MUSIC, MOVIES, AND MORE: Talking with Horror Actress and Musician MANOUSH by Owen Keehnen

Manoush was born to a Lovara-tribe gypsy family in Cologne in May of 1971. She began modeling at 18 and soon started writing lyrics and singing with several underground bands. Her music is still extremely important to her and she continues to sing, write, and compose songs with her current band Cyanide Savior (which she founded with husband Chris Vazquez). She's even contributed songs to some of her films including 'Craig' , 'Le petite mort' , and 'Philsophy of a Knife' .

In 2000 she was offered a small role in Jean Pierre Jeunet's award winning film 'Amelie' and has been busy making movies (as an actress and sometimes person) ever since. Some of her film roles include 'Zombie Reanimation' , 'The Super' with Lynn Lowry and Raine Brown, 'Game Over' with Debbie Rochon, Raine Brown, Andreas Schnaas, 'Timo Rose's Beast' , 'The Turnpike Killer' , 'Fearmakers' , 'Necronos' , 'Cannibal' , '15 til Midnight' , 'The Shrieking' , 'Angel of Death 2: The Prison Island Massacre' , 'Avantgarde' with Debbie Rochon, Brandon Slagle, and Zoe Hunter, 'The Legend of Moonlight Mountain' , 'Barricade' , and several others.

Recently Manoush was kind enough to take time from her busy schedule for this exclusive Racks and Razors interview.

  So Manoush why don't you start us off with a visual and describe the room or place where you are answering these questions?

Hi Owen! Right now while doing this interview I'm sitting in my garden here in New York, enjoying a wonderful warm and sunny summer day with my 2 dogs.

I want to hear a little bit about how you got started making films. How did your being cast in the wonderful movie 'Amelie' come about?

My way into the movie business was actually totally unspectacular. During one of the 1997 shows with my then band ANAYKH there was an underground film maker in the audience who, after the show, asked me if I was interested in acting and wanted to be in one of his new movies. I didn't know the guy and didn't know how serious he was so I was like "whatever". He gave me a screenplay and a couple of days later I started reading it one night when I couldn't sleep and I was like "Hell yeah I like it". So I called him like 2.30 or 3.30 am to tell him I want to do it. Actually TWO movies we started shooting in 1998 were awful and amateur and I don't even remember more than the working titles or if they've ever been released but somehow I received more offers from people in the independent movie scene after word was out that I went into acting. So next thing was that German agent Tanja Schwichtenberg asked me if I wanted to be in Jean-Pierre Jeunet's new movie AMELIE. It was a really small part but what was I to expect as a beginner in the movie business. Actually I didn't even want to be in AMELIE because the movie as such was nothing that I would even watch myself but Tanja insisted and told me WHO Jean-Pierre was, how important it would be for me to work with him if I wanted to go on making movies and that he had made "Alien - Resurrection" too - so I was game and I'll be forever thankful that Tanja insisted because after AMELIE the offers just kept coming. But hell, still I'd rather played a role in "Alien - Resurrection".

You have made several films with German horror Filmmaker Marcel Walz such as "Popular" (2008), "La petite mort" (2009) and "Avantgarde" (2010). What do you think makes working together such a solid connection for the both of you?

When I met Marcel Walz for the very first time I met an aspiring young filmmaker with visions and a big talent. All he needed was professional cast and crew and so we took care of that. With Marcel and me it just was an instant click and spark. When we get together there is just a tidal wave of creativity - we are a perfect team and we became like brother and sister over the years. We give each other so much and when it comes to creativity we really complete each other. We are best friends and the perfect team - what more could we wish for.

I want to hear all about your role as Olga in 'The Super' with Lynn Lowry, Raine Brown, and Ruby LaRocca. Give me a teaser that is going to make it irresistible to Racks and Razors fans.

Oh haha - Olga is one of the most vicious and deranged characters I've ever played in a movie and "The Super" is one of the most vicious and deranged movies I've ever been in. It's an ultraviolent mirror of traumatized human psyches, depravity, perverse murderous obsessions and madness. You name a horrible level that a human being can stoop down to and hell we topped it. I don't want to give much away but I know that "The Super" will shock and fascinate people at the same time especially since it's not full of violence just for the sake of violence but a precise psychogram of the lead characters, explaining this extreme violence and the roads that lead these characters into it.

Tell me about your work in the upcoming film '15 Til Midnight' with Devanny Pinn and Brandon Slagle.

Oh I've read the screenplay and was fascinated by it but let me make one thing clear. I didn't really play a role in it but just did a cameo appearance and so I will leave it up to Brandon Slagle and Wolfgang Meyer to fill people in about "15 till Midnight". All I will say is that this movie is a very fresh and innovative film.

I also want to hear about your band Cyanide Savior for which you write, sing, and compose songs. What style do you consider it and what other band/artists do you think sound somewhat similar?

Well I think we have created our own style with Cyanide Savior so I wouldn't want to compare it to other bands or artists since doing so wouldn't really do others or Cyanide Savior any justice. Cyanide Savior, by the way is not really a band in the common sense anymore. We are a studio project that sporadically releases songs. There won't be any live shows - last but not least because my vocal chords are so damaged that I Wouldn't even be able to play shows anymore as I did in the 90ies and early 2000's.

Is the place you go to as an artist when you are on stage singing with your band and when you are acting in a movie the same? Are they both parts of the artistic process? How are they alike or different?

Oh yes it's the same, it's all about the performances, all about the movie or the song. It doesn't really matter if you work in front of a camera or live on a stage. It doesn't really make a difference if you perform a song or play a role. As I said, what counts is the artistic part, the performance and it's artistic and entertainment value.

Do you have any other upcoming projects you would like the readers to know about?

Oh yes, the great Parrish Randall is in pre-production for a project and offered me a fantastic role in it, my dear friend film maker Geraldine Winters has 2 projects in development and Marcel Walz and I are working on three new projects for the next 2 years. Unfortunately at this point I can't go into any details about any of these projects but yeah there's some real good stuff coming.

In the smaller budgeted horror movies and such some very interesting things can happen on set. What is the craziest, scariest, or simply most unusual thing that you've ever witnessed on a movie set?

When he shot "La petite mort" we thought a lot about the locations too and finally found a club called ''Jails'' right beneath Europe's biggest gay club in Mannheim/Germany and it turned out to be the perfect location for Maman Fabienne's ''headquarters''.''Jails'' is kinda like a couple of darkrooms and bar: dark seedy, creepy with all kinds of toys and S/M furniture everywhere. It took us 3 bottles of antiseptic to clean a spot where we could sit and relax during the shooting. No kidding, this was one of the creepiest places I've ever been to. I used to call it "buttfuck basement".

Given your career and popularity I'm sure you've had fans ask you some very strange things. What's the most unusual thing you've been asked?

At a convention we had a guy who wanted to take pictures with actresses which as such is nothing unusual and very welcome. But this guy asked to be strangled and also wanted photos with him wearing a dog leash and collar which of course I refused to do. So started insisting and even offered money and then walked away totally pissed off when I told him there's no way in hell that I'm going to take that kind of photos with ANYONE.

Zombies, werewolves, vampires, witches, creatures, aliens, psychos --- what does it for you horrorwise and why?

Well all these characters alone do nothing for me - it really depends on the movie.

What was the first movie you saw that scared the shit out of you?

Oh definitely "Dawn of the Dead" (1978). I was like 13 or 14 when I first saw it and as much as it fascinated me it REALLY scared the shit out of me. After watching it for the first time I kept looking under my bed, in the closets and behind the curtains before going to bed. I'm dead serious; I did that for a couple of weeks.

Okay, we're pulling the car into the Manoush Drive In. What three horror flicks are on the triple bill for tonight and what goodies are they going to be serving up at the concession stand?

Hmmmmmmmmm that's a difficult one. Let me see. I'd choose "Phantasm" (1979), "The Medusa Touch" and "Dracula"(1958 or 1992). I love the atmosphere of these movies and I think they're among the best horror flicks ever made.

What is the best Halloween costume you ever had?

Believe it or not but I've never been into Halloween costumes. I can't tell you why but fact is that I've ever been into that. I mean I love Halloween; it's one of the greatest times of the year but costumes? Not for me - no particular reason.

What is the craziest thing you have ever done?

Oh lord; you really want me to tell you that. Ok here we go and shit yeah it IS crazy. Around the year 1995 there was a guy who tried to meet me and tried to hook up with me. Whatever club I went, whatever diner I went - he was there, came over and talked me into a coma. So one night I had dinner at my then favorite diner and surprise surprise he was there, spotted me, came over and sat down at my table. That bloke was really weird, talking about himself and how great he was all the time. We gave him names because of that and called him "John Wayne Johnny" or "Bruce Lee wanna be" since he presented himself as the greatest thing that ever walked the earth. Anyway - so that one night he sat down at my table and immediately started rambling about himself and about that new Bowie knife he just bought and started playing with that knife right in front of me, trying to impress me by holding the blade in his closed fist and all that shit.... pulling it out without hurting himself while telling me he doesn't feel any pain ever. Now to prove that "I don't feel any pain ever he pulled out lighter and let the flame go over his arms and hands. God this bloke was a pain in the ass and at one point I had enough and decided to freak him out and get rid off his sorry ass once and for all. Remembering and old Sid Vicious story I took that knife from him and cut myself in the palm of hand, bleeding all over the plate, bleeding all over my food and just kept eating. Well it worked, the guy went deadly pale and left like the devil himself was after him. I guess that was the craziest thing I've ever done and I remember I regretted it immediately because it bleed too much and it hurt like hell although the cut really wasn't that deep. I hung out with gangs way back then and even for a girl I think behavior like that wasn't such a biggie way back then. Today I think cutting myself with that knife to scare that bloke off was kind of crazy - nothing I would even consider doing nowadays

Do you have any collections, obsessions, or true loves?

Obsessions - collections, true loves? Oh yeah, horror movies (my husband Chris and I have a horror collection of like 3000+ DVD's), and classic American cars from the 60ies and 70ies. My father used to import such cars when I was a child and living in Europe so I grew up with them and learned everything about them which led to me really loving them.

What scares you in real life?

Well nothing really, if something gets scary I keep telling myself that fear is just an emotion. Works every time except when it comes to spiders. I can't even say WHY but spiders scare the hell out of me.