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The Psychotic States Of America
Ari Roussimoff
interviewed by Paul Higson

Ari Roussimoff had been exhibiting his colourful oils for over 25 years before venturing into film in 1990 with Shadows In The City, which I interviewed him about for Sheer Filth back in 1990. Ever inspired and brimming with ideas and reactions, he was already prolific, his canvases exhibiting since the age of 11, surreal depictions of Russian folk life, human tragedies from history such as the Holocaust, and portraits by commission. His paintings can be dark exorcisms of the 20th century that nudged him into action. They are not however, without their glimmers of hope, ruddy-brown hells that behave like a modern Bosch, a warning to the apathetic, a plea to the ignorant, characters on the verge of the amorphous, jellied by the torrent of life running by, tortured by the beck of the insistent many to look at them and buy from them. Not all his art carries so drastic a message, other visions are calmer with the horrors of the industrial and capitalistic batted away for long enough to entertain something more majestic, pleasant and serene, like the rural peasant snow scenes that he is so fond of. His work at the time also ran to set design and costuming, lecturing and broadcasting.
Ari Roussimoff
Film was the irresistible next step and Shadows In The City was the all sub-star feature film, a furthering of his intentions to warn mankind of their imminent doom. It was an underground who's who of survivors of three decades of investigative film fury, among them Jack Smith, Taylor Mead, Krembra Pfahler, Nick Zedd and Bruce Byron. 'Grip Of Terror' a 1930s' style murder mystery thriller was intended next but was unrealised, Trail Of Blood forcing it out to become his second feature film, a busy speculation, in a dramatised format, of the activities of the 'Green River Killer', who had been killing for pleasure unstoppably for a decade and believed by some as practising his sadism in other American states leaving an incredible number of dead young women, many of them prostitutes, in his wake. Neither film was to see the light of day in Britain though DVD may now grant them a Region 1 release that those keen enough might import for viewing. The film appears to have undergone a few ownership hassles since, with country of origin on the finished film declared by Roussimoff as Swiss, Dutch/American (through Trampoline Films of Amsterdam) or whatever country the well-travelled Cossack feels closest to at each stage of production. Shadows In The City would particularly suit a DVD release as incorporated into the package could be Clayton Patterson's 1992 documentary The Making Of Shadows In The City.

Another documentary on skinheads was postponed in favour of a more essential study and, in 1999, Roussimoff completed a third film, a documentary this time called Freaks Uncensored! A Human Sideshow for his own Bohemia Productions that promised to be "a raw, uncompromising look at society's fascination with physically unusual human beings." With many of the more famous examples having passed on by the time of the production the 100-minute film settled for interviews with few of the people themselves but invited on camera bearded lady Jennifer Miller, half-woman Jeanie Tomaini, and tattooed wonder Jack Dracula, while David Friedman with his carny experience and use of unusual human beings in his films was among others brought in to comment.

A German-born Cossack (born in Munich in 1954), of Russian parents, residing in America on a Swiss passport. What is your official status?

My official status, yes, I happen to be a Swiss National, in other words I have a Swiss passport. My home base is in Zurich although I am working here in the United States, actually I work all over the world. I have a branch of our production company in San Diego, in New York, in West Germany and after Trail Of Blood my work will be finished in the United States, thank God, actually, then I shall return to Europe. Ethnically, I happen to be a Russian Cossack. I am Russian of course, and I am very, very loyal to the Romanoff Crown.

Why was there a need for you to return to California to complete the film?

Trail Of Blood - that is the true story of the Green River Killer, and is certainly the most controversial case of its kind, possibly the most prolific serial killer in history and not a mass murderer... there is a definite difference that people don't always understand. Adolf Hitler who is the worst murderer ever to have graced (ironic) this earth is not the same as a serial killer who kills methodically one by one by one. Then there are the others such as Whitman who climbed a tower and shot 20 people at one time or Richard Speck who killed 20 women in one outburst. So there are various different types of killers and murderers and psychopaths but you can't classify them all together. We went back to California simply put because we are constantly receiving new information, therefore you simply cannot ignore it in a case like this, so we have changed the script countless times and what we have shot now in San Diego I have to be very satisfied with. We have a second-unit team that is also shooting simultaneously in case we have left the state... and in case we do come up with some additional information and it would be impossible to return. So we're shooting all over the United States, in San Diego, in Hollywood, in Mexico, in Washington State, in Massachusetts, where we had shot already, also now we are returning.

So there is an ad-hoc aspect to the shooting.

New details are constantly coming up. This case has been a mass cover-up, and I have been very lucky, thank god, because I have had access to a number of very fine people who have spoken to us, both officials and private individuals and many of them have been very worried with their anonymity and we have promised a lot of them that. We have gotten a lot of help, information I would say, from people such as Deborah Small of the University in San Marcus who organised an exhibition called N.H.I. which means "No Humans Involved" which was the attitude of the police to the Green River Killer case. The victims were predominantly prostitutes therefore it was a low priority case.

What is the shooting schedule on Trail Of Blood?

We began shooting in October and we are still shooting in, I believe, a month from now. In March we should be all wrapped.

How did you come upon this subject?

How did I come into this case to begin with? I went to San Diego with the intention of doing a half-hour special for television. It's ironic because it was a comedic take-off on the theme of serial killers. So I had purchased this book that covered a number of different cases and I came across the Green River case. I began to film and got more and more involved then said, no, no, no! This has got to be a feature film. So I chucked what I did, I dismissed it entirely and I started to write. At first it became the most disturbing artistic experience I had ever had because... here I am an artist, a filmmaker and this is the first time I've tried to deal with this theme. To get your mind hooked up with the mind of such a sick individual is frightening. Eventually I wore a different hat. I became a detective. So when I became detective it was very aspiring and challenging. So all the people went through this with me to which one of these girls was telling me the other day that she has been having terrible nightmares. Not necessarily directly involving this case, but nightmares of the kind she never had before: Grandmothers dying... parents dying... of death basically... death, the big dark death that is out there.

Shadows In The City had a grungy underground budget feel to it. This production is scaled up on the last one. Are you aiming for a quality look with aims of a theatrical distribution?

Quality look... Art always exists in the eyes of the beholder. If you're asking me if the film will have a mainstream, slick type Hollywood look or an underground look I will say that it is a film done in a straight narrative. First of all it is feature-length between 90 minutes and two hours, in colour, 35mm. My previous film Shadows In The City is what I would clearly define as an experimental movie. The symbolism was clearly above the surface. Trail Of Blood will be somewhat different because it is a stricter narrative, a much more depiction of the tale. There will be symbolism but in this case I have taken it and transplanted it from above the surface to beneath the surface.

There has been some new interest in the cinematic presentation of the psychopathic killer. How will your film present itself differently to separate itself from the pack?

Trail Of Blood will also not only be a depiction of the Green River Killer but it is also an image of a serial killer as a mirror to the sickness that has become much of American society. So based upon that angle I would say that it would be a bit different perhaps but who am I to judge such things.

How do you think American and British audiences will respond to the film?

I don't know what to say about that one, you see, it is always the sensationalism of the crime that interests the majority of your population. People enjoy a roller coaster ride through hell as long as they can come back and come out unscathed. I really don't know if there is a difference between the American and the British attitudes as I am neither expert on either one. I don't watch that much American television. I do enjoy watching old movies, things of that nature, but I can only tell that the topic of murder has been present in film way from the beginning. I guess people do find the murderer particularly fascinating. Unfortunately a lot of that has developed into kitsch, into schlock and how much of that is psychological and how much of that is pure sensationalism I don't know. Regarding this actual case as I have said previously, the fact that the victims were prostitutes I guess there was much more interest in the so-called whodunit aspect of the case rather than focusing on the victims. The victims, the prostitutes, are certainly looked upon as less than... I can't say less than human but very few would identify with them. I think that a lot of the people here would look upon a prostitute as a statistic. That, of course, is most unfortunate because in the eyes of god we are all human beings; good, bad, and indifferent... we all have our sins. That is particular to this type of case. Now there are many murderers who do pick on prostitutes for the very reason that they are not priority so they can get away with it much easier, much simpler.

The extent of this murder spree as indicated by your findings is such that it is quite remarkable. Can it really be the work of one man and could there really be any credible excuse for covering it up?

Yes, it is a quite unimaginable case under any circumstances. It is a particularly illogical case. If you studied it as I have... and I will say that at this point I can rate myself as an authority, I don't know if I could place myself as a leading authority but I am certainly up there as far as authorities go on the Green River Killer case. His first official victims were found in Washington State. In Washington State there were over 40 victims. Then officially, or more or less officially, in San Diego were over 30 victims. Now, Massachusetts, which was more recent, and now back to Washington could bring the death toll from 66 victims to perhaps 75 or even 80. Now, yes, I have discovered many more cases, since much of the evidence and much of the information in the case was hidden, in fact my film will touch upon that very, very dangerous topic. We have also traced a number of possible victims in Oregon, in Vancouver, Canada, San Francisco and possibly some very early ones in Mexico. Now what you must understand here is that we have been given access to information that we have gone to great lengths to get that the authorities never wanted anyone to ever find out. We have had access to certain coroners and people who have worked with the police. And when the police put clampers on the case all this information was halted it was never put forward. For example, in San Diego, the first killings, before they were aware that it was the work of the serial killer, they had given reporters access to the bodies and, therefore, they noticed all the mutilations to the dead bodies. This is something that you will never read about anywhere. Now once they realised that it was the work of the same man not one reporter was given access to the morgue. Plus, vital information, for example blood samples that they believe belonged to the killer suddenly disappeared. Now this of course was the same in Massachusetts and it was more or less similar in the State of Washington where somehow everything seemed in disarray and nothing could be found. And so every vital bit of information disappeared. So you see we're dealing with a most illogical case and we have tried to find the logic within this case and we have uncovered as I believe you know much information and we certainly at this point believe we even know the identity of the murderer.

With so many bodies there are bound to be contradictions and who ever believed the police to be organised. Do you really believe that there has been set up a false trail, one that has been accounted for nationally, that some government agency is controlling the case?

Yes, I do believe there is a reason for the false information. Is it a nationwide conspiracy, in a sense it is. You must also understand the particulars, it is very difficult since you are not aware of them and it would certainly explain the whole thing and it would certainly give more of an understanding of the American mind, the American psyche. It's a situation here were I am certainly convinced that the authorities have known who the murderer is for years and years and years. I can't go into particulars at this time unfortunately... I know that this is what you would like to know... but when in Washington they had found out who the murderer was, he was more or less sent on his way. The killings in Washington happened over a number of years and I believe that when they found out it was more or less towards the end of the killing period there, that's actually why they stopped and why they moved on into another state. But yes, I do believe there is an agency that is covering them up. I must state for the record that it is my firm conviction that the average officer is not aware of the identity of the killer and I do not believe that the simple ordinary person that is working on the case or is affiliated with the case has any idea at all who it is. But there is someone there. In fact Joe Coleman is of the exact same opinion. He believes that the reason he hasn't been caught is because someone doesn't want him to be caught. I do believe that that is the case. We emphasise again that our suspicions are conjecture but strong conjecture. Only god knows, the killer knows and the victims have known for sure. So what we say may be wrong but we do believe that we are correct. I do have in my possession a dossier that I have put together involving a number of the drawings of the suspect, of the man they believe is the Green River Killer. Now these drawings never matched a single actual suspect, not at all, but they do match our own suspect accurately. The man would have worn wigs and changed appearance as best as he could but, as a painter with a keen understanding of anatomy, I have clearly seen the similarities and in this dossier I have put together a draft sheet that only certain individuals are shown. I do not send it out to the press but everyone looks at it, and their eyebrows are certainly raised.

Who would be worth protecting to this extent? The press here and there go for anyone and everyone. Anyone in the public eye is a potential target. The damage that might result is of little concern to hack reporters, no-one is beyond reach. They will go with lies if the truth is not there, so if the terrible story is true it is all the more desirable as many celebrities are currently finding.

No, no, no, you are barking up the wrong castle. We are not talking about entertainment. The person who is committing these crimes is not a celebrity in the classical sense of movie star, performer or entertainer in any way, shape or form. Let me explain that there are people in key positions and these individuals knowing that this kind of individual in this kind of a profession, associated with this kind of a situation, it would certainly knock your block off to know that this person is a serial murderer. His name would not necessarily mean a thing to anyone in the general United States or in Europe for that matter. Yes, if it was an entertainer I would believe that the press would have certainly jumped to it but in a case like this it would only emphasise how crooked and corrupt everything is, so therefore the general press is not aware of the identity of the man and those who might have been were probably stopped early on during the investigation. Personally I am not quite certain that they do know. I believe maybe that one or two of them do know but for the most part I don't believe that they do. Yes what you say is very true, this is an age where individuals are nothing, human life as absolutely no value, especially in a land like the United States where money is your basic god. Money is the ultimate. Anything is expendable in connection with money. The United States is the most typical of this I would say of any western-circle civilised nation. According to the American tradition no human life is the equivalent of the American dollar. This we have basically proven throughout history with the United States from its inception in 1776... in fact, prior to 1776 when these former British Nationals decided to take the power unto themselves and the American dollar, where on the back, clearly states the purpose Novus Globus Ordo [the phrase is actually "novus ordo seclorum" which translates as Order of the New Age] in Latin, 'New World Order', which had absolutely nothing to do with any ideas of democracy but a totally different issue. But just to push it a little further into the 20th century it was the United States that financed Lenin and his Bolshevik revolution which destroyed my own homeland Russia and destroyed really much of the world and this was done primarily through American financing, the banks of Rockefeller, of Pierpoint Morgan. Eventually the same went for Hitler when American investors invested in Hitler's Nazi machine. And I.G. Farben (the creators of Tabun, of which Sarin is a derivative, scientists who conducted concentration camp experiments were courted postwar by the American government, recommended reading The Paperclip Conspiracy by Tom Bower [Paladin, 1987] ... the company that manufactured Cyclone B gas... was American financed also throughout the war years. In fact, that was done secretly via Switzerland. So when you mention that life is all worth nothing here, I have certainly learned that in the United States that is certainly so. Money is the bottom line.

So the British audience would not necessarily identify with the name of the killer?

No, the British audience would not know the name of the psycho nor would the average American.

This is beginning to sound like a case of diplomatic immunity, a vile international tradition and policy?

I have particular ideals about government. Personally, I am a monarchist. I believe in constitutional monarchy. However, that may not be realistic for this time and age and in a country with a so-called democracy it is very easy to have a lot of cover-ups because it is so bureaucratic that it goes way beyond the reach of the average citizen. And as far as diplomatic immunity it is total rubbish.

How are you going to prevent Trail Of Blood falling into the conspiracy theorist bracket and so be dismissed for all your work?

It's all a very complex issue. We are getting into government and conspiracy and there is a conspiracy around every corner. Now there are those on the other hand who love to throw this out as a crackpot conspiracy theory but a lot of that, if you look beneath the surface, there is something valid to it. The person who we believe is the Green River Killer is a person who is an official of some kind. There have been certain rumours for years about the person being connected to some degree and it is a type of profession that he holds that... I will tell you this much and as I say I can't tell you everything... is connected to the case and that is what would certainly stun most of the public.

It's not Phil Donahue, is it?

You don't need to have a Phil Donahue. Then it would take on a surface-like quality. Though it would be sort of funny about Donohue being a homicidal maniac. Perhaps he is. I mean, God only knows.

Does David Huberman bear any physical resemblance to the real killer?

Other than possessing two eyes, a nose, ears, arms, et cetera, that's about it. I'm not looking to create a biography of Napoleon.

Have there been attempts to interfere with the production of the film?

Yes, there have been attempts to halt this production in a number of different ways. We have had people who generously gave up their time, of their information, they spoke with me, they allowed me to interview them and then it came to a halt. Suddenly it stopped. I was speaking with a woman who worked with the assistant coroner in Washington. Suddenly she refused to speak to me after she had already given me some very pertinent information. Someone stopped her. This happened again in San Diego with certain individuals. They spoke to me, they were going to mail me duplicates of certain documents that they had in their files. Luckily I had seen some of them and I had spoken to them but when it came time to go one step further it came to a dead halt. Massachusetts, where we came to our next problem, I was told by the film commission, they gave us a welcome and they'd love to have us film there up until I sent them a synopsis which gave them the information I had about the case. Then they were nothing but hostile. In any case we went there and we filmed. We spoke to people on the street that were very hush about the case which I can understand because it leaves a very sour taste in the mouths of the populace. Certain people even told me "I wouldn't be asking questions if I were you." A certain celebrity there, a celebrity photographer at a small town, told me it is not a wise thing to ask questions about the case because everyone would rather forget it. Now there's much more information about the case as it applied to Massachusetts that will certainly interest the public but for this you will have to wait for the film. On one of the nights after we returned from filming I received a telephone call in my hotel. An anonymous party, as usually is the case like this. A male, possibly, it's hard to detect an age, it was not a juvenile... it was not a kid. He said, "Drop it! Forget about it! Go!" That was basically it and hung up the telephone. He repeated it two or three times: drop it, forget about it; go. And that's what happened in Massachusetts. Plus there was another little run-in with someone else who was connected with the case who did not really want me to do a film about it. For certain legal reasons I can't get into the particulars here but he threatened a libel suit or a possibility of a libel suit to be quite fair, I don't want to state anything that's not correct and this is an individual in Washington who I thought would be rather helpful so I made the mistake of contacting him. The minute he heard that I was doing a film he got a bit nasty with me.

But that is reasonable, isn't it, particularly as you have only... 'conjecture'. Who wouldn't want to avoid a lawsuit? You are going to have to name some names. Will you be naming the government agencies involved in this cover up?

Yes, I will be naming government agencies, absolutely. And all of the stuff that I am hinting at here you are going to find out for sure (about) within the production itself. I, unfortunately, have been forced legally to change many of the names, however, most all the individuals that you will see within this dramatisation are actual people. However their names have been changed including the murderer himself. I can't do that because your arse could be sued and then you're finished. I certainly want to continue on in this film therefore I'm not going to take that much of a chance, however, after the production has been finished there are things that I will make additionally as an addenda review to (for) the general public.

Why the Green River Killer?

The first bodies that they discovered were deposited into the Green River in Washington State.

I am glad to see William Kotzinkle on board, being a fan of Horse Badorties. Is Kotzwinkle portraying himself in the film?

William Kotzwinkle is portraying himself and he and Joe Coleman are basically speaking about their own personal indoctrination into the world of serial murderers. This will be intertwined throughout the production, throughout various segments because the film is broken up into three areas, first the Northwest, which is Washington, then there is the West Coast, which is California and Mexico and finally, New England, which is Massachusetts. Throughout this you will see these two men go back and forth with their own ideas. Joe Coleman talks directly about the serial killer and what the mind of the serial killer is all about: what kind of a soul does such a thing, who could commit this type of a crime, what typifies these people. So it's a little bit of an anthology idea although the film is not an anthology, it is one solid story. William Kotzwinkle, very fascinating, he relates a very disturbing experience that he had. He was putting together a novel about a serial murderer. He researched it intently and he wrote and he wrote and he wrote and he had to stop. Because the mind of the murderer was creeping into his own mind, into his own psyche and what upset him particularly was that the murderer was taking over.

Shadows In The City had a remarkable cast with many recognisable figures, celebrities from the underground film and literary scene, New York well represented. There are figures in this film like William Kotzwinkle and Joe Coleman but the greater part of the cast appear to be unknown.

Shadows In The City was sort of a homage to the avant-garde so I had padded the film, stuffed the film, with all the people that I had known and had admired throughout my own indoctrination into the world of cinema and experimental cinema. Trail Of Blood is a totally different type of film as I had stated earlier. If I were to cast Vincent Price in the role the audience would look at this bravura performance but they would be looking at a bravura tour-de-force performance by Vincent Price. I personally felt that with this film I would rather have people look at it and see human beings. This way the comparative anonymity of the performers will enhance the emotional digestion of the film. Now, who are the people? Joe Coleman and William Kotzwinkle you are familiar with. Copernicus, whose real name is Joseph Szmalkovsky, is actually a pretty well-known, world renowned performance artiste, rock singer, poet and philosopher. His main residence is here in the United States, however he has a tremendous following in Europe. He has performed in Prague, in Dresden, in Berlin, in Hanover. He has sold out auditoriums with over 10,000 people. I am surprised that you are not familiar with him.

I'm embarrassed.

In any case he portrays the corrupt senator from Massachusetts in our film and it is quite a different thing for him, as he does not normally work as an actor. He believes in remaining loyal to his own reality and not getting involved in someone else's reality. I explained it to him and he was very amenable and agreeable, doing an excellent job and all those followers and fans of his will be very surprised to see what Copernicus has done here. David Huberman is a young actor, performance artiste and poet. He is one of the wildest and most intense performers you will find in New York. Mr Huberman has headlined in plays performed at the theatre La Mama that is very well known here in New York. He has appeared and performed at Piers 122. He has not worked in film much. This is his debut in the world of motion pictures. He is known as the ranting, raving poet. Of course, in Trail Of Blood he works as an actor and his character is very multifaceted so it will be a very different change of pace for David Huberman. Madonna Chavez is a San Diego actress who has, it is very funny, because she is one-quarter Spanish, one-quarter Mexican, one-quarter English and one-quarter Irish and she has a Latin temperament, as of Lupe Velez or Dolores Del Rio, those grand old stars of yesteryear. She has a sensuality and a sexuality that lends itself really beautifully to the screen in a tradition of the old time cinematic stars that I believe is totally absent from the screen today. Madonna Chavez had done a cameo in Shadows In The City and I told her that I was sorry that I had met at the point where we were almost wrapped with the film. However, I knew that I would use her in the next film I did. Here she co-stars in the role of Monica, a decoy policewoman who is sent out to trap the murderer. She dresses as a prostitute and roams the El Cajon Boulevard where the murderer picked up his victims in California, in San Diego. Of course, she does not catch her man. It's a fun role and she does really good work with it and I think you will be seeing a lot of her. She has also been a model and has appeared in various layouts and music videos. Paul Swanger [as credited on a film poster], in fact in German the word Schwanger means pregnant, is a six-foot, eight-inch tall professional wrestler who has also worked as a stunt man in various films, for example The Money Pit. He has been a disc jockey in the Philadelphia area. He portrays one of the sheriffs, Sheriff Randy Jones of Washington State and he is also a pretty talented actor. There are many other new faces but there are also some people that have reputations here within the States. Perhaps not in the UK but Matthew Courtney is a pretty well known performance artiste who has been responsible for many of the programmes at a club here called ABC No Rouleaux. Then we have Dave Channon who is a television and video producer, who has produced and directed the political campaign commercials for people like Gerry Brown and he's a really fun guy. He's a good actor. He plays a pretty despicable news reporter.

Are you looking for a nationwide release for this film? Is it of a budget that demands such and is there any film work out there to compare its potential success by?

I certainly hope to play it in other places than the little Russian villages of my grandparents' birth. Of course, I want a nationwide... a worldwide release. The budget is less than one million dollars and as far as what I would compare it to, I can't compare my work to anything. It's very difficult to answer that. There are many different types of films that I admire and I guess all of them in a certain way have inspired me and have entered my own personal vision in one way or another but I cannot compare it to anything else, per se.

Have you not considered that the same agency behind suppressing and the press concerned might also interfere with the certification board and release?

Who knows? God! Anything is possible. I fear no one, I only fear God! I have no interest to obsess over what people are going to do. I am a warrior by nature. I am a Cossack. I'll handle all of it. I don't worry about it. I find censorship totally ridiculous. Artistic censorship is a big problem. However, I am not an extremist. I do believe that if a film or a product had ulterior motives such as if there was a criminal intent I would certainly censor it. I would say, 'Fuck it! There is no purpose in having it'. But as far as artistic extremities, hey, no one is to endure a film. Don't go see it, or walk out if you don't like it, and the same with the tube, you don't have to sit here and watch it. We cannot subject ourselves to the dictatorship of people that are less intelligent than ourselves or to people who are equally intelligent but have other beliefs. So I don't want to be forced to succumb to that kind of a mentality, I don't want to do it myself. I don't want to be subservient to the mentality of a child or psychopath. I mean assuming that a psychopath is turned on by pornography, which I personally have no interest in. But why should I be subservient to his mentality or a child's therefore I see no purpose in that kind of thing. I'm not to be rewarded or given a smack on the hand for what I can do or cannot do so I despise it. However, again, let me state emphatically something like child pornography is totally criminal. Anyone who produces that should be shot dead and hanged, drawn and quartered, or whatever you have. Or a Nazi propaganda film, I have no tolerance for. With me those are criminal products and they should be obliterated from the Earth, as should their makers.

How visceral will the film be? Is it going to be graphic in its depiction of the killings?

I depict what needs to be depicted and don't think of it that way. However, I am doing a film, I am not doing a splatter-fest, a gore-fest, that is not the intention of Trail Of Blood, as I have mentioned to you before, I intend to give a picture of a society. It is not just a serial murder but it is also a society so yes, there may be something that is somewhat graphic but no, that's not what I'm looking for. You've got so many films that have got one eye gouging and head chopping after another one and what happens is it becomes sheer boredom. In some cases it works beautifully and the special effects are magnificent but gearing a film around special effects is not my cup of tea so it is not the avenue that I am taking. I believe that in a film if you do play it straight for most of the time then when you do come in, that's what Hitchcock used to do, when you do come in with that one brief moment that is rather graphic then you've really socked it to them. Otherwise what you are going to have is a purely boring blood-fest.

Emile de Antonio was in your first film Trail Of Blood and was a remarkable documentary filmmaker. He initiated the original conspiracy film account with Rush To Judgement and, although I am no conspiracy theorist myself, that one film does convey a sense that the Kennedy assassination was not a straightforward affair, successful in raising its doubts because he was prompt in interviewing witnesses immediately after the event. Was de Antonio a significant influence on Trail Of Blood?

Emile de Antonio was not really an influence on Trail Of Blood. I will tell you though that he was a very charming gentleman and I admired him very much for sticking to what he believed in and pursuing his own personal viewpoint in his film. Of course it must be noted that he had the financial security to do that. De Antonio was a, as they say, Limousine bourgeois communist, born a millionaire he never lacked for money to produce his own features and politically he and I are on opposite ends of the stratum. There is a book being published in Germany which will cover my work in Shadows In The City, my paintings and perhaps something about this film, Trail Of Blood and I contributed one chapter to it where I do reminisce about all the occurrences throughout the period of Shadows In The City and I do have an interesting chapter about Emile de Antonio.

In the current climate, with censorship in the UK so thorough in the pornographic is there any possibility of Shadows In The City being submitted in a version that it may be possible to see released in the UK? Having said that In The Realm Of The Senses has been granted a re-release with all of the explicit sex retained and only one scene quite rightly blocked for its content.

Sorry to disillusion you but Shadows In The City did not have hardcore sex in it! There were a few little touches of what to some would consider X-rated or NC-17. For example, we do show Annie Sprinkle's clit ring. There are other scenes that are more disturbing so I believe that the clit ring was the main reason, in particular, that we could not send it to Japan. You mention In The Realm Of The Senses, a film I have heard about but never seen it. Japan has a very curious law. They are permitted to export porn but not to import it. Very often their films are not officially sanctioned. I am not familiar with the case of this particular movie, In The Realm Of The Senses, I do know that to import films into Japan they cannot show pubic hair, but hell, Annie Sprinkle had her pubic hair shaven off so I don't know what the problem was.

Has the Green River Killer been permitted to get away with his crimes because of the revolting practice of diplomatic immunity, just to get back to that subject? What you like to see happen with diplomatic immunity?

I think they should dismiss it, and destroy it and get rid of it! And it doesn't exist and it shouldn't exist! It is again symptomatic of the corruption the democratic governments are guilty of. If a person commits a crime he should be strung up and taken care of appropriately. There is no such thing as diplomatic immunity in the eyes of a higher court. However, human beings are human beings and they have very little going for them spiritually, or emotionally or sexually or sensually. You see, my firm belief is a person has to be a complete human being and a complete human being means to be completed intelligently, spiritually, sexually... you cannot have a life without any of these components. You are not an artist without any of these components. To live a life without spirituality, without sexuality, you are nothing and that unfortunately [sic?] is my belief. If you look at the greatest paintings throughout history they consist of all these ingredients. We can look at a Rembrandt painting, including one that is not necessarily a biblical theme, and it happens to be extremely spiritual and religious and not necessarily in a little manner. And it is also very sexual and living your life, not that you must go and attend a church service, but to have that understanding of the holiness and the sanctity of life within you, that this is just not it, that there is more to us than our exteriors, that our interior explains what we are, our emotional constitution. It explains our taste that you cannot scientifically ever explain away. Why should one wear a hairstyle like this and another a beard, another mutton chops, another a chin slugger, another... you can't explain it, not rationally, not intellectually, but it comes from deep in ourselves so to be in contact with that elevates us to a higher standing of being and sexually to appreciate ourselves as sexual human beings, to be able to share with a woman, to love with a woman, to make love with a woman, to enjoy every part of her body. To understand that within ourselves this makes us whole. It makes us a stronger human being, better to face the world and better to deal with other human beings and this way we can create. I have painted portraits with people bearing four eyes, two sets of eyes, now why two sets of eyes? People have always asked me is that something psychological? I say, no, it's not psychological it's something spiritual. One set of eyes are the eyes of the brain, the mind, the second are the eyes of the soul and together spirituality and more creatively. This again, towards the Nietzscheian view of the world which is in a way the way I would like to think of myself as a Nietzscheian universal European, Cosmopolitan... to a degree... although I have very much been influenced by Russian tradition and culture... again art, film is only good art and bad art. It takes on a universal meaning.

What is to be learned from Trail Of Blood?

That you could be a victim at any time, how dangerous and susceptible one can be? I feel it teaches you how a society can become victimised en masse. That everyone is part of the whole thing, everyone that helps cover it up, everyone who is afraid to talk, everyone who reports falsely, everyone who leaks false information, everyone who withdraws information, everyone who comes out... it's all part of a chicken pot-pourri or a borsht of some kind. It's easy to understand a side of human nature, even the understanding of the apathetic of human nature, where apathy is most definitely connected to evil. You understand also the Hitlerian emotions that are rampant in society. This I find to some degree the lesson of the Green River Killer case for myself. I find that this cannot be the portrait of one man, one murderer. It is a film that will show you that much better than I can.

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Shadows in the City poster

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William Kotzwinkle in Trail of Blood

Joe Coleman in Trail of Blood

Ari Roussimoff and Madonna Chavez

Annie Sprinkle and Ari Roussimoff, Shadows in the City

Ari Roussimoff self portrait

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