"Honolulu Star-Bulletin" - january 22, 1990
Naked came the monster
Filmmaker strips horror movie of all unessentials
Tentatively an enigma
In a monster mask and tape, this filmmaker's no Spielberg
Even as this is being written, Tentatively A. Convenience and his production company, which consist of his girlfriend Dee-Dee, are filming at the volcano. The work in progress is a videotape titled "Signs and Symptoms of Leptospirosis."
Now, if you want to see that as a listing on public television, you'd expect a documentary about a bacteria carried by rodents and found in freshwater pools and streams. And you'd be wrong. It is actually a videotape about tourist monsters in Hawaii.
The roles are taken by Tentatively A. Convenience ("Call me Tent," he said, and we shall hereafter), his girlfriend and occasionally, two local friends who would just as soon remain nameless. Their costumes for the production are rubber Halloween face masks, monster gloves and footwear. That's it, nothing else.
This requires a certain stealth in order not to be booked for indecent exposure, but Tent seems to carrying it off. "We are very careful. This is done in a guerrilla fashion. We don't rehearse, we just shoot," he said.
Earlier this week, he filmed a crucial scene at Sacred Falls, where the leptospira are thought to be hanging out in droves.
"We told tourists who had hiked there that we were making a monster movie, and I asked them to sit by the edge of the pool," Tent said, "I went off behind the rocks, took off my clothes, put on my mask and started creeping up on them behind the rocks.
"They never saw me, but it was a joke on the warning signs, 'Beware Leptospirosis.' Nobody has any idea of what Leptospirosis is, but maybe if you go swimming you'll get it and turn into a monster.
"Then you have to hang around the falls forever, hoping that some other tourist will go swimming and turn into another monster and you'll have some company."
What we have here is a suggestion of the plot and Tent's operating method of filming. Another scene was shot from the beach to the little island in the lagoon fronting the Hawaiian Village.
He swam out there, took off his suit and put on his mask, DeeDee filmed him looking out from behind a tree. "It is very much a typical tourist shot until you see the monster behind the tree. I am continually fooling the audience," Tent said.
While he prefers not to explain things, letting his work speak for itself, he did offer an explanation for calling himself Tentatively A. Convenience. (It is not the name on his social security card or his passport.)
"It answers the question, 'What is your name?' on the level of what function it serves. A name is tentatively a convenience. If you were telepathic, or if there were just two people in the world, you wouldn't need a name."
Tent wears a zipper suit he said he made himself, although a year ago he told a reporter for the Village Voice that it was made by "midget undersea hermaphrodites."
The reporter put it into his story about the Neoist Movement, of which Tent is a part, digging around in the cosmic search for meaning. Otherwise, according to Village Voice, Tent makes videos of "vegetables having sex and goofy people in monster masks."
The suit is simply about 100 zippers sewn together so he can take out or drop off any part of it. To demonstrate, he took out the center section of the top, which exposed "Haole" written in black electrician's tape across his chest. The other three members of the company were similarly marked.
The idea was that they would tan everywhere else, and "haole" would be spelled out in lighter skin. But the sun didn't shine enough to accomplish this. The whole thing was intended as a statement against the colonization of Hawaii over the past 200 years, Tent said. "Haole is a somewhat derogatory term," he added.
Tent has shaved his head, and has had a drawing of a brain tattooed in red and green where the hair once was. He reached into a zippered pocket for a pair of 3-D glasses, like those theaters issue to patrons of "Creature from the Black Lagoon," which he passes to others so that they can experience the full effect. "He always carries the glasses wherever he goes," DeeDee mentioned in one of her few comments.
They don't really work, and the brain still looks like a tattoo, but the idea is novel. Tent frequently wears a padded gray cap in the shape of a human brain that he found in a Baltimore costume shop.
Baltimore is where Tent comes from and goes back to, but he didn't have much more to offer about it than that.
He doesn't spend much time there because his films are made all over the world. He showed a tape of a five-minute film he shot in 1984 during a week in London, titled "Neoist Guide Dog." He was traveling, he said, with a diabetic friend who is considered legally blind.
"When we were travelling together, I was her Seeing Eye dog. So I decided to do something to exploit the situation, to take her blindness, something depressing, and turn it into something positive and humorous." Tent explained.
"I bought a dog mask, a harness and leash and I actually became the dog."
Because blind people with Seeing Eye dogs ride free on London buses, part of the improvisation was to see how the conductor would react. Tent crawled on all fours up the steps of the bus, his leash in the hand of his blind friend.
With true British stoicism, the conductor didn't bat an eye and walked right past them. They only reaction came as they were boarding the bus, from a real dog who barked at Tent in his German shepherd stance.
While all this doesn't add up to Steven Spielberg, it was funny. But then Tent doesn't habe a Spielberg income, either. He works as a set designer for industrial promotions, and recently turned a shopping mall into a setting for "The Wizard of Oz."
"I give everything away as much as possible, and that helps create a society that does the same thing for me. I get assistance from friends, not just money but they lend me equipment, they put me up -- I stayed two months with a friend in Scotland," Tent explained.
When he gets back to Baltimore, he intends to look up his tattoo artist. "I have lots of scars on my body from all sorts of things. I intend to tattoo pictograms next to each scar about what caused it.
"I got a cut on the arm carrying a talking tree for the 'Oz' set. DeeDee and I were climbing Koko Crater and I got a big gash on my knee -- Ill have pictures of Koko Head and the tree."
So with the near future plotted, Tent had just one more question to answer. Why does he do what he does? "Why? It's complicated.
"Whenever I find a rigid, non-fluid section of anything, where people are forced into fixed roles, I like to subvert the situation so that roles aren't so fixed. It is a convoluted, constantly changing message. Anything can be anything. I have faith in the plasticity of reality."
tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE
idioideo at verizon dot net
to the tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE as Interviewer page
to the tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE as Interviewee page
to the tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE movie-making "Press: Criticism, Interviews, Reviews" home-page
to the "tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE - Sprocket Scientist" home-page
to the "FLICKER" home-page for the alternative cinematic experience
to find out more about why the S.P.C.S.M.E.F. (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Sea Monkeys by Experimental Filmmakers) is so important
for A Mere Outline for One Aspect of a Book on Mystery Catalysts, Guerrilla Playfare, booed usic, Mad Scientist Didactions, Acts of As-Beenism, So-Called Whatevers, Psychopathfinding, Uncerts, Air Dressing, Practicing Promotextuality, Imp Activism, etc..
for info on tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE's tape/CD publishing label: WIdémoUTH
to see an underdeveloped site re the N.A.A.M.C.P. (National Association for the Advancement of Multi-Colored Peoples)