When talking about grindhouse cinema and exploitation movies, it’s not just flicks themselves, the worn-out celluloid and the like, you know…Those films also fill pages of various movie fanzines and magazines, from the amateurish ones to the very pro.

One of the latest ones is the Grindhouse Resurrection magazine, straight from the hand of the one and only Pete Chiarella, better known as 42nd Street Pete.

We’ve already have talked about Grindhouse Purgatory, his previous publishing effort, in a separate article (although not included here at RA), however, we’ve haven’t talked to the man himself! Well, now it’s the time…

Good afternoon, Pete and thanks for your time doing this little interview! How are you doing these days?

My pleasure to do this for the fans. how am I doing? Well I had a couple of health scares in the last few months, but I’m on top of the situation. Hell, I’m 70, and a hard 70, things will start to break down. I still do physical work on my property and I’m glad I’m still able to do things.

We are talking about grindhouse… and grindhouse (and exploitation movies) is like a second nature to you, I am pretty sure. What was the marking point – if you can recall it – when you have decided you’ve wanted to be a bit more than just a nostalgia-driven movie buff and started you activities in the movie world? I mean…I’ve seen ads for adult movies’ DVD releases with your face on them, being published under “42nd Street Pete presents”…have these been your initial steps into the world of publishing (whether in print or video)?

Well, first, I never expect 42nd Street Pete to go anywhere. I created the persona as a joke on Mike Vraney of Something Weird Video. He used that little bit i shot on intros to his 8mm stuff, then asked me if I could write. So that was my entry. I got hired to do liner notes for some Nick Phillips films. During that time, I had the idea that I wanted to start a line of 8mm Peep loops on DVD. I approached the owner, Mike Raso, about doing it. The reason I wanted to do it was because no one addressed the history of these things. Most collections were just random loops with no back story. I wanted to do something different. So Mike says everyone talks, but no one puts up their money. I threw a wad of cash on his desk and said, “I’ll fuckin gamble that this will work.” Over 20 years later and 3 dozen releases, I’d say it worked. I was the first one to put 8mm porn on a Blu Ray, but that didn’t do as well as I thought it would. We did a Blu and a DVD on that release. The DVD sold better, so I abandoned any more thoughts on Blu rays.

Let’s talk about those DVD/Blu Ray releases for a moment, if you don’t mind… how did these come into being? Can you reveal to our readers some history behind these releases? How well (or badly, if that was the case) have these been received?

After we did the first one, I didn’t take any money out of it and neither did Mike. We used the money to make the next two: Superstars of the 70’s Stags and The Euro Trash Collection. I wanted a volume with recognizable stars of that era and I wanted to see if really out there Euro porn would sell. Then I realized that people didn’t want the straight generic stuff, they wanted stuff you couldn’t make today. So I came up with The Extreme Sleaze Showcase Collection. S&M, B&D, all kinds of crazy off the wall stuff. It did so well that we followed it up with two more volumes. At that point in time, we could still get DVDs in certain mainstream stores as long as they weren’t hard core. So i had some striptease loops and we put out one of them. it did well so we did another. Then I bought a collection of Joe Bonica films. Joe was famous for shooting the atomic bomb footage in the 50’s. He also had the “Movie of the Month Club” where you got a new 50 foot striptease loop every month. I put 50 of these on one collection and it did very well. As how well they were received, well your always going to have your detractors in this business. it’s the old saying, you can’t shine shit, but we try. Honestly, there are a couple that I wasn’t really happy with. Two did not have me on camera because I was in the process of moving, so that kinda sucked, but overall, the line has done well and is still doing well.

The insanity of the neverending rise of the postage rates has basically killed any business for small entrepreneurs across the pond. I don’t think anyone can argue about that. Do you plan to release any more of those video releases for the US market only? Or not at all?

I want to do one last big release to tie it all up. there is enough in the cue to do a kickass box set. That will be my final release as I know people will still buy it and, by my estimation, it will have four complete features and a lot of rare loops. And your right, the shipping rates are killer, but it’s flattering that people overseas will pay them to read our stuff.

As I’ve mentioned earlier, you are also a writer/author and a publisher. Before we jump into the world of Grindhouse Purgatory and Grindhouse Resurrection, let’s talk about your other publications…first, let’s discuss your real-life stories in “A Whole Bag of Crazy” (which I am a lucky owner as well)… I loved it and the dirty world of the Deuce comes to life again through its pages… looking back to when you’ve published this little volume, how do you view it now? Are you still satisfied with it as it is, or would you change or add a bit or two? I am pretty sure readers of Grindhouse Purgatory loved it as much as I did, right? It’s no point of asking about the raving positive reviews…however, have you ever encounter a negative review for this book?

There will be a follow up to A Whole Bag of Crazy, it being edited as I write this. As far as looking back on it, I wouldn’t change a thing. It did very well. At one convention I took them to, I sold out in two days. I never had any expectations when it came out. I said that if I sold 20 copies, I’d be satisfied. I sold 200 in a week and it kept on selling. It was a humbling experience. I only remember one negative review. What people don’t realize is some people will give you a bad review just to bait you. They want to start an internet pissing contest. No thanks, My attitude is “Ok, you want to talk shit? Fine, I got your money, so talk all the shit you want.” Strangely, even my former publisher started talking shit because my stuff outsold his. It’s all jealousy and petty. I’m not getting rich doing this. I do it because it’s fun and obviously I have an audience for it.

That was not the only book of yours! There’s also a book Two-Fisted Tales of Times Square. Now, I have to admit I don’t have this one, therefore I’d like to ask you to fill me (and the readers) in… how similar, how different is this title compared to the “A Whole Bag of Crazy” discussed above?

Two Fisted Tales of Times Square is a book of fictional stories based on some factual events. I sold 50 of these in 24 hours. I’m trying to get this on Amazon too. My problem is that I’m not a tech guy. I’m a writer and a hustler. So this book has the mob, a bounty hunter who is a werewolf, a dead hooker’s ghost looking for revenge, a vampire queen in held in a brothel, a mob fixer who is really good at his job, a hitman who takes the wrong job and more. Plus I created characters based on folks that I used to hangout with. I am really happy with this one, and everyone who bought it loved it. I am doing a follow up on this one two. One fan said, ” bring back all the guys you didn’t kill off in the first book”. People thought that it was the 2nd part of my autobiography, but it’s not. Jack Ketchum was a good friend and he gave me a few pointers on what not to do. He loved the gunfighters trilogy. I wish he was still with us, I miss Jack everyday.

And let’s not forget your trilogy “Gunfighters of the Drunken Master”! I have to say the title alone has brought the enthusiastic smile on my face and we will agree, pulp stories like these are a great addition to any grindhouse/exploitation (or so bad it’s good movie, if anyone wishes) enthusiast’s library. I am glad there are still people reading books around and for sake of those, can you summarize this trilogy? What is it about? And, last – but not least – where the inspiration for that series comes from?

I’m a huge western fan, both films and books. I like writers like William W Johnston, Ralph Cotton, Ralph Compton and some others who don’t pull any punches. So I decided to do a post apocalyptic Spaghetti western, think Mad Max meets El Topo meets The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. So I created my own landscape as solar flares have destroyed the water supply except for liquids in glass or plastic bottles. So there’s a lot of liquor laying around and the survivors get drunk and shoot each other. the main guy is The Drunken Master. His gun hand gets crippled by a rival, so he puts a bounty of 100 cases of water on the guy’s head. So you have the worst of the worst killers in the Wasteland trying to find this guy and get the reward. The main guy is the Blindman and his killer ,Dog. He’s not really blind, just really near sighted so he uses a shotgun with shells filled with dimes, broken glass, snips of barbed wire ect.

It gets nasty, but alliances are formed and there is a reckoning. So in the end, the survivors take over the Drunken Master’s compound. Most books like this run 200 to 300 pages. I cut out all the “fluff” and went straight for the action. The book pummels the reader from start to finish. People that read it loved it, so I did book 2, Unhappy Hour. This time I used Isis as the bad guys. A whole army of them had infiltrated before the crash and now they are killing any survivors they can find and are headed toward the Blindman and his friends. So to combat this threat, Blindman looks for other “survivors” that you wouldn’t want as neighbors: a former mafia Don and his bodyguard, a pyromaniac with a tanker truck full of fuel, a deranged priest who wants to smite everybody.. two hugPe former wrestlers, a sharpshooter with a .50 caliber rifle, the fastest gun alive and the remaining members of the Hells Angels motorcycle club. This one just slams you from start to finish.

Book 3 Last Call, well I used Trump as the villian. It was written during his shitty presidency and now he’s sick and needs human blood to norish him. But one type of blood can cure him and guess who has that blood type? The Blindman. This one is really over the top and has a killer bear. I was close friends with Gary Klar from Day of the Dead. he loved these books and wanted to write a screenplay. I put his character, Steele, as a character in the book. lots of carnage again, but I did leave it open at the end. I just wrote a prequel as I want to release all three in one volume. Hopefully that will happen shortly.

Your publishing efforts haven’t stopped with these… one day in my Amazon feed a new movie publication has appeared, by the name of Grindhouse Purgatory. First things first – why such a name? I am sure some movies might be like an ordeal to sit through, but I am quite sure that was not the inspiration behind the title of your mag, right?

I pulled the name Grindhouse Purgatory out of nowhere. I wanted to do a mag, but I didn’t want to be Fangoria, Horror Hound or a horror movie mag in general. Grindhouse films encompass many different film genres and that’s what I wanted to write about. But the thing is, I don’t know everything nor do I claim to know everything. So ,like SWV did for me, I opened the door to anyone who wanted to try their hand at writing. Writers came and went, but a core group stayed and made it work. Most of these writers came over to the new mag as my former publisher lied to them about me being ‘retired’.

GP has seen 20 issues (which is a great run and something to be congratulated for, I have no doubt) and to the experts and newbies brought a loads of information about grindhouse movies, golden age of adult video movies and good ole wrestling stuff, not only in articles, but also in interviews with people associated with these. 20 issues, not bad for something being intended as a one-off publication… those who had the opportunity to read the very first issue know it’s been dedicated to the memory of the late director Andrew Copp. As the readers in my home country (Slovakia), for whom this interview is primarily intended, are usually not that well versed in the world of US indie cinema, can you tell us something about Andy and what motivated you, as the GP publisher, to dedicate the first issue of your magazine to his memory?

Actually it was 21 issues. I did a greatest hits out of the first three and discontinued those. Andy Copp was a friend and a film maker. When I was almost dead after cancer surgery. he kept in touch and was sending me stuff to watch. Andy’s films were almost self portaits, horrifically violent and a little twisted. Tragically, he chose to end his life. Why? I wish I knew. He had stopped coming to the local convention. People always will say that he should have reached out for help. What people don’t fuckin understand is that when your in the black hole of depression, the last thing on your mind is making a phone call. I know because I have been there and it sucks. We lost a very talented artist in Andy Copp.

After Grindhouse Purgatory has finished its course, from its ashes – as a legendary Phoenix – has risen a brand new magazine…Grindhouse Resurrection! What makes it different from the GP? Any new writers to introduce to the field? Or maybe some new area to cover?

I’ll give you the back story here and if I piss a certain party off, too fuckin’ bad. I kept this going during the pandemic. But I was starting to see that my publisher became very jealous of the success of the magazine. Articles started getting “lost” or altered. Writers complained to me that he was getting nasty with them. Emails went unanswered, then he attacked me personally, online. The last three issues became an ordeal. I was dealing with losing 6 close friends during the pandemic and dealing with crushing depression. I had to cut this guy loose as I was tired of the bad mouthing. So I told him that # 20 is it. That A Bomb blast on the cover was his fuck you to me. So then they tell all the writers that I brought in that I was “retired” and they were launching a “new” grindhouse mag. Well that was a huge lie and I told my people that I was far from retired. So John Shatzer, one of the writers called me and said let me edit this, lets keep it going. So I asked everyone, if they wanted to keep it going and we did just that. We fit what took 90 pages in the old mag to 68 pages in the first issue and actually had more content. there was a lot of wasted space in the other magazine. #2 is close to a 100 pages because I got an exclusive interview with William Winckler that I could have cut into two parts, but to me, that’s just trying to sell the next issue and use that as a hook. No, #3 will sell on it’s own merits. Actually Bill came to me about doing the interview. So did Mike Lacky from Street Trash. I did get a bunch of new writers. Rocky Calivito writes some great fiction. An old friend, Bill Karnschimdt used to hand out massage parlour fliers on 42nd Street, so he started sending me stuff. Then another guy with grindhouse type paperback books. The difference between the two mags is more diverse articles, no censorship and we did a Monster kids section with old school monster mages, the original Chiller theater films and more to come. Plus the people formatting the new mag are passionate about their work. They have their own mag, Midnight and Eric and Angie Wright are cool people and great to work with. It’s nice not to have to worry about things getting done right because now everything is getting done right. I just want to get my mag and their mag on Amazon so fans can see what we did.

So far, Grindhouse Resurrection has seen two issues. I hope the magazine was resurrected to its eternal life of being published! Are you planning any other activities to go along with the magazine publications? Or just concentrate on the mag itself?

Not sure what you mean by activities. I quit doing the conventions for a lot of reasons. We use a local printer right now, so you can only get the mag from myself or Midnight. Like I said, we want to reach more fans and we are working on it. I do write for others. I just did something for Steve Bissette’s next Cryptoid Cinema. Then I did something for the next Spaghetti Western Digest, plus Euro Cult Cinema. Then I have the youtube Channel where I try to tape at least a couple of episodes a week. I stay busy, lol.

Coming to the end of this interview…grindhouse era is pretty much set in stone, as they say “if it was shown in the grindhouse cinema, then it can be classed as a grindhouse movie”. What’s your take on the so-called “new grindhouse”, with modern filmmakers trying to emulate the look and feel (hello, Quentin, hello Robert!) of the old grindhouse flicks?

New film makers can emulate all they want ,but unless you own a time machine, your not making a Grindhouse film. As for Quentin Tarantino, he’s a thief, plain & simple. He steals from films that he thinks no one knows about. Truth be told, Tarantino never set foot in an actual grindhouse, just do the math. Robert admits he never set foot in a grindhouse, but he gets it. I liked Planet Terror. Deathproof would have ran two days for the tax write off as no one would have paid to see it. What a lot of these guys don’t understand is the reason a lot of these films worked was because no one had ever done them before. All of these genres, blaxploitation, biker films, cannibal films, spaghetti westerns, mondo films etc. only lasted 5 to 7 years, then they petered out. You can’t recreate that magic as it was already done, and done well.

OK, and that’s all for today, folks! Thank you, Pete, for your time replying to the questions… any final message to the fans of grindhouse and exploitation movies, wherever they might be?

Well, first off, thank you for letting me share these things. As of this interview, I have been doing my thing for over 30 years. Was it worth it? Yes and no. The late, great Sid Haig told me “you got to have really thick skin to do what we do. Be it acting, writing, whatever, you’ll have to endure the barbs thrown your way, or quit.” I don’t quit. I did a lot of stuff back in the day and yeah, sometimes I was a real bad guy. But I parlayed my experiences into things that people want to read and hear. The worst part of doing what I do is losing people. Gary Klar was like a brother to me. Jack Ketchum was a long time friend and mentor for over 40 years. David F. Friedman made me the 42nd Thief. Sid Haig was also a close friend. Now another great friend, Gary Kent, is at the end of his life. I miss them all terribly. I have met some great people over the last 30 odd years and it was a pleasure. As for me, I have been overwhelmed and humbled by the fans response to what I do. And in closing, I’ll say what a lot of so called celebrities should say: Without my fans and supporters, there would be no 42nd Street Pete. I humbly thank you all.

Ed.: The Grindhouse Purgatory magazine is still available through Amazon, and we all hope the Grindhouse Resurrection will be there soon as well! Support your grindhouse historian and get some interesting reading!