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Lou Adler on “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains”

Lou Adler on “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains” (photo)

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Most film fans have never seen 1981’s “Ladies and Gentlemen, The Fabulous Stains,” the hard-charging, potent tale of an all-girl punk band’s meteoric rise and fall, which featured supporting performances by members of the Sex Pistols and The Clash (and a young Ray Winstone, who played the lead singer of the Stains’ tourmates The Looters). That’s because Paramount Pictures never saw fit — save for a couple of random screenings — to give the film any sort of theatrical release, or even put it out on VHS. Yet despite the studio’s attempts to forever shelve the film, it (like punk) wouldn’t die, finding renewed life through bootlegs and airing on USA Network’s “Up All Night,” where frequent broadcasts of the film during the midnight shift helped turn it into a cult classic that would later influence, among others, future riot grrrl pioneers Courtney Love, Bikini Kill and L7. That underground popularity will finally pay dividends now that Rhino’s released “The Fabulous Stains” on DVD, an event sure to be celebrated by the film’s ardent fans, as well as its director, record producer and music business manager (not to mention helmer of Cheech and Chong’s “Up in Smoke”) Lou Adler, who I recently spoke to about, as he sarcastically put it, the film’s “immediate” release.

It’s been 26 years since you completed the film, how do you feel on the eve of its home video debut?

I just dropped a note, along with a copy of the film, to [former Sex Pistols guitarist] Steve Jones and wrote “Finally” on it. Because even the cast members who I would talk to from time to time, and especially Steve — the only thing he ever saw was a few lines off of cable.

How happy are you with the job Rhino has done with the DVD?

I think they did a really nice job. Rhino sort of took the lead on this, because we tried for a long time to get it out at Paramount, but it never had much — any — success. When Rhino came along and actually was able to get it — I think they did a really good job. And being able to get Diane Lane and Laura Dern to come in and do a commentary after all these years was great too.

Why now? Why were these efforts to get it released successful?

Paramount, for whatever reason, just didn’t see any reason to put it out. And Rhino, who deals with this sort of thing, understood that there was an audience, however small — that there is a so-called “cult” following and it’s worthwhile having it on the market. That’s the only reason. It would not have been released by Paramount.

09162008_fabulousstains4.jpgWhy exactly did Paramount bury it?

Well, I think the real question is, why was it even made? I think [Paramount] did it for two reasons. One, the writer [Nancy Dowd] was an Academy Award winner [for “Coming Home”], and I’d just come off the success of directing “Up in Smoke.” And those two elements — you can see the psyche of the studio, that says “let’s make it!” even if they don’t understand it or know how to market it. Once it was finished, they’d done their work, they didn’t have to do anything to protect the jobs that had to be protected. So the film just lay there. They didn’t do anything with it.

What are your most vivid and/or fondest memories of the shoot?

I think they’re probably the same, vivid and fond. They’re that I had 14 people in the cast who hadn’t done a film before — or had done one, in the case of Diane. And a lot of rock n’ rollers, because of Paul Simonon from The Clash and Cooky and Steve Jones [from the Sex Pistols]. Ray Winstone, who has turned out to be quite an actor, the fact that he wasn’t really a singer, but he had a real attitude and was able to take the position of the lead singer of this group, which was made up of guys who had been rock stars. There just was a camaraderie. We were on location, most of the time in Vancouver, and staying in the same apartment building. It was just a bonding with those kids, if not always the rest of the cast. We had a situation in which we had a group of people who had worked a lot, and then we had the ones that were doing their first film.

Did that situation cause any tension?

Well, it caused some tensions, which sometimes works for the film. There were definitely tensions on that set. John Lehne, Cynthia Sikes, David Clennon and Peter Donat — they had all worked quite a bit in film. But everyone playing the musical acts, down to Diane Lane, who had done “A Little Romance,” had at most done one picture before. I mean, Diane was just turning 15, and Laura Dern was 13.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.