Up until a couple of weeks ago, I knew Shade Rupe as “my PR guy for Synapse and stuff”. Oh, and I thought he had a cool name. That’s about it. Then I get this massive, 560 page beast of a book in the mail called Dark Stars Rising: Conversations from the Outer Realms and it turns out that it’s written by…that’s right…Shade Rupe!
“What?” I ask no one in particular. “Is this the same Shade guy who sends me e-mails about Japanese subway rape fetish movies and Eurosleaze “teen” sex romps starring 40 year old Swedish women in pigtails?”
I peruse the contents – and there’s a lot to peruse, let me tell ya – and, sure enough, it is that Shade! Turns out this unassuming and super polite PR guy is not only a major player in the world of alternative/underground film, but also an interviewer extraordinaire, who’s compiled a mammoth collection of some of the most far-out and fascinating interviews with a virtual who’s who of cult cinema that spans over two decades!
The book kicks right into gear with a vintage (1986) interview with the late, great Divine (aka; Harris Glenn Milstead) – the voluptuous transgender star of John Water’s classic Pink Flamingos. In this super laid back interview, Divine reveals a great deal about “herself”, her work with Waters, and even a touch of dissatisfaction with the gender-bending persona she created. Much of the free flowing vibe of the interview can be credited to Rupe’s conversational interview style, where he throws out an odd question or observation and Divine just runs with it. It’s far more compelling than the usual softball Q&A stuff we’re used to seeing, and sets the tone for the rest of the book, where Rupe sits down with the likes of notorious punk-porn photographer, Richard Kern, controversial indie filmmaker Jim Vanbebber, the gloriously complex Crispin Glover, and an especially telling conversation with Teller, the “silent” half of Penn and Teller, who is anything but silent here. There are twenty seven interviews in all, including such loony luminaries as Richard Stanley, Udo Kier, Gasper Noe, and many more, as well as a chapter featuring several reviews of books and films Rupe has published over the course of his career.
Dark Stars Rising is presented in a gloriously glossy-yet-fittingly-grungy zine style, loaded with color and black and white photographs, rare ephemera, vintage posters, fliers, and eye popping illustrations making it as handsome as it is informative and entertaining. I've got a lot of film-related books in my collection, and this is easily one of the most impressively assembled in terms of both style and substance. To say this is highly recommended is an understatement. Fans of the dark, demented, and depraved side of cinema, rejoice - Shade Rupe has written your bible.