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

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

"The Thrill Is Gone": Aloha, Bay Area; Hola, Seattle!

It's been a long, hard goodbye, but after several public farewell parties, the time has finally come: Monica Tiki Goddess and I are leaving the San Francisco Bay Area for good, embarking on our next and probably biggest adventure: a whole new life in Seattle, WA, where she will be attending the PhD program at the University of Washington School of Drama, and I'll...just keep writing and hoping for the best. But the misty, moody environment will be creatively stimulating, and hopefully literally and figuratively end my internal "dry spell." I am looking forward to the change of scenery as well as the change of climate. I am not looking forward to missing all of our friends, and though the bright California sunshine and arid atmosphere has become far too harsh for my eyes and skin to bear, it's been a great, fruitful run. After all, I met my wife - a California girl forever - here, so we'll be back to visit. Suffice to say, I have mixed emotions about leaving, since I've lived in the Golden State most of my adult life (1979-1985 in L.A., and since then all around the Bay Area, mostly East Bay), but most of them are positive and forward-facing, with a calm sense of closure, even as I ponder the dubious accomplishments of my past here, such as they may be.

Reading my story "Escape from Thrillville,"
Shashamane Bar & Grill, Oakland
Sometimes - actually often - I wonder if my "career" as "Will the Thrill" was even worthwhile. My lifelong ambition has been to become a successful writer. I just fell into the whole "B movie lounge lizard" thing by professional accident, not personal design, when the former owners of now defunct Parkway Speakeasy Theater asked me to create, host and program my own live cult movie show, which eventually became "Thrillville." My public identity was soon established as an impresario of outre cinema and promoter of "lounge" lifestyle and tiki culture rather than a "serious" novelist. Though I met many great people via my networking of special guests, bands and burlesque acts, it never really offered me artistic fulfillment, since in my eyes I was merely spotlighting the endeavors of others, instead of pimping my own. I pretty much gave up on my writing career during this long period, except for some freelance non-fiction articles about movies and such, since I was now "the movie guy." Now that it's all over, I'm still busy reinventing/reintroducing/reviving myself as "the pulp guy," my original vocation. Thrillville was initially envisioned as a promotional platform for my 1995 novel Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me anyway, currently stuck in development hell with Christian Slater planning to direct as well as star as my PI protagonist, Vic Valentine. Now I've come full circle. I'm just a writer - no other prospects at the moment to distract me. We sold off our Alameda condo and are now totally out of debt. It's a fresh start. 

So...what was it all for? The answer is right here in this documentary by filmmaker Jeff M. Giordano, whom I met at Forbidden Island a couple of years ago, and who approached me a few months ago about his idea for a project chronicling my exit from the Bay Area...

With filmmaker Jeff M. Giordano, Forbidden Island
The result is this amazing 70 minute feature, filled with clips, interviews and trailers, is an amazing memento of my three decades in the Bay Area, particularly the last one, since it focuses on my public persona as "The Thrill," but also my private dreams as Will the Quill. I am deeply honored and truly touched by this amazing tribute, which preserves for posterity the essence of "Thrillville."

Dig it in its awesome entirety (when you have the chance):

The doc just had its "world premiere" at Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge - where I was alternately employed as band booker, publicist, movie host ("Forbidden Thrills"), and door man over the past five plus years - and where much of my interview was conducted. FI is also the home of the "Vic Valentine" cocktail, one of its most popular house drinks, created by Susan Eggett. I will miss Forbidden Island more than any of my Bay Area haunts. Below are some pix of this special night plus a few others from recent visits:

With Monica (above) Michael and Denise Thanos (below), Forbidden Island's 8th Anniversary, 4/14
With one of my favorite bands, The Aqua-Velvets

The premiere of "The Thrill Is Gone," 6/8/14
Drinking the "Vic Valentine"
With my good friend Michael
Larry and Don: hardcore
With "It Came from Hangar 18" co-author and friend Scott Fulks
With filmmaker Jeff M. Giordano
Tiki Noir...
One final Forbidden Thrill...

Like I said, this has been a protracted aloha. A couple of months ago, on April 3, the day after my 51st birthday, I hosted THRILLVILLE'S 17TH ANNIVERSARY/FAREWELL BAY AREA SHOW featuring my favorite movie, Sweet Smell of Success (1957), at The New Parkway in Oakland. It was the final time Monica Tiki Goddess and I danced to the "Welcome to Thrillville" theme by The Moon-Rays, and that I wore the official Thrillville fez from Fez-o-Rama, at least in public. For the past year and a half I'd been programming but hardly ever personally presenting a franchised version of "Thrillville Theater" at The New Parkway, with rotating guest hosts: Lord Blood-Rah, Misery Ann Mayhem, The Queen of Scream, and The Undertaker. Now that I'm gone, Lord-Blood Rah's Nerve-Wrackin' Theater, featuring this same rotating roster as well as classic horror/sci-fi movies presented in vintage style, has taken Thrillville Theater's place after a lengthy, carefully planned "grooming period." 

Below are some scenes from our final Thrillville show, as well as the Farewell Party TNP founder J. Moses Ceaser threw for us on June 8, featuring the first movie I ever booked/hosted at the old Parkway, Blue Velvet. I also threw in the 1998 SF State student film recreating a scene from this movie, with Monica playing Dorothy and me as Frank....

Will the Thrill and Monica Tiki Goddess: one last time...
With my successors: The Undertaker (left), Lord Blood-Rah, Vanessa Queen of Scream, and "Gargantua"
"The Thrill Is Gone..."
With long time "Thrill Seeker" and supporter, Larry Kakos
Meet Zooey (center) - who was actually celebrating her 17th birthday at my 17th anniversary show...
Thrill Seekers wearing the original Thrillville T-shirt from November Fire...
"Moving to Seattle, everything must go!"

Images created by long time supporter, Bob Ekman

And then the final, FINAL Parkway farewell...
With J. Moses Ceaser, who provided some delicious chocolate cake for the crowd
Monica and me in a scene from a student film, shown before the movie...

The "Thrillville" table created by longtime supporter Dan Franco lives at theater as part of my "legacy"
Then on May 3, Monica conspired with Tom Wyrsch, John Stanley, Bob Johnson, and Bob Ekman to get me to attend a "surprise" ceremony at the Bal Theater in San Leandro (I usually hate leaving my house so it's hard to get me anywhere without incentive), masquerading as one of Bob E.'s legendary "Psychotronic" shows, where I was presented with the John Stanley Bay Area Horror Host Award, quite an unexpected honor....

An unexpected honor
Mr. Lobo appeared via Skype from his home in Pennsylvania!
The Creepy KOFY movie gang taped a special big screen salute...
Ms. Monster and her Melons, Tit and Tat, recorded a special tribute shown on the big screen!
What a surprise!
Left to right: Tom Wyrsch, Lord Blood-Rah, me, Monica, John Stanley, and Bob Johnson

With Bob Ekman, Monica, and Bob Johnson 
With the legendary John Stanley and robot friend

John recently filmed a segment of his upcoming "Creature Features" doc with me at The New Parkway, too. 
Hosting a company movie night party at Perforce Software, Alameda, 6/12/14

Below are some random pics of us drinking our way through the Bay Area, visiting our favorite hangouts before we leave for the Emerald City forever...

My 51st birthday, Trader Vic's, Emeryville, 4/2/14:

Yet another trip to Trader Vic's, a month later...

Monica's Oakland A's tattoo, her reward for getting into the University of Washington PhD program (so no one will mistake her for a Mariner's fan...

At Oakland Ink...
Celebrating at Tribune Tavern 

My final pickup at Alameda Sports Cards and Comics...

At Big Wow Comics Convention, San Jose 
At Big Wow with Melissa Wortman, Balrok, Webberly Ravencraft of Creepy KOFY
Saying goodbye to Jenny, my hair cutter for the past 20 years.
Monica's parents send us off with a live mariachi band at her
going away/congrats-on-grad-school party in their home
Breaking open the Elvis bubbly...
Beach Chalet, San Francisco
Oakland: Home of the Mai Tai, Not Just the Drive-By (Hawker Fare)
American Oak, Alameda 
Dogwood Bar, Oakland

Corona-Rita at La Pinca Azul, Alameda

La Pinca Azul, Alameda (Harbor Bay "branch")

Conga Lounge, Oakland
Hula's Tiki Bar, Santa Cruz

Trabocco, Alameda
Spenger's, Berkeley, where I proposed to Monica in 2000, after we'd already booked our wedding...
And back in our condo at The Capri (now sold!), having a party for our 13th wedding anniversary, 5/31/14


And look who's following us all the way to Seattle...

And don't worry, I won't forget to "write"...cheers.

A new place to hang my hat...

BACHELOR PAD MAGAZINE #28 featuring my regular movie column now on sale!

My new Vic Valentine story "Brain Mistrust"is included in this ebook anthology, now on sale.

JUST ADDED: World Premiere of the "Director's Cut" Monday, 11/17/14, Alameda Library