Q & A With a Stuffed Monkey

5 Conversations

Author's note: I'm bummed that my pictures aren't on here anymore. A work-around will be implemented once I remember to do it.

I met the stuffed monkey ("Stuffy," he says, "Call me Stuffy. Everyone else does," he then cackled hysterically, sending himself into a wracking coughing fit.) at his beach house in Santa Monica, California. He is cagey about his ownership of the property, saying only, "I love my lawyers. O.J.'s defense team had nothing, and I mean nothing on these guys," and avoiding any other questions on the topic. His wife of sixteen months, Cyndii, was "out shopping," he explained sarcastically. "Who knows where she's gone? She's probably down trying to get her job back at the strip bar. As long as she doesn't get home when my personal masseuse is here, that's all that matters to me." He sat, mostly calmly, sipping from a glass of banana liqueur ("It's the only thing I can stomach anymore.") After this rather odd introduction, we sat down and commenced with the interview.

Q. So I hear you've been keeping yourself busy these days. Tell us about what you're up to.

A. You know perfectly well what I'm up to. My agent told you over the phone last week, and I don't see where these inane questions are leading to.

Q. You do have an adoring public to answer to...

A. Oh. Right. You can take this part out, then, right? I thought you were still making small talk.

Q. No, after your explanation of your wife, you managed to more or less scare me out of small talk.

A. Ah. So sorry, she just...gets to me, you know?

Q. I can sympathize, yes.

A. So where were we?

Q. I thought I was asking the questions! Let's start again, shall we? So I hear you've been keeping yourself busy these days. Tell us what you're up to.

A. Well, as you know, I hate talking about myself--I always feel that I'm bragging, but since you asked, and I can never say no to my adoring public (smiles). I've got 3 films in development with 2 different studios, a guest shot on Hollywood Squares, and one of the music groups I'm managing is coming out with their first major-label album. It's a pretty exciting time.

Q. You've got a pretty full plate, I can see that. I know you're probably bound under a confidentiality agreement with the films, but can you give us just a little tease?

A. I can't tell you much of the inner workings, but I'll try to skirt around what can and can't be told. The big one, the really big one that I'm most excited about is a new, big-screen adaptation of Gilligan's Island. We've got Bob Denver back for a guest cameo as an absolutely hilarious 'Island Chief Wunga Wunga', the head man in the Island's native tribe. And...well, I shouldn't reveal this, but Ginger and Mary Ann have a more 'special' relationship with each other than they ever did on the TV show. We just thought it was time to bring the story more up to date, if you know what I mean. Spielberg's looking at it, but he thinks it might be too 'intellectual' for him to handle. His word, intellectual. That's a man who knows his target audience, I'd say. We're also looking at having Puff Daddy remix and redo the theme song. The man's a genius with rehashing old, tired material, and making the original sound worse at the same time. The marketing tie-ins--you won't believe me now, but mark my words, by next Christmas, a kid that doesn't have a Gilligan hat is going to be totally ostracized from contemporary society.

Q. Good stuff, it sounds like. I can't wait for it. What are the other two?

A. We're also doing a condensed version of Shakespeare's works, but with a twist: all the actors are chimpanzees, and we're computer-animating their mouths and faces, so they look like they're really speaking. So far, we've got Dom DeLuise, Roger Clinton, and Paula Abdul signed to do the voices. It's a really exciting time to be involved with filmmaking. I mean, 20 years ago, who knew there was a market for chimps doing the complete works of Shakespeare in just under 2 hours? I didn't that's for sure, and I'm a monkey myself! We've got that one guy from Disney whose name escapes me at the moment...well, whatever. He's doing all the songs. The record sales'll be huge!

Q. I wasn't aware that Shakespeare's plays were musicals.

A. That's the beauty of it, don’t you see? It's a whole new twist on the classics!

Q. And the third movie?

A. Well, a few months ago, I realized that Tarantino's career has pretty much been on the skids since Pulp Fiction, and so I figured what better way to get this guy back on the scene than do a sequel?

Q. A sequel?

A. Oh yeah, it's gonna be great! Travolta, Jackson, Willis, Ving Rhames, Uma, and even Tim Roth are reprising their roles and it's going to pick up where it left off.

Q Didn't, um, Travolta get killed at the end?

A. Well, yes, but so did Goldblum in Jurassic Park, but it didn't stop them from making a sequel, did it? Actually, he only died in the book, from what I remember, but who reads these days anyway? Besides, what we're doing is assuming that Travolta, as Vincent, was wearing a bulletproof vest when he got shot. It's easy to fix the little errors that come up like that in filmmaking. And he's a huge draw, and I don't need to tell you that.

Q. Sounds like it'll be interesting, however it comes out. Now, what's this about the band you're managing?

A. Well, I'm actually doing more than managing. I found these four boys who are great dancers, but not necessarily singers, per se, but I've turned them into great performers nonetheless. The things they do on stage...it's going to make your head spin.

Q. So tell me more. You've piqued my curiosity now.

A. Well, they're called the 97.8° In Sync New Kids from the Street Out Back. I didn't want to get them confused with any of the other boy bands out there, so I picked a very distinctive name. They're going to be huge! The guys we've got writing the songs and telling them what to say when they are accused of not being able to sing--they're great, absolutely great. If Milli Vanilli had had these guys back when their flap went down, they'd be bigger than the Beatles today.

Q. So are you insinuating that these boys don't actually sing?

A. Who cares? They look good, they sound good, the songs are just catchy enough to stick in your head for months on end, and they're the best dancers I've ever seen. No one actually listens to them.

Q. Well, it sounds like you've got your target market nailed fairly well. I can't criticize a man--

A.--Or a monkey.

Q. I was going to say that, too. At any rate, I'd like to hear about your past. You were at Woodstock, weren't you?

A. Yes, but I hate talking about it. I had been talking to the promoters for months beforehand. I thought I had it all ironed out with them. It was supposed to be called "MonkeyFest '69", but they backed out right at the end, saying that it somehow sounded "dirty". Spineless lawyers. I think that "MonkeyFest '69" sounds quite fun, don't you? Well, sour grapes aside, it was a great time, although Leary stole my line, and his goons kept me from going onstage to give the crowd the famous, "Tune in..." line, which I'm still upset about. I was going to sue him, too, but my lawyers said it would be insane to take credit for it. And they were right, I have to admit, in hindsight, but he's gonna have that whole counterculture mystique for all time. I feel I deserve it. After all, I gave him his first joint, his first hit of LSD, everything.

Q.You gave it to him?

A. Well, technically, no. I sold it to him. Got to make a profit in this world, I always say. Hendrix was another trip that day, too. I said to him, I said, right before he went on stage, "Hey, wouldn't it be great if you opened up with the Star Spangled Banner? He didn't even look at me, the ungrateful b*****d. But he went out and did it anyway. Did old Stuffy get credit for it? Did he? No, of course not, that's why I have to sound like a bitter old primate 30 years after the fact. I just go on, in the hope that I'm a better monkey for it.

Q. Sounds like you are, and I, for one, am glad for you. So where were we, anyway? Oh, right, I was going to ask you about what happened to you in the 70s.

A. The 70s? Oh, what an awful time. I spent a lot of time in New York, with Lou Reed mostly, sitting around, getting high, and just wasting the decade away. You do not want to see pictures of me from that era. I had an afro so big...um, anyway, I hated the 70s. It was such an ugly time, ugly people, ugly clothes, ugly cars.

Q. Then the 80s hit...

A. Now the 80s were a grand old time. I couldn't get enough of that. All my long-term investments paid off suddenly, and I was like a kid in a candy store. Great time, that. I can't say that the musical groups I tried to manage at that time were the best decision--I mean, who knew that Flock of Seagulls was a bad maneuver? Not me, that's for sure. I almost cut my hair like that, too, then they tanked. I figured bands with bad names, stupid hair, and forgettable songs were the wave of the future. Well, then Grunge came along and proved me right, just a few years too late. Too bad I was doing movies by then and wasn't able to take advantage of that trend. It's okay, I've got my niche now, and I'm happy with it.

Q. So, can you tell us what you've got planned further down the road? You seem to have it all mapped out quite well.

A. (looks suspicious) I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you. (laughs)

Q. Ooh, sounds serious, then. Must be some good stuff.

A. (still laughing) I never get tired of that one. Top Gun, one of my favorite movies. So real, you know? Yes, the stuff we've got planned down the road is great. We're thinking about doing a Dances With Wolves remake, with Costner reprising his role, as well as a complete overhaul of the Back to the Future series.

Q. Both those projects you mentioned are fairly recent, aren't they? Dances With Wolves just came out ten years ago, and--

A. Right, that's the beauty of it, don't you see? It's still fresh in people's minds, so of course they'll have to go see it again. It'll probably win a pile of those awards, too.

Q. Academy Awards? Don't you think that seems rather, well, unfair, redoing a movie just to win awards again?

A. All I know is this: Academy Awards sell movies. As soon as people see it's won for something, anything, they rush out to see it again. No one, and I mean no one saw that Italian guy until after the movie was nominated for a few awards. Awards sell movies, that's what I'm saying. If they see it and still don't get it, if it's up for Best Picture, they think they're just too dumb to understand what it was all about, so they natter on to their friends about what a great film it was and so on...

Q. That's rather cynical, don't you think?

A. Hey, buddy, let me just tell you something--I'm not in the business of making good movies, I'm in the business of making profitable movies. If people happen to like it too, hey, great, but if they love it and it makes squat, money-wise, pffft! goes my career. It's the way the business works now. Too much money at stake for flops that people just like.

Q. So what's the basis of the Dances With Wolves remake, then?

A. Well, instead of Union soldiers coming to collect Costner at the end, thousands of giant spaceships come to do it instead. It's become sort of an event picture.

Q. Giant spaceships?

A. Yeah, they're all the rage now, what with all the digital special effects they can do these days. The impact on the budget is negligible, but teenagers will flock to see anything with spaceships in numbers you would just not believe. Besides, we can spin off an action-figure tie-in and promotions at fast food joints like that! (snaps fingers)

Q. Well, if you think that's best. I'm going to have to wind the interview up, as they've only allotted me a small space this month. It's been most fascinating talking to you. I wish you the best of luc--

A. Yeah, yeah, same to you. Tell my masseuse to hurry, if you see her.

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