Seemingly, Barbie Wilde has done it all. Most notably appearing in Clive Barker's Hellbound: Hellraiser II, she has enjoyed a multifaceted career from her early beginnings in mime, to a successful stint as the host of a TV music program as well as becoming an accomplished author. She has toured the world as part of the renowned music/dance troupe SHOCK and performed alongside the likes of Adam and the Ants, Depeche Mode and Gary Numan. Her talent is unquestionable and last year saw the release of her erotic-horror novel The Venus Complex, which has been praised all over the world. Of course if you're a fan then you already know all of this, however, if you're new to Barbie's work then I am thrilled to present her to you. Like most of my previous guests she has been both gracious & generous with her time and this opportunity to interview her has been an absolute privilege.
What was your favourite movie as a child?
The first one that just popped into my mind was the black and white, sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), starring Michael Rennie and Patricia Neal. It was a scary premise, but Michael Rennie made such a sexy, logical alien, I was hooked. Sci-fi featured heavily when I was young, because my dad was such a big fan.
When I was a kid, I was much more into TV than movies. My favourite TV shows were: The Addams Family, The Avengers, The Man from UNCLE, Honey West and The Prisoner.
At what age did you decide to pursue a showbiz career?
I fell in love with acting when I got a part in my first school play when I was 12. (The play was called The Mighty Germ and I portrayed a sneeze-ridden teacher.) I was involved in drama classes in high school and then I went on to Syracuse University to study as a Drama Major, with a minor in Anthropology.
Who have been some of your early influences?
As an actress: Diana Rigg (Emma Peel), Carolyn Jones (Morticia Addams) and Ava Gardner. Directors that had a big influence on me when I was young were: Alfred Hitchcock, Robert Wise, John Huston.
Early influences as a writer: Arthur Conan Doyle, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Ernest Hemingway, Patricia Highsmith, Rod Serling, Arthur C. Clarke and Robert Heinlein.
Drawing Space: Barbie Wilde & Tim Dry
How did you get your start?
I came over to the UK to study acting and got involved with a mime company called SILENTS, at that time the largest mime company in England. We did a few Fringe Theatre gigs and a week-long residency at the Arts Theatre Club, where Marcel Marceau came to see us. (A thrill to any mime artist!) My partner, Tim Dry, and I broke away from the group to form a duo called Drawing in Space, which led to us to meet up with Robert Pereno and LA Richards, who invited us to join their group SHOCK.
And then came the performance troupe SHOCK in the 80s. Can you explain SHOCK to my readers?
SHOCK was a mime-dance-theatre-musical group. The final and most successful version of Shock consisted of myself, Tim Dry and Sean Crawford (mime artists - Tim and I were also actor-singers), Carole Caplin (singer-dancer) and Robert Pereno and LA Richards (dancers, actors, singers). We came together in 1979 and performed a lot in the cabaret circuit, then we got a break supporting a band called Famous Names on their tour around the UK, which brought us to the attention of the pop world. We did a cover of a song called “Angel Face” for our first single for RCA Records (produced by Richard James Burgess and Rusty Egan) and many of the bands at the time came to see us perform our rather unusual and bizarrely sexy show. They even gave us permission to use their songs as backing tracks for our dance-mime numbers.
We eventually started writing our own songs, and released another single called “Dynamo Beat” (Dry, Burgess). Although we supported such bands as Adam and the Ants, Depeche Mode, Naked Lunch, Ultravox and Gary Numan, and toured the UK, Europe and did a residency at the Ritz Club in New York, unfortunately we never had that break-though into the record charts.
You have hosted a number of interview programs. Has any celebrity made you nervous?Grizzly 2
Nervous? No… You have to concentrate on being as professional as possible, so you can’t allow yourself to get star-struck or nervous in front of someone like Cliff Richard, Iggy Pop or Johnny Rotten. After all, most of the time, performers and actors are just really nice people out there promoting their stuff, so most of my interviews went very smoothly.
You also had a role alongside George Clooney and Charlie Sheen in the infamous Grizzly 2. The film was never released. What’s the deal there?
Grizzly 2 was a bit of a disaster. Rumour had it that the director (or was it the 2nd director?) had a nervous breakdown. Then giant mechanical bear kept breaking down and finally the production ran out of money, so the Hungarian government stepped in and seized all the props, including the fake bear!
You can actually see extracts from the movie on Youtube and someone has even done a rough cut of the whole thing, putting in scenes of the bear from the first Grizzly film to flesh it out a bit, as all the bear bits are just a black screen.
Sadly, I never got to meet George Clooney, Laura Dern or Charlie Sheen because they all played “Red Shirts” who got killed off by the bear pretty quickly at the beginning of the film.
Your catalogue of work is extensive and diverse yet you are, perhaps, most widely recognised for your role as The Female Cenobite in Hellraiser 2. Do you enjoy the fandom this attracts?
I’m very grateful that I managed to be in at least one film that people remember me for. The acting biz is a hard taskmaster and it’s fabulous that people remember my part in an intriguing and mythic horror movie like Hellbound: Hellraiser II.
The first 2 Hellraiser films were ahead of their time in terms of subject and aesthetic. How would you attribute their longevity?
I attribute the lastly impact of the films to Clive Barker, his unique imagination and his creation of mythic creatures like the cenobites, extreme human characters like Frank and Julia, and a heart-rending heroine like Kirsty.
You have written numerous short stories, some taking place within the Hellraiser universe. Has Clive Barker shared his thoughts about your vision?
I’m not sure that Clive has read my story, “Sister Cilice” (from the Hellbound Hearts anthology), because he’s pretty busy with his new projects and his painting.
In 2012 your first novel, The Venus Complex, was published. Does writing challenge you as much as performing?
Writing and performing are very different disciplines and they are both challenging, but in different ways. I love doing both!
What is The Venus Complex about and does it have a particular demographic?
I’ll let my editor on Hellbound Hearts, Paul Kane (the award-winning horror and fantasy author) tell you what the book is about:
After purposefully killing his wife in a car accident, art professor Michael Friday finds his perspective on things has become a little…warped. Via his personal journal, we’re allowed into his mind to slowly watch the disintegration of it, bearing witness to his unnerving sexual cravings and ideas about killing: intertwined with the paintings he loves so much. As Michael writes, he’s “turning into something dead”; but at the same time he wants to be somebody, not a nobody.
Using his diary to rant against the world in general – including everything from banks to popular culture, from national holidays like Christmas to politics – he reveals more about the big, gaping hole in his own life. But as the novel goes on the first person narrative tensely builds up, displaying his dark dreams and innermost thoughts; his way of filling that void and presenting his grisly “works of art” to the world. As intelligent and cultured as Hannibal, easily as disturbing as American Psycho and infinitely less ‘reassuring’ than Dexter, this is a sexually-charged real life horror story that will definitely stay with you.
Regarding the demographic: anyone who is interested in exploring the sexual mindscape of serial killers and who wants to find out what makes them tick.
What were some of your biggest challenges with writing a novel?
This is no joke: finishing it! Also, I suppose that writing from a male point of view could be considered a challenge, but in the end, you’re just creating another character, so I never looked on it as such.
Do you foresee a return to the screen in the future?
It would be very unlikely, unless the perfect role came along.
This new website celebrates all genres of film, not exclusively horror… do you have a favourite genre?
I love all kinds of movies, but I suppose that Sci-fi is right up there. Anything with an original vision and a lot of imagination gets my attention.
What’s your favourite film?
I couldn’t possibly pick only one film! Blade Runner, Casablanca, The Big Sleep (1946), Psycho (1961), Casino Royale (2006), The Seven Year Itch, Laura, The Haunting (1963).
I am based in Melbourne and ask most of my guests if they have a favourite Aussie film. Do you?
Again, I can’t say just one film: Mad Max II, Gallipoli, Picnic at Hanging Rock, The Last Wave, The Year of Living Dangerously, Moulin Rouge!, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.
What has been a career highlight for you?
Supporting Gary Numan at Wembley, being in Hellraiser and writing The Venus Complex and getting it published.
What’s next for you?
I’ve just finished a short story called “Zulu Zombies” (and I’m not particularly fond of zombies, so it’s a story with a difference!) for the Bestiarum Vocabulum anthology edited by Dean Drinkel, which should be out in August 2013. I’m co-writing a musical drama for stage and screen and I’m thinking about a sequel to The Venus Complex.
I’ve also been working with Eric Gross of The Followers of the Pandorics, co-designing a box dedicated to my cenobite character, Sister Cilice. I’ve written a “further adventures” story to accompany the Cilicium Pandoric, which you can read here:
You have done a lot of interviews and I imagine you’ve answered the same questions hundreds of times. What’s a question you’ve never been asked?
What’s my favorite food and your favorite cocktail?
Would you care to answer it now?
Corn chips and Margaritas!
(You read it here first, folks... lol)
Barbie, thanks you sharing your time. We’ve only scratched the surface and I would love visit with you again for a follow-up.
Thanks for your questions! If your readers would like to know more, then they can go to BarbieWilde.com for news, reviews and interviews!