I’m 30 and from Houston, which means the Joe Bob Briggs I knew was the excitable, twangy Texan that would introduce slasher flicks on TNT and The Movie Channel. Of course, Joe Bob Briggs was more than that. He is the alter ego of the writer John Bloom, who dreamed up the character in 1981 after realizing that there was a whole subset of low-brow horror movies that weren’t ever reviewed by any big daily newspapers, and especially not by his employer, the Dallas Times Herald.
Joe Bob Briggs came to life in the back pages of the newspaper’s entertainment insert, hidden between furniture ads, in a place where the editors wouldn’t look. By the time his bosses were clued in to the existence of his column, “Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In,” it had a following. Joe Bob, cantankerous and hyperbolically redneck, grew from writing about b-movies to commenting on culture at large, until the satire bullseye landed on famine in Africa and “We Are the World.” An effort led by John Wiley Price got the character killed from the pages of the Times Herald, and many papers across the country dropped his syndicated column.
Today, Bloom no longer claims to be a “friend and spokesman” of the columnist. He’s a nom de plume come to life, and you can relive his reign on Friday night at his one-man show at the Texas Theatre, “How Rednecks Saved Hollywood.” Bloom, in addition to writing a column for Taki’s Magazine, has written in D Magazine, was a finalist for a National Magazine Award while writing for Texas Monthly, and popped up in the movies Casino and Face/Off. Tim gives a much longer introduction in the podcast, and I imagine he will do it again onstage as he brings out Bloom on Friday. Or Joe Bob. I can’t keep these things straight.
On Wednesday, Bloom pulled up a chair at Table No. 1 at the Old Monk, alongside Tim and Kathy, to take a trip back to those days. You’ll learn the genus of the character and hear some damn perfect stories about auditioning to Martin Scoresese and Robert DeNiro.
You can get tickets for his show at the Texas Theatre right here. Show notes and streaming podcast player, as always, after the jump.
2. Here’s his presence in D Magazine: one of our 40 best stories,”Ole Anthony and the God Thing“.
3. Did you know the city of Dallas had its own ratings board? I dug up this Variety article that shows it was disbanded in 1993. The quote from the dentist who ran the thing sounds downright made-up:
The board had been the nation’s last protection against the movie industry’s agenda to mold American society. Aurbach credited the panel with making Hollywood accountable to viewers and with the creation of an industry hot line for film information.
“I am not the loser,” said the 49-year-old dentist. “I think that the city and the nation is. There is nothing now. There is no one to keep Hollywood in tow.”
4. Didja know that there’s still a porno drive-in theater in Tyler, of all places? The Apache is still dishing out the triple Xs. They were even mentioned in a Daily Beast story from 2015.
Then there’s the Apache Drive-In in the unlikely location of Tyler, Texas, which is now the last bastion of the adult film drive-in theater. The Apache operates today and by all accounts, draws well in the East Texas region.
“Yes we show all adult features,” said a gentleman answering the phone. Before I could explain my call, he said, “We don’t want any advertising and don’t want to be in any newspapers.” And he hung up.
They don’t need advertising? Apparently, explicit fornication still sells in the movie business, outside the home. And it still makes people really uptight to talk about it.
5. If you have a New Yorker subscription, you can read the 1986 profile that Tim keeps referencing right here.
6. This is the column, I believe, that got Joe Bob canned.
7. Bring back the Nudie Suit.
8. And this is the column in Taki’s that started the chat with Kathy .