Ya Dig? Abel Ferrara on Ms. 45 and '70s New York

...And how projectionists used to steal scenes from porn

Yeah, "Disneyfied" is more like it. You bring a lot of money into a place, and you take out a certain aspect of it. When we made Driller Killer, there was a hobo camp on Fifth Avenue and 18th Street. We didn't have to bring those bums in for the film, they were right downstairs. And when you turn that city — which is a very conscious move — into a playground for people with enough money to buy apartments. ... Apartments used to be $500.

The loft in that movie went for $500 a month, and 15 years later, it was $5,000. Now I'm sure it's $10,000. But we had skylights! [laughs] On Fifth Avenue and 18th Street, and we're bitching because they raised the rent from $400 to $450. But at $400, you bring in energy, and a bunch of kids trying to find themselves. That's now in Brooklyn; you want to find what was in Manhattan back then, go to Brooklyn.

I really can't complain. I remember when Union Square was a war zone. It was like the first stop on the subway from Brooklyn, and you could not go anywhere at night. Wild dogs, Doberman Pinschers ... now, you haven't seen Doberman Pinschers in 100 years, but those dogs used to be running wild. Drugs dealers used to be shooting at each other — in Union Square! Can you even imagine now?

Ms. 45.
Ms. 45.
Ms. 45.
Ms. 45.

Location Info


IFC Center

323 Sixth Ave.
New York, NY 10014

Category: Movie Theaters

Region: Greenwich Village


Ms. 45
Showing at midnight on Friday and Saturday night at IFC Center.

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In front of the Trader Joe's, right?

Yeah, right. Maybe it isn't even a matter of being young, but an attitude. New York is a creative center forever, forever, since the day it was stolen from the Indians, or "negotiated" from the Indians.

Given that you don't like to revisit your films, it's interesting that you scripted but never shot a prequel to King of New York. You've also previously said that 'R Xmas was "a sister film to King of New York." What keeps bringing you back to that one?

'R Xmas is a documentary on the real war on selling drugs. King of New York É OK, it was Biggie's favorite movie and all that. But for me, at that period, that was the reality of selling hard drugs on the street. It wasn't a fantasy. 'R Xmas was an actual story of a real person. How we filmed it is something else, but everything that was told to me is the truth. And we went after it in that kind of way, and did not glamorize it. Somebody blows up a basketball in the street right in front of you — in the real world, you don't need to kill 50 people to make your point, you dig what I mean?

You never made another movie that was also about drugs in the city, Crack City Terminator. Have you ever revisited that?

[laughs] Crack City Terminator was a remake of Yojimbo, so it was basically a shot-for-shot remake. We just wanted to remake one of our favorite films. But it was a fantasy, more on the King of New York level — no, not on the King of New York level, it was a remake of a fuckin' great movie! There's a real Crack City Terminator, though; this was in the Bronx in the early '80s, and it was some crazy motherfucker who was ripping off cops, drug dealers, and everyone else. That would have been a cool movie.

If someone were to put a pile of money in your lap, and said, "I want to restore Nine Lives of a Wet Pussy," would you let them?

If they wanted to restore the movie, they wouldn't have to put a pile of money in my lap. They'd need a big pile of money to restore it, though. Let me tell you a story: We shot that film, and back in the day, it would play the porno circuits of Baltimore to North Carolina, and it would end up in Miami, and then back. And every stop on the way, the projectionist would take his favorite scene out of the movie. So by the time the movie came back, a big film — it was not a great film to begin with — was now missing its five, six best scenes. It'd be pretty funny, going around trying to find those clips hanging on some projectionist's wall of favorite scenes from porno films. I'd like to see that movie: a collection of some projectionist's all-time favorite porno scenes. That would be a movie I'd like to fuckin' see.

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