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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New short film starring Lloyd by Sister #3 and CALL FOR TROMA TECHNOPHILES

[http://vimeo.com/11494393]

Tromemoir fans, bingo at the senior center didn’t work out as planned this week, so we’re still running on our student budget/monthly allownace –> no fancy expensive website update this week.

WordPress blog has been a great home for us so far so far, but we want to make it more active and engaging for you guys. We’ve  received so many requests to contribute to  the blog and participate live right here.  We want you to be able to post your own artwork and share your own tromemories with one another.   We wish we could provide a forum that would make this possible. If you know a cheap way can you please let us know!?

So we would like to ask you if anyone has recomendations for better layout or ways that we could make our blog easier for you to use, and more importantly easier for you  talk to us and to one another on the blog PLEASE LET US KNOW!  send us a comment here on the blog or email us at tromemoir@gmail.com.

Now, enjoy this This is a fictional vignette sister #3 wrote, filmed produced and directed for a film class, staring our very own pops – your very own LLOYD KAUFMAN. Any similarities with reality are merely coincidental… she dramatized real people and a real setting to portray a more pessimistic version of reality. she does not wish to discourage anyone from the horror film- making career! lets make some art!

[http://vimeo.com/11494393]

Thanks!!

your troma sisters

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)

Behind the Tweets: Lloyd Kaufman in Action

Being Lloyd’s Kids, we have had a life of enduring the pleasure of not only being subject to slave labor in sweatshop conditions, working round the clock for free, cleaning toilets, washing our dad’s dirty socks, preparing his vegan peta-approved animal free dishes, arranging his film library alphabetically by third letter, all for room and board while being subjected to his preachings about life liberty the pursuit of independent cinema,  lectures warning us of the evils of men and what any potential future boyfriends might dare to expect, and what we can dare to expect if we don’t study study study and earn money money money.

But we digress.  Meanwhile, thousands of you, dear fans, follow our Pops and his wise words on Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, troma.com. www.Lloydkaufman.com, in search of the intellect he spews, the wealth of wisdom he so generously shares with the fans he loves.  Many of you still can’t get enough of his free online ranting and raving and pay $ to buy his books such as All I kneed to know I learned from MY KIDS! errr, I mean THE TOXIC AVENGERDirect Your Own Damn Movie! or Make Your Own Damn Movie!

Many of you have asked us, behind the scenes, when the cameras aren’t rolling, what is the man like when he is giving out all this creative advice.  What is he like when he is dreaming up these life lessons?  So here, dear fans, we step into the Troma Office, when the cameras stop rolling, behind the desk, behind the tweets, the real high-tech tweeting Lloyd Kaufman:

Movies of the future

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.