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

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thrillville at 15: a decadent decade and a half

Toasting Forbidden Island on its 6th anniversary,
Toasting Thrillville on its 15th anniversary,
Fifteen years ago this month, in April 1997, I began producing, programming and hosting a weekly live cult movie series at The Parkway Theater in Oakland, CA, with David Lynch's Blue Velvet. Since initially the show took place every Saturday nite at 12AM (okay, so it was actually Sundays), I called it The Midnight Lounge (later reinvented for my novel A Mermaid Drowns in the Midnight Lounge.) The basic format - my choice of 35mm classic drive-in/grindhouse B movies, mostly from the 50s thru the 70s, with prizes and live entertainment - was the foundation for the evolution of what would eventually become fairly widely known as "Thrillville." 
Thrillville: from live cult movie cabaret to tiki lounge movie nite to pulp fiction pimp.
"This Forbidden Island Thrillville" (Photoshop by DB Jones)
Flash forward to April 2012, as I present a double bill of Roger Corman's early hit Day the World Ended (1956) with the  unduly unsung sci-fi classic World Without End (1955), at Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge in Alameda, where I now host a monthly movie nite called Forbidden Thrills. No burlesque, no bands, no beer (well, on some beer) - just cult movies 'n' cocktails. The Parkway (and Cerrito) Speakeasy Theaters are long gone, but Thrillville survives, having evolved from a weekly midnight show to a prime time Thursday night show to an occasional road show to a tiki lounge movie nite to its ultimate destination: The Thrillville Pulp Fiction Collection. Ironically, I was asked to create a midnight movie show to promote my first published novel (featuring my private eye Vic Valentine), called Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me, which was printed by Wild Card Press (owned by the folks who later founded Speakeasy Theaters) in 1996, and discovered then optioned by Christian Slater in 2001, annually renewed since then (and I'm hoping this will be the year it finally gets made: Onward Christian Slater!). After the theaters folded and I took my act on the road, I quickly tired of the lounge lizard schtick, not to mention the challenging logistics of booking a multi-media show at different venues around the Bay, so I returned to my first love: writing. So it all came full circle, as least from my personal (and professional) perspective.

Thrillville 2012: B Movies & Pulp Cocktails - smaller screen, but better booze

Toasting Molokai Mike on the 6th anniversary of
his incredibly successful venture, Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge
Back in the fez: still crazy after all these years...
Meantime, my friend Michael Thanos of my favorite hangout Forbidden Island hired me as the successful bar's publicist/live music booker/doorman/movie host, and I've basically started my own small self-publishing dynasty. The rewards so far have been mostly of a creative nature, and not all Thrill Seekers have embraced my evolution into a literary lounge lizard, but I'm slowly and surely developing a whole new following for work that truly matters to me, while keeping my (fez) hat in the movie hosting biz, on which I built my brand name.

With co-author Scott Fulks (left); "Hangar 18" at Books Inc.

So it all came together this past April 23, the day after Forbidden Island turned 6, when I celebrated 15 years of Thrillville at its new remote location, though its home base remains my heart, reflected in my fiction. At the event I sold and signed copies of my latest pulp epic, It Came from Hangar 18, with my co-author Scott Fulks, whom I initially met at the bar, and who hired me to write a sci-fi novel based on his three page outline, with his scientific theories embedded into my tantalizing text. It's now on sale not only online at Amazon but at Books Inc. in Alameda, where we will do a joint reading/signing on Wednesday, May 30, 7PM. Meantime, my first written novel, finally published in 2010, Chumpy Walnut, is on the shelf at the main branch of the Alameda Library.

I'm not exactly where I thought I'd like to be at this point in my so-called "career," but the fact is, I still and will always boast the single greatest result of my years of presenting Thrillville in its various forms: that most divine of dividends, my beautiful wife Monica, Tiki Goddess, whom I met at a Midnight Lounge presentation of Jailhouse Rock at The Parkway on May 31, 1997 (though we didn't officially get together until my Elvis B-day Party at The Ivy Room in Albany on January 8, 1998). As long as I have her by my side, I'm a success. Cheers.

Drinking a "Chumpy Walnut" on the left; "Chumpy" the book at the Alameda Library:
The dreams of my past, present and future converge. THIS is Thrillville.

NEXT IN FORBIDDEN THRILLS at Forbidden Island, Monday May 21, 7:30:
SHATEST returns!

UPDATE: Literally right after I posted this blog entry, I received a possibly life-changing, or at least career-changing email. "Clues" below. Stay tuned. The best thrills are yet to come...
Reading the "Vic Valentine" screenplay while drinking a "Vic Valentine" at Forbidden Island,