Interview with the writer of the lame movie that stole Miss Pussycat’s name (Scat Magazine. 2007)


In the screenplay for Flakes, youngish white girl Miss Pussy Katz (say it out out-loud) steps out of her funky downtown New Orleans hangout wearing her own punky handmade clothes and exclaiming, “That’s not a new concept!”

To which her rock-musician boyfriend replies, “It’s a stolen concept!”

Now, New Orleanians, who do you assume this screenplay is based on?

Actually, regardless of where you live, if you’re any kind of indy-rock music fan you’ve probably heard of New Orleans’ duo Quintron and Miss Pussycat. For ten years the couple have toured America and abroad headlining concerts, or opening for huge bands including The White Stripes and The Cramps. Even Times Picayune columnist Chris Rose has been to and written about The Spellcaster Lodge, the couple’s underground 9th Ward dance-club and concert venue–meaning your Mom or Dad might recognize the name “Miss Pussycat.”

But despite living in New Orleans for 15-years, “I’m forty-years-old and have kids. I don’t go out much,” claims Chris Poche’, writer of the Flakes screenplay filmed on Frenchmen Street recently by New York’s Independent Digital Entertainment (InDigEnt). “I’d heard her name,” Poche admits, “but I’d kind of thought she was a stripper, maybe? I’d never met [Miss Pussycat], never seen her show. If I’d named the character say, Maureen, would you notice any other similarity?” he asks, sounding like he sincerely doesn’t know the answer.

The breakdown: while Miss Pussycat runs The Spellcaster, Miss Pussy Katz is associated with Flakes, a scruffy, independent cereal restaurant where her rock-musician boyfriend turns away any customer he deems less than cool. The Spellcaster isn’t as pretentious, but then Missy Pussy Katz and Miss Pussycat are also both artists who design and create punk-rock-influenced clothing. When Quintron and Miss Pussycat were objectively described to Indigent’s PR man Reid Rosefelt (who was not in New Orleans for filming and had no clue about the semi-famous couple) he replied harmlessly but without prompting, “Oh, well it must be based on them then.”

Eerily, InDigEnt’s New Orleans base was located directly across from Miss Pussycat’s seamstress job on Carondolet. “But as soon as I found out about this I called their office in New York and said ‘This is Miss Pussycat, let me talk to the director!’” recalls the non-fictional Miss P. “They didn’t seem at all surprised. Jake Abraham [Flakes producer] got on the line and never denied it, never said ‘Oh, what a coincidence!’ He said, ‘Our lawyer told us if we change the spelling then everything will be OK.’ He said ‘Don’t worry, the whole theme of the movie is artistic integrity and the underground versus the corporate version’ and I just thought how ironic.”

Indeed, consumerism has come so full circle that by now even the idea of something artistic being turned into a product, has become its own entertainment industry template; there could almost be an “Anti-Corporate” genre in a separate section at Borders and Blockbuster. But to be fair, InDigEnt is not really a major corporation. Though it did produce the movie “Tadpole” starring Sygourney Weaver, Ethan Hawke’s “Chelsea Walls” and the soon to-be-released Wim Wenders flick “Land of Plenty,” InDigEnt shoots its movies small scale, digitally, “working within a framework of budgetary and technical limitations in exchange for…the entire crew [sharing] in the revenue,” quoth their website. Poche also states, “Major productions don’t even let the writer on the set. But I was lucky; I got to make sure it wouldn’t come out as just the typical view of New Orleans. I actually got to stop them and say ‘No, no, no, people here don’t talk that way.’ And I pushed hard to make sure it was set on Frenchmen instead of The Quarter.”

Also, to be fair, even Miss Pussycat admits that her un-copyrighted stagename, “Is not the most original.” A Google search comes up with, among others, a 13-year-old blogger named Miss Pussycat, a SuicideGirl, and an excerpt from a Bukowski story. But split all the hairs in the world, then imagine the lawsuits if some L.A. crew rolled in and made a movie about a small-time New Orleans musician named Trombone Fats, Tuba Shorty, or Kermit anything… “And even if [Flakes is] a small production,” fumes Mr. Quintron, “that just means they come even closer to existing in the same world as the real Miss Pussycat, so that some people might think she jacked her name off a quite-possibly-lame movie.”

And aside from the main problem, “New Orleans is like this little island of sincere artists making sincere art that isn’t really so goal-oriented,” Miss P bemoans, wary of, “People with vested interest coming in from the outside and picking little pieces off our underground culture.”

“But I made something personal,” defends Poche, claiming Flakes cereal restaurant was inspired by his long-ago job at PJ’s coffeehouse. “I wrote this with respect for New Orleans; I feel I’m celebrating it more than selling it.” Of Miss Pussycat’s seamstress similarity and rock-n-boyfriend Poche’ attests “I wrote Flakes about experiences I had and people I knew 20-years ago; all my friends were rock-n-roll guys hooked up with artistic girls who were making things, bracelets or clothes. Still Poche admits, “It is pretty freaky though. If I’d known it would disturb anyone I would have changed the character’s name to Maureen. It wouldn’t have mattered either way.”

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This entry was posted in Famous People I Have Met, MPW's published writing. Bookmark the permalink.

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