"They were camp at its highest level, where you accept the most strange things and are entertained by them."
This sensibility inspired some of Woronov's most memorable film performances, such as Miss Togar from 1979's Rock ’n' Roll High School. "I dressed like an aberration of Joan Crawford," Woronov says. "Everyone else is in modern dress and I look like I'm from the 1930s. The thing about [Miss Togar] is that, you know, she's a fucking pervert. What makes it wonderful is that I don't play a pervert. I play someone commenting on perversion — just like a transvestite plays someone commenting on female-ism."
Woronov's own female charms suit Death Race's Calamity Jane, and another classic collaboration with Bartel, 1982's Eating Raoul, truly allows her Amazonian sexiness to bloom. "I knew I was sexy, but there was still a dichotomy of gender slippage," she says, discussing prude-turned-dominatrix Mary Bland. "I was still denying [sexiness] and yet showing it — like an underslip."
At the forefront of ’90s new queer cinema with roles in movies by Gregg Araki and Richard Glatzer, Woronov continues to add to one of the world's most colorful filmographies. Recently, she appeared in The Devil's Rejects, and she praises the film's director, Rob Zombie, as an honest man and class act in an industry full of phonies.
Today, Mary Woronov remains in LA. "For writing, you can't beat it, it's such a peculiar place — it's like a swamp," she says with a laugh. "Everybody I know is moving to Europe or talking about moving but not moving. I have decided I'm not going to move. I really want to stay here and wait for the revolution. I do believe there will be one." (Johnny Ray Huston)
MIDNIGHT MASS: DEATH RACE 2000 AND MARY WORONOV
Sat/5, 11:59 p.m.
3010 Geary, SF
For a complete Q&A with Mary Woronov — and to find out why she hates Warhol — go to the Guardian's Pixel Vision blog, at www.sfbg.com/blogs/pixel_vision.