An Interview with Turner Mojica

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Turner Mojica has had a vast and varied career, from a former press liaison to Ted Kennedy to his work as a marketing consultant and public relations manager at Playboy, to his time as an international management consultant for ZEN Entertainment and for The Ronnie King Group he has assisted some of the most creative minds of our time in various different ways.

Can you tell our readers a little about yourself and your background? How did your early days encourage your creative spirit?

Well, my background is pretty simple. I’m just a little bit of country little bit of rock n roll. I was born in Costa Rica. I left when I was one, raised in the Washington metropolitan area of Southern Maryland, Northern Virginia, Charles County. My father was a United States Capitol Policeman, my mother was a pension analyst. My father was very stern, came from an Irish family of eleven. We lived in the D.C. area before we bought some property in Southern Maryland. We had a farm he got with his brother. His brother lived at the bottom of the hill and we lived at the top. It wasn’t a lot of acres, but it was enough. We grew corn. We had chickens, cows, horses. It was around nature. We just grew up that way.

We had pigs. Pigs became my best friends actually. One of my first short stories, that I gave to Dallas (Jack Ketchum) and he told me to never read again, was one that I called Miss Piggy. It was about my experience of befriending a pig. It was my pet, that I was forced to kill. But that’s life on the farm you know.

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I know you are very close to your family. Can you tell us a little about them? What do you think is the most important thing you have learned from each of them?

My mother always inspired my education. She bought me my first book for a biography class that I had to do. I think I was eleven, it was No One Here Gets Out Alive which is about Jim Morrison. That changed my life. She bought me my first guitar, first paints, and things just started to flourish. She is actually born on November twelve and Dallas’ is on November tenth so we used to celebrate birthdays together. (laughs)

What did I learn from my father? From my father, I learned discipline, from my father I learned loyalty. I learned to keep on going forward, to make sacrifices, to enjoy what you have because he came from nothing. He was also in Vietnam. He didn’t see much action because my father has always been lucky. He got lucky with my mother, he got lucky when he was there. During the Vietnam War he was stationed in Taiwan, so he was basically in the place of R & R, but was not a partier. He was not a drinker. They used to call him Cherry because he was very clean cut, clean living. That’s the way he’s always been. It is funny because I spent all my life trying not to be like him and then the rest of my life trying to be like him. (laughs)

My mother is the matriarch of the family. She went through a lot. They had a lot, her father, my abuelo was an alcoholic and a jeweler and club owner. He wound up dying alone, but he did buy my mother her first pair of high heeled shoes. He had four children with my grandmother then he had another eight children with other women and women would leave their children at my grandmother’s door to raise, which he also did. Her name was Tita. We called her Tita, my mother is called Mita.

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Turner with Ted Kennedy.

How did you come to be a press liaison for Ted Kennedy? What was the most important thing you learned from that experience? What were some of the most challenging issues you faced with that job?

My father was working on Capitol Hill as a United States Capitol Policeman and he got stationed right outside, he was on the Senate side, so every Senator knew him. I mean everyone, my father was charming. It was during a time in the ’70s where he had to make sacrifices for us and he would take ketchup packets and mix them with hot water and eat them with crackers during his lunch. He slowly moved above the ranks but he didn’t move above a rank of Sergeant or anything, he never really had an ambition to, my mother was the ambitious one. I would go there on the Hill when I was a little kid, I would call him on the phone and I would ask for Officer Turner J. E., John Ernest Turner, so it was pretty much open then. My first experience on Capitol Hill was all behind the scenes. The paintings and the marble floors and the immensity of everything, it was grand and big to me. He introduced me to Jesse Helms because my father has always been a Republican, to Strom Thurmond. I met all these people.

I needed to get some credit because I went to a private Catholic School, that’s why he had to make sacrifices. He sometimes worked three or four jobs. He didn’t sleep. He would fall asleep behind the wheel taking us to school (laughs). He would bite his finger. He is a hard worker. He would deliver Yellow Pages. When I was a kid, well I was in school, we would have to clean office buildings and even clean dumpster buildings for BFI International which was a dumpster truck company, that is when I first saw my first calendar of Playboy, which I stole. He was just like that, self-sacrificing, just did everything and anything for his kids but of course wanted to impress and be there for my mom. He was a disciplinarian, corporal punishment. I would get the brunt of it my sister didn’t. He was never a drinker or an abuser or anything like that but the man had a temper.

So anyway, we had to get credits to get into college. My father knew that there was this page program and that is how he got me a job as Senate Republican Page and my sister a job as a Senate Democratic Page, during the same summer which Congressman can’t even do. My father had parking space right outside the Botanical Gardens, which even Congressman don’t even get a chance to have because my father was a badass and knew everyone. He was kind and he never threw his weight around they just gave him everything.

What I learned at Kennedy was I learned behind the scenes how things get done. Things are not what they seem. When I worked at Kennedy I met a man Ben Binswanger who was the political director and personal aide to Kennedy. He saved me from law school. We would have lunches together and I wasn’t afraid to ask questions if I didn’t know something. A lot of the pages at that time partied, they smoked weed, I didn’t. I would drink but never while I was working because for me it was a huge opportunity. Anyway, Ben changed my life. When that term was up they offered me another term, because normally they give pages one set. I wound up working there for a while because everybody knew me. I was John’s son.

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Turner with Dallas Mayr (Jack Ketchum).

I know you also worked closely with the late Dallas Mayr (Jack Ketchum). How did you first meet him? What did you find to be his most enduring quality? How do you think your relationship with him has affected your life most?

What happened was, through the experience I went off to college. Actually, Senator Alan Simpson wrote me a recommendation to get into to Emerson College. I worked with Mike Fraser he was really cool. It got pretty badass because I was in college, I was working at Rock Club at the same time, and also interning. Things just moved that way and during that time after college, the only logical thing after graduation was to go to Manhattan. When I was in Manhattan I went to an alumni gathering and I met Dallas Mayr there.

I was introduced by an ex-girlfriend who also helped me get a job at Chanel, she always encouraged my writing. So he was hanging there with his entourage, and his people, and his girls and he comes up to me as I’m doing my thing and I’m drinking DeWar’s and he’s drinking DeWar’s and he says, “So, I heard you’re an amazing writer?” I wasn’t even writing. I mean I did, but I did short stories. For me writing is like, you are a writer, you got to be a writer. And from that point on we became friends and he became a father figure to me. I was there for him when he had no marketing, he had no image, there was no internet. There was nothing that was going on, he was very old school. He did not have email and slowly through our friendship, I started to convince him of the new way of doing things.

As soon as I started working at Playboy, of course, I tried to find one of his books which is called Joyride, that I could not find because nobody was pushing it and marketing it. I decided to do his first press kit and get him out there. I was young. I made mistakes. I pissed people off. But, I didn’t know better. I faked his death to get some press, I learned that from rock n roll. I did all kinds of crazy shit that he thought was funny at the time but then he got pissed off at me. (laughs) He would always get pissed off at me for the things that I would do regarding marketing, but I was always right.

When it came to the writing, he read everything that I’d ever written. He read my first book. He gave it back to me the next day. I went to Vermont to disappear for a month to write this book, left my job and everything. I think I was twenty-five this was after Playboy between gigs and he went through the whole thing. He gave me notes on every chapter and I was heartbroken because I was like, “What the fuck? He liked my short stories but then this book he said it didn’t work.” From that book, it taught me a lot, because I broke that book up into short stories and it just changed everything. But Dallas did fuck me, when I was in my twenties he told me that I had the makings of a great writer and from that point on I didn’t give him any writing and I started writing for everybody else and it was kind of like a cat and mouse game. I got scared. He encouraged me to take off to Italy. Which I did. I lived there for thirteen years, was always kind of with him and pushing his image and I helped him get published in Europe. Which started a chain of events that started to get his brand out there and he was revitalized.

I remember Dallas didn’t like the public so much. This was before he was doing all the festivals and everything so I had to coach him on public speaking because he had forgotten. I remember going to an HWA meeting in New York they are giving out some award. Dallas got an award and he just couldn’ t take it, man. He didn’t eat. He was in a corner all lit and I had to put him into a cab. Sometimes when you get recognition and you have been in the cavern for a while it is kind of hard to come by but then he got over that and things started to really rock n roll and move.

Now we’ve always had this “Idiot Bastard Son” ala Frank Zappa relationship that there was kind of confrontation. He’d get pissed at me, but he always loved me and I always loved him. He was just old school and I was young. The older we got and after everything, it is still that way.

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Joe Germanotta’s place. Stefani’s (Lady Gaga) dad. Jack Ketchum’s ashes are behind the bar.

I understand you recently wrote a book. Can you tell us a little about that?

I wrote a book, I co-wrote a book as of recent, after his death, and when you co-write something it is tricky because you are working with someone else’s thoughts and taking them and making them out of nothing. In this case, I had to take an autobiography which is basically diaries and journal notes and fictionalize it. So, of course, I put my own self in and now it’s in the hands of editors and maybe a lawyer or two and there is conflict. But it taught me a lot. It taught me to focus on my own shit. It really did and I keep on hearing Dallas through everything that I write.

So what I do after his passing, is when I write he is just forever with me. He is telling me to tighten the line. He is telling me it is just too much. He is telling me that all that is bullshit and he is also giving me personal advice with everything that I do.

I think we have to accept the darkness that we have and flaws that we have in order to choose better who we are, because he always said, “Choose who you want to be and be it.” He always said, “Words evoke.” And then he said, “Syllables evoke.” And I hear that. I hear the cadence when I am writing. I hear the flow, piecing the words together. Dallas taught the words to susurration. We were talking about pigeons. We traveled a lot together all over Europe and everything.

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You are also an avid supporter of human trafficking rescue, recover and rehabilitation organizations. Can you tell us a little more about that? How would you recommend others that might be interested in supporting such issues worldwide go about doing so?

So what got me into trying to end human trafficking is that I came across, I mean I’ve always been interested in children’s rights and human rights, but it was this past project that led to my interest in the rescue and recovery of sex trafficking victims in Thailand and Southeast Asia that branched out into Latin America.

And that’s the part that we’re working on right now.

So in Costa Rica, we’ve branched out. Everything is on the down low because we can’t let anybody know what the hell is going on. And I’m organizing with the former ambassador of Costa Rica, to India, who we met over this topic and a university that’s here to make a difference. And we’re also working with informants which are murderers, ex-traffickers, I mean you name it. So we expose the underbelly but we’re not making a move yet. But something is happening.

You also work with musician Ronnie King. What it is like to work closely with someone who has worked with so many iconic artists? What do you enjoy most about working in the music industry?

My work with Ronnie was wonderful. We met and we just bonded. He’s a surfer and he’s a complete genius. I mean who would’ve known that you had this multi-platinum, Oscar, and Grammy nominated composer and producer who had no communication. And that’s the same way I met Dallas. I meet these wonderful men that have long histories, that work for everyone else but they don’t work for themselves and do their own shit. So I come in and I get to be like a spin doctor, organize their communication. Now it’s just not done. I mean they have to believe in themselves. They have to believe that it is possible, they have to believe that it can happen. And once that click happens then everything sort of explodes and I just guide.

It’s not easy working with artists because it’s like herding wild animals but not just wild animals like wild beasts. OK.

Because they’re all apex alpha predators you know. Some of them are old lions. Some of them are tigers. Some of them are anacondas. Some of them are eagles. It is just a little bit of everything but I can’t think of anything else that I would do. It’s bit me in the ass a lot getting screwed over like money wise, lots of lessons, and mentors that have turned on me that have come back. Well, Dallas has always been there for me. You know one thing is just acceptance. That is one of the things that’s amazing.

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Ronnie King & Turner.

What projects are you looking forward to bringing into existence next?

What I’d like to do is I’d like to work on my next book and film. I’m doing it myself. It’s going to be on my own. Working with the different entertainment agencies in the context that I have. I think it’s about time for me instead of ghost and co-writing in and being behind the scenes to get out there a little bit more and I’m doing it more in Dallas’s honor. I think most of it is like a balance between different industries because with film you’re able to unite fashion. The visual for everything from writing which is preproduction. They go post-production, and then production. In post-production, you can put an entire like army together of deliciousness and goodness where things can actually happen creatively but then after that, it’s all marketing. You can’t do shit without marketing. That’s the mistake people make, they put everything into production but then they realize that with the production you can’t do anything without marketing. And that’s the kind of shit that I do in my sleep. Even though I’m more focused on the creative side.

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How do you think you have changed most since your earlier days?

I think that what’s interesting now is I’m more into where it’s kind of, I’ve always been sustainable. Always been green before it was green. Now it’s about regenerative design and development which is the next step above sustainable. And that also implements the factors of culture which are education and also holistic and more of a spiritual approach to any kind of project and not only help the environment but help societies.

You hear that dog out there? That dog has been there every single fucking time. (As the dog howls in the background) I’m living in an art house right now. It is gorgeous. We reinvented this fucking garden.

I work closely with my muse. I prefer to keep her nameless. She has been pivotal in honing my craft and getting me focused and bringing back a fresh look and life and inspiration to everything that I do. I think that since how it used to be with communication and social media when it first started and what it does now it is like Millennials have a different way of looking at things. We were taught more structurally. You got to get a degree. You’ve got to do this, you got to memorize all this, you have to vomit it up on a test. But with a certain kind of millennial which is kind of like what my Muse is. Actually, in Silicon Valley, people are hiring people that haven’t graduated from college because those college graduates have to unlearn what is happening right now. So I think there’s something and this is all a part of regenerative design development which has been led by Dr. Eduard Müeller from the University of International Cooperation in Costa Rica, it’s an online university as well. It’s fascinating to me.

So a lot of things have changed. There is hope. It’s not as dire and bleak as it was. It isn’t. I think it was worse when we were growing up in the 70s than it is right now.

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What do you think is key to a life well lived?

The key to a life well lived for me is I just think back to Henry Miller. The aim of life is to be aware and to be aware is to be joyously drunkenly serenely divinely aware. That doesn’t mean being lit all the time. It means just being aware of being in the present. Living the present knowing that all this is an illusion and it’s about compassion and sharing love. The more compassion, the more that you give the more that will come back. The more that you focus on the art and not getting the dollar the more the dollar will come. The more that we decide okay, this is what I want to do, this is what I want to be, as Dallas says, “Choose who you want to be.” We can be that but then we change along the way. (laughs) That’s something he never taught me. I had to find out on my own but I’ve been fortunate. I’ve had mentors from Dallas Mayr (Jack Ketchum) to Bob Beleson who’s the former Corporate Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Playboy to Dr. J. Gregory Payne who is an associate professor of communication studies at Emerson College. I mean to William Scharf the painter who is a contemporary of Rothko was part of the Rothko foundation until his passing right after, actually, he died before Dallas.

What do you do when you find that life has become a struggle?

So I think that what struggle is, struggle is remembering to keep on track. It is just keeping the paces. It is waking up and doing what you have to do creatively. We all have to pay our bills, the electricity, the mortgage, or what have you or put food on the table for our children. But I think that it is important for us, at least those of us that are artists, not to settle. A lot of us do and even when we become successful a lot of artists do decide to settle and they, not sell out. I mean to each his own. There’s no judgment. Everybody has their own circus. That is true. I have my own. I got a three-ring circus of like artists and people that I love and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. Money comes and money goes. It is an ebb and flow. I think the struggle is that.

Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?

In closing, I think, what is happiness? Happiness is one thing. It’s a state, right? What brings joy? Joy exists in a caress. Joy exists in giving to someone who doesn’t have. Joy exists in inspiring for someone who doesn’t feel inspired. That’s what joy is.

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An Interview with Robert Hinkle

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From a pilot in the Air Force to the rodeo circuit and on to work both in front of and behind the camera Bob Hinkle has seen and done it all. He most notably taught James Dean, Rock Hudson, Mercedes McCambridge, Dennis Hopper, and others in the cast of Giant to speak like true Texans. He appeared in such films as Hud and the last film produced by Howard Hughes, The First Traveling Sales Lady, and on such iconic television series as Gunsmoke, Wagon Train, Annie Oakley, and Bonanza just to name a few. In later years he also worked in the music industry as the manager of Marty Robbins. His most impressive role being the husband of Sandra Larson, Queen of the Rodeo in Moses Lake 1950, for some sixty-six years and counting. He summed up some of his most cherished memories working alongside Mike Farris to produce the book Call Me Lucky: A Texan in Hollywood.

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Robert in “Gunsmoke.”

Tina Ayres: What was it like growing up in Texas when you did? What do you remember most about those days? How do you think those early days helped shape you into the man you would become?

Robert Hinkle: Well what I remember the most is how poor we was. I remember one Christmas we had to whitewash a tumbleweed for our Christmas tree. I am not kidding we was from a poor family and I couldn’t hardly wait to get out of school. I was in the tenth grade and a guy from the recruiting office from the Air Force came down and told, and I said well I’ll go ahead and get me a diploma because none of my other family had had diplomas. So he said, “I can get you a diploma in four months.” And I said, “How do you do that?” And he said, “Well we’ve got correspondence courses (which is now a G.E.D deal). I said, “Do you guarantee it?” He said, “Yeah.” And about three weeks later I enlisted in the Air Force. And I did get the G.E.D about four or five months later, but I just remember growing up, I was born on a ranch out there and I was on a horse by the time I was three months old riding with my dad and my uncles. It was just a lot of fun and everything. That’s one of the reasons I liked working in the movies because you are kind of re-enacting all that stuff from when you were young.

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Bob Hinkle and James Dean on the set of “Giant.”

Tina Ayres: Is that how you first came to be interested in the rodeo?

Robert Hinkle: Oh yeah, every kid there. I’d have rather been the world champion cowboy than I’d had The President of the United States. That was my mentality and what I wanted to do so while I was in the service I still did a little rodeoing on weekends you know when there was a little rodeo around where I was stationed. And then when I got out of Air Force I started rodeoing and then doing construction work so I could afford to rodeo. I got discharged when I was up in the state of Washington and I stayed up there and I got married up there. I was in a rodeo, it was in Oregon and they were shooting a movie down there called Bronco Busters (1952) and I was one of the guys they picked to do stunts and stuff like that in the movie. And then when I got married and we moved to California in 52, the Fall of 52, and that is when I got started in the movies down there.

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Tina Ayres: When you worked on Giant, which of the actors would you say was the most endearing to work with? Which offered you the greatest challenge?

Robert Hinkle: Jimmy Dean was the best you know. Mercedes McCambridge, Dennis Hopper, Carroll Baker, and Rock Hudson all of them, they were just a delight to work with and I really never had any problem with any of them. Well, Elizabeth Taylor didn’t learn a Texas accent. He wanted her to keep that Eastern accent. She ended up being a good friend.

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Tina Ayres: What was James Dean like as a person? Do you think who he was as a person often gets overlooked in favor of celebrity image that has been created over the years?

Robert Hinkle: Well he wasn’t really a celebrity as such when he died. Because he died so young and he only had two movies out at the time. Actually he only had one movie out. He had East of Eden and then Rebel was released after that, and that is the movie that really kicked him upstairs until when Giant came out and then it was all over he was a top star then. But he never thought of himself as a star.

He was kind of shy and laid back. You know a very nice guy and he was kind of lonesome for Fairmount, Indiana. We just became real good buddies. He spent a lot of time over at our house, eating. He liked that home cooking of my wife’s. We spent about 7 and a half months, nearly every day together. I can’t even think of a day that we missed, on weekends and everything.

Mark Kinnaman: After the work on Giant away from the set did you ever see him again?

Robert Hinkle: I did every day and night while we were on Giant but we were still shooting Giant when he got killed. He told me one time when he first met me, he said, “ I heard you’ve been hired here by Warner Brothers to work with Rock Hudson, to teach him a Texas accent.” He said, “I’d like for you make a Texan out of me where I can be a Texan twenty-four hours a day.” That is what we really tried to do. Two or three times while we were down in Texas doing Giant I had people ask me, said, “What part of Texas is he from?” and I thought that was a compliment, because he talked like a Texan down there, he wore Levi’s and boots and a hat, and rolled his own cigarettes just like them old timers did and things like that. Everybody liked him. Everybody down there in Marfa, they just thought the world of him. The other stars were kind of standoffish a little bit like Elizabeth Taylor and Rock Hudson. Now Dennis Hopper this was really his first big picture and Carroll Baker hers, but Mercedes McCambridge she won an Oscar on it and she played Rock’s sister. She was isolated, kind of stayed by herself you know.

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With Patricia Neal on the set of “Hud” 1962.

Tina Ayres: As someone who has worked both behind the camera and in front of it did you prefer one more than the other? Why?

Robert Hinkle: Yeah, I really, I guess I had more fun when I was doing extra work and then when I was doing stunts. It was kind of fun when I started doing acting but I was a little scared you know because I’d never had any training, but I found out that I had a knack for doing stuff behind the camera. I was a little more creative there than I was becoming a Broadway actor so I really enjoyed that. And then when I made the transition in about 1960, 59 because I wrote and directed and produced a picture for Universal called Ole Rex, it was kind of a Disney type of picture, that is when I got the bug and from then on I directed and produced and wrote scripts. I did a little acting here and there the last thing I did was a Walker Texas Ranger in 1995, that is when I retired up in Dallas. That was the last thing I played a two parter in that called, The Reunion with Chuck Norris.

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Tina Ayres: Was it somewhat therapeutic to work with Mike Farris on your biography Call Me Lucky: A Texan in Hollywood?

Mark Kinnaman: Did it bring back a lot of memories?

Robert Hinkle:  Oh Man it really did and the thing about it was when I first met Mike, the way that came down we was living in Dallas I had retired from my Walker Texas Ranger and the Southern Methodist up there the library had a program every year where they’d bring in about eight or ten celebrities to set at a table. Each one of them had a table and then the people paid, I think fifty dollars a piece or something like this to come in and have dinner and sit with a celebrity and discuss different things. And my table was talking about the movies being made in Texas which I was connected with Hud (1963), with Paul Newman, with Brandon De Wilde, and Patricia Neal and Melvyn Douglas they both won Oscars on it and with Giant. So there was a lady she was a commentary on a t.v station there in Dallas and she was sitting at my table and we got to talking and she said her husband had a table over there himself and he was the guy that when Kennedy was shot he worked for the Dallas Morning News and he saw it right there. He was right on the sidewalk when it happened and he got into the car with the policemen that finally arrested the guy over in Oak Cliff. She said, “Oh my husband said he really wanted to sit at this table.” I said, “Man I’d love to sit at his table.” When it was over we all met and she said. “Why don’t you do a book?” And I said, “Well I don’t have the education and the whatever it takes you know to put a book together.” She said, “I’ve got a good friend let me call him and see if he’d work with you.” That is how she got a hold of Mike Farris and then Mike called me.

When I met with Mike I started to tell him some of these stories, he had a kind of funny look on his face. I know he thought now this is some bullshit. I didn’t have any credentials, no World Championship or this or that, All American this or that. So he got on the internet and he started looking up some of the stuff. Then he started coming up with pictures that I was in that I’d even forgotten about. He really got interested because he said, “Hell this guy is legit.” So I’d take and put a story down. I’d just tell a story, like, “July  25, 1946, I soloed and got my pilots license and then I went on in like that and I’d record it and then he’d take it and put it into book form and he knew the way to do it. How to go from one chapter to the next and write teasers for this and that and that is how we got started and the more I worked with Mike the better I liked it and I learned an awful lot working with him.

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Robert and Mike Farris at a “Call Me Lucky” book signing.

Mark Kinnaman: How long did you work with Marty Robbins?

Robert Hinkle: I met him in about 1957 and his manager died in 68 or whatever it is, it is in the book. I was friends with him all that time and then from 1968 til the time he died which was fourteen years I was his manager.

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With Marty Robbins & Sammy Jackson during a break while filming “Country Music.”

Tina Ayres: What do you think is key to a life well lived?

Robert Hinkle: Oh I guess just being honest and not getting tied up in dope and alcohol and stuff like that. And don’t get too carried away with yourself. Don’t believe all that publicity, because it will go to your head.

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With Larry Mahan at the Rodeo Cow Palace 1976.

Tina Ayres: What are your personal feelings on life, death and what comes after? 

Robert Hinkle: Well I don’t know. If I had it to live over I’d like to do it all even the bad in along with the good. It was so much fun for all those years. I just feel blessed. I’ve been married 66 years to the same woman and had three beautiful kids and family and friends. I’m a fifty-year mason, fifty-one year mason now. I’ve hundreds of friends. I don’t smoke. I never did smoke, or drink. I never took drugs. It’s clean living, being honest, and having your word as your bond. You don’t have to have a contract with me, a handshake will do it.

Tina Ayres: How do you hope to be remembered when your time comes?

Bob Hinkle: I just hope to be remembered, as somebody says, “What do you think of old Bobby Hinkle? “, “ Well he was a pretty good old boy.”

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With Evel Knievel at the Los Angeles Coliseum for a big jump 1978.

Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?

I’ll probably live another ten years. I am in real good shape. Just tell that young lady I appreciate her doing the story. Tell Pam Crawford I said hi, she is a good friend of mine and my wife.

 

(This interview was written by Tina Ayres and conducted by Mark Kinnaman. ~ Thank you Mark.)

An Interview with & the Art of Frederick Cooper

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Frederick Cooper has worked as a conceptual artist/illustrator from 2008-2018. He currently works freelance creating portraits in both traditional and digital illustration. His works heavily feature horror icons of the silver screen. More examples of his work can be found at his ArtStation site.

What is it like living in Hickory, NC? How does it feel to see the community taking more of an interest in the arts?

I’ve seen a lot of small businesses take to local artists and give a space for people to enjoy their work. I’m happy for them, it gives life to this small town and gets us to enjoy the community around us more. I usually cloister myself away to work but over the years I have seen the town become more interconnected thanks to all the events coming about across town. It’s nice.

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Where are you from originally? What are your most fond early memories?

I’d think it would be my brothers taking me to the movies in our hometown of Danville, Virginia. I was four years old or so but we still watched a lot of sci-fi and horror flicks. I’d say some of my fondest memories come from us doing that together.

Your work features a lot of the icons from the heyday of horror films. What is it about those particular pieces of work that led you to recreate their most iconic actors in your portraits?

That goes hand and hand with the last question. I have fond memories attached to those films.

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What were some of your earliest influences in that genre?

Universal monsters mostly, Frankenstein, Dracula, Wolf Man etc. The older I got, the more diverse and eclectic my film-viewing became.

What quality do you think the earlier horror films had that seem to be lacking in the genre today?

Atmosphere. It doesn’t have to be gothic horror like Dracula or Crimson Peak but I see a strong focus today on cheap writing: Jump scares and strong violence. Now there is nothing wrong with those strategies in film but much of early horror was bereft of it and managed to have greater impact. This was because of the atmosphere they set.

I remember reading before about the difference between terror and horror. Terror is the dread of the terrible experience and horror is the revulsion that follows the experience. I think what would be best for the horror genre today, and what would give it more staying power with people, would be less of a focus on horror and more of a focus on terror. I’m sure I’m not the first to say that though.

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When did you first know that you wanted to become an artist yourself? Who are some of your influences in the art world?

Since I was very small – around the same time I began watching those movies. My brother, Curtis taught me a few things about composition and rendering and I haven’t stopped since. My biggest inspirations would likely be Frank Frazetta, Basil Gogos, and Bernie Wrightson. I had the pleasure to meet all three actually, which fulfilled a childhood dream of mine. Outside the genre, my influences included N.C. Wyeth, J.C. Leyendecker and of course Norman Rockwell. There’s just so many influences though. That’s just a few.

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Why do you think art has been a sort of comfort throughout the ages?

I’d say there is a human need for beautiful things in your life. That’s true for anyone. That might sound strange coming from someone doing primarily horror but what art does is take parts of life and make it captivating so I think it still holds firm.

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Why do you prefer to work in portraits? What is it about the human form that makes it so well suited for such things?

I’d like to get to drawing scenes as well, actually, but portraits are fine means of capturing the spirit of a scene or of a character efficiently. I’ve done only a handful of scenes in the past months and they’ve taken considerably longer. That’s hard on you when you want to draw more.

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What do you look for when deciding what subject you will use in a portrait?

It’s just a feeling. Mainly, I’m doing what I like to see in a portrait. It has to say something about the subject.

Do you have any particular pieces of work that you enjoyed creating more than others?

Not exactly. I enjoy the craft and so the subject matter doesn’t influence me much. The working conditions is what can be make or break on whether the quality of the work is good and whether I enjoy myself though.

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How do traditional illustration and digital illustration differ most? Do you enjoy one more than the other?

Both are very enjoyable once the creation begins. There’s nothing like the feeling of traditional art however. I like being hands on.

What are some the challenges an artist faces when working freelance?

Keeping your calendar filled with projects.

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What do you love most about the art of creation?

The process of creating something that didn’t exist. It’s just a joy in itself.

What do you hope the viewer takes away from your various works?

Well first I hope they like them. But moreover I want them to have a greater appreciation for the characters and movies I draw from and inspirations that influenced me and shine through in my style.

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What projects are you looking forward to working on next?

Well I recently got back to painting for the first time in over twenty years. I’m looking forward to exploring that a lot more.

What do you think it takes to be a success as an artist, money aside?

Dedication. I think it was Bob Ross that said that a talent is a pursued interest. You need to be able to not just produce works but dedicate yourself in improving your form.

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What do you think is key to a life well lived?

Family and happiness.

Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?

I’d just like to thank everyone for reading this interview and a special thanks to you Tina for your support and patronage. It means so very much.

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An Interview with Daniel Knauf

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Daniel Knauf is best known for his work on such television series as Carnivale, Supernatural, Fear Itself, The Phantom, Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Dracula, and The Blacklist as well as the comic Iron Man. Most recently he set out to bring the world a glimpse at his more poetic side with a collection of poems coming straight from the soul that speaks of both hope and angst while mixing grit and glamour as few can. The collection called NoHo Gloaming & the Curious Coda of Anthony Santos, slated for release October 30, 2018, is now available for preorder direct from Clash Books (where the first direct 200 preorders come autographed), as well as on Amazon. I recently set down with Daniel to find out what inspired him to bring this collection to life.

Have you always enjoyed poetry? Who were some of your influences in that particular genre?

When I started out writing in college I was an art major. My early work was naturally very visual, instinctive, impatient and undisciplined, so I was drawn to the form of free verse poetry. I liked the fact that I could create a finished work in one sitting, like a drawing. Poetry was like a gateway drug that led me into longer forms. It didn’t take me long to realize that “short” did not equal “easy.” Unless one has no standards whatsoever and is content vomiting random, half-formed lines absent serious intent or any degree of complexity, one learns that the shorter a form, the more unforgiving it is.

The truth is, far more people can write a good novel than a good screenplay, and almost none at all can write a good poem. And there are maybe 3 writers alive on the planet at any given time that can pull off a terrific haiku.

My early writing influences varied depending on what form in which I was working. Different influences for prose or screenwriting. For poetry, Charles Bukowski primarily, followed by the West Coast/Beyond Baroque crowd–Ron Koertge, Gerald Locklin, Dennis Cooper, John Doe—as well as Walt Whitman, Dylan Thomas, the English Romantics—Keats and Shelley. And Dante.

What was the very first poem you ever wrote?

I really can’t recall. Probably something when I was a child for my Mom or something. I was brought up in a California suburb, not on some windswept Scottish heath, so poetry took a back seat to Gilligan’s Island and riding our Stingrays. Seriously, the earliest poem I memorized starts with “Milk, milk, lemonade.”

But I do remember my Dad got a real kick out of reading us limericks and humorous poems. He really loved the Gentle Jane Experiences, these super-dark, martini-dry short poems written by Carolyn Wells. Things like, “In the big steamroller’s path/Gentle Jane expressed her wrath/It passed over, after that/Gentle Jane felt rather flat.” Plus, later, there were song lyrics. Those would have to be my first real introduction to verse.

What led to your writing poetry at this particular stage in your life?

Part of it was a personal transition, a way of sorting out chaos I was experiencing at that point in my life—a lot of confusion, pain and terrible, deep loss. Plus I was balancing multiple projects, and I found composing poetry an effective way to clear my mind between going back and forth between projects—a creative rinse between cycles, so to speak. I found real joy in the rigor and discipline of it, and it allowed me to work some unfamiliar muscles. In television—especially when you’re writing someone else’s show, as I was on The Blacklist—you long to create something that’s yours alone; something that just bears one set of fingerprints.

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What do you love most about the act of writing?

Starting with nothing, and finishing with something. It’s like a conjuring trick, but real. Like, “Fuck me! I made that!”

How did spilling your soul out in words in such a manner affect your outlook at the time?

It clarified things. I was able to externalize some heavy, sometimes humiliating, often devastating experiences and gain some objective wisdom rather than being dazed and punch-drunk by it. Most of all, it decisively refuted what was my biggest fear.

I’d gone through almost a decade during which the only way I could survive was by emotionally shutting down. It was a state of self-imposed anesthesia; I simply couldn’t bear the abuse to which I was being subjected. Once I was clear of it, it was hard to open up and feel again. Keep in mind, one of the most important tools a dramatist has is empathy—the ability to discern and extrapolate emotion. And if you’re numb inside, you’re done. You’ve got zero ammunition.

Those years when I wrote NoHo Gloaming was a time when I started actually feeling again—great surges of completely unexpected pain and passion. Even when it was negative or toxic, it was still so exhilarating. Life-affirming. I got drunk with it. I was like, “Yeah, bring it on! Make me hurt! Make my heart soar! Love me! Hate me! Rip me to shreds! Fuck you! I’m ALIVE, motherfucker!”

What led you to decide to put all of the various pieces together in the form of a book?

That wasn’t my idea, smartass. That was you all the way! I was just catching fireflies, putting them in jars, and floating them down my Facebook stream. You’re the one who collected them. Which was nice because, once I posted enough of them, people started asking, “When are you going to put out a book?” And I’d think, “What book?” Then you sent me all my poems in one file and said,“This book, dope!”

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Can you tell our readers a little about what this collection contains in its pages?

A lot of giddy-ass shit. An alternate title could be The Portrait of the Artist Standing in the Town Square With His Pants Down. Moments. Loss. Redemption. Stupidity. Wisdom. Epiphanies and regrets. Joy. All that stuff.

Are you excited to see how the world reacts to such a thing? What do you hope the reader takes away from this particular body of work?

It’s deeply personal, but I hope others connect with it, see themselves reflected in it.

In drama, the gold standard is to inspire the ecstasy of recognition; that is, the moment when the artist renders a moment in a very specific, unprecedented way and the audience goes,“Holy shit! I thought I was the only one who ever felt that way! I thought I was all alone in that!”But you’re not, because the writer wrote it, and the actor acted it, and the director directed it, and the crew shot it, and the entire audience is empathizing with it, comprehending it. And you feel this exultation because you thought you were all alone, but you aren’t. There’s a whole fucking army of you!

It’s hard to do. If you can pull off one scene like that in a movie or episode, people are thrilled. If you can do it twice, you win awards. If you can do it more than that, you’re fucking Shakespeare.

Do you ever get nervous about exposing so much of your self to the world through your words?

Not really. That’s why people who make art are called “public figures.” It’s part of the job description.

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I understand one of your poems was for your mother Dorothy. Can you tell us a little about her? What do you love about her most? What would you say is the most important thing she taught you?

My mom had no governor on her impulse to tell the truth—at least the way she saw the truth in that particular moment. It could be feckless and charming or cruel and thoughtless. My Dad used to tell her, “Jeez, Dorothy! Make sure your brain is engaged before your mouth is in gear!” Nevertheless, she’s still a cipher to me. I knew her as a Mom, but never as a woman—and certainly never as a girl. I regret not having more conversations with her grownup-to-grownup. I really regret only half-listening to her when she did reminisce. It was like, “Yeah, Mom. Right. Whatever…”

We’ll have a lot of catching up to do on the other side.

The best thing I think she taught me was to just be who I am.

Is there any one poem in this collection that is more deeply personal to you than all the rest?

They’re all pretty personal. My favorite is Perfection, because it’s about the person I love most in the world. My first and last great love.

Do you think you there might be second collection in years to come?

Probably, at some point. I love this book more than anything else I’ve ever done.

What projects are you currently working on?

I really can’t talk about active projects, especially since they’re based on intellectual property that doesn’t belong to me. Suffice it to say, they’re all fairly high-profile and awesome as all get out. As for projects I’ve developed over the years, they can all be found on the web at https//Knauf.TV/

Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?

Only a note to all those folks who avoid poetry like I avoid mimes.

There’s poetry-poetry and there’s the poetry I write, which is something else—much more approachable and relatable, I think. And perfect to keep in the bathroom in reach of the toilet. Seriously. Buy a separate copy for every bathroom in your house! Each poem has been engineered to take no longer to read than it does to evacuate your bowels. It’s all clinically tested and proven and very scientific, I swear! Except The Curious Coda of Anthony Santos. Save that one for when you’re severely impacted because that one’s an epic and it takes a while.

Oh, that. And I love you all.

 

An Interview with Leslie Jordan

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Leslie Jordan has worked on countless television series and films over the course of his career. Appearing on Sordid Lives, American Horror Story, Supernatural, Murphy Brown, Lois & Clark, Hearts Afire, Will & Grace, The Help, Jason Goes to Hell, to name just a few, he has worked in various genres across the board. As a writer he has created the scripts for the plays Lost in the Pershing Point Hotel and Rockabilly Baby, as well as Leslie Jordan: My Trip Down the Pink Carpet and Hysterical Blindness and Other Southern Tragedies That Have Plagued My Life Thus Far. He can currently be found on the FOX sitcom The Cool Kids alongside Vicki Lawrence, David Alan Grier, and Martin Mull.

Are you enjoying working on The Cool Kids? How is that going so far?

The show has been a blast from day one.We premiered Friday night (September 28, 2018) and got really good ratings. So it looks like we will be around for while. A journalist pointed out to me that this was my first series regular role since Hearts Afire went off the air in 1993. So that is 25 years! I have done really well with re-occurring roles, guest roles and movie parts but there is nothing like having a job with some security.

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What is it like to work alongside Vicki Lawrence, David Alan Grier and Martin Mull?

When I was in acting class, the first thing they taught us was that acting is not “acting” but “reacting to what we were given”. I have the deep honor of “reacting” to three of the best comedians working today. It is like verbal ping-pong. And we all genuinely get along.

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Do you have any interesting stories from the set you might be a liberty to share with our readers?

Our time on the set is like a party. Vicki told me that Carol Burnett used to call it “playing in the sandbox.” Martin and David are having a “bromance”. They sit and talk incessantly. It’s all about sports and music. Vicki and I sit together and talk about the sales at Neiman Marcus!

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Leslie with the cast and creator of Sordid Lives at the premiere of A Very Sordid Wedding

Are there any characters you have had the chance to bring to life that you hold more dear than the others?

Just about every character I have played is dear to me. Favorites are Brother Boy from the cult movie Sordid Lives and Beverley Leslie from Will and Grace. But Sid from The Cool Kids is the easiest character because it seems he is the closest to me in real life. Coming from an extremely homophobic background in the church and all, to be able at 63 years of age to play a gay man, who is perfectly comfortable with who he is and what he is, is a real joy.

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You have also worked as a writer, how does that differ most from the work you do on screen? What do you enjoy most about having the chance to create your own worlds and characters in such a way?

The life of a writer can get a bit lonesome. But when given the chance, I love to write. I have been journaling since I was 17 years old. I write every day religiously. I have found that when I write, when I put pen to paper, the scary monsters under the bed stop their low moan. It is very therapeutic. And to be able to stand on stage and relate my stories releases me from the demons of my past and childhood.

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How do you think you have changed most since your early days both as an actor and as an individual?

I am much more comfortable with myself. I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict with over 20 years clean and sober. When I got sober all those years ago, I was still riddled with internal homophobia. I had just medicated for so long I didn’t realize it. The last 20 years have been a journey not only into my sobriety but into my queerdom. I am at the top of my game and in the prime of my life RIGHT NOW at 63 years of age.

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Do you think the world in general as it is these days could use a little more laughter?

Our hope on The Cool Kids is to give folks a break. Laughter is so healing. And with all that is going on in this hectic world of ours I think people will love just putting their feet up and having a belly laugh.

What do you think is key to a life well lived?

I think the key lies in proper diet, sleep and exercise. You have to work on the inside as well. But most importantly, is to be of loving service to your fellow man. You have to be “of service.” I tell the kids that I help as recovering addicts,” Go volunteer. Work at a hospice. Try telling those folks how dismal your life is! It will put your problems in proper perspective.”

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What projects are you looking forward to pursuing next?

I am giving The Cool Kids my 100% attention right now. Martin Mull said something so profound the other day. He said, “In most jobs after being there for years, you get a gold watch. I think The Cool Kids is OUR GOLD WATCH.” So I plan to enjoy the ride. I think people think that in the entertainment business the “bigger” you get, the “bigger” your life becomes.  I have found it to be the opposite.  As I have gotten more successful, my life has gotten “smaller.”  And I do not say that in a bad way.  I am going to try to slow down, smell the flowers and enjoy the success of this show.

Is there anything you’d like to say in closing?

Please tune in to FOX every Friday night at 8:30 p.m.(eastern) and see us in action. “A GOOD TIME WILL BE HAD BY ALL.”

Love.  Light.  Leslie

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An interview with Marcus Winslow Jr.

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Born in Marion, Indiana to Winton Dean and Mildred Wilson Dean, James Dean suffered the tragic loss of his beloved mother at the young age of 9. Raised in the delightfully small town of Fairmount, he grew up on a 180 acre homestead alongside his cousins Marcus and Joan under the guidance of his aunt Ortense and her husband Marcus Winslow.

With a lifelong love of theatrics and all things creative, and a determination to succeed he was destined for greatness. His career started with a commercial for Pepsi Cola and led to three motion pictures that would make him a star of epic proportions. With his passing in 1955 the world lost one of the most genuine creative geniuses of modern time.

Over 60 years since Marcus now works tirelessly to maintain the farm and preserve the memory of the man he knew as a brother. It is an honor to have the chance to talk to Marcus Winslow Jr. about what life was like before the fame and to give the reader a further glimpse into the life of the man behind the legend that is James Dean.

Tina Ayres: What was the Winslow farm like when you were all growing up there together? Can you tell us a little about that?

Marcus Winslow Jr: Well it was more of a working farm then. Years ago farmers had a lot of different kinds of livestock. I can remember we use to have chickens and hogs and cattle and some sheep, had some geese, geese you know geese, weren’t really a farm animal, but they were here. I guess the first thing dad got rid of farming was the chickens. Which suited me fine. They always seemed like kind of a dumb animal, but anyway, a lot of people had them. And mom had them because it gave her some, that was her income. Dad would get the feed and stuff and feed them and then she’d collect the eggs and that was hers. Then he finally got rid of the hogs which called for a lot of work. They’re dirty, they’re dusty, especially years ago. They were really dusty. I always liked hogs, but I wasn’t upset when he got rid of them. And by that time I was doing other things and really didn’t have much time to help any way. And we’ve still got cattle here on the farm.

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Mark Kinnaman : How many head you got right now? How many acres do you have now?

Marcus Winslow Jr: Now we have, they are all Coy’s cows, I think there is around 40 head about approximately 20 head of calves and the same amount of brood cows. When dad died we had about 40 some group cows. He had a lot of cattle, but we got rid of a lot of them after he passed away. We’ve always kept cattle on the farm because the way the grounds laid out here you can’t farm a lot of it so the cattle help eat the grass down.

Of course when Jimmy was here we had milk cows too. I can remember the milk cows being here, and then dad must have got rid of them around 1950 or so because I never had to milk any. He got rid of them before I was old enough. Milk cows are a lot of work and a lot of time. I’ll never forget you go to check the chicken house if you didn’t make some noises and let them know you was coming then all of the sudden you come to the door they just fly and go crazy and dust would roll It’s not like you see in the pictures.

There are 180 acres right here on this piece of ground.

Mark Kinnaman: Is that when Jimmy was here?

Marcus Winslow Jr: Right at it. Well theres more than 180, there is almost 300 now. There is 111 acres and another piece of ground that has 40 acres than we had 180 here so that’s where I come up with over 300. But the basic ground that dad had is still here. It’s the same piece of ground it always was. I tried to keep as close to what it was. I like old buildings anyway so that is one reason I kept it that way, of course the fact that fans have all seen it in movie magazines and stuff over the years I suppose that enticed me to try to keep it looking the same. Anybody that is really interested recognizes it I think. Without question. They are all pretty similar to what they were 60 some years ago.

Mark Kinnaman: The little pushcar it looks like you had a blast with that? Jimmy pushing you and all…

Marcus Winslow Jr: I did.

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Mark Kinnaman: Did your dad make that?

Marcus Winslow Jr: No I made that. I found some wood and found some long piece of rod. I don’t remember if dad had to drill holes in it or not. It was something I threw together as a child. I’d have only been about 10 or 11 years old when I made that, but I had a lot of fun with it. Me and my friends would go out here and shove it down the hills. Of course the worst thing was if you shoved it downhill you had to push it back up. We enjoyed it.

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Tina Ayres: Do you happen to remember what your first memory of Jimmy was? What is your clearest memory of him?

Marcus Winslow Jr: Well my earliest memories are of him just being around here. I can remember he used to go to school. I can remember him either riding his motorcycle to school or sometimes Mrs. Nall would pick him up, she went right by here. Sometimes she’d pick him up take him to school and bring him home.

He worked for a canning factory in Fairmount. It was seasonal job just in the Fall. We used to raise tomatoes around here more so than they do now and in the fall well they’d hire a lot of extra people to peel tomatoes and do whatever they had to do. He did that some I know.

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Tina Ayres: Did he ever speak to you of his mother? Do you think her influence on him contributed to his unique sense of self? Do you think experiencing such deeply profound loss so early in life in part made him more aware of the things that matter most?

Marcus Winslow Jr: No. Not to me he didn’t. I never heard him mention her. Of course I was so little when he was here that I didn’t even realize the circumstances really. He was just here and that is just the way it was.

Mark Kinnaman: Well your mother and father provided a nice home for him.

Marcus Winslow Jr: Yeah, they sure did. I don’t think he talked about his mother much. Not that he didn’t care or whatever but I’ve heard mom and dad say they never heard him mention his mother. Whatever that means I don’t know.

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Tina Ayres: What would you say is the best advice he ever gave you?

Marcus Winslow Jr:  I don’t know that he ever gave me any advice. When Jimmy died I was almost 12. I liked a couple months of being 12 years old and I don’t know that he ever gave me any good advice about anything. I was still just a child you know.

Mark Kinnaman: He was more like an older brother…

Marcus Winslow Jr: Yeah. I can remember him real well but I don’t think he ever gave me any advice.

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Tina Ayres: Do you remember the day he left for California in 1949? What stands out most clearly in your mind from that time?

Marcus Winslow Jr: I can remember. My sister had a going away party for him on a Sunday and I can remember mom and dad was there and of course me and my sister and her husband, their son, and their daughter was a baby then, and my uncle Nolan and his family. I can remember being out in the yard and playing. We got some pictures, well we got a family picture of us outside. Everybody’s picture except mom, I think, probably because she took the picture.

My sister said, see I don’t remember this but she did, She says we were leaving, they lived up along the lane, she said, “As we were leaving going home Jimmy hung out the back door of the car, out the back window and hollered at my sister and said, “See you in Hollywood!” She said she never forgot that.

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Photo from the going away party taken by Ortense Winslow, 1949.

Tina Ayres: What was it like around the house when he brought Dennis Stock to capture life in Fairmount? Was that a planned visit or a spur of the moment thing? How did your family feel about having your home life captured forever in photos?

Marcus Winslow Jr: Well, I don’t know that Jimmy planned it. I don’t know how far ahead that he planned it but, they knew someone was coming home with him. A photographer. Dennis seemed to fit right in here. Dennis took a liking to my dad and talked to him an awful lot. Jimmy and Dennis would go to town or somewhere, and of course wherever they went why Dennis would try to capture some pictures and he did take some of Fairmount and Jimmy. They went over to uncle Nolan’s one day and went out in the garage and took a couple pictures of Jimmy sitting in, I think Jimmy was in the race car, my uncle Nolan was building a quarter Midget. I don’t know if he ever got it, totally finished it or not. It had an Indian motorcycle engine in it if I remember right.

I know a lot of times when I’d get home from school he had something planned, they’d want to go to town and he’d want to know if I wanted to go with them. Of course every time someone seen they’d holler at him. At one time he knew about everybody in Fairmount, but this time of course he’d been gone for five years and a lot people he didn’t remember who they were or their face would look familiar. I can think of two or three times he asked me, “Who is that?”, before the people would get to us and I’d tell him. It probably made him feel good to call them by name you know.

I remember the banker in Fairmount Vick Selby he hollered at Jimmy one day and wanted to know if he could bring his Jaguar out, he had a Jaguar sedan, a four door sedan that he drove some and Jimmy said, “Why sure.” I don’t know if it was the same day or next day, he came out late in the afternoon with it and we all got in that Jaguar. Let’s see it was Jimmy and Dennis and Vick Selby and his daughter Anne, she was real small then, we all got in and Jimmy drove. He drove over to Jonesboro I remember and every time he’d go around a corner he’d gun it and slide the back end around a little. Vick got a big kick out of that. That was an experience I’ll always remember. I forget what they called it a Mark something, the Jaguar, but it was a neat old car at the time.

Once he showed me a big full page ad with a Speedster in there I remember he showed me that magazine and said, “This is what I got coming.” I think it was about a month later that he got the car so of course he didn’t enjoy the big Jaguar sedans like he did the little sports car I am sure but, he got a kick out of it.

I imagine that he was tickled that Vick let him drive it.

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Photo from Nolan’s garage

Tina Ayres: Do you feel honored to be left guardian of Jimmy’s memory?

Marcus Winslow Jr: Yeah. I’m, I feel proud of Jimmy. I certainly didn’t do anything to cause him to be famous, but I am very proud of him. It took me a lot of years to realize how famous he was. I mean when he is growing up with you and doing some television shows and so forth…

Mark Kinnaman: That was exciting to see him on t.v.

Marcus Winslow Jr: Yes it was. Very Exciting. We used to…mom and dad had a television and sometimes Jimmy would let us know what show he was going to be on and the date. Of course we always made a point to watch it. Every time something would come on that he was on the phone would ring and ring. Of course that was back when you didn’t have cell phones. The phone was in the dining room and we’d take turns jumping up and going to answer the phone because we knew it was someone telling us Jimmy was on in case we didn’t know it.

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Mark Kinnaman: What was your reaction when you saw him on East of Eden? When you saw the movie?

Marcus Winslow Jr: It just seemed like him. I kept thinking to myself why he’s not acting. That’s just him. I was really tickled. I didn’t have any idea what East of Eden was about or anything and it turned out it was in the late teens WWI was breaking out and there was a lot of old cars, which that fascinated me. It was a period in history that I was interested in and I was just tickled to death with the movie. I thought he did a great job. I still think it is one of his best.

Mark Kinnaman: It’s my favorite. Adeline Nall told me, “ If you want to know what James Dean is like watch East of Eden.” That is what she said.

Marcus Winslow Jr: Yeah. He didn’t seem like he was acting in it. It just seemed like he was up there saying the words and going through it, of course there is more to it than it appeared, but he made it appear that way.

We seen him in a kind of a special showing that the theater in Marion had in the morning and then that evening is when the public started watching the movie. I don’t remember who all was there, Mrs. Nall was there I know, and mom and dad and I, and I think my sister was probably there and a few people that were close to Jimmy or to the family. It was really exciting.

Of course that was the only showing that was made when he was living. Even though Rebel was really a good movie I never enjoyed it as much because I knew he wasn’t alive anymore and I knew that he wouldn’t be making anymore. Of course I knew Giant was coming out. I didn’t know anything about Giant but, Giant was so dog gone long, it was three hours long. I remember they had an intermission between when it was half over. It was year after he died, ‘57 sometime, so as a matter of fact it might have been a little over a year.

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Tina Ayres: What would you like the world to know about Jimmy most?

Marcus Winslow Jr: Well, he was very devoted to his craft. He was just a tremendous actor. He read acting books and he liked to study people. He was very theatrically inclined and anything to do with the arts he was good at. He was a good artist, he was a good sketcher. He did dance a little. Took some dancing lessons. He’d taken some dancing lessons as a kid from what I understand. Of course we know the pictures of him and Eartha Kitt that Dennis Stock took in New York City. I am sure that dancing helped his movement on stage. He was just unreal in the devotion that he put towards his career and the characters he played. You know he went all out to be those people he was portraying. It didn’t really seem like he was acting.

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Tina Ayres: What do you think he would think about the festival and all of that sort of thing?

Marcus Winslow Jr: I think he’d probably be getting a big kick out of it. He was a kid at heart. I don’t think he’d object to it at all. I think it is something he’d get a big kick out of it.

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Mark Kinnaman: Does it amaze you that even now all these years later the foreigners that come over from all over the world…It just amazes me that people come halfway around the world and they come to here. That blows my mind.  

Marcus Winslow Jr: Yeah it does me too. I mean even after all these years. It is kind of hard to understand. I can remember when I was a little kid there was people coming here from Japan and France and foreign countries. At the time I just thought it was something that’d blow over. Usually when people get interested in an actor or an actress they get real involved in them and then after a while they, especially if they pass away, why they go on to something else but, that didn’t seem to happen to Jimmy. His old fans are still interested and he gets new fans, which is very unusual.

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Tina Ayres: Out of all of your memories of him are there any that stand out most clearly in your mind today, after so many years have passed?

Marcus Winslow Jr: None more so than any other I guess. I can remember before he ever left here, things he used to do, riding his cycle and helping dad here on the farm baling hay and so forth. Of course my clearest memories are the ones last time he was home because Dennis Stock took so many pictures. I can remember when every one of them was taken about, that I was there, and those always bring back memories. They are good memories they’re not…no hurt about any of them. I guess I was older then too, getting a little older. I remember the kids at school giving me their autograph books wanting to know if I’d bring them home and have Jimmy sign them. I didn’t know if he’d like to do that or not but he seemed to be pretty tickled to do it. I think he was enjoying his popularity somewhat.

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Mark Kinnaman: Well he worked so hard for it.

Marcus Winslow Jr: Yes he did.

Mark Kinnaman: I think he liked the benefits that came along with it?

Marcus Winslow Jr: Yeah, of course when he was here East of Eden hadn’t even been released yet. It was a couple weeks later before it was released. If it had been released a couple weeks before he came home I think he’d have really been bothered by fans. A lot of people didn’t know too much about him other than little things they read in the paper and the tv shows, of course a lot of people didn’t know those were coming on. He played in a lot of tv shows, over 30. For being live and not able to go back and correct mistakes and stuff they were very, very good.

Tina Ayres: How do you think he would have most liked to have been remembered?

Marcus Winslow Jr: As a great actor I would say.

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The preceding interview was originally written by Tina Faye Ayres in 2015 and conducted by Mark Kinnaman on September 13, 2018 on the Winslow Farm in Fairmount, Indiana. It is with my deepest thanks to both Marcus & Mark that I offer up this interview here today. This interview is a rather dear and sacred matter to me. Thank you both for making it possible.

All images are by Dennis Stock (except for the earlier family photos of course). All images are used with permission from Marcus Winslow Jr.

 

 

 

 

 

“Liftoff 16:textbook” by Stephen Bett

acceptancepoem

“At Eternity’s Gate” by Vincent Willem van Gogh circa 1890

Lift Off 16 : textbook

 I accept
(in this “book
of acceptance”)

I accept what
the doctors
tell me—

You, love, are
mentally ill
& our time
so abruptly
done

I accept,
what else
can I
say?

Except that
I still hurt
some days

What the fook
else can be
expected?
Bruised
memories
collide,
bruise
again

And you are
dying daily
within me
by slivers
(like they
said you
would,
such smart
people &
we are
simply
text-
book)

Moving
across its
sheaths
of paper

Though the
slivers feel
like shards
at times
—glass
cutting this
very page
you left
blank

 

Stephen Bett has had eighteen books of poetry published: Un/Wired (BlazeVOX Books, Buffalo, N.Y., 2016); The Gross & Fine Geography: New & Selected Poems (Salmon Poetry, Ireland, 2015); Those Godawful Streets of man: a book of raw wire in the city (BlazeVOX Books, Buffalo, N.Y., 2014); Journal for Breathing Arizona (Ekstasis Editions, Spring, 2014); Penny-Ante Poems (Ekstasis Editions, 2013); Sound Off: a book of jazz (Thistledown Press, 2013); Re-Positioning (Ekstasis Editions, 2011); Track This: a book of relationship (BlazeVOX Books, Buffalo, N.Y., 2010); SPLIT (Ekstasis Editions, 2009); Extreme Positions: the soft-porn industry Exposed  (Spuyten Duyvil Books, NYC, 2009); Sass ’n Pass (Ekstasis Editions, 2008); Three Women (Ekstasis Editions, 2006); Nota Bene Poems: A Journey (Ekstasis Editions, 2005); Trader Poets (Frog Hollow Press, 2003); High-Maintenance (Ekstasis Editions, 2003); High Design Refit (Greenboathouse Books, 2002); Cruise Control (Ekstasis Editions, 1996); Lucy Kent and other poems(Longspoon Press, 1983).

His work has also appeared in well over 100 literary journals in Canada, the U.S., England, Australia, New Zealand, and Finland, as well as in four anthologies, and on radio.

His “personal papers” have been purchased by the Simon Fraser University Library, and are, on an ongoing basis, being archived in their “Contemporary Literature Collection” for current and future scholarly interest.

For reviews of his books, please see www.stephenbett.com

Stephen Bett is a widely and internationally published Canadian poet. His earlier work is known for its sassy, edgy, hip… caustic wit―indeed, for the askance look of the serious satirist… skewering what he calls the ‘vapid monoculture’ of our times. His more recent books have been called an incredible accomplishment for their authentic minimalist subtlety. Many are tightly sequenced book-length ‘serial’ poems, which allow for a rich echoing of cadence and image, building a wonderfully subtle, nuanced music.

Bett follows in the avant tradition of Don Allen’s New American Poets. Hence the mandate for Simon Fraser University’s “Contemporary Literature Collection” to purchase and archive his “personal papers” for scholarly use.