By Catherine Wagley
By Channing Sargent
By L.A. Weekly critics
By Amanda Lewis
By Catherine Wagley
By Carol Cheh
By Keegan Hamilton
By Bill Raden
Just eight months after moving in, Quick pulled out. He's bitter about it to this day, convinced that his former partner "conned me out of the place." Duff, who still owns the space, now called Moguls, puts it differently. "I saw Beeaje as being very colorful, kind of a peacock almost, and Moguls was the cage," he says, then laughs. "Problem was, the feathers blew up too big." He laughs again. "He is a colorful guy, and he will tell you stories if you're willing to listen, and I thought that was a valuable commodity. In the end, though, he was a bit of a parasite."
Life is magical. The dilemma lies not in this belief, but in whether to be the magician or the rabbit.
AFTER WE'VE SPENT A FAIR AMOUNT of time together, Quick drops off a packet of videotapes of his work, along with a fat, sealed, business-size envelope. The envelope, which gives off a smoky, post-fire odor, contains $10,000 in $100 bills. It's accompanied by a note written in felt-tip pen on a white cocktail napkin: "Per our agreement. Beeaje." The cash is movie money; it bears the caveat "FOR MOTION PICTURE USE ONLY." But for a split second, it looks real enough.
Shortly thereafter, he faxes over a note -- "It seems many people have an opinion of who I am . . ." -- and a poem about himself, titled "Declaration of My Dysfunction," which he had written the night before. The poem begins, "I am a warrior wannabe-poet/a butterfly with claws/an honest hustler," and ends with a line that is perhaps intended to make me think twice about writing anything too harsh: "a spiritual person, more often when in trouble/a man coming to grips with the realization that/Judgment is a boomerang disguised as a stone."
If life pisses in your pool of dreams, add chlorine and keep swimming.
THE MOGULS DEBACLE SENT QUICK into a period of self-doubt. He sought refuge in a downtown warehouse that he rarely left. "I was in a thousand depths underneath obscurity," he says. "I should have been a drug addict or a drunk, because then I could have become William Burroughs or something."
He spent the time studying the dictionary, working on his art and writing his metaphors ("Genius, like ketchup, is often used inappropriately," "In an inspirationally handicapped world, it is the artists who build creative ramps that offer access to the masses"). "I really refined my skills," Quick says.
By then, Rana Joy Glickman had become obsessed with Donut Men. "I basically sold everything I owned and optioned this material," she says. "We have an expression in my house: 'making donuts.' Whenever I can't afford something or do something, it's because I'm making donuts."
Glickman persuaded Melissa Carrey, who had just won several million dollars in her highly publicized divorce from Jim Carrey, to come on board as executive producer. She got Quentin Tarantino to lend the project his film crew, and got her brother to do the cinematography. She introduced Quick to Robert Rodriguez, the director of El Mariachi and From Dusk Till Dawn, and his wife, Elizabeth Avellan. Both of them were impressed with Quick's work as an artist as well as a filmmaker, and ended up helping with the movie -- Rodriguez edited and Avellan co-produced. "I love that he uses words for his art," Avellan says. "I think that has a lot to do with the fact that he didn't learn to read and write until he was 20, so something that to us is so mundane is to him still fascinating." With the help of Avellan, Glickman and a few dozen other friends, the film was completed.
In March 1997, Donut Men premiered in Austin at the South By Southwest Film Festival. Glickman chose that venue instead of something bigger, like Sundance, in part because her film Full Tilt Boogie was premiering, in part because Avellan and Rodriguez live there, but mainly, she says, because "I wanted him to be the king of something, instead of being last in line."
Glickman got Mike Judge and Tarantino to wear Donut Men jackets and had their comments videotaped after the screening. Both declined to be interviewed for this story, but Quick provided a copy of the post-screening tape. Standing in the theater lobby, Judge smiles for the camera and says the film was "like, fun to watch all the way through, and very trippy." He goes into a Beavis imitation. "It kicked ass," he grunts. "Huh huh."
The camera turns to Tarantino. He is rocking back and forth and laughing what seems like a hard, forced laugh. "Hey, give that movie a new asshole!" he shouts, then laughs. "You know, like I said, I watched that movie and the hair went all the way down to my balls!" He laughs. "You know, actually, I liked the crazy bit." He laughs. "It's a piece of shit! Doosh!" He makes a drum noise, laughs. He likens one scene to the French New Wave. "We laughed about that for 10 minutes," he says. "I had to make myself stop laughing so I could watch the rest of the movie." He turns to Quick. "It was great, man," he says. "It was fuckin' funny as hell."