The Publisher, awestruck, can barely get the words out: They said it couldn’t be done. They said it shouldn’t be done. And yet here we were, in the side room of an Avenue A bar to bear two hours witness to the fact that, indeed, it had finally been done: Mondo Manhattan… the movie, twenty years since most of the world first learned of the film-in-progress in the pages of Forced Exposure #13. This classic interview of Chain Gang singer Ricky Luanda, conducted by Jimmy Johnson & Byron Coley, made some sense of 1987′s amazing & mysterious Mondo Manhattan “soundtrack” lp on Lost Records, although it must be said, many questions remained. The Music Director– holed up in the iron-rich hills of northwest Jersey at the time– remembers clearly the cold, snowy day he walked from the Port Authority Bus Terminal down 8th Avenue to Midnight Records on 23rd Street to purchase the album. Those who didn’t know the city then can’t begin to imagine the fun that even such a simple trip as that entailed. Others will tell ya’ll about 14th St, Cooper Square, the Bowery, etc: today, with each strip more denatured than the next (or vice-versa), who gives a shit, really? It happened once & memories (“I remember the worry– would I have enough money left over for Show World tokens?” the Music Director recalls) & some artifacts remain. One of which, we can now declare, is Mondo Manhattan, the bastard spawn of Andre de Toth & Herschell Gordon Lewis adopted by Sam Peckinpah. Indeed, as much as we love Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia & Two Lane Blacktop, The Wild Bunch & Cockfighter, if Warren Oates had to die so that Ricky Luanda’s Mr. Mondo could be born… it was probably worth it.
Junius Van Sinderen notes: This is part one of a series; I was there too & can only ask, is this the best punk rock “documentary” since Raymond Pettibon’s Sir Drone? Without question but it’s a lot more than that too. Stay tuned.