Love Her Or Hate Her, LA's Uncontainable Karen Centerfold is the Engaging Subject of New Documentary

Posted by Billyjam, September 21, 2011 12:00pm | Post a Comment
Folks outside of the LA rock scene may not know the individual that is Karen Centerfold. But that should all change with the release of the documentary Centerfold Centerfold.
The subject of this forthcoming documentary is the unique, uncontainable, enigmatic Hollywood/LA rock scene fixture Karen Centerfold - known mainly for her presence on LA cable public access TV and at local rock shows (in addition to political activist, adult model, and office worker).

"If you spent any time at weird rock and roll shows in LA you probably have a Karen Centerfold story. As for me she always insisted on introducing one of my bands everytime we played.  She would then always get the name wrong and spend most of the show smacking us on the ass.," my friend Brandon Perry (aka WFMU DJ Marty McSorley & fka KXLU DJ Paula Poundstone) from the defunct band Explogasm [mispronounced "Explorgasm"] recently told me. Perry continued that the "gender-bending destroyed puzzle of a human that only LA could create" is exactly as she appears in the documentary trailer below and that she typically will  "show up, be loud, sometimes try to take over shows, and just try to cause a scene in general!". The film is directed by Eckse, with production and editing duties handled by Xenia Shin, Angie Meng, and Margot Padilla.  Responsible for the film is longtime LA underground promoter Sean Carnage - the documentary's executive producer. This week I caught up with Sean Carnage to ask him about himself, his film, and of course its colorful subject. That interview follows the trailer for the film below.


Amoeblog: First up can you tell the Amoeblog readers a little about yourself and your role in the local LA rock scene?

Sean Carnage: I promote a new music concert series every Monday night at Pehrspace. Your readers are cordially invited, of course. I've been producing these nights since 2005. Some things that people love about my shows are the diverse bills which feature bands you've never heard of or bands that don't seem like they fit together but end up blowing people's minds, and the unusual characters who support the events - like Karen Centerfold. In addition to promoting the Pehr Mondays, I have also been documenting the L.A. scene through movies like 40 Bands/80 Minutes! which shows where and how Nosajthing, EMA, Abe Vigoda, Health, No Age, the members of Mika Miko, etc. got their starts, and now short videos. My video about  Ronnie James Dio's funeral is currently going viral adding 1,000 views/day.

Amoeblog: How did you first become interested in Karen Centerfold as subject matter for a full documentary?

Sean Carnage: I met Karen in 2002 and I hated her right off the bat. Then I loved her and never stopped. I suppose I have become one of her big defenders. A lot of what she does is indefensible—like pressuring pretty girls to be in pornos (which do not exist), and I can't really stick up for that. But as I've gotten to know her, I've learned that Karen is a really sweet, almost girlishly innocent woman. Hard to believe I know! She takes a lot of shit from people—especially young guys—so many probably never see this side of her. Karen also has amazing ears for great rock 'n roll. When you see her outside a club, you can bet there is some action there and the band is hot!

One thing I hope is clear here is that my good friend Eckse is the director of this documentary and deserves all the credit. I have tried to record Karen - like in 40 Bands/80 Minutes! - but, man, is it ever
frustrating. So I jumped for joy when Eckse, who has also been on the scene for years and knows what's up, stepped forward last March and totally executed this production. With an all-female crew no less! So that made me feel like we would finally get to see that other, childlike-and-pure side of Karen. And I think that is evident in the trailer. Eckse, videographer/editor Angie Meng, and boom operator Margot Padilla really captured that.

Amoeblog: The official release for the film poses the questions on the documentary's subject: Rocker or stalker? Glamazon or hanger-on? It seems from the trailer and things I've heard that she's a bit of each. Is she?

Sean Carnage: Well, let's just say that I have never met anyone in L.A. who stirs up as much antipathy as Karen. There have been "I Hate Karen Centerfold" online clubs on Myspace and Facebook - pretty huge
membership in both places. I have had my sound-man refuse to work when she enters the club. No sound is a big problem when you are trying to host a concert!  I once had my Monday regulars boycott a show until I promised to get rid of Karen. I told them I would if I could, I guess, but can you really do anything to change Karen's mind once it's made up? I mean, really?! This woman is 7 foot tall. She's used to getting her way.

Amoeblog: Approximately how much of the documentary is drawn from older found material (clubs and her TV show etc) and how much is new interviews and content?

Sean Carnage: I would say that 90% is brand new and was created just for this documentary. We got Karen everything she wanted too: a British interviewer, a filming session at the Beverly Hills Hotel, we rented a top of the line Mercedes convertible. We visited the Key Club and all those iconic Karen
Centerfold Sunset Strip haunts.

Amoeblog: Who are some of the other people featured in your documentary?

Sean Carnage: Karen Centerfold associates like the Germs' Don Bolles, Fancy Space People's Nora
Keyes who was once in a band with Karen, myself, all of her music scene fans and haters. Lots of surprises. One funny thing was when the haters were talking, Karen was off-camera—this is so
Karen—gesticulating wildly and attempting to bully/force people to say nice things. She's very concerned about her image.

Amoeblog: What unexpected things did you guys uncover in the making of the documentary?

Sean Carnage: Oh what Eckse uncovered shocked even me; a long time Karen Centerfold confidant and fan. But I have to leave some surprises for the premiere, right? Let's just say that all these guesses about who or what Karen Centerfold is are wrong.

Amoeblog: Our mutual friend Brandon Perry says that only the LA scene could create such a unique character as Karen Centerfold. Do you agree?

Sean Carnage: Brandon would know! Karen used to harass Brandon's group Explogasm - especially KXLU's Fred Kiko who [host of Friday's Demolisten radio show] who did projections. One of Karen's things is that she is a true rock 'n roll classicist. So she tends to ridicule groups like Brandon's that are non-traditional. Explogasm was like a rap/electro Gwar. She will bust into the venue and say really loudly, "THESE BANDS ARE TRASH, SEAN!  BOOK SOME REAL ROCK 'N ROLL!" But then she can't leave. She loves spectacle: giving, receiving, stirring it up...that's our Karen.

Amoeblog: When will the film be out or how/when can people view it?

Sean Carnage:
Between you and I and your readers, this has not been an easy project to produce. Karen Centerfold is by definition uncontainable. She doesn't know limits or boundaries and she is fabulous 24/7. Like for real. Drag queens can eat shit—Karen is way more intense. So my hope is that people will let Eckse know what a terrific job she's done so far, and support her continuing with the post-production. And then by early next year—fingers crossed—we will be announcing a premiere date. (Angie Meng is an ace editor and publisher and she also contributed to making Eckse's vision a reality and deserves big props.)

Amoeblog: Anything to add?

Sean Carnage:
I'd love to hear about your LA readers' crazy Karen encounters, and see any video
you might have. Please EMAIL ME at [email protected].

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Los Angeles (205), Kxlu (3), Sean Carnage (1), Hollywood (86), La Rock Scene (1), 40 Bands / 80 Minutes! (1), Karen Centerfold (1)