a page of madness

film writing by nicholas vroman

If You Play with Matches…

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This is number two of a trio of essays inspired by the work of César Velasco Broca.

Kinky Hoodoo Voodoo (Saturno Al Final Del Verano) / 2004

If you were to reduce César Velasco Broca’s Kinki Hoodoo Voodoo to its essence, it’s basically – if you get caught looking, not even doing, the aliens are going to get you. In a short 7 or so minutes, Velasco Broca manages to conflate alien malefaction with prepubescent sexual angst at the archetypical locus of where a lot of this stuff happens – summer camp.

Los niños envuelven con esmero cajas de cerillas en verano.

The children carefully wrapped boxes of matches in summer.

I myself never made it to summer camp. It was out of the realm of my class and my parents’ experience. Mom, a somewhat refined, savvy and misplaced Russian émigré, spent much of her displaced youth in the hinterlands of Manchuria. Dad, with his brood of 8 other siblings, grew up poor, himself displaced by the dustbowl to the hinterlands of the Willamette valley. Though he himself was an outdoorsman, the idea of a hoity-toity camp full of pampered rich kids was no place for his own son. Roughing it was the only way to camp.

Camp or no camp, the image of being with a bunch of boys, carefully, and dare I say rather ineptly, wrapping boxes of matches gets to the simple confused heart of boy sexuality. Don’t get yourself burned! This absurd and obscene job drives the sad victim of our story to a simple and shameful act of foot fetishism. It may not make any sense, but what does when things get a little too hot.

My experience of those years of what-the-fuck-is-going-on-sexually is relegated to darker recesses of my memory and the boys’ shower room at North Mercer Jr. High.

The first time I remember stripping naked in from of a bunch of other boys and there was Grant, a little man of 12 years with a handlebar mustache, mutton chop sideburns and mass of dark pubic hair framing his member and me, pink pudgster, not even close to being a man, wondering what the hell I was doing there and if I should really be in BOYS PE, while the relatively hairless PE coach, Mr. Averill wandered around in only his sky-blue gym shorts, a pair of cartoonish bluebirds tattooed on his chest, one above each nipple, carrying a sawed-off plastic baseball bat, which he used to mete out punishments – “grab your ankles” and whoosh of air turned into stinging red welt on tender boy buttock – strutted around the showers, checking us out.

El chico corre hacia el campamento como llamado por un rayo magnético.

The boy runs to the camp as if called by a magnetic ray.

In the movie, the boy runs away, mysteriously pulled by a “magnetic ray.” Right. Call it the call of the wild, call it hormones, call it nasty and dirty, but it drives him straight to his bunk, where his eyes flutter in some un-understandable (derstandable?) ecstasy. He gets drawn again, this time literally lifted from his mattress (through the wonders of trick photography) to a tarped-off shower stall, where he is compelled to take a peak. And what a peak it is! A beautiful, sexy woman, scrubbing away. Back when sex was still clean! All the other boys push past him as he continues to look on. Man! He doesn’t even get any. He goes into epileptic ecstasy eye-flutter once again.

Me, I never had much of inkling, little inkling that I was, how truly strange, mysterious and terrifying sex could be until my brother snuck me into a double-bill of Bergman’s Persona and The Passion of Anna, when I was 13. Before then the highlights of my filmic sexual experience had been the Fantastic Voyage, Journey to the Center of the Earth, the Flubber films and Jerry Lewis comedies – all of them certainly coloring my interpretation of what exactly Liv Ullmann was doing up there on the big screen and doing to my pre-adolescent nucleus accumbens.

Acaso es mía esta comunión?

Perhaps this communion is mine?

Your communion? No it’s not, you little twerp. You missed out on the act and now all you get is the guilt. So, here come the aliens. They’ve come to take you away. Somewhere along the way, one of these aliens of your desire dies, with white cum coming out of his chest, his penis head cracking. That’s what’s gonna happen to you! You come, you die. Didn’t anybody tell you?

Yeah sex and death is a bit too easy. There’s been a whole lot of too much written about it. It’s sex and fear. Fear of death. Fear of messing up. Fear of adulthood. Fear of aliens. Remember what Bunuel said. “Sex without sin is like an egg without salt.”

In those years, I was into Marvel comic books and sci-fi. I had put my childhood fascination with Famous Monsters of Filmland into the stuff that kids do. I remember a bunch of us kids took a bicycle trip one summer around the Olympic Peninsula with Fran Call, the very butch girls’ PE teacher at North Mercer. It was the first of long-distance bicycle trips that she organized for students under the rubric of “the cyclemates.” It culminated with a cross-country trip a few years after our inaugural run, which ended in a photo opportunity with Richard Nixon in the oval office for those lucky kids.

On this trip, there I was, a pink-flabbed pimply-faced fatty and there was Jody! Me, stupid, inept, ugly and full of fear and wonder. She, beautiful and still is. There were other beautiful girls on the trip, too.

On our first rest stop we hit a general store in Humptulips where I found slightly used copies of Carlos Casaneda’s The Teachings of Don Juan and Philip Jose Farmer’s Flesh. Flesh chronicles the adventures of astronaut Peter Stagg, who gets antlers grafted to his head and becomes a super-hunk and sexual slave for a civilization of Amazon women. Pretty good stuff for getting a kid pretty mixed up as to what this sex stuff is all about.

And there I was with a mess of beautiful Amazons, led by a queen-dyke. I was over the moon.

On the final leg of our trip, we stopped at a motel somewhere near the Docewallips River – I think it was called the Hamahama Lodge – where we watched Neil Armstrong take his first steps on the moon. July 20, 1969.

Haz como yo: piensa en algo blanco.

Do like me: think of something white.

The punishment for thinking bad thoughts is being put into a cocoon, suspended from a tree with all the other bad boys. To get through this metamorphic ordeal you’re cautioned to think of something white. Fact is, you probably will get through it, turn into something fairly functional, and if you’re really good, maybe you’ll be able to make movies about the whole ordeal.

Snow, bunny rabbits, paper, milk, cum, doves, potatoes, daisies, polar bears, the moon.

Mientras tanto, cincuenta años antes.

Meanwhile, fifty years earlier.

Meanwhile, fifty years earlier I was 10 years old. The aliens didn’t first appear then, but perhaps that’s when I became cognizant of them. César, did you make this film just for me? Or did you hit that nerve, that monkey gland, that limbic cortex wherein lies that morass of images, connections, history, memory, pleasures, fears of us all? The interface of a particular onscreen world with one’s unscreened life is where the best of films exist. Those films caught in ecstasy through fluttering eyes and etched indelibly on the back of one’s mind.

Click this link for some great storyboards for Kinky Hoodoo Voodoo by Mariano Espinosa.

KINKY HOODOO VOODOO from Luis Alberto Cabezón García on Vimeo.


Written by Nicholas Vroman

August 8, 2015 at 9:11 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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