25th February 2010

In Loving Memory of Zelda Rubinstein

posted in News, `Roids |

 For Troma fans only,here is an exclusive advance view of the introduction I was asked to write for Chris Watson’s upcoming book about dwarves in cinema. This is a work in progress, so any suggestions are appreciated. – Lloyd Kaufman

This Introduction is Dedicated to the Late Zelda Rubenstein
May Her Memory “Come Into the Light.”

Greetings from Tromaville!  Lloyd Kaufman here, President of Troma Entertainment and Creator of the Toxic Avenger.  I am honored that Chris Watson has asked me to write the introduction to his book on The Dwarves.  The Dwarves are a great band and I had the privilege of using tracks by this stellar musical combo on the soundtrack of Citizen Toxie – Hey!  Look who’s here!  It’s Chris Watson, author of this very tome!  What up, dude?

Chris Watson:  Lloyd!  Lloyd!  This book is about dwarves, as in those freaky, misshapen, little people, not the band, you dummy!  Didn’t you read this book!?

Doh! Little people!…Hmmm…little people…Well, I really don’t have any idea how to proceed except to draw from my personal experience with dwarves in my movies and in my life.  I hope, dear reader, that you are okay with this.  We all have certain preconceived notions and prejudices about dwarves.  For example, I recently was surprised to see a dwarf coming out of New York’s trendy Bloomingdale’s department store.  I was surprised to see that she was loaded with purchases stacked up so high she could not see.  Then I was surprised with myself for being surprised.  I wondered, “Why can’t dwarves be trendy and shop at trendy stores?”  Maybe my Bloomingdale’s dwarf had just bought a designer gown to wear in a movie starring Super Dwarf Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent, Death at a Funeral) or perhaps she had a hot date.  In which department did she shop?  Children’s clothing?  Hell, for all I know, she was buying dishes!  See what I mean?

The point is there were hundreds of shoppers streaming in and out of Bloomingdale’s, but I chose to focus on this dwarf and give her a lot of thought.  Normally, I would hold the door open for a female; would the dwarf be offended by this?  Would she think me condescending?  Would she think that I opened the door for her because I thought she was disabled?  For some reason, I did not hold the large, heavy front door for her and she had to flop around like a cartoon cricket, struggling against the over-sized and heavy portal.  I do not believe I am alone in my instinctive reaction to spotting a dwarf.  Otherwise, why would this book exist?

Overall, my relationship with dwarves is sort of love/hate!  When I was five years-old, I was first exposed to dwarves when my father took me to Ringling Brothers’ Circus.  As I sat in the stands I watched these dwarves run about the tent.  At first, I thought that they were children.  I wanted to play with them!

With the closing of many circuses and the out-lawing of side show freaks, one could only then see dwarves in movies.  One film that made an early impression on me was Tod Browning’s 1932 horror masterpiece, Freaks.  Later, I also enjoyed the artwork of Toulouse Lautrec not just because he made great poster art, but in large part because he was a small part!  By the way, I was very, very disappointed that the original Hollywood movie about Lautrec, Moulin Rouge, did not feature a genuine dwarf, but a crappy actor walking on his knees.  Thank heavens Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 remake at least had some real dwarves in the can-can dance line!

Unfortunately, I started to hate dwarves when I saw those munchkins in The Wizard of Oz.  They are shit-eating dwarves, and little shits – all of them! It wasn’t until we founded Troma Entertainment and we released Blood Sucking Freaks that I saw a performance by a dwarf that, to this day, is the most compelling performance by a dwarf until the gregarious Robert Reich became Secretary of Labor under President Clinton.  “Ralphus,” played by the late Luis De Jesus, immortalized himself on screen in Blood Sucking Freaks by kidnapping, violating, and sadistically torturing, beautiful gyno-Americans!  So began my first love affair with dwarves.

Norma Pratt on the set
Stuck On You!
The first little person I actually worked with was Norma Pratt – Well, strike that.  Actually, the first dwarf I “worked” with was in the bush  of Chad Africa, during my “year off from Yale.”  I had sexual intercourse with her.  She was named Dieudonnée (her name translated means “God Given”) and she wore a wrap-around piece of cloth with President John F. Kennedy’s image on it.  I still get a big piece of wood whenever I see that Zapruder film – Now back to Norma Pratt, who appeared in my 1982 film Stuck On You! Even though Norma’s scene called for her to have five gallons of milk dumped on her head, she was ecstatic because she was playing “a real” person and that her part had nothing to do with her being a dwarf!  So why don’t dwarves want to play dwarves in movies?  I have heard that Super Dwarf Peter Dinklage also says he does not want to be typecast as a dwarf.  What is wrong with playing a dwarf?  I am a drunk and am happy to play a drunk in movies (Rocky, The Janitor, Zombiegeddon)!  I am happy to get the work!  Dwarves probably find it easier to get on film than normal people, no?  They should be happy to be typecast!  Norma Pratt’s Stuck on You! shoot went very, very well!  As for Norma’s appearance in 1983’s The Toxic Avenger, however, things got a bit sticky – literally. You see, Norma was not at all thrilled by having to perform in a scene in which she played a “real” mom and handed a pair of her movie son’s cum-stained pants over to a clerk at a dry cleaning establishment.  She was further aggravated when I made the artistic decision to have Toxie throw her into a clothing dryer.  After that shoot, Ms. Pratt failed to return my phone calls.  What attitude!  I guess when it came down to it; she would have preferred a G-rated dwarf role rather than playing an R-rated “real person.”

While working on Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger Part IV, we faced serious problems as dwarves were in high demand due to the popularity of “Mini-Me” from the Austin Powers series.  I had originally intended to use little people for the in-womb battle between the fetus Toxic Avenger and fetus Noxious Offender.  However, with the very tall prices demanded by these very short individuals, coupled with their demands for limousines to pick them up, just to be auditioned, I ended up having to use children for that scene, and was forced to break numerous child labor laws!  So I again began to despise little people.  Almost everyone else was working on Troma movies for free.  Why did these little ego-maniacs not “get it?” Why were they not satisfied with just the joy of being involved with something they could believe in?!  How ‘bout my Troma slogan: “Let’s make some art!” – eh?

Hank the Angry Dwarf on the
set of
Citizen Toxie
Now, some may be saying, “Wait a minute, Lloyd!  Didn’t Hank the Angry Drunken Dwarf play the part of God in Citizen Toxie, and you loved Hank, no?”  Yes, dear readers, the late Hank the Angry Dwarf did, in fact, play the part of God in that movie.  He was such a sweet guy that I agreed to the hefty payment he requested.  However, I forbade him to drink and also gave him the opportunity to act and not just behave like a drunken freak as he had to do on the Howard Stern Show.  Hank made it clear to the cast and crew that he did not buy my act.  But that’s not unusual.  Tall people also do not buy my act!  He could have used his hilarious scene in Citizen Toxie for his “acting” reel!  I think that Hank could have made it as a sober movie actor but instead he went back to being a falling-down drunken freak for Howard Stern – and died!  So I am angry at this dead, angry, drunken dwarf.1

In recent years, I feel that dwarves and I have reached a more comfortable, less tumultuous place in our relationship.  I currently am the elected Chairman of the Independent Film and Television Alliance (IFTA) and I had the pleasure of working with super-dwarf Ed Gale on a didactic video for IFTA about getting bank loans for independent movies.  We hit it off so well that Ed refused to accept money for his appearance in this video.  This was a far cry from the dwarves I had dealt with ten years earlier who wanted me to have limousines pick them up for auditions!  So now I love dwarves!

As you can tell by reading this introduction, I am confused as to my own relationship with and prejudices about little people2.   One thing that makes me feel better, however, is that thanks to dwarves I believe that I am not the only one with a small penis!3   Love ‘em or hate ‘em, dwarves have indeed been an important influence on my movies/love life and an essential part of the world-wide cinematic industry.  So, enjoy Chris’s book and may it help us all to realize and overcome our dwarf-related prejudices.   Above all, dear reader, remember Hans Christian Andersen’s immortal words:

What’s the difference if you’re very small?
When your heart is full of love,
You’re nine feet tall.

Lloyd Kaufman

President of Troma Entertainment and Creator of the Toxic Avenger
New York City

February 24, 2010

[1] I am also angry at Howard Stern and hold him responsible for Hank’s demise.
[2] There was not thing confusing about my relationship with Dieudonnée in Africa, however – I just want to make that clear.
[3] Actually Dieudonnée’s vagina was quite ample, so disregard my prejudicial statement about penises – except for the part about my having a small one.

There are currently 4 responses to “In Loving Memory of Zelda Rubinstein”

Why not let us know what you think by adding your own comment! Your opinion is as valid as anyone elses, so come on... let us know what you think.

  1. 1 On March 1st, 2010, Ann Morris said:

    Nice one, Lloyd.

  2. 2 On April 16th, 2010, Andrew said:

    Good article Lloyd, I was actually *offended* at the outset. Lloyd’s making fun of an innocent ethnic group, not satirising a totalitarian oppressor! And besides, he loves little people as much as he loves fat people. In fact, he’s all about Troma standing up for the little guy.

    And then I read it and you’re right, this shit stinks. Stern is an accountable ‘freak’ * show barker like Bytes from David Lynch’s “Elephant Man”. Lloyd, you really need to get Ed Gale in another Troma movie, his performance in “Chopper Chicks in Zombietown” (which you forgot to mention when you talked about him) was fantastic and the highlight of the movie! I want to see Bob in another Troma movie!

    * I say freak to refer to the treatment and “showcasing” given to these guys, not what they actually are!

  3. 3 On April 16th, 2010, alisa christ said:

    loved it – ‘They are shit-eating dwarves, and little shits – all of them!’ stands out, as well as the reference 2 Freaks – one of my top ten – Actually…speaking of fave film…Herve Villachaiselounge (whatever his was) The Plane! guy / he was in another brilliant pic The Forbidden Zone by Elfman / maybe a reference to that
    but nice work my friend, wouldn’t change anything
    I think Dwarves are great to see out & about ever so rarely (& yes, next time hold the door) but I am uninterested in the current reality shows / it diminishes them (somehow) although I’m sure that the folks doing it are happy for a little cash


  4. 4 On April 16th, 2010, alisa christ said:

    & I agree about Stern; he could have made shows about re-hab funny too, fucker

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