Welcome to the Athenian Mercury; New KHLOARIS Screening, Tomorrow, Nov. 27
Plus: a new Twiggs Gorie piece, "Prophets of Doom"
Welcome to the first edition of the Athenian Mercury, the new KHLOARIS newsletter! It’s been quite a while since we’ve sent a newsletter, so we’d forgive our readers for forgetting how they signed up for this newsletter. Maybe it was at one of the Color Giants Animation Expo screenings we programmed and hosted (in conjunction with Comic Arts Brooklyn), or maybe it was at the noise/food/art/film Freak Flag Fest where we curated and hosted the film portions, or maybe it was at one of the screenings we did at Superchief NY, like the “Mike Diana Movie Night” or the Valentine’s Day 2020 “Gross and In Love” show.
Tomorrow night we’ve got our first real-life screening since everything shut down shortly after the aforementioned “Gross and In Love” show (more info on that below), and we thought it was a good time to relaunch the newsletter, under a new name and a new home. Why the changes? Our last platform was more of a marketing platform, and — while easy on the eyes — wasn’t really a great forum for writing, and it could be expensive. Your humble editor used that same platform for a large newsletter, with over 15,000 film industry professionals, mainly meant to promote an indie film facility we once ran, and it was expensive to maintain the subscription. This platform is free, no matter the amount of subscribers, and we plan to keep it free for readers (although we may allow readers to support it at some point in the future).
At the old newsletter, we spent as much time interviewing industry professionals, film programmers, and filmmakers as promoting the business, and found that work much more satisying. We want to continue that sort of work, as well as writing on unusual film, music and art; fiction; culture; comics and whatever strikes our fancy and with a focus on the kind of voices that just aren’t being heard right now. We want to create something that resembles the renegade days of the dearly-departed alternative newsweekly and small-run zines that could only be found in a single town. (Our hope is do occasional printed zines with some of the better work presented here, as we’re big believer in the printed word.) If you, dear reader, want to contribute, or know someone who might, please do!
This edition will be a brief one, with a quick feature on our upcoming screening, and a piece by the talented frequent KHLOARIS collaborator Twiggs Gorie. We’ll try to get one of these out every couple of weeks moving forward.
-Kenneth Bliss, Editor-in-Chief, Athenian Mercury
“An Evening of New Punk Psychotronic Cinema”
KHLOARIS proudly presents a new program, "An Evening of New Punk Psychotronic Cinema.” The program debuts the double feature NYC premiere of: Dylan Greenberg's "The Bathtub," a wild journey through an imagined paper city, featuring Amanda Flowers and the film debut of Pussy Galore and Sonic Youth member Bob Bert; and the world premiere of Josafat Concepcion’s "Holy Wound," a witchcraft-positive bloody wilderness travelogue featuring Anita Moreno, Memory Willis and Sultana. The event is at Our Wicked Lady at 153 Morgan Ave., Brooklyn, NY on November 27th, 2021 at 7pm, Free.
The event has been featured in amNY’s “6 Things to Do in New York This Weekend.”
Also screening will be “Swallow Sperm,” the latest collaboration between underground comic legend Mike Diana, T.F.G. and KHLOARIS; “Affurmative Action," Travis Wood’s satiric comedy on diversity, or lack thereof, in the modern age; Brain Drain Industries’ latest collaboration with Royal Trux, “Whopper Dave”; Dwayne Mendez’s heavy metal Hitchcock reworking “Blood Stab”; “Satellite Strangers,” James Bascara’s award-winning experimental animated film; short avant-garde pieces from Senegalese/French filmmaker Léna Piani; the mysterious "Encantado: The True Story of Lu's Ghosts”; Zoe Alice Camina’s “True Love Forever”; Hogan Seidel and Justice’s “Let’s Look at Florida” and more of the weirdest and wildest in modern short cinema!
Prior to the screening, filmmaker Josafat Concepcion will host a burlesque seance, and filmmaker Dylan Mars Greenberg will host a live “Bathtub”-themed photo booth. A Q&A with cast and crew will likely take place after the screening, as well as a few surprises.
Come hang out; it’ll be fun. We may even have some brand new, exculsive tote bags available, and maybe even some pins and some posters. (It should go without saying, but most of these films are definitely for adults.)
In case anyone’s forgotten: KHLOARIS is a production company and screening collective based in New York City focused on unusual and individual content.
We’ve done a ton of stuff in the last couple of years, and we’ll have it all laid out here and elsewhere soon. Contact us if you want to talk aobut making something.
For more info, visit www.khloaris.com and we’re @khloaris everywhere (although most active on Instagram). Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Profit of Doom
By Twiggs Gorie
Tonight we are taking a trip down memory lane as we profile a company whose ubiquitous presence in every high school in the country has translated into multi-billion dollar profits. Mortu is an American company that was founded over 70 years ago and specializes in creating unique memorabilia for high school and middle school students all around the country.
I’d like to begin by asking you about the origins of the Mortu Corporation and how it came to be.
My family has been in the funeral industry for generations. My grandfather became very famous for the work he did to preserve a young lady who had been shot at the altar. The family wanted an open casket funeral so they wanted to make sure that she looked her best. Also, the press was going to be there since her case attracted so much attention nationwide.
Can you remind our readers of this case?
Sure. I believe the woman’s name was Elise Carlo. Elise was shot by her ex-boyfriend in the face an hour before her wedding. It was a very tragic story and attracted a lot of media attention due to the issues surrounding gun control at the time. My grandfather was able to repair her face using a special line of cosmetics he created for our family funeral business. She looked so beautiful at her viewing that the media went crazy and pictures of her went viral.
What is viral?
Viral is what people used to say when something became very popular online. Elise ended up being on the cover of multiple major fashion magazines which as you know ushered in the era of post-mortem fashion photography.
So Mortu was originally a makeup brand?
Yes and no. Our main business was funerals, but my grandfather’s side business doing facial and body reconstructions using his special makeup really began to take off until eventually it became more profitable than funerals so the entire company just shifted into producing post-mortem makeup.
Tell us about those years.
Well, post-mortem fashion photography really took off amongst celebrities. In order to look good in post-mortem photos you definitely need high quality post-mortem makeup and my grandfather’s makeup was the best available. We catered to a lot of celebrities. Around that time there was a serious problem with opioid addiction in the country so young people were dying left and right; that is when my grandfather’s makeup made it to the mainstream. No one wants to remember their son or daughter with horrible sores all over their face; my grandfather’s makeup did wonders for that. People started calling them post-mortem makeovers and then social media did the rest.
What did you make of the controversy that followed?
My family had no way of knowing that one of the chemicals being used in our makeup products was poisonous. We settled out of court with the families affected by the poisoned water supply and that is all I will say about it.
Did Mortu’s business pivot as a result of the controversy?
No, Mortu originally planned to branch out to other lines of business. The post-mortem makeover trend had hit its peak and we were ready to move on. We knew that the future of our business was marketing to the young and their love of bespoke items. So we decided to go into the custom coffin business and began to partner up with high schools all over the country. Kids love custom class rings so why not give them the chance to create a custom coffin in case something were to happen.
“In case”? Chances are something WILL happen.
What your generation doesn’t understand is that there was a time before school shootings became the norm. When our company first began to offer custom coffins for students we were the only ones on the market. Many schools were outraged and actually turned us down, but as shootings became more commonplace the need for our services became undeniable.
Tell us about your best selling product.
I’m sure you’re too young to remember, but have you ever heard of a leopard?
No. What is that?
A leopard was an animal that lived in this environment we called a rainforest. The fur of a leopard had a very beautiful pattern. The pattern used to be very popular with old movie stars. Our best selling product is what I call a leopard print coffin. It is a coffin with the leopard fur pattern all over it. Teenagers especially love our leopard print coffin though it has recently become popular with preteens as well. They often like to change the colors around in the pattern. The traditional leopard print is mustard yellow and black, but I’ve seen lime green and pink, purple and blue etc. Kids come up with some really crazy color combinations. They each want to stand out even in death. It is our business to provide to them a funeral experience that fits their personality.
What is there to look forward to in the future?
We are partnering with high schools again to provide students with robotic impersonation services. Technology is and always will be the future so we are pivoting our business to be more tech centric. Mortu is now offering students the option of creating a robot of themselves that can take their place at prom or graduation. This service grew out of our very popular chat-bot service that allows students to use artificial intelligence to create a chat-bot that would respond to their friends’ and families’ text messages post-mortem. At one point we even had a feature that would generate social media posts. The robotic impersonation service is the next level version of that.
Any concluding remarks?
Life is short.