The Church of Scientology Had Their Own Teen Pop Band (and They Were Amazing)
For 20 years, the Church of Scientology’s Celebrity Center in Hollywood, California, had its own all-singing, all-dancing children’s pop group called Kids on Stage for a Better World.
The group existed with a revolving cast of members from 1992 to 2012. Obviously their videos are quite old now, and I’m not their target demographic, so it’s difficult for me to judge whether or not they were on-trend at the time—but like all things created by a religion and aimed at young people, they appear to be almost overwhelmingly uncool. 
The group’s matching outfits, choreographed dance routines, and wholesome rap breakdowns seem to be the work of adults trying to emulate inoffensive, family-friendly (i.e., boring) kids’ stuff like High School Musical and the Mickey Mouse Club.
About 90 percent of the group’s lyrics relate to how they are (A) young and (B) going to be the leaders of the future. The remaining 10 percent is made up of references to Scientology. The band also filmed a couple of episodes of a series based on the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard. 
Click here for some of my favorite Kids on Stage for a Better World cuts. Think of it as a greatest-hits collection.

The Church of Scientology Had Their Own Teen Pop Band (and They Were Amazing)

For 20 years, the Church of Scientology’s Celebrity Center in Hollywood, California, had its own all-singing, all-dancing children’s pop group called Kids on Stage for a Better World.

The group existed with a revolving cast of members from 1992 to 2012. Obviously their videos are quite old now, and I’m not their target demographic, so it’s difficult for me to judge whether or not they were on-trend at the time—but like all things created by a religion and aimed at young people, they appear to be almost overwhelmingly uncool. 

The group’s matching outfits, choreographed dance routines, and wholesome rap breakdowns seem to be the work of adults trying to emulate inoffensive, family-friendly (i.e., boring) kids’ stuff like High School Musical and the Mickey Mouse Club.

About 90 percent of the group’s lyrics relate to how they are (A) young and (B) going to be the leaders of the future. The remaining 10 percent is made up of references to Scientology. The band also filmed a couple of episodes of a series based on the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard. 

Click here for some of my favorite Kids on Stage for a Better World cuts. Think of it as a greatest-hits collection.

Broadway, Baby – by James Franco
So you want to know what it’s like to put up a play on Broadway? I’ll tell ya. But, I should note, the way a classic play is put on (specifically John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, in which I am currently starring) is much different than a new one.
With a new play the playwright will most likely be in rehearsals every day, looking over the director’s shoulder and telling him or her how to manifest the story and themes through the bodies of actors and work of the designers. There are usually rewrites on the fly because new dynamics are found while putting the scenes on their feet. This forces the actors to learn new lines, often through many iterations, and sometimes the night before a performance. Essentially, when mounting a new play the director is offered the luxury of having a partner by his or her side to help guide everything until it’s just right.
With a classic play—especially if the writer is dead like John Steinbeck is dead—it’s the opposite. The words are holy; do NOT fug with them.
Continue

Broadway, Baby – by James Franco

So you want to know what it’s like to put up a play on Broadway? I’ll tell ya. But, I should note, the way a classic play is put on (specifically John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, in which I am currently starring) is much different than a new one.

With a new play the playwright will most likely be in rehearsals every day, looking over the director’s shoulder and telling him or her how to manifest the story and themes through the bodies of actors and work of the designers. There are usually rewrites on the fly because new dynamics are found while putting the scenes on their feet. This forces the actors to learn new lines, often through many iterations, and sometimes the night before a performance. Essentially, when mounting a new play the director is offered the luxury of having a partner by his or her side to help guide everything until it’s just right.

With a classic play—especially if the writer is dead like John Steinbeck is dead—it’s the opposite. The words are holy; do NOT fug with them.

Continue

Revisiting Twin Peaks – by James Franco
Recently, I’ve been hearing a whole lot about David Lynch, and not from the Lynch camp or concerning any new projects (what’s it been, eight or so years since Inland Empire?). Rather, I’ve been hearing about Lynch from people who have been re-watching Lynch’s work, especially Twin Peaks. I was in junior high when the series came on, and I was more interested in watchingBeverly Hills, 90210 (the first incarnation, with my man Luke Perry as D-McKay).
But even my young, culturally stilted self couldn’t help being aware of the phenomenon that wasTwin Peaks when it hit prime time. The first season was a juggernaut of creative innovation that television had been waiting for, as the response from critics and viewers clearly showed.
Continue

Revisiting Twin Peaks – by James Franco

Recently, I’ve been hearing a whole lot about David Lynch, and not from the Lynch camp or concerning any new projects (what’s it been, eight or so years since Inland Empire?). Rather, I’ve been hearing about Lynch from people who have been re-watching Lynch’s work, especially Twin Peaks. I was in junior high when the series came on, and I was more interested in watchingBeverly Hills, 90210 (the first incarnation, with my man Luke Perry as D-McKay).

But even my young, culturally stilted self couldn’t help being aware of the phenomenon that wasTwin Peaks when it hit prime time. The first season was a juggernaut of creative innovation that television had been waiting for, as the response from critics and viewers clearly showed.

Continue

Last time we went to one of Corey Feldman’s parties he freaked out and called us a pervert and accused us of photoshopping images to make him look bad. He also banned VICE (and cameras) from future parties. So when his Valentine’s Day party came along, we snuck in and brought illustrator Johnny Ryan with us. 

Last time we went to one of Corey Feldman’s parties he freaked out and called us a pervert and accused us of photoshopping images to make him look bad. He also banned VICE (and cameras) from future parties. So when his Valentine’s Day party came along, we snuck in and brought illustrator Johnny Ryan with us

Did you hear? We went to another one of Corey Feldman’s parties. Cameras were banned, so this time we brought artist Johnny Ryan with us. 

Did you hear? We went to another one of Corey Feldman’s parties. Cameras were banned, so this time we brought artist Johnny Ryan with us. 

We Went to Another One of Corey Feldman’s Parties
By now, the tale of woe that is Corey’s Angels is the stuff of legend. We went to his birthday party last year, took a bunch of photos he claimed were doctored to make the party look bad, and then our writer was accused of being a pervert. The irony of Corey Feldman accusing someone of sexual deviancy at a party where he charged men $250 to hang around women in lingerie was clearly lost on him.  
After a few weeks of Corey furiously tweeting his displeasure over the article, shit died down. Corey went back to retweeting any and all compliments he could find, and all seemed normal… until we saw an ad for a Corey’s Angels Valentine’s Day party. Which was, naturally, scheduled forFebruary 22nd.

It’d be fair to assume we would have learned our lesson and stayed away this time, but like the producers of Lost Boys 2, we went greedily went back for seconds despite having every reason in the world not to. Through cunning, guile, and perseverance (and a $300 entrance fee), we made it back to the Feldmansion.
Obviously, under no circumstances, would Corey allow someone from VICE back to one of his “parties,” so I came up with a pseudonym and invented the backstory that my guest was from out of town and looking to get crazy. The party had a dress code where all men had to wear suits, so I sucked in my gut and squeezed into my Sunday best. Cameras were banned this time around, so I took the illustrator Johnny Ryan with me to draw what happened.
If $300 seems like a lot for two grown men to go to a party, you’ll be horrified to learn that it almost cost more, as Corey’s assistant called me up and tried to claim that the advertised “Early Bird Special” on their website should have been discontinued before we bought our tickets and that we’d need to give Corey an extra $200. We simply refused to pay more and went on our way.
Continue

We Went to Another One of Corey Feldman’s Parties

By now, the tale of woe that is Corey’s Angels is the stuff of legend. We went to his birthday party last year, took a bunch of photos he claimed were doctored to make the party look bad, and then our writer was accused of being a pervert. The irony of Corey Feldman accusing someone of sexual deviancy at a party where he charged men $250 to hang around women in lingerie was clearly lost on him.  

After a few weeks of Corey furiously tweeting his displeasure over the article, shit died down. Corey went back to retweeting any and all compliments he could find, and all seemed normal… until we saw an ad for a Corey’s Angels Valentine’s Day party. Which was, naturally, scheduled forFebruary 22nd.

It’d be fair to assume we would have learned our lesson and stayed away this time, but like the producers of Lost Boys 2, we went greedily went back for seconds despite having every reason in the world not to. Through cunning, guile, and perseverance (and a $300 entrance fee), we made it back to the Feldmansion.

Obviously, under no circumstances, would Corey allow someone from VICE back to one of his “parties,” so I came up with a pseudonym and invented the backstory that my guest was from out of town and looking to get crazy. The party had a dress code where all men had to wear suits, so I sucked in my gut and squeezed into my Sunday best. Cameras were banned this time around, so I took the illustrator Johnny Ryan with me to draw what happened.

If $300 seems like a lot for two grown men to go to a party, you’ll be horrified to learn that it almost cost more, as Corey’s assistant called me up and tried to claim that the advertised “Early Bird Special” on their website should have been discontinued before we bought our tickets and that we’d need to give Corey an extra $200. We simply refused to pay more and went on our way.

Continue

Stacy Martin Talks About Having Fake Sex with Shia LaBeouf in Lars von Trier’s New Film Nymphomaniac
Landing a role in the most infamous movie of the past decade—Lars von Trier’s four-hour epic, Nymphomaniac—isn’t a bad way to start your acting career. In her screen debut, 22-year-old British model Stacy Martin spends the majority of her time groaning, moaning, and doing weird things with a set square. Dark, depressing, and funny all at the same time, it follows the often brutal sexcapades of a woman (played by both Martin and Charlotte Gainsbourg) from birth to the age of 50.
I met Stacy in Soho, London, where we drank free coffee and spoke about sex addiction, porn doubles, and the awkwardness of shooting sex scenes with Shia LaBeouf.

The trailer for Nymphomaniac: Volume 1
VICE: What was your first reaction when you read the script for Nymphomaniac?Stacy Martin: I loved it! I read the script before I went to Copenhagen for a screen test, and I really fell in love with how dense it is and how there are so many different elements to the film—and the dark humor, which is very specific to Lars.
Shia LaBeouf said that, when he received the script, there was a note saying he had to send a picture of his dick to the production team. Did he?!
Yeah. I’m guessing it wasn’t the same kind of deal for you?No, I don’t have a penis[laughs], so I didn’t get that.
No weird requests?No, actually. I just got the script on its own in a little brown envelope—pretty standard.
How were your sex scenes worded in your contract?We had a nudity contract. Everything was set in stone before we did the film, so we all knew what we were doing. I was told that I would have a porn double—that I wouldn’t be doing anything sexual. We all agreed—and Lars agreed—that we would be using prosthetics and just stuff like that.
The blowjob scene in particular looks incredibly real.Yeah, it looks real. I mean, I’m convinced that it looks real—but no, it’s not real. It’s not a real penis… They made fake vaginas and fake penises and we used them for that.
Continue

Stacy Martin Talks About Having Fake Sex with Shia LaBeouf in Lars von Trier’s New Film Nymphomaniac

Landing a role in the most infamous movie of the past decade—Lars von Trier’s four-hour epic, Nymphomaniac—isn’t a bad way to start your acting career. In her screen debut, 22-year-old British model Stacy Martin spends the majority of her time groaning, moaning, and doing weird things with a set square. Dark, depressing, and funny all at the same time, it follows the often brutal sexcapades of a woman (played by both Martin and Charlotte Gainsbourg) from birth to the age of 50.

I met Stacy in Soho, London, where we drank free coffee and spoke about sex addiction, porn doubles, and the awkwardness of shooting sex scenes with Shia LaBeouf.

The trailer for Nymphomaniac: Volume 1

VICE: What was your first reaction when you read the script for Nymphomaniac?
Stacy Martin: I loved it! I read the script before I went to Copenhagen for a screen test, and I really fell in love with how dense it is and how there are so many different elements to the film—and the dark humor, which is very specific to Lars.

Shia LaBeouf said that, when he received the script, there was a note saying he had to send a picture of his dick to the production team. 
Did he?!

Yeah. I’m guessing it wasn’t the same kind of deal for you?
No, I don’t have a penis[laughs], so I didn’t get that.

No weird requests?
No, actually. I just got the script on its own in a little brown envelope—pretty standard.

How were your sex scenes worded in your contract?
We had a nudity contract. Everything was set in stone before we did the film, so we all knew what we were doing. I was told that I would have a porn double—that I wouldn’t be doing anything sexual. We all agreed—and Lars agreed—that we would be using prosthetics and just stuff like that.

The blowjob scene in particular looks incredibly real.
Yeah, it looks real. I mean, I’m convinced that it looks real—but no, it’s not real. It’s not a real penis… They made fake vaginas and fake penises and we used them for that.

Continue

Shia LaBeouf Is Currently Doing Some Kind of Super Artsy Thing in Los Angeles
As you’ve probably heard by now, Actor, director, and mirror to our tortured souls, Shia LaBeouf is doing some sort of performance art thing in Los Angeles. 
The exhibition/performance/whatever is called #IAMSORRY and is being held at 7354 Beverly Blvd until Sunday.
I headed down to check it out. 

I arrived expecting a huge line, but there was none. Just one other guy and a security guard. The guard told me that I was the 75th person to see the exhibit, and that I had to go in alone, “because we don’t want anyone else to ruin your experience.”
After about five minutes of waiting, the security guy gave me the once over with a metal detector, and I was allowed inside. 

I ended up in a room with a bunch of objects laid out on a table. I managed to sneak a photo.
There was a ukelele, a bottle of Jack Daniels, a bowl containing print-outs of mean tweets about Shia, a bowl of Hershey’s Kisses, a bottle of Brut cologne, a copy of The Death Rayby Daniel Clowes, an Optimus Prime action figure, some pliers and a whip. 
A woman told me to choose an object. I picked up the bowl of mean tweets about Shia. 

A copy of the press release for whatever this thing is. 
Bowl in hand, the woman led me through a curtain and into a small room.
Shia was sitting at a small wooden table in the center of the space. He was wearing a suit and the “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE" bag that he had on his head in Berlin.
The woman left, and it was just me and Shia. I didn’t sneak a photo of him, out of respect for his art (JK, I chickened out.)
I sat down opposite him. As far as I could tell, I wasn’t being filmed and nobody was listening in.
After sitting there for a few seconds with Shia staring at me in silence, I said, “So you’re not gonna talk, huh?” He didn’t respond.
Continue

Shia LaBeouf Is Currently Doing Some Kind of Super Artsy Thing in Los Angeles

As you’ve probably heard by now, Actor, director, and mirror to our tortured souls, Shia LaBeouf is doing some sort of performance art thing in Los Angeles. 

The exhibition/performance/whatever is called #IAMSORRY and is being held at 7354 Beverly Blvd until Sunday.

I headed down to check it out. 

I arrived expecting a huge line, but there was none. Just one other guy and a security guard. The guard told me that I was the 75th person to see the exhibit, and that I had to go in alone, “because we don’t want anyone else to ruin your experience.”

After about five minutes of waiting, the security guy gave me the once over with a metal detector, and I was allowed inside. 

I ended up in a room with a bunch of objects laid out on a table. I managed to sneak a photo.

There was a ukelele, a bottle of Jack Daniels, a bowl containing print-outs of mean tweets about Shia, a bowl of Hershey’s Kisses, a bottle of Brut cologne, a copy of The Death Rayby Daniel Clowes, an Optimus Prime action figure, some pliers and a whip. 

A woman told me to choose an object. I picked up the bowl of mean tweets about Shia. 

A copy of the press release for whatever this thing is. 

Bowl in hand, the woman led me through a curtain and into a small room.

Shia was sitting at a small wooden table in the center of the space. He was wearing a suit and the “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE" bag that he had on his head in Berlin.

The woman left, and it was just me and Shia. I didn’t sneak a photo of him, out of respect for his art (JK, I chickened out.)

I sat down opposite him. As far as I could tell, I wasn’t being filmed and nobody was listening in.

After sitting there for a few seconds with Shia staring at me in silence, I said, “So you’re not gonna talk, huh?” He didn’t respond.

Continue

James Franco Remembers Philip Seymour Hoffman

The last time I ran into Philip was at Bar Centrale, a theater restaurant, when he came in with a group that included Chris Rock, Zach Braff, and a bunch of great stage actors. At the time, I had read that Philip had gone to rehab for heroin. I was shocked, because you don’t think that a person who absolutely everyone acknowledges as great, would have such problems. But that was foolish, because addiction cares nothing for personality. It is an illness, not a matter of will, class, intelligence, or lifestyle. I have no idea what happened to Phil before he was found dead, but a friend of mine told me they saw him the day before he passed and he looked happy. This says to me that Philip was not someone who had given up. He didn’t throw it all away. He was just someone—a very special someone—who was sick. His death is shocking to us because his greatness made him seem invincible. At the very least, all the incredible art he gave us should warrant him another chance. 

Read the whole piece

James Franco Remembers Philip Seymour Hoffman

The last time I ran into Philip was at Bar Centrale, a theater restaurant, when he came in with a group that included Chris Rock, Zach Braff, and a bunch of great stage actors. At the time, I had read that Philip had gone to rehab for heroin. I was shocked, because you don’t think that a person who absolutely everyone acknowledges as great, would have such problems. But that was foolish, because addiction cares nothing for personality. It is an illness, not a matter of will, class, intelligence, or lifestyle. I have no idea what happened to Phil before he was found dead, but a friend of mine told me they saw him the day before he passed and he looked happy. This says to me that Philip was not someone who had given up. He didn’t throw it all away. He was just someone—a very special someone—who was sick. His death is shocking to us because his greatness made him seem invincible. At the very least, all the incredible art he gave us should warrant him another chance. 

Read the whole piece

Philip Seymour Hoffman Was Just as Lonely as You

Playing the great rock critic Lester Bangs, in Almost Famous, Seymour Hoffman remarks that: “Great art is about guilt and longing.” So often, that was what Seymour Hoffman’s acting was about. “Truth” is a word that’s thrown around a lot in the theatre; it’s a hazy concept that encompasses a lot of things, including not being hammy, or affected or self-conscious. It’s hard to pin down but easier to see when it’s right in front of you. When you watch Philip Seymour Hoffman act, you are watching something true. He once said of his career: “I just thought I’d ride my bike to the theater. That’s what was romantic to me.” It’s a line that sums up the possibility of creation, the optimism of making something artistic happen. To think that he’ll never do that again is almost too sad.

Philip Seymour Hoffman Was Just as Lonely as You

Playing the great rock critic Lester Bangs, in Almost Famous, Seymour Hoffman remarks that: “Great art is about guilt and longing.” So often, that was what Seymour Hoffman’s acting was about. “Truth” is a word that’s thrown around a lot in the theatre; it’s a hazy concept that encompasses a lot of things, including not being hammy, or affected or self-conscious. It’s hard to pin down but easier to see when it’s right in front of you. When you watch Philip Seymour Hoffman act, you are watching something true. He once said of his career: “I just thought I’d ride my bike to the theater. That’s what was romantic to me.” It’s a line that sums up the possibility of creation, the optimism of making something artistic happen. To think that he’ll never do that again is almost too sad.

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