Kitschmeister: Timothy Haskell

Photo: Donald Bowers

In 2003, audiences rolled their eyes and giggled their way through Timothy Haskell’s stage adaptation of the 1989 Patrick Swayze vehicle (and late-night TBS staple) Road House. Since then, he’s directed Corporate Rock (about Rolling Stone magazine) and the still-running monologue I Love Paris (Ms. Hilton, not the City of Light, is the narrator). The new eighties film homage Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy, which he’s directing, not only sends up B-list celebrities but stars one—the long-lost heartthrob Corey Feldman. Boris Kachka spoke with Haskell during tech rehearsals.

How’s the staging coming together?
I’m so excited! I have a tub that rotates. I have a microwave that gets thrown and destroyed. And we’ve got lots of effects for the bunny. When [the wife] opens up the lid, tons of steam are going to shoot up into the air, and bubbles and lights, and then—well, I don’t want to spoil it.

There are dream sequences, I hear.
The bathtub plays a major part in the dream sequences, as does a costumed bunny who is very demonic-looking.

Is what you do kitsch?
It’s the source material that makes it kitsch. A good thing about kitsch, when there’s some thought behind it, is that you can do really broad, imaginative things. Like, I have someone who’s jumping through a window for absolutely no reason. And it’s awesome to look at.

Yet you want to be taken seriously.
Well, I’m kind of an experimental populist. As you know, there are a ton of bad movies made into camp—the fringe specializes in it—like Reefer Madness and Bat Boy. What they basically turn into are hour-and-a-half-long skits. That’s not what I do. We try to explore the themes, the characters, and then we really get a good understanding of it. And—excuse my French—then we fuck around with it.

How did you get Corey Feldman involved?
We found his manager, sent over a script just for shits and giggles, and we got a call back. I know that he’s really interested in the Broadway production of The Wall that they’re talking about, so he really wanted to get a foot in the door.

So does he get it?
I’ll be honest with you: Because he’s never done a play, some of it was a little confounding. Sometimes I had to be extra-verbose. He’s come a long way, baby—but no, he really has!

How are these adaptations different from, say, Urban Cowboy?
It’s amazing to me that they wouldn’t do that as a spoof. What were they thinking? If you did Fatal Attraction as a play, it would be really bad. You take a movie that’s really easy to watch, like Urban Cowboy or Road House, and [after] just 30 minutes, you get it and you stop watching. So when you do them onstage, it’s already a commentary about the fact that you probably shouldn’t. Unless it’s like 12 Angry Men. Or Popeye—the Robert Altman. I think it already has the mentality that I like. I’m trying to get the rights to do Popeye. I want that to be my Broadway debut.

Director, Fatal Attraction: A Greek Tragedy
At The East 13th Street Theatre through August 27

Kitschmeister: Timothy Haskell