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

Saturday, May 19, 2012


I wrote "Love Stories" a few months before "True Romance"
came out in 1993
Eleven years ago, right before my wedding to Monica Tiki Goddess, I received a letter sent to the offices of Speakeasy Theaters/Wild Card Press informing me that famous actor Christian Slater - star of such cult classics as Pump Up the Volume, Heathers, Broken Arrow, and my personal favorite, True Romance - wanted to option my novel Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me, which is now out of print. Needless to say, I accepted the offer. Christian Slater, whom I've long admired, reportedly discovered a copy in the house of a mutual friend with the cover artist, Tim Racer, and he has renewed the option annually since then. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime miracles, seemingly the big break I'd been hoping for since I began writing fiction as a teenager. It seemed too good to be true. But it's not like I hadn't paid my dues.
Love Stories, the first in my Vic Valentine, Private Eye series, set mostly in San Francisco, had been published by Wild Card  Press in 1995. It was their sole effort before they pretty much abandoned the publishing venture to focus on their much more successful movie theater/restaurant venture with The Parkway in Oakland, which became a local institution, and for which I served as publicist/programmer for twelve years, ultimately including their expansion to the Cerrito Theater in 2007.  I hosted Thrillville at both theaters, beginning with my weekly Midnight Lounge series in April, 1997 (I met Monica for the first time when she attended my screening of Jailhouse Rock on May 31 of that year, but didn't officially hook up with her till I ran into her at my Elvis Bday Party at The Ivy Room in Albany on January 8, 1998). Sadly, Speakeasy Theaters and Wild Card Press folded in 2009, and my "career" as a film programmer came to an abrupt end.
I listened to a lot of neo-surf music while writing the Vic Valentine series,  including one of my favorite bands,
The Aqua-Velvets. I was honored to host their recent reunion at Forbidden Island.
Unwilling to return to my pre-Parkway lifestyle of barely getting by working low-paying odd jobs I hated, I returned to my first love: writing fiction. I'd never stopped writing, but throughout my "hiatus" with Speakeasy Theaters, I only wrote and published various non-fiction articles and columns, mostly related to film and pop culture. My last fictional effort had been A Mermaid Drowns in the Midnight Lounge, which I abandoned after writing only a few chapters once The Parkway (and The Midnight Lounge) took off. Thrillville, as a live cult movie cabaret, and "Will the Thrill," my public lounge lizard persona, became pretty much a creative surrogate. But it never gave the fulfillment I achieved when I finally finished Mermaid then went back and self-published much of my back log of manuscripts, reworking many of them, including the four sequels to Love Stories, in addition to writing new work. While this was artistically satisfying, I was still left struggling to make ends meet doing freelance writing work, along with booking bands, social networking and working as a bouncer for Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge, where I also host my movie nite, "Forbidden Thrills." All fun and cool, but my ultimate dream still proved elusive, and I'm rapidly closing in on The Big Five-O. My body of work needed a serious promotional boost, since I could only generate so much publicity via my own limited platform.
The evolution of Vic Valentine: from a typewriter on my kitchen table in a Berkeley studio apartment (1993), to a reading at a bookstore in Fremont CA (1996), to drinking the official "Vic Valentine" cocktail at Forbidden Island (2011), to meeting with Christian Slater to discuss the movie...
It was clear I needed a big break if I was ever going to finally realize the literary goals of my ambitious youth, detailed in this 2002 blog, now itself a decade old.

This fuse was lit a long time ago, and is finally ready to explode...

Though I admit I often lost hope that this completely random, fortuitous seed would ever bear any practical, professional fruit (other than the yearly checks), it looks like Christian's faith in and passion for the project is finally about to pay off, for both of us. This was always planned as his directorial debut, and he adapted the screenplay as well. I finally got to read the latest draft when he suddenly contacted me via email last month, and told me he was ready to move on to the next stage of this long-simmering, seemingly impossible mission, and fly me out to Miami to meet with him and work on updating the material and moving the setting from North Beach to South Beach, together, with the goal of finally bringing this script to the big screen, as early as next year.

Again, I accepted. 

This is that "big break." I finally scored the two elements that have always been missing from my artistic arsenal: Luck, and a powerful champion.

Rendezvous in Miami: "I can feel it coming in the air tonight, and I've been waiting for this moment all my life...."

That's all I really feel free to publicly divulge at this point, but that's plenty. I'll report back after my trip to Miami the first week of June. I'm leaving town the day after my 11th wedding anniversary on Thursday May 31, and two days after my It Came From Hangar 18 reading/signing event with Scott Fulks at Books Inc. in Alameda, on Wednesday May 30, 7PM. It's going to be quite a week. And it will only be the beginning of a new phase in my life - perhaps long delayed, but well worth the wait, and the effort.

Our Rat Pack/mariachi wedding ceremony at the Cal-Neva Resort in North Tahoe, May 31, 2001

As Monica Tiki Goddess has been saying for years in her toasts, and which now serves as the dedication to the second Vic Valentine novel, Fate Is My Pimp: Onward Christian Slater!


Vic Valentine is moving his headquarters to steamier surroundings...