Saturday, November 10, 2007

Escape from New York

I think it was in the spring of '79 that Danny talked me into to going to a cattle call at Talent Plus to audition as extras for the movie Escape from New York. We showed up at the last minute but they let us in. We were both scruffy long haired boys. I also had a full beard at the time. They chose me immediately.

I was in the Grand Central Station fight scene with Ox Baker. They placed me ringside, on a balcony on the second floor, and up in the rafters.

The first day of shooting I picked up my wardrobe from a truck. They were rags from the siege of Atlanta scene in Gone with the Wind where the wounded lay at the train station. I was very impressed.

Friends of mine have been renting the movie for years insisting they could make me out in the scene. To be honest I was just able to make out the poncho I was wearing freezing the frame on a friend’s giant screen TV.

There was a shot we did 3 takes of where we fled the building with stunt car drivers driving 50mph+ right at us. In 2 of the shots a car just stopped at my legs and I had a genuine look of terror in my face. I was right next to Kurt Russell in 2 of the takes. I thought for sure I was going to be larger than life next to the star. They scrapped the whole scene.

In contrast to my thuggish look Reed Nesbit was there. He was very fashion conscious. I’m sure they chose him for his futuristic appearance.

Reed and I have been on several music projects together. In fact he named and was co-founder of one of my bands, Delay Tactics. A great name considering our over use of digital and tape delays. I have never actually met the man.

Between takes I was getting pretty chummy with Ox Baker, Isaac Hayes, Isaac Hayes’ stunt double, Donald Pleasence, and a local actor named Dwayne. Dwayne was a friend of my parents and had a speaking role. He was walking around like he owned the place. The only part they used him for was the beginning shot in New York where he came out of a manhole. All these guys were totally bald.

The only people on the set that weren’t incredibly friendly were Kurt Russell and Adrienne Barbeau.

Ox Baker was huge but had an incredibly gentile and effeminate demeanor. I kinda thought maybe he was gay.

When shooting was over we had 2 great cast parties. I brought my brother to the second one at the 141 drive-in. He was very impressed to meet Isaac Hayes. I believe this was just after Hayes’ financial problems. He was very famous for his pimp mobile limos and had to sell them all. He showed up at the drive-in in the dystopian pimp mobile that Cadillacs by Jed put together for the movie.

Years later I tried to get a part in White Palace. All of Soulard had an agent and they got in as a group. I didn’t make it. I did get to know Glenn Savan before he died.

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