Film Courage: Richard when you think back to growing up in Crenshaw, California what are some of the first memories that come to mind?
Richard Elfman, Filmmaker of The FORBIDDEN ZONE and FORBIDDEN ZONE 2: I was actually born in Watts and the only other Caucasian were…and I hate to use the term hillbillies or whatever. And I’d get beaten up for “killing Christ” and I didn’t even know who Christ was?
The African American neighbors couldn’t have been kinder though.
Then we moved to Crenshaw where I went to middle school and high school. It was very interesting.
Film Courage: How was this for you? Did you not realize the fish-out-of-water scenario and it helped you to just see people as people?
Richard: I grew up in the 50’s and the 60’s and we kind of moved every three years into a slightly better house.
During my middle school period we were in this little area called Baldwin Hills which was adjacent to Crenshaw but we went to school in Crenshaw. And it was white turning black. And the Gentile parents blamed it on the Jewish Realtors and their kids took it out on me.
So I went through very virulent anti-semitism and it kind of came to a head when I was 13 years old and my best friend with all the group around me challenged me to a fight and I couldn’t hit him. I stood there with my hands at my sides and started crying and now they are making fun of me.
A year later I was six feet tall and fought my way into a gang, more West Side Story than Boyz N The Hood. But I was very athletic and then my first semester at high school I was a state track champion so I got along very well with the kids at Dorsey High School and I wasn’t lonely but I had a couple of rough years.
I read voraciously and then I got involved in the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement and it grew out of that. But it was largely caused by that trauma of anti-semitism.
The Black kids couldn’t have treated me better as long as I was in my neighborhood. I couldn’t have been treated better by the African-American people at Audubon Middle School and Dorsey High School.
I’m still close with them today and I might be doing some projects in development with the community of Crenshaw coming up.
Film Courage: And McCarthyism was going on as well? Or we were just coming out of it?
Richard: It was…my parents went through that…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).
About Richard Elfman:
Richard grew up in the Crenshaw district of Los Angeles (Boyz n the Hood), was a semi-professional boxer, food and wine critic and successful stage director. He is also a noted Afro-Latin percussionist and with his brother, Danny Elfman, founded the band Oingo-Boingo.Richard’s theatrical career began in Europe, having worked with directors Jérôme Savary in Paris and Peter Brook in London. Elfman has been a published journalist for 30 years, focusing on food, wine and entertainment. He published culture and entertainment magazine and website, Buzzine, between 2010-2015 and produced 275 Buzzine red-carpet, music and celebrity videos.Richard family include his mother, novelist Blossom “Clare Elfman”, sister-in-law, actress Bridget Fonda, son, actor-producer Bodhi Elfman, daughter-in-law Jenna Elfman, niece, producer Mali Elfman and nephew, Emmy-winning broadcast journalist, Diego Santiago.Richard presently resides in Hollywood with his actress/dancer wife, Anastasia Elfman, where they are renown for wild, extravagant dinner parties. Richard still writes and directs live theatre and plays in the band Mambo Demonico.
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