AMATEUR PORN STAR KILLED: INTERVIEW WITH KAI LANETTE

When the first “Amateur Porn Star Killer” was released I asked director/writer/star Shane Ryan if he could set me up with an interview with his female lead, Michiko Jimenez — the very young looking victim in the realistic snuff film. His response?

“I don’t know where she is.” Not exactly the answer you’re hoping for from a guy who made that type of movie. (In Ryan’s defense, she has since surfaced, including here on Film Threat and on the DVD release’s extra features.)

“Amateur Porn Star Killer 2″ (available in two versions for your viewing displeasure: Snuff and Movie) has a thoroughly different female lead (Kai Lanette), and Ryan was quick to tell me she would be available for interviews whenever I was ready. I wanted to wait to interview her until I watched both versions of the film, however, so I could get a feel for the character and what might possess someone to play such a role. Needless to say, after watching the films the questions almost wrote themselves.

Co-writer and co-star Lanette doesn’t have much in the way of an acting background. In fact, “it’s mostly been just school plays.” She’s always loved acting but never thought of pursuing it enough to “make it big” and considers it to be more of a “hobby.” As for a real job, she’s joining the Air Force, where she is currently a housekeeper at one of its bases. “I work with a bunch of other Filipinos, Asians, Orientals, and Hispanics,” she says. “It’s that whole stereotype that if you’re this race you must be good at cleaning!” That’s not the only job she’s done, though.

“I’m one of those people who live a couple different lives,” Lanette explains. “At one point I was a stripper at the Spearmint Rhino and a maintenance aid at the same time. But besides those jobs, I was also a single mom. I guess you could say I’m a Jack-of-All-Trades.”

Lanette was no stranger to the world of “Amateur Porn Star Killer” before landing the role of the victim in the second film. “I saw it when I was I was friends with [Jimenez from the first film].” Lanette liked the movie, but did have some criticisms of it, though not the kind you’d expect.

“The movie was definitely disturbing,” she asserts, “and while I’m a woman of body language, I also like dialogue. That, to me, is what the movie lacked. But that’s also my own personal opinion — considering we all have different perspectives and view things in our own ways. Other than that, the movie struck me just as it is: a movie. I stomach things pretty well and don’t judge people by their artistic ways. I definitely thought it was interesting and a great movie for the amount of work and money actually put into it. I thought it was awesome how Shane could take an idea so complex, but in the end it was simple. I think that’s what intrigued me more.”

Lanette has actually known Ryan for some time before being in the movie, meeting him through people at the Southside Coffee Shop where Ryan had filmed in the past. This association eventually led to her starring in Ryan’s pseudo-snuff film, but how she got the role is far from the usual audition and wait for a call method of operation that infects even the lowest budgeted films.

“Okay,” Lanette begins to explain, “so I get out of this horrendous relationship. I’m working full time at the parks and part time at the strip club. One day I’m driving home from [the parks] and I get a missed phone call.” This call happens to be Lanette’s friend who is using Ryan’s cell phone to let her know that the director would like to talk to her about a movie he’s about to film. Unfortunately, when Lanette attempts to call her friend back the phone is never picked up and she decides to leave it at that. Luckily, a coffee craving causes Lanette to run into Ryan at a local coffeeshop.

“When I approached Shane I was dressed in my uniform pants and a wife beater. Plus my maintenance keys, boots, hair down and last but not least, some rose tinted sunglasses.” As she sat down with the director she gave him nothing but her “tough chick attitude.” “Hey,” she jokes, “I’m sorry, but when you’re five foot and one hundred pounds you got to have the attitude to make up.” Ryan liked that “bitchy” attitude and thought it would fit perfectly with the role he wanted to offer her.

As with Ryan’s other films, this one does not come without controversy. Lanette doesn’t care about that, though, and has not personally experienced any negativity due to the film’s transgressive and authentic nature. “Personally it doesn’t matter,” she says of the controversy. “I’m not making a career in acting. I’d love to make one, but I just don’t see it happening. [And] there is no heat I’ve taken over it.”

The question that really should be on people’s minds is why would someone even take on a role like this one — that of a woman who is murdered during sex? “I definitely see Shane’s artistic views,” Lanette answers unapologetically. “I did it, not only to help him, but also to have fun. It would be really cool if people recognized me, and maybe even thought I had talent, but that’s certainly not what I did it for. I thought it was awesome getting to be this person in a part of someone else’s ideas and art. I’m very open-minded to all ideas, and this was another one I had yet to experience.”

Unlike your standard role, however, Lanette actually contributed quite a bit to her character. “My words [and actions] came from me,” Lanette says. “Shane guided me, offered suggestions, but we both took on our own dialogue and actions. I believe I contributed a lot to my character. The way she acted, talked and looked at you. At the same time, the character was me. Just another part. Everyone has different sides and shadows that personalize who they are. In fact, Kai is only a stage name. Kai is the name I gave to the other part of me that needed out. Same name I used at the Spearmint Rhino. I fell in love with this character because even though it’s a movie, you like to get in touch with that character, the background, what causes certain actions, attitudes, what makes them tick.”

If you watch the film, you’ll notice one thing that really upsets Lanette’s character is the way the killer touches her face. Watching those scenes is downright uncomfortable, and it makes one wonder if that was just part of the character, or if Lanette herself really did not like having her face touched. The answer is surprising.

“The thing is,” Lanette reveals, “it is hard for me to get incredibly riled up with anger when someone is being rough in bed. I mean, we are kind of having sex. I told [Ryan] that touching my face like that would help bring out that little bit of anger I needed to make my character really pissed. A lot of it was also me. One of my ex’s was an alcoholic and abusive. He used to run his hand down my face during periods of drunken stupor. Almost as if he was saying he was above me and better than me. Even to this day I hate having the front of my face touched. The face touching is a sense of power and control over someone. Such a simple gesture, and even harmless, but yet incredibly intense and sometimes frightening. Although intense, I trusted Shane and knew he wouldn’t hurt me.”

But was there ever a point in the filming where Lanette thought maybe, just maybe, she got herself in over her head and was perhaps a bit scared of what was going to happen? The answer is a definite “no.” She states that after her last relationship she can “sense true abuse.” “Besides, I’m a pretty tough chick. I would have just knocked him on his ass.”

Lanette takes the whole film in stride, not really caring if there is a backlash against her for starring in it. She does hope, however, that people at least give the film a chance without dismissing it outright. And as for a future films, well don’t hold your breath. Lanette is serious about not really pursuing the craft, but she’ll take it one day at a time. There is one thing, though, that is certain: If Lanette stars in any future films they won’t be anywhere near as disturbing as this one and probably not nearly as effective… unless, that is, she has a flashback role in the third one due out this October.




Posted on May 16, 2008 in Interviews by
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