Nitehawk’s highly anticipated (by us, anyway) screening of Hated: GG Allin and the Murder Junkies drew a crowd that may or may not have ever seen Todd Phillips’s subsequent films (Old School, The Hangover, etc.) In front of us was a guy in a Mohawk, brazenly smoking a vaporizer. Then there was the guy in the Plato’s Retreat shirt.
Fans of Hated, as these folks clearly were, might be interested to know that the cult documentary about punk rock’s wildest animal cost $12,000 to make (it started as a class project, but Phillips ended up dropping out of NYU in order to afford its completion), and only about two hours of footage was shot. Here’s what else we learned during the post-screening Q&A, straight from the director.
The scenes where GG is holed up at the St. Marks Hotel? It’s not actually the St. Marks Hotel.
“GG was staying at the St. Marks Hotel, which back then was literally, I don’t know, $8 a night, something ridiculous. We went to shoot that interview with GG at the St. Marks Hotel and they wouldn’t let us in with film equipment because they thought we were making pornography or something… So where GG’s being interviewed is actually my dorm room around the corner. We stripped the walls and the bed sheets and we made it look like the St. Marks Hotel. But the best part about that was, GG didn’t have any ID so we couldn’t sign him into the dorm, so we had to sneak him into the dorm and pretend we were at the St. Marks Hotel.”
GG was “weirdly shy.”
“You can even see it in these interviews sometimes. When we were just alone in the dorm room [shooting] that stuff, you can feel he’s a little bit shy. He feels on the spot. It was much better when GG was just kind of drunk, hanging out, watching movies at [his brother and bassist] Merle’s house and really angry or laughing or something.”
He was also genuinely crazy.
“I think GG either had schizophrenia or bipolar or some actual undiagnosed condition because Merle is actually really normal – you can have a real conversation with him, he’s very business-minded and concerned about money and the band getting paid and scheduling the tours. GG, I just think there was a disconnect there from when he was really young. I don’t know what it was. I think the alcohol exacerbated it but it was self-medicating to some extent, but in a weird way. I think it backfired a lot of times.”
That performance where GG sticks a banana up his butt and throws it into the crowd? Phillips tricked NYU into hosting it.
“About a month before we did the GG thing, there were these posters all over NYU that said ‘Henry Speaks,’ and it was Henry Rollins doing one of his things where he reads from one of his books and it was pretty cool and all. And so I sold it to NYU as ‘Oh, it’s that, [GG] does the same thing.’ So [Rollins] was a really big hit and they said, ‘Ok, this guy, we haven’t heard of him but I guess he does the same thing.’ We were really there because he had done some spoken word, like the thing he did in 1988 where he grabbed that woman and he was cutting himself. So I was sort of envisioning that, but GG just came drunk and he hadn’t planned anything and he sees a banana and he became really dumb and it was a silly part.”
And, yes, he got in trouble for it.
“I was brought up on charges at NYU for (this is a true thing) attempting to do great bodily harm less than murder, or something, to your classmates – putting them in danger because I knew what this thing was and I was deceiving everyone by saying it was a Henry Rollins thing. They literally had a trial and the dean of the film school and two students were on the jury or whatever. They didn’t convict me but it was an interesting time.”
The crew had a system for not getting punched in the face.
“[GG] was really schizophrenic with me also, so sometimes he was open to doing stuff and other times he’d act like he didn’t know me… The film crew was just NYU students who had no idea what they were signing up for and none of them got paid, obviously. I got these big orange stickers and I said, ‘GG, look at this. This means don’t touch this person with the orange sticker.’ I go, ‘You have to promise me because these are just kids and they don’t know what the fuck is going on,’ and he goes, ‘[grumbling consent].’ ‘But you’re not even looking at the sticker! look at the sticker.’ And there’s a moment in the movie where GG goes at the show at the Space at Chase and you can see the assistant cameraman… you see him go like this to show GG his badge. And GG was present enough that he turns away. It was kind of amazing.”
The film’s unofficial executive producer was a serial killer.
“GG Allin was friends with John Wayne Gacy. John Wayne Gacy is a serial killer, if you don’t know – he’s now dead, they put him to death. But at the time he was painting in jail. I remember reading an article saying Johnny Depp once got him to do a painting and sold it for $20,000, something crazy. I remember hearing this story, I don’t know if it was ever true. I wrote John Wayne Gacy in jail and said, ‘Hey, we’re doing this movie about GG Allin, would you paint the movie poster for it?’
“Even though the movie wasn’t made yet I go, ‘Maybe you can paint it and we’ll send it to you and you can sign them and we’ll sell them as limited edition posters.’ And so he called me collect from jail – it was fucking crazy, it was John Wayne Gacy, same way GG Allin called – and we talked and he said, ‘I’ll do it for $50, for art supplies in jail, and a compromising photo of yourself,’ I swear to go. I was like, ‘Okay, whatever…’”
“I sent him a $50 money order and a photo of myself that my roommate took on the roof of our building on 99 Avenue B. I wasn’t naked but it was, like, very hawkish. And I sent it to him and he painted the posters – this was a process, because he was in jail. He made this painting of GG which is great… we made these big posters and then the plan was (and this took months, but) we made like 1,000 posters and shipped them back to him for him to sign and number but then the prison wouldn’t let him sign and number them, so we ended up just doing it ourselves (not signing but numbering them). We sold them for $15 each in the back of Maximum Rock ‘n’ Roll and Flipside and all these magazines. We ended up making about $10,000 or $11,000. So John Wayne Gacy is really the executive producer.”
Phillips was with GG when he died, but didn’t realize it.
“[GG’s final show] was the biggest most epic show ever, I’m taking pictures, we go and he was trying to hail a cab because the police were looking for him. He ended up going to this guy’s apartment on Avenue B, and he was shooting heroin there. And I went there and I met them and he passes out and I remember taking pictures of him passed out next to his 17-year-old girlfriend who had two black eyes and he was in a really bad space at that time.
“I said to Merle, ‘Remind GG when he wakes up that we have to meet that guy from the Village Voice [for an interview promoting the film’s impending release] at Kiev,’ which was that restaurant on Second Avenue. ‘We have to be at Kiev at 10 a.m., don’t fuck around because it’s a big thing.’ And Merle’s like, ‘Ah, he’ll be there, don’t worry, he’ll be there.’ And the next morning at like 8:30 a.m. I get a phone call and it was Merle and he goes, ‘Todd, GG’s dead.’ I go, ‘What?’ He says, ‘Yesterday, GG was dead when you left.’ They thought he had passed out from like doing heroin.”
There were water sports at GG’s funeral.
“The funeral was amazing because they had an open casket funeral for the family and friends and then they had the parents and family friends leave and then they had a party with GG’s body, Weekend at Bernie’s style. And Merle didn’t let me film this – and nobody filmed this – but this is true: a girl literally squatted over him and peed in his mouth while he’s lying there. And they’re pouring Jim Beam down his mouth. We didn’t film that, and I’m kind of glad actually, but it was crazy. They literally partied till like 1 a.m. and the next day they buried him.”