When and where did you first see Asylum of Satan? Was the crew pleased?
I think I remember the world premiere at a neighborhood theatre in St.
Matthews Kentucky (suburb of Louisville) called The Vogue. Of course
everyone was pleased, except me and my music writing partner.
When Girdler found out that I was a musician he invited me to his house to
hear his ideas about an opening song. I remember him singing "Wouldn't It
Be Nice" to me and rocking his leg back and forth (he was kind of short and
his feet didn't touch the floor when he sat on his piano bench). This
wasn't the Beach Boy's song...this was one Bill wrote himself. I remember:
"Wouldn't it be nice to take a walk in the park," etc. I was as diplomatic
as I was unimpressed. He then played me a song by a local group. He wanted
to use it for the movie but when they heard what it was about they refused.
The group was called Dusty, and they were a very inventive three piece.
Their tune was kind of a standard English beer hall ricky-ticky kind of
progression with a nice melody on top. Done in the trippy sixties it was
very fresh, old being new and all that.
Girdler asked me if I could write anything similar enough to capture the
feel but not so close as to be illegal. "Sure," I said. "No problem." "I'll
get my friend Chris to write the lyrics."
My writing partner, in view of monster movies ironically named Christopher
Lee in real life, could whip out lyrics-on-demand if properly motivated.
Being eighteen, Chris thought having a song in a movie would be a good move
and was motivated. We cranked the song out in one evening and made a demo
tape in my basement. It was called "Red Light Lady," and the lyrics were
based on a conversation Bill had with Christopher. As for Dusty's original
song, I changed a key chord in the verse and wrote a completely different
bridge so I didn't think we'd copped all that much musically. But we did
our best to recreate the sound Dusty had created with their
instrumentation. It was an unclean venture from an artistic point of view I
We went up into the hills to a very nice studio. Someone had to make a final
proper and professional recording with Girdler for the film. Bill sat
behind the glass and Christopher and I played our parts. We brought along
local singer Steve May who belted out "Red Light Lady," to Girdler's
excitement. "He sounds black!" Bill exclaimed during the session. Bill also
took this opportunity to put some of his own compositions on tape in a
professional setting. I remember him doing his "Wouldn't It Be Nice," with
his leg swinging as he played the grand piano in the isolation booth...
That's pretty much the last we heard of the song until the premiere. We
figured we were going to hear ourselves when the movie rolled. We didn't.
It was somebody else. The song had been re-recorded by "real" musicians,
and as kids, we understood. So we ate that along with our popcorn and
enjoyed the movie, waiting for the credit roll. The screen credit was to be
(Click HERE for Red Light Lady in Real Audio: 199 KB; or HERE for an Mpeg: 1.46 MB.)
After the film ended, and the credits appeared (of course no one in the
theatre moved, since most people's payment was on screen credit) that's
when the real shock happened. Bill had listed himself as the composer of
the song. He had totally ripped us off. My partner Christopher was livid
and started sputtering like an overboiling teapot. I figured it was karma.
We ripped off Dusty and Bill ripped us off. Fine. Learned my lesson.
Chris, on the other hand, was pissed. He sat in Girdler's office for an
entire day until he got a check for (I think it was) $250 dollars for his
I didn't mention it when I saw Girdler at a wedding a couple of years
later. I was two years through film school at this point and asked him what
he was working on. "A turkey called 'Three on a Meathook'," I think he
replied. I clearly remember him saying "turkey," because as a dedicated,
self-centered artiste of a filmmaker halfway through film school I was
deeply offended. I nearly threw what was left of my drink on him, but
controlled myself. I figured if he had a career in Hollywood and I didn't,
why should I insult him? Perhaps he'd take advantage of me again? After
all, wasn't that how people got ahead in Hollywood?
So I have always recounted Girdler stealing my stolen song as "becoming a
professional" at the tender age of 17.
Did you pursue a career in film or something similar?
Or something. All necessary information is here:
- earned a film/television/design degree in 1976
- went to Los Angeles to be a rock star
- became involved in multimedia production
- appeared on MTV in normal rotation in 1981
- worked with tiny start-ups and telecommunications giants
- became involved in interactive television and the Web in 1994
- became involved with internet radio in 1997
- currently senior producer at XOR Network Engineering.