Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Report from Noir City 2014 - Part IV

Opening night of the festival, there was a rumor running through the crowd that Jack Black was there. His supposed presence made no sense to me, and no Jack Black was seen.

But tonight, I did spot a familiar face in the crowd before the first show. I wondered, "Is that..?"   

So I ventured over and said, "Johnny?" And sure enough, Johnny Legend it was. Johnny Legend...the inspiring rockabilly singer. Johnny Legend...the co-writer and director of the cult film My Breakfast with Blassie (1983) that starred Andy Kaufman and wrestler Freddy Blassie. Johnny Legend...whom you may have seen as "Skinny Corpse" in 1989's Bride of Re-Animator. Johnny Legend...all-around talented and offbeat guy, not to be confused with the boring singer John Legend. Yes, it was the real Johnny Legend standing there in the lobby of the Castro Theatre tonight. 

When I lived in San Francisco years ago, I saw Johnny and his Rockabilly Bastards play many, many times. The crowds would always dress in 1950s era clothes (much like many in the audience here are dressed in period clothes), and there would always be some truly acrobatic and talented dancers in attendance, hurling each other around. 

One of the best nights I ever had out was when Johnny Legend played the DNA Lounge. The evening started with a showing of the obscure 1968 movie, The Monster and the Stripper, which starred singer Sleepy LaBeef as "The Swamp Thing." Then a great local rockabilly group called the Honky Tonk Angels played. (I can still recall the song "Never No More.") Then Johnny acted as referee in a Mexican style monster wrestling match. And then, to cap the evening off, Johnny and his band played a smoking hot set (featuring special guest vocalist Tony Conn) with old sci-fi and monster movies clips projected behind them. Best of all, the entire evening was free, because the DNA was trying to compete with a sold-out Mudhoney show next door. 

So, it was nice to have an honest-to-goodness celebrity sighting at the film festival, and it was great to be able to personally thank Mr. Johnny Legend for the many times I've enjoyed his performances. He was gracious, we chatted for a minute, and then he hit the snack bar.

As for the movies tonight, one from Spain and one from Norway, they were both winners. As with the others, more to come in a few days...


  1. Do you know if he still tours? Never saw him, but I'd like to.

  2. Johnny said he still plays, and still tours up in Oregon and Washington. I saw him once in Seattle years ago, and, unlike in San Francisco, the crowd obviously didn't know what to make of him. He came creeping out on stage with his long beard and shiny gold pants, and they just looked at him like he was crazy - which he is, and that's a good thing. But the audience just stood around during his entire set. No dancing, no nothing.