If you don’t recognize the name Don Drakulich, you might know him better as Sleazy P. Martini, the leisure suit wearing manager of GWAR. Not only is Don one of the founding members of the horror themed rock group, but Don also is a special effects artist and owns his own special effects production company, Hyper Real Productions. Moviemikes.com recently had the chance to speak with Don about his career in the effects business as well as his time with GWAR.
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Adam Lawton: What made you want to get involved in the FX business?
Don Drakulich: I had always been playing around with stuff. My dad had bought me a super 8 camera when I was in high school. Like a lot of kids from the 70’s, I had been wowed by “Star Wars”. So in my mind I wanted to do the same sort of thing. My friends and I would take models and black backgrounds with pin holes for stars in them and try and duplicate the things from “Star Wars.” After high school, I went to college to originally double major in film and illustration. But when I got there I found illustration wasn’t what I had expected, and there was no actual proper film degree. They had film classes, but not an actual program. I ended up following through with painting and print making and gave up the idea of being Frank Frizetta. It wasn’t until after my first year out of school that I started hanging out at the dairy which was a spot in Richmond, Virginia where everyone would come together and hang out. That’s when I got back into the FX sort of stuff. It was kind of a return for me to my early interests and from there it was pretty much all self-taught.
AL: Was this around the same time that you met up with Dave Brockie?
DD: Yeah it was about 1985/86 that I started hanging around those guys, and we started doing FX stuff. We didn’t have money at the time to do effects the way they are normally done, so we figured out a bunch of low budget ways to do things. We were using things like cloth re-enforced with glue, which was how we made some of the early costumes. Within about a year we were dabbling in latex, but we were along ways a way from being Rick Baker.
AL: How did you guys come up with what GWAR was going to be?
DD: Initially the GWAR costumes were going to be for a low budget movie that Hunter Jackson wanted to make called “Scum Dogs of the Universe.” Hunter approached Dave about using some of his band Death Piggy’s music in the movie, and Dave saw the costumes and said why don’t you let us open a show or perform in the costumes. Hunter did and the whole thing snowballed from there. The idea started to run away from Hunter at that time, and it began to be more about the band than the movie.
AL: Did the movie ever get made?
DD: No, not even close. There were aspects of the movie that were eventually shot for shorts but the epic which he had planned which was set to take place on a space ship that gets attacked by space pirates never got off the ground. The closest thing to it would probably be the video for “Cardinal Sin” as it kind of has some of the elements that were going to be for the film. The basic idea was “Road Warrior” in space. That’s kind of how the whole GWAR thing started out. We were heavily inspired by “Road Warriors.”
AL: In GWAR’s first movie “Phallus in Wonderland” aside from your role as Sleazy P. Martini, did you have a hand in any of the production?
DD: I did some of the editing, as well as being the special FX coordinator for the movie. I went out and basically put together the crew that was actually going to do the film. I linked up with Blaire Dobson after meeting him at a show in Canada. We decided to use his production crew. Unfortunately Blaire was let go about mid way through the process, however some of his crew stayed on to finish. I guess you could say I was Executive Producer even though I didn’t pull the money strings. I did put together the crew that made that film happen.
AL: Your character, Sleazy P. Martini, made his first appearance as this time correct?
DD: No, it actually started right at the very beginning. Originally, we had two Martini type characters/managers, and after a show or two, we decided to try myself out as the character. I then took the characters and evolved them both into one greasy 70’s Elvis type leisure suit wearing pimp.
AL: You toured with the band in 2008 which was your first time since 1996 correct?
DD: Yep I hadn’t done much touring since 1996. I did a three week stint in 2000 w/ the Misfits which was loads of fun, but I have been staying away from touring since then.
AL: Any particular reason?
DD: As an artist you find it very frustrating. You need to create new things and doing new stuff, and when you are on the road, you are at a kind of always doing the same thing night after night. I had also gotten married at the time. But personally it was dislike of being on the road. People are always asking me why I walked away.
AL: Recently the Sleazy character did make an appearance on Jimmy Fallon recently, correct?
DD: Yeah that was me. I got to be a face in the crowd. That was interesting. They always make jokes about how cheap the late night sets are, and not until you get there do you realize they really are cheap (laughs). The production is very small as well as the audience. This was, I think, the first time GWAR had ever performed properly on National TV.
AL: Can you tell us what you have going on lately?
DD: Right now my main efforts are going towards putting together a documentary about the very early years of GWAR. It’s being produced by me and Bob Gorman. Right now I am going through the reams of footage I have. I am kind of looking at it as finding a needle in a hay stack, but the entire haystack is full of needles. So it’s hard to pick a spot to start. There is about 24-25 hours of interview footage alone, as well as a lot of old performance footage and pictures. I want to show the inception of GWAR when the band first started out at the Richmond Dairy. But overall, what I really would love to do is an FX based project, so put the word out.
Go to Hyperealproductions.com to check out photos of some of Don’s work and to purchase limited edition GWAR sculptures and DVD’s
Click here to purchase GWAR’s music