Interview Magazine

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.

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