OK. I don't know what happened. I was disconnected by the remote
computer and then had trouble reconnecting with ICQ for a bit.
Okay. ICQ can sometimes be unstable. I think if there are large
numbers of users online they get overloaded.
I experimented with interviewing a little last night and I was very
lame at it.
GREY: Well, it's not that I have much
experience on this end of the interviewing table, so we're even.
Did you do any interviewing in radio?
GREY: Oh, yes...I
did news for a number of years.
URLYBIRD: So, you have
way more experience than me. See.
GREY: As the
questioner, not as the subject.
well....the few times I've been interviewed I realized I would have
nothing to say and rather sat there and stared. I wasn't a good
GREY: Well, I have no way of knowing whether I am
so let's try it and find out.
URLYBIRD: How did you get
involved with the filming of "Strangest Dreams"?
Well, Danny's no dummy. He knows the importance of promotion. That is
why so many local celebs were in his films. When we found out he was
making a second film, (meaning the morning team I was working with in
radio at the time), we contacted him and offered our assistance in
promoting the film. We did this so we could get him to come on the air
and discuss the film and its progress. I, quite frankly, was surprised
when he offered a bit part to me.
URLYBIRD: Did everyone
else at on the morning team get bit parts?
No....here's the funny thing. If the radio station paid a promotional
fee to help out with the film's costs, he would have found the morning
show a spot. But, since I was his initial contact and had been on the
morning show longer than the others (this is what he told me) he
thought I had the greatest name recognition.
How long had you been on the morning show?
GREY: Radio is
a revolving door. It is better to tell you how many morning men I
outlasted than to measure it in years. I went through three morning
men before this film was being made.
URLYBIRD: What was
your familiarity with Troma films before this? Did you have a personal
interest...did you appreciate the fine art of Troma films?
Actually, "Strangest Dreams" was an independent project.
Troma only picked up the video rights to it and I think that was well
after the local premiere, etc....
URLYBIRD: Well, then,
I'll rephrase. What was your familiarity with Danny before this...with
his films. Did you have a personal interest? Did you appreciate
GREY: Yes. Danny's first film "Chillers"
was actually a pretty damn good 'B' grade movie.
I'll have to look up "Chillers" and see what it was about.
GREY: He won a national science fiction film award for
it. That was why we were so interested in his second film. He, of
course, is a local boy and teaches at West Virginia State.
What does he teach there?
GREY: He teaches film and
was a horror flick, too.
URLYBIRD: Did you know what part
you were to play in the film.
GREY: I'll admit he told me
just a little bit about my part. You see, we are talking low budget
and I had to bring my own costume. Turns out it wasn't ratty enough
and I ended up wearing someone else's clothes.
You knew you were to play a hillbilly...and what clothes did you think
were appropriate for the part?
GREY: I wore some jeans
and a flannel shirt. He said my flannel shirt was too nice and found
me one that wasn't so nice. He said the colors were far too
URLYBIRD: Ah. No make up I take it?
Oh no.....that was the wierd part. There was make up indeed. Of
course, any movie role requires make up because of the lighting and
all. But I had a couple of tubes of hair gel applied to my hair to
grease it down real good. Several teeth blacked out as well.
I would love to see this. So, where was the scene shot? Tell me a bit
about it since I haven't seen it.
GREY: I'll just tell you
this as an addendum to the above and then I'll answer your next
question. I had to find a babysitter for my daughter when we shot the
film. So, I have no dressing room or other facility to get back to
normal , right? Rachael did not recognize me, was afraid of me and did
not want to go home with me.
URLYBIRD: How old was
GREY: Uh, around 9 I think.
URLYBIRD: Wow, and
didn't recognize you? What a transformation.
recognized the voice and that was what finally won her over.
Amazing. Or did she just not want to be seen with you?
URLYBIRD: Not a glamor part.
Oh, good no.
URLYBIRD: Do you know how long it took to
shoot the entire film?
GREY: I know that in order to come
out okay financially it was sort of a rush job. I don't think it took
more than two months, possibly less.
I've heard of rush jobs where a film is shot in a weekend, so it was
more elaborate than that.
GREY: Well, the weather was a
big factor here since a lot of the scenes were shot outside.
What season was it during the filming?
GREY: This film was
shot ot in early spring and there were some outdoor nude scenes,
too....so I imagine that had some bearing. Also, the film, I think,
was shot only several days a week.
URLYBIRD: Tell me
about the shoot in which you participated. What was the set-up. the
GREY: My part was shot in nerarby Tornado, WV, as
was most of the film. In fact, we did make-up and costumes at the
local fire station.
URLYBIRD: The fire station. And the
firemen sat and watched as this was going on.
have mostly Volunteer Fire stations.....I don't remember seeing a
fireman at all. This is rural WV.
URLYBIRD: We knew
someone who was from Charleston, WV. His father was a mining magnate,
but that's another story.
GREY: Yes. There is no middle
class here, (almost). There are very poor people and there are very
rich people. I'd like to know his name sometime when you think about
URLYBIRD: His name was X. X was a friendly but
somewhat strange character. He said his name was X Y. X was basically
"slumming", trying out being a musician before returning
GREY: Wonder if he had a brother rnamed Z.
Could have. He was very quiet about his family and his ....
There is a particularly wealthy Y family here.
Oh really. Well X was very wealthy but stayed quiet about it. On the
side he sold artwork internationally to finance his endeavors during
this time. We'd go over and he would be wrapping up an art piece and
putting it aside. Finally he decided this wasn't the life for him, I
guess, and he went and traveled around China for a year, met a model
in Italy (who was from Atlanta) and they married,.
Wow. Interesting. Small world.
URLYBIRD: He came over
with her for a rather strange "farewell" meeting. Like his, "All
right, I'm going back to my real world, and I am here to say my last
goodbyes." The model looked petrified at being in our small
apartment. She said if we ever needed a car to contact her father who
owned a (I believe) Mercedez dealership here.
Ha...that's funny. Oh, sure...send one over.
Right! OK, back to you. Tell me about that day. Did you film indoors
URLYBIRD: What was
GREY: The story is basically this.......two
white collar suburban fellows...one divorced and one unhappily married
decide they are going to take a nice well deserved trip....sort of
'back to nature'. One guy decides to make all the
arrangements...renting a cabin, etc..To make a long story short they
wind up in Hillbilly Hell. The cabin is atrocious, the people are
wierd, etc....Turns out they are wierd because of this alien space
ship that has landed nearby. One alien is escaping the others. The
aliens in pursuit are mind controlling humans in the area including a
televangelist named "Lash"....
URLYBIRD: So, the
televangelist isn't from space? He is controlled by the aliens? (NOTE:
Martie has since let me know that I was correct, the televangelist is
a space alien. He isn't simply controlled by aliens. She apologizes
for her error in memory, saying it has been a long while since she has
seen the film.)
GREY: Yes. And the big funny line from the
film (other than our scene) was "Lash is Love"...
GREY: For a while you saw a lot of t-shirts,
etc..with that on it.
URLYBIRD: Did you research for your
part as a hillbilly? Did you talk to hillbillies?
Actually by virtue of having lived here I thought I had the right
motivation. I will tell you this one brief story to give you an idea
of how underdeveoped parts of this state really are. When I first came
here it was to take a radio job here. In my early days I was
interviewing a sheriff's deputy and he was telling me a little about
his job. He told me about arresting a man and telling him he could
make the traditional one phone call. He said the man pulled a worn
slip of paper out of his wallet and smoothed it out on the desk top
and just looked at it. George (the deputy) waited and waited. He said,
"Go on...make your call." The man said, and I quote, "Ive
seen phones before, but I ain't never used one."
Wow. I wonder how different ...if there are differences between WV
mountain people and mountain people in the Ozarks.
URLYBIRD: I've been through some deep
back roads in the Ozarks and it gets very strange back there.
I would imagine.
URLYBIRD: But what was wierd was coming
upon real shanties with pink mobile homes parked outside them and huge
GREY: Yes. You see up here that is the
mining community set up. You drive down therough deep coal country and
you see shacks with Cadillacs and brand new trucks parked outside. I
was told this was because of all the strikes miners would enact years
back. If they kept their houses modest, they were safe, they would not
be foreclosed on. And the cars, shoot...they just let them go back to
the dealers. When the strike was off the car dealers would sell them
whatever they wanted again.
URLYBIRD: One of the oddest
things I have ever seen was a shanty type house in Tennessee...back
roads...and two limos parked out front. Stretch limos.
I'll be damned. Probably ELvis.
URLYBIRD: Oh, long after
GREY: He's dead? "Elvis is not dead. He
just went home."
URLYBIRD: Point taken. Remind me to
give you an URL that is one of the strangest Elvis URLS I've ever come
GREY: Will do.
URLYBIRD: A story
written from Elvis' point of view during and after his death.
URLYBIRD: Now, back to your shoot. What role
did the hillbilllies play in this fantastic story?
Well, our part was small....and early on in the film....and it was a
part of the film that Danny wrote specifically for us....
Oh, specially for you!
GREY: Yes. It was almost an
afterthought. But the upshot is ....it was the one scene that was
edited for news stories and news articles more than any other. And
that was basically because of the tie-in to a very popular commercial
of the day and the fact that we (honestly now) played it just right.
So...Guy and Jim (the two fellows getting away from it all) are lost
on a backroad in WV....they pull over to the side of the road to study
a map. This is where we enter. We is Bill Richardson who was a student
of Danny's. That part was originally going to be played by another
media person who at the last minute was called off on a news story.
So, Bill was Hillbilly Number 3. Number 1 was Dave Weekly, Sports
Director at a local station. And I was Number 2. We are in the epitome
of 'ragged pick-up truck'....all three of us, me in the middle. The
first part of the scene was just the 'pull up' and you just wouldn't
believe how many times we had to turn around and pull up again to get
it just right.
URLYBIRD: Do you remember how many times
that was shot?
GREY: At least ten.
So, Danny is a meticulous director.
GREY: I'm sure he is,
but I have nothing to compare it to. Keep in mind everyone, just
about, on the sound and lighting crew were college students. Not
URLYBIRD: OK. Picture much cleaerer.
Sorry about that. Should have mentioned that before.
Well, it makes sense. I should have realized. So, go on.
Now that we have pulled up 'perfectly' and are right next to Guy and
Jim in the car....we have to shoot their reactions another ten times
before that is okay. So, we are just sitting there being very quiet
and waiting for our turn. Then our part is shot. I have to hold the
mike boom between my knees so that Dave's part (he had a line) is
heard and so that you can hear Bill Richardson spit a wad at the end
of our scene. The one thing I remember more than anything was having
to be absolutely still holding that damn thing between my knees.
Did you have a speaking line at all?
Were you real people or controlled by aliens?
URLYBIRD: What were you doing parked beside the
GREY: Well, we stopped to ask them an
URLYBIRD: And that was?
"Pardon me...but do y'all happen to have any GREY
URLYBIRD: OK. That's the punch line. The "commercial"
URLYBIRD: Very good.
GREY: The camera then turns on Guy and Jim and they are
petrified of us, us , we look that bad. It turns back to us and I have
to tell you....I know we did that take at least 20 times.....but I
know why now....the expressions on our faces was priceless, the
blacked out teeth....Bill spitting that tobacco juice out of the side
of the truck. It truly was classic, even if I have to say so.
I would love to see this.
GREY: They ate it up at the
URLYBIRD: Did they (Guy and Jim) have poupon?
GREY: No, they did not have our mustard.
And you drove off into film history?
GREY: Yes, that
would be it then.
URLYBIRD: Did the film premiere in your
GREY: Yes, it was a gala event. Lots of fun. We
gave away tickets on the air and some of the cast came on the show
that whole week. They were great fun. If you ever get to see the film
you will want to pay particular attention to Vic 20...I don't know
where he is now, but he was just great and was so much fun to have on
the air. He showed up with no shirt and just a tie,
GREY: Oh, and pants, too.
Yes, I somehow knew enough to picture him with pants. I guess that's
about it, then.
GREY: Yes. If you expected more, I'm
sorry...it was just a small part.
URLYBIRD: Oh no, that's
a wonderful story.