Rex Manning Day – 4.8.15

It’s pretty hard to try and get back to work after yesterday but life goes on for the rest of us and Wednesday I photographed a really fun and unique event, the type of party that Jess would have loved, and I really need to show you some pictures.

Once again my friends at BBQ Films put on a fucking amazing event. Ever since I went to their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles screening I have been working with them to help them in whatever way I can to keep creating these amazing film experiences. I got to work with them on the planning of their Back The Future event and I helped brainstorm their Weekend At Bernie’s party but this is the first film they have done since TMNT that I wasn’t at all involved) and that made the surprises that much better.

In 1995 Empire Records hit theaters. I saw it at the time and then never watched it again. I was a huge grunge fan in the years before Empire but when Kurt Cobain died I completely abandoned “Alternative” for punk rock. I remember liking Empire Records but I certainly didn’t have any love or nostalgia for it. When BBQ announced they were doing Empire I didn’t really get it.

I get it now. For the 20th anniversary of the film BBQ turned the record store and venue, Rough Trade NYC, into Empire Records. It was a fully interactive space with scenes from the movie recreated all over the store. There was a booth where you could get your head shaved like Deb did in the movie. There were quarters glued to the floor like AJ did in the film. They had a button making booth and a photo booth that recreated the fictional Rex Manning video for Say No Mor Mon Amour. The whole BBQ staff cosplayed characters from the film with pretty impressive detail. It was an amazing feat.

The screening itself was pretty tame until my friend and BBQ team member Leah Taylor started passing out brownies in the middle of the film. If you recall there is a scene in which Ethan Embry’s character Mark eats hallucinogenic brownies while watching a Gwar video and gets sucked into the video and gets eaten by the World Maggot.  During that scene the movie started skipping and Gwar showed up!

Gwar (minus Dave Brockie RIP) came out to thunderous applause and one of the audience members (who had earlier won the “Mark Experience”) got to play Mark and was fed to the World Maggot live! If that weren’t enough suddenly the World Maggot started vomiting back up Mark and suddenly Ethan Embry was actually on stage! He got the crowd going crazy and then brought out Johnny Whitworth who played AJ in the movie. The two of them rocked out with Gwar and pulled two more raffle prizes for the “Warren Experience” and the “Gina Experience”. After the intermission the movie started playing but I had to miss the rest of it. I had work to do.

BBQ Films had asked me to make a sacrifice for the cause and after thinking it over for about thirty seconds I agreed. I would let Ethan Embry shave my head for a press photo op. They took me up to the head shaving station and Ethan began shaving my head for the benefit of about 20 members of the press and a handful of people who decided that watching me get my head shaved was a better idea than finishing the movie. It was a sensual experience for both of us and gave me a reason to use Periscope for the first time (I’m @drivenbyboredom on there). I also ended up on Vanity Fair’s Instagram which was mildly hilarious.

By the time my haircut was finished so was the movie but the party wasn’t over yet. The band ARMS, who had opened the party, did a set made up of the Empire Records soundtrack and everyone who had stuck around was loving it. The “Gina Experience” ended up being the opportunity to come on stage and sing Sugar High with the band. Meanwhile the “Warren Experience” was happening in the main room and involved getting to chase one of the BBQ Films team who had “shoplifted” around the store. I was expecting it but it was a great moment for people who had no idea what as going on until this scene from the movie was playing out in front of them.

The whole party was amazing and I actually went home and finished watching the 30 minutes of the movie I had missed. I didn’t give a shit about it at the time, but I now have a new love for Empire Records. Happy Rex Manning Day.

Damn the man, save the Empire and click here to see all my photos of Rex Manning Day at Rough Trade NYC.

Rex Manning Day - BBQ Films

Rex Manning Day - BBQ Films

Gwar - Rex Manning Day


Rex Manning Day - BBQ Films

Rex Manning Day - BBQ Films

Gwar - Rex Manning Day

Arms - Rex Manning Day

Ethan Embry - Rex Manning Day


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