So when I got to meet the great director - a genius, as Martin Scorsese and Ben Kingsley will tell you - I casually threw out "You should come to my store," thinking I would get the celebrity brush off, i.e., that he'd say "Oh, that's nice, but we don't have time."
"You have a store?" he asked instead.. and that question lead to my getting to do one of the coolest things I've ever done, which was, with the aid of my wonderful videographer Matt Reyes, share a penis pinata, some fetish shoes and a vibrator the size of a muffler with Ken Russell (that's Lisi, Matt, Ken and me, below).
If you're reading this you're probably a fan and know why anyone would be - watching a Ken Russell movie is like being in a dream that's a thousand times cooler than any you might have. In fact, scenes like the one in Gothic where Claire's nipples turn into eyes, Amanda Donaho making various sacrifices to her snake god and of course Ann-Margaret wallowing in suds, beans and chocolate
could potentially open up your mind to possibilities you literally never dreamed of.
There was so much more than this to love about Ken Russell....his combination religious and sexual imagery, his risk-taking (I had never seen Nazi fetish wear before Mahler), his unabashed love for his subjects....it all added up to a cinematic experience profoundly unlike any other and all for the good.
In fact, looking back after more than 20 years of being a Ken Russell fan I think I can say that his look on the power, absurdity, humor and immense importance of sexuality probably influenced me more than I realized and it's an influence that, as a 20-something writer, I was really lucky to have.Ken Russell died yesterday at the age of 84 and while you'll read a dozen tributes in the next few days I wanted to kick in my little piece about bringing Ken and Lisi to the store, which I'm so grateful for. They were wonderfully good sports, especially since they'd been traipsing around the Holy Land Experience all day when their assistant here in Orlando, Chrsitine Robison, brought them to us at the store. Still, they good-humoredly had fun with us, stuck around, looked around and agreed to a little video, which you'll see below. As of this writing it's getting stuck a bit around the second minute or so but I hope you'll get to see it through to the end...you haven't seen the true potential of a fetish shoe until you've seen Ken Russell lick one, which, if memory serves, he did.
Or it might have been a dream after watching one of his films.