Archive for the '- Actors who have fallen off of the face of the Earth -' Category

John Friedrich (part 2)

actor John Friedrich in The Thorn Birds (left), filmmaker Marc Moody on set (right)

When I wrote about the career of 70’s and 80’s film actor John Friedrich in my “Actors Who Have Fallen Off the Face of the Earth” series last November, I was pretty sure that my fandom was probably in vain. I know these actors haven’t really fallen off the face of the earth, but are just obscured by time and events - victims of the “if it’s not on the internet, it doesn’t exist” syndrome. However, it turned out that John Friedrich has even more fans than I imagined, ones that could were willing to dig deeper. In April, I received an email from the other side of the globe. Accomplished filmmaker (Almost Normal) and professor (University of Hawaii at Manoa) Marc Moody had been on a lengthy quest of his own to track down Friedrich. Through a series of events that he calls “connecting the dots,” Moody eventually found Friedrich, and sent him a letter asking him to come speak at his university. And he said yes! Marc answered a few questions for me:

Me: Why John Friedrich?

Marc: Good question. Still asking that myself. John was someone who I remembered, yet had no memory of his name or his films. I just knew that there was this actor I remembered who appeared in a lot of films I saw as I was was growing up, and his performances were riveting. I remember thinking a few times; “I’m never going to be able to know who this guy was. There is just not enough information for me to look anything up on him. That all changed when I caught Thank God It’s Friday airing on television. There, walking into frame, was the guy I’d always remembered.

What is your favorite film of his?

His most solid performance - acting, story, film budget - is The Wanderers. His most endearing performance is The Boy in the Plastic Bubble. If that story were to be done today, the story would (or should) be about Roy Slater and Todd Lubitch. An example of where he could have been groomed as a diversified Sean Penn-type dramatic actor is the character Squeeze, in Fastwalking. An example of where he could have been groomed as a leading boy-next-door star is Thank God It’s Friday. If you’re talking about John Friedrich, it’s not about his films, but his roles and what he delivered in these films.

Please tell me the story of how you tracked him down.

Doing research. Connecting the dots.

Being a fan… detective work… research… stalking. Where do you draw the dividing lines between each?

When I thought I might have found John, I specifically approached him in a straight forward, business manner - with a letter. I first let him know I was a filmmaker. All he had to do was Google me and he could find my films, and articles on me and stuff. The same goes with my other line of work as a professor. I also told him exactly how I came about looking for him.

Why did you arrange to have him come speak at your university?

Because I strongly felt that if I was going to contact him, I had better have some type of professional offer. I don’t believe, nor do I recommend, anyone trying to contact someone for purposes that cannot be explained or beneficial to the other party. If it’s only for the sole purpose of tracking them down to become their friend or meet them, whatever, don’t do it. It’s not worth your time or theirs.

What if one of his fans couldn’t hi-jack a plane and make it all the way to Hawaii? Will the event be documented?

The event was filmed. Having it distributed is probably not an option, but it will be running on the Olelo channels here in Hawaii!

So *gasp!* tell us, where is John Friedrich now and what in the world is he up to?

John lives in New Mexico. He has a beautiful family. He is happy, devoting his energies and time invested in many things (acting is one of them). The best thing I can say about him after we’ve spent time together… is that we’ve laughed a lot!!

Lots more information can be found in two nice articles (and interviews with John) written by the Hawaii Star Bulletin’s Katherine Nichols before the event, and then one reporting on it. In subsequent correspondence with Marc, it seems that there may be some other things in development in John’s career. I’ll keep you posted. Here are the posters (1, 2) from the event at UofH, which apparently was heavily attended. Here’s an excellent eight minute collection of clips of John’s work, that was put together by Marc for the event. Here is John Friedrich’s ongoing imdb listing.

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Andrea Naschak (aka: April Rayne) interview!

Andrea Naschak as Sabra in Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me (1993)

(SCROLL DOWN FOR INTERVIEW)

At some point in 1993, I went to the Angelika Film Centre in Manhattan to see a new comedy directed by Joel Hershman, called Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me. The film, which concerned the kook-a-zoid goings-on of several desperate characters in a trailer park, had gotten good reviews in the papers. Everyone seemed to agree that the film was somewhat of a John Waters/Pedro Almadovar-esque knock-off, but was nevertheless quite a good one, with it’s own unique qualities. The screening was on a weekend night, and was sold out. As the film played, my friends and I, and the whole audience, laughed and enjoy it all. It was a good movie! However, of the ensemble cast, there was one character in particular; a megalo/nymphomaniac/homidic-al, garbage-mouthed stripper named “Sabra” - who seemed to get the biggest guffaws from the audience. The film featured a lot of known actors, like Diane Ladd, Sean Young, Adrianne Shelly and even Timothy Leary. But the actress who played the irrepressible Sabra was hard to ignore.

She was like the soul of Carole Lombard, Ruth Buzzi, Sandra Bernhard, Shirley Stoler and Pat Ast - whizzed in a blender and poured into the body of Gina Lollobrigida, then topped with Cookie Mueller’s head and crowned with one of Jessica Hahn’s worst wigs. It was like she had a built-in megaphone for a mouth, and she effortlessly cold-cocked every scene she was in. Whenever she walked on screen and said or did anything, the audience howled. She just had it - she was remarkably funny. The actress was billed as one Andrea Naschak, and was someone I had never heard of, but didn’t forget.

A year later, when the film was released on video, I immediately rented it. And *gasp!* there she was again! Sabra! She was like some sort of nightmarishly hysterical screen heroine. I kept the video for almost a week, paying all the late fees, just so I could show it to my friends, who loved it. We began to quote Sabra’s lines from the film in our everyday lives. There always seemed to be a perfectly logical reason to say things like “Watch the grease will ya? I don’t need any zits popping up on my ass while I’m filming.” or “Don’t talk, don’t move, don’t breathe, don’t ruin it…” or “Don’t let my dildos, vibrators and handcuffs fool you…”

But again, who in the world was this actress, Andrea Naschak? I pulled out my dog-eared copy of Leonard Maltin’s 1994 Film & Video Guide to look her up. Ahh… there she was! But wha..? Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me was listed as her first film, and also her last?! How? She had such talent! Had Andrea just been a good friend of the director and producers, and done the role as a favor to them? Had she just been a computer-generated animation? Had she left the planet? We hoped not, and I eventually bought my own copy of the video.

Years later, when I figured out how to finally open the box that held my new computer, I looked Andrea Naschak up on the internet, and… uh, who’s April Rayne? Her filmography did indeed end at Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me, but it didn’t start there… holy cow! Before that were listed about zillion other films! *gasp!* I looked at the titles closely, and soon realized they were actually porn titles. In addition, they had Andrea Naschak listed under a few psedonyms like Valerie Harte, and mostly April Rayne. Wow… had the producers and directors of Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me hired a one-time porn actress to star alongside other great actors in a “real” film, and struck gold? It looked like they had. It was hard to believe. She suddenly seemed ten times as interesting as just some newly discovered, unknown actress.

When porn stars usually make it to the “big time,” it’s that transition itself that gets celebrated, not their actual performance in that new plateau. They’re usually pretty bad, and despite the gonzo world they come out of, porn stars ironically never seem brainy enough to do comedy, or at least do it well. Poking fun at yourself on screen, in the truest and funniest sense, requires a kind of double (triple?) layer of awareness that, if not channeled, ends up falling flat. Andrea Naschak seemed to have a gut instinct for that and more, and her first foray into the big time - her performance in Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me - seemed to defy all of those stereotypes. A true success story?

Over time, Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me has ended up being one of those unforgettable indie nuggets - one that has unfortunately been sequestered out of the current cultural arena because it has (still) never been released on DVD. Argh! And now even the initial VHS run is now out of print (although it’s easy to find reasonably-priced, decent used copies of those on Amazon or Ebay). In 2006, the film got more than a handful of mentions in the press, by default, due to the tragic death of one of it’s stars (Adrianne Shelly), and the subsequent investigation. Gawker called the film “criminally underseen.” People that did get to see Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me when it came out tend to remember it fondly, and it does have a small following. So until a company like Blue Underground or Anchor Bay decides to harvest it’s much deserved reputation with a DVD re-release - the film will have to live on amongst treasured, dusty VHS copies, word-of-mouth, and clips on YouTube.

Whatever happened to Andrea “Sabra” Naschak? I was contemplating another entry in my Actors Who Have Fallen Off The Face Of The Earth series, and decided Andrea Naschak had to be the third entry. She must be recognized! She was a small, but fondly remembered, bright blip on the vast-est of vast screens that is popular culture. I would write about the film, and report what I could find on her history (where had she disappeared to?) I nearly fell out of my chair when I discovered that she has a MySpace page. %#@&*!! I breathlessly contacted her.

In coresponding with her to ask her for this interview, I found out that Andrea Naschak is of course not like the explosive Sabra, but certainly seemed of Sabra. In contrast, Andrea is actually more of a perfectionist, and a goal-oriented Leo. She’s still very much a wild child at heart though, and pretty brazen. She is also extremley proud of all of her accomplishments, and more than anything, is certainly someone who lives life by her own rules.

It turns out she happily retired from performing back in 1993, and moved up to Northern California to become a mom(!) and raise her new son. However now that some years have passed, and her son is a bit older - amongst other things, she has found time to work on some writing projects, and indeed is perhaps positioning herself to get back into acting, something she loves. She was thrilled to hear from a fan of the film, and said she’d be happy to talk about her life experiences, as well as her experiences working on Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me. So… here, folks, is Andrea Naschak:

(INTERVIEW WITH ANDREA NASCHAK):

Me: *GASP!* Oh my God! You’re Andrea Naschak, who played Sabra in Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me! Alright, ok… first please share the story of how you landed the role.

Andrea: Ha! It was an off beat way to get a read to say the least! Joel Hershman and Travis Swords caught sight of a porn performance I had done in 1990, titled Personalities. After viewing it, they agreed that I would be perfect for, and had to be cast, to play the role of Sabra. So they then got a message, copy of the script, and their card to me on the set of my next scheduled porn shoot. I called them and was blown away by their excitement and persistence about my reading for the role. They remarked that it would be the best decision I would ever make. Thank God I took them up on the offer! I fell in love with the script immediately, Sabra ultimately… and both Joel and Travis, upon our first meeting!

Did a lot of girls audition?

No! There was only me that read for the role. How do you like them cookies, huh!? Hehe - luckiest gal in the world, I tell you! Wink wink. Might I add though, this was just the beginning of a long and hard fight that Joel and Travis had to embark upon… convincing the “heads” and casting agents that I was the actress they wanted to play Sabra.

Some of your outfits in the film were really over the top. I love the shot of you walking that great dane into the kennel while wearing the hot pink ensemble. And also the workout spandex gear. Did you have any input in choosing the costumes?

Yes, I did in fact. I was able to spend a lot of time with the costume designer, discussing in great detail how we thought Sabra should dress. Those zebra print bike pants - what a kick! (They came from my mom’s personal bike short collection!) Hahaha! I had so much fun with letting go of all fashion sense, and throwing all caution to the wind, where her style was concerned. Her outfits matched her moods very well I think. Sabra was the goddess of gaudy and cheap, like a Fredericks of Hollywood explosion - screaming for attention!

Many of Sabra’s lines are crazy instant classics, and just seem to just come out of nowhere - like when you intentionally mispronounce the word “pedo-feel” over and over. Were any of your lines improvised by you, or was it all in the script?

Aaaah… yes! In fact, there are numerous lines that were my improvisations, which I was allowed the freedom to use, and ultimately were kept in the making of the movie. I usually went over what my ideas were with Joel and Travis. After running through the line with them, they would let me know immediately if it would work. I have a very quirky sense of humor, and my mind is always ticking. I’m quick witted, and often turn to humor for relief. In regards to that particular line; when I would say “pedo-feel,” that was in the script. Travis Swords gets all the credit for that hilarious blurb. Joel and Travis were not in the least bit afraid to allow everyone’s input, and allowed freedom for artistic expression within one’s role. Some of the lines that were allowed to remain in the film that i am responsible for were; “four foot hair-ball,” “don’t talk, don’t breathe, don’t ruin it,” “would you like to come over my house and do me doggy-style…your loss big guy” and also “you know you hate your mother, take it out on me and titty fuck me real quick! You know you want to, come on, come on baby!” Hahaha! Enough said I think - my humor in living color! Now I’m starting to be afraid! Haahhaa! No, kidding! It was all in good fun.

One of my favorite lines is right after you’ve nearly fatally clobbered your sister with a frying pan and she’s unconscious on the floor - you pensively run your fingers through your hair and say “Oh, I hate this long, tired, nappy hair…” like it’s of your upmost concern at the moment.

That was written by Travis Swords. Our senses of humor are very similar. We both love both gags, and great shock value - but our wit is ridiculously dry. So that worked great for Sabra; she was so disconnected from all grasps of a reality outside of her own. Nothing at all seemed to be able to penetrate her way of thinking and being. Satire at its finest. A great line too!!! Got to love Travis. Lol!

Did you ever study comedy acting or improv? You seem to be a natural.

Thank you that is very huge to me! *blush* Comedy is so important to me, but I never studied it, no. I wish! I don’t know why exactly that is either. *sigh* I was active with theater and acting classes here and there, and through out my junior and high school career. I also participated in Shakespearean Festivals, but I never sought out one comedy acting class. But I am comedy on a daily basis… I think! However, there are those that do not get my humor, and find me quite irritating at best! I guess you can’t please them all all the time… and GOD, why would you want to anyway? That’s how I feel about that. Oops! Did I just say that out loud? Hehe.

You have a great shouting voice. How did you develop it?

I am German and Czech by descent. Enough said. Hahahaha… sorry couldn’t resist! You got me there Mark! Umm… I guess I developed it during my years of screaming for attention, most likely? Blah!

Are you an extrovert?

Very much so! Coupled with being an exhibitionist, and owning no fear where making a goof of myself is concerned. You live only once… live large! And for crying out loud, have fun! And don’t forget to wear clean underwear… please and thank you.

What was it like working with some of the big names in the film, like Diane Ladd, Sean Young and Timothy Leary?

Pinch me… was that real??? He he. It was great. I had heard horror stories about working with Sean Young, and to tell you the truth, besides Timothy Leary and Max - Sean was my favorite on the set. She was a treat, to say the least… funny, warm, and looked great. I am a fan, so I was awestruck and grateful that she even said hello! Haha! Everyone was a blast to work with, even Dianne… especially after she had the beers she enjoyed so much! LOL!

Any thoughts on the recent death of Adrienne Shelly?

Terrible tragedy. May the sweet girl rest in peace! My condolences go out to her beloved husband, and all that knew and loved her that she left behind. What an awful event that played out that fateful afternoon. Tsk Tsk. *sigh*………

Has anyone ever told you you resemble the actress and writer Cookie Mueller?

No! They haven’t. My look has always changed very radically at times, so placing me at any one time to look like someone else mostly is difficult. However, I had been told that I resemble Angie Dickinson before. Haha! Who knows. I’m just me.

I’ve never read a review of the film, even short ones, that don’t single out your performance. Variety called your performance as Sabra “wonderfully portrayed,” and The New York Times review seemed to stop just short of saying that you stole the show. This being your first “real” film, did you feel your performance was good?

All I can say is that I still pinch myself regarding having had the chance to do it, let alone doing the movie, and it getting the amount of attention that it did. Especially because it was only an “indie” and a “B” movie (I was told). So, I am realistically going to tell you that I think I could’ve done better, and that is purely due to my being a perfectionist. But as a whole… I am quite proud for my first time out film work. Yes.

Do you really like chocolate milk?

The first time that I went to meet with Joel Hershman and Travis Swords, I was toting in hand a jug of Yoo-hoo Chocolate Drink. Poof! Moo-hoo was born! Speaking of which…… I’ll be right back!

In a 2001 interview with Supervising Producer Alain Silver, he discusses an earlier version of the Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me script that had a white slavery ring sub-plot, and scenes of women getting branded… really insane stuff - which they eventually cut out because they knew they could never get producers on board with scenes like that. Did you ever see this version of the script?

No, and to tell you the truth, that is the first I’ve heard anything about that. Hmmmm, I can’t even visualize that type of script with the players we had cast for our version. So, thankfully I didn’t see, nor was asked to do that rendition.

In the same interview it’s mentioned that Joel Hershman was offered a television show spin-off based on the film that ultimately didn’t pan out. Were you involved with that at all?

No I wasn’t. Joel and Travis had lost contact with each other, and I really never pursued a relationship with them past that point. That was when I had relocated to Northern California. It is odd, but I don’t go to Los Angeles often at all. Very surreal in a sense. I do miss my home in Venice beach very much. I believe I am just not ready to go back there yet, that’s all. But again to reiterate, no - I had nothing to do with dealings or stabs at making a deal for such a show along side of Joel.

Were there any scenes that you remember shooting that never made it into the film?

Scenes? No. Portions of scenes in fact ended up on the editing room floor, but none that were really substantial enough to qualify as a “lost scene.”

You seemed at ease within Sabra’s abrasive persona. What did you base her on? Where did Sabra end, and Andrea Naschak begin? Or for that matter, April Rayne?

Quite frankly, I was very at ease playing, and allowing myself to discover and develop Sabra. In the beginning, I based her on an exaggerated, over the top version of the element that I worked with everyday leading up to my being cast in Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me, which was Pornstars. I would have to say that there were a few personalities, including mine (April Rayne), that I incorporated into the arrival of Sabra. Though over time, I allowed myself, Andrea, to find within Sabra her vulnerabilities, fears, and the walls that she built up and ultimately hid behind (which I feel is what lead to the comic relief in how I played her!) My character April Rayne made way for the onslaught of outlandish and seemingly tasteless chaos that molded her entire existence. Sabra on the other hand, was a self absorbed ego maniac with severe control and security issues. I allowed Sabra to know nothing other than what she lived and breathed. This paved the way towards her undeniable exuberance, and disregard for any opinion or chance that what she was about, or did, was not perfectly normal and acceptable. I eventually found that Sabra was captivating in her own ways. I couldn’t wait to see what ridiculous act she might display next. Sabra’s charisma and drive to live her life the only way that she knew how, to the Nth degree, is where, I, Andrea, and April Rayne begin, and Sabra ultimately meet. But, rather than a beginning and an ending, I think it’s more of an understanding, and that commonality was easily obtained and displayed, because it’s a huge part of how I am, and live. It’s to “shock and awe,” in a sense. But the beginning of Sabra and April, for that matter, and the end for Andrea, lies in the ego-maniacal self absorbed abuses she displayed. My own personality is very far from an ego maniac, and I definitely need to think more about myself first in that respect. Sabra and April? Well, this is their world, and you are lucky to be in it along side of them! Pffft! Oh Lord! Hahahah.

Wow, that’s quite an analysis! Sabra seems to glide easily from a coo-ing, seductive person… to a screaming, rage-filled megalomaniac in seconds flat. Again, assuming you drew a lot of the character from inside yourself, should we be scared of you?

Hmm… heavy! Yes a lot did come from within me. I used to be needy, always wanting to be the center of attention when I was younger, which was due to my lacking a sense of self. Through maturity though, and self-love, and forgiveness, I have gained the tools and confidences I needed to replace those insecurities - which fueled the obnoxious antics I once thrived on. So to answer you, No! No need to be afraid… but cautious is never a bad idea! Hahahaha! I’m kidding! Wait? Am I? As Sabra, I had fun allowing myself to react to the words she was hearing, with no self control, and allow that helplessness to fuel a rage that was felt purely by her, because of her inability to share her emotions calmly and diplomatically with anyone. She was defensive, and felt as if she was always being attacked (listening wasn’t one of her strong points). On top of it all, I was also campy playing Sabra. But all of that melodrama stayed at the shooting, and existed solely for the making of her, and the film.

Making the leap from the world of porn into mainstream film seems to be very, very difficult - surprisingly even still today. Do you feel any affinity toward other actors who have made that transition, in whatever context? Like Traci Lords, Vanessa Williams or Simon Rex?

I am only too proud, and also very fond, of anyone who stares adversities in the face and draws from the “you-can-never-make-its” out there, and takes on the challenge of showing otherwise to close-minded critics. Cheers! Break a leg… and much success to all that have at least tried. After all, to try is all that anyone could ever ask of another, now isn’t it?!

I’m assuming that working in a porn film, and a “mainstream” (indie) film are markedly different. Are they?

Well, I would assume that they are very different in many respects. But the atmosphere on the set of Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me, as well as working along side the likes of Joel Hershman, Travis Swords, Dianne Ladd, Timothy Leary and Sean Young especially, made the task all too easy. It was beyond fun, even though it was a work environment. More than once I found myself pinching, and reminding myself that this is it!!! This is serious, and to get it right. Whereas on the set of a porn… quite frankly, there were a couple of the directors that I enjoyed shooting for (and these were the only sets that Andrea showed up, as well as April). I think Andrea is pretty dang cool, and a huge contribution to any successful endeavor I have attained! So, those were the only times that I found any similarities. The differences are only too obvious, otherwise! Wink wink….(not saying that a lil hanky-panky didn’t go down on the set of Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me) Hehehe… chew on that one for awhile! Ha!

Was your acting role in Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me also the marking point where you decided to end your porn career?

Yes, it was the reason I had left the industry as a whole. You see, I originally went into porn due to the lack of recognition at the last job I had held before that; managing a restaurant in Culver City. I loved the job, but it was very demanding, and the owner of the restaurant was all but absent, making for very stressful times with no compensation. Sheeesh, I am such a Leo it is pathetic! Anyhow, I had a frequent customer of three years that continually remarked that I should give porn a try, and said I would be perfect for such films (I know now that they say that to all the girls! But heck! There was the recognition I was so starving for… so I bit the bait!) After three years of Biff Malibu dropping them invites to me, I figured why not?!! And gave him a call! The next day I had camera, film, and lube at my doorstep - to shoot my first amateur scene! Hahaha! God I am adventurous. Anyways, after long hours of contemplating, I decided to ask my mother for her permission to go ahead with pursuing a porn career. Her advice was that there were many consequences, and had I weighed them all out? I really didn’t have a grasp of what it was that she had been referring to, and hastily replied that I had - and left it at that. She said that she knew that I would be great at whatever I put my head into doing, and that she hoped that I would be careful. But she told me not to not expect her to view any of my work, or support the career in any fashion other than the fact that I was her daughter, and that she loved me. That was all I needed to hear, and voilà! At first, Valerie Harte was born… it wasn’t until I actually started working with the big video companies that I came up with April Rayne! I had decided then that I would utilize this industry as a platform for learning my stage presence (best side), and my ability to learn lines, what have you - in order to betterment my chances of hopefully one day landing a legitimate acting career. Oh, did I mention that I am incredibly naive and have no logic sense!??? No need, huh? So apparent now! Hahaha! Well, I did in fact enjoy many moments in the porn industry. Yet, if I were available to speak to anyone that was thinking about going into the industry, before they did I would do so, with the hopes that I could save them from perhaps making the worst mistake that they might possibly make. Not that the industry isn’t, and doesn’t, work for everyone! It does! I just feel that there is probably more to a person’s reasons as to why it is that they are thinking about entering into porn in the first place. I would hope that those reasons were the correct and smartest ones - otherwise that industry will chew and spit you out with no regard. And everyone should be aware of the downsides of anything, I feel. Knowledge tends to lead to bliss, and this is definitely one of those instances!

How did your associates in the porn industry feel about your success?

I couldn’t tell you. I turned away and never looked back to the porn industry ever since the day I walked on the set of Rayne Storm, a Vivid Production, and announced that I was leaving the industry, and that that day was to be my last! But my guess is that none cared or even batted an eyelash toward anything that happened to me thereafter! Here today, gone tomorrow! Peace! Hahah! But it’s all good, I am perfectly fine with that.

Is it true you found out you were pregnant with your son while the film was shooting?

No, I actually found out about my pregnancy immediately after the release of the film, in 1993.

What was Ania Suli like, who plays the faded Hungarian opera singer, Olga?

Awwwwwwww… God bless her heart! Couldn’t help but fall in love with her the moment you laid eyes on her! What a character she is! She was a gem, and what a honor to have met her. She was quite a Star and still is for that matter, in the Hungarian Opera world I take it! She was a blessing. And she had a large appetite for comedy to boot!

What was Max Parrish like to work with so closely? He’s damn sexy in the film.

Mmmmmmmm mhmmmmmm… (psst…………. can I dish????) hehehe… dare I say, “WAWAWEEWA!” It, he, is and was… delicious! He is such an amazing guy! Truly one of a kind. Genuine, kind hearted, a hard worker and definitely amazing in the sack! Did I just say that?????? It wasn’t long before I had taken his star off of his trailer and put it on top of my star! LOL!!! God I love me! And yes, we decided that two trailers was just a waste of space and quite frankly we were concerned citizens and didn’t feel the need to waste money nor space… and time for that matter! Yumm to the mother f’n eeeeeee!!!! Whew! Ok what was the question again???

Do you have any frustrations that Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me hasn’t ever been released on DVD?

Yes I have many frustrations regarding how difficult it is to get any information about the film all together. Heck, it’s difficult enough to locate the VHS alone. Pffft!

When the film came out, did you ever get recognized on the street as Sabra?

Yes! All the time. And I was taken aback by it too, because I was no longer in Los Angeles. I had moved up north, and it was there that they were recognizing me. Flattering, very, very flattering indeed.

What are you doing with yourself these days?

I have been working, and learning how to write. I know it doesn’t show here… my apologies. I am, and have been, working on some writings of my own that will eventually get published. And no, it isn’t an autobiography. The writing does include some of my past experiences, however. We will leave it at that for now. I am usually not secretive, but this is the one thing that I must not jinx. Also, I still am active in sobriety and continually working within myself… growing and rediscovering who I am. You know… fun stuff! And of course, being a mother first and most importantly! I love you son!

Would you ever make a return to acting? Please say yes.

Sigh… may I express just how much has died inside of me due to my inactivity, and lack of opportunity to express myself artistically? I wanted to be certain that I was there actively with my son during the all important first years of his development. So I was, and then life took on a pace and path of its own, and I was never was able to alter it towards what I wanted or longed to do… act. But now that my son is older, and I do have the time to explore this again… I will at minimum get on with a local theater group, and do some community theater stuff… and perhaps update my headshots… lol… mine are a little old now. So we shall see where and what may come to be. Having had this opportunity here with you now is definitely a start in the right direction, and may I say what a privilege and honor it was too! So… one never knows… look for me, I may just show up again someday in a theater near you!

Here are some clips of Andrea Naschak in Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me (Vimeo - best quality)–oops, that’s been deleted, so try here (YahooVideo - lesser quality).

This is part three of my “Actors Who Have Fallen Off The Face Of The Earth” series, where I write about un-discussed actors who have had relatively hidden careers in cinema (ranging from very brief to just one film) and have then literally vanished, for whatever reason - untraceable by imdb.com, Google, etc.

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John Friedrich

John Friedrich in The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976), The Wanderers (1979) and The Final Terror (1983)

With idiosyncratic roles in sub-iconic fare like The Boy In the Plastic Bubble (1976), The Death of Richie (1977), In the Matter of Karen Ann Quinlan (1977), Thank God It’s Friday (1978), The Wanderers (1979) and The Final Terror (1983) - John Friedrich spent most of his career on screen playing characters that you naturally assumed would have developed a thick skin and tough exterior because of their prickly life situation - but for some reason hadn’t. His portrayals were often brassy and smart aleck-y in vain, and became uniquely endearing. Because of his somewhat kooky physical persona and the unmistakably barmy look in his eyes, he often played the oddball even within an ensemble cast of oddballs. His face was child-like, with smiling eyes that seemed to front a mischievous, unruly brain. Watching him was like observing a child that, upon reflection, you suddenly realize might one day grow up to be a criminal. His undeniably handsome visage had an alluring, weird warp right through the center - a combination of elements that pin-pointed your attention whenever he was on screen (the mix of gawk and lust is a very rare but potent screen presence). Friedrich never afforded starring roles, even though he obviously possessed the skill, intuition and range to pull one off. Even at a film’s center, he existed within a “sidekick” capacity. When playing a self-reliant solo flyer, he was often typecast “attached” as someone’s googly-eyed younger brother, accident-prone boyfriend, or adorable gamin. His characters would often spend the first half of the story swinging between comic physical acting and heartfelt frustrations, which would build to an emotional “reveal” two-thirds of the way through, proving his character had more depth than what was portrayed before that moment, and letting the other characters in on what was already obvious to the viewer.

Friedrich had a large handful of screen roles from the mid-1970’s to the early 80’s, in which his career made the gradual arc from American network television shows, to feature films.

His first real role was the incest-y, Lana Turner vehicle Bittersweet Love (1976), playing one of the protagonist’s camera-happy younger brothers, who accidentally snaps the backs of wedding guest’s heads with a polaroid camera during a lengthy ceremony.

In 1976, Friedrich landed the role of Roy Slater in the highly viewed and devotedly recollected TV movie The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, which starred John Travolta as Tod Lubitch. The film has survived in reputation largely because of it’s camp qualities, but much of it is surprisingly effective and touching when viewed today. Friedrich’s character appears in one large scene, bunking right next to Travolta in an identical air-tight hospital room while undergoing chemotherapy treatment (sans the hair loss) for a brain tumor, which weakens his immunities much like Lubitch’s. It is the only time in the picture another character who shares Lubitch’s condition is portrayed. Friedrich initially plays it as casually desperate, then switches gears into a goofy, high-voiced alternative to Travolta’s thick-lipped brood. While riding exercise bikes next to each other on opposite sides of a plexiglass wall, Travolta eventually opens up about his frustrations with girls as Friedrich won’t shut up about his pullulating sex drive. And in a notorious scene (for 1970’s network television at least), he admits to Travolta with a shit-eating grin that he masturbates “…all the time!” Much like one or two of the leads in The Boy in the Plastic Bubble, Friedrich is able to flesh out a believable character amongst all the cardboard surroundings, but he’s also able to do it with only about 12 lines and five minutes.

Friedrich continued as a teenager in television, with character parts on episodes of established 70’s fare like Baretta (in one prison bus hijacking episode, he played a character named Cornflakes) and The Streets of San Francisco.

TV movies based on true stories seemed to be a specialty for Friedrich in the beginning; who soon appeared in the wacked-out drug scare propaganda movie The Death of Richie (1977), and later played the brother of a girl who had lapsed into coma in In the Matter of Karen Ann Quinlan (1977). He also appeared as a repressed, maladroit drama club hopeful in the Judy Blume-sourced TV movie Forever (1978). That same year, Friedrich landed a costarring role on the big screen in the underrated “identity-crisis-in-never-never-land” school election drama Almost Summer (1978). All of these films are very much under the radar in today’s retro-crazed, past-plundering entertainment markets (sans Boy in the Bubble), and I would recommend any of them for lovers of fun, off-perimeter 70’s stuff (particularly the luridly tragic and psychedelic Death of Richie). Appropriately, Friedrich then appeared again on the big screen as one half of a twenty-thumbed, nearsighted, rhythmically challenged duo who comically stumble around a disco in the fad-tastic Thank God It’s Friday (1978).

In one of his most-seen roles, Friedrich then costarred in Philip Kaufman’s highly anticipated film adaptation of the gritty Richard Prince novel The Wanderers (1979). He played the character Joey; a wide-eyed, artistically inclined gang member with an accentuated street vernacular who acts as little brother type to another member of the gang (if not all of them). Joey is constantly trying to prove himself, often to comical effect - and obviously searching amongst the streets as he repeatedly becomes the brunt of the other gang member’s pranks, or getting teased for appearing wandering-eyed around a female who’s present at a game of strip poker. Despite the subject matter, many aspects of The Wanderers are even more cartoonish than The Warriors (if that’s possible), a film which it is often compared to. The feel of the picture is “50’s concrete jungle,” but often overly surreal. Friedrich, exhibiting his usual screen characteristics, is costumed here in super-tight jeans and an angular D.A. hairstyle - at times resembles Howdy Doody in Sha Na Na drag. His portrayal of the streetwise, slapstick (and clearly heterosexual) Joey is almost effeminate - especially when he’s laying on the floor in his living room, painting a homemade football mural with obsessive flair and his gorilla-like father shoots a disapproving glare. Joey rides off at the end with one of the other gang members, to spend their lives together in California (the book contained a fair amount of clouded homosexual sub-content, which was toned down in the film).

Friedrich then had a large part in the Harvard-esque, 60’s radical ménage-à-trios teaser A Small Circle of Friends (1980), playing nearly three separate personas. His character, Haddox, begins the film as a bumbling, Klark Kent-style Texan newbie during his freshman year at college. He eventually grows a lot of hair as he transforms completely, into a viciously uncompromising political activist. By film’s end he’s cloistered in the guncotton hideaway of a Weather Underground-type terrorist organization, ranked as the group’s ghoulishly up-beat leader (and his last line in the film is a clincher).

One of his most famous roles, at least popularity-wise, was that of Frank Cleary in the universally obsessed-over and widely seen 1983 TV miniseries/novel adaptation of The Thorn Birds.

Almost immediately after, in what would be his last film performance, Friedrich played the motley character Zorich in the Samuel Arkoff-produced 80’s slasher film The Final Terror (1983). Zorich was an inordinately macho, military-minded, forest survivalist-type with a backwoods accent and a penchant for psychedelic drugs. Friedrich’s menacing/goofball portrayal is weirdly one of his most serious roles, and stands out from the rest of the cast, who were reduced to cookie-cutter performances as per usual for horror films of that time (although many in the cast went on to have broader careers; Rachal Ward, Daryl Hannah, Adrian Zmed). The film is categorically “bad” but indeed very interesting, and Friedrich’s mysterious performance is undoubtedly one of the factors that drags it over that edge. More timberland atmosphere than splattering gore (and only one gratuitous sex scene!), The Final Terror has developed a small cult following amongst fans of 70’s and 80’s horror flicks for it’s unique qualities within the genre (a victim of multi-regional marketing, the film also ended up with a pick-a-card roster of official and unofficial titles: A Bump In the Night, Campsite Massacre, Carnivore, The Creeper, Forest Primeval). The movie has a really odd ending, in which the entire cast is saved from the killer (who’s some kind of mossy forest hag with a twisted Oedipus complex) by one of Zorich’s elaborate, psychedelic mushroom-inspired survivalist killer “traps” made out of trees and rope - which he had been working on in private while they had been packing mud on their faces and sticking branches in their hair in a comically vain attempt to fool the murderer.

After The Final Terror, Friedrich seemed to drop out of acting, and into thin air. All filmographies for him list The Final Terror as his last project, and no information seems to exist about what he has done in the entertainment industry since (or even before his career began). Small pockets of discussion on the internet, at film listing websites and message boards, occasionally discuss his whereabouts with the usual transitory hearsay and gossip that the internet specializes in. Theories range from the practical (he became a surgeon) to the bizarre (he became Ken Wahl’s live-in gardener). There is a notorious and long-since dead Australian criminal also named John Friedrich, that at least one official actor listing site (Answers.com) has confused him with (when I first saw this, I popped my eyes back in my head as soon as I realized it was a digital goof). It’s almost shocking that the consummate John Friedrich stopped working in film. Whatever happened to this magnetic thespian individualist? Why did his filmography evaporate at the 1983 marker point? What halted the momentum? As it stands now, he becomes his own answer to the phrase “…what ever happened to?”

UPDATE: John Friedrich has been found. See here, here and the current comments section on his page at imdb.com.

(John Friedrich at imdb.com)

H.

This is part two of my “Actors Who Have Fallen Off The Face Of The Earth? series, where I write about un-discussed actors who have had relatively hidden careers in cinema (ranging from very brief to just one film) and have then literally vanished, for whatever reason - untraceable by imdb.com, Google, etc.

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Thomas Haustein

Thomas Haustein
Thomas Haustein costarred in Christiane F., a stylish heroin-scare film released out of Germany in 1981. His rather large portrayal of the character Detlev was his first and last film performance.

Directed by Uli Edel (who later went on to direct Last Exit To Brooklyn), the film was based on the life of the very real Vera Christiane Felscherinow (aka: Christiane F.), who became a heroin addict and prostitute in Berlin by the age of 14. Her uncovered existence became a public sensation due to several human interest stories written about her in Stern magazine in the mid 1970’s. These expanded into a best-selling book, which was transcribed from her own tape-recordings about her life during that period.

The German title of the film is Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo (Children of the Bahnhof Zoo), and refers to the much glamorized Bahnhof Zoo rail station in Berlin (in the 70’s and 80’s, the rear wing of the station was a controversial crossroads for prostitutes, junkies and teen runaways). Director Edel reportedly followed the book very closely during the creation of the film, which was basically non-fiction. Still, the story obviously maintains the aura of an anti-fairy tale; little children trading the warm hearth of home for the deep dark woods, only to loose their souls in the snow.

Considering everything that’s happened in culture since 1981, today Christiane F. could be shelved right at home amidst innumerable carbon copies. But at the time of it’s release, it was a stand-out ground-breaker in it’s own right. The picture’s subjects had been addressed in cinema before, just perhaps not in this particular style (lots and lots of style!) And it’s style is what wins out: if you like urgent films about gorgeous youths glamorously grasping straws in a whirlpool-ing modern world drowned in crime and doom - then this film will be like a gooey teddy bear to you. Christiane F.’s surface sheen overreaches the griminess (though the needle scenes are still hard to watch). It’s picturesque cinematography and zonked-out pace mix well with an appropriately impassioned score. The soundtrack features tracks by David Bowie (who makes a brief concert appearance) pulled from and reminiscent of his moody, krautrock-y work on Heroes and Low, which were assisted by a then ambient-mad Brian Eno. And it doesn’t hurt of course that the picture was filmed in Berlin, one of the most romantically oppidan places in the world, a location that’s pavement and neon seem perpetually cast in the golden blue bask of dusk.

The part of Christiane was played by German actress Natja Brunckhorst (cast out of 2,000 girls), who gave a much-celebrated portrayal of the story’s “Little Bo Peep drunk in the streets.” She was only fourteen when the film was made, and judging by the pubescent facial hair growth on his face (viewable in close detail on the DVD), German actor Thomas Haustein was probably around the same age when he costarred as Detlev, her troubled, topsy-turvy love interest.

The magnetic Haustein gives a somewhat anemic performance in the film’s first half (the film’s weird vocal dubbing, even in the German version, doesn’t really help get things off to a great start). In his first initial scene, when he is offering Christiane some paper napkins while she is throwing up against a tree, Haustein seems unable to decide what to do with any part of his body that isn’t in play. Most actors don’t know what to do with their hands in awkward sequences, Haustein doesn’t seem to know what to do with his eyeballs, which often nonsensically look up and down again and again in much of his initial screen-time. But this is an inadequacy he is able to gracefully sidestep due to his ephebic beauty. In a few electric moments, Haustein does nothing but lean against a wall and brood at someone, like a painting. Gorgeous youths often (but not always) have the upper hand in hoodwinking audiences with stiff performances, where lack of acting skill literally melts into the background of their physical appearance, which commands an intense visual lock. This phenomenon can often be contrasted in relief against older skilled actors, who might labor away on-screen while young beauties so casually and cruelly command the spotlight. Christiane F. has no significant adult actors, and even the few who appear have little story importance.

But, something shifts in Haustein’s performance halfway through the film, and it becomes quite good (could the film have been shot in sequence, allowing him to warm up along the way?) He often becomes angry at Christiane, his puppy dog eyes squinting as he screams at her about the disrespectibility of her giving men blow jobs for money while simultaneously preparing his works, his voice echoing inside a public bathroom stall scribbled with graffiti drawings of squirting penises and dirty German limericks. For much of the film’s last quarter, he’s prancing jittery-ly around the megalopolis in tight jeans, boots with heels, and a makeshift ascot made from a torn t-shirt - scowling as he searches for drugs, his face rapidly fluctuating into a cherub whenever a potential john comes within view. The scene where a convulsing, underwear-clad Haustein is sweatily attempting to cut their last desperate dose, focused and oblivious as Christiane spews a fountain red wine vomit all around him like a sprinkler, is a real keeper.

Considering his apparent age at the time, his performance is actually rather remarkable, and brave. The portrayal is homoerotic by frame one, which only solidifies throughout the plot as he confesses to Christiane one morning in bed that he hustles for male clients. This reaches a climax when his relationship with Christiane (where his true heart lies) is torn by a monster-faced, wealthy male john who exploits his addiction and lures him into a permanent live-in house boy situation - portrayed intransigently at film’s end.

Thomas Haustein’s filmography begins and ends with Christiane F., according to all reliable sources. In interviews with cast members and those involved with the film (as recently as 2001), when asked about Haustein - they always reply that they have no idea what ever happened to him.

H.

This is part one of my “Actors Who Have Fallen Off The Face Of The Earth? series, where I write about un-discussed actors who have had relatively hidden careers in cinema (ranging from very brief to just one film) and have then literally vanished, for whatever reason - untraceable by imdb.com, Google, etc.

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