A mustread memoir of low-budget life
By Jil Derryberry - January 1996
It's fitting that indie film player John Pierson's Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes: A Guided Tour Across
a Decade of American Independent Cinema (Miramax/Hyperion) will be launched at the Sundance film Festival
this month - though sharp eyes will have already caught the tome's product placement in Kevin Smith's
Mallrats. A fast-moving account of the era bookended by Stranger Than Paradise and Pulp Fiction,
SMS&D is a highly personal Baedeker of off-Hollywood, where all roads lead to Park City.
As with most show-biz memoirs, SMS&D is at its best when I its writer doesn't check himself.
In the standout chapter, "Amongst Jerks," Pierson relates how he fell in with some overfed white
homeboys on a low-budget gangster flick and hit a professional nadir as the
moderator of the Gapsponsored "TwentySomethings" directors panel at Sundance '93. (Here, perhaps, is
the moment when the new generation of movie brats were, for better or worse, deemed tripper than
both studios and audiences.) "Is there something about this
decade that suggests innocence lost?" asks Pierson in the epilogue. The answer is yes, of course, but we
should all have as much fun losing it
as he did.