Crispin Glover Discusses Cripple Porn and Back to the Future

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Crispin Hellion Glovers Big Slideshow at The Egyptian Theatre.
  • Josh Gross
  • Crispin Hellion Glover presents his Big Slideshow at The Egyptian Theatre.

It happened all of the sudden. One second, the stage at The Egyptian Theatre was filled with pleasant pop songs mixed with the sounds of coughing and scratching, like someone left an off-stage wireless mic hot, and then he was there: Crispin Glover. His intro consisted of a single question directed at the technical booth. And then it was on.

Bathed in the glow of a red spotlight, Glover began to recite from a book he had sort of written, called Concrete Inspection.

The actual pages of the book, a technical manual for concrete inspection, were projected onto the enormous screen behind him, and showed pages of text that Glover had blacked out, with the remaining words saying things very different from their original intentions. He had also drawn on the pages and included a series of found and altered photographs, many of which looked a bit like something out of The Cell. Elephants and swastikas were paired on several occasions.

Glover's narration was direct and powerful, with little pretense or explanation; he made a full charge through several more books. The only interruptions were several violent fits of coughing Glover later attributed to having picked up a bug when traveling in Australia.

Glover's performance was strange and compelling, despite being totally nonsensical. But without much in the way of explanations, it started to drag.

After approximately an hour of slideshows, Glover shared a film he produced and co-directed, It is Fine! EVERYTHING IS FINE, in which a hair fetishist with severe cerebral palsy goes on a fantasy rape and murder spree that included graphic live sex scenes that bordered on being cripple porn. Glover later said the scenes were far less graphic than the film's writer and star, Steven C. Stewart, had originally intended.

"It would have been XXX porn," Glover said. "I wasn't uncomfortable with shooting a XXX film with Steve, but I was concerned about finding actresses with the caliber of talent we wanted that would be comfortable with that level of intimacy."

The film is definitely to taste. Some would argue it's a bizarre and compelling look inside the the head of a marginalized population and their struggle to be seen as a capable of anything, including evil. Others might argue it was overly high-minded nonsense that came off as plodding, abstract and crude. Both would be right, which is exactly the sort of conversation Glover wanted to inspire.

"This film will be the best I'm involved with in my career," said Glover. "I feel very strongly about that."

After the slideshow and the film, Glover spent an hour answering questions about everything from the work he'd just shown to the "moral issues" he'd had as a young film idealist starring in Back to the Future.

"At the end of the film, there was a reward to the characters that was monetary," Glover said. "I told Robert Zemeckis, the director, that the reward should be that the characters are in love."

Apparently, Zemeckis didn't take that well, and Glover was not rehired for either of the film's sequels.

The evening was long, strange and esoteric, most comparable to an art school thesis delivered by someone with more money and notoriety than the average bear. Approximately a dozen people in the 100-strong audience walked out during the show. But most stayed to the end, their interest best described by an incident that happened when the film ended.

"So does anyone have any questions?" Glover asked.

"I love you," someone shouted from the back.

Glover will be at The Egyptian Theatre again tonight for the second half of his slideshow, which will feature a performance of different books and a screening of his film, What is It? It starts at 8 p.m. and costs $20.

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