Ink, Tears, and Other Fluids: An Interview with Robin Bougie

Ink, Tears, and Other Fluids: An Interview with Robin Bougie

I’ve heard it said that if Fantasy and Science Fiction are twin shining cities of Imagination, then Horror is the sprawling ghetto that’s grown between them. And while fans of Fantasy and Science Fiction have oftentimes been ostracised as nerds and social misfits, and even actively harassed for it (the persecution of Dungeons and Dragons players in the ‘70s and ‘80s comes to mind), I think horror fans have gotten the even shorter end of the stick, with commentators in mainstream media pronouncing that horror movies lead to violence. This, I think, invites comparisons to the argument that pornography leads to rape, and indeed, horror movies, pornos, and exploitation films ranging from chop-socky kung fu to Blaxploitation seem to be lumped together as “low brow” entertainment, and there’s almost an element of social deviancy in being a fan of these media. Many fans (and certainly, The Blood Sprayer’s founder, Wes) have embraced this deviancy, though I can think of few who have embraced it with the dedication and verve of Canadian-born Robin Bougie, who for many years now has self-published a ‘zine (that’s a proto-blog printed on paper instead of the Interwebs, for some of you young’uns out there) entitled CINEMA SEWER (You may remember, I gushed about the collected volumes here), reveling in his love of cult horror, exploitation, and porn, and combining that passion with his artistic talents. In the interest of our dedication to “All the Filth that’s Fit to Print,” we reached out to Bougie, who was kind enough to agree to an interview.

First off, Robin, I’d like to thank you for agreeing to let us interview you. I’ve been a fan of CINEMA SEWER for a while now, and some of our other staffers have begun coming on board as well. For the enlightenment of all, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Sure. I’m closing in on 40 years of age, I live in a condo near the downtown core of Vancouver BC Canada, and I’ve been self publishing my own comics, zines, and whatnot since I was 17 years old. I’m a leo, I love my cat Orson, and I’m surrounded by evidence of my geeky obsessions. My home is also my studio, and I share it with another comic artist/animator, my better half — the awesomely talented Rebecca Dart.

And how did CINEMA SEWER come about?

I used to do a little cult film column for a little photocopied zine another guy did back in the mid 90s, but it went under after only one appearance of my writing. I had so much fun reviewing movies, it was a no-brainer to keep doing it in my own publication. Rebecca came up with the name Cinema Sewer while we were sitting in the back of a friends van, driving around at night on the highway.

Can you credit any one film or experience with sparking your interest in horror and exploitation cinema?

I can. I would have been 14, I think. My single father was catting around after this divorcee who had a son a few years older than I was. We went over to their house, and this other boy suggested that we go out and rent a movie so we’d have something to do while the adults were flirting. We went to a 7-11, rented a vhs tape called THE TERMINATOR, bought some chips and pop, and spent the evening with it. You know how when you’re little, and when older kids are nice to you that is the greatest thing ever? Well, he was, and knew most of the cool lines of dialogue off by heart. I never saw that kid again, but I still can hear him going “UZI. NINE MILLIE-MEETER” in time with Arnold. That was it for me, I had witnessed an awesome example of low-budget sci-fi exploitation, jammed to the rafters with action, violence, FX, and pathos. I was born too late, and I’ve spent the rest of my life trying to catch up with what I missed.

Do you have a favourite subcategory of exploitation? I.e., Nazisploitation, Blaxploitation, Nunsploitation, etc.?

I don’t know if I have a favourite, but I do really adore the post apocalypse genre, and I find that the Italians seem to have had the most fun with it. There are few genres where I will put up with any piece of shit simply because it fits the confines of the genre, but that is one. Even a terrible post-nuke movie will entertain me on some level.

I’m also REALLY into Japanese pink films from the 70s and 80s. I find them to be an almost perfect melding of art-house and grindhouse. I love how these talented young filmmakers who made them were desperate to get their foot in the door, and were given surprising creative free reign from production companies such as Nikkatsu, just so long as they included a graphic sex scene at least every 10 minutes. And it’s such a treat to see all the creative ways they’ll go about meeting that requirement and still make the story flow properly. It’s like how a Chef can make a far better meal when they are given specific guidelines and a limited amount of ingredients. You can cook those ingredients however you want, and get as creative as you want. Are you kidding me? That is a recipe for fucking amazing food. That is what North American pornographers never had — a budget, a overwhelming need to use that budget to tell a story, and a requirement to pepper sex all over that story. We had it backwards. Our adult industry was never allowed to grow creatively in that way, and it stagnated. And now it’s dying.

How did you get interested in the Golden Age of Porn? (I’d like to thank you for making me aware of Sharon Mitchell’s schnozzola, by the way.)

You’re welcome! Yeah, her nose is a thing of transcendence, especially when some loveable scuzzball like Jamie Gillis drizzled it in ball-gravy. I think my interest in classic porn came from a couple of different triggers. The first would be the fact that I’m a child of the seventies, and became aware of how wonderful girls were right about that time that they were all dressed like Madonna in the Lucky Star video. Jellie Bellies, scarves in their hair, bangles, eyeliner, neon everywhere, wide necked shirts hanging off the shoulder. It was all about New wave fashion, and before that punk, and before that the hippies — and those sweet soul sisters. Whatever was in fashion the year you started jerking off will forever be your ideal, that is how the male brain works. It’s also why so many guys are into the sexual aesthetic of teenage girls. They were your original goal.

The other reason I’m into those movies is because there is so much more reason to revisit the golden era of porn. It is absolutely a more dynamic and less by-the-numbers viewing experience than what started getting produced in the gonzo era. It’s got more entertainment value than simple meat-beating fodder. You’ve got the fashions, the funky music, the amazing hair, the shag carpeting and the wood-paneled walls, the off-putting acting — all of that fun stuff. Plus: The performers are real. John Leslie was actually a good actor, but he was also a regular guy and wore his own goddamn denim jacket in nearly every movie he made for 4 years in a row, and his co-stars all had real tits, real curves, and they made real sex noises. Fuck, yeah.

Courtesy Wes Allen, can you us what ever happened to Gina Valentina?

Wow, I don’t even know who that is! I had to look her up on IMDB, and then I noticed I’d only ever seen one movie she was in (BETWEEN THE CHEEKS from 1985), so I guess that explains why. Looks like she did a gazillion movies from 1984 to 1985, and then moved on to something else. Looks pretty hot though.

Can you pinpoint any artists who initially inspired you to begin drawing?

Sure. My original inspiration was Sergio Aragones, the brilliant artist who drew GROO, those little animated janitors on BLOOPERS AND PRACTICAL JOKES with Dick Clark. He was best know for doing all those little cartoons in the margins of Mad Magazine. Sergio was the guy who started me drawing as a kid. Small press guys like Colin Upton were the ones that started me photocopying my own shit and selling it when I was in high school, and underground comic artists like Robert Crumb, Charles Burns, Bob Fingerman, and Danny Hellman influenced my style and choice of content.

What CINEMA SEWER articles (or articles) have received the most negative response? How about the most positive?

“Fuck you For Breeding” didn’t go over very well with a lot of parents. It was an article where I ranted about babies, the idiotic childproofing of our society, and how I’d rather spend time with homeless crazies than other people’s children. It also had a checklist of awesome and gratuitous child-death scenes in horror movies. Another one that prompted some hate mail was the Kitkat #17 review, which was a german hardcore sex film where a submissive frauline was pissed on, pissed in, covered in spooge, fisted, painfully pummelled in various orifices, and proceeded to suck farts out of men’s butts. All of this was happily consensual, but I was accused of misogyny, sexism, and continuing a culture of sexualised aggression against women. If I was gonna properly take the blame for all that, I wish I had *made* the movie instead of simply watching it. Or at the very least got to fart on some tongues or something. The most positive was probably the “Bianca Trump: White Supremacist porn star” expose. It remains today the most read thing I’ve ever written, with almost a million hits after going viral.

Comparing porn from the 1970s to the porn of now, where do you see porn going in the next forty years? What’s “the next big thing”?

I’ve prognosticated about that a few times in my writing on porn. One of my theories was that tears were going to become the new money shot. The idea being that the viewer is always wanting something even more raw, emotional and real than the last thing they saw. My hope is that hardcore porn will eventually be assimilated and no longer treated as “the other”. That it will be taken out of its ghetto, and allowed to mutate into something more grown up and mature. Mind you, for that to happen, North American society has to change the shame-colored glasses it wears when viewing sex, and it has to consider the rights of women to get and give sexual pleasure — and we’re still a ways away from that happening. I’m a big believer and fan of true equality, and that is something I’d like to see porn incorporate in the future.

Have you ever turned a movie off in disgust?

Never in disgust, no. Boredom, many times. To me that is the ultimate insult you can give any entertainment — that it was boring or unmemorable. If it pissed me off or disgusted me, at least that is something. That is a valid response. I’ll continue to watch that. At that point I’ll be curious as to why I’m disgusted, and need to find out why. Turning it off won’t help me find out.

What’s something that most people, basing their opinions on CINEMA SEWER, would not expect you to enjoy?

Well, many of the people who read Cinema Sewer are into the extremes of music as well. Grindcore, Harsh noise, Thrash, Metal, etc. I’m sure a lot of them would expect me to be kicking it to the latest Merzbow, not realising that I’m sitting there creating CS while I’m grooving on Swedish pop music, Simon and Garfunkle, ABBA, Leslie Gore, The Jackson 5, and early Bee Gees albums. I’m just a big softie, and I squeal over sweet apple dumpling pop hooks and peachpie melodies! You won’t tell my secret, will you? Haha! Seriously though, I’m actually into all kinds of music. My tastes are quite varied — but I wasn’t joking about totally loving those bands!

2010 saw the releases of HUMAN CENTIPEDE and A SERBIAN FILM, and now a plot synopsis has been released for HUMAN CENTIPEDE: FULL SEQUENCE, which promises a longer Human Centipede, rape with a penis wrapped in barbed wire, and masturbation with sandpaper. Is this a new trend in trying to top one another in shock value, or is it just happening faster? Why do you think we’re seeing this outburst in “shocking” films?

I think these types of movies are ever-present, but just step in and out from the spotlight from time to time. At the moment, they’re getting some attention. I liked HUMAN CENTIPEDE more than most of the other film nerds that I converse and hang around with, mostly because I loved how original the concept was. It’s rare to have something come along in genre film making where you go “Oh man, I wish I had thought of that first!”, but HUMAN CENTIPEDE was one of those for me. I mean, it wasn’t a *great* film or anything, but I admired the creativity and had enough fun with it to consider it worthwhile. SERBIAN FILM was a fascinating watch, and I loved the sleazy plot line, the acting, and the excellent direction — but there was something that just stuck in my craw about that film. It was like it was trying too hard to shock me, and that became distracting. It went from the fun kind of shocking to a pretentious and frankly kinda lame style of shocking. Lame in the same way that a goth teenager scribbles a skeleton ripping a baby in half, and then shows it to you with wide expectant eyes, thinking that he’s blowing your fucking mind.

Besides CINEMA SEWER, what other creative endeavours are you involved in?

A lot of stuff. I do a series of “project” zines where I talk to prostitutes and Johns.. I also illustrate the diaries of prostitutes that I know, and put those out under the “Secret Cockupation” title. Those zines are all out of print at the moment, but I’m hoping to collect them all in one book. If anyone knows a publisher that might want to put that book out, let me know.

Then there is Sleazy Slice and Maximum Superexcitement. Those are filthy degenerate comic books that I illustrate and put out, with the help of several other very talented pornographers. Namely, Maxine Frank, Josh Simmons, and S.C.A.R (a husband and wife team from Australia).

On top of that, there is a collaboration with Roel in Holland, and he edits a dvd-mixtape collection of insane media called RETARD-O-TRON that I put out under the Cinema Sewer banner. There are two volumes out so far, and a third in the woks. If you’ve never seen a video-mixtape, these are an absolute must, and a great place to start. All of this stuff is available at my online store, which is at:

You’ve released two “collected editions” compiling and revising CINEMA SEWER content, plus additional material exclusive to these, and a third volume is coming out. What’s been the reaction to these volumes, and what can we expect in the third?

I didn’t publish those, they released by FAB Press in the Uk, which are my favourite publisher of movie-related books. It’s an honour to have them on my team. Each volume collects the best of the magazines, and adds 80 pages of brand new material. Some of the highlights this time are: A retrospective of Cannon films, and what I consider to be their best 50 films, Bianca Trump: white supremacist porn star, giant in-depth bios on classic adult stars Rene Bond, Desiree Cousteau, and Nancy Suiter, and an exhaustively researched portrait of junkie/actress/singer/born-again-minister Vanity. There are comics about movies, rants about movies, and nerdy movie lists. Combine all that with another 100 pages of reviews of the sickest, sexiest, and most outrageous exploitation/porn/grindhouse movies made from the mid 60s to the mid 1980s, and that is Cinema Sewer volume three! It’ll be out in August, but you can preorder it from me now on my site, and I’ll throw in a free drawing on the inside cover.

Yeah, that is what I wanted to ask you about next. You do these custom, 1-hour illustrations in copies of these CINEMA SEWER books, and you post them on your Livejournal. Do you have a favourite commission piece you’ve made?

Yeah, the book drawings are a great deal, since I normally charge $40 for a freelance illustration of that variety. You know, Robert Crumb once admitted that he spanks it to his own art, and while I have yet to resort to that, I do get *really* turned on by some of the things I draw, and I also sometimes develop a small crush on some of the girls I create. A lot of times those girls happen to be created in a book that I then have to package up and mail off to some stranger, and it can sometimes be hard to let them go! haha! You can just picture me there, sobbing as I toss my new love in the mailbox, never to be seen again. I don’t really have a favourite, but every once and a while I’ll do one that I’m quite proud of. That feels good.

What’s the most flattering response you’ve received to your work? What’s the most negative?

It’s always very flattering to get fan mail where someone tells you that they use your book or one of your dvds to test prospective boyfriends or girlfriends. If the potential new sweetie doesn’t care for what Bougie does, they’re gone. I’ve actually heard that from half a dozen people now. The other one that always makes me feel really good is when someone tells me that they use my art as inspiration to masturbate, or to get in the mood to have sex. I’ve heard that from both men and women, and I don’t think there is any finer compliment to someone who does the kind of thing I do. The most negative? Hmmm. Let me think. I don’t get as much hate mail as I used to, so it is hard for me to remember it. I also don’t tend to pay too much attention to hurtful things said by people I don’t know personally, because that would be like getting mad at a bug for biting you. No one likes to get bitten by a bug, but its not like you take it personally and start arguing with the thing. It’s just doing what it does, and that is fine. Haters gonna hate.

Do you see yourself still doing CINEMA SEWER in ten years’ time?

Yes. Yes I do. I’ll continue to do it as long as it is fun. I’m 14 years into this project, and it still remains as fun as it was when I started.

Are you the King of the Echo People?

Maybe I will be one day, but for right now all I am is an incredibly powerful salesperson who continually climbs higher and higher up the ladder of success! SUCCESS!!!

Robin, any final thoughts for the readers at home?

I want to say something to my fellow film dorks: My good pals, never get into the frame of mind that you’ve seen it all, because no matter how much of an expert you think you are, you’ve only scratched the surface of any given cinematic genre. My other bit of advice for movie nerds is this: Don’t enjoy films passively. Take your knowledge and your passion for these movies, and do something with it! It could be almost anything, and it could manifest in ways you would never have predicted. Everyone needs a creative outlet, and your love of film will only stagnate if you just sit there like a turd and wait to be entertained. Don’t forget to entertain yourself, my friends! It’s key.

I’d like to thank Robin once more for taking the time to hose us scumbags down with his wisdom, wit and candor.  And as a reminder, his forthcoming book (published through FAB Press in the UK), CINEMA SEWER VOL. 3, can be pre-ordered through his website, and he’ll do a FREE drawing inside for you! Free! One of a kind! For you! FOR YOOOOOUUUUUUUU! That, my brothers and sisters in the Psychotronic World, is a deal not to be missed!

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Bill Adcock likes long walks off short piers and eating endangered species. In addition to his work for the Blood Sprayer, his writing can also be found at his personal site, Radiation-Scarred Reviews, which he's maintained since 2008. Bill has also contributed, as of this writing, to GRINDHOUSE PURGATORY issues 2 and 3, and CINEMA SEWER issue 27.

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