'
spacer Castro Courier banner
   
spacer San Francisco, California November2012


spacer spacer spacer spacer
  Home Current Issue Advertisers How to Advertise About Us Issue Archive Community Links  

Castro Theatre: Filmmaker Marc Huestis Talks

Photo: Courtesy of Marc Huestis

Local filmmaker Marc Huestis will show “Forever Natalie Wood” at the Castro Theatre from Nov. 9 through Nov. 11. Natalie Wood grew up on Divisadero Street in the city.

Interview by Wendy Oakes

From Friday, Nov. 9 through Sunday, Nov. 11 the Castro Theatre and Marc Huestis will be presenting “Forever Natalie Wood.” The festivities include three days of legendary films as well as a gala centerpiece event, which is to be held on Saturday, Nov. 10. Lana Wood will appear to honor her sister and take part in a very rare and candid on-stage interview. Marc Huestis will present a special commemorative clip reel that celebrates the actress, and award winning entertainer Connie Champagne will also perform. The film selected to screen as part of Saturday’s extravaganza is “Splendor in the Grass.” I spoke with Marc Huestis about this true labor of love and about his life in film and theater.

Wendy:

You had a very early introduction to show business by way of your dad; it’s fascinating that he worked on ‘Hullabaloo’ in the ‘60s.

Marc:

My Dad was one of the first video tape editors at NBC and I used to visit him at 30 Rock. It was very exciting; everything was buzzing. They had a tape room and he used to cut video tape with a magnifying glass and a razor blade. He did the Carson show and he did ‘Hullabaloo’—all this really fabulous stuff. ‘Jeopardy’ was filmed there so we would always see stuff like that. On the other side my mother was a stripper. I had show business in my blood on both sides and I’ve worked both sides of the gene pools—the razzamatazz and also the technical, the organizational. I love that; that’s one of my favorite things in the world to do. It’s a very meditative thing for me. So, I inherited that from my father. I would love for him to see ‘Final Cut’ because he just doesn’t know what the modern technology is like right now. It’s revolutionary.

Wendy:

Are you working with video now?

Marc:

What I'm doing with the Natalie Wood thing - I've watched about 40 movies, TV, everything. I'm doing a clip reel of the compilation. I do these all the time. One of the best things I ever did - Tony Curtis was so impressed with my clip reel that he hired me to do one for a travel show he was gonna do. But, I was like, "he's too sick, he's not gonna be able to do that", and lo and behold he died. They showed the piece that we worked on together at his funeral. I think he knew that too. That really brought a tear. It's a beautiful piece; I adore it. I'm gonna use that one for the template for the Natalie Wood, 'cause I like the flow of it. Because she was a child star she started very, very young; I'm reading the biographies, which are fascinating.

Wendy:

Natalie Wood’s from the Bay Area, right?

Marc:

She was born in San Francisco. She lived on both Divisadero and Page streets. She was discovered in Santa Rosa. Her mother was a Russian emigre; my mother was a Lithuanian. Her mother used to make up stories about being a gypsy; my mother made up the same stories. My mother’s stripping name was Marija the Continental Gypsy, and they called her [Natalie Wood] Gypsy, so I’m like, ‘This is my life!’ in a different way. It’s been very psychologically interesting.

Wendy:

Speaking of your life, tell me about your start in theater and film.

Marc:

I grew up in New York and went to school in Binghampton New York, and then I came out here. Gregory Cruikshank got me involved in this group called The Angels of Light. He saw me in Provincetown; I used to go to The A-House. I would dance by myself with these Indian scarves doing a hippie dance and they’d all think that I was the cutest little thing. So, I get here. I took The Green Tortoise to come here and about two months later I saw him on the street. He invited me to their collective and I got involved in alternative theater right away, The Angels of Light, which was sort of an offshoot of The Cockettes. I was in one of their cabarets and I played this drum chanteuse Ellen Organ, drag queen. I had one part where I had a bottle in my hand; the bottle absolutely flew into the audience, hit this guy on the head; he had to be rushed to the hospital. My career as a drag queen was over.

It was the Harvey Milk days and everything was bubbling: ‘75, ‘76, ‘77. So I said, ‘I’ll go to City College and make little movies.’ We got the films developed at Harvey Milk’s photo store, and that’s how the Gay Film Festival was started.

Wendy:

Right - you were the founder of that.

Marc:

One of the founders. It was a collective, a group of men, and we all got our stuff done at Harvey’s camera store. We decided, ‘Let’s put on a show!’ So we showed our little Super 8 shorts on a sheet at the gay community center. Lo and behold there were tons and tons of people there and that started the whole thing.

Wendy:

And then you decided to do celebrity tributes?

Marc:

Then I did a lot of movie work, during the AIDS period particularly. Really, my favorite thing that I’ve done is my AIDS documentaries. I did one called ‘Chuck Solomon: Coming of Age’ in ‘86. It was a very important piece. It was one of the first pieces coming from the gay community about what was going on with the AIDS crisis. It showed at the Berlin Film Festival; it was on national TV in England and Australia. I did a bunch of tours in Germany and England and I was HIV positive. So I was a pioneer in going in front of an audience and saying, ‘Okay, I’m HIV positive. I don’t know how long I’m going to be alive, but you still can have a wonderful life while you’re still here and you should do what you can while you’re on the Earth ‘cause you don’t know how long you’re going to be here for.’

Then I made films - I did ‘Sex Is,’ which was a big hit—huge. We showed in 60 cities in America, German tours, everything, but I couldn’t make a living doing it. I kind of fell into these celebrity tributes. I was with a group called The Sick and Twisted Players. They did ‘Stepford Wives’ and I [said], ‘Oh it would be cute to show Stepford Wives at The Castro [Theatre] and they could do a little fashion show.’ It was a huge hit; it was sold out. The manager then, Anita Monga said, ‘Why don’t you try and find a celebrity?’ Me and my partner at the time, Lawrence Helman, looked up the cast of ‘Poseidon Adventure.’ We got in touch with Stella Stevens and Carol Lynley and Carol decided to do it, so she was my first. First is the best; I’m good friends with her to this day. I just did a tribute to her in August again.

Wendy:

Natalie Wood - tell me about the upcoming show.

Marc:

Talk about new technologies—her sister got in touch with me through Facebook. That works. What can I say?! She wanted to do a tribute to her sister and I’ve always adored Natalie Wood. ‘Splendor in the Grass’ is one of my favorite movies. I watched it the other day and I was crying hysterically at the end of it. There’s something about that movie that I can relate to so much. She’s the kind of person that you just want to reach out, like in a Woody Allen movie, and take her out of the screen and hug her. She’s so vulnerable and brittle and she wears her emotions so profoundly. We decided that I would work with the Castro Theatre and do a three-day festival where I would do one of the days and they would bracket it with two of the days. I love the films we’re showing. 'Bob & Carol &Ted & Alice' - I wasn't that familiar - it's really a good movie. It's very timely for now where we're dealing with issues of permissiveness in society and how profound all of that is and what it means. 'Rebel Without a Cause' I adore. I didn't remember 'This Property is Condemned' that much and it's a great movie. Also, 'Love with the Proper Stranger' - I've always loved that movie. It has the most intense scene about abortion. It was 1963 and there's a scene with a back room abortion. People need to be reminded of what it was like before Roe v. Wade. It was such a courageous thing to do that movie. It's fun because she was in a lot of movies with people that I know, for example Mary Badham and Ann Blythe. I'm getting all these quotes - I'm going to have some of them talk to me, do little montages and stuff like that. It will be the ultimate.

 


 


spacer