KING OF THE B-MOVIES, CHAMPION OF THE DRIVE-IN MOVIE THEATER, ACTOR, AUTHOR AND COMEDIAN
JOE BOB BRIGGS
by Michael Buffalo Smith
My first exposure to John Bloom aka: Joe Bob Briggs came in 1991, during a time when I was Editor of an Upstate South Carolina alternative news and entertainment tabloid called EDGE Magazine. We purchsed syndication rights to both "Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In" and "Joe Bob's America," and both were instant hits in the eyes of our readership. I communicated with Joe Bob frequently, and he began mailing me his monthly newsletter, which was filled to the rim with great commentary and reviews on horror movies and more, political commentary, free stuff, pictures - at the time I thought it was the coolest newsletter ever. Still do, actually, even though it ceased publication some years back.
Joe Bob has become a much sought after speaker, actor and author. His latest book is called Profoundly Erotic. We are happy to present this exclusive interview with Joe Bob.
For those who may not know, please tell us the story of how John Bloom became Joe Bob Briggs. Also, was lightning involved (ala Frankenstein)
Well, at the time I started reviewing drive-in movies (I called them drive-in movies, everyone else called them schlock), there was nobody doing this kind of criticism. So the idea of Joe Bob was that he was America's first populist film critic. Excuse me, *movie* critic. Film was for wussie-boys. "Joe Bob Goes to The Drive-in" was dedicated to the idea that a movie could be anything except boring, and each flick was judged according to the three B's: Blood, Breasts and Beasts. As time went on, I used the column to exercise my First Amendment right to be obnoxious, and various groups took offense--feminists, Babtists, followers of Merchant-Ivory. A black politician got so angry in Dallas that he got me canceled--huge brouhaha over a column called "We Are the Weird," which was a parody version of "We Are the World." Said I was making fun of starving African children. I told him I was violently opposed to the starvation of African children, unless it was necessary to the plot. Anyway, I had to go indie after that.
I first got to know you through those excellent newsletters you used to,send out. Do you still send those out? Where does the obsession with Drive Inscome from?
I never made any money on the newsletters, and I stopped doing it when the fanzine era was supplanted by the internet era. The obsession with drive-ins comes from my childhood in Texas and Arkansas, where the drive-in habit was formed.
How many Drive Ins are still active in the USA?
The number keeps changing. It's more than 500 but less than a thousand. I've seen estimates as high as 960, but many of the drive-ins are mom and pop operations that don't belong to any of the exhibitor organizations, so we can't be sure.
What do you think caused the demise of the Drive In?
Tiny Japanese cars in the seventies, population growth that made land values too high, the rise of the multiplex. The number one enemy of drive-ins starting in the eighties has been Wal-Mart. There are very few land parcels big enough for a Wal-Mart superstore. The drive-in owners inevitably sell out.
Okay, give me the ten greatest movies of all time in Joe Bob's eyes.
The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Night of the Living Dead, Peeping Tom, Audition, Demons,
Black Sunday, Suspiria, Vertigo, Hellraiser, It's Alive.
Now, the five scenes from films that stand out the most in your mind.
Sally on a meat hook in Chain Saw.
The acupuncture torture scene in Audition.
The scene where two skinless people have sex in Hellraiser.
Zombie arms coming through the boarded-up windows in Night of the Living Dead.
The first visit to the Spanish mission in Vertigo.
Who is the all time Scream Queen?
Michelle Bauer. She never got as much attention as Linnea Quigley or Brinke Stevens, but she had it all--looks and attitude. The all-time best SCREAMER, on the other hand, is Marilyn Burns.
What have been your favorite films of the past year or two?
Hostel, and Saw 2
Did you see the remake of When a Stranger Calls? Care to comment?
Two and a half stars.
Tell us about your one man show in 1985 and how it lead to hosting the movies on TV...
I had two shows, one called "An Evening with Joe Bob Briggs" and another called "Joe Bob Dead in Concert," and I toured to about 50 venues over a couple of years. That led to The Movie Channel asking me to be a guest host for a Friday night show they had called Drive-In Theater. They kept asking me back. It was supposed to last for just a single month, but I came and never left.
I know you have done some acting. I remember the cameo in Great Balls of Fire. Have you done other movies? Someone said something to me about a Stephen King movie? What about TV?
Yes. Casino, Face Off, The Stand (the Stephen King movie you're talking about), Married With Children, and bunch of indies.
Music. What do you like? Old stuff, new stuff? Give us the lowdown on Joe Bob's favorites.
That's a toughie. Anything by Lyle Lovett. And I have a weakness for techno.
How many books have you written now?
Tell us about Profoundly Erotic. I have not read it yet but can hardly wait..
Well, it's about how most things we know about sex were created by the movies. It's the ten most influential movies that have sexual content, telling how they were created, how they were received, how they changed things.
What else is happening in your world?
Looks like this is the year for the launch of the new horror/suspense/thriller cable channel-- Redrum--and I'm part of that team.
If I asked for Joe Bob's State of The Union, what would you say?
Well, I just heard a Bush speech where he kept saying "This country is stronger and safer since 9/11," and I just remember the day Clinton left office. As I recall, we were a nation at peace with a multi-billion-dollar surplus and booming financial markets. Now we're a nation constantly at war with the largest deficit in history and constant doomsday predictions by economists. I guess we're doing okay, huh?
What are the most important things in life?
The three B's, of course. Blood, Breasts and Beasts.
In closing, please give us a quote that sums up Joe Bob Briggs.
The drive-in will never die!