Andrew Divoff Talks Djinn HellaBrew, Rock and Shock, and Raising Money for Smile Train
Best known to the horror community for his legendary portrayal of the Djinn in the Wishmaster series, Andrew Divoff has made a great career playing baddies. But this weekend at Rock and Shock in Worcester, Massachusetts, Divoff will show his true side and what a great guy he really is.
At the Rock and Shock convention, kicking off TODAY, Andrew Divoff will unveil the “Djinn HellaBrew,” a concoction brought to life by professional brewer Adam Draeger and featuring artwork by Raun Crawford. Divoff will be bartending at the Rock and Shock after-party himself, slinging the HellaBrew and raising money for his charity, Smile Train.
So the obvious first question that comes to mind is how did Divoff get into creating beer. We asked, and he let us in on the genesis of the Djinn HellaBrew. “I was doing a show called Wine and Whey. Artist Raun Crawford reached out to me and said, ‘I love your work, and I’m a big fan. We’re doing a show, and we’d love to have you out here,'” Divoff said. “Some local winers bottled a special vintage called Djinn’s Malbec, and they sent me a couple of etched glasses. And Raun did his homework. I’m impressed by good artwork, and he had me at the artwork. So he said, ‘We’re having a little show out here and it benefits Scares that Care.’ So I said, ‘Yeah, fly me out. Put me up. I’m all over it.’ And when I was out there, this brewer, Adam Draeger, and Raun and I were talking, and he said the Djinn should have a beer of his own. And I laughed and said, ‘That’s cute; that’s funny,’ but I was intrigued and I had this sort of recipe rumbling around in my mind for a while.”
And this recipe Divoff had been thinking of isn’t just for your average run of the mill beer. It’s got some kick! “I do a concoction called hot beer,” Divoff said. “Sometimes, with a Stella, I’ll put in some Picante Clamato, hot chili paste, horseradish. It’s sort of a margarita special recipe of my pop’s that I put in beer with capers. I’ve got to tell you, at the end of a hard day, it’s cool to sit out on the porch, watch the sunset, and have a hot beer.”
Divoff used this hot beer idea to inspire the Djinn HellaBrew. “I translated it and pared down the recipe to essentially habanero peppers and Persian lime,” Divoff said. “Persian, of course, because the Djinn is a Persian malevolent deity. I’m curious as hell myself to see what it tastes like.”
And as of press time, it was still a mystery as to what the HellaBrew tasted like as no one has gotten a chance to sample some… and live to tell about it. “Adam told me he whiffed the mash and said it smelled like Fruit Loops, which he said was a very good indication,” Divoff said. “I’m hoping it’s a kick-ass brew. No one’s tested it yet; we’re just a couple days away from Worcester. I’m a little antsy. I sent out the alarms, and said, ‘What the fuck does it taste like? I need to know!'”
Although the taste (which promises to be insane with ingredients like habanero peppers and Persian lime) is still unreported, other aspects of the brew have surfaced. “The alcohol content worked out to be about 8.5, which is right in that Belgian ale window,” Divoff said. “I think Duvel is 8.9 so I’m really excited. Adam Draeger brews for a restaurant chain called Yak and Yeti just outside Denver in Arvada. I think he brews 10 brews just for the Yak and Yeti menu. So if you’re ever out in Arvada, check out Yak and Yeti and Adam’s beers.”
Draeger, working in Colorado, brewed Divoff’s beer there, about 2,000 miles away from the Rock and Shock convention. This led to a bit of a conundrum. The beer is here… how do we get it there? How do you get a small batch of beer from Colorado to Worcester? You call Raun Crawford, that’s what you do! “They can’t ship out to Worcester,” Divoff said. “Boston wouldn’t let us fly it in. We couldn’t mail it, we couldn’t send bottles, so literally, Raun Crawford, (whose art is displayed on my Facebook page, he’s an amazing artist and he’s the one that introduced me to Adam Draeger) has taken it upon himself to drive it out. So he’s driving two kegs. I guess Massachusetts has a very strong lobby as far as beer goes. God knows they have great beer out there; I guess they don’t want any more.”
The charity that inspired this fantastic horror-themed beer is Smile Train, an organization near and dear to the heart of Divoff. “My charity is Smile Train,” Divoff said. “I’ve been involved with them for quite a while. I was in the third season of ‘Lost’ and played a character named Mikhail Bakunin, who was named after a 19th century Russian anarchist. While I was over there, I had an abrasion on my face that was getting worse and worse. I took a break and had it checked out, and, as it turned out, it was cancerous. I did a biopsy, and it was basal cell carcinoma, which is a very mild form of skin cancer. I did my homework on who would be able to take care of it and I found this one guy out in Detroit, Ian Jackson. I decided to go out there alone, and he said, ‘Yes, we can do it,’ and I said, ‘Will you accept my insurance?’ I didn’t understand at the time what a big deal it was that he would agree to do the operation. Come to find out, my SAG insurance only covered about a fifth of it. It was an ungodly expensive operation. So I turned around and said I wanted to donate to his project, which is the Providence Medical Center, and he said, ‘You know, we’re doing fine here. Would you consider donating to Smile Train?’ This was in 2007. Ever since then I’ve been a sponsor of them, and they’re my heroes. Not because of what the doctor did for me, for what they do for others. They go around the world and do cleft palate operations pro bono.”
Divoff explained just why he feels so strongly for Smile Train and the charitable work they do. “A few years ago I looked through some old pictures of me growing up as a kid, and I couldn’t find any of them with a smile,” Divoff said. “There was this very stern, very serious little kid, and I’m thinking, ‘What the fuck, dude?’ Even at the playground I’m looking at the camera with some of the eyes that I give now as the ‘quote-unquote’ bad guy.”
He continued, “I do remember smiling; it’s not to say I didn’t,” Divoff said, “but I think, as a child, one of the most freeing things is to be able to smile. For a while I had a serious case of acne so I was a very introverted kid and I didn’t smile a whole lot. I couldn’t even imagine these kids with the cleft palate, what an obstacle that is for them and to all of a sudden have all that change and be able to smile. What a freeing thing that is for a kid, and it’s just an assurance a kid has. Everything with children, their power, their currency, their wealth is in being able to smile in public, amongst their peers. So this made a very deep impression on me.
“The fact that they help children and change their lives and hopefully put them in a place where they can make a difference in the world, even offering a smile to someone who’s had a shitty day,” Divoff said. “For me it all starts with a smile and it’s a great philosophy to have. I thought, what a beautiful thing to be able to change a little kid’s life so simply, by letting them take the chance and enjoy the freedom of smiling.”
Those who grab themselves a Djinn HellaBrew at Rock and Shock will be served by Divoff himself, who will be behind the bar for the event. “I will be bartending myself,” Divoff said. “I got this thing in my head that I had to be an 1890’s bartender for this. So I got my outfit, it’s all good to go. It’s very authentic. I got my vest, I got my civvy pants, my tie, my suspenders. I’m really excited.”
And this year’s event, Rock and Shock 2014, will mark the return of Andrew Divoff, the man who chilled us all, asking hapless victims to “Make your wiiiish.” And in visiting, he’s hoping to make the wishes and dreams of young children come true. “It’s been a long time,” Divoff said. “Last time was great. Gina Migliozzi and the organizational team are so approachable and so capable. It always comes off so positively. It’s a success. It is, in fact, my favorite show. It is a show where I will break out of my reclusivity to attend so I’m very excited about it.”
Be sure to visit the official Andrew Divoff Facebook page and check out some great videos from Andrew and one from brewer Adam Draeger as well, talking all about the Djinn HellaBrew, Smile Train, and Rock and Shock! Dig it!