Tuesday, April 9, 2013


This was the Santa Cruz Beach Bandstand, July, 1987.

And that's me interviewing the late Annette Funicello, along with Frankie Avalon, who were in town to promote their retro-beach party movie, Back To the Beach. They were both charming and professional, answering questions that they must have already answered a dozen times that day as if they'd never heard them before.

Annette was particularly kind when this young reporter's lips got stuck to her teeth in mid-sentence in the fierce, drying winds up on the Bandstand! (It may be sunny, but notice Annette's fur wrap, brrr…) She was a very gracious class act.

...And still more from the annals of Brenda Starr, Girl Reporter…

The great Les Blank was the subject of one of my very first (and almost last) interviews. He did not exactly regale a reporter with stories; serious and self-possessed, his answers tended to be one syllable or less and to-the-point. I was completely intimidated.

But that was his approach. He didn't tell you what to think or feel about his films, they just had to be experienced…and what an experience they were!

Burden of Dreams about Werner Herzog's obsessive quest to film Fitzcarraldo in the wilds of Peru may have been his highest-profile doc. But my favorite is probably Always For Pleasure in which the various crews from rival wards in New Orleans vie with each other to create the most extravagant Mardi Gras floats and costumes. It was shown around town at venues like the old Sash Mill Cinema & Cafe or The Good Fruit Company, where there was always a pot of red beans and rice simmering away in the kitchen, to get the audience in the proper mood.

Unlike his friend and cohort, Herzog, Les Blank never inserted himself into his docs; he let his subjects tell their own stories. He leaves a legacy of distinctive films that celebrate the intersection of food, music, and culture along the most fascinating back roads of Life.

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