My Dearest Shaded Viewers,
I know I’ve been out of touch but I’m quite confident that Diane, Dino, Angelo and Robb are keeping you on the edge of your Mies van der Rohe seats. (I am cherishing that photo of Diane in front of the geyser…) My excuse is that I was in Italy for a week and since I’ve been back I’ve been cracking away at my book…or at least that’s what my literary agent told me to say. But my trip to Italy marked an event that was the biggest thrill of my life: The Turin Film Commission and Regione Piemonte PR flew me out so I could interview my favorite all-time director in the world, Dario Argento. In addition to everything I already know about him and his films — having been a fan for almost 20 years — I spent months researching the more arcane aspects of the maestro’s career: I watched his early 70s TV series, "Door Into Darkness", and the 1973 political satire "Le Cinque Giornate" in Italian with no subtitles, as well as dozens of interviews in anticipation of this joyous occasion. I even spent weeks trying to decide on a present for him (a Japanese, hatchet-wielding monster doll? Exhumed bones from NY’s old Marble Cemetery? Ex-mayor Giuliani’s gouged-out eyeball?) Because Dario is half-Brazilian (his mother’s side), I decided a thoughful gift would be a copy of the Portuguese-language version of my friend Camille Paglia’s book on Alfred Hitchcock’s "The Birds". Dario was doubly flattered because as it so happens, he has just finished an homage to Hitch called "Do You Like Hitchcock?" which will play all over European TV this fall. The interview took place at Dario’s Opera Film headquarters in Rome, which to me is one of the sexiest cities in the world. I still don’t have a digital camera (I know, I’m pathetic, please kill me) but here are some images I found – one is an old one of a handsome Dario with Claudio Simonetti, the ex-Goblin member and composer. I especially loved his score for Argento’s recent film "The Card Player". There is also a still from Dario’s fantastic 1987 film "Opera".
Dario was super-nice and friendly and we had an amazing conversation about his Hitchcock homage, the city of Turin (where Profondo Rosso was shot and where I went immediately after Rome on this trip), Michelangelo Antonioni’s brilliant film, "The Eclipse", and Dario’s involvement in the Italian Communist Party (he gushed over my Chairman Mao army bag that I bought at The People’s Bookstore in Hong Kong two years ago) plus other stuff which will all be included in my feature on Dario for the Fall issue of ZOO magazine (which Diane and Angelo also write for). After the interview, Dario lunged across the coffee table at me, kissed me on both cheeks and exclaimed "Viva Glenn! You know EVERYTHING about me!" Then we walked into the other room and his brother Claudio — who produces Dario’s films — was there and Dario said "This is Glenn – he knows EVERYTHING about me!" and I said to Claudio "I loved your cameo in ‘Scarlett Diva’" and Dario said "See?! I told you!! He knows EVERYTHING!" It was one of the biggest thrills of my life.
Here is an excerpt from my feature: My friend Rinaldo Rocco, a handsome actor/playboy who coincidentally has portrayed the killer in many giallos, or Italian murder mysteries, has driven me to my appointment with Argento on the back of his Vespa….Argento, now a youthful 65, is friendly and robust while still possessing his signature ghoulish carriage that has caused more than a few to comment: ‘He looks like something out of one of his own horror films’….."My films are not moralistic but American films are, especially the big ones like War of the Worlds with Tom Cruise", says Argento….While the calculating Hitchcock seemed concerned with specific psychological conflicts — Norman Bates and his smothering albeit dead mother, Marnie’s pathological frigidity, marauding birds as primitive force vs. civilization — Argento’s work is frequently visceral. He is often so caught up with high visual style, lighting and mise-en-scene, there is a constant feeling that Argento is too distracted to notice the axe-wielding specter of Catholic guilt sneaking up behind him. Viewing Argento’s efforts is a bit like having sex with a stranger in a Catholic country — there is a nagging concern that you’re doing something terribly wrong but it feels way too good to stop.
Speaking of sex in Catholic countries, I guess no Belverio trip to Europe would be complete without a few afternoon pit stops at the local gay saunas (I never go to them in New York because everyone is on crack). In Rome — a city that makes me so indescribably horny, I get woozy and sometimes collapse on the street. I call it the Sexual Stendahl Syndrome — I went to my favorite sauna, Europa, where athletic, hairy-chested Romans were on the Sebastian Venable menu du jour. In the exquisite city of Turin, I checked out a sauna I had never been to and met a super-cute guy named Edy who turned out to be a big film freak with lots of opinions about Argento. After some canoodling, dry heat and a shower we went out for some really excellent pizza and he asked me the inevitable question that all Europeans and Asians ask fags (or at least me) from New York: Are you a Samantha or a Carrie? Lucky for me, because I’m a writer I escape the pathological slut Samantha category but am reduced to some hack who types out shallow musings about doomed relationships and designer shoes. But Edy is so sexy, I wouldn’t care if he compared me to Cindy Adams or that dour lady who writes about fashion for the Village Voice…..
Meanwhile, back at the ranch in New York, I stumbled upon a really hilarious and uniquely curated radio broadcast by a ghost from my past, the writer and tastemaker, Mark Allen. This WFMU broadcast — which includes creative clips from the films of John Waters, Hitchcock, Argento…and ME! — is a must-listen-to: http://wfmu.org/playlists/shows/15463
Thanks for reading!