Stephen Romano’s JUILA STARCHILD: Nostalgia revisited
What?? WHO is JULIA STARCHILD???
You mean you’ve never heard of the most awesome space babe in the history of zero-budget drive-in sexploitation films? You haven’t experienced the sultry grin of that awesomely naughty bionic beauty with mystical super powers who jumped from one end of the universe to the other, baring it all and getting in mucho galactic trouble? You never even saw even ONE of her legendary films?? Well there’s a reason for that, kids.
Which brings me to the subject of nostalgia.
Nostalgia is a strange, beautiful and dangerous thing. Today, popular culture swims in it—though a little less than ten years ago, you hardly would have noticed. Things like Grindhouse Cinema, old TV shows and VHS obsessions—just to name a few of the more interesting touchstones—have become so hip and even mainstream that it’s sort of dialed popular culture into this really loopy infinity zone—where past, present and even the future collide head on. You hear it in music. You see it in fashion. Guys like us live it every day. The watchers on the wall of our time—the bloggers, the You Tubers, the Tweeters and Instagramers—they’ve all gone there too. And, of course, there’s always the anti-hipsters and the haters with all their smarmy oh-so-clever retro-gripes.
I find myself somewhere in the middle of all this. Because I am 46 years old, I was actually there during the Grindhouse age and the VHS age and I saw all those awful fashions with my own eyes. And I’m here to tell you that some of it was fun. But it was also painful to live through. It was a time of great shifting paradoxes and one-week carnivals. You knew that most everything around you was horrifyingly temporary.
Which brings me to Shock Festival.
A little under ten years ago, I channeled my love of Grindhouse stuff into the creation of a book that presented “100 of the strangest, sleaziest, most outrageous movies you’ve NEVER seen.” These films were all invented to facilitate a cautionary tale about the wonders and horrors of those times. To do this, I had to create over 600 pieces of “rare movie memorabilia” from nowhere and present them in the book as if they were real, historical artifacts. In simpler terms, it was book of fake movie posters, done in the styles of the 70s and 80s. In more complex terms, the story was the thing. The book was filled with just as many words as there were pictures. And many people just didn’t bother to read any of those words. I actually got into weeks-long fight with one of my best friends over wether or not I had made a “picture book” or written an “actual novel.” In case you are wondering, I won that argument. It was an actual novel, people. It told an epic behind-the-scenes story of those films. What those streets were like. Who those men and women actually were.
Still and all, I am proud to say that my book mostly pre-dated, and in fact was partially responsible, for the resurgence of that type of classy-cheesy artwork—and the proof is all around you today. It’s fucking everywhere now. People love this stuff.
But here’s the danger: Looking at the flash, without understanding the substance, makes you blind. It’s like declaring yourself a WWII expert by looking at all the pictures in a history book. To know why this stuff was truly important, you must look at little deeper. You must live in the story of it.
Which brings me to Julia Starchild.
Exactly one year ago, to the day, we started having some kick-ass fun here at the Dread headquarters with a wild series of all-new posters I created, based on classic and obscure genre films. I gave that entire series away for free, both here and at my website, and you can still check it all out in the archives. I spoke about why those films were important to me and gave you some cool retro artwork—which is “all the rage with the kids” these days. But what would I do for an encore?
This year, my encore is the epic tale of Julia, who was the center attraction of five films made between the years of 1975 and 1985. They were raunchy sex-in-outer-space fantasy films, a sort of low-budget cosmic Emmanuelle series, which predated Star Wars and yet eventually fell victim to George Lucas’s legendary success. Shamelessly flaunting elements of Barbarella and Luke Skywalker, Julia Starchild became a bizarrely enduring series for ten years, never truly ending until both its creator and star had tragically died. The epic behind-the-scenes tale of this amazing series now becomes the focus of my newest “online gallery” project, which features all new original posters for all five films, plus its “sister” movie, which was produced in the early 90s.
This is all free to you.
But this year, I wanted to do a little more than trot out some cool art and witty commentary. I wanted to really go deep into the “nostalgia.” Because I think it’s time to do that again. What was it really like to make those films? To live in those obsessions? To go to the ends of the earth, living in such a legendarily nostalgic period of time?
Over the next six weeks, I will share my answer with you. It begins today, starting with Julia’s first and probably most legendary outing—the eponymous Julia Starchild, made on a wing and a prayer between the years of 1972 and 1975. Pictured below is the original one-sheet poster of the film. By clicking the poster, you can get the full sized image, suitable for downloading. And by clicking Julia’s name below, you can jump to my website to read all about how the film was made. It’s a black and cautionary story. It is a journey through hell. But I promise that, in the end, it will be a journey you’ll be glad you took.
And, yes, this is a sequel of sorts to Shock Festival.
None of it its real.
But it is real, if you get my drift?
There is truth in nostalgia here, folks.
Come and see.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This poster is intended as FAN ART only and is designed to be shared, for free, for anyone who wants to own it for themselves. Download it, tell your friends, spread the galactic love! And CLICK HERE to jump to my website and read all about Julia!