Timothy Carey Saint of the Underground By Sam McAbee. Timothy Agoglia Carey lived and died an underground legend. The heavy-lidded, conspicuously tall actor crafted one of the most disjointed, overlooked and under-appreciated film careers in cinema history...

Timothy Agoglia Carey lived and died an underground legend. The heavy-lidded, conspicuously tall actor crafted one of the most disjointed, overlooked and under-appreciated film careers in cinema history.

He was a man who refused to compromise, didn’t check his spelling, and never, ever listened to a goddamn word anybody said to him.

He wrote, produced and directed a play called The Insect Trainer, which revolved around the power and the importance of farting.

He brought John Cassavetes over to his house, put him in a dog attack suit and let three rottweilers jump on him, while yelling words of encouragement from the next room, “It’s not you they hate, it’s the suit!”

Richard Widmark beat him up on the set of 1956’s The Last Wagon. Not to be outdone, in 1961 Carey was kicked in the ribs by Karl Malden and stabbed with a pen by Marlon Brando during the making of One-Eyed Jacks.

He was one of the few actors Stanley Kubrick ever trusted to improvise a scene.

He faked his own kidnapping and ransom note during the filming of Paths of Glory, just to get some press.

He led a life of strange brilliance. Carey’s passion for life blazed a trail of wide-eyed wonder that has been followed by such contemporary icons as Crispin Glover and Andy Kaufman.

Through all of this, and much, much more, he always remained true to the world he most definitely helped create and flourish: the underground.

The Early Days
It is ironic that a man, whose name is so widely unrecognized, could make such an impression on so many people. You don’t forget Timothy Carey. The infancy of Carey’s career consisted of small roles, often playing “the heavy” or a sideline thug. Yet, Carey’s presence could not be overlooked.

Carey’s film career started small and didn’t really get to grow much more as time went on. His first film role came in 1951, with an uncredited role in Billy Wilder’s noir film The Big Carnival. From there he played another small, uncredited part in the William A Wellman rustic western Across the Wide Missouri. After working in some forgettable films and playing small, miniscule parts, Carey got his first chance to really shine.

In André De Toth’s gritty noir drama, Crime Wave (1954), Carey’s appearance comes late in the film where he oozes malevolence as Johnny Haslett. He then spends a good deal of time off-camera babysitting the protagonist’s wife. A testament to Carey’s creepiness on screen, the brief glimpse of him as Haslett is enough to keep audiences on the edge of their seats. Moving up from the number four thug to the crime boss’s right-hand man, Carey played Lou Terpe in Harold D. Schuster’s Fingerman (1955). Faithful to a fault, Carey makes the most of his small role, seething with pent-up penitentiary anger at the film’s wimpy hero.

Between his work in Crime Wave and Fingerman, Carey had a small part in the Marlon Brando vehicle, The Wild One. Carey was uncredited in the film, but even with the limited screen time and lack of respect he was given, he managed to turn in the most memorable performance in the film. With his spraying of the soda pop into Marlon Brando’s face, Carey carved his imprint into the minds of many, making his miniscule Chino Boy #1 credit much more than expected. And from there, his small but loud presence in many films to come, like East of Eden, Rumble on the Docks, and Revolt in the Big House, created the enigmatically fascinating actor that one can only call Timothy Carey.

The Kubrick Connection
Undoubtedly, Timothy Carey made his biggest impressions on people during his short but memorable stint with Stanley Kubrick. Where other directors saw problems with Carey’s odd impulses, Kubrick saw promise. The best example of Carey’s overwhelming presence is evidenced by Stanley Kubrick’s 1956 film, The Killing.

Based on the terse novel by Lionel White, Kubrick adapted the tightly plotted thriller with help from hardboiled icon Jim Thompson. Starring Carey’s fellow Crime Wave alum, Sterling Hayden, The Killing is remarkable for its terrific ensemble cast, as well as its effective use of a fractured timeline.

While the character of Nikki Arane is peripheral to players in the central narrative of the film, Carey plays his role with an unforgettable intensity. Arane is a sniper hired to shoot a horse at the racetrack. In order to secure the best position for his job, he lies to a lonely, disgruntled parking attendant. Arane claims to be a paraplegic who can’t be bothered with trying to get his bum legs into the racetrack and, instead, watches from the sidelines. In this lie, he becomes something of a kindred soul to the African American parking attendant, an outcast of sorts due to his ethnicity. Problems arise, however, when the attendant tries to chat with Arane as the sniper’s need for privacy begins to build. Like the rest of his oeuvre, his role in The Killing proves memorable for Carey’s ability to create an unmistakable character from an underwritten role.

Kubrick’s next film, 1957’s Paths of Glory, was a powerful statement about patriotism, courage, and bureaucracy. Set in France during WWI, Carey plays Private Ferol, one of the soldiers chosen for execution in a political “game” between his superiors. As he’s led to his death, Carey started to improvise his dialogue. Lead actor Kirk Douglas didn’t like Carey’s improvising, feeling that Carey was overshadowing him (which is true), and made this known to Kubrick. Between takes the director walked up to Carey and whispered in his ear “Make this a good one, ’cause Kirk doesn’t like it.” In the final scene, Carey becomes a withering and crying mess: a terrified, pleading man, who knows he’s going to die. The reality of Carey’s character impulse gives the scene all the more power.

When Paths of Glory had its general run, one New York critic referred to Timothy Carey as “Kubrick’s good luck charm.”

After Paths of Glory, Kubrick went on to make Spartacus in 1960. Originally cast in the film, eventually Carey’s presence was no longer requested. Kirk Douglas was, once again, the star and executive producer of the movie and he no doubt remembered Carey’s energy and ability to make a scene more than it was.

The final entry in Kubrick’s work with Carey came in the 1961 film, One-Eyed Jacks. Kubrick was originally set to direct, with Carey’s Wild One co-star Marlon Brando in the lead. Kubrick brought Carey along for the ride but left the project in the early stages of postproduction, due to the ego excesses of Brando.

The initial cut of One-Eyed Jacks came in just shy of four-and-a-half hours. Undoubtedly, Carey’s role of Howard Tetley, an obstreperous barroom drunk, was a victim of the severe cuts the film underwent before release. Yet, as always, he remains one of the most memorable faces in the film.

Throughout his life, Carey realized the contributions he made to Kubrick’s early days and seemed hurt by the lack of loyalty Kubrick showed him after Kubrick’s personal exile to England. One can only imagine Carey’s role in Lolita, Dr. Strangelove, Full Metal Jacket, or even The Shining. Carey never worked with Kubrick again, although the reclusive director always had high praise for Carey.

World’s Greatest Sinner
Before working with Stanley Kubrick, Timothy Carey was more idealistic, but when he was just starting out his behavior clashed with the Hollywood ideal of how to act. He was brazen in his attempts to be cast. He once scaled the wall of 20th Century Fox Studios in a full suit of armor, trying to get a part in the 1954 film Prince Valiant. To impress an agent, he shot himself in the head (with a blank), during a live stage performance.

When Stanley Kubrick moved on, Carey’s resentment for “the system” grew, keeping him from being able to work in Hollywood at all. Carey was too creative and sure of his ideas to be patient with those who didn’t catch on. In many ways he resembled Orson Welles, but without the head start. However, while Welles spent his whole career ruining his name, Carey’s ideas were too radical for him to have a name to begin with.

As a maverick of the cinema, Carey’s Citizen Kane was World’s Greatest Sinner on which he served as writer, producer, director and star. Timothy Carey began crafting his one and only fully realized moment of personal celluloid brilliance in 1956 in El Monte California, where he lived most of his adult life. He shot World’s Greatest Sinner with his own money, the final budget running around $100,000. It was filmed mainly in his El Monte home and on the city streets, using locals for talent.

Sinner remains one of the most prophetic and groundbreaking films in cinema. Its narrative centers on Clarence Hilliard, a man who is tired of his humdrum life. He’s an insurance salesman with a beautiful family, a Mexican gardener, and a horse. One night, he stumbles across a rock ‘n’ roll show happening near his home. He becomes so moved by the music and dancing that his mojo gets a goin’ like it ain’t anybody’s business.

Hilliard heads home and turns over a new leaf. He decides that he’s God, changes his name to God Hilliard and starts a rock ‘n’ roll band. He travels the country decked out in a gold lamé suit with “God” embroidered on the sleeves, working crowds into a frenzy! The rock ‘n’ roll performances that Carey unleashes in Sinner reek of punk rock and No Wave madness, and this was in 1956!

For the soundtrack, Carey employed a then unknown musician named Frank Zappa. Reportedly, Zappa begged Carey for the job. This was Zappa’s big break in music and the start of a long and illustrious career. Soon after Sinner’s completion, Zappa went on the Steve Allen show and referred to it as “the world’s worst movie,” the sign of a true ingrate.

As God, Hilliard preaches his gospel and develops a cult of rabid Followers. He tells his Followers, who wear armbands emblazoned with the letter “F” (for “Follower”), that there is only one God, and that God is Man. His Followers riot and destroy city streets while Hilliard seduces an old lady for cash and runs for president. He has sex with fourteen-year-old girls and slaps his 8-year-old daughter in the face when she begs him to accept Jesus.

He challenges the “real” God to a fight in the film’s final, mind-melting moment of over-the-top artistic realization. World’s Greatest Sinner makes other so-called “groundbreaking” films look like a fucking joke. Carey’s brainchild is, quite possibly, the most inspiring depth-charge ever put on film. His obvious dedication and passion break acting and filmmaking down into unattainable bursts of madness and total personal clarity.

The idea for Sinner came from Carey’s intense desire to create something that would really push the envelope and give people something to think about. Carey once said, “I was tired of seeing movies that were supposedly controversial. So I wanted to do something that was really controversial.” Sinner was bold, dumbfounding, mind-bending, and earth-shattering. Its cultish, religious and political subjects predate Jim Jones, Manson, Heaven’s Gate, and Pat Buchanan.

Sinner seems to be hundreds of years ahead of its time, in its messages, purpose and method. It’s like an alien viewpoint of the hypocrisy of Man and his mental machines of religion, politics, lust, ultra-ego, and self-doubt. Sinner is one of the fullest and intense films ever made, and sadly, few have seen it.

A full-blown riot ensued at the world premiere Sinner when Timothy Carey fired a .38 into the roof of the jam-packed Los Angeles theatre. Otherwise, the film only screened a few times to a poor response on its initial release in 1963. It’s no surprise though. When one watches the film, the hatred for the general viewing public is palatable. Carey’s Hollywood alienation drips from the screen of Sinner like blood from a stigmatic. Critics of the day referred to Sinner as “a travesty of the arts,” while I contend that Sinner is the greatest lost masterpiece of the underground and of a personal vision fulfilled through independence.

Hearing Carey speak about World’s Greatest Sinner in 1992, one can’t help but think about it acting as a metaphor for his life as a whole: “I’m changing Sinner every second! I took my last cut of the show last year. That’s after years and years! I’m not afraid to turn it around. Some people say, ‘Oh, this is boring now. That I’m losing my touch ‘cause I’m doing too much.’ But a creative person can do it a thousand times, five thousand times, and still enjoy it because he’s creating each time. You wine and dine something! You don’t say, ‘OK, it’s gonna take me two weeks and that’s it.’ It’s something that’s going to be with you for the rest of your life.”

The Cassavetes Connection
John Cassavetes once said that World’s Greatest Sinner “had the brilliance of Einsenstein.” Carey later used this quote for self-promotion, (misspelling Cassavetes’s name in the process).

Timothy Carey and John Cassavetes were prominent character actors in the 1950s with enormous presence. Both played off-kilter men and had a hand in creating the world of underground film. Yet, ironically, both were apart from it.

Cassavetes remained separate through his own doing, going as far as telling a reporter “I was never part of anything” when asked about his involvement in the underground. On the other hand, no one admitted Carey to any movements. He stayed far from the association of underground filmmaker and continued to be regarded as just a good actor in bit parts. Cassavetes shunned and shattered all of his praise while Carey never even got the chance.

In 1956 they both began work on their own films. For Carey it was World’s Greatest Sinner; for Cassavetes it was Shadows. Completed and released in 1959, Shadows won accolades and awards the world over. Completed in 1962 and released in 1963, Sinner went on to be called “the worst movie ever made.”

Carey and Cassavetes met and became friends in the 1960s. Cassavetes helped Carey raise the money for his second directorial project, Tweet’s Ladies of Pasadena, which got underway in 1968. During the production of Tweet’s, Cassavetes wrote a part for Carey in the 1971 film, Minnie & Moskowitz. Appearing for one brief, memorable scene near the beginning of the film, Cassavetes allowed Carey to run amok as Morgan Morgan, a loudmouthed coffee shop sloth. Cassavetes shot thousands of feet of film of Carey’s improvisational rants and revelations. Finally, Carey was getting the star treatment he deserved. “You made the film, Tim,” Cassavetes told him. This undoubtedly endeared the two to each other, but it certainly left the rest of the cast with a rather jealous and skewed view of Carey and Cassavetes’s affection for him.

This slow burning resentment came to a boil in the next Cassavetes film Carey worked in, 1976’s The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. Carey played Flo, a member of a tightly knit group of mobsters out to kill Cosmo (Ben Gazzara), the owner of a strip club in Los Angeles, who owes a lot of money to a lot of bad people. Carey’s performance in Bookie is nothing short of amazing, his presence pours from the screen, at times almost drowning out the other people. His ability to turn other actors into mere props and furniture shows here more than in any other film.

This certainly didn’t go unnoticed by the other members of the cast, most notably Seymour Cassel. During a scene in which Cassel was supposed to grab Carey by the collar and rough him up a bit, he grabbed Carey by the neck instead. Cassel gripped him so hard that Carey couldn’t turn his head. Carey told Cassavetes he was going to break a bottle over Cassel’s head if it happened again. The director responded by telling Carey to do it, to punch Cassel in the nose if he tried it again. Keep in mind that Cassel and Cassavetes were the best of friends for years.

Cassavetes saw that Cassel was in the wrong and behaving childishly as a result of Carey’s scene-stealing ability. Cassavetes knew that Carey was making Bookie more of a movie and he was willing to put his friendship with Cassel on the backburner, if need be. In the end, Carey remained calm and turned the anger and the animosity between them into one of the best moments in the film. Cassel grabbed Carey by the collar, shook him up and yelled at him and Carey took it, looking sad, understanding and superior.

Watching Killing of a Chinese Bookie, Carey’s character is composed of free flowing dialogue and surreal statements. He seems to be rooted in underworld creepiness and sin. Once more, Carey crafted a character more memorable than most of the movie he was in-that’s saying a lot considering the scope and vision of Killing of a Chinese Bookie, which is Cassavetes’s finest and most personal vision.

Carey’s scenes in Bookie have a strange feel to them. There’s alienation in the air, and you can see the distance he’s given from the other performers. He is the existential spirit of reality in the film, his world filled with people and partners, yet he remains apart and detached from them. This was true of his character in the film and of himself on the set and in life.

In between Minnie & Moskowitz and The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, Carey worked several times with another Cassavetes alum, Peter Falk, on the successful TV crime drama, “Columbo.” In a rare turn, Carey was one of the show’s few recurring characters, Bert, a hash slinger at Barney’s Beanery. Carey made two appearances as this character before disappearing for several seasons, only to return as a deli owner named Vince.

Carey and Cassavetes remained close, with Cassavetes always looking out for him. One great example of Cassavetes’s overwhelming care and affection for Carey was in the early ’80s when Cassavetes ran across Carey outside of the Paramount lot. Carey was looking for work. They got in a conversation about old times and when Carey smiled, Cassavetes noticed the cap that had fallen off of one of Carey’s front teeth. He drove Carey to the dentist and paid the bill. At Cassavetes’ funeral in 1989, Carey delivered an astounding, poetic, and beautiful eulogy for the man who had done so much for him. “His grace, humility, artistry, against all odds. His light will never be extinguished. Cassavetes: always perpendicular to humanity, antidote against apathy in my life as a thespian. To me, he will always be a theanthropist. Hail Cassavetes.”

The Later Years
The closest Carey ever came to being embraced by the underground came in 1968 with his role as Lord High ‘N’ Low in the counterculture film, Head. Written by a fellow Cassavetes alum and self-professed admirer of Carey’s, Jack Nicholson, Head brought together some the best talent of the day including frequent Nicholson cohorts Bob Rafelson and Monte Hellman.

Head was a seemingly unlikely vehicle for The Monkees, playing everything to the utmost of parody and self-reflexivity. At once, Head is a commentary about The Monkees’ prefabricated image (they refer to themselves as “plastic” and are portrayed by mannequins in one scene) and an anti-Vietnam statement. Carey’s Lord High ‘N’ Low makes frequent appearances as a threatening spectre. For as “controlled” as the Monkees appear, High ‘N’ Low is wild. In one memorable scene, Carey rolls into a lavish ’60s psychedelic party in a hand-cranked wheelchair and delivers a remarkable monologue consisting of only four words, “That a boy, Mike.”

During the 1970s, Carey put nearly all of his energy into his follow-up to World’s Greatest Sinner, Tweet’s Ladies of Pasadena. He turned down a big part in The Godfather, as he was in the throes of making Tweet’s. After Coppola convinced Carey to read for The Godfather Part II, during his screen test Carey pulled a gun from a lunch box and shot Francis Ford Coppola (with blanks of course). Instead of being scared or incensed, Coppola wanted Carey for his work now more than ever. This didn’t occur. There were plans of Carey appearing in Apolcalyps Now. His idea for the character was to be a member of a Marine K9 unit. He spent all day picking fleas from the necks of his killer dogs, petting them and talking to them like his children. It sounds like a brilliant moment, but of all the things Coppola threw into the mix for Apocalypse, this didn’t make it.

Later in the decade Carey could be seen struggling through a slough of TV gigs including “The Greatest American Hero,” “CHiPS,” “Starsky & Hutch,” “Charlie’s Angels,” and so on. Apart from his work with Cassavetes, Carey’s most noteworthy film role came in John Flynn’s The Outfit.

Based on the third book in the Parker series by Donald Westlake (writing as Richard Stark), Robert Duvall plays the lead with Parker renamed Macklin. Carey has a supporting roll as Jake Menner, a middle-tier Mafioso determined to kill Macklin and his partner, Cody (Joe Don Baker). A who’s who of terrific character actors, The Outfit was one of the more faithful of the Parker adaptations—in tone if not in narrative.

Failed Projects
Timothy Carey began filming Tweet’s Ladies of Pasadena in 1968 and never finished. It’s the story of Tweet Twig (Carey), a giant man-child who rollerskates everywhere he goes. His wife is a 300-pound British female wrestler. He works for the “Don’t-Drop-A-Stitch Knitting Club,” which is a group of little old ladies (some of whom were played by guys in drag). Tweet Twig is the only male member, and he takes care of all the ladies. He’s also trying to clothe all the naked and homeless animals in the world, so he takes in any and every stray he sees. The animals all talk to each other and run amok in his small house. The film is filled with some of the strangest and sweetest images I’ve ever seen; it’s literally swirling with amazing colors and characters. The imagery seems to be extracted from the dreams of a child, the angles, colors and structure of the story drift from the coherent to the unattainable.

Tweet Twig resurrects a little girl’s dead dog. He and the old ladies rollerskate down the middle of a busy highway. His 300-pound wife lifts cartoonish weights that have “300” written on each end. Tweet Twig and the old ladies dress in Indian garb for no apparent reason and animals talk and run wild in almost every frame of the film. Tweet’s Ladies of Pasadena is an amazing piece of psychedelic madness that never got off the ground (beyond a rough 90-minute work print). It’s interesting if only for the fact that it presents a side of Carey that couldn’t exist further from the person portrayed in Sinner. It shows Carey’s character ability, as well as his gift for crafting ideas so far apart that association is practically impossible. Tweet’s was eventually pitched as a TV show, but it never went anywhere.

Another potential fuse that never lit was Carey’s script for a film called AL. Carey started shooting this in the mid-’50s, even before he began shooting Sinner. He put it on the back burner to finish Sinner. Carey looked at AL as his pet project, once he finished Sinner. AL was the story of a salesman from Alabama who gets stuck in traffic on the L.A. Freeway. His wife is pregnant and he’s trying to get to a hospital. Once he gets off the freeway, he drives aimlessly trying to find a hospital. The film deals mainly with Al’s odd encounters with the people of L.A. The film shows Carey’s fascination with the everyman and with the strangeness that existed in the normal man’s life. Carey saw the strange sparks that made life interesting.

Sadly, all that came of AL was a wonderful script and the footage that Carey shot in the mid-’50s. Cassavetes showed it to a producer at Universal, Ned Tannen. Universal wanted to make it, but not with Carey in the driver’s seat. Universal wanted Daniel Petrie to direct but Carey was dead set against anyone else making AL a reality. Like Tweet’s, AL died a slow death. Several other ideas never managed to move as far along as Tweet’s and AL. Two more films envisioned were Flore and Greenwood. Carey wrote Flore with his long-time wife, Doris. The story features a former car wash worker who turns detective and tries to solve a necrophilia/murder case in order to use the reward for his girlfriend’s art school tuition. Meanwhile, Greenwood focuses on Cass Matthews, a guy who pays for his 25,000 acres of alligator sanctuary by recording pop records in Memphis.

Carey wrote a number of teleplays as well. My Casa Is Yours, which was about a singing Mexican cowboy who dreams of being a pro soccer player. Another one is Commercials (written with Doris as well), about an ad executive who joins forces with an anarchistic, dog-loving street musician. These are just a handful of the numerous ideas Carey never got off the ground.

The Wealth of Unrealized Brilliance
Even if you try to sweep all of Carey’s misuse and abuse as an actor under the studio rug, you can’t look past all of his ingenious and insane film concepts that never saw the light of day. When it came to performances, you could safely say that Carey helped other actors create characters more often than he himself managed to play them (I’m not sure about this sentence in general. It’s confusing). Failed screen tests, in which the eventual actor of choice mirrored his performances, glutted Carey’s career.

His energy and naked honesty often made more enemies than friends. Carey’s characters weren’t allowed out of their cages. He would spend months developing the personality and behavior of a character only to have his screen time edited down to a moment or two. The reason? It seems as though his presence always took away from the stars; his energy and screen presence left everyone else looking flat and artificial. In this way, he was kind of like James Dean, who he worked with on Dean’s first major film, 1955’s East of Eden (Carey was uncredited).

When Carey took on the role of Joe, the brothel bodyguard in East of Eden, he brought his usual sense of off-the-wall style, making the most of what he had. He slurred and barked his lines like an animal, knee deep in hate and perversion. Undoubtedly, it was a colossal performance and broke out from the stilted performances of the rest of the cast. However, upon viewing the footage of Carey in action, director Elia Kazan ordered that all of his dialogue be re-dubbed by someone else. When asked about it, Carey blithely replied, “That’s how pimps talk.”

One of the most depressing stories I’ve heard about Carey’s running bad luck in Hollywood is one that his son, Romeo Carey, told me. Apparently, Quentin Tarantino asked Carey to play the role of Joe Cabot, the gang leader, in Reservoir Dogs. Tarantino had been a long-time fan, and even dedicated the script for Reservoir Dogs to Carey (among others). Before the film went into postproduction, there was a cast meeting where the potential stars displayed their abilities and ideas for their characters. Carey was asked to come in and do a run-through.

He was taken to a trailer, where Tarantino, Harvey Keitel, and a few others waited. Keitel was the executive producer, as well as the star, so he had the biggest say-so over what went down during production. Upon entering the trailer, Carey was lavished with praise. Keitel approached Carey and told him he really admired his work and that he was a giant fan. Carey, who had been through the pains of a stroke, simply looked at Keitel and humbly told him, “Thank you.” Keitel apparently took offense to this, having paid a compliment to Carey simply to receive one in return. But Carey had no idea who Keitel was, which pissed Keitel off. Carey did his run-through, and wowed everyone in the trailer. Tarantino was ecstatic about Carey’s rendition of Joe. But Keitel simply sat there, blankly, and said “Forget it, we can’t use him.” And that was that, Carey was out of the film.

Soon after, the great Lawrence Tierney took over the role of Joe. Tierney called Carey on the phone and said, “I can’t believe it, those assholes gave me your part!” Tierney has since gone on to work with Romeo Carey on his film project Juan-A-Be.

The Insect Trainer
Carey’s final creative blast was his most impassioned and surreal project, a stage play called The Insect Trainer. He began laying the foundation for The Insect Trainer as far back as 1981. Subtitled “an intimate collaboration with Salvador Dali,” the play focused on a man named Guasti Q. Guasti, a dishwasher at a Chinese restaurant who makes friends with a cockroach. When he farts near an old lady, the power of the gas knocks the woman out of her chair. She hits her head on the floor and dies. Guasti stands trial for murder.

The majority of the play is Guasti defending himself in court and delivering intensely dense, surrealistic lines, many of which are directed at the audience. These segments were to be enormous stream-of-consciousness rants on the attributes of farting and the necessity of such an act. Farting was one of Carey’s most obsessive subjects. The actor felt that flatulence was the key to removing all inhibitions, something a good actor has to be able to do. Carey once said about prepping his cast for The Insect Trainer, “First I’d take a big fart in front of them. That’s always a big help. I always thought if you really want to be a good actor, you’ve got to be able to fart in public. That, to me, is the most important. If you are so inhibited that you can’t fart, I don’t mean around your friends, I mean just a fart, out loud somewhere. I don’t mean the ‘silent creeper,’ everybody does that; I mean fart out loud! Just that you can do it and not be afraid of it. Humility is very important.”

Carey died on May 11, 1994 as a result of his fourth stroke in less than six years, right before The Insect Trainer went on stage. Carey’s son, Romeo Carey went on to play the part of Guasti Q. Guasti, making sure that his dad’s vision got the proper treatment it deserved. It seems poetic that Carey would die right before his final passion became complete.

His whole life was composed of wild ideas that lead him in circles of frustration and disappointment, yet he never became bitter or tired. His energy, kindness, creativity and life seemed to grow and grow with each passing year and each passing let down. Carey was truly the saint of the underground, the man who walked through it all: the studios, the independents, TV, the stage. From lying his way into the Marines when he was 15 years old to making World’s Greatest Sinner, Carey’s life was suffused with self-inflicted madness and genius, his wandering dreams never ending.

Back to Issue 12