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A Whole Bag of Crazy: Sordid Tales of Hookers, Weed, and Grindhouse Movies - Happy Cloud Media Print E-mail
User Rating: / 3
Written by Jay Creepy   
Sunday, 22 April 2018
Creepy's Retro Bookshelf Corner: A Whole Bag of Crazy: Sordid Tales of Hookers, Weed, and Grindhouse Movies on Severed Cinema


Book: A Whole Bag of Crazy: Sordid Tales of Hookers, Weed, and Grindhouse Movies
Written by: Pete Chiarella
Edited by: Pete Chiarella
Art by: Ryan Hose
Year: 2018

Published by: Happy Cloud Media


I recall reading about half of L. Ron Hubbard's 10-volume Mission Earth series around two decades ago. A tagline on the advert read something like “Ever wish a book would last forever? This one does.” Yeah, it was frikking terrible. Eternity can be a curse. I ditched the series after five or six paperbacks.

However, I do wish some books would last forever. As I read through the final couple of chapters of A Whole Bag of Crazy: Sordid Tales of Hookers, Weed, and Grindhouse Movies, I realised I was going to genuinely miss crashing out on the sofa hugging this one. Pete's stories range from inspiring, nostalgic, tragic, and comical – oh and repulsive. VHS tapes, movies, hookers, winos, junkies, career criminals, cops, horror stars, rip-off merchants, all featured inside. You can almost smell the stale piss and spilt beer. You can almost see the ugly hooker or the crazy guy hanging around. It's probably always night time in Pete's world.

This isn't so much an autobiography but it's the neon lit memories of a bloke many should have heard of, but maybe only a handful understand. 42nd Street Pete is a character, created originally to introduce a few video tapes. Fedora hat, shades and a dirty long coat, 42nd Street Pete has since adorned many DVDs, mainly XXX back alley stuff, and a series of magazines called Grindhouse Purgatory.

Taking the image that Pete Chiarella dresses as for his character, it shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody really that his real life adventures have been one long 42nd Street Pete trek through the darkness.

Hustler, pot fiend, porn expert. This book has everything for anybody wanting to know more about the infamous grindhouses, porn theatres, bookstores, and especially what went on around them. There's chapters dedicated to the years that the cannibal or nasty Nazi movies arrived, plus zombies, and spaghetti westerns. However, that's not all, you see, Pete is the star of this book, not the films.

Extreme sessions of drinking accompanied by long nights with hookers – most end badly for him and his friends, fights, threats, near death experiences, run-ins with cops, typical evenings spent in the Manhattan district as blackness fell. He guides us along the streets and into places where you can hang out, and others where you simply do not go to the toilet because there'd be chaps waiting to jump you.

The array of people we meet and get to know range from the good, the bad, and the sheer fucked up (Vince the Prince, Ronnie the Shoplifter, etcetera). Some live well, but some don't. Close friends die, and Pete makes no bones of the pain he felt when this happened. Nor does he shy away from his relationship breakdowns – for example, as one lady trashes his whole place and he watches his world loaded into a dump truck.

The younger to older Pete is a mad bastard, but he gets through many situations, holds down jobs including years selling tapes at flea markets (carboots to the UK readers) and he has a code of honour which he sticks to through many scenarios. You respect his views and his reactions. He's quick thinking, even when stoned outta his mind 

Due to my background and my workplaces, some of his story matches my own. The street life, the tapes, the drugs and the drink, accompanied by a scene of violence now and then out in the darkness – and definitely the crazies. I felt this guy (erm, yeah, not like that) and his many ups and downs – plus he loves Death Match Wrestling (CZW!!) Yes!

A Whole Bag of Crazy is rugged and raw, brimming with energy on each page. You have to ignore many grammar and spelling errors since the proof reader smoked way too much. Pete happens to be funny as hell. You will find yourself chuckling over page after page cause he comes across like he's sat in the room with you telling you his life and joking here and there. His honesty leaps out many times. For instance, the hot Spanish hooker who as he had only paid for a bit of hot head, she insists he fucks her, she needs it – no extra cost: “ Now before you sceptics start that 'yeah, right' shit, back then I wasn't the out of shape 200lb, chain smoking, banged up fuck that I am now...” It happened, he got her number but lost it. The time he set up a show off buddy with a girl. Afterwards: “ That girl had a cock! She had a real cock!” Pete replies that he reckons he knows a place “that has guys with cunts

The chapter, 12 Hours on the 'Deuce' which begins on page 167 is simply fantastic.

Then there's the time he sat in a porn theatre and noticed the guy nearby was cradling a shotgun in his lap...... Or the time he was in a rough bar, as some fella came in, fired a gunshot and walked back out.

Additionally, the book acts as a history lesson, as lots of information such as the Mafia run gambling and porn is covered. Worth a mention is his tales of film conventions and the stars who are cool, and some which aren't.

This paperback simply oozes bodily fluids from semen to vomit and it doesn't stop there. It is a classic that needs to be read by everyone who claims to enjoy cult cinema. Pete is a living breathing tell all fly from the blackest alleys trash cans. He narrates the lives of so many people who existed day to day on the streets dazzled by bright lights and danger. Like I said before, some live, some die. I cannot say amy more. Highly recommended.

Saying that, I'd love to know what scene in Goodbye Uncle Tom (see review here)  pushed all his buttons too much and offended him though. To think that 42nd Street Pete could get offended by anything...


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