

To get your copy of the ‘Have a Heart for Horror Cookbook’ go to: http://www.crimsonstainedlace.com

Proceeds go to ‘Project Get Safe’, and let’s face it—the book is a damn fine coffee table conversation piece! Support your love of horror!

Cheers …

Author Nishi Serrano
“Creating worlds imaginative enough to hold the unexplored...”

To read an earlier interview with Lisa coffelt (the lovely lady in horror who's behind the 'Have a Heart for Horror Cookbook') click here: http://nishiserrano.blogspot.com/2011/10/women-in-horror-crimson-stained-lace.html

And if that isn’t enough information to tempt you, here is a list of all the women who contributed to the Have a Heart for Horror Cookbook:

Axelle Carolyn
The Soska Twins
Shannon Lark
Lis & Brenda Fies
Deryn Warren
Lia Scott Price
Reyna Young
Nishi Serrano
Ursula Dabrowsky
Devi Snively
Izabel Grondin
Geraldine Winters
Maude Michaud
Melanie Light
Corrine De Winter
Rebekah Herzberg
Sonya Thompson
Goldie Fatale
The Slash n Dine ladies(Nicole Mikuzis & Megan Owens)
Scarlet von Harlet
April A. Taylor
Karen Lam
Susan Bell
Molly Madfis
Andie Noir
Ruby LaRocca
Rebecca Lorenne
Melantha Blackthorne
Shey Lyn Zanotti
Staci Layne Wilson
Heidi Honeycutt
Mary Katherine Sisco
Nikki Wall
Andrea Albin
Lisa Coffelt
Claire ‘Fluff’ Llewellyn
Char Hardin
Roxsy Tyler
Beth Accomando
Rebecca Snow
Tristan Risk
Heidi Mannan
Tammi Sutton
April Monique Burril
Kathleen Valentin
Annette Slomka
L.C. Cruell
Ashleigh Nichols
Sandra Solanchick
Lianne Spiderbaby
Rebekah & Rachel Rife
Cristyn Wingood
Jennifer Cooper
Hannah Neurotica
Anne Norda
Kaci Hansen


My Reading Addiction said...

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Anonymous said...

Now that was a nice way to wrap up a a long day/evening. These women who scare are chasing me off to bed...think I'll leave the light on and go to bed wearing garlic. Thanks, Nishi!

C.K. Garner