I first (started to watch) “The Toxic Avenger” at the wise old age of eight. I put it in my state-of-the-art VCR and pressed play. Like most children eight years of age, I was under parental supervision. My dad and I watched as Skippy’s young and innocent head explodes. We saw Slug straddle a nude Wanda as she pulls a knife out on the socially awkward and nerdy Melvin. Brains were exposed and my dad had enough. Melvin had sprouted into Toxie, the bigger and strong monster hero. Three years later I convinced my mom to rent me the movie all over again and this time I watched it alone, taking the whole flick in. Things have never been the same. “The Toxic Avenger” stands as one of the best movies in my life. It was an honor to speak with the Mop Boy himself Ladies and gentlemen, all grown up, here’s Mr. Mark Torgl.
-Matt Greenfield (Rust Belt Hammer, editor)
How was life growing up in Detroit? Before the economic collapse the city was a hotbed of the car manufacturing industry and also music with the likes of Motown, MC5, etc.
Melvin: I was a completely normal kid; I liked to capture flies and tie a string around their necks and fly them around as my pets! I had a large mayonnaise jar where I kept my collection of toenails like all kids in Detroit have. Music is and was very important to me.
I love the MC5, Motown and Iggy Pop! They all influenced me as a kid. At an Iggy Pop show in a small club a couple of kids had sex on the floor in front of me, the girl grabbed my leg for support.
When did you move to New York City and how did you get
involved with Troma? I am assuming they put you in “Toxic Avenger” because of your performance in “The First Turn-On.”
I moved to NYC in 1980 to go to NYU film school. Spike Lee and Ang Lee were my classmates, Jim Jarmush graduated the year before I came in, but he was always running around the halls. Whatever happened to all those guys? “The First Turn On” happened when Troma posted a notice on the Job Board at NYU to come work on a “real” feature film. So I met with Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz and they asked what I wanted to do? I wanted to be the Script Supervisor, Lloyd said ok you can be the Script Supervisor, what else do you want to do? I said I like writing, Lloyd said ok you can write some additional scenes. So I didn’t sign on as an actor, but typically everyone on the crew ends up in the film somewhere. When the actor who was hired to play Dwayne didn’t show up, Lloyd said, “Mark you go in and do the part”. The rest is history. A year later Lloyd and Michael auditioned hundreds of kids to play Melvin in “The Toxic Avenger” and finally Lloyd said what we really want is what Torgl did last year. They called me up and told me about the movie and said if I wanted the part it was mine.
What was it like on the set of “Toxic Avenger” working with a young Lloyd Kaufman and many unknown regional actors, some of whom would go on to live in cult infamy?
It was really like a family or like a family in prison. Lloyd was the warden who would always threaten sexual abuse [laughs]. Marisa Tomei was an extra in the sheep scene. She couldn’t keep her hands off of my mop. Vincent D’ONofrio was in “The First Turn On?” Yeah, in fact I wrote a couple of the scenes he was in. He was so good and we kept giving him more scenes. A really nice guy.
Have you kept in contact with any of the actors you met on the “Toxic Avenger” set? I am especially curious about Mitch Cohen.
I’d love to go on the Convention circuit with Mitch, but nobody seems to know what happened to him or how to contact him.
Over the years, have you watched any post-“Toxic Avenger” productions by Troma? If so, what did you think of them?
“Return To Class Of Nuke ‘Em High” is just released and I think it’s awesome. I like any Troma film, because you know you are going to see something you’ve never seen before.
You definitely disappeared for a long time from the world of b movies. What have you been doing?
I was stuck in a squirrel trap in Bumfuck Michigan. I fell in love with a cute skunk, I called her Julie. Seriously, I’ve been working Post Production in Hollywood. I’ve made a couple of short films and written a couple of unproduced feature scripts.
What are your hobbies outside of cinema?
I like to collect chewed gum off of the sidewalk and from under lunch room tables. My wad is the size of a VW Bug now.
What made you decide to make “Toxic Tutu”
I was pursued by The people of The Mad Monster Party to be a celebrity at their convention in Charlotte North Carolina a year ago in March. I had never done a convention until this one. My best friend from NYU and I decided to document it. We created a fictionalized story around the monster convention backdrop and continued at Days of The Dead Los Angeles and then at ComiCon San Diego and Stan Lee’s Comikaze where Lloyd and the Troma Crew also participated.
Tell our readers about the movie.
It’s the Almost True Story Of What Became Of The Toxic Avenger’s Mark Torgl!
Do you think it will come out as a Troma release?
Not the plan right now, but Troma has been very supportive. Lloyd is actually in the film in a pretty big part.
Any final words?
Check out our IndieGogo campaign for Toxic Tutu, as of today there are 14 days left! Also check out our new web page www.ToxicTutu.com and like my facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/ToxicAvengerMarkTorgl Remember to Believe The Magic and Dare To Be Different!
FOLLOW RUST BELT HAMMER WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/MCHOMELESS