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   Now in our eleventh calendar year
    PCR #527  (Vol. 11, No. 18)  This edition is for the week of April 26--May 2, 2010.

"A Nightmare on Elm Street"  by Mike Smith
My Friend Erma: The Erma Broombeck Interview  by ED Tucker
Album of the Month: Hole- Nobody's Daughter  by Terence Nuzum
FANGRRL Goes To The 2010 Sunscreen Film Festival  by Lisa Scherer
Inframan (1975)  by Jason Fetters
Interview With The Projectionist, Part 2  by John Miller
Action! .... Speaking Of .... Movie Notes .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf by Mike Smith
Lampin at the 6th Borough by John Miller

Interview With The Projectionist, Part 2

What follows is the second part of a two-part interview with renegade theater manager/projectionist/collector/archivist John Petrey. If you missed Part One, PCR issue #525, please catch up on it now.

John Miller: When I was in high school I used to occupy my time by hooking two VCR's together and bootlegging anime tapes for my friends. I'm curious what inspired you to become a bootlegger and the type of equipment you were using in the early days?

John Petrey: My inspiration came from different levels. First and foremost my earliest equipment used for bootlegging were two 4-Head JVC linear stereo VHS VCRs. I worked for Honeywell in those days and word got around that a guy in another department was selling some pornographic bootlegs and that his quality was terrible. I then rushed out and bought the two very expensive machines ($600 a piece back then) and immediately got me a membership at Todd Theatre's Video Rental. Copyguard didn't exist so that wasn't an issue and the picture was crystal clear! Needless to say I stole all of his business by renting the tapes for $4 and selling the copies for $25. It was easy to pocket $200 some nights, that on top of your paycheck. The other main reason was that I simply was an avid film lover and movies on videotape back then were anywhere from $29 to $79 on VHS. So copying was my only solution since I wanted a library and was getting married with a child in the picture and another on the way. Let's just call it prioritizing, ha!

Here's a funny one. The kids wanted to watch WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY so I put it in and we laid down to watch it. The kids and I dozed off while the film ran. WELL, I had recorded WW over an old porno tape SO imagine the shock I had after I had woke up with an angry wife shaking me pointing at the bumping and grinding on the TV! Thank goodness the kids were still asleep, ha ha!

JM: I always found it offensive to pay close to $9 a ticket for a movie then be forced to sit through a lecture about the harmful impact piracy has had on the film industry. Come to find out the statistics being used to make us feel guilty were completely bogus. What are your thoughts on this and as someone who has earned most of their living in the theater business how do you feel piracy has impacted the industry?

JP: Tackling what you said first about hearing the lecture after paying $9 for a ticket to me is a GREAT way to keep your customers at home. Why are they preaching to a PAYING audience to begin with? The Movie studios are just like every other profitable business. They cry poor mouth and then contradict themselves with James Cameron raking in over 2 billion dollars worldwide with AVATAR. My question is how much money do they need? I will say this however in their defense. Uploading screeners and CAM versions of films that have not even hit the theatre yet is flat out wrong, IF it's mainstream. Where uploading a Theatrical film IS justified (IMO) is when an import is uploaded that didn't get a large distributor and it would be impossible to see it here in the states any other way.These guys that download a film that's new (like Avatar) and sell them for $5 on a street corner are just asking to get busted. The irony here is how Piracy has sometimes HELPED the theatre industry is when someone buys a $5 crappy quality DVD or download the same version but it's enough to convince them that "HEY, THAT WAS A GREAT FILM. I WANT TO BUY THE DVD OR BLU-RAY WHEN IT COMES OUT!" Yeah, the studios say they lost that person's Box Office sale BUT they gained the disc sale! People DO NOT realize the revenue gained by the studios after a film has 'flopped' at the theatre. A movie may have done $22 million on opening weekend but then go on to do $50 million in rentals and sometimes over $100 million in sales!! But there are people in this world who are disabled, extremely poor or live 75 miles from a theatre that it would seem to me justified or not so important for an ocassional download.

It seems now days every street entrepreneur in America is hustling quality bootlegs of new releases. I was at a flea market and a kid had a booth set up handing out fliers, which I felt was a little bold. With the market so heavily flooded with product, why should I ever consider paying outrageous prices to go watch a crappy movie in a sterile theater ever again? This depends on the individual. I've seen people that are so fearful of the law and would never consider purchasing a bootleg disc where others wouldn't mind or not have any problems. But the reason you SHOULD consider seeing a film at the theatre depends on what kind of presentation you're looking for. When you say a 'crappy' movie for the ticket prices they want nowadays I would say no, you shoudn't have to or even want to. But if it's something you seem really interested in then MAYBE you could splurge on the ticket price and see it for the big screen, surround and all that. The theatre industry, mainly the studios are out of control. The ticket prices are what drives people to piracy in a lot of cases. I saw a movie last year in 3D and it was $12 a ticket. I didn't even receive a coupon for a reach around redeemable at the concession stand after getting f*cked at the Box Office. I wonder how the 'pirates' will survive in a digital world. Especially trying to CAM a 3D theatre screen. What are they going to do, pay $24 for the camera and themselves and set the glasses over the lense so the picture would come out, heh. I think from now on I will refer to the 'pirates' as 'Robin Hoods' since they rob the rich and give to the poor, ha ha!.

JM: I'd like to switch the conversation to collecting since I know you have an awesome collection. How many films do you think you own?

JP: I am right at 4,000 DVDs and 1,500 VHS. The disc numbers grow slower than they used to while the tape numbers have come to a halt, unless it's something extremely rare. It's a variety of films, TV Shows and Theatrical Trailers. Shamefully, I probably haven't watched 10% of my collection.

JM: If your anything like me I know you probably check every DVD rack, every box of old dusty yard sale VHS tapes etc. for potential discoveries. Where or were your some of your favorite spots to conduct your searches? Mine are Bananas (because they used to have amazing racks full of rare VHS!) and the Wagon Wheel Flea Market just because I know I'll always leave with something good.

JP: Having amassed so many I have actually slowed down to a crawl when it comes to getting out of the house to collect more titles. Bananas was my home away from home for a while! They eventually ran out of affordable, rare VHS tapes and I bought whatever LaserDiscs I wanted from them. I have not been to the Wagon Wheel in Years. The video store in Louisville Ky. called Wild and Woolly contributed quite nicely. If I do venture out for the rare hunt, I'll check Flea Markets, Pawns and last year I was buying the sellout at Video Exchange. 'The' tape to look for is "THE LITTLE MERMAID" and not just any copy. It has to be the first edition that says CLASSIC on it AND has.. ahem...a Penis head on top of one of the Gold castle towers in the artwork! Rumor was a disgruntled Disney employee drew it after a rift with the studio. I sold those first editions for $100 a piece. Imagaine, a VHS worth a hundred cash! Those were the days.

JM: What was the craziest discovery you have ever made, the one find that made you step back and say wow I can't believe I just found that?

JP: For years I looked for GALAXY EXPRESS, the American Version distributed by Corman that was a very short cut AND dubbed version of an Anime feature film titled GALAXY 999 which is twice as long. I started in the 80's since I used to rent it for the kids. It became a favorite of mine too. I wanted to purchase a copy and the years and search went on and on until I just stopped looking for it. Well, I was at a video store on Columbus here in Tampa that was selling out and I was looking at the tops of boxes and the Gold Embassy logo stood out. I plucked it out of the bin and gladly paid the man the $5 he was asking. Beautiful quality tape as well. How many times does that happen to us all? We kill ourselves looking for something and then it just drops in to our hands. BTW, if anyone ever finds or has a copy of "DEBBIE DOES DISHES", please let me know *wink*.

JM: Man, what happened to your website Cultrararevideos.com? It was the mom and pop video shop of the internet!

JP: The website became so popular that I became so burned out cranking out DVD orders and taking requests that I was getting near the end of my rope. THEN Warner Bros. leaned on me by saying I had infringed on 13 titles of theirs and sent me their form letter with the $250,000 fines and 5 years imprisonment. What a joke. What happened was I had checked out the titles on the gov. copyright website to check ownership. Warner snuck in and purchased the rights to 13 of my titles and then threatened me when they could have just requested that I remove the infringing titles. I just said the hell with it, emailed them that the site was being taken down and took a month off for vacation.

JM: Better yet, what inspired you to create Cultrararevideos.com?

JP: Cultrarare was created out of frustration from trying to find rare motion pictures. A bulk of these rare films are from the non politically correct era. Studios it seems from the early 90's on stopped putting out certain titles out from their catalogue that they deemed damaging to their reputation. For instance, many films you found releeased by the studios in the 80's on videotape never made it to DVD because minority groups or homosexuals were called a derogatory term. Why do you think I purchase a lot of titles on Warner Bros. Archive DVD? Most of these older films have so much non p.c. material that our thin skinned society would have a shit fit over if these titles were released in bulk on to DVDs today. At least they are releasing these titles to a select audience now. Probably found out the gold mine that was wasting away in their 'vaults'. Then there are the films that get lost because of music rights issues, etc. So I wanted to start a website that contained some of the rarest, hard to find movies that the studios were keeping from general population so to speak.

JM: You have been known to do some charity work to brighten the lives of sick children locally. Can you tell us about that?

JP: It was the fall of 2006 and Christmas was approaching. Well, anyone who has broken up after a marriage or been together with someone for 14 yrs and it ends, let's say it can take a while to get over especially if you've sworn to stay single since. I was depressed and wanted something to dig me out of my rut. Then I dug deep and thought 'who deserves to be really happy this season'? It hit me like a lightning bolt! The sick children at the All Childrens hospital in St. Petersburg! I then thought that since DVD creation was my strong point I would choose a theme park like Disney World, make the menus where these kids could experience rides they may never get to see. There are terminally ill kids of all ages that will see a fraction of your's or my lifetime and I wanted to let them experience what we see and hear. It's all about prioritizing. We as adults get mad when a trip to Disney or some other place gets moved around. A lot of these kids never get to see Disney. But it's not just Disney. I've since every Christmas picked a different theme park, Busch Gardens, Sea World, etc. So every Christmas I crank up the burners to produce 50 to 100 discs for the little angels.

JM: Can we expect a return to the Britton Cinema? Maybe after the current ownership folds we can sneak back in there and have a marathon of nothing but bigfoot exploitation films?

JP: Ha! I hope not. Just kidding. It would give me nothing but pleasure to sneak back in and run some late night Yeti material on the big screen. I think the ownership of Britton Plaza is missing out big time! There is empty office space upstairs above the BBQ place and a Bordello or mini-Mons with Joe involved attached to the theatre would make a lot of people happy, heh!

JM: What's next for John Petrey?

JP: After 8 car accidents it was time to file for disability so I am in the midst of 'temporary' retirement. It's a frustrating process but it's necessary when your spine is wrenched. I'll continue to collect discs at a slower pace and just enjoy the huge, private video store I've created. Who knew it would work out to my advantage since I'm home most of the time already at 46 yrs. of age!

"Lampin' @ The 6th Borough" is ©2010 by John Miller.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.