Monday, October 06, 2008

I Don't Need Permission, Make My Own Decisions

Zadar Cow from Hell crew. If you watched MTV back in 1988, you might recognize Randy of the Redwoods way to the right of this pic.

I like movies that tell you what happens to the characters at the end. You know, like so-and-so caught a flesh-eating bacteria and died in extreme pain ten years later or, that one guy married a scary hag and sang "Paradise by the Dashboard Lights" to himself every night just to get to sleep for the rest of his life. Well, at the end of one of the movies I watched, they said one of the guys got out of prison around 20 years later. I wondered if he would go try to see his wife, then I thought, she'd be pretty old. Then I figured, she'd probably be younger than I am and I don't feel like I'm "pretty old". (whatever that means) So, then I started thinking about what I was doing 20 years ago and if someone came up to me then and showed me a movie of what I'd be like at 43, would I be happy or sad at the outcome?

I think that I'd be okay with most of it. At 23, I'd be surprised that I actually had kids now, (as would many of my friends) and I think I'd be disappointed that I was still single in my advanced age. I'm sure I'd be totally shocked that I actually had health, dental and life insurance, almost like a real grown-up. Now, when I look back as a 43 year old, how do I judge my 23 year old self?

Here is a photo of me and an actress who was in Zadar Cow from Hell with my ex-husband. If you recognize her, that means you probably saw Howard the Duck. She was in that. It's okay, I won't tell anyone. We were in the bathroom at the old College Street Club. It's now The Union bar. Oh, and check out my scrawny little arms.

In 1988, I broke-up with my first real boyfriend and started dating my future ex-husband. I lived in a house full of MFA actors. That Summer, they were shooting two films in the area. One was called Field of Dreams. One of my roommates was Kevin Costner's stand-in and another did a lot of work on the set for the film. I still like to watch the movie and see what items I can find that ended up in our house after the shoot. I know it's super annoying, because I'm basically playing I Spy. "Hey, there's our old VCR and that scale in the Dr's office? That's the one my old roommate used to weigh all his weed on."

The other movie was called Zadar Cow from Hell. Never heard of it? Yeah, well no one else really has either. It was supposed to be a vehicle for a comedy troop called Duck's Breath Mystery Theater - which spawned such characters as Dr. Science and Randy of the Redwoods. My future ex-husband actually had a speaking role in it. It totally bombed and my future ex-husband blew me off a lot during the filming and all the partying surrounding it. Of course, I put up with all of that and moved to L.A. with him at the end of the Summer when he was going to try to get discovered...Again.

L.A. was horrible. We couch surfed the whole time we were there and I worked at the junior's department of a department store called The Broadway at The Glendale Galleria. I sold clothes to Punky Brewster and to the cast of a brilliant film (cough, cough) by the name of Pink Cadillac with Clint Eastwood and Bernadette Peters. They also pumped in Debbie Gibson and Bobby Brown on about a thirty minute loop of the popular songs of that Fall. Can you imagine a more ridiculous, and uncomfortable environment for me to subject myself to? No? Me either.

Of course, all my future ex-husband's acting leads fell through and we ended up hitching a ride back to Iowa with my sister who was moving back from Arizona about that same time.

So, as a 43 year old, I would tell the 23 year old me to run and not look back. I guess I had to make those mistakes to learn everything the hard way - apparently, the only way I learned back then. On the other hand, if I had run away from my future ex-husband, I wouldn't have my two Stinky girls right now, and as far as I'm concerned, they're worth any ridiculous situation and however many years of bullshit I subjected myself to. Have I dated an actor since then? Um, hell no.


Mr Atrocity said...

That's a great story.

As I read it I started thinking about Clint Eastwood and Punky Brewster going shopping in a mall together and then I almost snorted tea out of my nose.

NoRegrets said...

If you live in LA you either date an actor or musician... I dated the musician, which I guess is kinda more fun since you can at least participate (be a band babe, which I was).

Tara said...

I did, regretfully, see "Howard the Duck", but the lady in the photo looks like someone I worked with at an insurance company about ten years ago.

My mom admits that she wishes she hadn't married so young, and sometimes regrets marrying our dad. When either one or all of us kids are driving her crazy, she still ponders how nice it would be not to have kids. ;)

Susan said...

If I were to go back 20 years I don't know what I would say to the 7 year old me. I'd try to warn her what all was just around the corner but I don't think I'd have the heart to do it. I don't know if she'd be able to prevent the string of events that'd lead to the abuse or the heartache. I think I'd just succeed in killing that childhood joy that she always was in a state of and I wouldn't do that for any money in the world.

DJSassafrass said...

Shopping malls, clothing departments, bad music. I think no matter where you are at some point in life you have that job. Mine was Montgomery Ward mens' wear--before they went bankrupt....lots and lots of Air Supply coming out of those speakers!

matt said...

Churl do you remember working with a girl named Jackie Backshi? I thought she was in the pic on this post.

Still a great story!

Churlita said...

Mr Atrocity,

I would have loved it if they were shopping together. Punky shopped with her mom and screeched at her the whole time. And some buyer shopped for the Clint Eastwood movie.


I've dated plenty of band guys, and they were all less messed-up than my ex-husband. They could have been abusive or lazy, but my ex was both.


I'm sure I would have given my girls a better father if I had waited until I was older, but then I wouldn't have had my girls exactly how they are and there's the conundrum.


That's the thing. Things happen how they do. All you can do is learn from everything at this point. There's no going back, and that's probably okay.


At least we didn't have Air Supply. I could do without, "We like the cars. The cars that go boom..." Over and over again though.


I didn't know her. I didn't really work on the film. Was she blonde? I vaguely remember some of the cast and crew from the wrap party at the College Street Club.

Brando said...

Really good post.

I have an old Duck's Breath cassette tape somewhere -- a compilation they put out years ago. There's some really funny stuff on there. And I took Dan Coffey's humor writing class at the Summer Writing Festival a few years ago. He was really, really funny.

laura b. said...

Great post...I am always fascinated by the idea of revisiting the past and second guessing those decisions.

I know everything happens how and when it does for a reason, but the reason is sometimes ridiculously unclear.

Mrs. Hairy Woman said...

That is trully awesome trip down memory lane.. I bet there is still that part of you that acts like a groupie?

No actors? so how about musicians?

Minyo said...

My older brother took me to see Duck's Breath Mystery Theatre when I was in high school. They were so funny! Dan Coffey is now teaching at the small college here and I see him occasionally. I always want to go up and ask him a science question, but so far, I've held back :)

Churlita said...


Thanks. They were all really funny. I used to hang out while they played basketball behind the dorms at night after they got done shooting.


I know. The reason that happened for me, was because I had no self-esteemed and didn't understand that I didn't deserve to be treated a certain way. I got it now, though. Again, I guess all I can do is learn from my many stupid mistakes. Ugh.


Ha ha. I was never really groupie. A bunch of actors worked with me and we all got a house together. I was dating my ex-husband and he was the only actor I've ever dated.


I wondered where he went. I haven't seen him around for a few years. The last time I saw him, I accidentally called him by his son's name. Oops.

dmarks said...

Randee of the Redwoods came out of "Duck's Breath"????

Churlita said...

Well, Jim Turner did and he was Randy of the Redwoods. I'm not sure if that character came from Duck's Breath, or if he came up with it outside of the troupe's sketches.

PPLIC said...

Nice article. very interesting, thanks for sharing.