THRILLVILLE: Will "the Thrill" Viharo's weird, wild world of Pulp Fiction, B Movies, & the Lounge Lizard Lifestyle.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Five Easy Questions: MITCH O'CONNELL

Chicago artist MITCH O'CONNELL has always been one of my personal favorites, right up there with Shag, Coop and The Pizz. His incredible body of work includes incredible bodies, monsters, tikis, robots, zombies, superheros - a virtual potpourri of pop culture. Recently I was put in touch with Mitch by our mutual friend Marty Baumann, The Astounding B Monster....

Thrill: I don't know how to subscribe your unique and instantly identifiable work except as "Surrealist Pop." How do you describe it?
MO: The greatest art ever created by human hands (or alien appendages) for now and forever in the future until the end of time and beyond.

Thrill: What are some of your influences - both from the art world, and other media?
MO: Besides B Movie Nation? Hmmmmm. Going to museums as a kid and being exposed to great art was a great early eye opener. The pop art drew my attention the strongest because it was so relatable. Growing up, thangs like Wacky Packs, Creepy, Eerie, Famous Monsters, Playboy (wink), Peanuts, Funny Cars, TV Horror Hosts, Carnivals, etc. Nowadays, anything weird, wild, wacky, kitsch, tasteless and strange floats my boat. Check out the Myspace link to see pics of my pad where I'm knee deep in "inspiration"!

Thrill: What's your favorite B Movie/TV Show/Album? (OK that's 3 rolled into one, but your pop cultural knowledge and enthusiasm is obviously vast)
MO: Off the top of my ample head.... as for movies, Plan 9, Anything Jack Lemmon, Clint Eastwood and Jerry Lewis, Destroy All Monsters, House That Screamed, Astro-Zombies, Corpse Grinders, Kingdom of the Spiders, Skidoo, Phantasm, Robot Monster (could add 100 more easily, well maybe not that easily, the brain has slowed down over the years). TV Shows (I'm going to play along that someone is interested), Night Gallery, The Wire, I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, Brady Bunch, Horror Host The Ghoul, Deadwood, Mad Men, Judge Judy, The Office, 30 Rock, Pink Lady, blah, blah, blah. Music? The Beatles, Cheap Trick, Badfinger, Elton John, Kiss, Lounge, Ramones, Gene Krupa and a million more!

Thrill: There is both retro-resonance and vivacious vividness in your art- do you listen to music when you work, and if not, what inspires you to create (besides the bottom line)?
MO: The children of the world. How can I deny future generations as many M.O'C illustrations of bouncy breasts as I'm capable of? Truthfully, doing better art is what inspires me. I want to keep going because the next piece is always going to be the best one!

Thrill: With this enormously cool body of work already accomplished, what is the main aspiration for your future career?
MO: Since I all ready covered improving, we're right back to money. I have no other skills up my sleeve! It's either hacking out a living doing this or sleeping on your couch. And frankly, your couch is not very comfortable!
Thrill: As long as my wife doesn't make me sleep there...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tease 'n' Tiki: Burlesque lives at Forbidden Island

MC Thrill: I love my job

Burlesque? In Alameda? WOOOOOOOO!

I've been booking burlesque acts for years as part of my Thrillville show. It's become a main attraction of the gig and a real source of pride for me personally. The sudden shutdown of Speakeasy Theaters hasn't broken my record, either. Now that I'm publicist/booker for Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge of Alameda, I have a chance to work with many of the acts - including bands - that were staples of Thrillville, as well as attract some new talent. I just added burlesque to Forbidden Island's lineup last week. Our premiere troupe was Original Sin of Danville, CA (who also own their own lingerie shop!). It was an incredible show, possibly FI's busiest Thursday night ever. Tassles 'n' tikis - how could you go wrong?

Burlesque is truly an Art Form. There's nothing sleazy about it (although the heated crowd and exotic locale did make me think of some Singapore dive full of smoke, sex and sweaty sailors). These gals work very hard at their craft and it shows. They offer sultry sensuality but also a celebration of Life. They elicit whoops of joy from male and female alike. The retro combination of live burlesque in a tiki bar was a sensory overload. It was like a glorious cocktail-fueled time warp, a hipster hallucinogenic. The plan is to offer live burlesque at Forbidden Island the second Thursday of every month. Next: Red Hots Burlesque July 9 and Hubba Hubba Revue August 13. Aloha!

Jen Ann Tonic

Kitten DiVyne


Lola Pop

Eve Devlin

Bunny Pistol

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I Married an Angel: 8 Years of Heaven (and counting)

Cal-Neva, North Tahoe, May 31, 2001

This past May 31 was my 8th wedding anniversary. My beautiful wife and best friend Monica Tiki Goddess and I tied the knot at the Cal-Neva Resort in North Tahoe (once owned by Frank Sinatra in the early '60s.) The theme was Rat Pack Mariachi - we were wed by our friend Robert Ensler, a professional Dean Martin impersonator; we hired professional mariachis to perform Elvis and Sinatra songs (along with traditional Mexican tunes); and we offered an open martini bar with various recipes, all named after our favorite performers, as was each of the guest tables. Icons like Marilyn Monroe and Louis Prima and Keely Smith once performed in the Frank Sinatra Celebrity Showroom where the reception was held. I spent my last night as a bachelor in Cabin #5 - Frank's old room. We even took a tour of the underground tunnel where Frank would smuggle in his gangster pals across the California-Nevada border - which runs right through the hotel. It was the grandest day of my life, matched only by the subsequent honeymoon in Hawaii. Oh, and the eight years of marriage since. In this economy we weren't sure how to mark the occasion. I had recently been laid off by Speakeasy Theaters after twelve years of service when the company suddenly went under. I am lucky enough to have some freelance PR gigs but my unemployment checks are still pending and like everyone else these days, we're worried. We already had reservations at a place in Walnut Creek we've always wanted to try out: Vic Stewart's, a steakhouse built out of an old train depot with an authentic train car attached. We were booked for one of the private dining rooms in the train car. And despite what Suze Ormon would recommend, we kept the reservation and charged it. The economy eventually turns but we'll only have one 8th wedding anniversary. It was worth it.

We strolled around the shops in Walnut Creek first, stopping at the places where we had registered - Crate 'n' Barrel, Williams-Sonoma, Pottery Barn - and noticed that none are as retro as they were back in 2001, when they offered all kinds of midcentury-modern style appliances and such, with CDs to match. Now it was much more contemporary and boring, just like most department stores. We picked the right time to register.

Before going to Vic's we stopped at our favorite place in Walnut Creek, Bing Crosby's. It's a newer place but done up old school style in tribute to the famous crooner. Drinks and food are top notch. Our old pal Bob Dalpe sang there for a while, and they still offer live jazz singing most nights. The same corporation owns Joe DiMaggio's over in North Beach in SF, also highly recommended for running up that credit card!

Vic's itself is a marvel. It's extremely cozy and the drinks and food are excellent, not quite as outstanding as Bing's but close enough. The atmosphere is what makes it - reminded me of the old Robert Conrad series Wild, Wild West. I loved it when the waiter actually closed the door to our little compartment for privacy, as if it were a real train. There was even a bunk over our table. The whole place is classy but if you go, request the train car. That's what makes it truly unique.

Two more years till our 10th, when we plan our first trip abroad, to Paris. Let's hope the economy turns around by then....cheers.