Sunday, April 28, 2013

How It All Began

I'm re posting my first stories for new readers and to refresh continuing readers.  Thank you all so much for being here.

The Inside Story of Manos.  Part One

Hello all,
If you know Manos, The Hands of Fate, you know me.  I was Debbie, the little girl who became a wife of The Master in the end.  For any of you that I just gave the ending away to...Sorry, but really, it's not that great a film to begin with.  As fans know, it's the total experience of sitting through it that counts.  Certainly not the plot.
     Manos was truly a family film.  For me personally...not the poor hapless audience.  My father Tom Neyman played the role of The Master (He still quite hale and hearty, by the way).  The Master's demon dog was played by our family dog, Shanka.  My mom made the costumes for the Master and the wives.  She also made the dress I was wearing but that came from my own closet.  My mom made all my clothes back then.  The convertible car that carried the Micheal, Maggie, Debbie family was the Neyman family car.  Torgo's coverall, jacket and hat all came from my father's closet.   That's just a piece of our involvement.  My dad, Tom is an amazingly talented artist and had been in his "hand" phase for several years when Hal Warren asked him to help make the film.  Initially, the film was to be titled, "Finger's of Fate" but in a production meeting, my dad suggested the new title of "Manos, The Hands of Fate"  He reasoned that since he had been asked to not only star in the film but to provided sets, costumes, and artwork (all on a promise of future payment), that he could better put his time to work if he could use some of the art he already had.  Hands, lot's of them.  I haven't actually counted the pieces in the film but all the art, the sculptures and the Master's painting were created by his hand.  Sadly, some of those item's were never returned to my dad.  But hey, I got paid something.  I received a shiny red bicycle with training wheels and my dog, Shanka got a 50 lb. bag of dog food.
     That's it for now.  Thanks for reading and come back soon.  I've got lots to say about Manos, The Hands of Fate

The Inside Story of Manos.  Part Two

Here’s the story of how we re-discovered Manos more that a quarter century from it’s original release...

     As friends of my youth will attest to, I had talked about a film I had done with my dad when I was small and wanted very much to see it again.  It was a point of nostalgia for me considering how involved my whole family, including our dog, was in the making of Manos.  You must remember.   These were the days before personal computers and before the internet. 

     I called around, asking and searching for years.  Libraries, university film departments,  film archives, any place I could think who might be able to give me a lead.  I had pretty much given up when my phone rang 1993.  My dad was calling and said, “You’ll never believe what I just saw.  I was dozing off while watching the Comedy Central channel and heard some strange but familiar music.  When I opened my eyes, there I was on the television.  They just showed Manos, The Hands of Fate!”. He had been so shocked that he didn’t call me until it was over.  I immediately turned on Comedy Central and saw they had an 800 number on the screen to call for information.  So I called the number.  I had reached the HBO offices in Manhattan and a young man named Mathew.  I told him I had an unusual request.  “My dad just saw an episode of Mystery Science Theater featuring the film, Manos, The Hands of Fate.  I’ve been looking for that film for years.  My dad and I were in it and if at all possible I would do just about anything for a copy.”  Next came a looong pause and then “Oh My God!  Are you Debbie?”  I was simply stunned as I pulled the phone from my ear to look at it while my mouth hung open.   He then said “That is our favorite bad movie here in the office.  I just had a copy on my desk the other day.  I would love to send it to you and am so happy to talk with you”.
     And now, as we all know…the rest is history.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Blessings of Manos

I haven't been posting as regularly as I should but not because I've run out of things to say about Manos but because I've been so busy just living Manos.  I'm also attempting to learn how to make this blog easier to navigate.  For instance, I need to figure out how to have the blog titles displayed so you can find the story you wish to read.  I mean, sheesh, even I can't find some of the stories I'd like to review.

As you know from my last couple posts, I've been involved in a play about Manos in Portland.

. This is the third out of four weeks of the show.  7 more performances to go. All is going great. This show is tremendously funny whether or not you are a Manos fan although the Manos and MST jokes do add another dimension.  So if you are anywhere in the Portland, Oregon area before May 5th, be sure to come.  I get to play the voice of Debbie with my on stage character being played by a puppet.  Poetic justice when you realize that my voice was dubbed by a grown woman in the 1966 original Manos: The Hands of Fate.  Now I'm the grown woman dubbing myself.  I also painted my version of my dad's famously sinister Master and Dog portrait for the set of the play.  For a limited time, I'm offering 11" X 14" prints individually signed and quite suitable for framing.  If you've ever dreamed of having this on your wall or need the perfect gift for your favorite Manos fan, here it is.

 Besides that, I need the help, please.  This play is community theater which is not a paid gig and I must fund my own meals, travel, etc and being a poor artist type, it's a challenge, but one I must do, for my heart and my soul.

 I'm having some of the best times of my life.  One of the cast members has very generously offered the use of an adorable small short term rental in a very cool part of Portland so that I don't have to drive 70 miles home each night.  I've taken advantage of this opportunity to find new venues for my art, to make connections and create friendships with other motivated, successful creative people.   I can honestly say that Manos has opened up my life in the last couple of years in ways that could never have been imagined or planned, and without going into it much, Manos has helped heal and create new kind of relationship between me and my dad, The Master.

It is truly incredible to think that something that happened so many years ago could come to impact a life so much now.  How can it be that the Worst Movie Ever Made could be the catalyst  to bring my life's work and purpose as a creative being to public consciousness?  As many artists can tell you, a creative nature can be a real detriment to cultural standards of worth.  Fulfilling to the spirit perhaps but not to the stomach.  I cannot help who I am, no matter how often I may wish I could be content with a soul sucking job that at least pays the bills. Not really.  I just wanted to try out that last sentence but truthfully, I never regretted my choices because in the end, being an artist is not a choice, it just is.  I only wish society could recognize the value of what I do.

To see some of what I do, please click the "Jackey's Art"  tab at the top of the page.  If you are interested in any of my work or wish to commission a custom piece please contact me directly at

Friday, April 19, 2013

Debbie does Portland

What a week!  Manos: The Hands of Fate  stage production began with a dress rehearsal performance on Wednesday April 11th.  Opening night was the next night and it also ran Friday and Saturday.  Great audiences and pretty full theater each performance so far.
There were some awesome special guests, besides me of course. Lol.

 Rachel Jackson, Puppet Master with Vox Fabuli drove down from Seattle and brought the Master with her. They are pictured here with Paul Glazier who plays the Master in the stage production of Manos.

Bryon Jennings, the son of the original Manos Sheriff drove over from Boise, Idaho with his wife Wanda for several performances and is pictured here with me, The Master (puppet), Rachel Jackson from Seattle, and Ben Solovey of the Manos restoration flew in from Los Angeles.

Snuggling up to the Master.  Can't wait to meet Debbie in Seattle for Rachel's Puppet Show.

 ...and here are a couple of great reviews.
Oregon Arts Watch

Theatre Reviews by Dennis Sparks

Not only do I get to voice Debbie for this play, I was asked to re create the Master's painting for the set.  My dad, who played the original Master in 1966 also created the art and props for the original set and I am honored to follow in my dad's artist footsteps in this way.  Many people have asked me to do this for some time and the play gave me the final motivation. So for those of you who would like this for your very own, 11" X 14" high quality signed prints are available for a limited time.  Suitable for framing.

We are raffling off my painting during the run of the show and are donating 40% of proceeds to help buy art supplies for a Youth Art Program in my community.  If any of you would like to get in on the raffle, let me know and I'll get you some tickets.  The rest is to cover some of my expenses so I can do this show.  It's a 2 hour drive to Portland for me and I'm a poor artist type, so need all the help I can get.

Thanks again for reading.  Lots coming up and new (old) things revealed in a recent interview with my dad.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Masters Other Life

I want to share with you a family photo that no one outside of a few people in my family has seen until now.  I thought you would want to know what The Master looked like without the robe and make up.  Not only that, but this photo truly encapsulates who we all were.  In a nutshell, so to speak.  

From the left, my mother Jackey Reace, Dad Tom and my dad's grandparents Big Mimi and Pop.  They pretty much raised my dad, and Pop is where our Native American side came from.
My parents either created or built nearly everything in our house.  In this photo alone you can see one of my dad's sculptures with steel wool hair peeking out between Big Mimi and Pop.  One of his paintings of a nude is behind mom.  Too bad all the good stuff is covered up, huh?  Dad also made the chair to the left and scavanged the wood that's paneling the back wall from the desert.  My mom made the cushions for the chair, the drapes behind her and both of our dresses.  I'm pretty sure our underwear was store bought, but knowing my family, it could have come from the sewing room.

This photo was taken on November 15th 1966 as we were on our way out the door to go to the Manos: The Hands of Fate  premiere. It just this second occured to me in one of those odd ways that new thoughts surface from old or familiar things...I absolutey have no memory of my Great Grandparents being at the premiere and no photos have been found of them being there.  They were not in the limo with us when we arrived in front of the Capri Theater and yet here they stand all dressed up.  Hmmm.

Fast forward 46 and half years.  Things change.  My great grandparents and my mother are gone and my dad has had another family for many many years.  I grew up, got married had two handsome boys, got divorced, raised those boys and am now on my own again.

Here is a couple photos of my dad and I last summer.  He's still a very handsome man and at least now I don't have that goofy slack jawed look I seemed to perfect in Manos.

This week begins Manos: The Hands of Fate on Stage in Portland, Oregon.  It is tremendously funny and I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be involved.  Come to the show if you can and be sure to visit with me in the lobby or afterward.

Trailer for Play

Brian Koch, Little Debbie and Big Debbie

May the Hand of  Manos be with You Always