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Sunday, January 23, 2022

Hipster Queen Supreme: Lisa Petrucci

Something Weird Boss Lady Lisa Petrucci

I first met Lisa Petrucci over 25 years ago at the 1996 Chiller Con in Jersey City, NJ, where she was manning the Something Weird Video dealer's table alongside her late husband and soulmate, SWV founder Mike Vraney. Vraney passed away following a valiant fight against lung cancer in January 2014, but Lisa has been carrying on Vraney's mission of bringing access to the forgotten world of  '60s and '70s exploitation films to the masses by continuing to run Something Weird Video's film distribution business during increasingly challenging times. 

First, there was the sea change in technology that saw SWV's catalog of analog physical media (VHS videotape transfers of 16mm films) make the transition to digital media (DVD-Rs, Blu-rays and digital downloads). Then there was the handwriting on the wall vibe for all physical media resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, when streaming video content became the dominant viewing experience for a world in lockdown. And then there's the current challenge of today's progressive left-leaning Cancel Culture landscape, in which all exploitation and sexploitation films are taken out of their historical context and seen as racist, sexist  and patriarchal trash without any redeeming cultural value. Through it all, Lisa has stayed true to Mike Vraney's original vision and maintained SWV's legacy, even putting her own artistic endeavors on the back burner. 

And make no mistake about it, Lisa is a bonafide artist in her own right, one with a legacy that can stand on its own, even before she met Vraney and added the yin to his Something Weird yang-dang-doodle. As her bio on her web site The Art of Lisa Petrucci: Home of the Kickass Kuties (lisapetrucci.com) attests, Lisa studied at the New York's School of Visual Art and the Art Institute of Boston before embarking on a peripatetic career as a gallery curator and director in Boston, New York, Portland and Seattle, where she met and planted roots with her soulmate Vraney. Lisa’s Pop Surrealism paintings have been exhibited and seen all over the world and have been featured in many diverse publications, including her own deluxe art book Kickass Kuties – The Art of Lisa Petrucci, published in 2009 by Dark Horse. She’s also considered to be one of the Grand Dames of Lowbrow Art.

So why am I blathering about Lisa Petrucci now? Because of a fairly recent interview she gave to The Phantom of the Movies' VideoScope contributing writer Rob Freese in 2020. When I spied this wonderful mag ("It's videoactive!") founded by the late great Joe Kane (Joe passed away in 2021 but, taking a page from Lisa Petrucci, his widow Nancy Naglin continues to publish his beloved "all-things-movies" mag) at Barnes & Noble, I knew I'd have to purchase it, if only for the Something Weird feature.

Videoscope #115 Fall Horror Harvest Edition (Oct 2020)
Lisa made a number of astute observations about the Something Weird business and genre films in general, as highlighted below.

And seeing her name in print made me harken back to when my friend Dave Cawley and I first encountered her at Chiller Con '96, as well as when I ran into her and Mike Vraney with my Atomic TV cohort Scott "Unpainted" Huffines at subsequent Chiller Cons.

The first and only issue of COUNTEROID (Spring 1997)


My Something Weird Video Home Library

Today's pearl-clutchers detest grandpa's porn!