Film Threat article
The following is a really sweet interview that I did with a really nice chick named Miranda for a 'zine called Sink Approach that "focuses on all things horror/scifi, punk underground music, the bizarre and unusual" which is apparently me. I hope it's ok that I post it here. It's supposed to go in their first issue and I just love it so much that I'm posting it up here. Read it. It'll give you a great idea of who I am ...
The Church of The Heavenly Wood
Q & A with Reverend Steve
In 1996, Steve Galindo took his love of director Ed Wood (Plan 9 From Outer Space, Glen or Glenda?) to a whole new level of fandom by creating a religion dedicated to the cross-dressing cult filmmaker. The internet-based ‘Church of The Heavenly Wood’ boasts thousands of members from all over the world. Reverend Steve and his congregation look to Ed Wood’s life and films for wisdom and inspiration. And yes, they‘re totally serious.
Reverend Steve was kind enough to grant us at Sink Approach an interview via email, in which he talks about the principles Woodism, his fake wrestling federation, and the wrath of God.
SA: You’ve lived in Sacramento for a few years now, but you’re an Arizona native. What was it like growing up in Arizona? What kind of religious upbringing did you have, if any?
RS: My father was an outright atheist and my mother was a pretty hardcore Mexican catholic, so a lot of candles and patron saints and that sort of stuff. Pretty typical upbringing when you're sharing a border with Mexico. Arizona is a pretty tough place to grow up in because it's so deeply rooted in Republicanism and religion and old fucking white people. It can be restrictive but at the same time there's a constantly growing movement of young people who are not only
rebelling against society but spending their entire existence trying to get the fuck out of there, like I did, successfully. A lot of people move out of Arizona but not a lot of people STAY out of Arizona. People move, then find themselves right back where they started from. I'm almost four years out of Arizona and my church has never been more popular or more successful. Woodism almost died in Arizona.
SA: At what point did you realize you wanted to start your own religion, and did you think it would go this far?
RS: I picked up Catholicism not from my mother but from by schooling because my parents enrolled me in a pretty strict Catholic private school. My parents are incredibly either tolerant or uncaring but either way they were supportive of my Catholicism and they're supportive of Woodism. I had hoped that when I started Woodism in 1996 that it would be something that would last beyond my lifetime, the whole epic history sort of thing, but to be here nine years later and still succeeding, it's pretty amazing.
SA: For those who know nothing about you or your organization, what are some of the basic beliefs of Woodism?
RS: Our religious beliefs are aligned with the way that Ed lived his life. He was a grandiose alcoholic transvestite in one of the most puritanical times of American society. But he was his own man. He lived life like one big party and embraced life and didn't live a damn what other people thought of him and through that we try to do what we want to do and live life the way we want to. From that, all of our other little beliefs come from. I think it's a great religion. Its basis is on happiness and understanding and that's something that's seriously lacking with other more mainstream religions. It's less a restrictive series of beliefs and more of a mental state of mind. Woodites are happy people.
SA: Many people don’t take you or your church seriously, something that obviously bothers you. Other than that, have you faced any real opposition to your religion?
RS: The people who get really angry with Woodism don't know anything about it. They just see the web page and get angry that somebody has devoted their life to something that isn't Jesus. If you know us, know what we're all about, then you have no reason to be angry with us.
SA: You’re married with kids now, which can completely change a person‘s perspective on the world. Has becoming a father affected your dedication to Woodism? Is your wife also a practicing Woodite?
RS: I guess that being married and having kids has changed things. I see the world as something that can be improved. Everybody's angry. What's worse, society is embracing sadness and romanticizing depression. Woodism is about positivity and I want my kids to grow up in a positive world and that starts at an early age. My daughter loves "Yellow Submarine" and photography and music and she's only three. My wife has never gotten baptized but she is so incredibly supportive of Woodism and of everything I do for the religion. I made her a saint, though, and to me she is a Woodian Angel. I don't think that a guy almost in his thirties with a wife and daughter and another child on the way, I don't think that's what people think when they hear The Church of Ed Wood. I'm actually very normal and down to earth. I'm a normal guy who just so happens to have his own religion.
SA: Tim Burton directed the critically acclaimed film “Ed Wood”, an autobiography of the late filmmaker. What do you think of the inaccuracies of the movie? Is there anything you wish was included in the movie that wasn’t?
RS: I'm hardcore about that movie. I am about as close to an Ed Wood historian as anyone could get, so, yeah, there's a lot of things in that movie that aren't accurate. The difficult part of that entire movie is that it's based on the book "Nightmare of Extasy" by Rudolph Grey and THAT book is just a collection of quotes and interviews and remembrances of Ed Wood, most of them way after the fact. So it's a film based on certain people's memories, so it's not entirely accurate. But regardless of my Stick Stickler attitude, it's still an amazing fucking film. They got the emotions, the positivity, the idealism of Ed Wood down and that's what's important.
SA: Outside of the world of Ed Wood, what are your favorite movies? What’s the last new movie you saw at the theater?
RS: Jesus, I have a ton of favorite movies and they rotate constantly. The last movie I saw was "The Aristocrats." I don't really dig on too many summer movie big mega budget blockbuster sort of films. Most of them are crap, anyway. I love American Movie, Big Lebowski, Drop Dead Gorgeous, It Came from Hollywood, Sweet and Lowdown, Trekkies, and I'm getting my three year old daughter into Muppet movies and Mystery Science Theater 3000. She's being raised right.
SA: Many of your devoted followers are young punk rockers. Does this seem strange to you, or does it make perfect sense?
RS: It makes perfect sense. What seems strange to me is when I see followers that are in their 40s or 50s or white businessmen types that say that they're devoted Woodites. That's what seems strange.
SA: What kind of music do you like? Favorite bands?
RS: I love my iPod. I'm huge into music the same way I'm into movies and Ed Wood. Right now, the best bands are The Format, White Stripes, Led Zeppelin, Groovie Ghoulies, Flip the Switch, Beatles, Big D and the Kid's Table, Jimi Hendrix, Trail of Dead, Common Rider, American Analog Set, and I'm huge into Grand Buffet. They're the biggest and best white rap group that ever came from Pennsylvania.
SA: On October 17th of last year you hosted the first Ed Woodstock, a festival of Ed Wood movies and live music held at the Crest Theater in Sacramento. Will there be an Ed Woodstock II? If so, any word on which bands will perform?
RS: Right after EdWoodstock, there was a ton of talk about starting right up with a second one and for a while there I think I was the one leading the bandwagon. But right now, today, my wife is due to give birth. Last year I did a ton of radio and print interviews and I was in the National Enquirer and Premiere and Rue Morgue and we did EdWoodstock and that was great. But this year is my year. I have my own house and I'm writing a lot and saving up money and having a child. So EdWoodstock II is on hold for now. I don't know when it's going to happen and how and where but it
will definitely happen. I'm hoping that the lineup for the second one will have some of the bands that wanted to be in the first one but we were unable to get for financial reasons, bands like Amazing Transparent Man and Grand Buffet and a few more. One thing's for sure, the second one will be trice as big as the first one.
SA: The most important story in the news right now is of course the big disaster in New Orleans. What do you think of the government's response to the tragedy, and whose to blame for all the lost lives?
RS: I think God's to blame for the loss of life. That's something nobody wants to admit. God's punishing America for being a nation of right assholes. America is a bratty child. We have everything, we take other people's toys away, and if we don't like somebody, we kill them. America is a giant candy store and God's punishing us. It's sad, the loss of life and the tragedy. But we are a nation of sinners and we deserve a million times worse. So, with Woodism, let's just have fun while we're here because chances are we won't be here for long.
SA: Would you consider yourself to be a more of a Republican, a Democrat, conservative, liberal, or none of the above?
RS: I'm a registered libertarian. Whatever you want to do, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else, is your own business. Republican and Democrat to me is just the difference between the puppet on the left and the puppet on the right. You're screwed either way. Might as well have some fun, you know?
SA: You work in a bookstore. What kind of books do you like to read? What about Ed’s books?
RS: I read in shifts. Sometimes I'll crank out three or four books in a month and sometimes I just don't want to read, so you caught me on a down shift. I read a lot of humor books like Terry Pratchett and Robert Rankin and Laurie Notaro and Chuck Klosterman. Then I like to mix it up with some true crime and sociology books. Ed's books are hard to find, mostly because he wrote under a ton of pseudonyms and a lot of the books are collector's items now. But I've read four of his books and they've been great. In his latter years he made less films and wrote like a speed monster, always working on his next book so that he could afford his next drink. So a lot of people forget that literature was a massive part of Eddie's life. Anyone who wants to learn more about Ed Wood should read "Killer in Drag" or "Death of a Transvestite."
SA: On your website mentioned something about a fake wrestling federation. What’s that about? Who’s your favorite wrestler of all time?
RS: The fake wrestling federation that I have is a personal labor of love that I hid in the closet for a long time that I recently decided to open up to the world. In 1998 I got WWF NO MERCY for the N64, changed all the wrestlers into people I knew, historical figures, and my own bizarre original wrestlers, and it got to be such a huge personal thing for me that we would have fake pay-per-views, fake tv shows, and it was a lot of fun for about two years. Well, I've just now restarted it in a BIG WAY on my blog and we just had our second fake pay-per-view. It's my way to embrace my childhood wrestling geek while also being incredibly offensive. Some of the wrestlers we have include Jesus, Hitler, Malcolm X, Tim Burton, Satan, Ed Wood, Elvis, and almost all of my friends. Personally, I always enjoyed Jake "The Snake" Roberts before he turned all Jesus on everybody.
SA: You’re a fan of the late great Hollywood psychic Criswell, who is best known today for his hammy monologue in the opening of Plan 9 From Outer Space. What do you think of his predictions? What’s your take on psychics in general?
RS: Ok, psychics are bullcrap but Criswell's monologue is in NO WAY "hammy." It's deep. Criswell has this deep voice that comes from growing up in the south mixed with his own theatrics and radio background. His voice could put you to sleep and I think that opening is incredibly haunting. There's something about his voice and his eyes and that Dairy Queen curl in his hair that just haunts me constantly. I don't know why.
SA: Have you had any direct communication with anyone from Ed’s camp of friends?
RS: This and that, here and there. Most of the people that Ed worked with that are still alive know OF the religion but that's about it. Most of them think that what we do is funny or silly and they're entitled to their opinion. I'm still trying to find somebody who would be willing to back the church, not financially but give us their thumbs up seal of approval or sorts. And I'll get it. In time.
SA: What do you think Ed would be doing today if he were alive? Do you think he’d be appreciated as a filmmaker more or less?
RS: Ed would be making sequels. He'd be the one Hollywood would throw onto a film that they needed to make money off of and fast. he'd be doing "Starship Troopers 3" and "Three Fast, Three Furious."
SA: If you could talk to Edward D. Wood, Jr. right now, what would you say?
RS: I'd ask him if he had any whiskey left for me.
SA: Thanks, Reverend Steve! We really appreciate you taking the time to talk with us. I respect the Hell out of anyone who has the guts to say what they feel. Especially when it comes to a touchy subject like religion. :- )