Monday, June 08, 2009

Rockets Redglare, plus the Nancy Spungen murder revisited

Y'all should know: there's a pretty interesting documentary available on DVD on a guy named Rockets Redglare, a morbidly obese NY hustler/ drug dealer/ drug addict/ alcoholic/ libertine/ comedian/ actor and raconteur who died a few years ago. I just stumbled upon the disc this week; I knew it had a rather difficult history, but missed word that it had actually been released. It's a shame it has received so little attention - the film is worth seeking out, worth thinking on.
You've probably seen Rockets Redglare - real name Michael Morra - in SOME movie or other. He's appeared in films by Jim Jarmusch (he's the "I'm serious as cancer" guy in Down By Law), Steve Buscemi (Trees Lounge) and even Oliver Stone (he's the killer at the end of Talk Radio). There's a compelling quality to his appearances that leaves you wondering, after his scenes, exactly who the hell he was ("he wasn't just some actor"). Redglare, who weighed as much as 700 pounds at one point in his life, is as physically grotesque a human being as I have seen - possessed of enormous man-tits, oft-toothless, and projecting a look of utter decadence, like a corpulent, debauched baby - but he's also fascinating and charming and oddly likable. In the doc, Jarmusch, Buscemi, Willem Defoe, Matt Dillon, Julian Schnabel and many others who knew him share fond stories, some of which are funny indeed. It's a sad life - Rockets was born addicted to heroin to a junkie mom, who would later be murdered by a violent boyfriend; plus it's hard to watch a human being who, through excess, has so damaged himself - but it's also a warm film, directed by a young filmmaker and friend to Rockets named Luis Fernandez de la Reguera, who died a few years after Rockets in a 2006 motorcycle accident. (His statement about making the film is here).

Punks out there might have encountered Rockets Redglare's name in another context, mind you.
He was among the last people to see Nancy Spungen alive; he was Sid and Nancy's dealer. The full story of that rather famous "celebrity punk murder/ death," including Rockets' statements about that night, is here. There is apparently an upcoming doc called Who Killed Nancy (official site here), which purports to vindicate Sid. There are some who hold that Redglare himself was the killer, but apparently the director of Who Killed Nancy has another theory.

While I am all for justice being done, I really don't care that much about Sid and Nancy, frankly - "punk rock for the tabloids" - but it was interesting to think about Rockets Redglare tonight. Among other things, he really makes me want to lose weight. I suspect some of my readers would find their own value in this DVD, if they sought it out. Make sure to check out the Sundance Q&A with the director and Steve Buscemi in the extras; there are some fun stories therein.


editor said...



ammacinn said...

Note: "editor" is a kind of strange name for this person to be commenting under, so just to be clear, "editor," above, is not me, it's just some commenter. The video is an interview with a crackhead in the DTES, called "Drugs Are Destroying People's Lives."

Anonymous said...

Even if only 2% of the 10,000 addicts on the DTES wanted treatment then there are not enough beds. The problem is that addicts often change their mind while waiting for a detox bed. I was on the list once but gave up and continued to use for another six months before finally getting in.

editor said...


ammacinn said...

I absolutely agree. The situation in Vancouver is awful, and the help offered people who want to get off drugs seems far too slight. Good work, thanks for your comments.