Director Larry Wessel on his documentary ICONOCLAST and his fallout with Boyd Rice

Categories: Interviews

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When filmmaker Larry Wessel started working on ICONOCLAST, he didn't know it was going to turn into a six-year filming project. But then again, his subject, Boyd Rice, has been a wild and curious abstraction of a performer, whose work in music with the NON was a forerunner in noise and industrial scenes, and whose later interviews and publications of the works of Anton LeVay and Charles Manson solidified him as an outsider. He often describes his own music as "audio torture," and after moving to Denver in 1989, he has continued his work with noise music from a bunker.

For his part, Wessel wanted to document Rice's story, which he did across three sections in ICONOCLAST, a massive, 240 minute film, making its Denver premier this Sunday at the Underground Film Festival (Unitarian Society of Denver, 1400 Lafayette). We caught up with Wessel and talked to him about the documentary and falling out with Rice.

Westword: First, off, what was it about Boyd Rice that made you want to start working on this documentary?

Larry Wessel: Boyd is mysterious and controversial. His two favorite words are "fun" and I think most tellingly "consternation." He seems to upset a lot of people. He makes people squirm, and at the same time, he makes people laugh. He is very adept at spinning a good yarn and with this astonishing gift for story telling, I felt that he was the perfect subject for one of my documentaries.

Was the decision to split the film in three parts something you made from the start, or did it just happen naturally? The move to Denver, especially, seems to mark a decisive chapter.

Storytelling is the single most important element in ICONOCLAST. A good story should always have a beginning, middle and an end, three parts. In the case of the life of Boyd Rice, that chronologically would translate as Lemon Grove, San Francisco and Denver.

Speaking of which, this documentary is massive, 240 minutes, tons of interviews -- what was the editing process like?

It took me over a year to edit the 200-plus hours of footage that I shot. Editing is the most creative part of the process and this is where the real fun was had.

Was it difficult to keep the fly-on-the-wall aesthetic throughout, given the, uh, diversity of views on Boyd's work?

All of my documentaries are populated with people and subjects that I don't necessarily agree with. It is important to me that I never have an axe to grind -- I leave that to propagandists like Michael Moore.

There's also a lot of context here: It doesn't seem the film is exactly just about Boyd Rice, but also about the history of the culture he spawned/was a part of. Was that intentional? This seems especially the case in the second part of the film where Anton LaVey plays a bigger roll.

It doesn't separate Boyd from the culture he grew up in. It is much more than just a documentary about Boyd Rice and explores the last fifty-plus years of American Pop Culture history. Anton Szandor LaVey is one of the film's Unholy Trinity, including Charles Manson and Tiny Tim. These are the three men that Boyd cites as the most influential in his life.

After six years of working on this, has your opinion on Boyd or his art changed?

Yes. I no longer speak to him.

Wait, you no longer speak with Boyd?

That's right.

Was there a falling out after making the documentary, or is it simply because you spent six years working with him?

The falling out came as a complete surprise. He gave me an ultimatum. He told me that I could either be a friend of his, or a friend of Giddle Partridge, but that I could not be both. I told him to go fuck himself. He never called me again. However, he did try to stop the film from being shown at The Melbourne Underground Film Festival. What upset him is that I promoted the MUFF screening with a trailer that included Giddle and Boyd's recording of "Warm Leatherette" as the soundtrack.

You see, Giddle was Boyd's best friend for twenty-plus years until she got engaged to be married. He ended his friendship with her when he first got a close up view of her engagement ring. He reacted to seeing her beautiful ring by rolling his eyes, turning his head and by not being able to perform with Giddle in the recording studio the rest of that day. Instead, Giddle was left alone with recording engineer, Bob Ferbrache to record her parts and Boyd had returned to his bunker to construct a handwritten "Termination of Friendship" letter to Giddle. I found this to be both sad and also incredibly strange.

Hold on, a "Termination of Friendship" letter seems especially interesting, did he hand these out to anyone else you know of? Did you get one?

Although he gave the same "Giddle or me" ultimatum to several other mutual friends, I don't know of anyone other than Giddle getting the "Termination of Friendship" letter.

So, what exactly did he do to try to stop the film from being shown at MUFF?

He wanted me to remove the Giddle and Boyd "Warm Leatherette" trailer on YouTube that I created to promote the Chauvel Cinema screening of the film in Sydney. It was a montage of cars crashing cut to the rhythm of the song (the song is based on the novel Crash by J.G. Ballard). Author Jack Sargeant was scheduled to introduce my film at the Chauvel Cinema and with Jack being an aficionado of Ballard, I thought the trailer would be a big hit.

Then I receive another one of Boyd's ultimatums. Either I remove the trailer from YouTube, or he demands that MUFF not screen my film. The guy who runs MUFF is Richard Wolstencroft, an old pal of Boyd's who directed him in a feature of his called "Pearls Before Swine." Richard emails me, and he is frantic. He sends me a copy of an email he received from Boyd threatening him to remove ICONOCLAST from the MUFF schedule if I don't comply, with Boyd's demand that I remove my trailer from YouTube.

Richard suggested that I exercise what he called "the gentle art of compromise" and remove the offensive trailer. After writing back to Richard and explaining to him that I felt that compromise to me was another word for evil, I decided to take the trailer down and replace it with another one that incorporates a Giddle and Boyd cover of Serge Gainsbourg's "Bonnie and Clyde."

For some reason Boyd did not object to this Giddle and Boyd tune. Go figure. What really irks me is that I spent six years of my life creating this fantastic documentary that is nothing but great publicity for Boyd, and he ends up being a total ingrate. What I have learned about sociopaths is that they are incapable of gratitude. They are people users. Once my documentary was finished and screening in theaters, Boyd was done with me. This was a person that called me on the telephone daily for six years and insisted that I was his best friend.

After all this, who do you think Boyd Rice really is?

It took me six years to understand who he really was. Boyd is a very complex individual. He not only wears many hats, he wears many masks as well. In ICONOCLAST, the many masks are peeled away, and the real Boyd Rice is revealed.

And after all those masks are pulled back, who is the real Boyd in your eyes?

A lonely, cold-hearted, pretentious, hypocritical sociopath.



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19 comments
R.S. Barnish
R.S. Barnish

Now Larry Wessel has lied and had my account disabled from facebook.  What a shame that 2 of his videos have been removed from youtube.  I wonder how that happened.  :)

R.S. Barnish
R.S. Barnish

The fact of the matter is, this is a BORING, SELF-INDULGENT, AMATEURISH documentary made by a nutcase with an overwhelming sense of self-importance.  I saw Larry Wessel act like a total nut-job at a Boyd Rice gig.  He attacked the club, the promoter and then Boyd.  Yes, he attacked the subject of his documentary. 

I don't blame Boyd (or anyone else who happens to be stable) from pulling away from Wessel. 

Larry Wessel
Larry Wessel

Guest Blog: LARRY WESSEL and ICONOCLAST: THE MOVIE By Kent AdamsonLARRY WESSEL and ICONOCLAST: THE MOVIEBy Kent AdamsonICONOCLAST is a complex masterwork. A rare film, nearly four hours in length, that plays well in any format - on the big screen in a darkened movie theater, and also as a terrific 3 volume dvd set. I first saw it on the big screen, the best way to see it, at Allison Anders’ DON’T KNOCK THE ROCK film festival in Los Angeles, which was the world premiere of the film. It was a sold out house, and despite the length and two intermissions, the audience stayed with the entire show.  A fascinating biography of story teller, legendary prankster and pioneering noise musician BOYD RICE, ICONOCLAST also unfolds an alternative, independent view of post World War Two American culture. It is one of the few films ever made over three hours in length that justifies its running time. It presents the developmental context and entire life story, the complete creative life, of a contemporary American artist, WHILE HE IS STILL ALIVE, refining and developing his art on camera. The movie is a unique intersection between Boyd Rice and Larry Wessel, and plays like an unfolding, living art piece - a live ongoing digital biographical sculpture.As a SEXTUPLE HYPHENATE Producer-Director-Writer-Cinematographer-Editor-Self Distributor Larry Wessel has been one of the FEW truly independent American filmmakers, working singly since he was a teenager. He started his solo career PRE-PUNK PRE-D.I.Y in middle school. His movies are made in a non-dogmatic, organic state of research and revelation as he shoots them. A Wessel documentary unfolds at its own pace, without voice over or narrative devices. Starting with 16mm and Super-8 film in the 1970s, he subsequently embraced every format which would facilitate his story telling. In the epic bio-documentary ICONOCLAST, Larry pushes his subject and audience beyond the limits of mere videographic digital cinema, and defines the true artistic meaning of INDEPENDENCE. INDEPENDENT CINEMA. INDEPENDENT THINKING.ICONOCLAST is the perfect match of filmmaker and subject, a fascinating spiral. It is a perfect document of the aesthetic sensibilities of two creative minds meeting in a third medium as did Les Blank/Werner Herzog - BURDEN OF DREAMS 1982, Peter Watkins/Edvard Munch - EDVARD MUNCH 1974, Henri-Georges Clouzot/Pablo Picasso – LE MYSTERE PICASSO 1956.In terms of style, Wessel shoots long takes and lets his subjects draw their full stories out. Confrontation asserts itself within the subject and unfolds organically to the objective camera. If there is any hanging to be done, the subject will slowly wrap a noose around their own neck, and pull the trap door lever with their own hand. It is a fascinating technique, watching a person methodically paint their way into a tiny, tiny corner, where an inescapable truth hems them in, and shades the entire impact of a film.ICONOCLAST, like its subject, seeks the balance between good and evil through deep examination of the placement and uses of both - historically, as well as in modern American society, and in the often overlapping cults of show business, politics and theology.ICONOCLAST traces the life of Boyd Rice by structurally following the geographic and temporal space he has traveled in sequence. It is broken up into three sections: Lemon Grove, San Francisco, andDenver. Growing up in the shadow of a giant lemon, a huge plaster symbol of civic pride, near the border of San Diego and Tijuana,Mexico, Rice struggled to escape the boundaries of the community early on. The isolation and ignorance of the town, only minutes fromMexico, is made clear when Rice describes his first job at Taco Bell. The locals had to be educated to the food they were about to purchase by phonetic spellings of the dishes. A burrito was presented as a “buh-rhee-to” to the fast food buying public of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Rice began a series of pranks on the community, as well as developing a very personal approach to painting, photography and fine art, mainly to relieve boredom, and challenge the Lemonheads who surrounded him. The big bright yellow sour lemon hovers like a meandering blimp, cruising slowly over the life of Boyd Rice.As glam music and culture flourished in Los Angeles and San Francisco, Rice moved through both cities, eventually settling inNorthern California. His years in San Francisco were groundbreaking and controversial. He would ultimately be influenced by relationships with three people who would loom large in his life and the rest of his career – Satanist Anton LaVey, Federal prisoner Charles Manson, and the creative and technical genius of painter Beth Moore-Love.Eventually relocating to a bunker in the heartland of America inDenver, Rice became a citizen of the world. He continues to paint, tour and record, and his influence significantly shaped the careers of musicians Marilyn Manson and Rozz Williams,    To understand the process and development of ICONOCLAST as a movie, and Larry Wessel creatively, it is important to understand the worldwide cultural significance of post war Los Angeles, Southern California, the South Bay area and in particular the city of Manhattan Beach. In the rapid suburban expansion of the 1950s and ‘60s, the small oceanfront community served as a research and development laboratory and simultaneous test market for a variety of tightly held cottage industries producing and promoting California Style products. Toymakers like Mattel, hot-rodding automotive performance innovators like TRW (also a huge U.S. military contractor), home products like Metlox ceramic California Pottery and even motion picture special effects and animation were produced by hand locally in Manhattan Beach. Southern California industry flooded the world with toys and images of Rat Finks and cars designed by ”Big Daddy” Ed Roth. Mattel’s Hot Wheels sent advanced design around the world, and their Barbie Dolls shattered boundaries and sales records overnight for girl’s toys, and promoted the California fashion industry in miniature.Often a suburban garage doubled as a home grown laboratory, while a modernist designed, Eames influenced ranch house doubled as a product showcase. As national, and later worldwide, attention focused on the South Bay area of Los Angeles, the culture continued to expand further with local artisans producing music, film, and lifestyle products like clothing, surfboards, sailboats, custom car designs and furniture made for use in the temperate, open air beach towns of the Pacific coast. Surfboard shapers like Dewey Weber became product designers, and ultimately industrialists. Open toed sandals, baggy short pants, and colorful T shirts represented freedom from repressive school uniforms, but they also became new uniforms – required modes of dress for social acceptance, conformist markers for non-conformists. This was the environment that Larry Wessel was born into, an inspiring, colorful and historic flourishing of a unique, nearly indigenous, culture at its world peak of influence. It would also be a world to which he would forcefully rebel, ultimately establishing his own creative universe, fine art and film production methods and private studio with global distribution and influence… all inside the belly of the beast.Plunging deeply into the darkest depths, holding your breath through harsh undercurrents, and kicking against the crosscurrents, is an excursion into blackness. With no sun, the light can only come from within. Larry Wessel began swimming in uncharted waters at an early age.Taking on more than most teenagers, Larry began making movies at the age of eleven with a Super-8 film adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Telltale Heart”. His major work in high school was a 16mm synch-sound film adaptation of J.D. Salinger’s 1948 short story “A Perfect Day for Bananafish”. The ambition of these adaptations - Poe and Salinger - and their imagination and technical skill, won Wessel awards and took him into the Cinema department of U.S.C.Attending classes in urban Los Angeles, not far from the site of the L.A.P.D. shootout with the Symbionese Liberation Army, provided a doorstep to record and respond to the culture wars of the 1970s. With each exploration into everything from the Watts Towers, toHollywood rock and roll, to the extreme color of Argento flavored blood, Wessel expanded his creative vocabulary and intelligence and pushed the limits of the film school faculty. The keys to the locks on the means of production were largely in the hands of the husbands of the Junior League. Janitors of culture, their eyes and ears were fogged by their own dust, the smoke they kicked up from clapping their erasers in the faces of students. Outside of the classroom however, the University was alive in every area of performing arts.The Runaways played one of their earliest live shows at the student activities center, John Houseman was the head of the drama department, and film was screened on a 24 hour basis.As teenagers from everywhere descended on Hollywood in a glam swept wave, Larry left the halls of academe, and began to work on his own, independent of the commercial system that led mostly to television. He became a triple threat filmmaker, exhibited artist, and live performer, perched on the precipice of local Los Angeles culture. A witness to, and active participant in, the original punk explosion. His artwork was exhibited at the early La Luz de Jesus gallery, then located on Melrose Avenue, and adapted for use on book covers and in magazines. Wessel made a nonstop series of short films in Super8 and 16mm, hired himself out to work on films for Roger Corman and others, and began to experiment with the boundaries of live performance, in a series of live band appearances. In response to a decaying corporate entertainment culture, teenagers around the world spontaneously seized the means of production and created a new culture. It was an organic dam burst in every area of expression and arts – film, music, dance, spoken word, live performance, and fine art.Before the labels “Punk” and “D.I.Y.” were applied by media, thousands of kids and hundreds of bands and artists were actively creating and influencing each other. Ultimately, Larry’s live performances came to a peak with his participation in two pioneering bands. Putting on shows with “The Imperial Butt Wizards” meant every form of visual, sonic and physical assault on audiences. The band blasted songs soaked in blood and body paint, and was notorious for starting fires and transforming nightclubs into smoking infernos. Later, collaborating with Glen Meadmore and Vaginal Davis in the band “Pedro, Muriel and Esther” Larry pushed his performances off the stage, into the crowds. The band quickly became known for attacking their audiences, ripping their clothes off and performing live sex acts on them. Each performance was a spontaneous outburst of outrageous revenge on a bloodthirsty public. “Pedro Muriel and Esther” was a hugely popular act. At a frenzied peak of word of mouth publicity, public controversy, and tension with bookers and venues, Larry quit live performance cold. He left the band because he felt he had begun to repeat his performances out of sensation, which made him feel like a dancing bear in a carny geek show.Plunging deeper into creating collage art, Wessel concentrated on an eye popping series of meditations on sex, tiki and beatnik culture. These works brought a new round of attention to his art by being meticulously hand crafted, and thematically extreme.As film gave way to videotape and digital advances, Larry embraced new technologies, and again pushed his own boundaries to the limit. His films are widely divergent in subject matter, but all are marked by their deep focus on the thriving humanity in each culture.HOLLYWOOD HEADBASH takes on El Duce and The Mentors and the Hollywood punk world around them. ULTRAMEGALOPOLIS is a multilayered meditation on Los Angeles. SUGAR and SPICE  looks at transgendered street life. CARNY TALK opens up the world of contemporary Low Brow artist Robert Williams. SEX, DEATH and the HOLLYWOOD MYSTIQUE goes into Sharon Tate’s death house to reopen the issues of Charles Manson in a Hollywood context.The epic TAUROBOLIUM was five years in the making. Wessel shot four seasons of bullfights over four years in Tijuana. Post-production took place over one year in the pre-digital era. The film had to be edited by hand shot by shot with no time code. The technique and process of putting this film together set the stage for ICONOCLAST.The final film is a rhythmic vision of a savage blood sport. It begins with the preparation of the Matadors, the fierce, violent action in the ring, much blood spilled over hot sand, and the final disposition of the slaughtered bulls, horses and people in charnel houses and hospital beds. TAUROBOLIUM is a favorite documentary of bullfight aficionados the world over.As Larry Wessel meets Boyd Rice in the digital dance ofICONOCLAST, his camera patiently records the performer’s stories, public confrontations and live performances. While the stories unfold, his clever hand craftsmanship tells a larger story… the history of hidden underground culture, its intersection and collision with the mainstream pop world, and the balance between good and evil in everyday American life.

Larry Wessel
Larry Wessel

Social Darwinism, Dada and Tiki - the confusing world of Boyd RiceICONOCLASTA documentary by Larry WesselReview by Thomas McGrathAbove: Iconoclast film poster.Below: The faces of Boyd Rice

Boyd Rice cub scout  

Long-haired Boyd Rice 

Boyd Rice mug shot 

Boyd Rice with lipstickWhat's the difference between a Nazi and a Satanist? A genuine question, that, rather than the opening salvo of the gag-you're-least-likely-to-find-in-a-Christmas-cracker. And the answer (or one of them) is that they practice wholly different forms of anti-Semitism. The former (primarily) hates the Jewish race, the latter the Jewish moral and theological tradition. The two aversions, however, have often touched fingers, like God and Adam stretching out fondly on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Neglecting the credible arguments of authors like Peter Levanda, who argue that Satanism is the actual, implicit religion of all Nazism, we can more easily assert that the Nazis shared the Satanic abhorrence of Judeo-ideas. Their anti-Semitism was a synthesis, as is belied is that well worn trope of Nazi propaganda about 'the Jew' being the 'carrier' of the 'disease of communism', behind which they recognised the Semitic morality propounded by Moses and Christ alike.And Satanists too, as we will see, are rarely immune to a fondness for the far right, partly because they also tend to view the left wing as a camouflage for Judeo-Christian values, what Nietzsche called slave morality. But for a Satanist, racial anti-Semitism is by no means inevitable. The famous founder of the Church of Satan, for example, Anton LaVey, was born Jewish. The trouble remains: if you reject Judeo-Christian morality and all its offspring (from Socialism to Humanism), what real grounds are they to criticise Hitler's geopolitical programme?I first stumbled upon Boyd Rice randomly on YouTube. There in the margin of the screen a short was entitled, 'Boyd Rice talks to Nazi boy Tom Metzger.' The interview was taken from what looked like an American Nazi chat show, called Race and Reason, which even sported, in the great chat show tradition, a sidekick Nazi to co-host besides Metzger, the latter a leading light of the American far right and Race and Reason's main man. This Metzger reminded me of the one of the Nazis in The Blues Brothers; there's something intrinsically un-American about being a Nazi, even on the far right of the political spectrum there, and this was evidently a soul that had come of age under the duress of utter alienation. He sported an appalling toupée and his ruddy face was disfigured by a permanent sickly smirk, the sort sported by a cuckold that had taught themself to enjoy the humiliation. Much more interesting was the lithe, smug, handsome and bright looking young man sat opposite him - the guest, Boyd Rice, introduced by Metzger as a composer of industrial music. Boyd Rice (left) and Marilyn MansonAs a rule the radical right possesses a limited power of morbid allure, but there was something genuinely compelling about this guest, who looked more like a hipster than a Nazi. While there was something haughty about Rice (at one point he dismissed politics as being for people that "couldn't control their own lives"), he was an agreeable enough guest, and he and Metzger happily discussed the brilliance of Mein Kampf, the essential 'Aryan-ness' of industrial music, and the 'racialist' music scene in general.The whole thing didn't make much sense to me, but it started to when Rice began to regurgitate what I promptly recognised was basic Satanic stuff, predominantly lifted almost verbatim from Might is Right. Hence, I figured, his affiliation with, or indifference to, these Nazis: they were all, morally and metaphysically, bad guys. When they watched He-Man, they rooted for Skeletor. If the Holocaust had happened (Metzger presumably thinks not), it would have been a Good Thing. The weak have it coming. And so on.Between that happenstance discovery and my viewingIconoclast, Larry Wessel's intoxicatingly good four-hour documentary/portrait of Rice, I added a few more items to my Boyd Rice YouTube collection, including a couple of poems/songs of his (extolling war and hate respectively), and some debates he'd conducted on old talk radio shows with an Evangelical preacher called Bob Larson. These latter were genuinely engrossing, with Rice (whom a Wikipedia search confirmed as a high ranking member of the Church of Satan) presenting the Satanic, social-Darwinian perspective on issues like domestic violence, but doing so with such camp relish it was difficult to establish the extent to which he was larking about, especially as Larson was constantly erupting in extremely entertaining indignation.Other YouTube viewers were similarly unsure where Rice's head was at. 'HAIL SATAN' proclaimed one. 'Oh my gawd, Boyd's hilarious, he just cracks me up,' opined another. Wikipedia informed me that this division ran deeper still, with a genuine and hotly contested controversy surrounding Rice's flirtation with Nazism. Jewish friends in the avant-garde passionately attested his innocence, while others couldn't even forgive the Fascist aesthetics that abounded in his music and performances, let alone his conspicuous fraternisation with members of the far right. None of his critics on the left, however, gave a shit about the fact that he was a bona fide, card-carrying, high-ranking Satanist. So long as you don't identify the weak on racial grounds before annihilating them, Satanism was apparently politically correct (and there were some who attested that, even in his Satanism, Boyd was basically having another of his japes). Boyd Rice (left) and Anton LaVey. Photo by Carl Abrahamson

Filmmaker Larry Wessel (left) and Bob Larson. Photo: Tora Wessel.My interest thus piqued, the arrival of Larry Wessel'sIconoclast pleased me immensely. The documentary is broken up across three DVDs, and over its four hours takes a broadly chronological approach to Rice's biography, stitching together its story with the help of a large cast of talking heads, including lashings of Rice himself and many of his collaborators and friends from down the decades. Beginning at the beginning, Iconoclast kicks off in Rice's native Lemon Grove, California, examining the cultural influences that helped mould his character as a young man. While my preliminary investigations into Rice had already prepared me - to a degree - for a dose of the unexpected, I was still bewildered to find myself subject to a introductory discourse, courtesy of a middle-aged, camp, broad-shouldered Rice (looking and sounding like a cross between Morrissey and Aleister Crowley), on Tiki.For those of us born tragically far from the golden age of Tiki, and don't even know quite what it is, think cocktails with little wooden umbrellas, bras made of sea-shells, and every other stripe of Hawaiian kitsch you could envisage gracing a revamped nightclub in seventies Lancashire. Sat in an actual Tiki bar - a drab looking establishment that we later learn Rice himself had designed -Rice attempts to provide some contextual edge to Tiki by discoursing on the duck-and-cover Cold War anxiety this faux-exotic fad arose in, though the presiding sense is that, for little or no reason whatsoever, something in Boyd Rice's extraordinarily singular soul resounded to Tiki, just it would later resound to Nazism, Satanism, Abba, the Partridge Family, Tiny Tim, the Manson murders, and a host of other obsessions, kitsch and/or brutal.An unusually tenacious monad, when Rice's soul gets its teeth into something, it doesn't let go - his enthusiasm for all of these lifelong hobbies appear undimmed in his middle age. When an old consort of Anton LaVey's is later interviewed (Rice was close friends with LaVey), she describes Rice as having the soul of "an ancient warrior poet". While I'm not wholly unsympathetic to this hagiographic definition (I definitely acquired, over the course of Iconoclast, much admiration for Rice's audacity and imagination), it strikes me that this soul is also, at the very, very least, seventy per cent geek. Rice is a born collector, anorak, annalist, enthusiast, and it is his succession of intriguing, amusing, unpredictable obsessions that Iconoclast focuses on.Many of these obsessions were creative, active ones, ranging from industrial music, painting, writing, photography, and - famously - pranks: Iconoclast's segment on Rice's Lemon Grove trailer park adolescence is heartily enriched by his precocious flair for practical jokes. I was still getting my head around the Tiki mania when I found myself bellowing with laughter at the accounts given by Rice's teenage friends and accomplices of Rice's comic terrorising of his Californian hometown, particularly his invention of an unpronounceable and nigh-inedible special at the Taco Bell he worked at, where customers could also be exposed to Rice suddenly plucking a passing moth from the air and popping it into his mouth without missing a beat. Rice's larking about (amplified and ennobled by his early discovery of Dada) arguably found its apotheosis when he presented then-first lady Betty Ford with a skinned sheep's head.Lemon Grove, CaliforniaAll of which is desperately funny, mostly thanks to another significant aspect of Rice's character: he is a born raconteur. Droll, camp, mordant, and with a fine line in impersonations, Rice's own recollections are one of the unforgettable treats of Iconoclast. In his later years Rice seized the opportunity to meet and ingratiate himself with an incarcerated Charles Manson, becoming a regular visitor and even confidant of the famous felon. Rice's wan anecdotes from this period, enlivened by his note-perfect Manson drawl, are a genuine delight. "Before we begin," says Manson (vis-à-vis Rice), the first time they meet, "we need to get one thing straight…" There may be two of them sat there, Manson explains, "but there's only one consciousness, one soul" at the table. "And I thought," exclaims Rice, his voice modulating from his Manson impression to a fruity eruption of fan-boy enthusiasm, "this is just fucking fabulous. I've been sat with Charles Manson for five minutes, and he's already giving me the I-am-you-you-are-me shtick…"It's quintessential Boyd Rice: On the one hand, an attraction to, and (apparently) affinity with a genuinely dark character, on the other an ability to collect the experience and simultaneously turn it into something kitsch, camp, 'fun' (a favourite word of Rice's). In his anecdotal analysis he goes on to observe that Manson's capacity to inveigle you into his own imaginings was obvious even within the penitentiary walls, noting approvingly Manson's talent for "fantasy". This power, certainly, had much to do with the Tate-LaBianca murders - Manson so adjusted the parameters of his followers' reality that at least some of them could insouciantly transgress the greatest taboo this 'consensus' reality presents - murder. Now a Satanist may or may not murder, but I understand that it is their contention that the potential to manipulate values reflects the fact that there are no intrinsic ones - that everything is permitted, which is really just an extrapolation (some would say an excessive one) from the observation that, morally at least, everything is possible. It is possible to befriend killers, to laugh at them or with them, to have fun with them.Iconoclast falls over itself to extract the poison from the sting of Boyd Rice, and it left me with the distinct impression that the motivation for this was as much his as it was Larry Wessel's. Yes, it transpired that, come 2011, few people sympathized with a quasi-white supremacist inclination that, post-punk, looked like it might have a future in the wider counterculture. Nowadays, Rice apparently can't do a gig without anti-Nazi protestors picketing it. We see one such protest in Iconoclast, and while the protesters prove predictably naïf sorts, it isn't these alone that find Rice's happy affinity with the far right offensive. Most others, less easy to satirise, will simply curl their lip to learn that the person performing in their town or city (or sat opposite them at a dinner party) dug Nazis and Nazi memorabilia. I sensed that Rice, for all his don't-give-a-fuck bravado, has started to aggressively mellow with age, and begun to feel secretly bashful about the sincere young fascistic nihilist he was in his early twenties, everything about which has become fast obsolete.Fortunately, there is enough contradictory material in Rice's life and character to enable him (and a sympathetic filmmaker) to adjust the past as they'd like. Rice's aforementioned enthusiasm for Dada, for example, is very powerfully accentuated in the opening third of Iconoclast, implicitly encouraging the viewer to bury any proceeding glimpses we have of Rice's later politics beneath mountains of postmodern salt. As such I find Iconoclast, and Rice himself, directly mendacious: Where, pray, is that fascinating, easily accessible - and unequivocally damning - cameo on Race and Reason?Which is not to say that the contradictions and paradoxesIconoclast draws upon are not important facets of Rice's character. The film's protracted coda, which focuses on its subject's contemporaneous middle age, presents a man for whom these contradictions have stopped pulling in different directions and started to mix and coalesce, resulting in a sadder, milder, less assured and much more sympathetic individual. Indicative is a reunion between Rice and his old Evangelist sparring partner Bob Larson. The two men clearly quite like one another, and Larson, whose tone is otherwise woodenly condescending, is quick to note the bona fide maturation of Rice's moral and metaphysical worldview. While one might be inclined to differ with Larson's interpretation that the hand of Jehovah is discernible in Rice's tentative entertainment of reincarnation (rather than the traditional Satanic tenet of posthumous oblivion), it is difficult to argue with him when he calls Rice up on the fact that his recent moral motto - that he finds people treat him pretty well so long as he does the same - loudly echoes the kernel of the Sermon on the Mount (do unto others…).Following his famous sheep's head stunt, Rice became implicated in a supposed plot to assassinate Emperor Hirohito.Appearing on Race and Reason (really can't get enough of that quaint alliteration), a younger Rice brought up the implicit hypocrisy in the public demonization of Charles Manson over the deaths of six people, while the US army incinerated millions in Vietnam. This observation (that killing, the ultimate social taboo, is frequently state-sanctioned) is far, far older than Raskolnikov, who yet made it with much more élan over a century ago. Regardless - what was Rice's point? That we should focus our moral outrage on the larger atrocities? Course not. Rice has never been a satirist. A satirist illuminates moral inconsistency in an attempt to bolster the moral. Even if his Nazi flirtations did largely lack political purpose or malice (as Adam Parfrey suggests), Rice's wallowing in the human capacity for cruelty and hate is more infantile than adolescent, the child licensed to fling its feces at the wall. And it is this touch of the polymorphously perverse that helps elucidate Rice's inability to distinguish between concentration camps and Tiny Tim, Satan and Tiki. It's allfabulous fun to Rice, hypnotised by a moral smear as much as he is the lurid colours of a Ray Dennis Steckler film (another of Rice's countless enthusiasms).And what of it? demand his defenders (wheeled out, one after the other, in Iconoclast)…Well, I'll concede that most tabloids luxuriate in the same murky material beneath the lumpy cloak of indignation, and that the darker side of human nature fascinates almost everyone. And I'll concede that to celebrate brutality unabashedly remains original in the current cultural context, as well as being, by and large, entirely harmless - taboo dominates human consciousness so effectively that there's plenty of room for a few thousand transgressives to go careering about the temple. But is the result reallygreat, in the sense that Nietzsche, say, was great? In hisRace and Reason appearance, Rice insists that, contrary to popular opinion, Mein Kampf is far from 'turgid'. I beg to differ. It's terrifying, yes, unique, yes, but it is also extremely badly written. And just in case I am accused of parroting some kind of consensus, let me also assert that that other (less notorious) text treasured by Rice, Might is Right, is also extremely badly written, that its style reeks, and that anyone with the least literary sensibility will laugh in its face. That isn't an opinion, it's an aesthetic fact. If Rice wants to wax lyrical about the superior and the inferior, someone should tell him that, in terms of literature and philosophy, he inhabits a slum.When it comes to a flair for experience, however, a way with an anecdote, a capacity to juggle enigmas, and an ability to be an original person (no mean feat), I confess that Rice is second to none. Regardless of its suspect blind spots and bouts of sycophancy, so is Iconoclast. Not only did Wessel have the judiciousness to realise the value and power of fascination such an unusual documentary would have, but he had the steady hand and nerve to pull it off. Don't miss this absorbing film.

Larry Wessel
Larry Wessel

AMERICA LOVES ITS VILLAINS: The Boyd Rice Documentary ExperienceICONOCLAST: The Boyd Rice Documentary Only current NY screenings: August 20th & 21st, 7 pm at Anthology Film Archives, 32 2nd Ave, NYC 10003 

"America loves its Villains ..." You’ll hear Boyd Rice say that a couple times over the course of Larry Wessel’s epic (4 hour) new documentary “ICONOCLAST” - a title which works in description of both Rice and the documentary itself. It’s almost like “Freakonomics” for the Goth / Industrial / Noise set, and it’s a very welcome banner to see hanging. I can’t think of a film that has better debunked the myth of the “evil” intentions and attitudes of this sect of society, and if hilarious anecdotes about Anton LaVey’s penchant for electronic whoopee cushions - or simply “fart machines” - doesn’t debunk it for you, then I‘m not sure anything ever will. Boyd Rice's ouerve has various specific categories. His knowledge of many various areas of American pop and unpop culture is at the level of scholarly. He's considered to be one of the most seminal names in the Noise genre, he was part of the defining stages of Industrial Culture, he did enormous things for Exotica music and Tiki culture, he's written material in the "Answer Me!" zine, "Apocalypse Culture" Book; and his own books, both fiction and nonfiction. He and his friend Jim Morton literally wrote THE book on strange films, "Incredibly Strange Films", which would strongly influence coming generations to deviate from their local shopping mall multiplex's menu of pandering crap. The list goes on quite a long time. From teen years to my "adulthood", I'd heard the name Boyd Rice in association with so, so many fascinating things. Often these things seemed to fit into a kind of mold to me - it was as if the cool people that were 10 - 20 years older than I had found these magical connections between Charles Manson, old cartoons, H.G. Lewis, flea-markets, and weird records. They made fanzines and films, wrote books, recorded amazing records ... Some of the content featured was totally shocking to me - pictures of actual deaths/accidents, writing that championed the crimes of serial killers, and of course wildly offensive humor. At first it was hard to understand. I think it was because (in some ways at least) I was a 'good person'. I couldn't conceive of someone genuinely celebrating this kind of thing. I understood sarcasm, but this stuff was WAY more extreme than that. As I grew more, I increasingly became enraged by what I saw as injustice and stupidity around me. I began to have feelings that I couldn't exorcise with simple sarcasm. I was getting to the point of needing cathartic release, and I didn't know it yet. Seriously folks, if it wasn't for films like "The Defilers" and zines like "Answer Me!" I'msure I would've went Columbine. So, sometime in my 20's, I started to "get it". And with that came a lot of knowledge and power. Part of what was so attractive about this (at times) extremely alienating culture was that so many people involved in it, unlike most people in most scenes, didn't appear to be total assholes. Or more accurately,these assholes seemed a whole lot more like me. In other words, breakfast cereal and mass murder were fine to talk about in the same breath. As I became more exposed to this world, Boyd Rice seemed to be near the top of it. At once he was someone who had wonderful, honest and courageous taste; as well as someone who spoke freely about his thoughts and feelings AND accepted the same from others he widely and intensely disagreed with. Cumulatively, ignoring one's personal beliefs at the same time as refusing to accept another's seems like the new American Pastime - and it's through this unfortunate window that ICONOCLAST will look most poignant. The opening image of “Iconoclast” is that of a woman’s vagina. A knife sits on her belly, the “NON” (Rice's Noise outfit) logo is scarred onto her pelvis, and she’s bleeding (not profusely by any means) from several fresh slices on her inner thighs and stomach. It’s clearly a confronting image. One that certain viewers might find distasteful; and therefore attribute an unwholesome, sexist, nihilistic, or even “evil” nature to the people involved with creating this image. It’s a rather brilliant choice on Wessel’s part, the next sequence is the “exorcism of homosexuality” of some poor woman who apparently did time as a lesbian. The preacher tells her “What those girls did to you - now, that’s not your fault. You can still accept Jesus into your life”. All of this before the speaking in tongues begins and another preacher demands that she “smell the bible” … The set up couldn’t be better, the audience’s nose is rubbed directly in an issue that I’ve always felt was widely ignored: if we as individuals all have these values that we say we do; if we all hold this particular morality and believe in our own freedom and civil rights, then by these standards WHO is the REAL “bad guy” here? Which of these situations is actually "wrong", or "unwholesome", or “evil”? People liking kinky sex and cutting themselves up might not exactly be an activity for Sunday School, but it’s really an individual’s choice if he or she would like to do something like that. It simply doesn't have anything to do with anyone else; unlike the idea that God would want those who spread his words of love, acceptance, and forgiveness to not only CARE about other people’s sex lives, but actually engage in the repulsive acts that one will witness in ICONOCLAST’S opening sequence. Those actions, to me, are a great example for "evil". The confrontation of the film’s opening forces the viewer to make a logical conclusion of whom they think the “bad guy” really is. It’s a hell of a morality barometer, and it draws a very obvious line as to what’s right and what’s wrong. The intensity of imagery and art does not support actual wrong action. It can indicate it, exploit it, expose it, embrace it - but as “wrong” as a viewer finds this imagery to be it’s only ever because of his or her own interpretation. “Iconoclast” appeals to two different audiences. The Cult of Boyd will be thrilled, much of the information offered here is fresh, as Rice’s life story hasn’t been a very accessible one. The other audience, the audience who doesn’t know of Boyd Rice or his art, will be treated to an explicitly unique experience regarding someone who is completely, totally and gloriously, a truly underground entity. I spoke to both Larry and Boyd recently about ICONOCLAST, their artistic processes; and of course, some incredibly strange films ... Interview with ICONOCLAST director Larry Wessel - Mike Hunchback: What was your first inspiration to make a documentary on Boyd Rice and how did Iconoclast go from just an idea to an actual project? Larry Wessel: On November 16, 1997 I attended a show at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles headlined by Death in June with NON/Boyd Rice as the opening act. Before entering the club, I encountered a very strange scene taking place on the sidewalk that night. There were a few protestors there who had somehow successfully gotten the management of the El Rey to ban NON/Boyd Rice from performing. When Boyd emerged from backstage during Death in June's set, I followed him outside to the front of the theatre and introduced myself. He said that he already knew who I was and that he was a big fan of Taurobolium, my Tijuana bullfight documentary and that Anton LaVey (another big fan of Taurobolium) had screened it for him at The Church of Satan. Incidentally I was told this story over and over again by various people who we're lucky enough to have an audience with Anton LaVey that he would require them on their first meeting to spend 2 hours watching Taurobolium with him! Boyd and I kept in touch with each other after that show. In 2000, I traveled to Colorado to shoot Boyd for a documentary I was doing about obsessed collectors. Boyd was a collector of Scopitone movies and obscure girl group records and I interviewed him about the obscure objects of his desire. It was during a dinner we were having at the bizarre restaurant/amusement park Casa Bonita that I pitched him on doing a documentary on his life. He didn’t seem very interested in doing this at the time. He suggested that I do a documentary about The Partridge Family Temple instead. On June 24, 2002 Death in June did a show at the Key Club in West Hollywood and I shot the entire concert. Two years later, Death in June and NON/Boyd Rice returned to the Key Club for another show. A few weeks prior to this return engagement, I received an email from Boyd. Boyd said that he was a big fan of all of my documentaries and ended the email message with, "What about doing a documentary about ME?". So I guess that I must've planted a seed when I had suggested this idea to him 4 years prior to this! I responded that I would love to do a documentary about him. he then informed me that it would be his last tour with Death in June and that it might be my last opportunity to interview Douglas P. Wearing his strange Death in June mask, Douglas gave me a very humorous and informative interview. The final show at the Key Club was made very strange by the presence of protestors once again. They were carrying picket signs. One of the signs had "STOP NAZI MUSIC" scrawled on it. Another read, "BOYD RICE IS A NAZI THROUGH AND THROUGH". I filmed Boyd confronting the protestors outside of the show and found it extremely odd that they didn't even recognize the man they we're protesting! This was the beginning of an odyssey that would end 6 years later with the red carpet world premiere of Iconoclast at Quentin Tarantino's New Beverly Cinema in Hollywood on August 17, 2010. MH: Was anyone particularly difficult to pin down for an interview? LW: Jello Biafra (Dead Kennedys) and Mark Pauline (Survival Research Laboratories) would not answer my email inquiries. I had a pleasant telephone chat with Genesis P-Orridge (Throbbing Gristle) up until he told me that "there is no way that I would be in a documentary about Boyd Rice". I asked Gen why and he told me that he didn't have to give me an explanation. He said that "Boyd knows why". I asked Boyd about why he thought that Gen didn't want to participate in ICONOCLAST and Boyd was simply mystified. When I called RE/Search's V. Vale after he didn't return any of my emails, we talked on the phone for close to 4 hours. Vale said that the only way he would be in ICONOCLAST is if Boyd provided a signed affidavit that he was not in or affiliated with any white supremacist or neo-nazi groups. MH: As a viewer I noticed some great reoccurring themes in ICONOCLAST. Did you have a direction in mind when you began filming, or perhaps when you began editing? Or were these occurrences totally natural? LW: The process for making one of my documentaries always begins with shooting miles and miles of footage with everything unfolding naturally. No preconceptions or battle plan at all. I never dictate the content. I prefer that my subject matter and the audience for my documentaries think for themselves. In the case of Iconoclast, I ended up with 200 plus hours of interviews with Boyd Rice and approx. 40 or so other people! It is during the editing process that my films take shape. This is when I find the narrative structure, a natural beginning, middle and end and where I can begin to have fun with the content and infuse it with many levels of meaning. MH: I don't think anyone interested in seeing a Boyd Rice documentary would be upset about the film's length, but did you have any reservations when you arrived at the 4 hour mark? LW: I have always been very comfortable with the unusual length of ICONOCLAST. So far nobody who has seen ICONOCLAST has complained about it's length. On the contrary, people keep telling me that ICONOCLAST is so fast paced, so fun and exciting that they are left wanting to see more! MH: Is there anything in particular that it hurt to leave out? LW: There was an entertaining section on cult leader Uriel and her Unarius Academy in El Cajon that Boyd was fascinated by and would frequently visit that I felt a little sad about removing. MH: Are you working on another documentary at the moment? LW: Yes. As a matter of fact I am in the process of editing 4 more documentaries, all which have already completed shooting. The first one (mentioned previously) I began shooting it in the year 2000 and is about obsessed collectors. The second one is a documentary about the amazing artist from Albuquerque, Beth Moore-Love. Number three is a sequel to ULTRAMEGALOPOLIS, my documentary about Los Angeles. And the forth one is all about New York City and my adventures there. Interview with Boyd Rice, subject of ICONOCLAST - Mike Hunchback: Any reservation to having a documentary made on you? Boyd Rice: No, no. MH: And how did you meet Larry? BR: I knew of him through Anton LaVey and other mutual friends and he’s sort of showed up one night when I was playing at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles and we immediately hit it off. He had some sort of very favorable, lucky night because of being with me. He got to hang out with some sexy young girl, and he was saying “Boyd, you bring me luck, you bring me luck!” MH: The thing I noticed perhaps most about ICONOCLAST was that you seem to have evolved into a very appropriate person. The image a lot of people have of you is that of a antagonist or a disrupter, but there’s so much of the film where we see you being quite courteous and quite polite. I really like the stuff near the end of them film where you’re speaking with Bob Larson and you're both laughing, even though you guys clearly disagree about a lot of things. It just didn’t seem to affect you that someone thought so differently. BR: It never has, it never has. I was friends with Jello Biafra for over a decade and I never saw eye to eye with his politics, but it didn’t matter. I was apolitical and I didn’t care what anybody else thought. I kind of had that Thomas Jefferson thing where he says that “A man can believe in whatever he wants to so long as it doesn’t break my leg or pick my pocket”. I really don’t care. That’s sort of always been my attitude. There was a time when I disagreed far more severely with Bob Larson, I saw him as being emblematic of something that was baleful of Western Civilization. MH: Is there anybody that you would’ve liked to see in ICONOCLAST that didn’t make it in? I heard Jello was hard to get a hold of. BR: I thought that Larry did get a hold of Jello and he just said ‘I absolutely don’t wanna be a part of this”. Because early on, when Larry was saying ‘who should I interview for this?’ I said ‘Well, you really need to interview Jello Biafra’ and you need to interview Vale from Re/Search, you need to get some of these people … it’ll be more interesting if it’s like me being on Bob Larson’s radio show. There’s some people who are saying horrible things about me that will make it a lot more fun. Unfortunately, all those people, those dissenting voices, refused to be part of it. It’s not like they were excluded or disinvited or anything. We asked as many people as we could think of and some just said ‘no, forget about it’. MH: That brings me to something we had talked about in email, the Village Voice review. Right off they mention Bob Larson being in the film, but quickly the piece begins to be about how no one interviewed in ICONOCLAST questioned you, or disagreed with you. It didn’t seem that way to me, and you were also saying how you didn’t feel that this was the case … BR: (laughs) Yeah, I don’t think it was … I mean who could you get who is in greater disagreement with me than Bob Larson? The film starts with Bob Larson, Bob Larson is in the middle, and the film essentially ends with Bob Larson. It’s like you were saying earlier, you think I’m a mellower person, and I’m happier and I’m more civil and relaxed, and realistically that’s the person I’ve always been and that’s why I’ve been around for 33 years. Because I’m civil, and I’m polite and people really, really like me. There’s this perception out there that ‘Boyd is this guy that nobody likes’. I think the absolute adverse is true, everybody likes me except for a handful of malcontents. And I think even those malcontents once they see this movie will have a hard time reconciling their feelings against me towards what they see on the screen, because I’m obviously not what they imagine I am. And you know, that’s a good thing! (laughs) - By Mike Hunchback

Larry Wessel
Larry Wessel

Tall Dark Stranger from Tikisville---Welcome to Larry Wessel's ICONOCLAST! In the world of art, archetypes are born, bred and manufactured. Sometimes by the fans, other times by assorted figures in the press and, more often than not, by the artists themselves. In the strata of fringe art, Boyd Rice is one of the most enigmatic, at times charismatic and perplexing figures. The man has been called a lot things over his 30 plus year career, with epithets ranging from genius to neo-Nazi to charlatan and innovator, Rice is unique in the way he has handled each and every one of them, embracing the dark and the light, both to art and his own persona.  In fact, it is these light and dark aspects of Rice that are examined in Larry Wessel's 4 hour long opus, ICONOCLAST. While the running time alone will probably make a less curious and intrepid viewer run to the hills, the film actually has an incredibly smooth pace, to the extent that you never really feel the running time. I once had some drug addled academic type tell me that if a documentary was longer than an hour, then it would lose the audience. This theory is obviously swamped in bullshit for a multitude of reasons and ICONOCLAST is a great example why. (Plus, epic length never hurt Ken Burns, eh?) Wessel manages to give a comprehensive overview of Rice's childhood, groundbreaking work in experimental noise music, his relationship with Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey, his move from San Francisco to Denver, etc etc. and yet leaves you asking for more. More information to be specific, which is both a testament to Wessel's skills as a filmmaker and the compellingness of Boyd Rice. In some facets of life, there are no villains or heroes, just artists. Welcome to ICONOCLAST.The film is divvied up into three sections for each disc. Section one, Lemon Grove, goes into Boyd's childhood and Southern Gothic familial background, including his grandmother being born in a cemetery on Halloween night. His upbringing in Lemon Grove, California brought the epiphany of Rice not wanting to be like the status quo. Wonder white bread sandwiches and soul-killing 9 to 5pm jobs were a no go for he who was like no other. It was this impulse that planted the multiple seeds that would germinate into a long career as a musical concrete pioneer, professional prankster, fringe culture writer, tiki-revivalist and cultural agent provocateur. Boyd himself has stated that he has made a career out of doing a number of things that he is not qualified to do. This is only a half-truth. If he was plagued with mediocrity, then this article or documentary would not exist, especially in regards to his music. His first musical project, NON, still sounds as fresh and unique now as it did in the 70's. Disc One goes into excellent detail about this period of Rice's life and his captivating, surrealist yet pragmatic approach to sonic art. This in turn makes Section One the best out of all three. That said, the latter two are nothing to sneeze at. The second section, “San Francisco,” delves into Rice's writing, featuring his collaboration with writer extraordinaire Jim Morton for the groundbreaking cult film tome, Re/Search's Incredibly Strange Film book. (A work that I bought on my 16th birthday, changing my life and alerting me that my tribe was out there.) It's quite nice getting to see interviews with Morton, who undoubtedly warrants his own film or at least a juicy article on his notable work.Oddly enough, the sweetest parts in the whole documentary are in this section, going into Rice's long term friendship with Church of Satan founder and carnival organist, Anton LaVey. The fondness and bond that these two controversial and fascinating figures had is readily apparent. Given all of the ridiculous hoopla, with media vermin being partially to blame, that has surrounded LaVey to this day, it is refreshing to see him painted as a man, complete with talent, flaws and a family. (Remember, kids, the only real bogeyman is your own human nature.)The last section, “Denver,” covers Rice's transition from Tiki culture fan (starting from his early teens) to flat out scholar and his involvement with the sinisterly groovy Partridge Family Temple. There's also some keen footage from Rice and company's favorite hangout, the phantasmagorical Casa Bonita. (The now defunct Tulsa location was a mecca of my own childhood, with memories of the sopapillas and the robotic gypsy fortune teller in the game room entrance, still vivid.) All of this leads up to Rice's seemingly calm-after-the-storm life that he entertains today. The Casa Bonita in Denver, which is way fancier than the one in Tulsa. ICONOCLAST is solid proof of a my own personal theory that if you combine a captivating and layered subject matter with a talented crew, then it can be however long it needs to be. Otherwise you get the coitus interruptus effect that plagues many a documentary. Just when the going gets good, they pull back, leaving you almost irritated at the in-completion of it all. That is not a problem here. In fact, the only thing that could have been delved into a little more was Rice's musical partnership with Partridge Family Temple member, model and super go-go girl Giddle Partridge. We do at least get to hear two of their songs throughout, but no real commentary on it. Given that the the partnership has apparently come to an end already, there might be reasons for that. (There is at least some brief but cute interview footage with Giddle and lots of lovely promo photos of her and Boyd.)The interesting thing about this film and Rice as a whole, is that even after four hours, one is not left feeling like they really know that much more about the artist as a man than they probably did going into it. You do get a more fleshed out picture of Boyd Rice the figure and artist, but the actual man? Not so much and in a way, that is totally okay. Honestly, it is sometimes better to not know so much personal information about your favorite artists. The Santa Claus is dead effect is a hazardous one, often blurring the ability for the viewer to separate the art from the artist. Roman Polanski is a predator, your favorite 30's era glamor gal was an escort and Pablo Picasso more than likely was an asshole. (No matter what the Modern Lovers tell you.) Wessel deserves multiple kudos for the stellar and creative work that he has done.Overall, ICONCLAST is a fascinating, rhythmically paced documentary that is perfect for fans and philistines alike. - By Mondo Heather

Larry Wessel
Larry Wessel

LARRY WESSEL IS THE WINNER OF BEST DIRECTOR AWARD AND ICONOCLAST IS THE WINNER OF BEST DOCUMENTARY AWARD AT THE 2011 MELBOURNE UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL!!Movies were destroyed and awards given to the destructors at the 12th annual Melbourne Underground Film Festival, which was held back onAug. 19-28.The Best Film of the fest, as chosen by jury head Jimmy the Exploder in in consultation with The MUFF team, was the controversial A Serbian Filmby Srdjan Spasojevic, which has been banned in some parts of the country, but now available on DVD in others.Other big winners are: Larry Wessel who took home Best Director and Best Documentary for his epic 4-hour profile of cult figure Boyd Rice,Iconoclast (Watch the trailer.); Viva Bianca and Hanna Mangan Lawrence appropriately shared the Best Actress award for their starring roles in Jon Hewitt‘s X (Watch the trailer); and John V. Soto”s Needle took home numerous awards such as Best Actor (Michael Dorman), Best Cinematography (D.P. Stephen F. Windon), Best Poster (Horror Version) and the Special Jury Prize. - Bad Lit, The Journal of Underground Film

Larry Wessel
Larry Wessel

The American artist, musician, prankster, etc, Boyd Rice has, since the mid-70s, enervated the international underground milieu through his persistently controversial and loud existence. Rice has never been politically correct and has never adapted to any movements of well-meaning liberalism, where possible border-transgressions are usually handled as mere wine-soaked, weekend-based titillations. Rice is more well-known for stomping on those borders with boots of sardonic humour.Through his main musical project NON, Rice has been a part and an instigator of an entire "scene": "noise music", in itself an integrated part of the much greater "industrial" scene. With an extremely loud volume and an essentially nihilistic indifference, the music permeates and dominates minds brutally, both live and on record. It doesn't really leave anyone the possibility to reflect or retire. Noise music, as performed by Boyd Rice/NON, is very much a fierce expression of violent integrity.But the primordially loud hasn't really been enough for this outsider, whose life seems to be about satisfying and fulfilling all the whims and desires of the ego. From the 1970s and onwards, Rice has also existed on the outskirts of the art world. Sometimes welcome because of his knowledge, humour and fanciful ideas, but also often quickly excluded because of controversial social darwinistic views. With friends like Charles Manson, Anton LaVey and younger forces like Marilyn Manson (who incidentally regards Rice as his mentor), it's obvious that one won't be welcome in the petit-bourgeois coteries that usually make up contemporary undergound culture.Larry Wessel's ambitious four-hour documentary about Rice, "Iconoclast", is an impressive piece of independent filmmaking. For six years Wessel has accumulated ample material: interviews with Rice himself in varying phases and faces, interviews with people who have known him over the years and lots of archive footage from a, to say the least, eventful life as a musician, prankster, philospoher, TIKI-connoisseur, Satanist, night watchman, collector and what have you.If you nurture an interest in Rice and the kind of subculture he represents, this film is naturally a treasure trove. Its perspective in time, spanning almost 40 years of mischief, also reflects upon other American phenomena and people, cultural as well as other ones. Rice has indeed been an icon of sorts for a long time and Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey even called him an "iconoclast" (hence the film's title). No matter what, it really is hard to think of anyone who's bugged so many for such a long time. Some Americans that come to mind, except the already mentioned Manson (Charlie, that is) and LaVey, are Mark Twain, HL Mencken and perhaps even Gore Vidal (even if Vidal's distinctly liberal focus is slightly askew compared to Rice' considerably more totalitarian romanticism).However, in all of the misanthropic, militaristic, occult, aggressive and social darwinistic aspects of Mr. Rice' mind rests an important balancing factor. In his case, this factor consists of a colourful melange of bubblegum pop, TIKI culture, Tiny Tim, The Partridge Family and a solid perspective of childhood-nostalgia. All of this permeated by a huge portion of black humour. The sum of all of these parts sounds like an almost clinically correct manifestation of the philosophy that Anton LaVey codified and expressed as Satanism. Not surprisingly, Rice was Anton LaVey's good chum for many years during the San Francisco era."Iconoclast" is an extremely entertaining and fascinating film. It's even intelligent and well-made enough to transcend its own subject. A vast array of both famous and infamous subcultural movers and shakers pass by and share memories and points of view. It doesn't seem to end, but then it actually does. Four hours in front of the TV screen felt like one, at most. This usually means that the film in question was really, really good. "Iconoclast" is certainly no exception to that rule.- By Carl Abrahamsson

Larry Wessel
Larry Wessel

Hint Tip: ICONOCLASTYou'd be excused for refusing to sit through a four-hour documentary about the Godfather of Noise Music, Boyd Rice. But if you're the adventurous sort with rock-solid eardrums and a stomach for anarchy, head down to Anthology Film Archives for ICONOCLAST, an epic, all-caps biography six years in the making. Told through Rice's own words, the film is an electric jolt through the synapses of the controversial provocateur and artist.Here are some other of Rice's, um, achievements that may give you pause: he's an avowed satanist; he's on the staff of Modern Drunkard magazine; it was reported, before it was debunked, that he owns the world's largest Barbie collection; he once decorated and ran a tiki bar—tiki bar!—in Colorado; and, in the 70s, he tried unsuccessfully to give a silver platter with a severed sheep's head on it to First Lady Betty Ford. Did we mention the film is called ICONOCLAST?

Larry Wessel
Larry Wessel

A still life with knife and vagina. An exorcism, in which a red-faced holy man orders a convulsing woman to smell a bible. A testimonial from Charles Manson. If this is the first three minutes, what the hell's going to happen in the remaining 237? So I wondered at the outset of Iconoclast, an epically challenging documentary on industrial music vanguard and outsider artist Boyd Rice. In addition to creating music — under his own name and with NON — that makes Metal Machine Music sound likeA Very Bublé Christmas, Boyd is known for flirting with Nazis and Satanists and generally unsettling people wherever he goes. Director Larry Wessel has filmed bullfights in Tijuana, trannies in LA and overall wildman John Trubee, the man behind the Stevie Wonder homage,"Blind Man’s Penis." Check out Iconoclast's seizure-inducing trailer and ask yourself: am I open to the purifying effects of noise, chaos, confusion and the occasional jab of fear? If you are, this is four hours well-spent.— James Rickmanfor Unveiled Arts

Larry Wessel
Larry Wessel

"ICONOCLAST is a Superb Documentary." - Paul Boyer, Tiny Mix TapesLarry Wessel spent nearly a decade filming this leviathan of a biography on one of the American underground’s most controversial figures. It’s true that Wessel’s subject, Boyd Rice, has undoubtedly caused enough of an uproar in American culture over the last 40-odd years to merit such a lengthy feature — Iconoclast clocks in at roughly four hours. However, what makes the film essential viewing for anyone interested in its subject is the extent to which it debunks and/or clarifies most of the stunts that rendered him persona non grata in just about every social circle in the world that wasn’t led by Anton Lavey or Douglas P. Rice, considered by many to be the godfather of noise music, made his literary, visual, and musical career in large part due to his laser-like focus on absolutist and fatalistic theories concerning humanity in general and society in particular. A high priest in the Church of Satan with a professed admiration for Mondo filmmaking, fascism, and Tiki culture, Rice’s artistic endeavors have only been augmented by his utterly misanthropic public statements and a surprising ability to come off like he doesn’t give a shit about anyone or anything that does not directly add to his own experience of a world he considers totally brutal.In Iconoclast, Mr. Wessel, intentionally or not, lays bare a gentler side of a man who once famously pleaded for the return of Hitler, Mussolini, and Nero, among others, to set right the world and put the weak back in their place. The artist’s unabashed admiration for people like Oswald Mosley, Goebbels, and Tiny Tim are unsettling for many, and with good reason. Rice has traditionally cherished (publicly, at least) those elements of humanity that most of us consider mean, base, and destructive, and this in turn allows him a modicum of notoriety that he might not otherwise enjoy. Beneath the all-black-everything aesthetic, the Nazi memorabilia, and a desire to crush all that is weak — specifically the mentally and physically handicapped — lies a sophisticated trickster, only too happy to shake things up in the most tasteless way possible.This preoccupation with toying with people is described at great length by fellow members of the Church of Satan, who recount creepy and hilarious tales about the kinds of shit Boyd and Anton Lavey used to get into when the latter lived in his infamous Black House in San Francisco. In light of these interviews, Rice’s Satanism appears less a sincere belief in the power of occult magick than an ardent desire to negate the religious background of the vast majority of people he knew in California. There are plenty of other instances where Rice’s contrarian streak appeared throughout the doc, and they all more or less fit an M.O. of trying to unsettle his audience in the deepest and most personal way possible. There’s an unnerving quality to Rice’s trickster career path, an uncertainty about whether he really does think Hitler was onto something genuine and genuinely efficacious in bringing about authentic equilibrium in the natural order of things. How is it that a man who professed to hate so many could pour so much of his energy into creating a Tiki Bar in Denver that provided so much joy to crowds of people he publicly wouldn’t admit to allowing a taste of his bootheel?Regardless of how comfortable you are with Rice’s less-than-optimistic musings about the weak, and how slaves should remain slaves and stop ruining the world for us smart fit people, and how a small group of elites should rule the world, and how suggesting otherwise is a ludicrous attempt to controvert an unchangeable and completely arbitrary natural order, Iconoclast is a superb documentary that will reward those with enough free time on their hands to explore it. The film presents us with an exhaustive portrait of an artist who, for good or ill (usually ill) never backed down, an individual who controlled his image and creative output with immense precision and discipline. After all, what offends most about Rice is the way he really just plays the concept of Social Darwinism out to its logical end. Perhaps what horrifies most about Rice is the way in which he constitutes a possible outcome of a world completely ruled by a cold, logical, and unequivocal ethic based solely upon strength and force. Contrasting the bleakness of his worldview with the obvious joy that Rice exudes in his interviews is such a worthwhile experience on so many levels that I cannot hesitate to recommend this to anyone curious about the man, his work, and the fascinating origins of Tiki culture in America (seriously).

SCREENSLATE
SCREENSLATE

"A Hell Of A Fascinating Moviie." - SCREENSLATEFeatured Screening: Larry Wessel’s Boyd Rice documentary Iconoclast at Anthology Film ArchivesAfter yesterday’s release of the West Memphis 3, it’s as good a time as any to reflect on the Satanic Panic of the 1980s and 90s. Who are these people who for a brief time inspired nationwide fear of ritual child abuse and moral degradation, fueling tabloid exposes, 20/20 specials and Geraldo Rivera interviews with Charles Manson?  Apparently, they’re a bunch of folks from California who dig Martin Denny, Rudi Gernreich, Cash Flagg, scopitones and tiki bars. Ostensibly, Larry Wessel’s Iconoclast is a documentary about noise musician, artist and writer Boyd Rice—but given this is a man raised in the 50’s and 60’s in suburban San Diego, later growing a social circle that has included Anton LaVey, Charles Manson andMarilyn Manson—even, er, Bob Larson—it’s effectively a decades-long survey of the Culture of the Weird.Iconoclast is no more easy viewing than Rice’s music, recorded under the name NON, is easy listening. The film runs about four hours, most of which is talking head interviews, archival photographs and 60s ephemeral footage, and it’s presented in a prosumer-fi digital format. Given that, it’s startling how truly engaging it all is. Iconoclast will no doubt be heaven for lovers of kitsch and weird, yet approaching it as one with only a vague understanding of Satanism, RE/Search Publications and nascent industrial music culture, this film hit me like an epiphany connecting pop trash, Nazi iconography, cold war paranoia, the Evangelical movement, norse myth and Tropicalia kitsch. It can be unsettling—the quite charming Rice’s social, religious and political views can be at best tasteless and at worst potentially dangerous (I don’t know whether his mutual respect and friendship with Charles Manson or Larson is more damning)—but there’s no denying this is a hell of a fascinating movie.

TruthSayer
TruthSayer

If you MUST watch this piece of crap by this self-indulgent "filmmaker", then download the torrent so you're not stuck in a theater for hours.

Larry Wessel
Larry Wessel

‎"Antonin Artaud said no one creates except to get out of hell. Who is in hell? Monsters. How can you be surprised that Boyd is irrationally vengeful and passionately petty? It seems like it was cool as long as you weren't on the receiving end. His failure as a human being is a tragedy -- not only to his sons, but to himself. No one wants to be incapable of generosity. There's no more powerless feeling than that. But aren't you promoting the artist in your film? You could have found a much more decent, responsible man to create your work about if that's what you were looking for. I have been on the fence about the validity of psychiatric classifications for a long time, and just now I'm going to discard them all along with astrology as self-serving in the hands of whoever is bandying the terms about (people think they own other people once they put them into a diagnosis), and "disorders" are promoted hypocritically by pharmaceutical companies, scorned ex lovers, friends, and coworkers. We're all ordered differently, and it's connected to society's orders and our eras orders. It's rather random. How can one person be singled out as "dis"? Anyway, in Boyd's case, his failings and incompleteness as a human being and inability to support himself are entwined inexorably with the distanced vision that has caused him to arrive at so many unique ideas and modes of execution in music and writing and pranks and found photography and social commentary." - Lisa Carver

Larry Wessel
Larry Wessel

Thank you Lisa for your intelligent and thoughtful feedback. You were on the top of the list of people that I wanted to interview for ICONOCLAST. When I mentioned this to BR his response was "Absolutely not". He gave me the same two word response when I told him that I wanted to interview his mother. The third name that elicited the "Absolutely not" response was Michael Moynahan.

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