Tucked in the Appalachian mountains of Southern West Virginia, Oceana, is a small, once thriving coal-mining town that has fallen victim to the fast spreading scourge of prescription ... See full summary »
I'm a West Virginia hillbilly who came to Hollywood 25 years ago, but I still got that ol' mountaineer spirit in me, so naturally I loved the two Jesco White short films, "Dancing Outlaw" and "Jesco Goes to Hollywood." Jesco is generally treated like some white trash savant, but in fact he's not all that unusual if you go up into the hollers of southern West Virginia. Jesco doesn't live too far from Hasil Adkins in Von (near Madison, WV), who was similarly "discovered" about 20 years ago when the Cramps recorded one of the crazy songs he recorded in his bedroom back in late '59 or early '60s. Picture a guy singing about cutting off his girlfriend's head and putting it on the wall, so that she "cain't eat no more hot dogs." That's Hasil Adkins, and he's just as much an unpredictable and volatile backwoods character as ol' Jesco. As for Jesco having "LOVE" tattooed on the fingers of one hand and "HATE" tattooed on the fingers of the other, well, that's a West Virginia prison tradition. Check out a 1953 novel by Davis Grubb (or see the film) called "Night of the Hunter," in which the antagonist, a jackleg West Virginia preacher who kills people (Robert Mitchum in the 1954 movie) has those words tattooed on his fingers so that he can use his hands to demonstrate the eternal battle between God and Satan. What is this review all about? Simply that Dancing Outlaw I & II are freak shows that allow us sophisticated folks to see and smirk at true hillbilly culture in all its glory, and it ain't purty. But it's sure entertaining. Jesco could teach us a thing or two about keeping it real.
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