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Sleazoid Express

“Since I wrote about grindhouse films, these professional beatniks accused me of making the world a worse place. Jonas Mekas, for one, was livid that I’d once left (Sleazoid Express) flyers at a screening of Chelsea Girls at his Anthology Film Archives. To Mekas cohort Ken Jacobs, I was an example of everything that was evil and wrong with movies and the world in general. On the other hand, Ken Anger loved it.” --Bill Landis and Michelle Clifford’s Sleazoid Express: A Mind-Twisting Tour Through the Grindhouse Cinema of Times Square. New York: Fireside, 2002.


Sleazoid Express (1980-1983, and later editions) was the house journal of the grindhouse movie scene in New York circa 1964-1984. Edited by Bill Landis, a projectionist and devotee of the crime-ridden sleaze houses, the magazine not only captured the genre affections but the whole Times Square milieu of drugs, violence and prostitution. Typical films shown in the movie houses, which centred around the city's 42nd Street, included Bamboo House of Dolls, Blood Sucking Freaks, The Corpse Grinders, Mad Monkey Kung Fu, Miss Nymphet’s Zap-In and The Ultimate Degenerate.

Far from representing a marginal off-shoot of the movie business, the grindhouse films would be later plundered for ideas and imagery by mainstream cinema, while the trash ethic and aesthetic of the magazine itself would be effortlessly copied by many others. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleazoid_Express [Aug 2005]

see also: grindhouse

Sleazoid Express website

Coined by the magazine Sleazoid Express, http://www.sleazoidexpress.com/, edited and authored by Bill Landis and Michelle Clifford

Interview with Bill Landis and Michelle Clifford

by Paul Gaita for online magazine Sleazegrinder: http://www.sleazegrinder.com/garb_sleazoidexpress.htm
Grindhouse Babylon: an interview with Bill Landis and Michelle Clifford
of Sleazoid Express. For serious students of cinematic sleaze ...

For serious students of cinematic sleaze, Bill Landis and Michelle Clifford need no introduction. Landis is the creator of the legendary Sleazoid Express, the first magazine to cover exploitation movies with any sense of objectivity, as well as the free-floating maelstrom known as New York City's Times Square and 42nd Street. Landis wrote about the Deuce from an embedded position as both a patron as well as manager and projectionist at some of its adult theaters theaters, and encountered some of its most notorious figures, including directors Andy Milligan and Phil Prince, tormented adults-only performer George Payne and many shadowy characters. Landis' prose--a mix of Lester Bangs' free-form rap and Hubert Selby's street poetry--made him a much-sought-after chronicler of this twilight world in highbrow pubs like Film Comment and the Village Voice.

Michelle Clifford joined Bill in NYC by way of Florida in the Eighties. They married, and she encouraged him to revive SE in 1999 after a long drought. She co-authored some of his strongest recent features for the Voice (including their latest, an exploration of the internet prescription drug trade), and launched her own magazine, Metasex, which examines the sex industry with heart, coal-black humor and unflinching honesty--a rarity for this subject. The latest issue, #4, features a dissection of '70s porn stud turned walking geek show Jamie Gillis that, while essential reading, is not for the faint-hearted.

Landis and Clifford broke into book stores late last year with Sleazoid Express: A Mind-Twisting Tour Through the Grindhouse Cinema of Times Square (Fireside Books), an overview of their 20-plus years in risking their necks in the Deuce's grimiest "scumatoriums." But for these writers' work at its most raw, readers are directed to the revitalized Sleazoid and Metasex, which continue to capture the joys and dangers of discovering forbidden pleasures-cinematic and otherwise--with an unparalleled mix of streetwise savvy and stunning prose. To paraphrase Steve Earle, Bill Landis and Michelle Clifford are the best damn exploitation film writers--the best film writers, period--today, and I'll stand on Tim Lucas' coffee table in my Tortured Females T-shirt while saying it.
Following is part of an e-mail interview with Bill and Michelle on the Times Square and 42nd Street they prowled during the early days of SE. --Paul Gaita via www.sleazegrinder.com/garb_sleazoidexpress.htm [Jan 2005]

The Deuce

gratuitous image of actress Alice Arno
image sourced here.

From an interview by Dan “Dante” Taylor With Bill Landis and Michelle Clifford at:

Dan Taylor:You stopped publishing Sleazoid Express in 1985 at a time when there was an explosion of exploitation movie zines... what prompted you to stop publishing at that time?

BILL: The Deuce closed and the "explosion of zines" were copies of SLEAZOID. My heart was broken when The Deuce closed and the copycats repulsed me. To them it was a trend to follow, to me it was my life and my friends and I were affected by its closing. I had long ties to people in Times Square, and we all didn't know what to do next, we could hardly believe it was shutting. When the theaters were open it was a place you not only worked, you socialized, figured extra ways to get by with co-worker/co-conspirators - and then all of a sudden it was just crumbling. Not just theaters, but a certain lifestyle, was ending.

Mainstream publishing/magazines had no interest in SLEAZOID because of the Deuce being sanitized. SLEAZOID was a reminder of the decadent past not wanted during the peak AIDS wipe out. Mags wanted stories of the clean up not the history being destroyed. I was relegated to a man writing about the past. I wasn't timely. You couldn't see these films I was writing about. Video was so new then - even as high as in the $80-$100 per tape range, financially inaccessible to many. --http://www.dantenet.com/er/chats/interviews/landis/landis_clifford.html [Jun 2005]

(In print in Carbon 14 Issue #22; online at Dan Taylor’s Exploitation Retrospective).

Bill and Michelle: This interview ranks among the best we’ve ever participated in; highly recommended for both neophytes to the SLEAZOID and METASEX universe and longtime fans. --http://www.metasex.org/about.html [Jun 2005]

Cleaning up the Times Square area
In the mid-1990s, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (1994-2002) led the effort to clean up the Times Square area, including closing up sex shops, increasing security, and opening more tourist-friendly attractions. The cleaning process began when the local government issued an injunction against the tight clustering of the porn shops in the 42nd Street area. Many of the sex shops closed or moved to industrial areas in Brooklyn or Queens. More recently, such establishments have been shut down and more up-scale establishments have opened there. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Times_Square [Jun 2005]

Related link: http://hmkino.ld.infoseek.co.jp/main-home.htm

See also: 42nd Street - Bill and Michelle


A journal of sexual curiosity --http://www.metasex.org

“The first issue is out, and I’m already itching for the second to appear. This is sex with a brain, which is something all too rare….Editor Michelle Clifford has written for Film Comment and The Village Voice and what distinguishes her publication is the amount of research she does, both factual and photographic. There’s plenty more of interest to anyone desiring a behind the scenes look at the adult entertainment industry.  – John Held, Factsheet Five 

“This journal of sexual curiosity is written by editor Clifford and hubbie Bill Landis – the grand inquisitor of the seminal Sleazoid Express.  Without question, some of the best writing on the sleaze-scene currently available. – Shock Cinema


Bill Landis first published Sleazoid Express way back in the days when Times Square was home to sleazy theatres, shady characters and trashy films. Now that 42nd Street has been sanitized and Disneyfied for “inoffensive” tourist consumption, the zine is back – more vital (and, thankfully, thicker) than ever before. Since 1999 Landis, a.k.a. Mr. Sleazoid and his wife, Michelle Clifford, have been lovingly producing an expanded version featuring lots of in-depth writing about the forgotten auteurs, long gone movie houses, obscure films and weird fetishes. An obvious labor of love, Sleazoid Express is a topnotch old-school zine, being hand stapled and free from photo-shop touches. It’s filled with ample illustrations, which range from zeroxed photos to reproductions of ad slicks to a copy of a letter written by the notorious Bob Creese. While a bit pricey, the 70 pages are packed with thorough and informative reviews, interviews and retrospectives of an era of sleazy entertainment which has been suppressed by the mainstream and championed by folks like Clifford and Landis.

Sleazoid Express is always a good read and this issue is no exception. Highlights include an overview of three films starring Euro sex kitten Karin Schubert, an interview with director Paul (A*P*E* and several low budget horror films) Leder, an overview of the twisted career of Bob Creese, a scathing obit for trouble making Times Square exploiter Lew Mishkin and lots of reviews (ranging from fairly familiar cult favorites like THE HARDER THEY COME, DAUGHTERS OF DARKNESS and THE SADIST to obscure sex films, Manson movies and Spanish language imports). My favorite aspect of S.E. is the way they recreate the sensations of viewing these flicks in the sleazy theatres that lined The Deuce. All reviews are put in context and related back to their audience. Landis and Clifford convey every detail, from the sticky floors to the sketchy patrons to the wide range of kinks on display, both on the screen and in the aisles, reproducing a full-fledged Times Square experience in the comfort of your own home.

It has been a busy past few years for Landis. Besides the revival of Sleazoid Express magazine he recently published a biography of Kenneth Anger and a full-length Sleazoid Express book (published by Simon & Schuster). Landis also assists with his wife’s more specialized zine Metasex, which is reviewed elsewhere on this website. The Express is available directly from Clifford and Landis and is a worthwhile investment for all you Cultcuts readers out there! --Reverend Spenser Hoyt, http://cultcuts.net/reviewsbooksandzines/sleazoidexpress.htm

Sleaze [...]

Sleazoid Express: A Mind-Twisting Tour Through the Grindhouse Cinema of Times Square - Bill Landis, Michelle Clifford

Sleazoid Express: A Mind-Twisting Tour Through the Grindhouse Cinema of Times Square (2002) - Bill Landis, Michelle Clifford [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

From Library Journal
New York City's grindhouses (burlesque theaters gone to seed) are long gone, but sin-ema fans can relive the experience with this definitive study. Landis, founder of the eponymously titled cult classic periodical, and Clifford, his partner in grime, take readers on a tour of the Deuce, the psychosexual netherland on 42nd Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues. Between the 1960s and 1980s, the area was home to numerous theaters before being razed and overlaid with family theme restaurants and chain stores in the 1990s. Organized by film genre ("Blood Horror," "Eurosleaze," etc.), the book covers the venues themselves as well as industry personnel, 42nd Street habitu s, and, of course, the deliciously offbeat and perverse films-Black Mama, White Mama; Women in Cages; and, this reviewer's personal favorite, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS. Like Jimmy McDonough's The Ghastly One, an excellent biography on sexploitation auteur Andy Milligan, this book moves the chains down the field in grindhouse cinema's march for respectability. Great fetish film fun for all popular culture and film collections. --Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist
Drawing upon their "full-scale magazine with a website" (gol-lee!) Sleazoid Express, which is dedicated to exploitation cinema, Landis and Clifford revel in old Times Square and the porno shops, dirty-movie theaters, and titty bars it hosted before Disney and its ilk made it safe for squeaky-clean consumerism. Yet they eschew the square's typical denizens for a whole chapter on the Rialto, which featured "the American blood horror genre" more than nudie-cutie flicks; Herschell Gordon Lewis and his magnum opus, Blood Feast, put in honored appearances here. A lesser name of no lesser glory that also pops up is Larry Buchanan, whose Mondo Exotica (aka Naughty Dallas) was a documentary about Jack Ruby's Carousel Club; it and other movies with mondo in the title were loosely patterned after the 1962 hit Italian "shockumentary" Mondo Cane, and, besides being surefire Times Square attractions, constitute a distinctive, often icky genre all of their own. Though not for every film buff, this book will draw vintage-sleaze fans from both sides of the culture-wars skirmish line. Mike Tribby, amazon.com

Book Description
Square In a bygone era, when Times Square was crammed with adult bookstores and drug pushers, moviegoers flocked to the grindhouses on 42nd Street. Those theatres are now gone, but the films remain, and here the legendary underground film magazine offers this jaw-dropping guide to the grindhouse scene. Focusing on a unique genre in each chapter, while painting intimate portraits of directors and stars, and including detailed reviews of landmark films, this is an indispensable guide to the sleaze canon. "Intoxicating" - Sam Gaines, Eye via Amazon.co.uk

In a bygone era, when Times Square was crammed with adult bookstores, gun shops and drug pushers, disenfranchised moviegoers flocked to the grindhouses along 42nd Street. Those theatres were gone by the mid-1980s, but the films survived. Now SLEAZOID EXPRESS reproduces for the reader what no home video can - the experience of watching a movie in the grindhouse setting. Each chapter focuses on a unique exploitation genre - blood horror, Eurosleaze, celebrity crime, etc. - and paints a close, intimate portrait of its directors, stars and showcases. Also included are detailed reviews of landmark films such as Blood Feast and Let Me Die a Woman, plus an appendix of exploitation video companies, making this an indispensable overview of the canon of sleaze. via Amazon.co.uk

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