Gimme a T.R.A.V.I.S. What does that spell? The Travis McKenna Killer Interview!!!!! by Greg Tiderington

Travis had supporting roles in a small handful of horror films but really made his appearances very recognisable especially his winning performance as one of the cheerleading captains Timmy Moser alongside with former 70's bubblegum rock idol Leif Garrett in the 1988 trashy teen comedy-horror slasher flick 'Cheerleader Camp' in which he was a womaniser who liked to pary and clown around with his camcorder. He was a natural ham in it and anyone who saw the flick would fondly remember his performance in it.
The film also starred cult icon Betsy Russell as the head cheerleader that later spawned a huge success as Jigsaw's wife in the 'Saw' sequels but also acted in 80's teen cult classics 'Avenging Angel', 'Tomboy'
, 'Private School for Girls' and 'Out of Control' to name a few. The film also co-starred Lucinda Dickey from the 80's breakdance flicks 'Breakin' and 'Breakin 2: Electric Bugaloo' as well as the late fringe cult celebrity George 'Buck' Flower whom adopted Travis as his nephew.
Shortly afterwards he landed a role as a bad ass biker Melvin in the supernatural horror 'Twice Dead' during the same year.
In 1993 played a thug in the direct-to-video cheesy sci-fi horror flick 'Skeeter' which starred Jim Youngs and Tracy Griffith.
Then he landed a supporting role as a redneck bar goer Ronnie in the fact based crime-horror 'Ed Gein' which was the real story that inspired 'Psycho', 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre' and 'Silence of the Lambs'.

Chances are that you also saw his supporting roles in mainstream shows such as a bouncer in the Patrick Swayze classic 'Road House', one of the Penguins goons in 'Batman Returns', a wrestler in 'The Dukes of Hazzard: Reunion!' plus was a regular guest in the TV sitcom 'Coach' starring Craig T. Nelson.
During the beginning he had a profession as a bouncer and bodyguard so his roles often portrayed these characters in other shows.
He is an extremely nice guy and we did an online interview which was a blast to do so let's get started shall we???


At what age did you see yourself as an entertainer ?

I was in elementary school and I sang the Marine Corps hymn at a talent show I think I was in the 4th grade

Did you see yourself acting in horror films?

Not back then and I just wanted to be a working actor. I think when I came to La I didn't know that I really wanted to be an actor I almost stumbled into it.

What was your first horror film?

I believe it was 'Cheerleader Camp' I think that was my first horror film. Though when we filmed it it had the name 'Bloody Pom Poms'

What was it like working on the film?

It was a great experience I had a lot of fun the actors that I got to work with we're great it was in a great location we shot up in the Sequoia National Forest up near Central California and it was just a blast.

This was one of your first main supporting roles in a film as this was a real low budgeter as many start out in these flicks were you surprised Leif Garrett did the gig since he was already a known name?

No I sort of have an affinity for low-budget films to remind me of like the neighborhood kids get together and let's put on a show but you know the director was a great guy and he had done some other stuff and and I knew the producers Buck Flower and Jeff Prettyman and I just thought that you know any work was with something that I wanted to do because I wanted a chance to practice my craft and I had actually met life before in what I was doing other work and to work with him was a joy he's a great guy and he's really talented and I had a great time like I said it's it's I have some really fun memories of working on that show.

What memorable experiences would you like to share with us doing the shoot?

My character was kind of a video file so I actually carried around a camera and shot a lot of foods behind the scenes and the shenanigans that was going on and I had a really I just I just can't play a how great a time I had the people that I worked with the actresses and the actors and buck flower was a producer but he was also in the film and he had adopted me sort of years ago and so every movie that I worked on with him was just a joy.

I remember many scenes in the film like you doing the rap with Leif Garrett while doing the cheerleading tryouts as well as you being a womaniser swimming in the lake. What was it like doing these scene's and how can you relate to them?

Well who doesn't want to be around pretty girls in bathing suits and laugh like I said was such a generous actor and he was so good at what he did and he and I played off each other I thought pretty well and I sort of based my character on somebody that I knew so for me it was it was a great piece of work I had fun when you're working with you know Betsy Russell, Laurie Griffin, Teri Weigel, Rebecca Ferratti and Leif Garrett and Lucinda Dickey I mean we just had a blast it was entirely too much fun.
Plus we were in one of the most beautiful places in the world and we weren't in a motel we were all in different houses and cabins around and we all met down at the local restaurant for every meal or the restaurant came to cook for us so you know again it was that comradery and working with the crew up there I even got there was a local dog up there that we was hanging around the set and he kind of took a liking to me and we make named him bear bait because there a lot of bears up there but he was a great dog and he hang out the whole shoot
I was in a downstairs apartment of a cabin and upstairs was Rebecca Ferrari and Teri Weigel and one of the other girls

Sounds like a blast what were the most struggling experiences you had on the set?

At some point during the filming we all got this nasty sort of cold and it took a voices away and gave us all bad cough. Plus we were shooting at about seven or eight thousand feet and that was a little struggle because you know we weren't really used to that altitude and I got into a ruckus with a local lumberjack in the bar he thought I was some you know Lucy actor didn't realize that I was a bouncer in real life martial artist.

Did filming seize when you lost your voices?

No The Show Must Go On we drink a lot of hot tea with lemon and just worked through it.

I remember your final scene with you goofing around with the camera and then getting slaughtered with blood gushing out of your mouth what was it like doing that?

Well when they slashed my stomach my fake stomach they were using pig guts so pig guts came out and if you remember correctly and that scene I was running and tripped over a stump and that's how the killer caught me the first time we did it bear bait the dog came up it was licking my face thought I was actually hurt so where did you hit again and then it was just a matter of you know great great effects you know the fake blood and the the pig guts and all that just good horror film making

Who did you enjoy working with most on set?

Lucinda Dickey and her husband were really fun. And of course Buck Flower who I dearly loved. Leif and Teri. It was a memorable experience all around.

Did you see it during it's limited theatrical release?

I didn't. I was working on tour with a music act. I saw it at a screening and then went off to work something else. I don't think I have a copy of it. My wife is the keeper of the archives. I'll have to see if we have that one.

Do you know how long it played during its release?

No I'm not sure.

What kinds of feedback did you get from fans?

You know it's not one of my better known pieces of work I don't recall anything bad I used to get phone calls in the middle of the night from people who had seen it somewhere and they would laugh hysterically about me in the dress and me showing my butt. According to my relatives in Texas it was a hoot

Now you worked in another horror flick shortly after as a bad ass biker Melvin in 'Twice Dead'. Did you get the part due to your work in 'Cheerleader Camp'?

No I don't think so and I think that when I did that film I got the part because there wasn't another big guy like me who could ride a motorcycle and do the stunt work. That movie was so low budget they only had one motorcycle for me to ride and I wrecked it one day.

What was it like working on that film as I like how you acted wild and crazy?

It was a lot of fun I have that side to me so lesson really acting the best part about that movie was I shared a dressing room with Sam Melville and I had some great long conversations with him and you know the film was right before I did 'Road House'. I still have a copy of my severed head my granddaughter loves to play with it.

How could you relate to screaming your head off when you got your bike back in a scene?

Well I really like that bike I like riding it and they said they really wanted me to get pissed so that was pretty easy.

Any memorable experiences to being pissed off like that?

Lots I would not want to mention them in an interview I prefer my plausible deniability defense.

Sounds fair

It's been said of me that I have a viking beserk temper.

What was it like driving your bike in the mansion?

I think I have a sweet disposition and I'll kill anybody that says otherwise. Call it was fun I only did part of that I only did the interior stuff the actual writing of the bike up the porch into the house was done by stunt man named John Brannigan one of the best stunt guys in the business and a good guy. We shot that stuff in an actual mansion downtown LA pretty rugged.

Was it struggling doing a scene when you were thrown in a garbage truck?

No that was pretty easy because I knew what was going on and the director was a new guy and I think it was his first film that he ever directed his name was Burt dragon dragon and he was very careful about not wanting to hurt actors and stunt people inhale on his first film.

It looked like you all had fun partying out and causing trouble inside the mansion what was it like doing that scene?

No that was pretty easy because I knew what was going on and the director was a new guy and I think it was his first film that he ever directed his name was Burt Dragon and he was very careful about not wanting to hurt actors and stunt people inhale on his first film.

It looked like you all had fun partying out and causing trouble inside the mansion what was it like doing that scene?

I mean we were all enjoying ourselves absolutely the other actors that I got to work with on that show we were all sort of sticking together because it was you know a low-budget a very low budget film and we wanted to make the best of it so we decided to have a good time and we did.

What was it like working with Tom Bresnahan and Jill Whitlow in real life?

They were absolute professionals so was Chris Burgard, Shawn Player and Charlie Spradling who is drop dead gorgeous. I ran into Charlie Spradling in a row do about a year or two later and she was just as kind and and generously nice as you can imagine.

I understand during that period Todd Bridges had a bad addictions and was getting into troublehow was he on set?

He was and when he was there he was great to work with however he did no show a couple of times and showed up really late a couple of times but other than that you know I didn't have any problem he was a great guy and I had I actually know his brother and had worked with him.

And hes doing better and still acting which is good

Absolutely turn himself around that's a great thing.

Well he fixed that 'Different Strokes' curse for sure.

When he was on set he was an absolute professional.

Now was it painful during your last scene that your bike came to life and ran you over?

Yeah I got some bumps and bruises from that show nothing serious. Couple of years later a friend of mine was at one of the Comic Cons and the special effects guy had my head on display he said hey I know that guy.

Which scene throughout all did you enjoy doing the most?

I guess anytime we were running amok. General Lee in real life you don't get to run amok too much. In my earlier misspent youth I was accused of running amok quite a lot.

Do you know what kind of release 'Twice Dead' got?

I believe it got a general release again when it came out I was off doing something else usually once I do a movie or a TV show I rarely get to see it and I don't go to see it. Once I've done the work and I've had to do any APR looping you can't change it so very rarely do I spend a whole lot of time watching my work.

So nationwide theatrical and not limited like 'Cheerleader Camp'?

I believe so. Again the folks in Texas saw it so I just assumed a national release.

I do remember your small role as a thug in 'Skeeter'. Did you releate to being brutal with Jim Young's character due to your profession as a bouncer?

Now that was a fun movie cheese I had forgotten I was actually in that actually I hurt Jim when I jacked him up on the wall he had to go to the hospital to get checked out he had a bruise on his lung I felt really bad and he was great about it but yeah that was that was interesting movie all the bumps and bruises on that one too. My partner bad guy in that was a stunt guy named Warren Stevens is a great guy and again that was a buck flower was the guy who got me into that film.

You mustve been devastated when Buck passed away he was talented

I was devastated and still am he was a great guy and took me under his wing on the very first film that I ever did the film never got released but he always remembered me and I spent many an hour and his house know his kids and when he passed away I was devastated. He imparted some great wisdom to me that I used today and I love him dearly.

Howd you get the role as Ronnie in the fact based crime horror 'Ed Gein'?

Just auditioned for it and got the part and freaky freaky movie. One of the scenes where we shot in a bar with an actual bar that I used to patronize when I go out and ride my motorcycle it's on Santa Susana Road in Simi Valley.

What kinds of experience did you like doing that one?

Well that was interesting like I said I'm not a huge horror film guy that's that's really not me I prefer westerns action films comedies but it was a different kind of deal one because it was based on a real guy and real events and two I had worked with the director before but he wasn't a director than he was in some other part of the business. And I don't think I've ever seen that movie and its entirety

Do you have scary experiences while working on that set?

No not really

What was it like working with the late Carrie Snodgress as she seemed to stand out well?

I don't think I had too many scenes with her but I remember her fondly she was very pleasant Steve was really interesting guy and I talked to him a little bit about working with John Candy and a movie that he did called armed and dangerous and I believe that Steve might have been one of the producers

Are you still acting today?

I have retired on a medical and took an early retirement from The Screen Actors Guild but as soon as I get some of my issues straightened out I'd like to go back to working if I can

Now here’s some fun stuff: What are your favourite horror films?

I guess comedy 'Young Frankenstein'. You know I think because of my life and the stuff that I've seen in real life horror films are just not my cup of tea.

What show were you in that you cherish to this very day?

You know I guess I don't really have a favorite 'Batman Returns' was a really cool show to work on it was my first mega budget film that I ever worked on and I had a blast. But 'Road House' again was entirely too much fun. Well you know it's funny because some of the smaller things that I did I'm really proud of there was a TV show on that I did just a very brief part I played red pit pit not bite and that was the joke through the whole movie the whole show and then I show up so it was pretty interesting and fun and I didn't episode of 'Touched by an Angel' where I played a guy in a restaurant and got to work with Charlie Schlatter and he was a blast you know it's sometimes the little things that I've done that I'm I'm I'm most happy and proud of. I really like the acting part of my job and I really enjoy the the actual work of that I wish that I was in a position to do more of it but I'm sort of a guy that sells red bow ties if you want to rid bowtie I'm your guy but other than that you know the world is big and there's lots of actors

What show were you in that you weren't proud of and you'd like to change?

Nothing really because I think I did a great job and everything that I worked in he got to remember when you're just an actor hired to do a day or or a couple of days in a film even really don't have any say in how it all turns out you didn't write it you didn't direct it so I'm really pretty happy with with the work that I've done.

What are your ambitions in life?

Well my ambitions and goals in life have changed over the years now I just want to be a good father husband and grandfather and I'm getting to do that role more and more.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Well I guess surrounded by my family and good friends my hope for the future is to retire on some land of my own and a nice house with a front porch or I can sit in a rocking chair drink moonshine tell lies and cussed the government

Great thanks for giving me all the information on all of this as this is the end of our interview

I hope that this has been helpful Greg.