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Ginger Coyote Does 

"The Time Warp" with

Mishell Erickson Mishell Erickson

Punk Globe: Hi Mishell, It has been such a long time. Let's do the "Time Warp" and talk about your early days with Double Feature? I remember interviewing a few of the members for my First Year Anniversary in 1978... Lets start off with how you became involved?

Michelle Erickson: We got turned onto RH through a young couple that we met thru a class Denise and I had taken, Tim and Becky Hesla (yes, it was the Tim of the Timmie Hesla Big Band fame). They took us to see it at the old UC Theatre in the mid-70's and it was already quite a scene then with the costumes and the props. I just remember it being the most fun I'd ever had and I think the idea of a performing group was planted that very first night. At that point in time we had integrated old school friends like Johnny Pierce, Linda Duran and Cathy Gonzale, basically anyone who had the willingness to drive or wear a garter belt.

Punk Globe: You are also had a twin sister Denise that was also in "Double Feature." Were you both excited to be involved with the movie or did one of you have to push the other to do it?

Mishell Erickson: Denise and I never had any problems getting along that were performance based. Being a twin is a complicated relationship and our relationship has definitely had it's ups and downs but not really competitive in that way. I think we've always known and respected each other's super powers!

Punk Globe: Can you tell the readers what Double Feature's involvement with "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" was?

Mishell Erickson: The nucleus of our performing group (probably about 10 people at that point) had been showing up at the UC Theatre for weeks, trying to fight for space onstage to showcase our skills in front of the screen, when we heard that The Strand Theatre in SF was also hosting a midnight show. Naturally, we felt we had the best group and decided to see what the scene was like over there. They crowd went crazy, we met other folks there that wanted us to team up and the management hired us soon after.

Punk Globe: You were a dead ringer for the character mimed "Ll Columbia" played by Little Nell, and your sister Denise did a great version of Magenta.. Before joining Double Feature had you noticed the resemblance?

Mishell Erickson: Nope, never. Just thought we looked like each other.

Punk Globe: At the time you and Denise were living in Rodeo am I right? It seems that went to a punk rock show at a theatre and saw you there. Is that theatre still there?

Mishell Erickson: Gawd, yes. We moved to Rodeo in 1976, and those were the worst days of my life. In those days it was a completely inbred community and they didn't take to strangers well at all. I guess they saw us as "city slicker" types, even though we were just coming in from Richmond! I suppose the theatre you're mentioning was the Rio? It did host some shows at one point in time. Did we meet there? It was a beautiful old place and yes it's still there. For awhile it was taken over by the Pentecostals but now I think there are shows there again.

Mishell Erickson

Punk Globe: How many of the people in the troupe had you know or did you just meet at the midnight showing of "Rocky"?

Mishell Erickson: I think we met Bob and Tammy Foltz that night at the Strand but we met Marni at UC, I believe.

Punk Globe: Two other dead ringer characters was Richard O' Brien's (who wrote the play) character of "The Butler" and Tim Curry's " Frank N. Furter " and most surprising was they were both played by Women.

Mishell Erickson: I know, isn't it cool? We also had Sue Quinn, who played Doctor Scott in the wheelchair. Gender bending before it became politicized! Cool, huh?

Punk Globe: You were a trailblazer for what you did, Mishell. You started just a few years after the movie began.. There are now groups world wide that have formed their version of the "Rocky Horror Picture Show"... You should be proud.

Mishell Erickson: Oh, it was big time fun. But it was a different world then. RH was all a part of so many subcultures: gay, punk, rock. I think the year we were in the Gay Day parade was the same year Harvey Milk was (or maybe I'm experiencing a "Zelig" moment!). A couple years ago, I saw part of RH on network TV (edited, of course). It seemed sweet and innocent next to "Gossip Girl"!

Punk Globe: Any "I can't believe" moments from back then?

Mishell Erickson: I was a virgin the entire I was in Double Feature!

Punk Globe: How about "What was I drinking" moments?

Mishell Erickson: Nope, those came much later!

Punk Globe: I know my band White Trash Debutantes were hired to perform for the "Rocky Con" at The Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood. We performed the opening night in the same room where the Oscars were held. Patricia Quinn who played "Magenta " in the Movie was there, and I did not recognize her at all.. She was in the same jumpsuit the entire time of the con.. I asked why she did not dress as Magenta for at least one of the nights.. She shrugged it off and went to the bar.. She was on a bender the entire time.. Have you ever gone to any of the Anniversary shows?

Mishell Erickson: No. I think we must've been involved with RH most of my teens. When I closed the door I was ready to open a new one.

Punk Globe: Let's go back in time... Like bands, you had turmoil in your troupe and one group was at The Electric and the other troupe at The Strand.. Do you care to talk about the break up?

Mishell Erickson: Yes, I wish my memory was better. We were getting paid a small stipend from the Strand, which went into a bank account for the group. I don't know that I ever saw a pay check but occasionally I'd get a little chunk of change to pay for sequins and false eyelashes! At one point, Lois Dolan (who was managing us) cleared out the bank account and I don't remember the particulars of it. Maybe she and Kathi (her daughter, who played Janet) needed to make the rent. But the feud was on after that.

Punk Globe: I do remember probably the most memorable performance of the entire run. It was seeing Attorney Gloria Harrison performing as "Frank N. Furter," and later playing The Wicked Witch from The Wizard Of Oz" at The York Theatre. Did you ever see that?

Mishell Erickson: Gawd, no! LMAO! What a weird time it was!

Mishell Erickson

Punk Globe: Eventually both factions stopped performing and both theatres stopped running "Rocky?" Was it due to the squabbling or did interest just drop in the movie?

Mishell Erickson: After about two-three years of doing it, I think many of the main characters were interested in pursuing other things. We had been very tight knit, a little family. The theft was a huge disappointment and a death of something special for all of us. But I was also starting beauty school and couldn't maintain the crazy hours any more.

Punk Globe: I know at the time I had a hard time really appreciating the movie.. But I did meet Julie Stein and Danielle Bardazzi through Bob Foltz. They joined the staff of Punk Globe. Did you know Danielle and Julie?

Mishell Erickson: Oh yes. In fact, all the photos are courtesy of Julie (thank you so much!). I remember Danielle giving me a ride to the theatre one night on her motorcycle from Marni's place over on Bush Street..Can you imagine all those sequins sparkling?

Punk Globe: Danielle is a sweetheart. She is married and living in Berkeley. She has the cutest sons.. No one is in touch with Julie that I know.. Are you in touch with any of the people from the cast besides your Sister Denise?

Mishell Erickson: No, just got back in touch with Marni, though (as you know). It's one of my life's regrets that I'm so poor at staying in touch with people. I do tend to hide out a bit, I guess. And I get distracted by whatever I'm into.

Punk Globe: After Double Feature dissolved. What did you do?

Mishell Erickson: Went to beauty school and have worked successfully in that industry since 1981. But I've done all kinds of artsy modelling for fashion and hair shows, for artists and photographers as well as played bass (badly), written poetry (and restaurant reviews) that's been published and had a spoken word show. As well as the usual bad romance drama.

Punk Globe: The year is 2009. Tell us what Mishell Erickson is doing now... This is your life..

Mishell Erickson: Oh lordy! Still writing and working in the salon three days a week. I lead a simple life: been clean and sober for the past 20 years, meditate and take good care of myself. Right now I'm single and live with my pug Kiki in North Berkeley. I have collected tattoo work from Vyvynn Lazonga, Marie Wadman and Scott Sylvia on various quadrants of my anatomy. It looks good!

Punk Globe: Besides the passing of Proposition HATE were you happy with the Election this year?

Mishell Erickson: Fairly happy, although I worry about backlash when Obama can't magically fix what's going on in the first six weeks of office!

Punk Globe: Sarah Palin or Tina Fey?

Mishell Erickson: Tina Fey, of course!

Mishell Erickson

Punk Globe: What are some of your favorite bands?

Mishell Erickson: Well, I love all the old stuff: X, the Clash, Blondie! I like a lot of world music: crazy about bhangra! But I love music like the Young Gods, Tom Waits, Nick Cave; the stuff that still gets me the stink eye if I play it at work!

Punk Globe: Yeah Mishell! You gotta fuck with the mainstream folk .. at least a bit! Do you watch reality shows on TV?

Mishell Erickson: Only "America's Most Wanted"!

Punk Globe: Any vices?

Mishell Erickson: Well, I do enjoy the occasional cigarette. Of course, in Berkeley you're welcome to light up a joint anywhere in town but god forbid you want to smoke anything else! And I love John Fluevog shoes...

Punk Globe: How about causes you support?

Mishell Erickson: I've been a supporter of the SF Aids Foundation for years and ran the Dublin Marathon (in gorgeous Ireland) in 2005 to help raise funds.

Punk Globe: Have you seen the movie "Milk?" It shows what San Francisco was like in the late 70's.... My pal Danny Nicoleta worked for Harvey Milk at Castro Camera.. His character was in the movie... But I was sad to not have seen
Andy's Donuts, Pearl ( Male Janis Joplin impersonator), Margo St. James, Cosmic Lady, Lois Dolan or Jackie Starr in the movie.

Mishell Erickson: No, I haven't seen "Milk" yet. There's something heady that happens to me when I think about those times, so I haven't gone there much until lately. But I remember fondly my first glimpse of men in leather...like I said, those were such different times. And of course, I was just a teen ager. But Polk Street and the Castro felt like home to me too. Remember Oilcan Harry's, Chicken Little's and Dance Your Ass Off? For that matter, remember poppers?? I didn't go to college but I feel like I had a superior education thru all the people, places and things I got to experience at that time.

Punk Globe: Any plans for 2009?

Mishell Erickson: I'd like to travel again and I'd like to meet someone exciting!

Punk Globe: I would like to thank you for taking the time to answer these questions and can you give the readers words of wisdom?

Mishell Erickson: "Don't dream it, be it"! What else? Kisses!

Mishell Erickson

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