Toxie Teaches Bjarni Gautur about Censorship, the Environment and having a great Mom

TOXIC CRUSADER Bjarni Gautur writes about GROWING UP TOXIC on Marvel Toxic Avenger comics and Crusaders to working for LLOYD:  Life lessons learned from the Toxic Avenger about censorship, the environment and the importance of having a good mom!

My favorite Troma memory is probably when I got to meet Lloyd Kaufman for the first time. I grew up watching the Toxic Crusaders and reading the Marvel imprinted comic books (that were really censored when they were published in Sweden) and I fell in love with the great messages they were bringing forward into the cartoon medium. I loved the environmental message that the stories had as well as taking away the vanity of beauty. Most cartoons, even those who talked about the environment like Captain Planet, had things as far sighted with how the good guys looked good and the bad guys looked bad, so I can’t even talk about how awesome it was seeing hideously deformed mutants of superhuman size and strength be the good guys. With Toxie’s mom, of course. I still think more super heroes need the support of a good mom.

But I am getting off track. After a life of Toxic Crusaders in my youth, I learned of the actual Toxie movie at the age of 10, and finally got the chance to watch it 13, alongside the rest of the trilogy and I was Troma-hooked. Despite living in Iceland during my teen years, I ordered films off eBay and Amazon in order to make a Troma collection and during my first trip to the US in 2005 (for my 16th birthday) I ransacked a local Virgin (superstore) and bought their entire Troma stock of 20 movies, I would continue to do so during every trip I took to the US, fill my ratio of Troma related merchandise.

But in 2005, which was the first time I could really start building up my Troma collection, was also the time I got a letter from a Troma employee asking me if I wanted to play Toxie during the first Icelandic Independent International Film Festival. I was very lucky getting said letter because being a part of the generation that was born with the Internet, I found a way to send e-mails to everyone I wanted to talk to, despite social statuses or how big they were. Sometimes I would get replies, sometimes not. Lloyd Kaufman, Michael Herz and the Troma Team always answered my e-mails, even when I was 13 giving them bad plots to upcoming movies. It could have been an e-mail about me going to the bathroom but I would always get a very positive reply from Troma, telling me how awesome it was to hear from me.

And now, because of my e-mails I had sent in hopes of getting some more Troma films to Iceland (so that more people in Iceland could enjoy them), I was a candidate to help Lloyd during his trip to my hometown. I the first time I met him I think was at the screening of the first Toxic Avenger, the local cinema downtown had given the festival it’s biggest screen. I had brought a lot of friends whom I had introduced to Troma, and then suddenly while talking just how awesome this was, a small man walked in whom I had only seen in DVD intros and special features on his movies. There he was. The man who has inspired me more then even he knew.

When I was three years old. I had already decided want I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to make movies, cartoons and comic books. All featuring the same social commentary that Toxic Crusaders had. My dad told me that cartoons had environmental messages in hopes that the next generation wouldn’t be as bad as the generation before them and I felt that this was a worthy cause, teach by entertain. Kaufman was the hero when it came to this. Having obscene comedies always filled with actual good messages. Over the years, he had become one of the greatest heroes in my life.

And there he was, just walking into the theater. He came in alone, without introduction, just walked right in, something I wouldn’t expect from someone of his caliber. I felt like we were dealing with royalty, if my friend hadn’t pointed out that he just walked into the door, I wouldn’t even have noticed him.

I was the first to walk up to him, still in shock that I was actually meeting my idol, I might have actually scared him during out first initial meeting seeing that I just stared at him without saying anything. Finally I raised my hand as fast as I could so I could shake is and tried to introduce myself while stuttering and telling him how awesome he was. There were so many questions I wanted to ask him, stories I had heard about the films, little things I was curious about, but they were all arriving in my head at the same time, I didn’t know what to say. All I could say is how big of a fan I was.

Lloyd nodded, went into his man purse and pulled out a DVD for me. This would be our relationship for the next five days during the festival. I would try to conjure up some of the many questions I had about Troma, while he would tell me and my friends jokes as he would keep giving us DVD’s, very happy at the loyal fanbase that had brewed up here in Iceland and then we would walk in together to see a Troma film. Despite Lloyd introducing most of the Troma films and me being at most of the screenings. I only played Toxie once.

During the first screening of the 1984 cult classic in Iceland. Lloyd did an amazing speech on how the idea for the movie came and had a Q&A afterward, he had directed me on how I should act before we started and I tried to do it was well as possible. I didn’t want to screw anything up, but I was nervous. I had one line. A roar. I was suppose to roar when Lloyd asked me if there was anything that he forgot to mention, I did it right on que, and people laughed and clapped. The exact moment I did it I felt that I didn’t do it well enough, but everyone seemed to be happy, so I decided to join them with that emotion, wasn’t hard, seeing that I was standing next to one of the greatest directors of our time.

The next day I even got Lloyd to have a cameo in my first feature length project. A movie we were going to give to Troma the moment we were finished with it. Seeing that we did it at age 15, it was pretty good, we had a three act storyline, character development, decent gore and LLOYD KAUFMAN in a cameo. But the movie never did get a proper release, which is understandable, it was just made by some 15 year olds.

Charles Dickens once wrote something or other with the words “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” All I know is that I have never experience the ‘worst of times’ since. My days with Troma have always been my ‘best of times’. But, my favorite quote has always been in a rendition of the Bard’s most famous play, my all time favorite quote of course being “They found a peanut of DEATH!”. Great words, from the great masters of our time.

I am now living the dream in Tromaville, working with mr. Kaufman on his latest feature, The Return to the Class of Nuke ‘Em High.

Thank you guys for all the memories and inspirations.

-Bjarni Gautur 

Stay tuned for more to follow from Bjarni on his experience slaving away in Niagara, New York on RETURN TO NUKE ‘EM HIGH we hope!!

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Professor Lloyd Gives Oxford Master Class

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I’m on the road with dad, tagging along at Oxford University, the intellectual capital of the world, where dad has been invited to give a master class.

The Honorable Roger Kirby and St. Hilda’s College at the University of Oxford present… LLOYD KAUFMAN MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN MOVIE! MASTER CLASS

Dad is giving a crash course in indie filmmaking, the TROMA way to a packed sold out room of students, journalists, professors, fans and Harry Potter.

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Filmmakers and actors dad has worked with, like Eli Roth, share advice via video. Here, Eli talks about the value of starting out as a PA on a movie to learn Filmmaking, Tarantino learned the ropes as a PA before he ran the show on Resevoir Dogs, Roth reminds filmmaker hopefulls:

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Toxic Assets – Meltdown at the NYSE

IT was one of the hottest days of the year, a true NYC August meltdown, and dad called us up.  “Yo -DO YOU WANT TO COME TO THE New York Stock Exchange? TOXIE IS RINGING THE BELL.”

“Whaat?!”  Toxie? Our very own Toxic Avenger would be ringing the bell on the New York Stock Exchange? The Global financial center of THE WORLD? We’re talking WALL STREET people, dominated by cigar smoking rich men in business suits, suspenders and shiny loafers carrying matching briefcases.  This is not the kind of place that calls up the Toxic Avenger and asks him to ring the opening bell.   This was monumental.

“Get down here by 7am! and I think I can get you in with us!”  I hung up the phone and jumped out of bed.  Fortunately, I wasn’t very far.  In fact, I lived right upstairs, yes dear readers, I lived at home.  I threw on a Toxic Green Dress and raced downstairs.

Dad and I met Toxie and the cast of The Toxic Avenger The Musical and headed into the New York Stock Exchange.  We had a private tour and a nice breakfast waited for us in the boardroom on a huge shining wooden boardroom table, just “like in the movies” (just not the Troma movies)

As I reached for a bagel presented on the silver platter in front of me, I looked around the NYSE boardroom breakfast table: there was Dad wearing a nice suit, and a bowtie, and of course his saddle shoes. To his right sat his creation, THE TOXIC AVENGER, green, slimy, dripping, but wearing a jacket and tie.  To his left was the Mayor of Tromaville, her bright red suit, crazy hair…    I am quite sure no Subhumanoid monster had sat at this board table for meetings or fancy breakfasts before.

As we walked through the floor of the exchange, the always busy always ever out traders stopped trading.  Millions of dollars of securites pass through these traders hands every minute, but for sure, The likes of THE TOXIC AVENGER did not often pass through the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.  (as they say, it is easier for Toxie to pass through the floor of the NYSE than a wall street financier to get into Heaven)

As we walked through the floor, traders stopped and turned to cheer.  Those who were in our direct path high fived Toxie, some ran over to shake his hand.    I was so proud of my Dad, this was really cool.  He had created the Toxic Avenger, and today, this morning, his creation was being recognized and honored by something as world renown as the New York Stock Exchange!   This is a top Tromemory.

TWIT IT @tromemoir

We’ve had alot of people asking us if we are on twitter, so due to popular demand, you can now find us on Twitter!  @tromemoir

We’d love to hear from you!   We don’t want you to just follow us, Tweet with us!

Obviously, Pops is a big twitter guy, If you are reading this post, chances are you follow him @lloydkaufman he is constantly on twitter, (as we told you before)  and finally he said “look kids: if you want to get serious, you have to get on Twitter. You aren’t living in the 20th century anymore.  this is 2011, I’ve been on Twitter since 2009!”

And it’s true. Dad is busted tweeting at the dinner table every five minutes, on family vacations, he can be found 24/7 furiously tweeting away away on his bberry.  And what we’ve noticed, sure he loves to post his rants, and he shares articles he thinks are interesting, (even tweets out posts we write here on the Tromemoir) and of course he promotes his own events and movies.  But the most important thing he uses twitter for is conversations back and forth with fans.

Dad is dedicated to his fans.  He may not have time to meet every single fan, talk on the phone, return a formal three paragraph email, but twitter lets him stay in touch with a huge number of fans throughout the day on a regular basis.

So like father, like daughters, we are going to try tweeting too.  We are going to take a lesson from our old pops, and use twitter to get to know you, dear fans better! so find us @tromemoir and feel free to ask away, tell us something about troma, ask about dad, about growing up toxic.

TOXIC TRAVELS WITH DUD


So we’ve been a bit delinquent here.  AS you know, we’re scrounging around between the sofa cushions, and working hard at our day jobs to support our blog/independent book writing habits.  But we know just as well as you do that there is no excuse for not writing.  Thank goodness we have loyal fans like Keith Makenas to keep us on track.   (you too can keep us in line, write us at tromemoir@gmail.com)

Keith writes us:

Doesn’t it just suck how the day job takes us away from what we want to really do.  Good luck at work and hopefully not stress out too much.

A few things that I’d personally like to see is like your heading on your site says “Growing up with the Toxic Avenger”.   The 1987 Kaufman Christmas Card, great!  There’s got to be good stories and photos when growing up….  I’d really like to hear about growing up with your father because when it comes down to the fans, he is incredibly nice and interactive, he responds to emails, sends autographs, and will take a picture with anyone. 

However, I remember watching the extras on the Terror Firmer DVD and he’s very serious about his films and strong about getting them done right. I think a lot people think it’s all fun and games, but to me it appears he’s hard core when it comes to filming and I love that!

Take care,

Keith

Keith, Thanks for your mail.  YES you are absolutely right, our dad is incredibly dedicated to his ART his FANS and to his FAMILY.   Without Fans, there would be no Troma, and without Family, I think there would be no Lloyd Kaufman, (I can’t imagine where he would be without either his Fans or our mom.)

As you rightly point out, he is always responding to emails, writing fans back, thinking about Troma, thinking about films, talking about independent cinema, writing essays expressing his (sometimes extreme) views on how to save independent film, net neutrality, and promoting independent filmmakers such as himself.

Dad is a perfectionist, he has a vision about his films, and he will work and work and work until he has completed exactly what he has set out to do, with absolutely no compromises.

From his desk at Troma in Long Island City to the Peruvian Peaks, He is also ALWAYS on.   Let me tell you a little about our family vacations to help illustrate the extent to which our dad never quite shuts off Troma, and never leaves Toxie behind, no matter the distance or destination.

When it comes to family vacations we have always been far from traditional.  In Cameroon, we hitchhiked through the Yaounde hills after our car broke down.  The three of us sisters crammed into the luggage space of a random local’s car with only the smallest hint of grumbling.  A few nights later, as Mom pushed a dresser against the door to “secure” an abandoned house we had no choice but to stay in when we discovered to our dismay that our hotel did not exist.  (For the record, it was only our driver who flinched.)

I will admit that it was at 5,000 meters above sea level in Tibet, that a cement shack with a tin roof almost pushed me over the edge.  That was until my sister shook me to my senses.  The straw mattresses did not, in fact, have bed bugs, she pointed out.  And she was quite confident that the stray dogs howling outside the “door” could not jump high enough to slip in through the space between the corrugated tin roof and cinderblock walls.  And besides, TOXIE was there to protect us if anything went wrong.

Kaufman vacations are unpredictable, but the one thing we can always count on, is that Toxie will be there right by our side to tuck us in at a bed-bug infested flea-bag hotel, to guard the door of an abandoned hut in the Cameroon Jungle, or to turn off the single bulb that dangles from a cord from a tin roof held up by cinderblocks in the Himalayan peaks of Tibet.

Although fictional, The Toxic Avenger, or “Toxie,” as we call him, is a constant real part of our Travel.  We can expect Toxie to appear at any moment.   A typical Toxie in real-life scene might go like this:

INTERTITLE: INCA TRAIL, 16000 FEET

Guide leads group of hikers, including KAUFMANS, up steep terrain.

DAD

(Suddenly)

CUT!

Group halts.  Non-KAUFMANS and guide look confused.

DAD pulls out TOXIE mask from backpack and puts over his

head, hands video camera to MOM, always loyally prepared to assist.

DAD

And… ACTION!

MOM films as DAD, dressed for a flood in ultra short khakis and wearing TOXIE mask, waves hands and feet in dance.  DAD/TOXIE points out scenery, attempts to engage others hikers.

Two INCA WOMEN in traditional clothes and with baby goats approach, expecting tourists and opportunity to charge for photos.   INCA WOMEN stop in tracks when see DAD in TOXIE mask.  DAD approaches INCA WOMEN, motions he would like to charge them to take a picture with him.

INCA WOMEN flee.

KAUFMAN SISTERS stand by in background.  NON KAUFMANS look bewildered.

TOXIC TRIVIA

We recently found out ourselves, thanks to the investigative journalism of Fangoria Magazine Managing Editor Mike Gingold, that Troma’s Cult Classic The Toxic Avenger  originally had A DIFFERENT TITLE!

We asked you, dear readers, did you know which name Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz initially chose which the title The Toxic Avenger  later replaced?? 

Here’s to you Bill Van Orden, David F and of course Keith Makenas the FIRST THREE to beat the others to it with the correct answer… HEALTH CLUB HORROR

1.  Bill Van Orden

Oh… I KNOW the answer… but should I ruin the game for everyone? —- Yes, I SHALL…… ‘THE TOXIC AVENGER” really didn’t have a title until pretty much THE END OF THE FILM… but originally, “HEALTH CLUB HORROR” was the working title, ’til Lloyd saw the toxic green light.

2.  David F.

‘Health Club Horror!’ (okay, I added the exclamation point out of excitement..)

3.  Keith Makenas

Hi!  Was the original title “Health Club Horror”?  I didn’t want to post it on your site because I definitely cheated and had look it up so I couldn’t brag about knowing it. 

Hope everything is going well for you guys!  take care

And Finally, in conclusion, we checked in with old pops, LLOYD KAUFMAN.  He confirmed Health Club Horror, and shed some light on the inspiration for… THE TOXIC AVENGER:

“The original title was Health Club Horror but then God told me to climb the Tromaville Mountain,which I did…

And lo upon that Tromaville Mountain she gave me two tablets, (which I took for my headache.)  Having a clear head it dawned on me that Toxie was a star and that the film should be named for him. Also she threatened to perform a ‘full head crush’ on me if I did not call the film THE TOXIC AVENGER.”


Troma Trivia Tuesday From Fangoria Magazine Managing Editor Mike Gingold

Q: What was the original title of the Troma Classic THE TOXIC AVENGER?
A: ???

We caught up with Fangoria Magazine Managing Editor Mike Gingold.  We were lucky he made time for us between being interviewed by the New York Times  as their go-to horror film expert and preparing for his upcoming role as a key panelist at TROMADANCE 2011!

Mike is a true Troma historian, and he clued us in to some early Troma Trivia!

Q: What was the Troma Classic THE TOXIC AVENGER originally called?  

Do you know?  Post your answer here in the comments or send us an email at tromemoir@gmail.com

Check back in, we’ll post the answer, straight from LLOYD KAUFMAN here at the end of the week.

Tromemoir goes on Tour!

Tromemoir is going on tour!

After one too many times of taking too long to prepare the fake blood, not cleaning the toilets fast enough, sneaking a broom when we had been instructed to clean the floor with our very own toothbrushes, we’ve been banished and sent from the house for two weeks.

Conveniently, this cruel excommunication coincides with our TROMEMOIR MIDDLE EAST TOUR!

Were off on a late summer toxic travel adventure to the Arabian Peninsula! Follow us and Toxie here. As long as we can get internet, we’ll keep you posted of all things Troma, Lloyd Kaufman and Toxie related, and fill you in on what’s going down on the Arabian Peninsula.

As always, you can reach us at Tromemoir@gmail.com, if you have any specific cares interests, causes or just want a postcard, or to tell us you miss us. (And p.s. forgive the typos, we’ll be writing from any miscelaneous phone, internet cafe and homemade communication device we can get access to, but it won’t be easy)

Like any Kaufman Family Trip, it wouldn’t be a true family vacation without Toxie, so we’re pretty sure he’ll be making an appearance along the way.

Toxic Love, LLOYD’S KIDS

Lloyd’s Top Tromemory: Roasted by Stan Lee at Comicon

Dad’s Recent trip to Comicon 2010, for the Troma Panel featuring James Gunn, Tromeo and Juliet, Super, Slither, Dawn of the Dead, The Specials, Scooby Doo Darren Lynn Bousman Repo!, Saw II,III,IV and of course the MOTHERS DAY remake, plus his beloved brother Uncle Charles who wrote the script for the orriginal Mothers’ Day reminded us of one of our Favorite  Tromemories:

Legendary creator of Spider Man,  the creative genius superhero comic creating wise Uncle most kids only marvel over, we were blessed by the gods of comics to have, OUR REAL LIFE SUPERHERO STAN LEE, roasted Pops at Comicon 2009.    (low-budget Troma style video below)