M is for Michael Weldon!
I found a copy of the Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film in my favorite bookstore while in college. I loved that book, because in those days before the internet it was an invaluable resource for anyone who watched weird or obscure old movies. The author, Michael Weldon, had apparently started a fanzine in the 70’s called Psychotronic. He got that word from an little known 60’s flick called The Psychotronic Man. Weldon mimeographed copies and sent it to all his friends.
Born in Cleveland – Weldon spent some time as the drummer for the rock group Mirrors – and had moved to New York in the early 70’s. He’d had a fascination with the wild and crazy movies that local stations would air in the wee hours – and started writing about them. He also had a love for music and it was also featured in the early iteration of Psychotronic. Eventually he compiled all of his feature film reviews (though they didn’t always pass judgment on the film in question – but not sure what else to call them) into the trade paperback Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film. The book’s success prompted a rebirth of the old Psychotronic fanzine as a quarterly magazine – which I discovered in my local comic book shop one day – although it was not the first issue.
I started picking it up regularly. The magazine edition was very cool – an editorial, letters, movie reviews, columns from other writers on music and movies and video releases, a column featuring celebrities holding a copy of the magazine, and an obituary feature called Never to Be Forgotten that was a truly wonderful remembrance of those who had passed on from the world of pop culture. Mr. Weldon has an interesting viewpoint on movies, music, and pop culture, and a great memory for the facts and details of his interests.
After I moved to Wilmington NC in 1992 - I was trying to get any number of careers going. I tracked down Michael Weldon's phone number and called him - looking to try my hand at writing for Psychotronic Magazine. I knew my best bet would be to get a celebrity interview - so when an actor I knew would be of interest would come to town - I'd pitch the interview to Mr. Weldon. I tried for John Glover - a film bad guy now best known as Lionel Luther from Smallville - but I couldn't get the interview set up. I tried for Bibi Besch - best known as Captain Kirk's baby momma from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - but she left town before I could get her onboard with it.
Then, a lightning bolt of luck hit me square in the forehead - the incredible Brion James - Leon from Blade Runner and scads of other movies - was not only coming to town for a lengthy run in the George Lucas-produced Radioland Murders - but as a graduate of a twelve step rehab program - one of which is to talk to people about the problems you had with booze and drugs - his people were actively looking for interviews in the locations he went to. Their only stipulation - you had to feature Mr. James' thoughts on his experience giving up drugs and booze.
Done and done!
I conducted that interview with Brion James in his beachside condo one Saturday morning. I said something like "Tape is running" - and I'm not sure I said another word across three cassettes - you couldn't ask for a better subject. It went well - though I gotta tell you that transcribing the cassette tape seemed to take FOREVER!
But that interview got finished and appeared in the next published issue of Psychotronic Magazine! I had my name in print - plus I got a lifetime subscription to the magazine, as well as several copies of the issue my interview appeared in. (I'm also proud that on the not often maintained Psychotronic Video website - my Brion James interview was one of only a few from the magazine to be published on the website.)
I went on to get interviews with Dean Stockwell (Quantum Leap), Maxwell Caulfield (Grease 2), and Dan Roebuck (Lost) for the magazine, as well as celebrity photos holding the magazine - Edward Woodward (The Wicker Man), Dan Roebuck, Joshua Jackson (Fringe), Miguel Ferrer (Robocop), Michelle Williams (Oz the Great and Powerful).
During this time Mr. Weldon published a second book - a sequel to the Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film called The Psychotronic Video Guide. I opened it up in the bookstore soon after its publication - and guess who got Special Thanked up front in the book - that's right - ME! (Along with all of the magazine's contributors over the years). I was over the moon at this honor!
Eventually, publishing a magazine like Psychotronic Video - with its niche audience - was no longer financially viable - so it folded. I lost touch with Mr. Weldon for several years, but eventually caught up with him thanks to social networking - discovering he was running a Psychotronic record and movie shop and doing a Psychotronic radio show from Chincoteague Island in Virginia - a move he'd made in the late 90's to avoid Y2K, believe it or not. I called the request line one night during the show and we had a nice chat. After that I listened to his show most Friday nights on the interweb - his playlist was just as eclectic as his taste in movies, thank goodness!
|The second iteration of the Psychotronic store, Chincoteague Island, Va.|
The original store was in New York City.
After a couple of years - Mr. Weldon moved again - this time to Augusta Georgia. Again, it took him a little time - but he recently launched the third iteration of the Psychotronic Store - and he took to the airwaves again - another Friday night radio show, this time on Rock 95 in Augusta.
|Michael and Mia Weldon in the Augusta Georgia Psychotronic store.|
If you can get ahold of any of the old issues of Psychotronic Video magazine - I highly recommend grabbing them up. The same goes for copies of the two books - which are out of print. If you can't track down any of that - then hop on the internet the next Friday you can - go to www.95rock.com - and listen to his show streaming live - and if you call to request something - tell Mr. Weldon his old pal Craig in Wilmington NC sent you!
"N" that will do it for this one - but the next one is only a day away - and until then, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!