Friday, June 24, 2016

Actress Interview: SYBELLE SILVERPHOENIX

Interview with SYBELLE SILVERPHOENIX

When I interviewed you for issue #15 you had appeared in Bill Zebub Productions’ remake of Dirtbags. Since then you have done several other indie films. What is your most recent project?
My most recent project was Mike Dibernardo's series Brooklyn Ties. It's something like the Sopranos. I play Valentina, Sal's girlfriend. Sal is one of the main characters. My character is a recurring character.

Did you receive any feedback for the Dirtbags remake? After Dirtbags, did Bill Zebub cast you in other movies of this?
I didn't really receive feedback for my work in Dirtbags, but I didn't really expect it either considering it wasn't a major role. It was the lead female role, but not the lead. I have not worked with Bill Zebub since. But I have worked with Erin Brown aka Misty Mundae, who worked on a few films with him. She was my costar in the movie New York Butcher.

New York Butcher was your first movie with Misty Mundae. How many scenes did you and she do together? How well did you get along off camera? Had you seen any independent movies featuring Misty Mundae?
We had maybe seven scenes together. She's down to earth, laid back, vibrant and funny. I thought we got along pretty well. I actually have not seen any of her work at all, but numerous colleagues have. As an actor, she's very on the fly. She prefers a little more improv, while I prefer to work scripted. It was an interesting dynamic that was frequently very humorous for the both of us. Her performance was natural and flowing in the film.

Describe how you played off one another’s acting methods. How often did those moments come across as humorous?
It was funny to me because I'd be all serious and what not and then she'd come out with some funny bit and completely throw that off. Check out some outtakes at http://vimeo.com/ondemand/thenewyorkbutcher

Previously we talked about Bill Zebub’s criticisms of political correctness in his movies. Where do you see that going today if you have watched any of his recent movies?
I actually have not watched any of his recent films, but I do know he is one who likes to push the boundaries of political correctness and break many rules in that regard. I think it's funny. People let themselves get all worked up over it, but he's not even serious.

I remember our first meeting was New York Comic Con 2009 when you and Bill Zebub were attending. Were you both there to promote Dirtbags? What do you most recall from that convention?
We were promoting Dirtbags. Unfortunately, the most memorable part of that convention was not positive. The vendor next to us kept harassing me, including entering our booth and physically touching me, ignoring my demands to stop until I slammed my heel into his foot. This is the negative side of working events like that.

As science fiction conventions have increased in popularity the last two decades, it has been a topic of discussion that some women who attend are harassed if they wear a partially revealing costume. What are your thoughts on that issue?
Unfortunately, I grew up in an area where you don't have to be dressed up at all for harassment to occur. It's something that is very prevalent in the Bronx and most women tend to ignore the large majority of it. What else can you do? Personally, I think it's silly, because if the goal is to start a sexual relationship with said woman, why start off with a bad impression? It just doesn't make sense. Catcalls and unwanted, uninvited touching is not attractive to me. Those things generally do not create interest from a woman. The last thing I do when I think a man is attractive is bother or annoy him. What such actions do is create a situation where, at the least, the woman is annoyed or in a negative state, and at the worst, she becomes worried about her safety. Most of the time when these things happen to me, I am immediately assessing whether or not this person can become a threat. At no point during these types of situations does it ever occur to me that this person could be a legitimate sexual or romantic partner. I personally would never choose a person who randomly approached me as a partner. Some men complain about the "friend zone", but I would not choose a partner that could not be my friend first. We have to have things in common and get along before I would want to take things to a different level. I am currently in a relationship, and my boyfriend and I were just friends for four years before we even considered anything beyond that. This is why the concept of dating to me is foreign. I would never go somewhere alone with someone I didn't know. It just would not feel safe for me to do so.

How long have you been attending conventions as a fan and to promote? Who are some of the characters you have cosplayed as? Are there moments when you have gotten support for your cosplaying as opposed to being judged for it?
As a fan, I've attended conventions since around 1997, and my first con was Mike Carbonaro's Big Apple Comic Con. I was hooked after that. For work, the first time was NY Comic Con in 2009, when you and I met. I have cosplayed Lara Croft (my usual), Selene from Underworld, a female version of Data from Star Trek, and a female version of Spock from Star Trek. From people who are interested in these things, it usually garners support. People like to take pictures of and with you when you are in costume. I usually got judged by those who were not a part of this community. Their opinion was that it was stupid and childish. Now that the community has grown so much, it saddens me to know that some would attack others in the same community, knowing the judgement we faced as kids for being "nerds". It's silly and divisive to do this. I always had been happy meeting people who had these things in common with me. I'm a bit more cautious now, given the nature of some of the attacks.

Have you been to conventions out of state? There are a few I’ve heard of and been to, including Retro Con in Pennsylvania and Shore Leave in Maryland.
I worked at Cinema Wasteland in Ohio once with Bill Zebub. I was considering returning there, maybe with Sean Weathers. I have friends who attended Shore Leave. I've heard good things about it. The last con I worked was Wintercon in Queens, NY. This past December and the December prior.

How would you describe the Wintercon conventions you have visited? Who are some of the personalities you have met at those cons?
Wintercon is a new convention run by the same people who have been running Big Apple Comic Con, Mike Carbonaro and Zorikh Lequidre. These guys are totally devoted to all things nerdy. If you were into comics and sci fi back in '96, you may have been fortunate enough to see the birth of Big Apple Comic Con. It was the first con I ever attended. I had the fortune of meeting celebrity cosplay expert Yaya Han and Taimak of the cult classic film The Last Dragon. There were many others there, I was just working both times I'd been there so I was pretty much stuck at my table, haha.

What do you remember of the first time you visited Big Apple Comic Con?
It was an eye opening experience. It was a small con in the basement of a church, but considering I had never been to a con before, seeing all that stuff I was interested in, all there in one giant room, I was in awe. I was fourteen years old and it was 1997. A friend had taken me, saying that it was a comic convention. I never had heard of such a thing ever, so I was intrigued. When I got there, I was instantly enamored. I wanted to go back as often as I could. I was so used to being ostracized for such interests. It was the first time I saw an entire group of people who shared the same interests. I was shocked. I wondered where all these people came from, why I had never met them, why didn't any of them live near me or attend school with me, etc. Leaving was a sad experience. I felt transported to another planet, one where I matched the culture.

I remember conventions were more intimate before they became popular aboveground. Back then you’d expect to be labeled for being a fan. Even with its increase in popularity in magazines and independent film, fans are still labeled by people who don’t understand the lifestyle. Why do you think some members of the community are attacking each other?
I don't know why things like that happen. I guess when a community grows, some bad apples inevitably end up spoiling the experience for everyone else. I think it's sad. Lots of people who grew up with this stuff were bullied for it. It doesn't make sense to have had that history and then do that in a community that initially was very welcoming. It's sad that now we have to worry about these types of things.

What is the story behind you being cast as Valentina on Brooklyn Ties? You said it’s somewhat similar to The Sopranos. Are you a fan of that show?
Actually, this role came to me via referral from another actor friend of mine, Sal Amore. He also plays a lead in the series. He has been a producer and casting associate for a number of projects and knows a lot of actors. Our previous project together was Jerry Landi's satire Bill Huxtabelle: Serial Rapist. When he discovered Mike was looking for an actress for Valentina, he recommended me, and sent my reel and materials to him, and I was booked. I am typically a fan of science fiction and fantasy works, but I did watch some episodes of The Sopranos for research purposes for the last Sean Weathers film I did, New York Butcher, in which I play a psychiatrist. I also did extra work on the Sopranos during its last season.

How did The Sopranos resonate with you when you were watching it for research? How much work have you done on Brooklyn Ties altogether? In what locations are you usually working?
I found it somewhat comedic given how the main character described situations to the psychiatrist and how those situations were then shown. My focus was the psychiatrist character [Dr. Jennifer Melfi – Lorraine Bracco]. I was studying her demeanor, her manner of speaking and presentation, her wardrobe. I have just wrapped the first episode of the series and am on for two more episodes. For me, filming has been in Long Island, since the locations were indoors and Mike is a Long Island resident.

How did studying Lorraine Bracco help you develop your New York Butcher character?
Lorraine Bracco was hugely important. Playing the role of any professional while not being of that field yourself is very challenging, and requires good prep. Sean suggested her to me and that was a wonderful idea. I made sure to craft my delivery in as much her style as possible, with certain directional differences as the only exceptions (my character is a little unusual, but I won't give spoilers). I also saw a couple of actual psychiatrists so I could sort of merge the reality with my performance. I didn't want it to just be me imitating Ms. Bracco. I wanted to feel sure that in doing so, that it felt correct, and would coincide with a person's real life encounter with a psychiatrist. I also referred to The X Files as an inspiration for certain scenes, as, well, like I said, she's a little unusual. I thoroughly enjoyed playing Dr. Victoria Regina Phibes.

Which episodes of The Sopranos do you appear in, and how much screen time do you have?
I honestly don't remember which episodes, it was so long ago. But extra work is not something an actor is typically recognized for. Looking for a particular background actor in a scene is very much a max difficulty level Where's Waldo game. I have no idea if I have any screen time, even for a brief moment. I did extra work for the film Music And Lyrics also, and surprisingly someone who knew me found me in that movie. I found that rather amusing. While extra work leaves most actors obscurely in the background, I highly recommend that all who seek to pursue this career do some at the beginning. You will learn a lot on these sets about how everything works so when you go for the principal roles, you are already well prepared.

How much did you learn about filmmaking doing extra work? Did the knowledge you gained prove valuable when you took on more prominent roles?
There are many things to learn doing extra work. The terminology and types of direction given are important for actors to familiarize themselves with. Especially those who are seeking principal roles. Many new actors are unfamiliar with commands like "back to one", and the repetition of filmmaking for example. These are things that principal actors are expected to already know.

What were the storyline and your characters in Bill Huxtabelle: Serial Rapist?
The Bill Huxtabelle movie is a controversial satire of the Bill Cosby rape allegations. It takes an over the top approach to the story of a celebrity who gets away with the abuse of women and manipulation of the media. Director Jerry Landi was well aware of how controversial this topic would be and tackled it head first anyway. Sal Amore plays Bill Huxtabelle's lawyer, Schlomo Rosenberg. I play celebrity talk show host Cindy Marie, who allows the victims a place to tell their story. Sean Weathers stars as Bill Huxtabelle himself. Vlad and Sky, whom you have interviewed before, are also in this film. It was a huge reunion, haha!

When you took the role, was there anything you wanted to say about celebrities who manipulate the media?
I related to my character in the sense that I would want the people that are the underdogs and being suppressed to have a place to voice their stories. I think high profile celebrities get away with a LOT usually, because they have the funds and influence to legally and socially destroy people. This is abusive.

Name other examples of high profile characters who were not held accountable for their behavior, and how differently you wish those incidents would have turned out.
I think OJ Simpson was a big example. How he managed to avoid conviction will always be a mystery to me. The other examples would be various politicians and financial big wigs that contribute to the economic collapses of the US and consequently, the globe. Some countries prosecuted such persons in their borders, but none here have ever been tried.

What roles do Vlad and Sky have in Bill Huxtabelle: Serial Rapist? What was it like to work with them in a film production?
Sky plays one of the victims and Vlad plays a henchman. Convincingly, I might add. It's been awhile since the fire performances together, but this was actually not our first film together. That would go to Sean Weathers' The Fappening. Working with them is always fun since we have a good history together. I've known them since 2001.

Recall some of your fire performances with Eros Fyre, and how much you got to work with them for The Fappening. What was that movie’s storyline and characters did you and they portray?
Working with Vlad and Sky was always fun. We've known each other for so long. The Fappening was a satire on the celebrity cell phone hack. Sky and I played actresses whose private images were publicly released.

How would you describe the social relevance of The Fappening where its subject matter is concerned?
The Fappening connects to a lot of what we've discussed about harassment. This topic only recently seems to have blown up in the media, and it's primarily due to the occurrence of what was dubbed the "Fappening", the release of private images of celebrities, mostly women, that occurred a couple of years ago. The silly thing is, this type of thing is as old as the Internet itself. To have it hit mainstream media now is just incredibly silly. Internet harassment of this caliber tends to primarily be directed at women, making the world pretty damn scary for them given today's "social standards". If female nudity wasn't looked upon as something so phenomenally terrible, the people purposely doing this would have no ammo. This is not to say that men do not get harassed. They absolutely do. The statistics just show that for harassment of a dangerous sexual nature, the target is usually a female. But men still should be warned. I recently met Tommy Sotomayor via Twitter, a controversial YouTube personality, and simply for speaking his mind, he has had his safety and that of his family threatened, had to move due to threats against his landlord, and all this by masses of people who simply don't like his opinions... whatever happened to just stopping a video you don't like and just moving on to something you do like? People have an awful lot of time on their hands to be this invested in making others miserable. That's rather amazing... I wish I had that kind of time... I'd certainly use it far more constructively, haha. People have forgotten the concept of simply agreeing to disagree. Not to mention some of these attacks are done under the guise of free speech. Abuse is not free speech. Fear mongering is not free speech. It is actually the opposite. It is an attempt to stifle the free speech of others via fear and intimidation.

Abuse and fear mongering under the guise of free speech has been going on for much longer. People may not sugarcoat it, but they do whitewash it in an effort to appear justified. Why do you think that is done so often?
I honestly am not really sure. It's a manipulative and controlling tactic, and I suppose it's a way to play the proverbial game of thrones. I disagree with this divide and conquer way of doing things. I think humanity could have advanced far beyond where it is today is people just worked together. But alas, I am too utopian for today's world.

One Eros Fyre performance I attended was at this Brooklyn club called Cursed Circus. I still have the photos I took at that show at my Facebook profile. Tell the readers what you remember of it?
That was a very extravagant event full of all types of shows! So many artists in one room, wow! I was beyond impressed and honored to have been a part of it. It had a sort of medieval Renaissance steampunk sort of theme, everyone was dressed up in beautiful outfits. It was a sight to see for sure!

Another Long Island project you were involved in was the short film Sarina. Talk about this film short and the role you play?
Sarina was super fun to shoot. I play the lead, Sarina, a mysterious vampire with unknown motives. This film was a vignette about her manipulations of the mortals in her world and how she toys with them. It's rather comedic. It was the first indie film I worked on that utilized CGI. I was very happy about that. Director Joseph Ciaravino is a phenomenally talented filmmaker. I'd love to work with him again. We did two films, Sarina and Later Lover, starring the amazing Seregon O'dassey, a friend of mine. It was so funny because we both auditioned for the same role and found out after we'd been cast. She and I actually originally met on the set of one of The Onion episodes.

What appealed to you about the Sarina character when you took the role? Have you portrayed vampires in other films?
I liked the Sarina character because not only was she a strong woman but also an enigma. You didn't know what her back story was and when asked she wasn't going to tell you. I have to say it was really cool seeing the scene where the guy she's pursuing starts shooting everyone and when he tries to shoot her the bullets go through her and into the mirror behind her. The CGI is amazing… I played a vampire before this project in a short called Gaia, which hasn't been released. I'm not sure if or when it will be yet.

What interests you in portraying vampires? Our previous interview paid a lot of attention to your beliefs and spiritual path. Where does your interest in vampires tie in with your beliefs?
I love portraying vampires. They are powerful magical creatures. Maybe it's the Hungarian stereotype and my being part Hungarian where the connection comes from. I'm not really sure. But I had been a participant in the NYC vampire scene for a couple of years and I found kinship among those people. There were some very open minded and spiritual people in that community. Being Wiccan, a faith that is not very accepted, I found my experience with the vampire scene comforting. I was more understood there than in many other groups. They had their own versions of magic and ritual, so the paths were not drastically different.

How many similarities exist between the Wiccan community and the vampire community in New York today? How do your personal experiences with the vampire community differ from the mainstream’s perception?
I'm not sure exactly how many, there are so many different kinds of people in each, but I'd say that they both have their rituals and there are definitely some people who are both Wiccan/Pagan and involved with the vampire scene. I think what draws some people together there is a general sense of acceptance. Of course every community will have its drama kings and queens, but overall, the feeling of not being judged for one's beliefs and interests and being around similar minded individuals is a big theme. Many of the musical tastes are similar, preferred styles of dress, etc. These create bonding. I think the mainstream perception is slowly changing. A long time ago, there was simply this stereotype that everyone there was Satanist. Then you have shows and movies, like Law And Order or Blade, that show some aspect of the scene without that kind of thing. People always seemed to associate "dark" with something terrible. I think that's slowly changing. And with respect to Satanists, I must say, I have met actual Satanists (not posers), and they are not at all what people stereotype them to be.

How much do you think the TV adaptations of Blade and From Dusk Til Dawn have been changing the general public’s perception of the vampire mythos? Have you read any publications that are doing the same?
I think From Dusk Till Dawn made vampires look ridiculous. The scene I was used to was more like the club scene in Blade. There was also much inspiration from the Anne Rice vampire novels, and the subsequent films. I honestly haven't had the time to really return to such events, so I couldn't say how the scene may have changed. It seems to me that it has become less popular though. I find less advertising for such events. In 2001, there were many. There was an event every night of the week! Even films surrounding vampires have diminished. Initially there was a rise with the Twilight series, but most of the vampire community rejected it as cheesy. They embraced Blade and Underworld, but Twilight was definitely seen as silly. After the mainstream popularity of that disappeared there hasn't been another real vampire themed franchise.

Perhaps there was a decline in vampire themed events, due to the mainstream playing it out. But I’ve still heard of a few active in NYC and other states over the past few years. Which of those events were personal favorites?
Well, recently, I would say Father Vincent's Tuesday night party at Otto’s Shrunken Head. I actually performed there when I was lead singer of the band Kings Valentine. That party was like a giant reunion for me, haha.

How would you describe Father Vincent’s hosted nights at Otto’s Shrunken Head? Are those parties still being held as far as you know?
I believe they are. They are a smaller version of the larger vampire scene parties that existed back in '01. Same great music, and some familiar faces. You will more than likely come across some nicely done prosthetic fangs and sfx lenses, and intricate steam punk and goth attire.

Describe your work with King’s Valentine. Was anything released by them while you were in the band?
Kings Valentine was a complex experience for me. My uncle, German Hall was the songwriter, and a talented one, at that. But sometimes doing things with family means butting heads. Songs were released, but sometimes he'd release them prematurely, haha. Anyone interested in hearing some of the songs can search the band on reverb nation. In my opinion, the best quality recording up there is of the song My Mind. It's also my favorite song. I also really like Band Of Brothers.

Did you write any lyrics for King’s Valentine while you were their vocalist? What did you most like about My Mind and Band Of Brothers?
I didn't write any songs. Although I do have such interests, it may be awhile before I explore that arena again. My Mind reflects my outlook on those close to me and how they view me. Band Of Brothers is an expression of depression and getting through it and how music helps to do that.

In our last interview we discussed a movie you appeared in called Final Level, released in 2011. What press has it received? Are you happy with your performance?
This is one review of Final Level: http://www.newyorkirisharts.com/2012/04/film-intereview-sue-sylvester-on-eddie. While it's overall positive, this was the only review, so I am not sure what other reviewers would say. There were a number of issues happening with the making of this film that made it almost impossible to complete, so in my opinion, it's good given the circumstances and budget, but it's definitely a B movie. We filmed this in 2005 or 2006 and it was in post for a very long time. This time period was prior to my professional acting training, so I actually did not like my performance very much, however, I was also not even supposed to be in the film, I was initially just producing. I ended up replacing an actress who dropped out of the role. Considering I was not expecting to play the part, I guess I did okay.

In 2014 a movie was released called Scumbag Hustler in which you were a lead character. Discuss your involvement in it?
Scumbag Hustler is directed by Sean Weathers, whom I've worked with on several projects. It's a la Stanley Kubrick's Clockwork Orange. The story of an antihero. In this film, Sean stars as the comedic Solomon Crow, the most in shape drug addict anyone will ever know. I play Tamia Crow, his brother's wife. My character is deprived of any intimacy from her overly religious, secretly gay husband, and Solomon uses this to scam her, and anyone else he can, to obtain his next fix.

When you first met Sean Weathers, what made him want to work with you? How many movies has Sean Weathers produced altogether? How many of these movies do you have parts in?
I actually met Sean through Model Mayhem, he reached out to me about working together around six years ago. I think he was initially trying to cast simple roles via the easy MM platform, but he was also interested in working with people who were more professional and in the public eye and back then, I was competing as Miss Hungary in the Miss Diaspora Models International Pageant, so there was exposure coming my way. Sean has many films. Perhaps twenty films, and even that may be an underestimation. I've been in six so far.

What are the similarities you saw between A Clockwork Orange and Scumbag Hustler? Do you prefer the film version of A Clockwork Orange or the Anthony Burgess novel? Is the story still timely today, in relation to modern society?
The music was a big similarity, and part of what made them funny. And the whole antihero theme. Sex, drugs and violence galore. They both essentially add comedy to things that otherwise would not be viewed as comedic. I actually haven't read the book, so I can't really say which I think is better, but the film certainly touched me politically. I think the systems we have in place are inherently flawed, perhaps intentionally, and the film seemed to show some level of that.

Explain the flaws you see in our political systems that the film version of A Clockwork Orange called to mind. What other dystopian movies have you seen that hit a chord in you?
Well, for one thing, I already feel like we live in a lawless society, haha. If the laws get enforced, I tend to be surprised. It seems to be the exception to the rule. I felt like this movie showed that. And then when there is enforcement, haha, it's laughable. I've seen people punished for silly things like having a foot up on a seat in an empty train, or even the NYPD, on Twitter, telling people they will arrest people simply for being out in a blizzard..... but a sexual assault on the train?? They say to tell an MTA employee, etc (that repeated automated message every New Yorker has heard). Well I'll tell you from experience that telling an employee does nothing, even when the perpetrator is in the next train car. I believe in the second amendment. Period. These are just a few examples of a massive macrocosm. I'm not really sure about films, but video games come to mind, like Fallout and Grand Theft Auto, where anything goes, haha.

There was a recent incident in which a transgender was verbally harassed and then physically assaulted on the basis of her lifestyle. Would you consider this another example of how certain behaviors are ignored by the public?
Based off the articles you sent me about the incident in question, I have to say that the area where it took place was in my hometown area. NYC very much tends to be an area where when things like that happen everyone just wants to mind their business. It's very sad and I too have been the victim of crimes where there were plenty of witnesses and no one cared to help. There are many articles about things like this occurring all over NYC. I feel like there is definitely a pattern where lesser offenses are punished more than severe ones. I thought it was bizarre when the NYPD tweeted that they would arrest people who were out during a blizzard, haha. There's so much worse happenings in this city, and the priority is people playing in snow, haha. You have to laugh about it, because if you don't, it's just easy to feel depressed.

I remember a promotional video you did for the Miss Diaspora pageant. How many women were involved in that competition, and how did it turn out for you?
There were about 25 women and I competed as Miss Hungary. I didn't win anything but it was an interesting experience because it was the first pageant I participated in with that much publicity. I made a lot of good connections there.

Describe the video to promote your entry into the Miss Diaspora pageant. Who filmed it, the location where it was shot etc.
That was a promotional video for the pageant in traditional Hungarian dress, at the statue of Kossuth Lajos, a well-known patriot in Hungarian history. We were doing a photoshoot with the intent of having them published by some of the local Hungarian media. The costume was actually borrowed from one of the editors. Unfortunately, the articles never made it to print. The photographer was George Courtney, the same photographer who helped publish the Tarot of the Boroughs. I am featured in a couple of cards in that deck. The videographer was Edward Fernandez, the director of Final Level. The music is a modernized version of a traditional song called Erik a Szolo.

Tell the readers about the Tarot of the Boroughs and your involvement in the making of it. We also saw each other at the release party at NYC’s Bowery Poetry Cub in 2010.
I was a model for that tarot deck and I appear in three cards. I was primarily selected to embody the Page of Wands, so for that card, I was doing acrobatic pole dance poses, and the shot that was selected was a shot of me upside down on the pole using only my legs to hold myself up. I remember the release party, the creators actually raffled off an autographed copy of this same image that day. The deck was created by Courtney Weber, a well-known author and leader in the NYC pagan community, and George Courtney, a published photographer, both are friends of mine.

Describe the photo short you did for Tarot Of The Boroughs. How many shots of you were taken to choose from?
I'm not sure how many initial shots were taken. I don't think there were that many as the shoot was rather fast. But George and Courtney are good at knowing what they want so I'd imagine that was no accident. Most photo shoots can last all day, this was more like, an hour, haha. The deck came out beautifully. There are three cards featuring me, although the most popular is the Page of Wands... likely because I am doing pole acrobatics in that shot, haha. The deck's theme is simply an urban representation of the original tarot symbology. It contains the same amount of cards in the deck, along with their traditional names, the imagery is more modern though, featuring various New York City scenery and artists, including the musician Moby.

How would you describe the atmosphere at Bowery Poetry Club, from what you remember of the TOTB release party?
That was a while ago, but it seemed pretty casual to me. It also seemed sort of like CBGB or some of the other small performance venues around the village. A kind of underground space for artists. That night we had several acts. One was a burlesque performance. I don't remember the others too well.

Do you attend the NYC club Arlene’s Grocery? Are there other local clubs in the city that you would recommend?
I don't believe I have. I have heard of it from numerous friends, I just don't think I ever made it there. Besides Otto's, I'm not sure. I've been so busy I have not been as social in that regard. When I was working on Kings Valentine, we performed at some small venues. The Delancey was one of them. But in terms of the goth or vamp subculture, only Father Vincent's Otto's party comes to mind.

Has Courtney Weber published any books to represent the NYC pagan community?
She wrote Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess. She is also the author of a pagan blog, and various Huffington Post articles. She is very much in the public eye of the pagan community.

How much info on Paganism does Weber offer people interested in learning more about it?
She's actually very open to educating people about paganism. She not only is an author of books and a blog, but also a workshop teacher. She has traveled to various pagan themed events around the US and taught workshops at those events in addition to holding some classes here in NYC occasionally. She brings an interesting perspective too, as she was a seminary student, which most people would not expect of a Wiccan priestess. She is knowledgeable on the practices of many faiths and tries to incorporate some of that information in her teachings.

I think I met George Courtney at the Eros Fyre performance at Cursed Circus. How familiar are you with his work, and where can it be viewed in print or online?
His work has been published in various media. I don’t remember all of it, although I do remember he's got the cover of the book Live Nude Elf, by Reverend Jen, in addition to the earlier mentioned Tarot Deck. He's also an astrologer, and had even been featured on a major news network discussing celebrity astrology. He's even done my own chart, and I must say, he's pretty impressive. This is not at all like your general horoscopes in the magazines and newspapers. It's so much more specific.

You recently applied to join the first manned expedition to Mars, as shown on the official Mars One website. How did you hear about this and what was the application process like?
I actually was first introduced to the Mars One program by a friend on Facebook who knew of my interests in space travel. I applied as soon as the application process began. The application process was not as simple as some people think. It was like applying to a prestigious college, haha. We had to write detailed essays about why we were interested in this opportunity, and what we could bring to the table. We had to write about our work history and skills we possessed, where we were from (as this mission is available internationally), what stresses us and how we handle it. It required deep introspection which few people do these days. We had to answer a questionnaire that was very personal, and being able to admit your own faults and flaws was a big deal. We had to discuss what types of personalities we got along with and which types we didn’t. AND we had to create a one minute video answering three preassigned questions and upload it for all to see.

What were the results of your application to Mars One? How would you feel knowing you would be going to Mars to stay and not coming back?
Out of 200,000 who applied, I and around 1,000 others were selected as finalists. After medical tests, that number got whittled down to around 600. I got pretty damn close. The next selected round narrowed everyone down to 100. I did not make it into that bunch. But I was completely committed to moving off world. That has been a dream since childhood. I just always thought it would remain science fiction in my lifetime. I'm so glad people are aiming to break that barrier.

What are some of the new projects you are involved in? How soon will they be revealed to the public?
In addition to Brooklyn Ties, I'm filming episodes of a sci fi series called Night Room, by upcoming director Erskine Spencer. It's a sort of Twilight Zone type of project. It's still early for much publicity for it, but look out for it. There'll definitely be interesting themes.
I'm also in talks with another upcoming director, J. Stacey Adams, for a role in a new action film called When Dragons Awake, starring action martial arts legend Vincent Lyn (Operation Condor). Look for some buzz on this project in the coming months.
There's also a mob movie still in post by director John Abrahante, Monsters Of Mulberry Street, which features Eric Roberts and Lillo Brancato. This has already gotten some publicity, although infamous, due to Lillo's time in jail. It was his first film project after his release. The man did his time and is incredibly remorseful for what landed him there. There are few who will have that memory burned into the brain as much as he does, save the family and friends of the slain officer. He plays a priest in the film, and that is not by accident. He chose that role because he wanted to steer away from reminders of violence. He had initially been offered other more stereotypical roles for this project. I am confident that moving forward in the wake of the loss, some good can come from this. He has since spent much time educating people on the dangers of addiction and how that can spiral out of control, using himself as an example. Where most people would hide in shame, he has continuously put himself out there in an effort to prevent another such incident, regardless of the very public scrutiny that comes with that. No one can change the past, and everyone knows that. But we can learn from it and hopefully become better, more responsible people as a result.


-Dave Wolff

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