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I Was a Teenage Cenobite

Well, actually I was 23 or so, but I was a cenobite nonetheless.

I was fresh out of college and still working as a delivery guy at Domino's, when out of nowhere a film crew descended on our town (Greensboro, NC) to film a second sequel to the Hellraiser movie chain. Having majored in Communications (with a concentration in broadcasting/cinema!) I figured, as did all my movie geek friends, it would be a good idea to try and work on this little movie show.

I tried to work in the sound department, but it didn't happen, but my good friend Mark got a job as a driver, which meant he'd be driving cast and crew to and from the various locations. Hey, it's a start. As for me, I just went back to my lame job of shuttling pizzas to people's houses.

One day, my manager, who went by the name of Beatle, was showing me an article in the newspaper that the movie was looking for extras for use in a bar scene. If he could've had his way, Beatle would've gone down to be an extra. Alas, he had to run the store. He told me that I should go on down and try to get in on it. "But I'm at work, too", I said. Amazingly, Beatle let me leave work to go be an extra on Hellraiser. I think he really wanted to get some level of excitement out of this, even if it was vicariously.

So off I went to be an extra in a goofy horror movie. I get there and stand around in a herd with everyone else. At one point, two or three people come up to me and pull me aside, away from everybody else. They ask me how much I weigh and how tall I am. I tell them to the best of my knowledge, and they ask me if I'd like to be a 'cenobite' in the film. For those of you unfamiliar with the lexicon of Hellraiser, cenobites are evil creatures borne of the dead, who possess some deadly trait based on what the person did when they were alive. Example: If you were a bartender in life, as a cenobite you would make Molotov cocktails and throw them at people and set them on fire. That sort of thing. So ANYWAY, here they are asking me if I'd like to be a cenobite called CD Head, named because he used to be a DJ, and as a cenobite he would make CD's come out of his chest then he'd throw them into people's heads. I said yes, and soon I was being whisked away to a trailer to be fitted in my cenobite outfit. Apparently, the actor who was supposed to play the part had to leave town for some undisclosed reason, so they were left having to find someone with the same shape and build to fit the costume that had already been made with the original actor in mind.

This is exciting, isn't it?

So there I am, being wrapped in black latex up to my neck, and they're just about to put the head on when my friend Mark walks by the open door of the trailer. "Hi Mark", I shout to him. He stops, looks in, and sees me (of all people) all gussied up to be a killing machine.

So I got to work on the movie after all.

A few fun aspects of the shoot:

1) I got to be "shot" 4 times in the chest. They rigged me with explosive squibs and had them go off as police try to shoot at me to stop me. This squib thing was a very last-minute idea, so they had the effects guy whip some up in a hurry. Before shooting the scene, they ask me to remember to act like I'm being hit by bullets. No prob. They shoot the scene, the squibs go off, and with no help from my acting ability, I am thrown back again and again as they go off. It literally felt like someone was punching me in the chest! The scene is over, the cameras stop rolling, and I hear the effects guy say, "I think I made those a little stronger than normal".

2) Walking around in the outfit between takes, no one could tell who was in the suit, thanks to the head piece. Most people who came to watch the movie being shot assumed that it must be some famous actor in there, and they'd come up to me, asking for autographs and asking me what else I'd been in. At first I felt bad saying that I was just some dumb local. Then another crew member told me that I might as well ham it up and have some fun. "Go ahead and lie! Tell 'em you're a star!" So for the remainder of the shoot I was magically from California and I had a different name, although now I can't remember what it was.

3) During the shoot they pulled all us cenobites aside and took lots of publicity stills. I thought cool, some good pictures to have one day soon. I figured that surely they'd give me copies of the pictures. Turns out I never ever saw them until just recently. A fan of the movies from England emailed me, having got my name from IMDB. He collects horror film memorabilia, and had managed to get autographed pictures from all the other cenobites ecxept for me. He asked if he could send some pictures my way for me to sign. I said sure, and I asked if by chance he had any of the publicity photos from the movie. He said yes, and that he'd send me an extra set to keep. They just showed up in the mail the other day. What a hoot! There I am, in these action poses against a standard portrait background. And there I am with Pinhead and all the other cenobites! I can't help but think how cool and unexpected it is that, twelve years after the fact, I finally got my hands on those pictures!

You see, it turns out that my participation in the movie was a very off-the-books sort of affair. They paid me a wad of cash under the table and sent me on my way. No one ever got my name or my personal info. Just a wad of cash, a thank you and a goodbye. That meant no residuals, no royalties, and, worst of all, no credit in the film! They merely credit the original actor who was SUPPOSED to play the cenobite, but in the end only plays the actual human DJ. I could have protested and made a big stink, but then they would've just gotten some other sucker to do it. So I bucked up and enjoyed my one big chance to be in a movie. At least I have lots of pictures that prove it WAS me in that suit.

Oh, and I'm also on a trading card.

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