This week’s video only peripherally involves Timothy, but trust me, you’ll thank me later. When he was in New Orleans filming Bayou (1957), he was told he needed to learn to “dance real wild.” He went to the 500 Club every night for a week to watch the infamous Lilly Christine do her Cat Girl routine. And thus, his immortal “crazy Cajun dance” was born.
If I have burlesque on my mind, it’s because I’ll be driving up to Seattle today for my very first BurlyCon! It promises to be quite the adventure, and posting here may be a bit sporadic until next week. I just wish Miss Christine was still around to join us. Tragically, she passed away after a bout of peritonitis in 1965 at the age of 41.
Our video this week is a small glimpse into Timothy’s play The Insect Trainer, which he had originally conceived as a novel. He was working on bringing it to the stage at the time of his death in 1994. As usual, it just leaves you wanting more.
You can purchase The Insect Trainer DVD over at Absolute Films. It features Tim with the cast in rehearsal, and scenes from the actual production that was staged after his death, with his son Romeo in the lead role. So what’s the choice, my friends: fart in a crowd, or die alone in a corner? Live long, live healthy, and let thy arse make wind!
In a letter to Carey (dated January 22, 1994), Ray Carney, a professor of film and American studies at Boston University, wrote:
“Re: The Insect Trainer script–What an extraordinary, weird, wonderful, bizarrely unclassifiable work you’ve created. In the Joycean, Swiftian, Salvador Dalian vein, you violate all of the taboos, cross all of the boundaries, break all of the rules, and–ecstatically–take us to places almost never even dreamt of in drama before. The script is a ‘gas’ in the other sense of the word: It’s hilarious–as well as humanly touching and moving. It’s a celebration of eccentric, non-homogenized, non-normalized humanity. An expression of love for the lost and forgotten feelings and impulses of life. A recognition of some of the sadness and loneliness of all originals, pioneers, inventors. In short, you break up the mental and spiritual constipation that afflicts both art and life. You free the spirit. The laughter and thoughtfulness you provoke, if we let ourselves be affected by them, shake us out of our zombie-like trances of conformity. This is an awesome piece of work. Bravo. Bravissimo!”
Prof. Carney’s letter is a fitting epitaph to the amazing talent and spirit of Timothy Carey.
– Harvey F. Chartrand, “Timothy Carey: The World’s Greatest Director!”, Filmfax Plus magazine #102 (April/June 2004)
Our video for this week is a look at the Dead Flowers art exhibit at the PARTICIPANT INC gallery in New York City, recorded by James Kalm on June 20, 2010. The show used Timothy’s work as a springboard for several performance pieces and other artwork exploring the iconoclastic creative spirit.
I think Tim would be amused to hear himself described as “one of the edgy avant garde actors” who was involved with “John Catslavetes.” At any rate, make of this what you will; performance art is way, way over my head. And don’t miss the Dead Flowers book!
EDITOR’S NOTE 05/22/12: The original video posted has been removed by the user, so I replaced it with this one, “Song for Lilly Christine” by Big Rude Jake. I like this one better!
Our video for this week is something a bit different. Tim arrived in LaFitte, Louisiana in the fall of 1956 to begin filming Bayou. He had an unusual assignment from the film’s producers – he had to learn to “dance real wild.” In New Orleans he asked a cab driver to help him out. The cabbie took him straight to Leon Prima’s 500 Club in the French Quarter. A stunning, statuesque burlesque dancer by the name of Lilly Christine, billed as “The Cat Girl,” was performing there. Tim returned to the club every night for a week to watch her dance. I’m sure he needed little persuasion to conduct this kind of research. After all, it was for the good of the film, right?
So now we know the inspiration for Ulysses’ crazy Cajun dance. Wow!
This pic of Tim as Frankenstein’s monster (click to embiggen, IF YOU DARE!!!) can be glimpsed in the work-in-progress documentary by Romeo Carey that is available at Absolute Films. I am guessing that it was taken during the creation of the fabled television commercial for Sambo’s restaurant that Tim made back in the 80′s. Finding the actual commercial is proving to be next door to impossible. It’s become my personal Holy Grail of Careyabilia. I will find it! *shakes fist*
Apparently Halloween was quite the production at the Carey homestead. I can’t help but envy all the lucky neighborhood kids who got to go trick-or-treating at Tim’s house.
I finally got the Wall of Timothy rearranged and updated!
A word about the ladybugs. For some reason, I’ve been associating them with Tim for quite a while now. It made me happy when I discovered recently that he mentions them in his play The Insect Trainer. I found this ladybug banner/decoration on the ground behind my car the other day. I like to think it’s Tim saying “Hi!”
And you guys, this isn’t everything. I have so many lobby cards that I’m going to have to swap them out every few weeks or so. There are also big posters from Bayou and The Wild One that I just don’t have room for. Slowly but surely, Tim is taking over our house… I’m OK with that!