Thursday, April 2, 2009

Why is Forrest J Ackerman so Cool?


by Ian Johnston

So why is Uncle Forry so cool? Why should we care about Forrest J Ackerman?

Well, there’s the obvious answer – he’s the first fan of scifi, the “original geek” as I wrote in our documentary. He coined “scifi”, he collected all this great stuff, he inspired a generation of film-makers….blah blah blah…

You know, that’s all true. But it’s not why I was in awe around him. It was his stories. His life, as it was. He was truly the Kevin Bacon of all time. That’s a joke of course. Bacon couldn’t carry Forry’s scifi jockstrap.

I’m talking about the Kevin Bacon game. Being with Forry was a one-degree separation from the biggest stars of past generations. Icons. Legends.

He was one degree of separation from the golden age of…well….everything. When he put the Dracula “whammy” on you, you knew that you were getting one-degree of separation from the original vampire, who Forry not only met, but hung out with.

He got into an argument in letters with HP Lovecraft. One degree. He shook the hand of H.G. Wells. One degree. He knew Karloff. Lugosi. Chaney Junior. Fritz Lang. Arthur Conan Doyle. Marlene Dietrich. Al Jolson. Cary Grant. Sammy Davis Junior.

He knew L Ron Hubbard and what a dick he was. He knew Ed Wood and what a drunk he was. One degree.

He worked backstage at the Oscars when Gone With The Wind won big…

We lost all that when he died. But I figure, in a little way, I can do a two-degree that’s not as good, but pretty cool nonetheless. As director Mike Macdonald observed at our Egyptian screening, when me and Mike put the Dracula whammy on you, that’s only two degrees from Lugosi. Consider yourself blessed. Well, by the undead, but blessed nonetheless.

Of course, the biggest treat was Forry's Lincoln chair, which he kept in his bedroom in his final days.

His grandfather took photos of Abraham Lincoln in that chair. Abraham fucking Lincoln, can you believe it?

In our last interview with Forrest Ackerman, he wasn’t all that healthy. But once he saw our red-headed producer Holly, he woke up and began leading her about the mini-Ackermansion, including his red-walled bedroom, which was a bit more “adult” than the rest of his house, covered as it was in scifi pics of semi-nude ladies and female stars (Monroe, Dietrich). He loved the ladies and was an incredible flirt till the end. And he was one of those kid-like flirts who could get away with saying almost anything to girls. Oh, he’s so cute…

Anyway, at one moment, I was standing in his bedroom by the Lincoln chair, which I remember having red velvet lining, very ornate, dark wood, but simple in a way.

The chair was covered in video tapes Forry had been watching. With no one around suddenly, I figured – this is my moment. I removed the tapes and, with all the reverence I could muster, I sat my ass on that chair. Two seconds.

Forry. His grandfather. Lincoln Three degrees of separation? Or is it two? No matter. My butt cheeks shared space with Lincoln.

That’s why Forry was cool….

1 comment:

  1. Michael,
    I concur! I have been a visitor many many times to both the Ackermansions, have been Whammy'd (that's my word, but I will license) by Forry and have stayed Whammy'd. Plus, I have had the great opportunity to rest my posterior upon the Lincoln chair, and I remember clearly saying, "WoW, Lincoln".

    I knew Forry was cool before I knew what "cool" really was. I got my first issue of FM in 1960, issue #7, and I do believe my first words upon opening that life changing document were "this is so cool!"
    I truly do feel a connection to all the great Horror stars and the truly great SCI FI writers because of Forry. Over the years I have been mocked and ridiculed for my unhealthy interest in all things monstrous, but I like Forry would not have it any other way.

    I have not been able to obtain a copy of the DVD yet, but seeing as we are brothers by only one degree send one as a gift for your brother.

    Thanks for making sure Forry is remembered.
    Donald Bowman