Rachael Robbins: Not a Vampire, A Lesbian Or A Kick Boxer BUT Still “Too Cool For School”! by Brian Kirst

I like Rachael Robbins. She reminds me of this girl, Tina, who used to live next door to me as a kid. Tina was pretty, blonde, sweet but tough. She must have been about 10. I was 5 or 6. There was a bunch of 12 and 13 year old boys who used to roam the neighborhood. They started picking on me – and Tina took ‘em on! Scared them away. – For me. She got a bloody lip for her efforts –but she was the Queen of my young life from then on in! Rachael Robbins reminds me of that kind of girl. Pretty and sweet, but would fight to the end for less fortunate and the underdog. Her spunky portrayal of Maura in Shock-o-Rama Cinema’s Screaming Dead makes me believe this might be true. Her performance of the Angel of Death in Dr. Horror’s Erotic House of Idiots also makes me think that she has a pretty good sense of humor –and a great career ahead of her. Ms. Robbins was kind enough to sit down and answer some questions for me recently. I think, once you are done reading her responses, you will agree with everything that I have said above – and more! Enjoy.


Have you always wanted to be a performer? Was there a specific event, you can recall, in your life when the performing bug really hit?

Rachel: No. At first I wanted to be in film production. I went to college for it. But the more I learned about life behind the camera, the more I knew I couldn’t stand it if I wasn’t in front of the camera! I guess I just didn’t have the balls to admit to myself that I was a giant ham. I started off modeling and the natural progression ensued from print to commercials to film and television.

Brian: You appeared in Troma’s 'Terror Firmer' – a modern cult classic. There have been so many amusing tales recorded about working on Troma productions. Do you have any interesting tales to tell about the making of that film?

Rachel: I could sit here and tell you horror stories about Troma til the cows come home. But the reality is that they are a major independent film company that actually gets their films done and has a ton of distribution. It was hard to work super long days for no money and sometimes no food, but in the end what I got from them was invaluable. I got a load of great press and made a name for myself in the independent world. So in the end it was worth all the mistreatment. OK, I’ll give you one funny horror story. Picture this: it’s the first week of filming and the craft service table consists of peanut butter and jelly, accompanied by Wonder bread. By the second week, we had peanut butter and bread. The third week we had a jar of peanut butter, not bread and no knives. You can imagine what the fourth week was!!

Brian: Was 'Terror Firmer' your first film? If not – what was and how to did it feel to actually step in front of the cameras for the first time?

Rachel: Unfortunately it wasn’t my first film. My first film is called “Little Shop of Erotica” and it starred the infamous Marilyn Chambers. It was a bad film, I was a bad actress, and to make things worse, the damn thing played on Cinemax for years!! But it taught me two good things: that I was so totally happy being in front of a camera and talking too! It took my love of modeling one more step. AND that I never wanted to do one of those skin-a-max flicks, ever again!! YUCK!

Brian: Speaking of first times, you recently appeared in your first stage production, Pieces…(of ass). How was it stepping on stage for the first time -as an adult? I started appearing on stage as a youth, and had that fearless energy of the young. I can’t imagine doing stage for the first time as a fully-grown person. It must have been scary – but fun.

Rachel: It was one of the most non-sexual exhilarating experiences of my life. And it continues to be so. I was terrified, but it was nothing that a few cocktails couldn’t take care of. I did need those two Absolut and sodas for quite a few performances. But eventually I settled into the stage genre and found it was better to do it with out the drinks. It’s hard to do theater to begin with, but since our show is totally interactive with the audience, it makes it even harder. With shows that have a fourth wall, you can ignore all those starring faces. But not so with “Pieces”. I agree with you that everything is easier to conquer when you have the benefit of fearless-youth on your side.

Brian: Do you feel that you have grown as a person and an actress because of your experience in 'Pieces'?

Rachel: I have definitely grown as a person AND an actress from my experience with “Pieces”. We have an all female cast. It’s kind of like an evil sorority. 12 woman plus 4 hair and make-up girls sharing a trailer can be a real eye opener as to what kind of person you are. I was never in a sorority, but if I were I would want it to be exactly like the “Pieces…of ass” one! I love all the girls I’ve worked with for different reasons. Some will be my lifelong friends and some will never be a friend but thru them I’ve learned a ton about myself and for that I am glad they were in my life. The director/producer/conceiver, Brian Howie, has become a dear friend to me (he was even at my recent wedding) and he has been an amazing supporter. He took a chance on me, an actress who had never done theater, and gave my career the jumpsta rt it needed. And “Pieces” is not some little indie movie. “Pieces” is quite a phenomenon - getting coverage in all the major industry and news publications. Stuff Magazine is our sponsor, Guess and Bebe do our wardrobe celebrities are banging down Brian’s door to get spots in the show, the Hard Rock Casino has just invited us back to do another limited appearance at the Joint. And it’s been like that from the beginning. So, you can image how much I appreciate Brian giving me that chance.

Brian: I really loved 'Screaming Dead' – especially your down to earth, full of life performance. Is there an amusing story or adventure that happened on the set of that feature that you would like to share with us?

Rachel: Actually, it’s strange because everyone that writes a review of “Screaming Dead” shares your opinion of my performance. But for some strange reason, since “SD” I’ve been cut out of any Brett Piper projects. I’m not sure what happened, one day Brett was a dear friend, and then the next day he wouldn’t return any phone calls, or e-mails! I even tried to write him a letter and he never responded. I’ve heard stories from other actors that worked with him that he can be very moody and vindictive. Maybe he had a crush on me or something. I don’t know. But that has to be the weirdest thing that happened on that movie. That is the first time in my career that a filmmaker has just cut me off like that. I usually get asked to work with past employers over and over again. They just shot a movie that he actually sent me the script for and then at the last minute cast someone else. Strange huh?

Brian: All performers judge themselves harder than anyone else can. Do you find that you can look honestly at your films, also? As I said, I thought 'Screaming Dead' was great – a full out, slam bam 'House on Haunted Hill'- type wild ride. That said – and don’t read on if you haven’t seen 'Screaming Dead'- can you, also, be critical of the productions, too? For instance, it is so obvious that Misty Mundae is not cut open and scarred for life in the scene in the secret lab. Is there a part of you that thinks, “C’mon guys, just say she was traumatized because some ghosts threw blood on her and leave it at that”? Or do you think those inadequacies just add to the fun of the film?

Rachel: WOW! That’s a long question. OK, When I watch one of my performances, it’s very educational. I learn a lot about my strengths and weaknesses that way. Can I look at them honestly? It totally depends on my mood. Yes, Misty’s special effects, as well as MOST of the special effects are very amateur (Brett Piper is a real Jack-of-all-Trades, Master of none) . But with a film like “Screaming Dead”, the key word is “camp”. That’s what makes films like that so much fun. Some filmmakers have even managed to bring Camp over to the big budget Hollywood films. I think I have a good sense of humor, and I appreciate it when a film can show me glimpses of humor while still being scary/serious/suspenseful/etc.

Brian: 'Dr. Horror’s Erotic House of Idiots' looked like it was a hoot to make. Were there a lot of bloopers that occurred when filming your scenes?

Rachel: Paul Scrabo was wonderful to work with. He has a wonderful vision and the abilities to execute them. We did have a few funny bloopers. The candle kept breaking every time I dropped it so in the take that made the final cut, I had to hold it so far up to prevent it from drooping over in the middle of the scene! We had a lot of fun filming those little shticks!

Brian: Dr. Horror, if I recall, was filmed in September of 2001. Is it hard to wait so long for the films to come out for the public to see them? (Or were your parts filmed, separately, at a later date?)

Rachel: My parts were filmed in 2003. Paul recognized some holes that needed to be filled and that’s where my involvement came in. So I hardly waited at all to see the film. However, there are still films that I’ve been waiting for since 1999!! Yes, it can be annoying. That is the great thing about companies like Troma or EI. They get their stuff done!!

Brian: Tell us something about 'Vampire Lesbian Kick Boxers'. It sounds like an enjoyable project to work on. Do you have any idea when it will be released?

Rachel: VLK is one of those films I’ve been waiting for for a really long time. I really can’t tell you why it’s not done. I know they completed filming. I’ve lost contact with the production people. I’ve recently noticed that it has been posted on INDB, so hopefully that’s a good sign.  In VLK I don’t get to play a Vampire a lesbian or a kick boxer. I play an aspiring porn star. My role was very comedic. Something I’d like to do more of. But the people I worked with were really nice and I hope the best for them on this project.

Brian: Are there any words that you would like to leave us with? - Plans for the future? – Projects you are working on? – Shout outs that you’d like to give to someone in your life? - Advice to fellow pet lovers? (Ms. Robbins is an animal lover with a puppy – and a horseback riding habit!)

Rachel: How did you know about my horseback riding habit?? Very sneaky! Yes, I have a Chihuahua named Tony Montana (“say hello to my little friend”) and I hope to have a horse very soon. I’m going back to Vegas to do a few more “Pieces” shows there. You can check out our dates and pix and stuff at www.piecesofass.com. Then we’re coming back to New York in time for the Holiday season. Other then that I’ve been setting my sites on doing some television hosting work. Maybe you’ll see me on the next ultra-cheesy dating show getting couples liqu ored up and naked!! I want to get on this reality TV train ride without actually being a contestant!! Check me out at Chiller this October. I’ll be on the cover of the program in an amazing Daniel Horne painting I posed for. Shout outs? My new husband, Michael Saltzman, big ups baby!! MAT at Abrams, I like being in your hip pocket!!  To all the wonderful fans that make me feel so good at the conventions, thanks y’all!! To all my pimps and hos, we outty!!