DCS: herschell gordon lewis

godfather of gore

I have a friend named Sherry who is a writer. Although, she has written a novel, she spent a good portion of her career as a marketing copy writer. Once, in an online conversation, she mentioned a book on marketing techniques by Herschell Gordon Lewis. I questioned her about the author. She said he had written a number of books on the subject of advertising and marketing and was regarded, within the industry, as a true authority.

“Herschell Gordon Lewis?,” I asked, “Really?”

You see, I am more familiar with the name of Herschell Gordon Lewis from his other line of work.

Lewis was a filmmaker, entering into a long collaboration with notorious producer David F. Friedman in the early 1960s. The duo churned out a series of soft-core exploitation films, such as Living VenusThe Adventures of Lucky Pierre and Boin-n-g!  The pair’s films were very successful because of a shoestring budget and their ability to skirt pornography laws. Their success allowed Lewis to explore a genre that he is credited with inventing — the “splatter” film. In 1963, Lewis and Friedman released Blood Feast, a gore-filled tale of a cannibalistic caterer who kills and feeds his prey to unsuspecting diners. The film’s 67 minute run time is amok with stabbings and hackings and general dismemberment, all served up in glorious, garish color. They followed the film up with two more, equally-sanguine entries Two Thousand Maniacs in 1964 and Color Me Blood Red in 1965. After the final release of the trilogy, Lewis and Friedman parted ways. Lewis however, continued to explore the genre, directing and writing such cult classics as A Taste of Blood and The Gore Gore Girls, earning himself the nickname “The Godfather of Gore.” Lewis supplemented his catalog with juvenile delinquent films and several children’s entries, as well.

Lewis taught college-level marketing classes and wrote marketing text books while simultaneously maintaining his film career. His students may or may not have been aware of his duality.

In the 70s, Lewis was convicted of fraud and served a brief prison sentence. He continued to write books on public relations, sales and promotion. He finally settled in Florida and founded Communicomp, a full-service direct marketing agency with clients throughout the world.

Lewis passed away earlier this week at the age of 90. A long career… make that two careers… as his legacy.



DCS: lou pearlman

Bye Bye Bye

Lou Pearlman wrote a business plan for a class project and soon put his theory into action. He started a helicopter taxi service in New York City, beginning with a single helicopter. He became interested in blimps and trained with a German businessman. He moved to Orlando, Florida and started an advertising business with blimps, securing Jorache as a major client. Soon, he represented MetLife, Sea World and McDonald’s, but after crashing three of his airships, his business folded.

Lou became interested in the music business by way of his first cousin, singer Art Garfunkel. Intrigued by the success of pop group New Kids on the Block, Lou founded TransContinental Records and  created the label’s first band, Backstreet Boys from a publicized talent search. The band became the best selling “boy band” of all time. Not satisfied, Lou created NSYNC, O-Town, LFO, Take 5 and others. Eventually, nearly every band on the label sued Lou in Federal Court for misrepresentation and fraud. Lou either lost or settled each suit.

He purchased an internet-based talent agencies and, using an array of false names, used a tactic called “photo mill,” in which agencies force models to shoot portfolios with photographers on their own payrolls. The business received numerous complaints of misrepresentation and was soon shut down.

In 2006, investigations discovered that Lou was behind a long-running Ponzi scheme that bilked numerous investors out of $300 million dollars. He used fake bank statements, a fake accounting firm and false FDIC documents to persuade people to back his fake company, Trans Continental Airlines Travel Services Inc. Lou was sentenced to 25 years in prison and his assets were liquidated at auction.

In 2016, Lou suffered a heart attack and died while in custody at the Federal Correctional Institution in Miami, Florida. He was 62.



DCS: cilla black

anyone who had a heart

Cilla White took a job as a hat check girl at Liverpool’s Cavern Club in hopes it would advance her chances at being a singer. She eventually got the chance to sing, performing with club regulars Rory Storm and the Hurricanes and other local bands. She also struck up a friendship with a group of guys who called themselves The Beatles.

The day after one of Cilla’s performances, a new publication called Mersey Beat reviewed the show, mistakenly calling her “Cilla Black.” She decided to keep it as her stage name. She was soon signed by Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein as the only female in his roster of singers. Her second single, “Anyone Who Had a Heart,” went to Number 1 on the British charts. She released more songs, including a few Lennon and McCartney compositions. All were successful. She soon joined the ranks of Petula Clark and Dusty Springfield.

She was very successful in her native England. She was the only artist to have a hit with the song “Alfie” (from the film of the same name) in the United Kingdom. She had her own television show, simply called “Cilla.”  She also appeared in a series of comedy plays on independent British television. In 2013, she was honored for fifty years in show business with a special called “The One and Only Cilla Black.” Her United States exposure, however, was limited to a few appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show and a smattering of other variety shows.

With failing eyesight and long suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, 72-year old Cilla fell in her home in Spain. She was not discovered for hours and suffered a stroke as a result of the fall. She passed away without regaining consciousness.

Just after her funeral, The Very Best of Cilla Black was released in the United Kingdom. It became Cilla’s first Number One album.