Wading in Filth: An Interview with Robin Bougie
By: J.R. McNamara on November 21, 2014 | Comments

I have to admit, I am a massive fan of this man whom I recently had an opportunity to interview. As a lowly film journalist for a few websites, a person like me can only aspire to having the tenacity to self-publish in the manner Robin Bougie has. A cartoonist and film buff, his magazine Cinema Sewer, and it's collected editions of the same name, are a tribute to the fanzines of old, and combine his abilities of writing and art, both of which are of a very high standard. These two talents come together to make every page of Cinema Sewer not just a great read, but a treat to the eye. I hear you cry "But many people over time have done that sort of thing, what makes this 'Robin' so special?" Well, what makes him special is the subject matter: this man enjoys a healthy relationship with pornography, either soft or hard: the core is never a subject of contention.

J.R: Thank you for your time, Robin.

Robin Bougie: You're welcome.

J.R: How did you get your interest in movies?

Robin Bougie: Hmmm. I'm not really sure. I guess when you're a little kid you watch TV because that's the very first thing you have access to, and then at some point you realize that there are these fancy shows that last two hours and they're better than regular TV shows, and then realize that they originally aired in movie theaters. Next thing you know, you're going to movie theaters, and you either get interested in doing that a lot as an interest, or you don't. I did. And I didn't have a VCR until I was in my late teens, so movies on TV and in theaters was really my bread and butter as a tot.

J.R: How did this lead to an interest in pornography?

Robin Bougie: I've written about that a little in Cinema Sewer. How certain key experiences made me realize I had a real hunger for sleazy entertainment filled with heavy doses of sex, violence, and hardcore material. One such experience was seeing an episode of Miami Vice called "Little Miss Dangerous" back in the 1980s when I was in Junior High, where an underage prostitute/stripper murders her johns, and Tubbs falls in love with her, which culminates in him almost getting murdered. It was like a slightly toned down exploitation film, when you really think about it. Miami Vice was the first show to cost a million bucks an episode, which was more than many movies cost back then, so if they had some nudity and a longer run time it could have been easily confused for a drive-in movie of the era. And yet there I was, a little kid, watching it, and it made a big influence.

But if you want to know what my gateway drug for vintage hardcore porn in particular was, I've got to say it was a Hollywood movie: 1998's Boogie Nights. Before that, I knew who maybe 10 porn stars were, and had an interest in what they did, but it wasn't any sort of voracious appetite for smut, or anything. Boogie Nights, while not historically accurate by any means, is a fucking amazing movie - maybe the best movie made in 1997 over all - and it has something about it that has diverted a lot of people into taking up an active interest in the history of classic smut. I'm one of them. 

J.R: Do you think pornography should be taken seriously as an art form?

Robin Bougie: It is taken seriously. By me, anyway. By people who matter. Enough people take it seriously for me to have a career writing books about it, so that's good enough for me. Mainstream success and respect isn't really my problem, you know? That's not something I have control over. I'm not out to change anyone's minds, I'm just leading by example, and trying to do good work as a historian, artist, writer, and pornographer. To tell the stories that need to be told, and do work that is true and honest to myself and my interests.

J.R: How did Cinema Sewer come about?

Robin Bougie: I started out doing zines in 1991, self published comics. I did hundreds of pages of comics (I still do one, a series called Sleazy Slice, that comes out every Feb), and finally in 1997 I wanted to do something other than comics. I looked around at other movie zines in particular, and saw that no one was using the aesthetic of comics to write about movies, and that seemed odd to me. Movies and comics are both visual mediums, so it seemed like a perfect fit. Now, not all of Cinema Sewer is comics, because comics are insanely time consuming to do, so I do as many as I can, and then also do lots of writing, illustrations and comic style hand lettering to keep that aesthetic firmly in peoples minds when they read it. It's meant to look like a single individual made this magazine, not a corporation.

Cinema Sewer #27

J.R: Where would you say your artistic influences come about?

Robin Bougie: Three places: Underground comics from the 1970s and 1980s. Guys like Rand Holmes, Robert Crumb, Colin Upton, Greg Irons, and Dan Clowes. Men's Adventure magazines from the 1960s and 70s: Norm Saunders, Norm Eastman, Earl Norem, Charles Copeland, Robert McGinnis. And the third is sorta corny, but from my wife, Rebecca Dart, whom I've been with since I was 17. She's a professional animator, and has worked on My Little Pony, Pucca, Ned's Newt, Mission Hill, and dozens of other shows. She's the best artist I've ever known personally, and she's right there anytime I need pointers. She's been the biggest influence on me.

J.R: Which is more important to you: movies or cartooning?

Robin Bougie: Comics is where I'm the one making the fantasy and inviting people to come into my brain and check out this amazing fiction that I've invented. That's amazing. It's a creative outlet. And then watching and writing about movies is more like a thing where I'm being entertained, and telling everyone about how cool that was. It's more of a journalistic pursuit, which is just as valid mind you, but different. I was 7 years old when John Lennon died. I remember it like it was yesterday, though. It was the very first time that I ever took an interest in current events. My mom bought a handful of newspapers and magazines in the days after this startling event, and I remember laying all of the articles about his death out on the floor, and pouring over them. I read and reread the details, and compared the information as I pretended I was a detective trying to solve his murder. It didn't matter that Chapman had been apprehended at the scene of the killing. Kids don't let things like reality get in the way of imagination. I remember that my mom walked by and took note of the fact that I was focusing a lot of my attention on the task at hand, and informed me that I was doing "research", which pleased me greatly. I didn't even know what that was or how to go about it, but the idea that it was a grown up pursuit and I was taking part in it made me beam with pride. Without a doubt that was the beginning of my obsession with non-fiction writing and reading – an interest that begat the many autobio comics I drew, the zines I published, and the creation of Cinema Sewer. I was reading at a grade 12 level by grade 5.

J.R: Your new book, Graphic Thrills is fantastic, can you tell us a bit about it?

Robin Bougie: Yeah, it's all about the history of adult movies made in America from 1970 to 1985, and the story is mostly told via the poster art and via all of the interviews and facts that I've dug up over the years. I also review the movies, but for the most part what you've got here is a really elaborate oversized full color coffee table book about the amazing posters that hung in the lobbies of adult movie theaters. Beautiful hand painted art, and some really terrific work that deserves the fancy art book treatment. 

Graphic Thrills

J.R: Where did the idea come from?

Robin Bougie: Well, it's funny. I came up with the idea years ago and shopped it around to several publishers who told me it wasn't worth doing. I figured they knew better than I did, so I didn't pursue it any further and went on to work on other things. Then, years later, Harvey Fenton, my publisher FAB Press, that does the Cinema Sewer books, came to me with the exact same idea and pitched it to me as a possible project. Imagine my surprise! So really, it was their idea to do the book you see before you, but I was certainly on board since I had given it quite a bit of thought in the years prior. 

J.R: Do you think you have enough material for a volume 2?

Robin Bougie: I know for a fact that I do, because it's already written, and I've gotten all the posters together for it. All we need to do now is get all the posters to the UK to be scanned in a large flatbed scanner by FAB, and then restore the images so they look all nice and crisp. I'm pushing to get the Graphic Thrills book 2 done for July 2015, but we'll see. There always seems to be setbacks and delays that are out of anyone's hands. That's the publishing industry for you.

J.R: How easy is it to come by porno film movie posters?

Robin Bougie: Fairly easy, thanks to sites like EBAY on the internet and also other collectors Harvey Fenton and I know letting us use their collections.

J.R: So what is your favourite mainstream movie?

Robin Bougie: I don't have one. I can tell you what my fave film is from each genre and subgenre, but I think it's sort of stupid to have a favorite overall movie. What makes my fave drama better than my fave comedy? It's apples and oranges. 

J.R: What is your favourite porn movie?

Robin Bougie: The Taming of Rebecca (1982).

J.R: I know you collect a lot of magazines as well, ever any chance of a 'porn movie mags' styled book like Graphic thrills?

Robin Bougie: I would really really love to do that. I've mentioned the idea to FAB and they didn't seem too hot on it, but I'll keep working on them over the years, and see if I can't wear them down! haha It would be an incredible book. I've been amassing quite an incredible collection. I've got a small room in my place filled with obscure vintage adult magazines, focusing on a variety of kinks and interests. Dian Hanson already did her great 4 volume History of Men's Magazines, but I think there really is a lot of room there for a book done in the Cinema Sewer or Graphic Thrills style. I have a lot to say, and there is a lot of history left to unearth about these magazines and the people who made them.

J.R: I know I would buy that book!!! Thank you for your time.

Robin's four volumes of Cinema Sewer and Graphic Thrills are all available from cinemasewer.ecrater.com or from wherever decent filth is sold.

Cinema Sewer Volume 4

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