Tag Archives: Q + A

Quick Q+A: The Twin Cities Psychotronic Film Society + Scares That Care Marathon

While a lot of the schlocky films regularly shown throughout Twincy have their scary moments, they’re nowhere as scary as fighting illness, burns, or breast cancer in the real world. That’s the mentality of non-profit group Scares That Care, who are partnering with the crazies in the Twin Cities Psychotronic Film Society for 12-hour scare maratharon to raise money. The admission is a sliding scale of donations, and we strongly recommend going for one, two, or all of the showings throughout the day and making a big donation when you get there. 

Before the physical and psychological endurance test, we checked in with Psychotron Daniel McNellie about the team-up, the movie selections, all the additional fun of the event, and more.

Secrets of the City: How did you get hooked up with Scares That Care—which is such an awesome organization—for the marathon?

Daniel Mcnellie: Donald from Scares that Cares has been coming to our events for awhile now and after finally getting to know him he mentioned doing a benefit screening. I’m always down to do benefits any chance we can, Earth is a pretty scary place these days, and I think people really need to be kind and help each other whenever they can. I was trying to think of a way to make it unique and fun as opposed to just a normal screening, so I put together the 12 hour marathon, hoping an all day open marathon would be able to raise a bit more than a single screening, since people have busy schedules.

Nobody will be turned away, and people can give what they can at the door any time throughout the day.

The Psychotrons have been on such a programming tear for these last few months, how will you still have cult film material to show??

Believe me, there’s no end to the material we could show, through various private collections/archives, constant discovery of new outside artist filmmakers, etc. We haven’t even had a chance yet to show the more rare and weird stuff that I originally set out to do. In my free time (not very much since our daughter was born) I’m constantly searching out completely off the radar stuff from outsider artists. It’s taken me to some strange places around the U.S. for sure. Be it from a flier hanging on a street-pole, to going through phone books trying to track down a guy in the deep south who made some 8mm shorts in the 80’s, there’s no end to finding new and interesting things.

Last year I came across a 2 part urban action film series shot on VHS in the 80’s in a Chicago housing project that was discovered in the directors closet by his son. It was never released and nobody knows anything about it, including the son. Would love to show it here, but again, would anyone show up?

Do you agree with our assessment that this event fits nicely in our new golden age of the local B-Movie scene?

I hope there is a golden age with weirdo cult movies happening! That’s the hard part about doing this, the average person generally doesn’t like to get too adventurous in their movie viewings. That’s why you have to do mainstream stuff like Evil Dead, which I love as well, but that is what brings people, which will hopefully in turn allow the weirder stuff to happen. Showing movies is tough these days anywhere, your average person doesn’t hold the social experience as high as say, going to a bar or watching live music. I personally think the experience of being in a theater where everybody is in the same mindset and totally engaged with the film (for better or worse) is just as powerful and fun as any other form of entertainment, and we’ve all made a lot of great new friends just from interacting with people before or after a screening.

But in the end, I’m honestly just grateful to be able to put on all these events for people to enjoy either way, regardless of attendance.

What percent do you think will make it the whole 12 hours? We’d guess 50% because there are some real maniacs here in the film scene.

I’m guessing at the end of the final movie it will be me, Donald from Scares That Care, a couple sleeping people, and maybe a couple of the fellow TCPFS folks. I usually attend various 12 and 24 hour marathons throughout the country so I’ve become good at pulling through these, but I know how brutal they can get though. You need to average about 1 large red bull and large black coffee per movie at some of the 24 hour ones. Maybe half of that at the 12 hour ones. The best part is when you finally get to sleep your brain is all destroyed and you have crazy dreams/night terrors. Worst part is when you’re sick for the next 2 days. This is also a test run for a 24 hour (all rare 35mm films) we’re trying to plan. if this goes well, that could happen sooner rather than later.

If people had to pick just one time to stop in and see some crazy stuff, would you recommend 7 PM and, as you say, “LGBTQ equivalent to THE ROOM”? How bonkers is that going to be!?

9 PM is the one you don’t want to miss. Trust me, you haven’t seen it, and it’ll be a blast. Even the people trying to guess what it is are all wrong. The 7 PM LGBTQ equivalent to the room is another insane one though, haha. I came across the LGBTQ film on one of my digs and started spreading it to friends and some programmers a few years ago and they love it, so hopefully it will find an audience someday because it’s a riot. Honestly every movie at this is tons of fun and there’s maybe only 2 movies that people might have seen before. We’ll hand out cheat sheets with clues at the door and the trailers leading up to each film will hint at whats about to come.

The thing I hope people will keep in mind is that when I programmed this marathon i did it in a very specific way. It’s not just random movies I wanted to show. They flow in such a way to compliment each other and mess with the audiences expectations and minds, especially with the final movie. Wooooo boy…if you sit through the whole marathon, you’ll probably be delirious by then and this one is gonna make your head explode from laughing at the chaos that unfolds, But if you’re just coming in, you’re gonna think everyone laughing in that theater is a complete moron or insane.

Can you give us a scoop on some of the surprises you’ve been teasing for the event? (If not we understand.)

Hmm, I think we announced most of them. Bunch of cool raffle prizes throughout the night donated from various people/businesses, free food from Raising Canes later in the evening, a lot of giveaways from Surly brewing throughout the night, more giveaways we can’t talk about till day of, so you just gotta show up.

I just really hope people will take the time to consider coming to the event. This is a chance to do some good by helping others who are less fortunate and see some rare, fun movies on the big screen.

The 12 Hour Movie Masochist Marathon takes over the Parkway Theater on Saturday, November 18th. 


Quick Q+A: Pop-Up Magazine + Anita Badejo

Pop-Up Magazine—a “live magazine” experience featuring multimedia stories told by reporters, writers, radio producers and more—makes its Twincy debut on Friday (November 3rd) at the Fitzgerald Theater. The local installment of the show will feature stories by APM’s homegrown, Peabody-Award winning series In The Dark host Madeleine Baran and senior producer and Samara Freemark, and afterward, performers, producers, and the audience stick around for drinks and conversation.

As fans of both traditional and innovative new forms of magazines, we’re pretty psyched to see—and hear!—the show. Before settling in for some killer storytelling, we checked in over email with show producer senior producer and Pop-Up co-host Anita Badejo.

Secrets of the City: How did a live magazine show get developed? Was the impetus for Pop-Up Magazine to just skip the media pivot to video entirely and get right to the pivot of “live shows with multi-media content”?

Anita Badejo: Interestingly enough, Pop-Up predates those pivots! The show was created in 2009, when our founder and editor-in-chief Doug McGray was still a freelance journalist. He had started his career as a writer, and eventually also started producing radio stories, and he found it really odd that storytellers in different mediums don’t cross paths as often as you’d think. He and our other founders started Pop-Up as a collaborative way to bring all types of storytellers together, and to celebrate journalism and storytelling in all its unique, creative forms. The first show was at a 300-seat theater in San Francisco and it just grew from there. Eight years later, we’re performing at really big theaters with three national tours a year!

How does the live show play to the audience? Should we warn people ahead of time that they’re likely going to get goosebumps, maybe tear up a little from the stories? More of our readers will likely go if there’s a promise of pandering.

We craft our stories in order to move people, so laughs, tears, goosebumps, gasps, etc. are definitely part of the experience. Most stories also have original scores by our house band, Magik*Magik Orchestra, which really helps set a unique mood for each of them. We often hear from people after the show that it’s one of the most emotionally compelling events they’ve attended.

We love that this show has “issues” instead of seasons, what other fun print elements does the program covert over from physical magazines? Is there a masthead? Back of book? Long delays on payments to freelancers?

In the program, each story has a slug in addition to its title, and they often play off of popular magazine sections. So, you might open it up and find stories that are slugged anything from, “Politics,” “Business,” and “Food,” to “Advice,” “How-To,” and “Relationships.” And the show itself is loosely structured like a magazine, with a front of book and a feature well. Our shorter pieces tend to open the show, whereas longer, more narrative pieces tend to be concentrated in the second half.

Each performance has contributors from all over the spectrum, including Peabody-Award winning series “In The Dark” host Madeleine Baran and senior producer and Samara Freemark at the St. Paul date. But everyone will likely ask: Why isn’t Levar Burton at the St. Paul date? Where’s Levar Burton?

Ha, LeVar was wonderful! While many storytellers do tour with us, each show is unique, and we want to make the experience of seeing Pop-Up Magazine in each of the cities we visit special. The Twin Cities edition of this issue is really, really great, and one of the more unique ones among the tour in terms of the mix of themes, story formats, and live, interactive moments. It’s going to be fun.

There was a mention of a potential foray even further in different modes of story-telling, including augmented reality. Should people be “subscribing” to Pop-Up even if they can’t make the show? (You can make the show, there’s a few tickets left, though.)

Definitely! Our mailing list is the best way to keep a pulse on it all, and there are going to be more and more ways to get involved.

We’re always experimenting with new mediums and there are so many things we’d like to play with. In the past, we’ve staged a special musical collaboration with Beck and McSweeney’s, that was part-concert, part-storytelling event. We’ve hosted a dinner with chef Samin Nosrat, where every course and part of the meal — down to the napkins — was tied to a story told by someone at the table. In Friday night’s show, there’s dance, which is a first for us, as well as a pretty glorious moment of audience participation (all I’ll say is it involves singing). Our format offers so many opportunities to figure out “What’s the best way to tell a story?” “How do we bring people into it?” and there’s no end to what we might try.

Some tickets are still available for the inaugural installment of Pop-Up Magazine here in MPLS + STPL. Friday, Nov 3rd, 7:30 PM. $31.50. Fitzgerald Theater.


Quick Q+A: Monica LaPlante

Regular Readers know we’ve been tremendous fans of Monica LaPlante‘s music and we’re very excited to finally be able to have some of it on vinyl. Ahead of her Noir LP release show with Catbath and Blaha—one of the last shows happening at the Triple Rock—we sent her a Quick Q+A to check back in on LaPlante on her rigorous schedule, recording, radio play, and any costume ideas (the show is of course going have costumes on stage and off).  

Secrets of the City: You’ve played sooooo many shows in the two years since we first interviewed you—so many!—was it hard to take a break from playing to record Noir or was it a sort of welcome vacation? Or was it just in-between all the shows?

Monica LaPlante: It was super easy to record because I was working with my manager Noah Hollander, who was part owner of The Pearl recording studio. We just recorded everything one song at a time with his brother Zach when there was open time at the studio. When Noah left The Pearl a year later, we had to find a new place to finish the album. It was really difficult and took a long time to find one we felt as comfortable in. We tested out a lot studios in the Midwest, but ended up finishing the record at Key Club in Benton Harbor, MI.

Are you surprised at the wider success of “Hope You’re Alone” as a single? It’s awesome to hear it on the radio.

It’s a relief to finally hear it on the radio!! I wrote Hope You’re Alone almost 4 years ago! We actually played it at our Jour release show at the Ritz theater in 2013. We’ve been Hail Mary passing it out to radio stations for a while, and the timing finally worked out. I always thought it was a good song, I mean the chorus is three words repeated over and over again, so it’s catchy enough! I finally feel reaffirmed in my songwriting with all the recent acknowledgment from local radio.

Will the show be the only spot people can grab the album? Will it make it out into record stores for wider consumption?

The vinyl will make it out to record shops as well! The Electric Fetus and Barely Brothers will for sure have copies. They’ll be coming with a poster, an insert with lyrics, and a digital download card.

How bittersweet is it that the party is one of the last remaining shows at the Triple Rock?

Noah and I booked the show without a faintest idea that this would happen. I just feel fortunate enough to have an opportunity to play the Triple Rock one last time. It’s a great chance to have one last wild night there, that’s for sure!

Do you feel a lot of pressure for your costume since you’re headlining? What if you dressed up as the Triple Rock? (Actually don’t do that, we’re going to do that.)

There’s always pressure in a group costume in general! We toyed with a number of ideas. Last year I was Robert Palmer and the rest of the band went as his supermodel lady band. It kind of went over most peoples’ heads, but pretty entertaining for us. This year we’ll be doing something a little more recognizable, but you’ll have to come out to see it!

Monica LaPlante releases the vinyl edition of Noir with Catbath and Blaha. Friday, October 27th, 9 PM. $8. Triple Rock Social Club. 


Quick Q+A: Mike Fotis + Strike Theater

Even though MPLS + STPL has established scenes for comedy, storytelling, and spoken word, the different showcases frequently bounce around between a few regular venues or piggyback on other events. That’s all about to change in a big way with the launch of Strike Theater, a brand new venue in Northeast MPLS kickstarted by Allison BroerenJoe Bozic, and Mike Fotis that caters to and combines the three styles of material and performance into one cool space.

Ahead of this weekend’s grand launch and gala rewards parties at Strike, we checked in with co-founder and Director Of Fill In The Blank Awesomeness Fotis about their incredible fundraising, the weekend’s shows, their rogues gallery of initial performers, and more. 

Secrets of the City: Is the Strike Theater kickstarter—which was actually met, and even surpassed!—the most successful kickstarter of all time? What are your fundraising secrets. (Please tell us!)

Mike Fotis: It definitely the most successful kickstarter of all time…that I’ve been a part of.

Seriously though, it was successful because we’re trying to create a space for original comedic work, storytelling and spoken word. That type of space doesn’t exist and it seemed like people were excited to help make that vision come true.

How many “Mike’s sexy eating” kickstarter rewards do you need to fulfill?

About 10. I’ve recorded them a few times. One time I lost the hard drive they were on and the other time the files simply crashed. I got to get back on it. But there’s a chance my eating has gotten TOO sexy for technology to handle.

The new theater is located in the Thorp Building, also home to Tattersall Distilling. Aren’t you very, very worried that the proximity will either inhibit productivity or make you all very very creative?

So far, in my experience, it has made me VERY VERY CREATIVE.

How do you see the intersection of sketch comedians, storytellers, and poets here in MPLS + STPL, especially performance space-wise?

I think it will be really interesting and rewarding because not only is a physical space necessary to create new and fun work, but it will allow for relationships and collaborations to form that otherwise might not have. Basically when creative people are allowed to be around other creative people, really good things tend to happen.

We’re excited to finally have a theater space that can do whatever the hell it wants because it’s politically untouchable—what other favors will Strike Theater leverage out of Javier Morillo besides his opening weekend set?

Hahaha. I don’t know about that, but I do know that Javier is an amazing storyteller and partnering with the SEIU is exciting because the members of the union will have a place to tell their stories and create their work and we think that’s really important. Also, this type of partnership is unique and a sign of how arts orgs can find ways to exist and succeed in a very expensive world.

Will Strike Theater become the Sixth Humor of Four Humors’ troupe?

No, but we sure do love them and look forward to working with them a lot.

There’s a bunch of other great performers lined up for opening weekend and the vibe is going to be crazy. What are you most looking forward to? What should attendees most look forward to?

I’m most looking forward to standing in the back of the theater with Allison and Joe during the show and taking a moment to enjoy seeing something that has taken a long time to come together finally come to life. Attendees should look forward to a really fun night filled with a lineup that is weird and hilarious and amazing. It’s groups paired with groups that normally wouldn’t be paired together and I think that’s really beautiful.

Even if you didn’t back their kickstarter, tickets for the Friday and Saturday night opening night(s) festivities for brand spanking new Strike Theater are still available to you.

You can also check out our Quick Q+As with other busy bees helping to build up Twincy’s arts and culture scene here.


Quick Q+A: Blackout + John Gebretatose

Not too long ago a local DJ couldn’t stop talking off our ear about the late night show from all-black improv troupe Blackout. And since then, she isn’t the group’s only super-fan we’ve run into. Blackout’s on-the-spot comedic performances—that also involves their audience in dialog on difficult social issues—have entertained and educated many new and returning fans in MPLS + STPL. 

This Friday at their regular spot at the Phoenix Theater, Blackout celebrates a busy two years of comedy in which they’ve showcased their informative and interactive act all over town. Before the big party, we sent some quick questions to Co-founder John Gebretatose about all the places they’re performing these days, any difficulty with The North, and what to expect from their big party. 

Secrets of the City: Two year anniversary, recently a part of the totally sold out event Charlottesville Revisited, a part of New Griots Festival—what’s it like to be a big-time Improv group?

It’s amazing. We have been killing it and have not stopped since our first show. We work hard, we support each other and make each other look good. We are excited to see where we can take it to next. My personal dream is to sell out First Ave. As well touring our act. In due time.

Do you see Blackout as a part of a larger scene, whether it’s an improv scene or POC arts scene? Or is the group just exceptional?

All the above. We are talented as fuck. Every person on the team has a unique voice and plays with no fear.

Have you been at the Phoenix for the last two years? How has that venue played a role in developing your shows/materials?

Our regular show every 3rd Friday of the month at 10:30 PM has been at the Phoenix. But we’ve been all over the world representing Blackout.

The Phoenix has been wonderful and our partnership is based on honesty and respect. They respect us and allow us the freedom to just do us. That’s really the only way for us to really do what we do.

Dialogues with the audience have been a key part of your shows, have there been any particularly difficult interactions over the past two years? Or did MN Nice keep things civil and repressed?

There’s been shows that follow a tragedy in the black community and we address issues head on. As far the audience, no matter how polite they want to be, we will call out and make fun of whatever we want and need to. People usually come to our show knowing what to expect, but if they don’t what we do and they are MN Nice, well, I guess they have some things to figure out about their life that night. Like who told them they should see Blackout? What is ok to laugh at? How far is the exit door from their seat? And whatever else they are wondering. Obviously, we can’t control that so we just do us. We just be funny, have honest discussions and maybe we all leave learning something new. Maybe.

Scale of 1-10, how crazy is the the Two Year Anniversary Party on Friday going to get, especially by midnight?

10 or higher. We are celebrating Black Excellence!

Tickets still available for Blackout Presents: Two-Year Anniversary Show. Friday, 10:30 PM. $10.