Mike Kuchar is well known for his films. John Waters cites him as his hero, which is a pretty big compliment. But he’s always been an illustrator; the work has just been more anonymous. Kuchar has always been successful in obscurity’s sense. He worked as a magazine retoucher in the 1960s and, after moving to California, became a go-to name in the then underground comic scene. While he and his brother George Kuchar are widely known film directors, Mike has always been drawing and painting, gathering attention of a much smaller audience.
Opening just last week, Anton Kern Gallery has curated an exhibition of some of Mike’s private collection on view through September. The drawings on exhibit have never been published or shown publicly before, so on the eve of his opening, Mike answered some questions I had about the works going into the premiere.
Mike Kuchar is a true San Francisco treasure. His uncompromising output spans more than sixty years, and reminds us of the often forgotten value of individual vision and non-conformity. The few meetings I have had with Mike always leave me feeling completely inspired, and this time was no exception. Below are excerpts from that wide ranging two-hour conversation, between Mike, Gordon, and myself, which took place in my studio on May 18th, 2016.
January 29, 2015
“Movies should have sex appeal,” says Mike Kuchar. “It’s a basic fundamental quality and helps in making it bearable to watch.” It’s the same bravado that seared through the filmmaker’s lascivious, sugar-coated home videos made with his brother George and screened alongside friends Kenneth Anger, Jonas Mekasand Andy Warhol in the New York underground film scene of the 1960s and 70s. Experimenting with 8mm film, the twin brothers from the Bronx conjured up their own camp, sexually charged pop fantasies in fleshly shades of violet, turquoise, and sunflower.
Face to Face with Stu Smith. Guests: Mike Kuchar, Eric Smith and Jennifer Kroot.
December 18, 2009
After the Kuchar Bros. screening last Thursday evening (George and Mike Kuchar, Recent Preservations: Pussy on a Hot Tin Roof, Tootsies in Autumn, A Woman Distressed, and Lovers of Eternity) I trapped Mike Kuchar in the back of the catering kitchen, near the walk-in freezer, and conducted this tiny interview with him as part of the ongoing series “5 Questions.” His brother George had recently been asked the same 5 questions for the blog, but Mike’s answers were different. This controlled experiment revealed that twins don’t always think alike.
December 10, 2009
For more clips like this, visit the blog for the NYC cult cable-access show Media Funhouse, located here: www.mediafunhouse.blogspot.com The legendary underground filmmaker talks about how he achieved the look of his most famous film, the cult classic "Sins of the Fleshapoids." This interview was shot at the Anthology Film Archives in New York City on the occasion of a retrospective of Kuchar's latest videos.
December 11, 2009
For more clips like this, visit the blog for the NYC cult cable-access show Media Funhouse, located here: www.mediafunhouse.blogspot.com The legendary underground filmmaker talks about his Hollywood inspirations, in this interview filmed at the Anthology Film Archives.
October 24, 2007
Mike Kuchar has visited Moviate a few times and on his most recent visit, he answered some questions about filmmaking and his hobby (vocation)
December 23, 2005
Sharing a Bronx childhood immersed in movies, twin brothers Mike and George Kuchar developed during the '50s and '60s into two of the most influential underground filmmakers in America ? while still in their teens and early 20s. Possessed by vivid imagination and ribald taste, the brothers were instrumental in giving rise to intentional camp cinema, and did so well before Jack Smith's Flaming Creatures and Susan Sontag's ?Notes on Camp.? And presaging Warhol, they created a factory of their own ? ?Hollywood in the Bronx? ? by using friends and other co-conspirators for their madcap 8mm deconstructions of melodrama, sci-fi, and horror.