Thursday, September 10, 2009

This Week's Col: Ted V Mikels is Broke

A German journalist and listener/reader, Markus Hundt, told me about Ted V. Mikels over lunch last week and I was fascinated. Since I love meeting these off-beat Vegas characters, it seemed like a natural column. Then I found that his story, like that of Tony Curtis way back when, was less happy than it seemed. Read on. -sf

When Life Isn't A Movie

Cult director Ted V. Mikels goes from making low-budget films to no-budget living


If you’ve ever before heard of the man I’m writing about this week, I already know what you know. Every article and interview available online refers to Ted V. Mikels as a savant of sorts, an indefatigable and perversely genius filmmaker with a cult following of folks who adore his no-budget flicks and revere him as a surviving visionary of the Ed Wood School of Campy and Bizarre Cinema.

No, this isn’t going to be that kind of column. Although I had never heard of the guy prior to lunch last week with a journalist friend from Germany—Mikels is evidently big in Deutschland—I have been assured by my own Weekly editors that the longtime Las Vegan who created such Oscar bait as Demonheart and Corpse Grinders II has, in fact, enjoyed his local media close-ups several times.

So, okay. This isn’t going to be a piece about how terrific Ted V. Mikels is—and for good reason. I have a different story to tell.

Ted V. Mikels is 80 years old and broke.

He vacated his 2,500-square-foot studio near the Mandalay Bay a couple of months ago. Most of his old 35mm filmmaking equipment is in the Apex landfill, as he was unable to sell it off. His credit cards are maxed out, the equity in his modest east side townhouse has been spent and he has absolutely no idea how he’ll make his mortgage payments.

“Right now I’m in a quandary,” he says as he sits in a living room crammed with masks from his horror films, a dummy he has spoken through for ventriloquism back in the day and swords and other regalia from the Glendale, California, castle where he lived with an honest-to-goodness harem years ago. “In previous years, my movies have sold various rights to various places in the world for showing or televising, and I’d get something for that. In the last few years, that’s down to nothing. I’m facing right now the very daunting problem of having to make a living.”

Read the rest at LasVegasWeekly.Com


Anonymous said...

how can you write that you can find no docuentation that Quentin Tarantino cites Ted V Mikels as an inspiration for Kill Bill?
The most cursory Google search brings up dozens of articles citing Mikels' THE DOLL SQUAD as Tarantino's inspiration and quoting Quentin saying so.

Anonymous said...

Google Mikels and Kill Bill
Doll Squad was major influence.


sorry, anon, but i see lots of references to Tarantino allegedly "citing" Doll Squad, but I can find no actual quotes from Tarantino anywhere about Mikels or any of his films. Just because somebody has said so on the Internet and many others have chosen to cut and paste that claim doesn't make it true. Not to mention, it appears that "major" is a wild overstatement. Even in the most credible piece I found about possible connections, this piece from the Guardian in London, ( it is clear that the influence, if any, was relatively minor, something of a wink. But what does not exist anywhere that I can see is an actual quote from Tarantino himself talking about Mikels or any of his films.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Steve
But again i went to Google and immediatly came up with a QT quote about Mikels:


TM: The DiVAS look like The Doll Squad (Ted V. Mikels, 1973, USA), right?

QT: Oh yeah, very similar. They definitely have that Doll Squad or Modesty Blaise look to them. Those girls just look cool in their turtle necks. Honey West was an American TV show, and that's in there as well.


Now I dont have a lot of time to search through other sites, but QT is definitely a Mikels aficianado.

The issue is that in your article, by throwing in your disclaimer, you make Mikels look like something of a pathetic kook who claims to have a fan and acolyte in Tarantino, when in reality he doesn't.

But it's very well known to all us movie buffs that he does.