Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Birthday Master

Happy Birthday Master
November 23 1935.  Thomas Ivy Neyman was a premie, prematurely born and in those days, believe me, things didn’t work out as well as often as they do today.  No incubators.  You were snuggled up to mom and if you made it…well, you went home to start your new life.  Little Tommy didn’t remember his dad because Thomas Neyman Sr. died in a plane crash when Tommy was only 18 months old.  Thomas Sr. was an airline pilot for Pan Am and one of the first international airline pilots ever.  His plane crashed into a mountain in Mexico in 1937.  His mother never remarried.  She was an independent woman, especially in those days.  She was one of the first airline stewardesses for Pan Am and went on to a number of jobs including becoming the first female crane operator on the docks at Galveston, Texas.  Thomas Ivy Neyman grew up as an only child but often lived with cousins and his grandparents in Florida, Oklahoma and Brownsville, Texas

He grew up, went to TCU in Fort Worth, Texas.  Met and married my mother and they had me.  We moved to El Paso in 1963 where my dad became Executive Director of the South El Paso Boy’s Club working with the youth on the El Paso side of the Rio Grande river separating the US from Mexico.  My mother became a school teacher and we lived in a 100 year old adobe house.   Tom then became involved with the Festival Theater where he performed in and did set design for many quality plays.  That’s where he met Hal Warren, Producer and Director of Manos and John Reynolds, the legendary Torgo.  Little could any of them have imagined what their 1966 future would hold.  

So, Happy Birthday dad and hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving yesterday. 
More Manos revelations coming next week.  Stay tuned!

Friday, November 16, 2012

What a long, strange trip it's been. Manos style.

Yesterday on November 15th 2012, Manos the Hands of Fate turned 46 years old.  The World Premire of Manos played in El Paso Texas at the Capri Theater on the evening of November 15th, 1966.  So, I'm thinking.  If Manos is 46...well, that makes me than that.  How did that happen?  and more importantly, how did this obscure little low budget film become the darling of so many?  As a Texan, if we were to refer to this film as  we would of the slightly odd Walmart greeter, or your kids schoolmate who always wears his shoes on the wrong feet, we would say, "Bless his little heart".
Seriously.  How did this happen?  I understand the part where a television program is built around the riffing of really bad movies.  I understand the part where Manos is then described as one of the worst of the worst.  So bad, in fact, it earns the title as "Worst Movie ever Made".  OK.  So someone gets that title and although there are many horrible films, Manos got the prize. What my dad, The Master, and I are having trouble coming to grips with, is why do people love it so much?  We are certainly not complaining.  Just wishing to understand.  We literally look at one another with mouths open and a slightly puzzled expression when we see how much energy is building around it.  The other thing that we find incredible is that you fans are not the "voices in your head", underground, creepy alley dwellers.  You all are really engaging, intelligent, interesting and a lot of fun.  I am enjoying this adventure so much and now that he's gotten past his disbelief, so is my dad.  I appreciate all the comments and connections and look forward to much more.  So here's my question to you.  What do you love about Manos?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Manos V/S The Curse of Bigfoot

Ha. Got you to look. There is no V/S. They are both horrible to watch and actually "The Curse of Bigfoot" is probably worse than Manos. Something they have in common beside making you want to gouge out your own eyes, is...Me. I find it odd that my film career consists of films such as these. I pray it's not an on going trend and that the films I'm currently involved in fare better. "The Curse of Bigfoot" was so strange in that it was originally filmed in 1958 and then shelved before completion. Then it was picked up in 1976 and other scenes were filmed. Then they called it good and released it.  Our little group of volunteers (yes, it's true.  I didn't get paid for that film either) showed up on a Sat. morning and spent most of that day just milling around while the director figured out what he wanted to do.  Pretty boring all in all but there is one little trivia you may be interested in.  The frizzy haired kid sitting to my right was one of the actors in the original "Bad News Bears".  He was a nice enough guy although a bit self important because of his self proclaimed celebrity status.  That same year, I became the youngest student director to direct a student play and he was one of my actors.  Edward Albee's "Zoo Story".  Only two characters in the whole play and attempting to direct him was like herding cats.

 In 1976 I was a High School Junior in Southern Ca. at Montclair High School. Our Drama teacher Mr. Tim Tackett was my favorite teacher. He had trained in martial arts with Bruce Lee and taught us meditation as a way to prepare for the stage. Somehow, through a friend of his, our drama class was asked to be extras for a classroom scene in "The Curse of Bigfoot". I recently discovered a photo of that scene in a contest "Which one is the little girl from Manos"  I already answered that question on the contest but if you don't read my comment there, you can make your own guess.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The "Master" creator

My dad, Tom Neyman, who played the part of The Master in "Manos the Hands of Fate" is an artist of many mediums. In El Paso, we lived in an adobe house with walls over one foot thick that was built in 1887. We know that for sure because when my parents bought the house they were told that the builders had placed a silver dollar somewhere in the walls or floor that had the year the house was constructed. During one of our endless remodeling projects, that coin was found in a wall in a closet. The house was at the top of a hill, tucked up tight at the base of Mount Franklin and just below Scenic drive where the hapless Micheal, Maggie, Debbie family begins their journey to Valley Lodge. It was just three miles from Juarez Mexico and we could see the Rio Grande river from our front porch. The family that lived in the house in the early days were able to watch and hear the battle across the border in March 1911 where the decisive victory of the Mexican Revolution with the capture of Ciudad Juarez occured.

In our back yard was the only big tree in our neighborhood, a patio arbor and a small rock house where my dad had his art studio. When he was home he was either making changes to the house or working in the studio. I loved hanging out, poking around his supplies or simply sitting on a stool watching while being bathed in music like the theme song to Zorba The Greek. He painted, sculpted, welded and carved. We would sometimes drive out into the desert searching for things he could include in his work or in the house projects. Weathered wood from a dilapitated shack, railroad ties and nails, or anything that might catch his eye. We used an old electricians truck, named Tobbacca Roada from the 40's for our scavanging adventures. Eventually, in a burst of creativity, Tobbacca Roada succumbed to the welders torch to be incorporated into art.
One time, my mom and I came home from shopping and she went to hang the laundry on the line only to discover my dad had cut down the poles holding the line because he needed more metal for a piece ASAP.

My dad was my idol and I observed him closely. My current creative life certainly underscores that. I am much like him in that regard and you can see just a fraction of what I do on my website I remember him making the hand sculptures in Manos. I watched while he painted The Master's painting and I recall him figuring out and building Torgo's leg braces. I remember the sketches he did for the Masters robe and the laying out and cutting of the fabric. My mother was a very gifted seamstress and gladly worked with him to design and construct the robe. Those were happy times in my childhood and I think I remember them so well and so fondly because life changed so drastically just a few years later. The one constant in life is change, and I for one prefer to focus on the good experiences. I am so blessed that some of the best ones of my youth are immortalized in the famously bad Manos, The Hands of Fate. As I often say, "If you can't be the best, make the most of being part of the worst". Thank you all for making that happen. I appreciate you all so very much.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hotel Torgo

To begin with, this is not an endorsement of Hotel Torgo, the Manos documentary. It must be mentioned however in any examination of Manos The Hands of Fate because as far as documentaries go, it's not all that much better than the film it's documenting. Which of course, makes it perfect for Manos.

I got a call from Richard Brandt, the Manos historian at the time. He let me know that he had interviewed for a documentary in the making and thought I should contact the film makers and offer info. I called the guys and had a quite brief discussion that went something like this, "Hello, my name is Jackey. I played Debbie in Manos, my dad was The Master". I understand you're making a film about Manos and thought I could help you out." The response. "Wow, that's great. OK, um, yeah. Well, we'll get back to you." I heard nothing back and later saw "Hotel Torgo" had been released. I didn't get around to watching until a few years later when someone asked if I had seen it and what did I think of the opening credits that say something to the effect "All cast and crew have either died or mysteriously disappeared" I imagine I never received a call back because my dad and I turned up inconveniently alive and it didn't fit with decisions they had already made. The only cast or crew they had found to interview, Bernie Rosenblum, still lived in El Paso and had his name painted on the street door of his photography business. The film makers did, however, locate the property where Manos was filmed and sadly, the place had been vandalized repeatedly over time with little recognizable other than the columns and block of stone where Torgo was massaged almost to death.

I've thoroughly enjoyed seeking out Manos mythology to reveal the truth. Some of the stories are facinating, but I believe the actual events are just as interesting.

Here's a new one I heard just the other day when I met a young man whose buddy is a fan. He texted his friend to let him know he was talking to me and got this text back. "No way. I heard she had Downs Syndrome or something."

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hero Massaged to Death in Manos

Was reminded of this article just recently and decided to look it up. One of the funniest film reviews I've read. Enjoy!