Gay of the Dead: Babette Bombshell, Part Two
In Part One of this interview, Plus-size Goddess of Gore Babette Bombshell and I talked about our close calls with Jeffrey Dahmer, working with Kevin Strange, and RuPaul. In this second of two parts, I get the lowdown on working with Herschell Gordon Lewis, Lloyd Kaufman, Richard Marr-Griffin, and Debbie Rochon. Oh, and possibly being a sex offender.
FANGORIA: IMDb lists your first feature credit as SPACED OUT, and your character as “Momma Bottom/Probing Alien.” Any chance you put your talents to work on fellow cast member Robert Z’Dar?
BABETTE BOMBSHELL: When I first saw Robert Z’Dar, I thought “Wow, at last a face that was built for me to sit on comfortably.”
FANG: In SUPER TROMETTE ACTION MOVIE GO! you play five different characters. Considering this film looks like it was made for $5, was that a money saving move on the part of the producers?
BOMBSHELL: Actually, I ended up playing so many characters in that because people kept dropping out of the film. As soon as they read the treatment on that project and heard the words “criminal gang of pedophiles” they would head for the hills. I’ve seen the movie, and I enjoyed making it, but I have no idea what it’s about. Does it really qualify as a movie? I can’t say.
FANG: I couldn’t be more jealous of the fact that you worked with Herschell Gordon Lewis if I tried! The Plus-Sized Goddess of Gore with the Godfather of Gore – a perfect combo! How did THE UH-OH SHOW come about?
BOMBSHELL: I love Herschell. He really has become a dear friend. He had been shopping around his script called “Grimm Fairy Tales” and at various points I had been attached to it by producers working with him. Eventually, I heard that the script had found a home with a production company here in Florida so I emailed him to essentially say “It’s me again”… He was glad to hear from me, so he had me come out and do a two-day shoot on the film before it was retitled to THE UH-OH SHOW.
The funniest thing to happen during THE UH-OH SHOW’s filming was during pickups, [when] the producers had me come in after principal photography had already wrapped. They wanted me to portray another character entirely. I was a naked hillbilly who was having sex with his girlfriend. The day arrived and there I was being introduced to a young redheaded actress. Now when I say young… I mean young! She still had new car smell she was so young. I asked the producers to double check that she had provided her age, and once they assured me that the coast was clear we stripped down and climbed into the shower… That is where we spent the remainder of the day shooting a comic sex scene. After the shoot the actress handed me a piece of paper with her name on it and told me that if I ever knew of someone who needed her type to let her know.
When I got home I googled her name and the very first thing to pop up on my screen were the words “Have you seen my teenage runaway daughter?” There she was and below her picture was a list of her stats including descriptions of all the tattoos that I had taken inventory of during the shoot. I couldn’t help but imagine a jury sitting and watching dailies of me in buck-toothed makeup as I drooled on her… “charming,” I thought.
Luckily the scene was left on the cutting room floor, but for about 48 hours I was contemplating what life on the sex offender registry was going to be like. Ah, the glamorous life…
FANG: You appeared in one of my favorite filmmaker’s films, Richard Marr-Griffin’s THE DISCO EXORCIST. My first question about this relates to your other film work – are you being flown to all these locations for these films? Or is this on your own dime because you love the work? Other?
BOMBSHELL: I do love the work, but it is work. They pay me and fly me there. It’s often not a lot of money, but I’ve learned that people value you more if they have to extend effort and budget to have you work on their project. Any actor who flips the bill to fly themselves anywhere is just about asking to find themselves stranded, or on the set of a snuff film. You’d be amazed some of the high profile names who take ridiculous risks to do appearances at conventions and indie film shoots. You have to be very careful.
This is especially true at conventions. I no longer drink or eat anything during conventions unless I open it myself because of such an experience. It can get dicey.
FANG: Richard’s stuff is so delightfully exploitative, but in a much different way than Kevin Strange’s. More homage-y. Tell me about working on THE DISCO EXORCIST.
BOMBSHELL: THE DISCO EXORCIST was a joy to work on. I really love that film and the character I portray in it. Richard is a very confident director, so he felt totally comfortable letting me create Bernie Munghat from the inside out. Originally that character was scripted as a much more straightforward, lascivious porn director. I like to work against the stereotype, so the audience gets to see something from a new angle or in a way that they’ve not seen before. That’s why I turned that character into a cross between Bruce Vilanch and Captain Kangaroo. He was a totally disarming pervert… the perfect victim for Richard’s demons. A reviewer on the web described my character as “Overly flamboyant, but not annoying.” I think I want that on my gravestone.
Personally, the best part of the DISCO EXORCIST shoot was the accommodations. Richard knows about my collection of oddities and murderabilia, so while we were filming he booked me to stay in the Lizzie Borden murder house. I slept in almost every bed in the place and during two nights I was the only one in the building. I was all alone in the murder house to spend the night in the very bed where Mrs. Borden died. To me, that’s priceless.
FANG: ATOM THE AMAZING ZOMBIE KILLER is the one film of yours that I really know nothing about. Care to fill me in?
BOMBSHELL: I did a cameo in that film for Richard Taylor and Zack Beins. They are indie filmmakers out of Colorado who caught my attention with their brave content and beautiful blood FX work. They helped deliver some of the amazing practical effects in POULTRYGEIST for Troma. They do the kind of content that the best kind of indie film does. They take their films to new places and deliver content that is coming from a fresh perspective. When I see filmmakers doing that, I keep an eye on them.
FANG: You appear in MODEL HUNGER, Debbie Rochon’s directorial debut. She’s been in about a gajillion films. What did you think about Debbie before working with her, and did that change after being directed by her?
BOMBSHELL: I’ve admired Debbie since the 80s. In a perfect world where women are not marginalized as “scream queens,” Debbie would already be one of the leading directors working in the genre today. She knows the business. She has the whole package and everybody who has worked with her knows it. Put simply, there is nothing I could say about Debbie that would do her justice. I learned from her during every moment that I watched her direct.
In my personal life, when I’ve had questions about the pitfalls of working in indie film, she is the one I turn to and ask. I’m proud to call her a friend. If there is a patron saint of indie horror films, then Debbie Rochon is it. Now if only she could do something about the explosive flatulence that accompanies her every move.
FANG: And finally, RETURN TO NUKE ‘EM HIGH, VOLUME 1 & 2. The legendary Lloyd Kaufman back in the saddle. How did he manage to talk you into appearing out of drag?
BOMBSHELL: I’ve known Lloyd for years, so he is in the position to see me in a light that most other people in the industry can’t. He sees beyond the Bombshell persona to see me as a competent actor. I’m fortunate enough to be in this industry at a time when gender walls have already been chipped away at by people like Divine, Eddie Izzard, Barry Humphries and Buck Angel. I hope to continue to move that spirit of gender activism forward, part of taking on that aspect of my career means taking as many quality roles from both genders as possible.
The more people see of me in male roles, the more they’ll get it. That is why a role like the one I portray in RETURN TO NUKE’EM HIGH is so much fun. It absolutely defies the expectations of anyone who is expecting drag… but because the character is so extreme, it’s still very much a camp drag performance.
I portray the repugnant Principal of Nuke’em High in the new films, so to create the character I modeled him after a mixture of Richard Nixon, Chris Christie and a Baptist preacher from my childhood. The entire tone is very much like a cartoon and whenever I’d tell Lloyd that I could do it smaller, he’d reply “No! I want it like Laurel & Hardy” so that’s the way we did it. It’s big physical comedy. It’s what I’m trained for and I love it.
FANG: Tell me about the weird stuff you collect.
BOMBSHELL: Oh gawd, that’s a whole separate kettle’a fish. I collect oddities, paranormal artifacts, cursed items, retired sideshow exhibits and true crime items (aka murderabilia). In some circles, I’m better known for that then for my acting career.
It’s interesting, the thing that happens when people find out that I collect murderabilia is always a reaction of repulsion and disgust. They wonder how people can collect that kind of thing. It’s very judgmental. What they don’t realize is that collecting murderabilia helped me work through a lot of violent drama in my own life. It was a way to make it tangible. I could hold the horror of it in my hand, and then put it in a box and walk away from it. Collectors always collect for different reasons. The world is never as black and white as people would like. Ya know?
FANG: What’s coming up for Babette Bombshell?
BOMBSHELL: I have several films that I’m slated to shoot this year, but right now the bulk of my creative energies are being channeled into converting my home into the world’s very first vacation destination which has been designed to specifically suit the corporeally challenged community. “Madame Babette’s Haunted Hotel” proudly offers lodging to disembodied spirits and entities that died before ever taking that Florida dream vacation.
The whole place is getting a Munsters makeover. As redecorating continues, our ghostly guests will have to pardon our dust, but the cobwebs are complimentary. It’s a haunted hive of activity. We currently hold monthly séance/comedy roasts wherein we evoke the spirits of two celebrities who died on the same day only to then roast them with insulting and tasteless jokes. I like to consider myself the world’s first paranormal investig-entertainer. It’s a totally untapped market.
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