as Tromatized by Phil Fasso
Dear Lloyd Kaufman,
My name is Phil Fasso, and I’m the founder and editor-in-chief of Death Ensemble (Incidentally, you frequently announce yourself as the co-founder of Troma Studios and creator of the Toxic Avenger, so I felt the need to give myself some fancy titles too). I’ve heard you proclaim many times that you’re the world’s most gay married man. I’m twice divorced, yet thoroughly un-gay. Which is confusing, because I’m supposed to be writing this to induct you into the Hell of Fame, but I’m really writing a love letter. Yes, Lloyd, Kaufman, I love you.
Sure, I could write about how you created Toxie and the Troma brand of gross out aesthetic. Or your concerns for the world, which drive you to infuse social commentary with great wit into your films. Or how you’ve introduced the world to James Gunn, Will Keenan and Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and influenced Quentin Tarantino and Peter Jackson. I could even expound on how sexy you look in a bowtie. But that’s all been written about thousands of times. What I really want to honor is your love for independent cinema. I have fond reflections from my Low Budget Lunch with Lloyd, of watching you portray Lloyd Kaufman in the small, independent ninja zombie effort… NINJA ZOMBIES. As I watched you forget, flub and wildly improvise lines, I quietly surmised that your acting would likely devalue the artistic end of NINJA ZOMBIES. It’s a good thing you have all those fancy aforementioned titles. Because boy, Lloyd, you are a lousy actor.
But reflecting back on that moment, I realize that it wasn’t about your crappy acting. A group of low budget filmmakers sought you out to act, and you’d accepted. Not because of the money; you hadn’t asked for any, and they hadn’t offered. They’d come to you because you’re an idol who’d inspired them and so many others to make their own damn movies. You’d taken the gig because you give back for the art. You also like to make movie goers suffer, so you continue to appear onscreen.
God knows you inspired me to get together with X and write DEADTENTION. It wasn’t just the announcement on the Troma website that you were looking for a new script; it was the joy of writing a Troma movie. Looking at DEADTENTION’S screenplay, it’s really CLASS OF NUKE ‘EM HIGH 4, with zombies and the archetypes from THE BREAKFAST CLUB. I’ll never forget just how giddy I was when I made my punch list of things that X and I had to include, and typed “Kabukiman car flip.” Who the Hell else could have inspired me to write those words? Only you, Stanley Lloyd Kaufman. Only you. Well, maybe Michael Herz, but after our lunch, I’m convinced he’s a hologram.
Even after you heavily praised our script and still rejected it, I never gave up my non-gay love for you, Lloyd. When I saw your contest, I wrote, “Daring. Creative. Nutzoid. Intelligently crafted social commentary with a gross out aesthetic. Oh, and damn entertaining! I’m a master of English language and literature who’s at a turning point in life. I’m now writing scripts and trying to get a film made, because Lloyd has convinced me to follow my creative muse and to my own self be true. I wrote my first script, DEADTENTION, specifically as a Troma film. Lloyd, you passed on it, but I love you anyway.” I fellated you like the best of them, and hey, it worked. For the rest of my life, I can brag that I got Lloyd Kaufman to pay for lunch. And not many people can make that claim.
A few months later, my previous gig at another website fell apart. It was another turning point in my life, as I had to decide if and where I wanted to write about horror. As I perused my options, one thought kept repeating itself: It was time to make my own damn website. Like you, Lloyd, I was Hellbent that I would never surrender to the devil worshipping megaconglomerate. I would to mine own self be true, and triumph in the name of the independent spirit. I would embrace the Tromavillean within, and I would go out and do some asskicking. Metaphorical mop in hand and fully Tromatized, I went out and started Death Ensemble. Yes, Lloyd, I owe it all to you, a broken down old Jew who makes films not many people see.
So I say to you, Greetings from the Hell of Fame! Consider this a non-gay long, deep, wet tongue kiss, Lloyd. Enjoy the company in here, as you’ll see a lot of other artists who follow the independent spirit. Only the chosen few make it in here, and you made it in even after I’ve seen your scrotum in the extras from POULTRYGEIST.
And so, in my best Lloyd Kaufman voice, I say,
Long live independent cinema! Long live Troma! (And long live Lloyd Kaufman… but he’s really old, so he’s got to enjoy it with what little time he’s got left).
un-gay founder and editor-in-chief of Death Ensemble