STEPHEN DUPUIS: "LEADING MAKEUP MAN OF CANADA" FUDDLE-DUDDLE: WHAT DO LATE CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER PIERRE ELLIOTT TRUDEAU & "THE WHACK-OFF CLAUSE" HAVE IN COMMON? P.E.T ON THE AMERICAN DEVICES! MONTREAL SEVENTIES PUNK EXCLUSIVE: DENIAL AIN'T A RIVER IN EGYPT! ROLLO DeBONE OF THE CHROMOSOMES REMINISCES! RICK TREMBLES SIGHTING IN QUEBEC'S ANSWER TO MAD MAGAZINE: SAFARIR!
All contents © 2000-2002, Rick Trembles
UNAUTHORIZED REPRODUCTION STRICTLY FORBIDDEN
November 28, 2002
STEPHEN DUPUIS: "LEADING MAKEUP MAN OF CANADA" (according to Fangoria Magazine #11) Pictured below: Stephen Dupuis photos by Anthony Vielleux.
The Following article originally appeared 18 years ago in the first issue of Montreal fanzine, Sugar Diet...
Visiting Stephen Dupuis was quite a treat for me & Anthony Vielleux (former singer of The Nils). We'd both been special effects buffs for quite a while, collecting magazines & books on the subject. A person I know making a vampire movie for school was using the most realistic fangs I'd ever seen. Looking for advice on makeup effects for the monster movie I was planning, I asked him where he got his fangs & he gave me Stephen Dupuis' phone number. Turns out that Dick Smith, (one of the world's most famous makeup effects artists responsible for The Exorcist, Scanners, Altered States, Taxi Driver, etc…) considers him "Montreal's top makeup artist." Stephen worked with him on Scanners & showed us the actual effects appliances used on the actor. To simulate blood-swollen veins creeping up from his neck to his head, fake blood was pumped through tubes into hollow vein patterns built inside a translucent plastic material that was applied on the actor's face. Flattened out & undetectable, they swell when filled with blood. Stephen demonstrated by blowing air into it, but in the movie you could see the darkening of the veins as the blood expanded them. Although this particular effect was devised by Dick Smith, Stephen showed us similar appliances he made for "Ammityville Horror Part 2." Also created for this film was an articulated corpse arm. Fishing wire controlled the jointed fingers. It glistened & looked perishable, but it was all rubber, plastic & paint. Next, he took out a life-sized head & shoulders foam-latex dummy that was swollen with bloody bumps & sores, the victim of "Death Bite," a movie not yet released about poisonous snakes. "It took 5 people to operate the mechanical head," he told us. With the use of cables & wires leading out of camera range, Stephen opened the mouth so that someone could make the tongue come out. Another controlled the eyes popping out, another to pump blood out of skin cracks & one more to move the whole suffering thing around. "It was a tight shot," he chuckled. Between makeup effects preparations & actual filming, actor Al (King of Kensington) Waxman happened to gain weight on his face, causing repairs to be made! Stephen sees the splatter/slasher murder-movie trend fizzling out to more challenging fantasy effects in the future.
© Rick Trembles, 1984
FUDDLE-DUDDLE: WHAT DO LATE CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER PIERRE ELLIOTT TRUDEAU & "THE WHACK-OFF CLAUSE" HAVE IN COMMON? P.E.T ON THE AMERICAN DEVICES! (pictured below: "…I've heard OF american devices...")
Back in '92, longtime Devices fan Janet Cane tried her hand at making a video documentary about my band The American Devices centered largely around me. Countless hours were shot being asked unimaginative questions like "what do I think of suicide" & "do I have any friends." They even resorted to word-association & probing my drunken downstairs neighbor whether he thought I was a "fag" or not. What's next? What's my favorite color? I wasn't such a happy camper, the period she was prodding me. There's an ever-present wineglass fulla Jack Daniels in my hand & I seem to end every sentence with "'n' stuff" as if I'm in a catatonic stupor 'n' stuff. Acquaintances interviewed sound like they're delivering last respects as if I was already dead & buried. But at one point, when we were walking out on The Main during the summer street festival to "recruit fans" & promote an upcoming show, me with my guitar in my arms, Janet shoving her mic & camcorder in strangers' faces, who do we bump into but former prime minister Trudeau taking a casual stroll with an unidentified middle-aged woman. Not a single security guard in sight. Janet & I zeroed in & asked if he'd ever heard of The American Devices. "I've heard OF american devices, but not the band," he responded before realizing he was being filmed (screen-shot pictured above). Irked a touch by our intrusion, he winked at Janet & walked off brusquely.
As the production of Janet's documentary dragged on without much progress, it began to dawn on me that the overall tone of questioning was becoming increasingly antagonistic. I originally went along & offered her free reign to each & every aspect of my miserable life, but after insisting on filming a tiny birthday supper my parents were about to throw for me, the prying began to feel more voyeuristic than utilitarian, so I attempted to voice my grievances to Janet in the form of the following "whack-off clause" (below). You asked for it, you got it, Janet. My guts are spilled. For fun, after having borrowed someone else's camcorder, I'd taken actual footage of myself in a wig & tight miniskirt jerking off my own freshly-shaved, bald, hard cock to the tune of Andrea True's classic exhibitionism anthem "More, More, More" (which my band used to cover). Along with the contract, I handed her a copy of said masturbation videocassette 'n' stuff but she refused to sign such stipulations 'n' stuff & symbolically tossed the form on the ground 'n' stuff (all the while retaining the video 'n' stuff). She can dish it out but she can't take it I guess. 'N' STUFF. Needless to say, her documentary ('n' stuff) never saw the light of day & somehow the cassettes 'n' stuff all found their way back to me where they've been sitting on my shelf gathering dust 'n' stuff forever. Thank fuck.
Janet Cane Video Documentary Production, Sept. 13, 1992
The following contract hereby stipulates that in exchange for granted access into the home of the parents of said RICK TREMBLES on September 13, l992, in order to shoot footage of RICK TREMBLES amongst his family, blowing out the candles on his thirty-first birthday cake provided by his mom, (contract applies, as well in the event that sparklers happen to be used instead of candles), for use in the Janet Cane production of the RICK TREMBLES Documentary, it is requested that previously-filmed masturbation footage provided by & of RICK TREMBLES be included in the finished documentary. It is understandable that in certain districts or venues, censorship laws may prohibit such footage from being presented, therefore in those circumstances genitalia will be permitted to be obscured employing current blotting-out methods (I.E.: preferably the video cube-pixel breakup technique, the blue dot, or the black bar), all the while suggesting as much as possible what is occurring. I am in effect swapping my mom for my whacking off. It is also requested that said RICK TREMBLES, gets to OK the final edit of the Janet Cane production of the RICK TREMBLES documentary before any public viewing (not including grant applications or private money-raising screenings for completion funds of said documentary).
Signed at _______ , this _______ , day of _______ 19 _______ .
Janet Cane __________ Rick Trembles __________
For more information on how to obtain a copy of the actual footage of myself in a wig & tight miniskirt jerking off my own freshly-shaved, bald, hard cock to the tune of Andrea True's classic exhibitionism anthem "More, More, More" 'n' stuff, contact me through this web site.
November 14, 2002
MONTREAL SEVENTIES PUNK EXCLUSIVE: DENIAL AIN'T A RIVER IN EGYPT! ROLLO DeBONE OF THE CHROMOSOMES REMINISCES! (pictured below: Rollo playing bass for The Chromosomes, January 1979)
I recently got a surprise email out of the blue from Rollo DeBone, former bass player of one of Montreal's first punk bands, the notorious Chromosomes. Turns out he discovered his son had bookmarked a page from Snubdom describing the band. "I don't want him getting a distorted sense of history from anyone other than his own father," he told me. I said I hope I didn't cause any trouble & was flattered I'd been bookmarked. Was it just for the Chromosomes info? How old is the kid? And is he into punk rock too?
"My sons, 15 & 13 are both heavily into music," Rollo told me, "the older one knows more about seventies-era punk than I ever did but isn't so much interested in the lifestyle as the music. It's all I can do to debunk his puffed-up image of those days. And ooh, how it hurts to do that. I'd love to share memories & just discuss anything at all that was going on back then…"
He was happy to read my opinions about that period. In retrospect, he said, those days meant more to him than he could have realized at the time. But he took issue at my description of The Chromosomes as a bunch of slobs...
"We CULTIVATED that look! I spent my days in a used car lot garage lying under Pontiac Astres & Chevrolet Impalas catching transmissions, then rushing to practices or gigs. Cleaning up & putting on poseur clothes? Who had time?? Sure, I could've at least washed up first, but then what excuse would I have had for not getting the punk babes? Those highly desirable women who used to flock to see us..."
Rollo was glad I described The Chromosomes as intentionally humorous on stage because he felt the whole scene lacked that element, but he couldn't understand why there wasn't a single mention of a particular band in my loose chronology of early Montreal punk...
"If you wanna sum up Montreal, punk rock, & the late seventies in two words, that two-word sentence would have to be: ARTHUR'S (fucking) DILEMMA!!"
I said I was aware of them but I never got to see the band so I can't write about them. I bugged Rob Labelle (who did shows with The Chromosomes back in the seventies with his band The Normals & is now in my band The American Devices) to write something on them but he never did. I also bugged ex-Devices bassist Dave Hill to write about them (AND The Chromosomes because he was a huge fan) but no luck with him either. I think an actual vinyl 45 of Arthur's Dilemma exists out there somewhere from back then. Of the early 364 St-Paul scene, I also never got to see The Young Adults or Emergency.
I keep claiming that the story I wrote about the old days on my site is the first draft of a book I'm working on. I did talk to a publisher a few years ago but it went nowhere (I think they thought it was just TOO obscure, even though that was the whole point). I might write another chapter soon to try to generate more interest. But as anyone who's ever read it has probably noticed, it's from my own VERY personal point of view (from a member of the only band that still exists from around back then). People have told me the personal point of view's a plus because many "rock histories" are nothing but timelines & inventories. I told Rollo that if this book ever does come into being, it'd be great to have sidebars filled with anecdotes from the likes of him...
"In a more serious vein (no pun intended), about singer/guitarist Dave's demise. I know, we ALL know… the lifestyle had its risks & no one is more aware than his friends how tragic a waste it was to watch him go like that. But between you & me, when it happened, his mother was very concerned about salvaging some dignity from his life & made all his friends go along with the story she gave to immediate family that Dave died from choking on a piece of steak. His mom is now passed away as well so I suppose that no harm can come from your report of the truth & I seriously doubt any of his family will ever read your page. But it's just something to think about when revealing sensitive facts like that over the net..."
I heard that story about the choking on food too. I didn't know what to make of it. I thought it was a bad gag/hoax. And I always figured anyone who's gonna wanna keep stuff like that hush isn't going to be the type of person that'd venture anywhere near where most of my work ever gets published or put online. I do write for The Montreal Mirror which is distributed all over town, but only film-related stuff. I never had qualms about being open about Dave's shenanigans because he was so in-your-face about it himself. Aggressively in-your-face. Didn't he wear a hypodermic/bat tattoo/logo? He seemed to flaunt the life. I remember bumping into him on the street coming out of the courthouse with his mom & we talked shop for a bit about what's up with each other's bands. He used to give me pep talks. "The life" was so much part of his character. I've known a lot of people whose characteristics became similarly affected & also met untimely deaths or else had their lives irreversibly altered. I flirted with that stuff too but never got really immersed. I first drew a piece on Dave's death in local music rag Reargarde (where I had a biographical comic-strip column) because I couldn't believe nobody was mentioning his band.
That was in the late 80's & the majority of my friends were pretty immersed too. It was so much everywhere that it didn't seem like such a big thing to me. I also felt there was a cautionary element to bringing drug excess out of the closet. NOT bringing it up seemed to reinforce the denial I saw around me in so many people. I saw a lot of that denial as hypocritical because it was simultaneously & defiantly being flaunted as rebelliousness. NOT to bring it up seemed like self-censorship (& I was having censorship issues of my own those days. Remember "femi-nazis" & political correctness? They were starting to flaunt themselves too back then & my work was a target). I never named names however (other than Dave or whoever would give me their "blessings"). I was no fink. But I wasn't exempt. I frequently implicated myself in incriminating situations all over my comix just to rub people wrong & I thought in some weird way Dave would've approved because at least he didn't stand for bullshit. I was pretty mixed up & pissed off back then. No regrets though. I think people were too chicken to bring The Chromosomes up for those very reasons: how to discuss them without mentioning what they were into when it seemed to be so much a part of their character. For better or worse, such a collective hush couldn't help endowing them with a dreaded mystique tough to demystify. This "stigma" carried over to Dave's subsequent bands 'til the day he died. Rollo's still in contact with former drummer Gery who plays "semi-pro" around town, but...
"I'm afraid Gery doesn't remember anything, not even when me & Dave dumped his kit in the snow after the last McGill gig because he couldn't be bothered to pack up after the show & left us to be his roadies..." (pictured right: Gery of The Chromosomes, January 1979)
In my brief description of them I said they looked like what me & my high school buddies would have looked like in ten years if we kept ingesting (intoxicants) on a daily basis, to which Rollo responded…
"I am now 47, Gery is 45, Dave would have been 44. We WERE older than you..."
I just turned 41. Rollo told me he still has a four-song Chromosomes demo lying around on cassette somewhere. Too bad there wasn't a label interested in the old scene from here just like every other major city seems to have. They're unburying stuff everywhere but here it seems. My band isn't even dead yet & we still can't generate shit. Fuck, did Montreal ever miss the boat on "punk rock," huh? I thank Rollo for giving me permission to post the following memoir written by him in '93, which he says was…
"…a sort of time capsule inclusion to myself. Sorta like those investment-counselor ads on TV. Anyway, read it through for what its worth…"
THE CHROMOSOMES 1977-1988
For eleven years between disco & new-age I found myself involved with (implicated in?) a band of 3 musicians (alternate auralists?) calling ourselves The Chromosomes. Although it would be pretty hard to find anyone left in Montreal who remembers us & even harder to find anyone who cares, I feel the time has come to put down on paper what I recall of that time & those people.
Making music, or making it in music was never the real focus of the band. There were too many distractions in all our lives but I guess it would be fair to say that the specter of dangerous drugs & all the evil behavior they can invoke was pretty much the soup-du-jour. I don't wish to dwell too much on that subject but it should be explained that many lengthy absences from the band were due to what we euphemistically referred to as "drug related crimes."
Lets start with a brief chronology: In the winter of 1977 a young fellow from New York by the name of Kai Eric, probably in school in Montreal, & probably rolling in dough, needed a backup band. His old band was called Kai Eric & the Chromosomes. They weren't around & a gig was upcoming. I owned a bass guitar, Gery had drums & Dave procured & learned a few chords on the guitar. We did the gig, we were awful, we saw potential, got rid of our benefactor & stole the name. The Chromosomes were born.
That spring was Montreal's ever-so-brief punk heyday & the band played 3 or 4 gigs in a tiny, sweaty, smoky club in Old Montreal on 364 St. Paul Street West, oddly enough named "Three-Six-Four." We shared bills with such Montreal punk legends as The Young Adults, Arthur's Dilemma, The Normals, The Black Widows & others.
After the summer was over Dave & Gery got popped, so all activity was put on hold for 18 months with time off for good behavior. This was to prove to be a recurring problem over the next ten years. After the spring of '77 a group of people wishing to promote our band began to hang with us & generally insinuate their way into the Chromo scene, such as it was. As they could provide practice space in the back of a downtown record store & were all-around nice guys, we graciously shared all the accouterments of our own brand of punk rock revelry with them.
Our first gig was in April of 1977. The last time I remember playing with Dave & Gery was in the early fall of 1988. Six days after we jammed together for the last time, David was discovered dead in his apartment. Gery & I both knew we could never continue the band without him, so all that remains of The Chromosomes, a legend in their own minds, are a handful of tapes. There's a video of a Concordia University beer-bash floating around somewhere but mostly it's just memories, fading fast. Before forgetting it, I'd like to put it all down in case anyone ever wants to know.
As I said, the first time we gigged was at "364" in April of '77. Altogether, we played there 4 times that spring & summer, rapidly gaining favor with the punk cognoscenti. And also, as was mentioned, we were prohibited from further performances just at the zenith of our popularity. Eight or ten months later, in the summer of '78, the band was reunited. By then the accepted line was that "punk" was dead. New wave, however, was booming, so without changing a thing about ourselves we just told promoters we were a "new wave" band, surfing music, yeah, that's the ticket, yeah...
One evening, we played an outdoor concert at Westminster Park. After 3 songs Dave jumped into the wading pool, 3 feet of highly conductive water, in front of the stage with his guitar plugged into the customary two-hundred watts or so of noisemaking juice. To his everlasting credit, Fat Freddie the soundman (who was neither fat nor named Freddie) hit the power mains in about a tenth of a second, probably prolonging Dave's career in the process.
The first McGill gig in January of '79 was definitely a high point in the band's history. Conservative estimates put the crowd in the high hundreds, & although we didn't have top billing, (The Thirty-nine Steps, or The 222s as I think they were called then, had that honor), by all accounts we were the show-stoppers. I think another bust followed this gig by several days, & of necessity, the time-space was a little longer before we could get back together.
I remember a Christmas gig, I think in 1980, when we rented a hall at the LaSalle Hotel & promoted it ourselves. Despite the encouragement of a frenzied fan rolling around in broken beer-bottle glass in front of the stage (paint it red, you devils!) we played awfully. That was starting to be a pattern as cocaine became the drug of choice among band members.
That winter was a bleak one made all the more so with yet another incarceration. It would be a while before the band would play again. In the meantime Dave & I got into another musical project, The Irregulars. This bluesy outfit featured five or six players and although we never got to play in front of anyone, we got pretty tight musically. That spring, The Irregulars too, met with an untimely disbandment as Dave was forced to flee the country to get out from yet another legal entanglement.
By the time the band was intact again, I committed by far the worst crime any Chromosome could ever conceive of, namely; getting married. After a six month busman's holiday/honeymoon, I returned to the Montreal region to rejoin the band. But someone was busted or something. I think it was Dave again.
A year or so later the second wave of The Chromosomes' career took off. Dave was living on Park Ave. with a fairly cool old doll, a sort of steadying influence on his lifestyle & we got the band tight again for a gig, the second McGill show in 1984 I think it was, where we presented some new material (BFTP, Alpo, Allo Police) with a slightly more laid-back general presentation. Hey, this was the eighties, after all. This period, oddly enough, represented the lowest depths of my personal involvement with drugs, as well as our all-time shittiest show, a self-promoted affair at a tiny place called Studio Altaire on St. Laurent Blvd for which we prepared extensively, only to walk off the stage after about twelve minutes because the cocaine rush had worn off. Exit Gery about this time for a fair stretch, to reemerge none the worse for wear, but the band at this point couldn't sustain the long periods of inactivity.
All our personal lives diverged. Gery made a committed effort at rehab (successfully), Dave also took some stabs at going straight & I started a family. The Chromosomes got put on the back-burner. In retrospect, this time period, with less contact among band members may have contributed to saving Gery's life (& mine). But when we did finally reunite in the summer of '88 a spark had definitely gone out. The music, however, was still tight & we were planning a 10th anniversary gig of some sort when Dave's untimely demise put the kibosh to the whole thing.
Listening to today's 4-chord wonders from Seattle & such makes me wonder if things could have turned out differently. Or would any real success as a band have been fatal to all of us? I guess we'll never know.
© Rollo DeBone, Montreal, Sept. 29 1993
November 7, 2002
RICK TREMBLES SIGHTING IN QUEBEC'S ANSWER TO MAD MAGAZINE: SAFARIR! (pictured below: sample panel from photo-story)
Learn some French already & go get the latest Halloween issue of Safarir (w/Ozzie on the cover eatin' a bat-burger). The "number-one Francophone humor magazine in America" is available just about anywhere in Quebec & costs about 4 bucks. Couple o' months ago I offered to play "myself" (for free) in a 3 page color photo-story that freelance contributor Steve Requin was putting together satirizing slasher flicks. "RONNIE: LES DENTS DE L'EGOÏNE" (Ronnie: Teeth Of The Hand Saw) finally saw print this month & you can actually catch a glimpse of my rustic kitchen where scenes were shot. SEE! The unfolding of a hot lesbian sequence with Isabelle "Necrophilia" Stephen! SEE! Rick Trembles attacked with a saw by a psycho in a Ronald Reagan mask! (By the way, I need my saw back, Steve). In the picture above you can just make out a poster I designed for the Francois Miron movie I starred in last summer, Resolving Power, hanging from my kitchen wall. According to the speech balloons, fans uncover "rock legend" Rick Trembles' hideout in the woods, barging in on his life of solitude after faking his own death so that his catalog would soar in worth for him to cash in on. Trouble is, he miscalculated the fact that his bank account would be declared as dead & inactive as he was purported to be. Safarir #174 also includes a Dear Abbey parody with Isabelle "Necrophilia" Stephen answering goofy ghouls' letters as Mademoiselle Démonika! Groan.