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

Thursday, February 26, 2015


UPDATE January 2016: 
now available from

VOLUME ONE: A Mermaid Drowns in the Midnight Lounge and
Freaks That Carry Your Luggage Up to the Room

VOLUME TWO: Lavender Blonde and Down a Dark Alley

VOLUME THREE: Chumpy Walnut and Other Stories

Images by Dyer Wilk
In my last blog I detailed the story behind the new Vic Valentine novel Hard-boiled Heart being released by Gutter Books later this year, and revealed my depressed state of mind lately, despite this triumph and my reinvigorating move to Seattle last summer.  I've been worried that my literary career basically ended when my movie deal with Christian Slater got put back on indefinite hiatus after coming extremely close to fruition, like sitting at a traffic stop waiting for a green light, a block from your destination, and suddenly you find yourself getting towed backward. 

Anyway, this column finds me in a more upbeat mood, telling a much cheerier tale: the virtual reanimation of my entire body of work in the form of a series of anthologies being published soon by a bold new startup, Double Life Press, founded by author/editor/publisher Craig T. McNeely, who has turned out to be one of my most dedicated, passionate champions. In fact, Craig's artistic/commercial mission statement - basically "no boundaries" - already reminds me of John Martin's legendary Black Sparrow Press, which existed initially to offer a prominent platform to the then relatively unknown Charles Bukowski, in whom Martin placed a great deal of faith. Craig sees similar promise in my own rather obscure work, even though we've only met via Facebook. Other than the resumption of the movie project, a remote possibility at this point, this has proven to be the best possible emotional therapy and career/spirit booster I could hope for.

Writing on my portable typewriter in my tiny Berkeley studio kitchen, circa 1993
As many of you know, I've devoted most of my life to my writing, even though I took about a dozen years off from fiction (still freelance reporting about film and pop culture) while I was full time publicist/programmer for the sadly defunct Speakeasy Theaters, which suddenly imploded in 2009 due to internal issues I will never speak of in public (sorry), out of respect for my former friends that founded this beloved Bay Area institution (now resurrected under new stewardship as The New Parkway, for whom I'm still employed as remote PR consultant!). 

Cal-Neva Resort, North Lake Tahoe, May 31, 2001
I turn 52 on April 2, and I'm nowhere near where I thought I'd be by this stage of my so-called career, though my personal life continues to bring daily rewards, thanks to my wonderful marriage to the beautiful, brilliant Monica Cortes Viharo, currently a theater professor-in-training at the University of Washington School of Drama.  I really believed that the movie would've happened by now, and instead of still struggling to get by with random freelance writing gigs (for which I am still very grateful), I'd be a successful screenwriter, with a feature film, however modestly budgeted, generating interest in all of my novels. 

Needless to say, that didn't happen, at least not yet. It may happen someday, but meantime, I am moving forward as if it won't, finally achieving my goal of ending my status as a primarily self-published writer, which, nobody what anybody says, still has a certain stigma attached that prevents your work from getting properly reviewed, respected by professional peers, or even taken seriously by discerning readers.

Thanks to the visionary publisher Craig T. McNeely, many indie authors, besides me, will soon gain exposure to a new audience and legitimate industry "street cred." Craig first contacted me last fall, informing me he was starting a new pulp quarterly called Dark Corners, and, having only recently heard of my work, solicited a contribution.

"I want you to hit me hard," he wrote, adding that he admired the "short, choppy" style of classic hardboiled authors and contemporary crime fiction writers like Mike Monson.  So I wrote him a sick little story about a horny, homicidal dwarf called "Short and Choppy." He not only loved and published it in the premiere issue, but after reading PDFs of all of my novels, wrote an extremely flattering appreciation called "Will Viharo: Unsung Hero of the Pulps." High praise indeed, but it was coming from a complete stranger who had no other agenda but total honesty. That was his opinion, and he was backing it up with action by publishing stories of mine no mainstream outfit of any size would consider, including my followup to "Short and Choppy" in the second issue, a twisted little tale I first conceived well over a year ago while doing laundry, called "The Lost Sock." A third story, called "People Bug Me," my "fan fiction" tribute to my two favorite flicks, Sweet Smell of Success and I Was a Teenage Werewolf, will be included in the third issue.

Logo designed by Dyer Wilk

Then earlier this year Craig informed me he was starting his own small press, called Double Life. And he asked if he could reprint my self-published work in "definitive editions."

To be honest, I initially balked, because I didn't want to relinquish complete artistic and commercial control of my babies. After all, the upside of self-publishing is that very autonomy and freedom, from the selection of the cover art to the creative perimeters of the content. But Craig loved my books just as they are. He had no desire to edit out any of the more outrageous, "exploitative", gratuitously graphic aspects, since that's exactly what appealed to him the most. In fact, the very elements that made me decide to forego any more fruitless forays into traditional publishing (especially after my tragic courtship by celebrity editor Judith Regan in the early 90s, which left a very bitter taste in my soul) were exactly what attracted Craig. Other than fast rising author Joe Clifford, who had solicited the republication of Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me for Gutter, Craig was my perfect partner in crime.

Another factor in my decision to hand over the reins of my career to Craig was that I'd always hoped my self-published books would one day be "officially" reissued by a legitimate press, and while Craig is a relative newcomer to the publishing industry, he's a veteran author with extensive connections in the indie lit field, particularly genre fiction. Given his pedigree and respect, I feel confident in his abilities to launch this platform with the aid of his lovely wife Emily and the support of the entire community of modern genre authors, many of whom will be directly contributing to the cause with their own "fringe" works of experimental, "transgressive" fiction. There is no other press around today, at least that I know about, with such a brave agenda and impressive slate of talent already on board for what promises to be one helluva journey. I am honored to be among the flagship crew.

I am also very gratified to be applying my "brand name" directly to my fiction, as I did when this book trailer was filmed and edited by Christopher Sorrenti, shot at Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge in Alameda, CA a few years ago...

So here's exactly what Double Life Press will be offering where I'm concerned, as described in these back cover blurbs. Each edition features a new introduction by yours truly, plus a fresh foreward by Craig...

The Thrillville Pulp Fiction Collection is a series of “double features” reprinting the best work of underground literary legend Will Viharo in definitive editions.

Volume One: A Mermaid Drowns in the Midnight Lounge and Freaks That Carry Your Luggage Up to the Room is the literary equivalent of a classic “grindhouse” bill: twin erotic fever dreams exploding with malevolent monsters, sexy sirens, gruesome gangsters, zeitgeist zombies, dreamy decadence, hipster hedonism, voluptuous violence, nightmarish nihilism, sensuous surrealism, pop culture potpourri, and much, much more. They are like nothing you've ever experienced.

...turning into a lizard, zombies taking over the world, pornographic movie making and twists aplenty and the result is one highly intriguing, complex novel...—review of A Mermaid Drowns in the Midnight Lounge by Keith Nixon, Big Al's Books and Pals

In a cookie-cutter literary world chock-full of imitation and repetition, Will Viharo carves out a thoroughly original ride...Think David Lynch and Raymond Chandler catching a matinee together as the world falls apart. Sexy, smart, surreal. Can't recommend enough.Joe Clifford, author of Lamentation and Junkie Love, on  A Mermaid Drowns in the Midnight Lounge

'Freaks That Carry Your Luggage Up to the Room' starts fast and hard and absolutely does not let up until the end. It’s not for everyone; this is a not a book that will ever end up on Oprah’s recommended reading list, but for those folks who like their fiction twisted, brutal, darkly humorous, and covered in a wide variety of bodily fluids, it’s a fantastic read.” KarlMiddlebrooks, Listless Ennui

Volume Two: Lavender Blonde (a novel in dialogue) and the satirical crime thriller Down a Dark Alley present a dual dose of extremely graphic, uniquely compelling noir, loaded with more sordid sex and vicious violence than any fifty exploitation films, but also equipped with a stylistic complexity, emotional resonance and psychological depth absent from routine pulp fare.

No human being has absorbed more pulp culture and its seamy sexploitation underbelly than Will Viharo. Thankfully, his warped synapses and calloused, compulsive fingertips are able to repurpose it all and blow it back onto the page—desperate, demented, delirious, D-cupped … and many other D words as well.Eddie Muller, Czar of Noir, author of Dark City Dames, Grindhouse: the Forbidden World of “Adults Only” Cinema, and Gun Crazy: The Origin of the American Outlaw

"Besides the great style, plot, and characters, what I love so much about Will Viharo's work is his willingness to really go there in his depictions of sex and violence. The dude's not shy. At all.” Mike Monson, author of Tussinland, What Happens in Reno, and The Scent of New Death

Volume Three: Chumpy Walnut and Other Stories provides a revealing, entertaining look at the author's seminal works while creatively chronicling his artistic evolution, his very first novel being a unique, charming, nostalgic fable suitable for all ages, the remaining assortment of tales wildly ranging in tone and content from bleak to bizarre, from whimsical to wanton, but always stubbornly original.

“(Chumpy Walnut) is my favorite tome in the Viharo oeuvre. Anyone can relate, ’cause we've all got a little Chumpy in each of us.”Eddie Muller, Czar of Noir, author of Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir, The Art of Noir, and The Distance

NOTE: I will add purchase information/links at the top of this blog when the books are available on Amazon starting in late March, please check back here or stay tuned to my Fiction Page, your business and continued support are very much appreciated, thank you!

Below are the stories behind these fantastic covers, told mostly in pictures, the best possible way to convey such visually stimulating splendor...
Absolutely amazing mock '60s "men's magazine" spread by Mike Fyles, sent to me completely out of the blue, just for fun, to fill out his portfolio.  It now graces the front page of my websiteMike also works for Marvel Comics!

Mike's magnificent mock paperback cover version, a variation on the same image, which he illustrated soon after giving me the previous image. I was so thrilled with it I promised him I'd use this if Mermaid was ever reissued...

When it came time, a lot sooner than I expected, I simply suggested turning the leering patrons into zombies, representing the surrealistic, nightmarish erotic horror of both Mermaid and Freaks, which would comprise Volume One, since I believe they're my two strongest (and most challenging) works to date, and ideally complement each other.

Viola! A brilliantly evocative piece of pure pulp art, subversively sensuous and lusciously lurid,

suiting the savagely salacious subject matter. (Full cover design by Dyer Wilk)

Cover for the Gutter Books 2013 reissue of Love Stories Are Too Violent For Me by Matt Brown, who created the stupendous storyboards for the screenplay adaptation by Christian Slater and me. Matt contacted me on Facebook and we became fast friends...Matt will also be illustrating the cover for the forthcoming omnibus, THE VIC VALENTINE CLASSIC CASE FILES, comprised of the four sequels from the 1990s, Fate Is My Pimp, Romance Takes a Rain Check, I Lost My Heart in Hollywood, and Diary of a Dick, being published this summer by Double Life Press.

Coming this summer from Double Life Press (cover by Matt Brown)
Flash forward a couple of years: I gave Matt the basic scenario of what I wanted for the cover of The Thrillville Pulp Fiction Collection, Volume Two - a curvaceous, completely nude hottie holding a gun to a nervous sax player's head - and he hit me back with this stunning masterpiece...

The final cover perfectly sums up both novels with its retro-erotic vibe and playfully dangerous imagery...(Full cover design by Dyer Wilk)

When it came time to assemble Volume Three, which would feature my very first novel, sentimental favorite Chumpy Walnut, I decided against using my original illustrations for the cover again, since I needed something different to distinguish this "official" edition. These are a couple of examples of my own Thurber-esque drawings (you can view all 10 in this Facebook photo album), which were included inside with the text and will be again.

Craig and I decided the great Dyer Wilk, one of the true titans of indie publishing, would create an all new cover. I sent Dyer this quickly composed, crude concept, deciding I needed to spice up the new edition a bit, especially since it also would feature some of my racier recent short stories (including the three published so far in Dark Corners) along with my early, relatively innocuous pieces. 

My sketch was partly inspired by this particular piece from the great pulp artist Boris Vallejo...

But I was aiming more for something more cartoonish and whimsical, in the tradition of Max Shulman (creator of Dobie Gillis), like this...

Dyer turns around this incredibly "retro-authentic" masterwork!

If this fantastic cover (drawn and designed by Dyer Wilk) doesn't earn Chumpy some long-delayed, well-earned love, I don't know what will! Cheers for Chumpy!

But wait, there's more!

Covers by Michael Fleming
Scott Fulks, who hired me to write our epic erotic tiki sci-fi novel It Came From Hangar 18 a few years back, is now commissioning me to collaborate on a brand new project called THE SPACE NEEDLER'S INTERGALACTIC BAR GUIDE! Can't divulge too many of the plot details just yet, except most of the sci-fi action is set mainly in the 1960s, the primary setting is Seattle with side-trips around the globe and across the galaxy, basically an anthology of "true" accounts describing close encounters between astronauts and various aliens, monsters, space babes, and cocktails! In fact, along with Scott's typically ingenious, complex, and real scientific formulas, the book will feature original cocktail recipes for each chapter! It will have its official launch at Tiki Oasis in San Diego this August. 

These images will give you a general idea of what to expect from this unique novel/cocktail recipe book combo:

On top of all this, THRILLVILLE THEATER is being revived soon in Seattle! I hadn't planned on it, but the fez seems to be my fate, so why fight it, especially since I need to promote my pulp fiction in a new media marketplace anyway - ironically, the only reason I became a reluctant live movie host/show producer in the first place. It was never my true goal, and frankly it still isn't, but it's provided me with a very visible public platform that continues to come in handy.
Hosting The Apple in Hecklevision at Seattle's Central Cinema, 3/2/15
"Mod Mon"
Hosting the final season premiere of Mad Men at Central Cinema, Easter Sunday, 4/5/15
Recently I dropped off a resume at one of my very favorite local haunts, Central Cinema, a comfortably swank Parkway-type movie theater with an all-repertory film calendar and a full bar menu. But instead of offering me a part time job taking tickets or serving food, which is all I was expecting or hoping for, they wanted to collaborate on some special events together, since my reputation as "the Parkway guy" and "Will the Thrill" apparently preceded me! 

So my initial Seattle incarnation of Thrillville will of course be the regional introduction of my most popular annual themed show, SHATFEST: TRIBUTE TO WILLIAM SHATNER, on Thursday, June 11, featuring his immortal grindhouse classic, IMPULSE (1974) We've already discussed some ideas for future Thrillville events, too. They will only be happening on a semi-regular basis, but that just means each will be extra special and fun. For updates, stay tuned to my schedule page

Meantime, here is the tribute video Mark Bowen of Le Video in San Francisco created for my "final" SHATFEST at The New Parkway in Oakland last March, which will give newbies of taste of what to expect...

But this won't be the first time I've donned the Thrillville fez for a public appearance in Seattle. This past January, Monica and I were tapped by event organizers and local celebrities Marlow Harris and Jo David to co-judge the 20th annual Elvis Tribute Contest at the legendary music venue, The Crocodile. It was a lot of fun. The impersonators were all incredible and it was a perfect way to commemorate The King's 80th birthday (January 8)...TCB!

So while I still struggle with depression on a daily basis, most likely a lifelong battle at this point, I have plenty of opportunities to keep my battery charged. After several severe professional setbacks over the past few years, including the loss of cherished full time gigs I worked hard to earn and maintain, not once or twice but several times due to the shenanigans and abrupt failures of my (sometimes) corrupt employers, I'm still swingin'.  Cheers.

With my lucky tiki/totem on Whidbey Island, WA, February 2015
Authentic Don the Beachcomber Mai Tai at Tacoma Cabana, March 2015
52nd bday Mai Tai at Ivar's Salmon House, 4/2/15
Toasting 52 in classic style at Canlis, Seattle 4/2/15
Rob Roy, Seattle
La Fonda Catrina, Seattle
Rumba, Seattle
Sand Point Grill, Seattle

You may also dig:


VOLUME ONE: A Mermaid Drowns in the Midnight Lounge and
Freaks That Carry Your Luggage Up to the Room

VOLUME TWO: Lavender Blonde and Down a Dark Alley

VOLUME THREE: Chumpy Walnut and Other Stories

Fate Is My Pimp, Romance Takes a Rain Check, I Lost My Heart in Hollywood, Diary of a Dick

The new Vic Valentine novel HARD-BOILED HEART now available from Gutter Books



BACHELOR PAD MAGAZINE #31 featuring my regular movie column, this one listing my TOP 15 MOVIES OF THE 20TH CENTURY!

BACHELOR PAD MAGAZINE #32 featuring my regular movie column, this time
about Raquel Welch's "body of work"!
My story SHORT AND CHOPPY and editor Craig T. McNeely's article WILL VIHARO: UNSUNG HERO OF THE PULPS featured in the premiere issue of the new pulp magazine

My story THE LOST SOCK featured in the second issue of DARK CORNERS (Winter 2014)

My story PEOPLE BUG ME featured in the third issue of DARK CORNERS (Spring 2015)

My short story ESCAPE FROM THRILLVILLE as well as my Tribute To Ingrid Bergman

My Vic Valentine story BRAIN MISTRUST included in this anthology.
My short story BEHIND THE BAR is included in this anthology:
includes my short story "PEOPLE BUG ME"

View the rough cut of Jeff M. Giordanos' documentary THE THRILL IS GONE!