Geoff Tarulli is a filmmaker, musician (er…. drummer), an MFA student at Emerson College in Boston and a full time mailroom worker of 9 years. He is currently working on a documentary about our Pops Lloyd Kaufman– president and co-founder of Troma, Inc., the country’s oldest independent film studio. Check out his website http://www.moviesofthefuture.com/
Geoff shares a pivotal Troma memory:
Over a decade ago I was in a band called The Pisscubes.
Yeah. I know. Real nice.
The band consisted of me on drums, my long-time co-conspirator and best friend Johnny on bass and vocals and our good friend Rattlesnake (named so because of his stellar maraca abilities) on guitar.
Considering our attitudes, the unappealing nature of the band name was pretty spot on. The reason you never heard of us isn’t because the music wasn’t any good, it’s because we usually managed to piss off almost anyone we came in contact with due to just having generally bad attitudes for no particular reason.
“This is a pleasant trip down memory lane,” I hear you saying now, “but what in God’s name does this have to do with your movie? Or Troma? Or Lloyd Kaufman?”
God, you’re pushy. I’m getting there.
Anyway, one night we had booked a show for ourselves and two other bands at O’Brien’s in Allston, MA. Those of you who haven’t been to O’Brien’s (especially back when it was really a dive) need only know that it was a place for professional drinkers when the bands weren’t there, and a place for professional drinkers, punks, rockers and musicians of all ages when there were. Not a rough place, just more…a dirty one.
I was sitting at the bar with my back to the door enjoying a beer and talking to Rattlesnake when he seemed to tune out of the conversation. This is something I’m not totally unfamiliar with as it happens to me quite often. I finally stopped the boring story I was telling him and asked, “What?” Rattlesnake paused, cocked an eye-brow, narrowed his eyes in confusion and asked, “Is that the Toxic Avenger?”
I turned around to see that, yes indeed, the Toxic Avenger—hero and figurehead of Troma—was walking in. Well, ok. It was a well built young man in a rubber Toxie mask wearing a tutu and carrying a mop, but we’re really just getting into semantics here because that’s exactly what the Toxic Avenger has always been. Behind him came Sergeant Kabukiman, NYPD—another favorite Troma character. Behind him was possibly an even stranger sight.
A short, slight man in a powder-blue suit with a bow tie walked quickly into the room. He started introducing himself, though it seemed like to no one in particular.
“Lloyd Kaufman, Troma,” he repeated several times like a kid in a play who only remembers the one line. He then went to talk to the manager. I’m guessing. I’m only guessing because though I’ve seen a decent amount of relatively strange things in my time, I was a little stunned to see the hero of a movie I had loved as a maladjusted teenager (but hadn’t thought of in years) walk into a bar. But it must have been the manager he went to see because before we knew it, the place was Lloyd’s.
The show we booked had become a Troma premier party for the Toxic Avenger IV: Citizen Toxie, which was playing down the street at the Coolidge Corner Theater at midnight. And of course being in a room full of what I’ll proudly call degenerates, Lloyd just seemed to know his audience. I now imagine him thinking, “These people won’t be angry I’m commandeering this event! They’ll love it! Look at them! They must have watched Troma movies growing up!”
And he was right.
Kabukiman and Toxie started throwing them back. Before the first band played, the well-muscled Toxie got on stage and began a “Punch Toxie in the Stomach Contest”. I’m not certain what the rules were or what was to be won in the contest. All I know is that it consisted of people getting up on stage, Toxie flexing his abs, and the people hitting him in the stomach as hard as they could.
A band played. The Troma characters continued drinking. The audience continued drinking. The bands continued drinking.
After the first band was done a newly revised version of the previous contest started up. This one was the “Get punched in the stomach by Toxie contest”. I marveled as I watched 90 pound drunk punk-rockers in women’s jeans fly across the stage as the Toxic Avenger hit them hard in the bread-basket. Then, amazingly, they would get back up and join the queue to get punched in the stomach again.
Lloyd, who had disappeared for a while was back to “keep an eye on things” I’m guessing. When asked about the on-stage antics he answered only with, “The kids just love Toxie.”
By the time The Pisscubes took the stage, the clear danger was no longer The Toxic Avenger.
Sergeant Kabukiman, NYPD was loaded. This wasn’t anything particularly out of the ordinary considering the type of gathering he was attending. It probably wasn’t even that out of the ordinary that he was lecherously leering at every girl in the place. But when you add those two things to the fact that the man was wearing a day-glow samurai outfit and sloppily applied Kabuki/clown make-up, it’s really just a blueprint for The Capital Building of Creepy-as-Hell-Town, USA.
Two songs into our set, the good Sergeant hoisted himself up on stage and grabbed the mic. He began babbling about Troma, his drunken attempt to do the PR job I’m sure Lloyd had brought him along to do. But between the slurring and obscenities, he just ended up turning the crowd into an ocean of blank stares. Thank you very much, Mr. Kabukiman, but we as a band are more than capable of doing that ourselves, I remember thinking.
“Get off the stage,” Rattlesnake hissed at him.
“You…you wouldn’t even…be here… if it wasn’t for us!” the Sergeant retorted.
And that was when Rattlesnake kicked him as hard as he could in the ass, sending him flying off the stage and into a multicolored human puddle on the floor. The Sergeant rose woozily to his feet and turned around as if he was going to charge. Rattlesnake began taking his guitar off to welcome the fight. The Sergeant retreated.
I learned just a few months ago that Kabukiman ended up vomiting wildly from the back row of the Coolidge Corner Theater during the screening of Toxic Avenger IV and because of that Troma wasn’t welcomed back for many, many years.
“Thanks for the boring war story, jerk. And the point?” I hear you saying.
What the hell is it with you today?
My point is this is when the seeds of my movie were planted. It didn’t occur to me until years later of course, but I realized even then that it took some serious cojones to walk into a seedy bar of scrubby miscreants and assert yourself and your product that way. It was guerrilla marketing at its finest. And it’s one of the reasons that almost 40 years after he began, Lloyd Kaufman is still making movies.