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Poison Oaks

Submitted by MBergeron on September 25, 2011 – 2:30 pmNo Comment

Leon casino, Domy Books (next to the Brasil coffee shop and eatery at Dunlavy and Westheimer) regularly screen films on their patio. On the evening of September 27 Domo will show the short film Poison Oaks, made by San Antonio filmmaker Sid Deluca and Rusty Apache Studios.

Free Press Houston talked to Poison Oaks star and director Deluca about the project, which is a loose adaptation of Grey Gardens with men in drag playing the leads. Deluca plays Little Debbie and K. D. Kibbe plays Big Debbie.

“Poison Oaks is a locally produced short film - a true fictional dark comedy about an eccentric Alamo Heights mother and daughter living in a condemned house filled with garbage, cats, and broken dreams,” Deluca replied in an email. “It’s one part Grey Gardens and several parts John Waters, Andy Warhol, David Lynch, Russ Meyers and Federico Fellini, this black and white mockumentary set in the 1970’s features a multi-ethnic cast of highly talented San Antonio actors.”

The original 1976 Grey Gardens spawned a recent Broadway musical and pops up now and then in repertory screenings like another Maysles Brothers film from that era, Gimme Shelter. Only Grey Gardens has a kind of sarcasm compounded by the fact that it revolves around a couple of crazy cat ladies who were living in destitution in a faded mansion. Albert Maysles, speaking at a SXSW panel a few years ago noted that the house was so acrid with the smell of cat feces that it was at first almost impossible to remain inside for any length of time.

Deluca commented: “The ladies were far more dimensional and interesting than typical old women living in squalor. I think even if they had not been related to Jackie Kennedy they would’ve been fascinating. Today we have shows like Hoarders that are far more exploitative than Grey Gardens and far less entertaining. Both women had always longed for a show business career so in a strange way they finally got that.”

Deluca described the process of filming the half-hour production. “We began shooting began last summer and that had to be suspended due to the heat. The house was exactly as you see it. We didn’t uglify anything and of course we only had three cats as opposed to the Beales twenty or so.”

Poison Oaks presents a static atmosphere of opulence gone downhill. It seems everything in the frame has been frozen in time. Deluca adds: “We were lucky to already have the classic cars. Wardrobe of course was mostly thrift shop and whatever was around the house. I had read that the actual Little Edie once served Big Edie cat food and pretended it was pate so we threw that in. Did it look real? If so I won’t say anything more.”

The screening of Poison Oaks will begin with Houston musician Robin Kirby providing a musical opening act.

- Michael Bergeron

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