Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bill Landis is dead?

Bill Landis photo by Michelle Clifford

Our friend Bill Landis, editor/publisher/damn near sole writer (with his wife Michelle Clifford) of Sleazoid Express Magazine and author of the essential book of the same name, has died. Bill was here 5 or 6 years ago when the book was first published and we chewed the fat about exploitation for a couple of memorable days. Not only did he know his stuff, he lived it. He even worked as a projectionist and night manager on the deuce.

While the rest of us pick up the latest Blue Underground and Code Red DVD releases and watch this sleaze in the comfort of our homes, Bill and his early collaborator Jimmy McDonough (whom he later had a huge falling-out with, unfortunately) sought these films out on 42nd St. in the last decaying pits of perversion where they unspooled for armed and hostile raincoaters and popeyes. In the pre-video era that was the only way to see them and Sleazoid Express was the Variety of 42nd St. You can feel the thrill of discovery on every page. Landis would review the film AND the experience, so if a glue-sniffing masturbator fell out of the balcony it was recorded for posterity.

Not surprisingly he was a weird guy, his tastes were so far out of the mainstream he may as well have been living in another country. I remember at Tim and Karrie League's he was blasting some Charles Manson jams and telling a long complicated story about BLOODSUCKING FREAKS maker Joel Reed, which Bill's New Yorkese stretched into a silly-putty dipthong I'll always remember: Jwaal Reeeed. He made his surroundings as hectic and confusing as his inner world, which was like a Times Square of the mind.

Bill's early death (he was 49) is especially sad because as we get farther and farther away from that glorious time the living memory of it is leaking out of the world, either through death or the slow attrition of brain cells. Bill was its greatest chronicler, so bursting with stories that his fingers could never have typed them all.

I'd like to think that our Weird Wednesday and Terror Tuesday series at the Alamo are as close as we can get to the kind of rude, untamed world of 42nd St. That's my hope anyway. So long, Bill.


Joel M. Reed said...

I'm Joel M. Reed and Landis's account of my relationship with him is entirely distorted. He was never an investor of mine and he had been carrying a grudge against me (and Kenneth Anger) for different reasons which I will remain silent on.

I only knew him for a few weeks and as far as I can recall his jobs at various porn spots never lasted more than a night or two (never on 42nd Street). He was a computer programmer at Con Edison.

Lars Nilsen said...

See. Even in death, fascinating chaos follows him.

Anonymous said...

If you knew his wife you would know the real Bill Landis not the cartoon those who only met him in passing draw. (i.e. Lars Nilsen)

the Joel Reed post is most definitely not THE Joel Reed It was a flame. Joel would never want to draw attention to himself or misdeeds. Plus the totally wrong info on Bill's time in Times Square.

Bill wrote with Michelle for 22 years. They were collaborators on all the books and magazines. She is often marginalized. As the write up here shows.

Bill was not a relic to speak of He was a human. With a family. think before you write. Ask yourself "how well did I really know him".

I knew him and he was a very kind caring person.

Rodney Perkins said...

The down side of expressing oneself as a writer is that most people only come to understand one side of your life: what you put on a page. Bill Landis unquestionably wrote some gonzo stuff (his Village Voice writing was hair raising). As someone whose impression of Landis was formed through his writing and his brief visit to Austin, I basically had the same view as Lars. However, it was also apparent in his conversation that he cared for his family.

Lars Nilsen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lars Nilsen said...

I never intended my remembrance to be the definitive one. It's just my candle at the bier.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Sleazoid is dead, long live Mr. Sleazoid.

Sad news, but not exactly shocking - although Landis being just 49 is an eye-opener.

Somehow I missed the initial run of Sleazoid Express, even as I was a Gore Gazette fanatic growing up in Brooklyn in the early 80s.

When I finally caught up with Sleazoid in the late 90s, the impact was apocalyptic.

After a few years of dormancy, I started writing and publishing again, absolutely awestruck and flabbergasted by Landis's power with words.

Several years later, I reached out to Bill and Michelle to offer them freelance work at a magazine I was editing. It did NOT end happily for anyone involved, but I come to praise Mr. Sleazoid, not to sully him.

Actually, bombastic destruction (particularly self-directed) erupted around Landis everywhere he went, and in everything he did. So I'm honored to have even basked in his mushroom cloud as passingly as I did.

Nobody did it better. Or worse.

Anonymous said...

I knew Bill quite well, many times we had long phone conversations, shared quite a bit of info about things, what have you. First off, Bill didn't need anyone to be what he was, first and foremost, an excellent writer. He was at his peak long before he got married, so his wife can stop patting herself on the back. And his observations on Joel Reed are 100% on the mark, anyone who's met that mutant can attest to that. Bill will be missed, but also he forged his own fate, so lets remain balanced about the whole thing.

Blake said...

My response to these blog comments is: HOLY SHIT.

Anonymous said...

Here's my full-blown salute to Landis. Be careful when opening, naked pictures are involved (and fret not, it's Spam-less):

Anonymous said...

Bill was a P.O.S. druggie.

Angel said...

Bill was my friend. There was nothing human that he did not know about. He suffered from the blows life dealt him. He was not a saint, not by far. But he was a human and I loved him. Whatever bad things you have to say about him....does one have to speak ill of the dead? The last few years of his life there wasn't all that much happiness, he was in pain, he was hurt, in more ways then one. Rest in peace, my dear friend. I will miss our conversations.

David said...

Can this be confirmed? People are asking if htis is a hoax?

Anonymous said...

I knew Bill for awhile and he was a complete and utter asshole... a public masturbating drug addict psycho period. Good riddance.

Anonymous said...

Same here. He was on heroin during his relatioship with Reed and spent the aformention money on drugs.

Most of the people around films in those days considered him a pathetic piece of shit as well as his repulsively obese girlfriend.

DefChef said...

The real POS is the person who'd post gossipy comments anonymously.

And what's up with Joel Reed waiting until NOW to go around threatening lawsuits - like he did over at Thumbin' when they posted the Joel Reed "special edition" of Sleazoid?

If the guy's got a valid beef, there's no need to wait until the coffin lid is closed to start griping.

Anonymous said...

So I guess that means I won't get my orders from Bill of Sleazoid Express now that he's dead. Hell, what's the difference? I never got my orders when he was alive. Sending money to Landis and Clifford was always a dicey proposition, with the buyer usually getting robbed. I will miss those "unhinged" letters from Clifford, tho. What a fucking bitch. Maybe if I had been married to her, I'd want to die, too.

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