Joe Christ is one of the most controversial cult film directors. With his unique blend of dark humour and images of the grotesque he has managed to equally shock and enchant audiences for almost two decades.
After a music career in the 1980's, Christ directed his first short film, 'Communion in Room 410' in which a 400-pound Goth cuts herself while another woman drinks her blood. Since then he has written, produced and directed a great number of underground classics in which he also starred. His most famous films include 'Crippled', 'Amy Strangled a Small Child' and his most shocking film/documentary, 'Sex, Blood and Mutilation'. It contains everything from piercing, tattooing, scarification, genital mutilation and just about every form of body modification imaginable.
In 2005 he made his first feature film, 'Even the dog barks... That's Just Wrong!'
Joe also once ran for governor of Texas in 1986 with the slogan 'Christ is the Answer in '86'. He continued to make music with his band 'Bigger than God', reformed his old band 'Los Reactors' for a few shows in 2005 and even released a best-of entitled 'Essential Christ'.
I had the chance to contact Joe Christ who's now living in Manila.
You've initiated your own special genre; what were your personal reasons to create this very individual type of film?
Primarily there was the issue of budget. I've always had certain sensibities, like my warped sense of humour and a cruel streak, but have been faced with budgetary limitations. So, I would always plan around them, thinking to myself..."what CAN I do, with the small amount of funding that I have?"
Where you always fascinated by the rather dark side of life?
Oh yes, for sure. I grew up reading and looking at the groovy pictures in my dad's medical books, strictly for entertainment purposes. I never had any aspirations to become a doctor; I just enjoyed the pics of diseases and deformities, and reading about the suffering involved! In school, I was known as "Gross Joe", because I enjoyed getting a reaction out of people, after I would present them with some disgusting mental image.
It's been over 10 years since "Sex, Blood, and Mutilation, Part 1". Are there still many people that seek you out in hope to be featured in your films?
Even after 10 years, "Sex Blood & Mutilation" is still one of my top-selling flicks. But, as far as people wanting to take part in any potential future "body-modification" documentaries I might make, well that kind of died out as people realized that I was making fun of that whole scene and not treating it with the "seriousness" that some people felt it deserved. Face it...I make comedies, albeit "dark" comedies...so, if I am shooting something in documentary form, it will be treated with my type of humour.
Has anybody ever managed to shock you?
Well, for sure I was somewhat shocked when I met Billy Walker, the guy who had cut off his penis, as seen in "Sex Blood & Mutilation". But, now that I have seen literally hundreds of pics and videos of that type of self-mutilation, it no longer fazes me in any way. When I first saw the "Uncle Goddamn" tapes by Dale Elmore, I was a little startled by the overall malevolence and cruelty of the video content, but was laughing pretty hard before it was all over. No, I guess I don't get shocked very easily.
Can you tell us about your latest movie "That's just wrong!"?
"That's Just Wrong" was my first feature-length movie...up until then everything I had done was a short subject. It's the story of a young woman who is stalked by a creepy guy, who then moves into her home. A relationship of sorts develops, they become romantically involved, in a sick sort of way, and of course, things end very badly for her...but, not the criminal stalker, everything works out just fine for him. It's narrated by a talking Boston terrier; Scrapple, the little pup from "Sex Blood & Mutilation" and managing that "special effect" took up most of my editing time, and a big chunk of the budget! There are a few minor celebrities in the flick, besides me, of course!...the infamous prostitute and author Dolores French plays a bar-owner, and horror-writer Nancy A Collins is seen as a door-to-door preacher.
I've heard you ran for Governor of Texas in 1986, could you tell us about this?
It was strictly done as a publicity stunt, which worked very well. I ran on a platform with various pranks that were calculated to offend as many people as possible...like sterilizing people who receive welfare payments...and when people would ask me if I were "Pro-choice", I would tell them "Absolutely not! Abortion should be MANDATORY!" I stayed in the Dallas area newspapers regularly for several months, as a result of this gubernatorial "campaign"
Are you still playing with Los Reactors or have any other music projects lined up?
I've performed with Los Reactors 3 times for reunion shows, in the past 2 years. The first of those, in 2005, was our first show together as a group in over 22 years! Though the shows were a lot of fun to do, the logistics made it difficult to do as a regular thing. I was living in Atlanta, and the other three members were living in Tulsa...900 miles away. A local show for them was a major road trip for me! Besides, now I am 10,000 miles away, in Manila, Philippines!
So, what is the "private" Joe Christ like?
Well, that's private! Actually, people who meet me usually think "Wow, he's a lot more normal than I thought he would be!" Then they get to know me better and they think "Goddamn! He's a lot weirder than I ever dreamed!"
Why did you move to the Philippines?
I was offered the position of "Director of Media" for several major humour web sites (www.consumptionjunction.com, www.steakandcheese.com, and www.freakhole.com) I had worked for them previously, when they were based in the USA. They moved to Manila a few years ago, and I had stayed behind, waiting for the lucrative offer that I knew would be coming my way. Once it did, I made the move to Manila. I had been looking for a good excuse to leave the USA for a long time...but, never really had a viable way to do it, while still being able to support myself! Now, I am able to do that, and here I am...in the tropics of Southeast Asia! I love the place! The food and the people are great...and the US Dollar spends very well here, too.
Are you working on a new film or script right now?
I have plans to shoot another feature flick, while here in Manila, with a Filipino crew and a mixed cast of internationals. I also just got the green light from the company that owns the web sites to start producing some TV show pilots for a Philippines audience. So, I do have plenty on my plate at this time.
Joe Christ's films on DVD can now be purchased at his website.