On June 5, 2010, Spencerport, NY was introduced to The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia. I called up my buddies from high and low places with hopes of a large attendance. The turnout was beyond lovely, with even my grade school pal Shia Labeouf showing up! (Shia isn't in any pictures because he refused, with the excuse that his Fraggle Rock shirt was too childish).
As people came to view this tap-dancing hoot of a documentary, sporty Wild Whites t-shirts were spread throughout the crowd. Snag them up and spread the word of Jesco White! Among the big shot names in the audience was the one and only Johnny Knoxville mannequin. The Knoxville mannequin showed up ready for the film with a Willie Nelson spring water, ice cold and fresh. This was his second premier for a film produced by Mr. Knoxville and Mr. Tremaine, for he attended this year’s Birth of Big Air NYC Tribeca screening in April. (Check out the Tribeca website, where you can see a glimpse of me sporting a Mat Hoffman custom jacket and the Knoxville mannequin standing behind me!)
A few decorations stood out in the atmosphere of the screening: the most popular was that of the Jackass Action Figure collection. The Jackass Action Figure collection is a series of ongoing rare toys that were featured on the late yet great Jackassworld.com. These action figures are truly a rare find; as far as I know, Mr. Knoxville has most of them in his LA mansion. I hear the Toys R Us in NYC carries them every once in a while. The Jackass Action Figures at this premier consisted of the four main "handsome" men who brought you the Whites documentary (Johnny Knoxville, Julien Nitzberg, Jeff Tremaine and Storm Taylor).
As the film ran, we all grew more and more attached to Mr. Jesco White. Buddies of mine all want to meet this famous character. Hopefully one day we'll cross paths; hopefully that day he'll be Elvis and not Manson! Thank you to Mr. Nitzberg for the screening—we all appreciate it greatly! As for me, come June 25 I'll be attending the LA premier holding hands with the Knoxville mannequin!
Till then, Fight, Fuck, and Punch!
--Nate Merritt, Spencerport, NY
Variety reviewed the film on their soundcheck blog.
"There's enough unguarded and utterly lunatic behavior in "The Wild and Wonderful Whites" to fuel a lifetime of reality TV seasons. Drinking, gas-huffing, drug dealing and drug-taking (and rehab), brawling, infidelity, armed robbery, attempted murder, incarceration and parole -- it's all here. The Whites make Faulkner's Snopeses look like the Royal Family. The action is played out against a soundtrack of classic country, punk, thrash and an original score by roots guitar flash Deke Dickerson.
Beyond its mind-boggling storyline and unhinged music, the picture has a point to make. Nitzberg successfully places the Whites' outrageous way of life in the context of the fatalistic coal country culture; in April, 29 miners were killed in a Boone County mine explosion, the worst U.S. catastrophe in four decades.
Add this remarkable movie to your must-see list."
The Louisville Courier-Journal files a report after screenings in Kentucky.
The influential Very Short List gave our movie a rave review. Check it out.
A review from the Blount County home of Whites producer Storm Taylor. Read it here.
A few weeks ago we blogged a Jesco tattoo we found on the internet.
Director Julien Nitzberg guessed there was a story behind the tattoo and asked Shannon to tell it to us. She sent back the following tale:
I love anyone who tap dances! Anyone who knows me, knows that I will tap dance around my studio, in a store, at home ...or where ever...don't really know what the obsession is other than I just have "happy feet".
About 10 years ago my step-sister introduced me to Jesco and Family via the film "Dancing Outlaw". We watched a really bad copy of a copy, but I watched in awe! I was totally ecstatic about this "tap-dancing outlaw"! The following week I tried finding a copy of this film and didn't have a whole lot of luck. Many places were out of stock or told me it was out of print. I finally contacted a place that said they had a copy....it was like $30...in all honesty a little more than I wanted to spend but bought it anyway! Well, that same day I ordered the film I received a phone call from the distributor telling me they were sorry for the miss communication, and that they no longer sold that film for it was out of print. Super bummed I went about my day, thinking that I would have to dig a little deeper to find a copy! That next day I went to work, came home and on my door step was a package from this distributor....with the "Dancing Outlaw" VHS inside! What the fuck? I still don't get how I got a copy of this film...call it the magical tap dancing gods that wanted me to have it (at least that's what I like to think). So for the past 10 years I have held on to this film with all my might...I even made a copy of the VHS and I don't watch the original copy, just in case it got messed up.
I have shown this film over and over to friends....some of them love it, and some of them absolutely hate it and think its the biggest joke (those are the not so good friends anymore). On top of the tap dancing aspect, I just thought Jesco and his family were about as real as it gets. They have what I like to call, "Southern Honesty"...which I think is a pretty scary, and a not-so-good thing at times.
I had been contemplating a Jesco tattoo over the years but it wasn't until a little over 2 years ago when I got my Jesco White tattoo. I had a guest artist come to my shop and I knew I wanted to get tattooed by him, but wasn't really sure what I was going to get. After talking with this guy....Jesco came up, and he told that the night before he came down to my shop he was at a Hank III show that Jesco busted up into shit-faced! I was like "If anyone is going to do a dancing outlaw tattoo, it has to be this guy!" So we thought about the design...and kept going back to depicting something from the film and a quote that kept coming up was the "I took the butchers knife and put it up to her neck, and I said, If you wannna live to see tomorrow, you better start fry'n them eggs a little bit better then what youre fry'n em, cause I'm tired of eat'n sloppy, slimy eggs!" That just doesn't get old....
So thats how I ended up with Jesco White, a butchers knife, and sloppy slimy eggs tattooed on my leg! It also says "born to raise hell" , above it, which a tattoo that he has on his forearm. So there there's my story...Totally going to meet the guy one day. Hey, I'm sure he has got to be down for a free tattoo!
Body Rites Tattoo, Part-Owner/Artist
The Charleston Gazette reports more trouble at the Upper Big Branch Mine.
The Santa Cruz Derby Girls had a Tastemaker Screening and posted this awesome picture!
"Dennis is this!"
Xeni Jardin at Boing Boing posted a long and thoughtful review of the film today and includes many images from the White family albums.
The Frameworks Journal of Cinema just posted a huge set of Whites and Boone County links including an interview with the director, youtube video of the Whites, video detailing the history of conflict in the region, links on coal mining, Hasil Adkins links, and for good measure a healthy selection of Hank Williams links. Check it out if you have a few hours to kill.