Fear & Loathing At Fantastic Fest 2013/2009, Part 4: The End Is Mighty F*cking Nigh
Before there was the internet, there was public access television, an entirely open and free air space where anyone could create their own television program and present to the unassuming masses.
And just like the internet, with no one to edit, produce, oversee, filter, or censor the DIY content, it was a Petri dish of strangeness that developed into a cesspool of wacko trolls standing tall on their cardboard soapboxes preaching their faulty ideologies and completely delusional manifestos to an unwilling public.
The only main difference is that there was no intended post post modern irony. The majority of public access programs weren't weird for the sake of being weird; these weren't over educated art school kids writing analytical dissertations on Miley Cyrus and the cultural impact of twerking by drawing diagrams featuring unicorns vomiting rainbows.
These programs were organized and hosted by the type of weirdoes who build time machines in their garages, who make bombs in their parent's basements, and send manifestos to obscure television actors from the 70's. Public access television was populated by the type of people who develop all encompassing life destroying obsessions over bad pop songs, new wave hippies who believe that lens flares in Polaroids are astral vibes, militant right wing rednecks who feel the need to lecture on the benefits of stocking up on automatic carbine rifle magazines, and of course, there were the countless evangelicals, magicians, and horror film hosts.
Public access television was great and although it's mostly dead throughout the states, it's still thriving in Austin.
While white suburbanite neophyte hipsters have been flooding the Austin landscape this past decade, there still exists a small community of native freaks and geeks, those who made Austin a city that needed to be kept weird. They are the types of characters who populate Richard Linklater's seminal film, Slacker. At one time, Austin was most widely known for being a hotbed of burnt out hippie conspiracy theorists, UFO enthusiasts, big foot trackers, and clairvoyant physics. And those that are still here all seem to have their own public access channel program.
That's how I know about Jimmy John Waco. He has a one hour program that would air on one of Austin's three public access channels every Saturday night at 3am. He is a supposedly world renowned expert and historian on everything occult.
When I lived in Austin, I would come stumbling home from the bars drunk after last call needing an hour or so for my spins to stop as my drive through tacos soaked the alcohol and for the Advil to take effect. Naturally, I would spend this hour watching Jimmy John Waco's Super Everything Occult Show.
I don't know if his program is still airing in 2013, but since I'm currently in 2009, I was able to catch this week's episode form my room at the Austin Motel.
I haven't had a single moment of sobriety since my time in Toronto, even in my sleep, I'm pretty sure I'm still drunk. I'm desperate. I've completely bottomed out.
So when I was watching Jimmy John Waco the other night, I was completely taken aback when he started to lecture and ramble on the history of gypsy curses. It seemed to be just a little too coincidental, a little convenient, a little too dues ex machina. But then again, life has a way of working out like that. Also, out of 52 shows a year, I'd imagine quite a few of those end up being dedicated to gypsy curses.
And at the end of the program, Jimmy John Waco is actually naïve enough to flash his personal phone number for people to call in with any personal questions that might be relevant to the night's topic.
Naturally, I had to call and explain my current predicament. And naturally, Jimmy John Waco gave me his home address and advised me to meet him in person the next day. While we briefly spoke on air, he explained that my case was too sensitive to discuss live.
So here I am, in Jimmy John's home.
I wasn't surprised to find that Jimmy lives in a run down, dilapidated motel that's been converted into an apartment complex where rooms are rented on monthly leases. I counted at least three abandoned cars in the lot and the weeds growing out of the cracks in the pavement nearly reach the second floor.
Jimmy's room is a cramped efficiency and I'm also not surprised to find that he's something of a hoarder.
Books and newspapers are stacked along the wall up to the ceiling. Countless jars of formaldehyde containing strange and unidentifiable organic artifacts and body parts are everywhere. The place reeks of black mold, overflowing kitty litter boxes, and stinky feet. The stinky feet smell is the only thing that worries me because there's an almost metallic tinge to it which suggests that he may have been smoking crack in here recently.
He also rents out the room next door which he's converted into his small studio space where he shoots his weekly show.
Yep, it seems very fitting, it's very Austin.
I tell him everything about my experiences with Gina. I tell him about our first dates where she claimed to be able to see ghosts. I tell him about my first sexual experience where she transformed into an older woman and sent my penis into another dimension. I tell him about her consuming a stripper and giving birth to my evil doppelganger before opening the gates of hell in Philadelphia.
I tell him about Toronto and her curse, about my father turning into a werewolf, about my one night stand with the waitress from Hooters who sent me back in time. I tell him about Craig, my bastard anti Christ son whose out to ruin my life in the name of retribution.
And then I plead. I beg him for his help. I beg him for whatever guidance he can give.
Not because I actually believe he has any to give, but because I'm drunk, and I don't know else what I can possibly do from here.
He listens attentively, never cutting me off. He looks at me with sincere concern, although his eyes are a bit glassy.
After struggling for over an hour to make a cohesive story for Jimmy John Waco to follow, he spends the next five minutes rubbing his index finger and thumb along his chin while contemplating what he's just heard.
I worry that he's going to walk into his bathroom and return wearing a tin foil hat but instead he moves over to a large pile of dusty, brick thick hard back books. He spends a solid minute or two rummaging through them, pulling out and setting aside a few specific tomes.
When he finally comes back to me, he's carrying four of them under his arms. He motions for me to sit down on his red paisley couch that smells like cat pee.
There isn't a single table to be found in the cramped room, so he drops the books next to me and fishes for an old aluminum fold out TV dinner stand from the kitchen.
He places the table in front of me and continues to lay the four books out in display on it.
The first book is titled The Breaking of Curses by Franklin Hammond.
The second book is Identifying and Breaking Curses by John Eckhart.
The third is Blessings and Curses by Derek Prince
The fourth and final being Death & Destruction by Talia Felix.
He kneels down to face me at eye level and asks, "What is Gina's family's country of origin?"
I stutter while trying to find an answer, but none comes.
The best that I can muster is, "They were gypsies, and they're not form anywhere. That's the definition of a gypsy."
Jimmy John Waco scrunches his eyebrows and shakes his head like a liberal who just overheard his friend tell a racist joke.
Dead seriously, he tells me, "It's important what her heritage is. It makes all the difference in the world. Is she Pollock, Russian, Czech, Yugoslavia, Serbian, what?"
I shrug and say, "Czech?"
Jimmy removes three of the books from the TV stand and opens the copy of The Breaking of Curses by Franklin Hammond.
While thumbing through the pages midway into the book he says, "Hmmmm. I hope you're not just guessing on this. Your life depends on it and all. But if you're sure she's Czech."
"But that's what your gut is telling you."
"My gut is telling me that I'm drinking far too much whiskey. I haven't shit solid in weeks."
"Yeah, I have a habit of that."
Jimmy John disappears to the bathroom for a few minutes while I continue to wait on the couch, periodically taking a few nips from my magical flask.
When he returns, he's carrying a small plastic grocery bag full of glass vials and plastic tuber ware containers. I'm hoping that this isn't the part where needles come out and he decides to sit down next to me with his belt tied around his arm asking me to find a clean vein.
Instead, he places the contents of the bag onto the TV stand in front of me and begins to explain what they are.
"This is Lithuanian bath salt and not the type that will get you high, so don't try. This is a crimson beet root from Barbados. These are bull testicles that were removed while the animal was still alive. This is Python venom from the rain forests of Brazil. This powder is the ground up remains of a witch's afterbirth. We have some cast off oils, a little sun oil, a dash of black cat oil, a pinch of sage, and a pair of eye balls from a blind man."
The whiskey swimming around in my skull is telling me that this was a great idea for me to come here.
Jimmy John Waco then places all of the vials and containers back into the plastic bag, tying the top of it off into a knot and hands it to me.
He says, "You have to find the one who put the curse on you and draw a bath with these ingredients. You must then find a way to submerge the curse giver under the water. The combination of these ingredients will create a liquid that will destroy her and her supernatural abilities and should theoretically lift the curse."
This wasn't a solution that I was hoping for. I thought I could just brew some type of stew and drink it and end the curse, or maybe fill a super soaker full of holy water that I could annihilate Craig with like a vampire.
So I yell at Jimmy John, "Just how the fuck am I supposed to get Gina into a tub of water?! I don't even know if she's here, she's probably still in 2013!"
JJW consoles me, "Oh, I'm quite sure she's here. I have no doubts that she's been watching you. I can feel her aura all over you and it's fresh. She's probably taken another form. Since you've explained that she can mask herself by taking on others' identities, I suspect that she's been hanging around you and you've haven't realized it yet because she's taken on the form of a different friend or lover."
I ask, "Is there any trick or spell that I can use to find her then?"
JJW gives me another answer I don't want to hear. "No not really. You're really kind of on your own. You're just gonna have to wing it. But I think you'll know her when you find her."
I stand up to thank JJW for his help. I can't bear to breath in any more of the funky moldy air in his dingy motel room apartment.
As I make my way to the door he stops me.
"You know, bull testicles and blind man's eyeballs are not easy to come by."
He's right. It was wrong of me to assume that the potion ingredients were a gift, so I ask,
"How much do I owe you for all of this then?"
JJW promptly answers, "$500 should cover it,"
CHAPTER 11: HUNTING A GYPSY WITCH IN A ROOM FULL OF VAMPIRE HIPSTERS
It's the closing night party for Fantastic Fest and it's a costume themed one. In connection with the closing night film, Cirque Du Freak: The Vampires Assistant, everyone partying at the Highball is dressed as the undead.
Attractive women in leather cat suits with fake blood poured onto their cleavages are bowling at one end of the club, men in black capes are singing bad 80's pop songs to drunken festival goers at the other.
I see my 2009 self dressed as Bill Paxton's character from Near Dark walking around. He's sipping diet Sprite, and attempting to do some damage control. He's talking to numerous festival organizers, trying to explain something that he doesn't even understand himself. He knows now that he must have been drugged, but he doesn't know how to apologize for something he doesn't remember. He probably suspects that it was one of the wait staff, probably the person whose internship he took away. He has no idea it was his demon hell spawn doppelganger.
But really, this business is pretty cutthroat and it wouldn't be surprising at all if it had been a co-worker trying to sabotage his career. It happens all the time.
I'm beginning to regret the whole Uzi Silverstein film producer cover because I'm now surrounded by a group of pretentious scarf wearing short filmmakers in their early 20's bugging me with all of their lame ass film ideas.
They're still at the age where they think that they're somehow special, that they're the next auteur. They're all prodigies; they're all going to be the next Tarintino or Scorsese. They deserve it, they're entitled to it. Their script ideas are all just so fucking brilliant that it's inevitable that they'll eventually be discovered for the artistic geniuses that they are.
They ramble on and on about their homage to Giallo that's just like good old fashioned Argento but not at all, because it's by them, and they're like, the contemporary Argento who's going to bring the psychedelic asthetiques of Suspira to modern realist cinema. They want to a make a trippy Italian inspired found footage film, something that will deconstruct the stalk and slash films of the 70's and Paranormal Activities of today.
They bore me with their pitches about hit men looking for redemption and psycho sexual horror films that are really about their own struggles with getting laid.
For a while, I pretend that I'm a Japanese person, making all sorts of weird prolonged sounds using only vowels.
A 22 year old director explains how horror filmmakers today aren't making real grind house films anymore and I go, "Eeeeeehhhhhhhhhh."
He tells me that he's going to make something raw, that hits hard like the original I Spit on Your Grave and I go ,"Oooooooooooooo."
He tells me that his friend has access to a Red camera rig so it's gonna be like professional. And I say, "Aaaaaaaahhhhhhh."
While his words go in one ear and out the other, I scan the party looking for anyone who might be suspicious.
I see the waitress who I ran into on my first day here, the one that I had gone skinny dipping with four years ago. She keeps looking at me, smiling and winking as she passes by carrying drinks to customers.
I wish I could remember her name.
By the time that the young group of directors realize that I'm not actually listening to a fucking word they tell me, the waitress approaches my table with a glass and asks "Jack Daniels double on the rocks right? On the house. Well, it's on me."
I nod my head, "That's it and thank you."
She sits down next to me at the table and whispers in my ear, "I know who you are."
I'm a little stunned by this.
She continues, "And I know you've forgotten my name. So you can keep acting like you didn't, but I'm not stupid."
I apologize, "I never forget a face, but I hardly ever remember a name."
She warns me, "Just do me a favor and never ever say that to a girl you've slept with."
I raise my glass and assure her, "Deal."
Finally, she tells me, "And my name is Rebecca."
I'm still not sure where this is going. I'm not supposed to be Greg Christie right now; I'm still Uzi Silverstein, the gay cowboy Israeli film producer.
Conveniently, Rebecca fills me in. "So you shaved your head, and then you trimmed your beard to a mustache. And now you've gotten rid of that too. One might think that you have an identity issue. Maybe you don't know who you are. I also heard what happened a few nights ago so I'm thinking you might be incognito too. And I'm sorry about that. I think someone must have slipped you something and it sucks that you lost your job here. That really sucks. I know you just moved out here and this wasn't a good way to start things. I'm glad that you came back to hang out for the last party though, and the outfit is cute. I hope you stick around, in Austin I mean."
I'm starting to freak out. I've already had this same exact conversation with her four years ago. Back when I was fired for getting my schedule mixed up, I still came to the party hoping to do damage control, and I still had nearly the same conversation with her.
Constants and variables. I'm starting to realize which are which.
This was also the night when I had my fist kiss with Belinda; I would later regret my decision to ignore Rebecca's advancements while pursuing Belinda. It really seems as though every decision I've made in my life was the wrong one.
I'm also freaking out since I know that my 2009 self is still wandering around the party right now, and I can't have Rebecca running into him as well.
I'm still being cautious of that whole potential universe destroying paradox stuff, but really only when it serves my own best interests.
So I ask Rebecca, "When is your shift over?"
She smiles, looks around, and answers, "I could probably disappear right now and no one would notice with this crowd. Hell, my bosses are even drunker than the guests."
I follow up and ask her," Is there anywhere you want to go?"
She starts to rub a finger along the back of my neck under my right ear when she purrs, "I
liked the preview that I got when we went swimming at Barton Springs last week. I think it'd be fun if we went back there, just the two of us and make the most out of the weather while we still have it."
This sounds like a great idea, not because I want to go skinny dipping with Rebecca even though I do, but mainly for the reason that I just need to get the two of us out of here fast.
I'm already on my feet telling Rebecca, "That sounds like a fun plan."
She stands up with me and says, "Well, if you're not in a big hurry? What's the rush, you afraid to run into Neumann tonight?"
Her statement stops me dead in my tracks. I have to ask her to repeat what she's just said and she does. "Are you afraid to run into Neumann? He's over there singing karaoke with the Robo Geisha guys. You were telling me at Barton Springs that you guys don't get along so well."
That's a lie. I may not have remembered Rebecca's name, but I know I never discussed anything in relation to Neumann to her. Why would I have? I barely knew him four years ago. I never liked the guy, but it would another two years or so until I grew to really fucking loathe him.
I don't think I've talked about Neumann to any dates or girlfriends; it's not interesting enough of a topic to waste someone's time with, except maybe Gina.
And that's when it hits me.
Rebecca is Gina. I'm not sure if she always was, but she certainly is right now. I can't let on that I've figured it out though. If JJW's gypsy demon curse destroying spell actually works, Barton Springs is probably the best place possibly to give it shot.
So I tell Rebecca, "Fuck Neumann, he can go play karaoke king all night. I just want to get you wet."
Rebecca raises her eyebrows and gives a flirtatious giggle and I feel my heart rate quicken.
TO BE CONTINUED IN THE VERY VERY NSFW CONCLUSION COMING SOON