There are some movies that have such a strong impact on your formative years, they become a part of who you are and sometimes they seem to parallel your life so perfectly it's a kind of divine synchronicity. One such movie for me was Liquid Sky, a new wave cult classic, sci-fi, satire art film directed by Slava Tsukerman, about a woman finding power in her sexuality via the relationship between herself and aliens when a spaceship lands on her rooftop apartment in New York. The aliens arrive on our planet seeking their sustenance in the human neurological secretion of endorphins that are released during orgasm. They target the protagonist of the film Margaret, a demure and seductive, model turned heroine, as their conduit for such means, which results in the deaths of those who have sex with her. Margaret is immune to this fate because she cannot achieve orgasm despite her lesbian lover's highly charged libido or the many males who find her sexually irresistible and vulnerable to their desires. The aliens need for this orgasmic chemical resembles that of the heroin addict which is also a prevalent theme of the film, so much that the title of movie is named after a slang term for heroin called liquid sky. To me the film contained many powerful statements on various modern day social ills. But most importantly, it was about female empowerment in a type of highly stylized avant garde revenge film, presented within the context of extremely clever satire and set in ultra chic New York fashion and club scenes. It has a stunning juxtaposition of contrasts, glossy shocks of neon in a dark atmosphere of black comedy. Liquid Sky dealt with a broad range of controversial subject matter like gender stereotypes and archetypes, homosexuality, drug abuse and addiction, the commodification of a woman's sexuality in the advertisement, fashion and beauty industry, sexual identity, murder, rape, even necrophilia. It was ahead of its time, not just stylistically and musically but as a precursor to the New Wave scene and the Androgyny Movement that exploded by the mid 1980s in popular culture. Also, because of its theme of death as a result of sex, it was an ominous vision of the AIDS epidemic to come later that decade as well. Liquid Sky was a huge success in 1983, with the most screenings of any independent film, which has remained just as popular, if not more today.
I was too young to see this film's run in the theaters but was somehow able to rent it in my early teens then on BETA (we rented R rated movies without a parent present many times from a store at 24th and Church Street). Noe Valley, one of our favorite hang-outs since we lived in the outer Mission, was almost a microcosmic extension of New York's SOHO or Village - with its vintage and post punk stores for clothing, alternative records, and esoteric books. I had already identified with post punk and developed a unique style that later become known as either New Wave, New Romantic or Death Rock in the mid 1980s. So not only did I feel I resembled Margaret (played by Anne Carlisle, who also co-wrote the movie) but I identified with her on a personal level as a lesbian who felt very awkward in regards to her sexuality. I slowly began to identify as bi-sexual and channeled my feelings about this in my aesthetic, embracing both sides of my personality in extremes simultaneously in a very sexually charged manner for such a young age. I found that dressing this way was rebellious and intimating to others, which I highly enjoyed. I dressed according to what I was attracted to in females and males, coupling extreme glamour (white/gray hair, vampish make up, casual fetish clothing like hobble skirts, lingerie and stilettos) with a masculine edge (military inspired clothing and suit jackets). It wasn't until I had seen the film did I suddenly feel less alone and alienated. I saw myself in Anne, her characters portrayed in such a chic and clever context. Anne made me feel proud of my sexuality and appearance, as she so boldly and stylishly displayed in the film as both Jimmy and Margaret. Part of the reason I came out as a lesbian and later bisexual at such a young age was because of this film. The movie itself changed everything in the 1980s and created a sexual revolution of what I called the Androgyny Movement. This was a sexual revolution for some, the freedom for true sexual identity experimentation and for others simply rebellion in gender ambiguity. The need for sexual identification is so deeply embedded in our society that a person's character, heritage, race etc is secondary and foreshadowed, completely lost in some cases. There was a great thrill in causing gender confusion through sexual ambiguity, as this elicits such fear in most people, more so even than politics or religious preference. It was never about transvestism, a term which many people find offensive, as it reiterates rigid, divisive sexual stereotypes in dress codes. Margaret's ability to embrace her masculinity and feminine side made her a hero and example to me , she was free of gender stereotypes, as a gender neutral.
The movie was also the ultimate feminist statement with Margaret regularly proclaiming the adage: "This Pussy Has Teeth!", playing on the age old fears of a woman's asserted sexuality or vagina dentata male phobia. The movie had many underlying messages and symbolism that informed generations to come. There were movements here in the US that created sexual liberation and rebellion prior like The Cockettes or Glam Rock a decade before but these seemed to focus mainly on men finding their sexual freedom in dressing as women in an almost female caricature. The UK had the Teddy Girls but this remained more of a subculture. The Androgyny Movement in the 1980s gave women their time to embrace masculine appearances. Of course now with the revolutionary iconoclast Genesis Breyer P'Orridge, he has developed and become a living example of what he calls Panandrogyny, which is the abraxian styled unification of both sexes into one, absolute freedom from sexual definition into personhood. Dualities will always exist in the world however, so society needs to learn to embrace not only their shadow shelves but to find a balance in the dichotomy of the masculine and feminine nature that exists in all of us to become a complete person. This is reflected in the doppelganger relationship between Jimmy and Margaret, in which Anne embraces both sexual archetypes of male and female, reiterating the two by fluctuating this contrasting dynamic of aggression/passivity and as predator/victim. Liquid Sky is the ultimate post modern tale of eros & thanatos. I had the honor of interviewing Anne Carlisle about Liquid Sky, her personal life, and the making of Liquid Sky 2, which Slava Tsukerman will direct and co-write the script for. Anne was one of kindest and most personable celebrities I've ever talked to. There is also a documentary Slava Tsukerman is working on about the making of the film called Liquid Sky Revisited. I think this infamous quote from Margaret in the film sums it up perfectly: "And they call me beautiful, and I kill with my cunt. Isn't it fashionable? Come on, who's next?"
Zora Burden: Liquid Sky meant so much to me as a youth and still does, you were the reason I identified with the movie. Since you had co-written a lot of the script with Slava, was any of it based on your real life experiences or people you knew?
Anne Carlisle: Yes it was. Of course it was exaggerated and made more dramatic, but it was based on people that I knew. Jimmy was based on a boy I modeled with. He stayed at my house sometimes but I tried to get him to play the role, we actually had auditions with him. He would speak ok on camera sometimes but he had too much of an attitude. He had drug problems and he wouldn't show up when he was supposed to. So we both had this idea that I would play Jimmy, remodel it to a bigger contrast between them. My audition was trying to convince Slava that this was a good idea. So we went to a bar, I think we were doing a location, I said watch this... I dressed as a man, I walked up to a woman and was going to walk out of the bar with her, she had no idea I wasn't a man. That was my audition and once he saw that he said OK. (laughs) I felt bad after because I had to tell her, she was absolutely amused. She said; "Oh wow, I wouldn't have thought that but now that you say it, I can see it!" I felt a little guilty while I was doing it but it was interesting. The junkie character in Liquid Sky was supposed to be played by Tom Baker but he was too involved in drugs and wasn't reliable. He was in some Warhol movies, it was a shame what happened to Tom, he just succumbed to his habits. He wasn't able to be in the movie and we had to recast but we had written that part for him. The girl who interviews me and asks me questions (Nellie) that's my sister Sarah with the red hair. It was funny too as she asked me about my childhood and she's my sister. The models in the club scene of the movie were actually La Rocka models, some of the models went on to attend Bob's acting classes, many were from his classes. They were characterized, I was the closest [in real life] to the film. Both of the characters were close to who I was, you put them together (Jimmy and Margaret) and you get pretty close to who I am.
ZB: So how did you meet Slava? How did you two start working together?
AC: I had a movie I wrote that I produced and acted in, it was a super 8 movie he attended. At that time in the club scene in New York, there were a lot of people making super 8 movies and showing them in the clubs. It was not playing at a club when I met Slava though, it was at a screening house, a place on Broadway for underground film makers, I forget who ran it. I met him [during] normal hours so he could go to it (laughs). The casting director Bob Brady brought Slava to the screening of that movie. They were casting another movie that did not happen. That's how I met Slava. The super-8 film was called Fish, it played at the Tier 3 (TR3). Fish is a film that's almost like a poem, about a woman helping another woman, sexual politics. I would play it in clubs after people were done dancing. I'm going to transfer it to digital and Slava is going to put pieces of it on the documentary of the making of Liquid Sky. That's when I started writing with Nina Kerova (Slava's wife) and then I started with Slava, after Nina. Bob Brady who plays the acting director in Liquid Sky, was also a casting director. Almost all the people that were in Liquid Sky were from his classes. I also went to Bob Brady's acting class. He's since passed now. He had his own scene at night, people would come and pay to learn acting for the camera. I met him because I was going to the School of Visual Arts, I got my Fine Arts Degree there. I was making a video art piece so I was always in the Film Dept. Guys would need someone to do the tracking exercises, so they would pull me in front of the camera, then they would use the camera dolly, they would get graded on that. They said, "You were really good, you should come to this class." A couple of them insisted, so I went to this class where Bob was teaching actors. He gave me a script and he thought I was pretty good, so I kept going. He said, "You know you're auditing this class, why, you could get credit for it." So I signed up for it. Eventually he said, "I have professional classes in the evening, you should attend those as well." So I did both, really intensive acting classes. I was a painter but it was a time of minimalism and conceptualism. I couldn't really get that going. I came to New York to be a painter but I went towards the acting. Though I still paint.
ZB: Will you talk about when you worked in the modeling business?
AC: I was hanging out at night in the clubs with many cult figures. Niki Carson, who was also a club guy, got together a bunch of us who he thought had an unusual look that was our own and formed a modeling group called La Rocka. It was a real modeling agency but a lot of the stuff we did was at night in the clubs. For example, before La Rocka, there was Betsy Johnson and other designers. She was doing it late at night in the clubs, that was way back. Andre from Cinandre got me some work. We did it mainly for the clubs, though we didn't get paid a lot. I did do one or two shows at regular hours but mostly modeled for people in the club scene. But we weren't warm to each other, it was kind of hard. There was this idea that life was hard and we were nihilistic, the way we related to each other was kind of a demonstration of that. We related in that way because it was part of our performance in life. Everyone was so creatively frustrated it came out in their behavior because they had no where to put it. During that time in New York, there was almost a demonstration in our personal lives. What we had here in New York, everyone was leaving in droves, so we could afford to live here but very poorly. We could have a life at night by living with each other, finding cheap apartments in bad neighborhoods. We could live in NY and go to the clubs all night, it created a milieu for this that does not exist right now. You have clubs now but they are not frequented too much by artists. Although there is this huge wonderful gay/androgynous scene going on right now but a lot of artists have left, they can't afford to live here.
ZB: I remember renting Liquid Sky as a kid in 1983 (on BETA), it was really exciting to see, I resonated with it. By my mid teens in the 1980s I was in a way living the life of Margaret, going to a lot of underground roaming clubs here in San Francisco that were mainly under-aged and attended by all types: Post Punk, Mods, New Wave.. these predated raves which were a totally different thing.
AC: It was so new we didn't have a name for it and then at one point someone coined the term New Wave. It was one of the photographers who said that to me. People started taking our pictures, so they needed a name for our look. I have pictures of myself pre Liquid Sky but a lot of times it was for portraits or more modeling pics. It was a very exciting time.
ZB: A huge part of what made the 1980s so exciting for me was what I call the Androgyny Movement, like with the Mods, the New Romantics, the New Wave scene, Gothics etc. It was a very sexually ambiguous time, a time that allowed people to be completely free, no gender divides or roles existed, there were no restrictions. For some people it was fun to play around with gender roles but they weren't necessarily gay or bi or even motivated by their sexuality at all. It was simply a rebelliousness.
AC: That is exactly true!
ZB: I hope you don't mind me asking but is your sexuality in real life similar to that in the movie?
AC: There is a psychological term for what I am, I am gender fluid. Which means whoever I'm with, I am loyal to that partner I'm with, I adapt to them in a way. I always notice the beauty in both [genders]. I think bi-sexual makes it seem like the person is going back and forth, that sort of thing or sounds pernicious. I like both.
ZB: Liquid Sky captured that whole feeling, in my personal life, that even though I was born female, I could identify with both genders and loved the freedom at that time to express the qualities of both, being in the moment, despite what others think. I get so mad when people use the sexist and outdated term transvestite for a male or female who doesn't dress within the social confines and expectations of their gender because it reinforces sexual stereotyping, rigid outdated gender roles. To embrace both gender roles is liberating.
AC: That is exactly what it is, being in the moment. You know way before all this happened in the late 1970s, I cut off all my hair, I had a lot of hair, thick, curly and long. I chopped it off and started calling myself an Androgen. I didn't know there were other people like me. I felt very alienated at that point. I thought I made the word up but realized that Androgen is a scientific term for a fluid released in the brain, so I can't use that word anymore. I just couldn't stand it anymore, I felt my femininity was a stereotype, I was disgusted with myself. I was seeing myself on camera and thinking this is a manipulation, it's not even true. I tried to get down to the core of who I was, so I cut off all my hair and that was before I went to the clubs. Many women in New York were my inspiration but not exactly what I was trying to reflect.
ZB: It felt like in the 1980s, it was such an incredibly creative time. That the way we looked was an art form, becoming a living art form, like Dada or Surrealism.
AC: We called it Theater in Life. Slava and I called it that at the time.
ZB: So you are writing Liquid Sky 2 currently? How does it feel to be working with Slava again?
AC: Yes, I've already written a rough first draft with Slava but we'll see if it gets made, for low budget it's always a question. It's a little more fantasy than the first one. If it gets made I'll be very happy. This wouldn't be the second time I've worked with him. I've written scripts with him before but they didn't get produced. I wrote screen plays before Liquid Sky. I love cinema and I'm very happy to return to this subject matter. In Liquid Sky 2 Margaret becomes an avenger for women, it goes a little further. Hopefully we can make this movie.
ZB: Since the first film was made so early in the 1980s and there was nothing to really base the New Wave fashion on yet, what was the inspiration for Marina Levikova, the clothing designer for the film? What look was she going for?
AC: I would take them to the clubs and she saw the way I was dressing but exaggerated it. Movies have to be bigger than life to be interesting and dramatic. She took those elements and exaggerated them, she did a great job with very little money. The colors were brighter and things were bigger but she got the gist. She did a very good job. She's Russian and her husband is actually the director of photography on the movie, they worked together.
ZB: So it just kind of reflected the time and the place, with the heroin and fashion.
AC: You know what my experience was, there was so much cocaine! Oh my god so much cocaine. Literally people giving it to you to hang out with you, you didn't have to buy it. They'd give it to you to stand next to you at the clubs. That was before the "rhesus monkey study" which was shown on national TV, where they had monkeys given [self administered] cocaine until they died. They would not want food, just cocaine, until they died. People thought it was a non addictive thing, there were no studies on it, so until that came out on television people were going wild with the drug because there was no definitive, negative research.
ZB: There was so much in the movie that prophesied what was to come later of the decadence and indulgence of the 1980s because they didn't know what the risks were at the time with drugs and sex.
AC: It had this weird thing where it even predicted AIDS, needles and death. All these people started to die, it was very scary. When we were making the film, we didn't realize what was going on but we started to see it. They got sick and died very fast back then, they had no drugs, it was awful.
ZB: Yes incredibly tragic. It was eerie how prophetic the movie was. I was wondering who decided to use the term "This Pussy Has Teeth!" in the film? The vagina dentata reference but in a modern sense, reiterating the fears of the vagina society has. I liked that because a lot of people use it as a kind of empowerment now, as a result of Liquid Sky. It may have been dark and morbid but it became a feminist slogan after the movie.
AC: You're right, that's an ancient thing, that the vagina has teeth, so it was great we could incorporate that in the movie and make it work.
ZB: I completely identified with you in the film. I felt proud and totally different about myself after seeing Liquid Sky. It gave me this sense of self that might not have existed otherwise.
AC: Thanks for saying that. That's what I hope it does for people. It wasn't easy, it was really difficult, the whole process, but that's what I meant to do. It took about 3 months to shoot. It was emotionally difficult. I was living on the set. You know the scenes in the rooftop apartment, that was actually an apartment a friend of mine had. I asked when they were going to leave, so I [began] living in that apartment, so we could do special shots. I had to always wait there, [when] we had special effects shots that had to be done. It was on 28th Street and Broadway. I'd like to go see if it's still there but they're currently fixing up the building so they can make a lot of money. I don't even know if I could get up there, with all those stairs you have to climb to get there. Those stairs during the rape scene, it was the stairs you climb to get to the penthouse in the movie.
ZB: Do you know when the documentary might be finished?
AC: Slava is currently working on it but I don't know when it will be finished. Like for Liquid Sky 2, when you're making low budget movies, you have to adapt to your budget, time of year that you're shooting, the location. I have to change the script depending on where you are going to shoot. So it's hard to talk about something since it's an ongoing process. Just yesterday Slava asked I change something, so it's changing all the time. It's even more sci-fi this time, there's still a UFO. No heroin this time though.
ZB: Someone mentioned that at a screening you had said how dangerous the neighborhood you lived in was, that going out at night helped you feel more safe in sleeping during the day. A lot of us who went to clubs in our teens who had no place to stay would end up going to clubs just to hook up with someone (platonic or sexually) just to have a place to sleep.
That's not why I went out, we did sleep during the day because we were out all night. I didn't mean that, maybe they misunderstood. We would not carry anything of value on us, we would have a [public transit] token and a little bit of money, not even ID because you would get mugged. But for us, with our appearance, the people that would mug wouldn't go after us. They could tell because of the way we dressed, that we weren't people who had money. I went around a lot at midnight by myself sometimes and it was kind of part of the thing but you knew you could die at any moment, that was part of the milieu. (laughs)
ZB: What clubs were you going to back then? Which clubs did you film the movie in?
AC: There were so many, Palladium, Danceteria, Mudd Club of course, Tier 3. I can't remember them, a lot of after hour clubs for the people who worked in the clubs, who would go after, it was totally illegal. We went to a lot of after hours clubs. I think that space for the movie wasn't one of the clubs I would normally frequent but we picked it because it had no windows so we could film 24 hours and not have to worry about sunlight or whatever. This was for the fashion show. The club at the end where I find the character that had originally raped me, that club I had gone to, it had great lights. That was one of the newer ones in Union Square. Most of the clubs were way downtown, on Canal Street. On the East Side there were some great clubs, smaller, good for filming like the one on Avenue A but I don't remember the name. With the underground clubs, they (the police) didn't ever bother us because at that time they had really serious problems in NY like murderers. It was at the height of the worst crime wave in NY history.
ZB: I wanted to ask about the woman who played Adrian in the movie, was she a friend of yours before the film?
AC: Paula Shepard was in the acting class. Paula, who played the character, is nothing like that. Slava and I coached her to teach her the character, the mentality of the character. There was a person we had in mind to play that role but when we had her read the role she said, "Oh that person is so evil, I could never play this character!" So really Paula Sheppard was the best actress, she's professional, she made the character and did the role, but is nothing like her. There was a person I had based the Adrian character on but I exaggerated her. The actress who played Adrian, we can't find her. Last we heard Paula was teaching Yoga in California. The person it was loosely based on is a very talented writer in her own right and she's a musician. She's doing very well, she lives in LA. I can't tell you who she is but she's kind of a known person, a cult icon. I would love to contact Paula but you know people have children and they don't want to be associated with movies like this.
ZB: Who wrote the spoken word performance art pieces Adrian did?
AC: Slava wrote them, Rhythm Box and the Eulogy for Owen were both written by Slava. He did a great job.
ZB: Was Rhythm Box a euphemism for a vagina?
AC: Well that and a vibrator. (laughs loudly)
ZB: Her character was very hard, you get so abused in the movie, verbally, physically.
AC: Yeah tell me about it. The movie was not easy for me. People all think it was fun to make, it was very hard to work those kind of hours. We worked incredibly hard, everyone worked so hard, the long hours. The editing was hard too, even though we were younger, it's really hard to make a low budget movie if you want it to be good. Right before filming, I had a cast on my leg because I fell going into Slava's building. I had some stretched ligaments from my ankle and I think the bone was cracked. I took the cast off before the movie, so you see those ties (in the film) on my feet with the platforms, the weird black ties that I'm wearing, those are really ankle braces. You can see them occasionally but they're helping to keep my ankles in, so I wouldn't fall. They were stylish but they were there for a reason. I had a hypnotist so I wouldn't feel the pain, they hired a hypnotist. He came every day for a while. After all the shooting was done, I went out and was in a club and fell off my shoes and I could not wear those high [heeled] shoes again. I had to have 3 ankle reconstructions. I have mixed feelings about heels, they're really not good for you on the one hand but on the other... they look so good, I miss the platforms. They told me if I took the cast off my leg that I would have trouble for the rest of my life and I did. But it was my choice, I'm not sorry. For me it was very difficult because I really had to isolate myself to do the role. She's very alienated. We were shooting all the time, so I always stayed in character, I never went in and out of character. You know the people that were on the roof on my apartment, they were having a good time but I wasn't with them. I wasn't out there because in a couple hours they were going to have to start making fun of me and jeering at me and I didn't think it would be good for the scene, so I isolated myself.
ZB: Every line in that movie is so famously quotable, have you noticed people using the dialogue from the script in interesting places?
AC: No but I have had people send me the quotes and say they use them between themselves when they mean certain things when they're talking. Which is really flattering and I enjoy that. But I'm having trouble with the sequel because I can't come up with great lines like that, like in the first one.
ZB: I have faith you will!
AC: Situationally we have come up with the equivalent but not the dialogue in terms of the laugh lines. So I hope I can come up with those.
ZB: How did you get funding for Liquid Sky?
AC: It was a person who had made money in real estate and was interested in making money in movies, so it was advantageous for us because it worked out timing wise, that was Robert E Field. He's got his name in the credits. He really gave us a lot of room creatively. A lot of producers wouldn't and that's what made it so great, we had that leeway. When it came to editing, he was more involved but when we shot the movie he stayed enough out of it so we could do our creative work. We were also spending very little money. We were shooting for under 300,000 with 35mm film, done the best technical way. All the money went into the image and the sound of the movie.
ZB: For those who may not be familiar, will you talk about the infamous soundtrack for the movie?
AC: Slava went to a place where they had a synthesizer and he wrote it with some other people, they have credits with him. He had very strong ideas about what he wanted in terms of the sound.
ZB: Was there anything aside from your real life experiences, like a movie or art, that had inspired the film?
AC: Our idea was to make the most original thing we possibly could. I don't know about Slava but I did not have anything else in mind. There was a film maker that we would go to see, Slava and I went to see some David Lynch films while we were writing. We did go to see David Lynch movies and talked about them, we got inspiration from his films, his really early stuff.
ZB: What happened to the clothing from the movie?
AC: Slava tried to hold on to it but he couldn't, so it's gone. He has a lot of rehearsal tapes where I'm wearing my own clothing, so it's really interesting to see. I made my own clothes like from leather. I would spend hours making them, like skirts, vests and purses.
ZB: What was the rating process for Liquid Sky? Even though there wasn't really any nudity, did you have an issue with the language or content?
AC: There was a problem, we were afraid they'd give us an X rating. There were so many in Los Angeles who stuck their neck out for us. It looked liked they might give us an X which would have killed the movie. We wouldn't have been able to show the movie.
ZB: Did you have a target audience for the film? What was the reaction to it when it was first released?
AC: People didn't laugh like the way they do now. It bothered me because we thought it was funny, really funny. We thought what we made was a comedy. Maybe it was too early. They took it too seriously and then some people would get high before the screening and I didn't mean it to be a thing to take drugs to. I really didn't mean that, I was upset about that. Now the few screenings that we have had (recently) people get into the social aspect of it more. Hopefully people will enjoy it that way instead of use it for an excuse to do drugs.
ZB: You have mentioned that while in character as Jimmy, either during filming or off camera, you got treated differently by other actors and staff. That the women would flirt with you on set between shoots. Will you talk about that?
AC: Jimmy is complicated because he has a lot of charisma, a lot of this comes from his rage. It was disturbing to me because I'm playing this character who has problems with women because he can't satisfy them, he's gay but women are attracted to him. So while I'm in character as a man, pumping up the volume on this charisma, women on the set are interacting with me and I'm thinking this is horrible because these girls are attracted to me playing a sadistic boy. (laughs) But I couldn't break character because I have a job to do, right... and I'm thinking this is too bad, why do they like this guy?
ZB: You did make a very beautiful man, so you can't blame them!
AC: I was sad for the women because we always like these bad boys, what does that say about us?
ZB: I think it has to do with danger and passion being synonymous. Did you feel more powerful dressed as a man?
AC: I did. I hate to say it but when I was in character as Margaret, the cameraman would touch me all the time and hold my face exactly where he wanted me to stay, it was a very short focal point. They were having trouble staying in focus because they didn't have a lot of money for lighting, they wanted that very colorful look. So I was being touched all the time and moved all the time without asking me because Margaret is a victim and commodity and men would react to that character. Inside I was upset, oh my god! But as Jimmy, nobody touched me. Now I don't know if Jimmy was farther away or not but I think Jimmy did have some close ups. Nobody ever touched me when I played Jimmy. For long periods of time while waiting for them to set the lights or move the camera and I was staying in character, women would react to me. I stayed in character off camera.
ZB: Did you incorporate Jimmy into your real after the movie, like dressing more masculine?
AC: Well before the movie I often wore a man's jacket and a miniskirt. I mixed it up, both at the same time. I would wear pretty short hair for a long time. Up until it got closer to shooting rehearsals, I grew it longer. Trying to strike the balance between them was what I was trying to do. I went out recently and saw people who had that, you couldn't tell if they were men or women and it was great! There are people doing that now and doing a really great job.
ZB: Did dressing like a man make you feel different, like you were more free to be yourself? You had mentioned it made you feel more powerful.
AC: When I was a child I called myself Jimmy. I was a tomboy, a pretty intense tomboy. I played with boys and got in fist fights and stuff like that. I really had a boys haircut and boys clothes. I had always felt like it would be better if I was a boy. That I would have more authority and I would be happier as a boy but then at a certain age I got beat up. I realized I wasn't going to be a strong boy and thought this isn't working. (laughs) It's complicated, there's always these "as ifs" in my life like I'm living parallel lives. The characters you have enrich you, they're always there, latent, they're always a part of you. I don't know how to explain it, Jimmy is still with me and Margaret is still with me. I created them, they're part of me and I am them. But I would say Jimmy, he empowered me and while I was playing him I did feel more powerful as a person, more certainly than Margaret, she doesn't feel powerful at all. So then when she's given this power she has to use, so she has to go get this guy that raped her, she has a vengeance.
ZB: What was the meaning behind the fact that Margaret could not have orgasms aside from her character's survival? I mean with the consensual sex she had, was there a statement you were making about women and orgasms?
AC: Well how could she? She was in the missionary position the whole time! (laughs) I don't know about you, but this never did it for me, never. I think percentage wise very few women can have an orgasm when there's somebody on top of them. It would take forever in the first place, second place everyone wants to feel a little bit of control. But of course she couldn't have an orgasm if people were abusing her, even her girlfriend is on top of her. In those positions she was in, it didn't work for her. She's feeling so awful about herself, trying to please everyone, she's not centered enough to have one. She's trying to find happiness by pleasing everyone else. You can't really expect her to have a great sex life if that's what is going on in her head.
ZB: Will you talk about your being in Playboy and how that related to the film?
AC: Yeah, I did do Playboy. I did Jimmy and Margaret in Playboy. I did quite a lot of pictures and the reason I did it was because I couldn't pay my rent. That was when I decided to go back to school, so I couldn't support myself. After awhile when you get a little older you can't model anymore. I had been modeling for Ford Agency, and that's how I was living. It was nothing X rated, you can see my breasts. I don't think that's such a big deal. The pictures of Jimmy and Margaret can be seen on Slava's website.
ZB: How was your acting career since Liquid Sky?
AC: I did have small parts in big movies. I played a transvestite in a Crocodile Dundee. He didn't want to touch a man, so I was a woman playing a man playing a woman. I still get residuals for that.
ZB: Have you been approached about any Liquid Sky related projects? You know a lot of cult classics have graphic novels. A graphic novel on Liquid Sky, that would be amazing.
AC: That's a possibility. We have someone thinking of doing that. I actually did write a novelization, it's out on Double Day. It's very serious and it isn't the direction of where we are taking Liquid Sky 2. The book was not that successful. I wrote it from Margret's point of view and Margaret hasn't gone to college. (laughs) I wasn't so sure I did a great job on that. They printed a lot of copies, it's called Liquid Sky the Novel. We are thinking about a comic book. I have a friend that we're thinking of doing that with but it's in the future. That would be probably after Liquid Sky 2 is done, then we'll do the whole thing.
ZB: Thank you so much Anne, it's been an honor, you are so wonderful! I look forward to seeing what you come up with for Liquid Sky 2.