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

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The New Parkway: "Just when I thought I was out..."

"....they pull me back in."
Against all odds, The New Parkway - centrally located in a renovated warehouse at 474 24th St. @ Telegraph Ave. in the swingin' Uptown district of Oakland - is opening any day now. It would be open today except, in true Parkway fashion, there were delays due to circumstances beyond anyone's control. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about this new endeavor, since I was left spiritually wounded by the rudely abrupt manner in which the first operation folded, with the entire company of Speakeasy Theaters eventually crashing and burning, ending my 12 year career as publicist/film programmer on  a rather bitter note. This new venture is in good hands, and from the public's POV, there are no worries.

Carne Cruda at The New Parkway
Though it's not officially open to the public yet, I did recently attend a private shindig for investors, supporters, and volunteers, so I got my first look at the interior, which is near completion. Very impressive. I describe it as "organically funky." I even booked the band that closed the original Parkway - Carne Cruda - to return to help celebrate the reopening of the new one, making good on an old promise I was never sure I'd be able to keep. Short local films with public domain stuff I booked (Betty Boop, The Killer Shrews) were also part of the celebratory, introductory program. Everyone was thrilled.

Theater #1 is set up cabaret style with chairs and tables downstairs, and a balcony full of couches up top, with an old school organ in the corner:

Theater #2 boasts midcentury modern furniture mixed with traditional theater seating. It's pretty awesome:

Patrons will purchases tickets, food and drinks (including beer and wine) as they enter the cafe/lobby, which extends to a mezzanine level:
Monica Tiki Goddess in the cafe mezzanine
Kudos to J. Moses Ceaser for persevering through some pretty tough challenges to make this dream come true, where many others failed. It's a miraculous boon to the community at large, and a welcome part time gig for me. (Read a month's worth of my Parkway/Thrillville memories on The New Parkway blog, posted daily throughout November, 2012.)

When I got home from the party, Star Trek: Generations was on TV. Ironic, since I've been comparing this transition from the old "enterprise" to the new using this very allegory. I was the front man for a pop cultural phenomenon that was prematurely cancelled, leaving legions of mourning fans in its wake, but now a fresh crew is embarking on a similar mission: to boldly go where no movie theater/restaurant has gone before...however, as the last man left standing from the original voyage, I will be making occasional cameos....

Image by Doug Jones
My association with this "rebooted" version is limited to publicist/special events consultant. In addition to PR, I will be in charge of programming two retro nights per week: "Parkway Classics" every Thursday, which will feature relatively recent favorites like The Big Lebowski, Purple Rain, Serenity, etc.; and "Thrillville Theater" on Sundays at suppertime, showcasing my signature variety of vintage B/drive-in/grindhouse classics, beginning with Forbidden Planet. I don't plan on hosting many if any of these shows, except for SHATFEST (my annual Tribute to William Shatner), but I will be designating "guest hosts" like Mr. Lobo, Lord Blood-Rah, Johnny Legend, Ms. Monster, etc. Eventually I may add bands and burlesque to the thrill-bill, just like old times. But I've pretty much retired the fez for good. After nearly 16 years in the public eye as "Will the Thrill," I'm content working from behind-the-scenes, and focusing on my writing career. 
Image by Doug Jones
Which brings me to another milestone: I will be presenting my final Forbidden Thrills @ Forbidden Island monthly cult movie nite on Monday, December 17, 7:30. It will be "A Corman Christmas" featuring his classics Creature from the Haunted Sea, Beast from Haunted Cave, and It Conquered the World. It's been a fun two-and-a-half year run, and I'm grateful to Molokai Mike Thanos for the opportunity - he really stepped up by offering Thrillville a home after the theaters closed and I ended the subsequent year-long Bay Area road shows. I'm simply growing weary of making regular public appearances. My books are the real Thrillville nowadays. 

And, oh yea, as 2013 rapidly approaches...Onward Christian Slater!

Aloha, and Happy Holidays.

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My 21st annual Elvis-themed Christmas card
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