We warned you that Flying Lotus’s debut feature, Kuso, would be one of the grossest, weirdest movies in recent memory. Sure enough, after last night’s Rooftop Films screening an audience member had just one question for FlyLo.
He clearly wanted to know why an acclaimed musician who has worked with the likes of Kendrick Lamar and Herbie Hancock felt compelled to spend his own money making a film where there are oozing, puss-filled boils (and far worse) in most every scene. Just minutes before, the audience at House of Vans in Greenpoint had broken down into squeals of horror and delight as the film concluded with what had to be the most gag-inducing sex scene since the end of Nekromantik.
The answer was simple. “I felt like I had to be the guy, because no one else was going to be the guy,” said Flying Lotus, née Steve Ellison, who as a director goes by just his first name. “No one else was going to show everybody [being] ugly, no one else was going to write black characters that we ain’t seen before on some other shit.”
He’s right about one thing—not since William S. Burroughs’s Dr. Benway, the surgeon who performed appendectomies with rusty sardine cans in Naked Lunch, have we seen a doctor like the one at the Coat Hanger Clinic. He’s played by funk legend George Clinton, looking unrecognizably slovenly thanks to a combover, horn-rims, and an ill-fitting Cosby sweater. His receptionist is a blow-up sex doll and his nurse is played by buxom b-movie actress Diana Terranova, whose credits include Leprechaun in the Hood.
Even the godfather of funk’s mind was blown when he saw Kuso. “I though I was on drugs again,” he told the crowd last night. “I thought it was 1968, Yellow Submarine…”
Steve originally considered comedic actors like Craig Robinson and Jemaine Clement for the role of the doctor who cures a man of his fear of breasts by hatching a slime-spewing alien crustacean named Mr. Quiggles from his anus. But then he decided on the P Funk all-star. “We were in the studio working on music and I was like, ‘Hey George, I got this idea, man, but how do you feel about showing your butthole on camera?’”
Clinton realized he was dealing with a “crazy motherfucker.” Last night, he said to Steve, “You told me, ‘It’s the doo doo, it’s the shit, and you meant that literally.’”
At some point, Steve and Clinton agreed that a prosthetic would be used (Tim Heidecker’s naked butt, however, appears to be the real deal). During his first day on set, Clinton confessed that he hadn’t ever acted before. “Then, right after that he was like, ‘Yeah, and I don’t really know any of the dialogue in the movie,’” Steve recounted.
On the other hand, Buttress, the Jersey rapper whose character in the film goes to the Coat Hanger Clinic for an abortion, might’ve been a little too eager on set, especially during the scene where she gives herself a pregnancy test. “She tried to do it for real on take one,” Steve recalled. “I was like, no, it’s a movie, it’s a movie.”
Apparently even the director of Kuso has his limits. “I’ve had friends who’ll send me silly pictures—you know, like shitty pictures and disgusting, vomity things. And I’m like, ‘Dude, Kuso was a movie. This is not where I’m trying to live my entire life, it’s just a fucking movie,’ Don’t be sending me no asshole porn just cuz, okay?”
“Kuso” will have limited showings at Nitehawk and is streaming on Shudder starting July 21.