You are without a question a major cult icon. Are cult movies what you aspired to be a part of when you began acting or was it something you just fell into? ^ Honestly, I fell into it. When I was young I went to an all girl school and always played a boy in the school play (with the exception of the time I played Caliban, a monster). In college, I visited Andy Warhol’s studio and started working with him. Warhol was influenced by camp and the Theater of the Ridiculous and wanted to do something that hadn’t been done and that screwed with the minds of the audience. Warhol took most of his film stuff from a genius named Jack Smith, who wrote “Flaming Creatures.” These people worshiped B-movie actresses like Maria Montez. The whole scene was filled with gender slippage, drag queens and the ridiculous. It was about the power of the woman, the power of the vamp. It was a scene that took the ugly man and made him a sexual god. Given that background I became a camp actress.
There are three types of acting. There’s the Stanislavsky actor, who transforms himself into someone else. Then there’s the “type” actor like Bruce Willis or John Wayne, who are only good at impersonating themselves. And then there’s camp acting, where you pretend to be someone or something you obviously are not, like a man pretending to be a woman, and then you can comment on that thing, like a drag queen comments on femininity. I went to Hollywood to try to make it as an actress, but Hollywood doesn’t care for camp acting. Hollywood didn’t know what to do with me. But there are people outside of the mainstream who make movies, who understand me, who ask for me and write parts for me. I used to think I was a failure as an actress, but now I realize I am a great success as a cult actress. Not everyone can say they are a cult icon!
After working in cult movies for over 30 years now, have they lost their appeal at all? ^ I prefer camp acting and prefer cult movies. It is a highly intelligent atmosphere and the work functions on several different levels. I’m actually glad my career went cult and not Hollywood. I also love helping young filmmakers. It’s fun and sometimes crazy, but I’m not one to complain.
Do you feel that that there are any new Roger Cormans running around today? ^ I don’t know. I hope so. I’m not that connected to the business and have been concentrating more on writing scripts and novels lately. Roger Corman was brilliant. What I love about him is that he didn’t aspire to do anything more than b-movies out of cheapness. B-movies are a haven for cult acting. I used to call him the Warhol of the West because they were both so cheap. There are many young kids today struggling to make the same kind of movies Roger made.
How was it working with Paul Bartel? ^ Pretty fabulous. I did whatever I liked when I worked with Paul. He never directed me. I got to write my own lines and set my own stage. It was a very collaborative experience. Paul didn’t understand bad feelings or anger so it was always a very congenial, helpful and friendly atmosphere.
Get the rest of the interview in part three of MARY WORONOV: A NEW WOMAN>>>
Posted on April 3, 2003 in Interviews by Eric Campos
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