Illustrations by Graphic Havoc
“You must push everything to the absolute limit, or else life will be boring.”
—Dario Argento, Italy’s last genius
The carnally explicit Tet Offensive Being waged against boring cinema is in full dick swing. Basically a gang of guerilla hookers armed with video cameras, they started incorporating vaginal close-ups into chilly, existential tripe and somehow disguised porno as high-art cinema. Much like the ubiquitous Gate of Hell being opened in every second Italian zombie film, the door is now wide open for a takeover. Fittingly, the voluptuous, hell-raising daughter of famed Italian gore-maestro Dario Argento (Suspiria, Deep Red), is in on it. Except she’s not content with the current explicitness, and has plans to bump it up a notch. If Dario Argento doesn’t mean shit to you, you obviously know nothing about sadistic torture in the elegantly surreal world of Italian slasher films. Basically, it’s the Friday the 13th formula refined to the point where you find yourself making post-modernist comments about the axe-splatter hitting the off-white décor. As the most censored filmmaker ever, he’s a genuine weirdo who looks like Price Valiant with cancer. You got a taste of him with our only decent American splatter film the “mall attacked by suburban zombies” flick Dawn of the Dead, which he co-wrote and produced. In true Dario form, his daughter Asia just won’t take a pill. Napoleon predicted Asia was a sleeping tiger that would take over the world. Miramax had the same idea and threw millions into her first film B Monkey, but an “It Girl” was not made. So Asia remains a cult figure for now, except in Europe where she’s on the cover of every magazine every week. After years of loving her sexy goth/tramp immodesty and revealing clothing, it’s hard to accept Asia as an agoraphobic, shut-in intellectual, but that’s what she is now. When VICE finally found the starlet, fresh off a film with Malkovich and Depardieu, she was curled up in her Rome apartment listening to Cat Power, unable to go outside. Asia first signaled a personal change by talking like an Islamic militant about how she was ready to die for her vision and howshe was making a film that was totally real, including the sex and violence. Her new tattoo, “Anna” scripted over a rib, is the alter-ego she fashioned for herself to inhabit as writer/director/star of this new film, Scarlet Diva. In it, we follow a spoiled-brat actress hung up on some guy named Kirk, in a sick obsessive way that’s fun to watch. Asia went from being a hot goth screen vamp to getting respect as a fascist. Things turned around when Abel Ferrara put her in with his posse of Walken and Dafoe for New Rose Hotel. Ferrara is the lunatic that gave us Harvey Keitel jacking-off in Bad Lieutenant and senior citizen cunnilingus in The Funeral. Always brutally pushing the sanity threshold, his naked oeuvre explores more truth in five minutes than the rest of bullshit cinema has done in a decade. This rubbed off on Asia, who took Ferrara as a mentor. After a full year of warrior purification spent watching only silent films, she went out on the front line of the offensive at age 24.
Stuff like this: this hot chick Marina Abramovic would take blurry snapshots of her performances during the 70s. Kneeling on the gallery floor, naked in front of a crowd of voyeurs, Abramovic sliced a pentagram into her stomach with a razor and remained silent in her growing pool of blood. As people got sick, she took out a whip and beat herself until numb. All the photos focus on her stoicism during this imposed hell, not the frightened onlookers. Scarlet Diva kinda works on the same visceral, Plathy level— making overblown pretension sincere.
After growing up watching her mother being masterfully eviscerated in her father’s films, it seems normal for Asia to deconstruct events from her life in a series of breakdowns. In the end, Diva is just a movie about the incompatibility of love and reality. Of course, no American distributor will ever touch it. Which is a shame, cuz it was filmed all over the world (London, Rome, LA, Paris, etc.) and involves never before seen raunchiness with a whole lotta people like NYC shock-artist Joe Coleman and Italian porn vixen Selen. VICE: So uh, a posse of sexually explicit female directors are taking over. AAA: I met the director of Baise Moi last week in Paris. She didn’t seem so smart, but I like her film. She’s a porno actress and what I like in the film is the urge. I didn’t like (Breillat’s) Romance— too wordy. They don’t have a lot of “cinematic tricks” to tell their stories. That is, they probably haven’t watched as many films as I have. What urge? I do films for myself, out of true love and necessity. This is why I never know if I’ll be able to do another film. I might lose the urge one day. After shooting a film with my favorite director, Mr. Ferrara, I thought I had consumed all my ambitions as an actress. Movies were never going to give me as much as New Rose Hotel did. I’m not talking about what the film did to my career but to my head. So I started dreaming about evolution, remembering my dreams as a little girl— about being a writer, like the wolf of the steppes, somebody alone and singular, focused, hungry. The story that came to my head, Scarlet, was the urge itself. Ferrara has quite a past. You check him out in Dreams of Wet Pussy 5? It was Nine Lives of a Wet Pussy! Mr. Ferrara will not speak about his porn film, he says that now he has two daughters and that’s why he will not allow to re-release that film, or to talk about it in interviews. I see his point. He’s a very moral man, even though not many people can see that and his films show that very clearly. You seem to have outdone him. How is it radical women like yourself are the only ones challenging cinema? Because it’s an unexplored territory, we never had a real chance until today to tell the stories we really cared about. All women directors were failed men, like that piano lesson chick. In order to be a real woman, you have to be fucked by an animal with a huge penis. Why is the authenticity of real sex important to new feminist cinema I don’t know, probably because we were not allowed to even talk about it in the past. There’s still a high degree of disrespect for women like us, for the choices we made. Not to talk about our poor actresses, the ones who don’t usually do porn, but are serious stage stars who all of a sudden are treated like whores because of what they represent on the screen. A lot of people saw the saint-prostitute allegory in my film, which I haven’t thought about at all. I am beyond this bullshit, but apparently not everyone is. How did the violence come out? All the violence you see is real. A slap in the face. I burnt myself with a cigarette. No guns and knives though. Cuz I know your father sometimes killed animals in his films. NO! Those weren’t real! My father never killed real animals, he’s not Harmony Korine. His films are true fantasy. He doesn’t look for reality in his films. "What about you? I can protect my fantasy by not watching TV or reading newspapers. I am already corrupted. I wish I could have made the films I dreamt about when I was nine. I would like to mention a quote by Nick Zedd (NY cult icon): “The only family I have are my movies; these movies are enormously unpopular and with each new monstrosity I create a more hideous distortion of reality and a more real expression of what I am.” Delusion is more real? It’s more sincere, since it’s elaborated. What about when your father wrote sex scenes for you into his films. What reality was that? Was it weird? I had a body double, but yes, it felt weird. I don’t like to investigate why my father wanted me to do sex scenes in his films. He must have his own director/psycho reasons. But in The Phantom of the Opera (1999), I think it was the ultimate way to deal with my Oedipus complex, losing my virginity in front of my dad’s eyes. You're explictly fucking everyone in this film, whilst also casting your real Mom to watch your self-modeled character's self-destructive, nympho overdrive. Was Mom down with watching her daughter be a little whore. Could she seperate the real from the fiction, if there is a border? My mother didn’t have a problem with that, or with being killed by me. She’s one of the most profound people I know. Like me, she uses cinema to exorcise her demons. Our relationship has actually gotten a lot better after the film. You are so passionate about film you are willing to throw your family into the center of it. No matter how harsh. What else should I care about in this life? A film is like a life in itself, with its own microcosms of people, war, disillusions, love, pain, etc. Maybe the changing self scares me, so I need something absolute and “eternal” apart from death in this life, and tattoos and films are the best way to remind myself I still exist. What’s next? After shooting a few films as an actress in France I am bored and rich enough to stop shooting for a few months and concentrate on my new directorial project. I read that’s going to be making quality porn. First of all, I love porn films even if they are repetitive and silly, because I like what I get out of them. That is being horny. So they serve a purpose. Like horror movies are supposed to scare you and comedies to make you laugh. I think with porn, it’s an unexplored territory, because usually they just serve that purpose and nothing is required from the story, the characters, the sets, the light. Only Baise Moi and In The Realm of the Senses were able to deliver a story within the horniness. But it’s just the beginning.