An early film project of Quentin’s called MY BEST FRIENDS WEDDING is currently making the rounds of the bootleg circuit. Much of it was clearly filmed in and around Video Archives during those heady days, and features a number of recognizable faces culled from VA’s employees. The fizzy-haired Rowland was a ubiquitous figure behind the Video Archives counter (he’s the dude Quentin chats with at the beginning of MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING), as was the wise assed Stevo (who can be seen as one of RESERVOIR DOGS’ four bathroom cops). There was also the big, burly manager Lance, a blond woman whose name I never learned and the Ã¢â‚¬Â¹two redsÃ…Â (twin redheaded gals). One employee I donÃ¢â‚¬Â°t recall, ironically enough, is Roger Avery, QuentinÃ¢â‚¬Â°s longtime buddy who shared the screenwriting Oscar for PULP FICTION and worked at VA alongside him (Avery cast the abovementioned Rowland and Stevo in his 1996 flick DR. STITCH). I understand Mr. Avery was quite the ladiesÃ¢â‚¬Â° manÃƒâ€“rumor has it he regularly came onto one of my little sisters friends! Most of Video Archives’ principals stayed with the place into the early nineties, when it moved to a bigger location two doors down, at 1808 Sepulveda. Quentin, alas, quit around this time (nobody told me this, mind you, I just stopped seeing him around). I continued patronizing the store, which managed to stay afloat in the face of overwhelming odds, most notably a Blockbuster Video that around the time of QuentinÃ¢â‚¬Â°s departure opened two blocks up on the same street (in a depressing reminder of the sad realities of modern-day capitalism, said Blockbuster is still there…while Video Archives is not).Not long after that I began hearing about a movie called RESERVOIR DOGS, written by Ã¢â‚¬Â¹some guy who worked at Video Archives.Ã…Â I knew whom it was upon seeing the face pictured on the cover of a 1993 issue of LA Weekly profiling the film and its creator.At that point Video Archives became RESERVOIR DOGS +unofficial South Bay publicity resource, as soon everyone in the store was wearing RD tee shirts, RD posters were hung up everywhere and televised interviews with Quentin at Cannes seemed to always be playing on the store’s new monitor (the big screen television unfortunately went out with the old location). I recall one clerk, upon seeing Quent interviewed by Roger Ebert on the store TV, laughingly commenting that "Quentin haaates Roger Ebert!"
As RESERVOIR DOGS profile grew, so did Video Archives, to the point that, as manager Lance stated in a later interview, he started to get applications from people whoÃ¢â‚¬Â°d already made movies (it usually works the other way around, as Quentin’s career attests). It would be hard to screw up such a perfect business opportunity, yet somehow VAÃ¢â‚¬Â°s management did so, by abruptly and unexpectedly moving the place to Hermosa Beach, over three miles away, in a crowded and uninviting area with NO parking.In this new location, Video Archives lasted about two months before, in early 1994, going belly up. Like quite a few of VAÃ¢â‚¬Â°s patrons, I didn’t know about the move…just that the place had closed down. By the time I found out Video Archives was gone for good. The store’s stock of videos, many of them rare and extremely valuable, was auctioned off amongst VA’s movie-loving staff; Quentin apparently got most of them.Thus the greatest video store in the world went out with scarcely a whimper. In the years since, its reputation has grown to near-mythic proportions, with articles on the now fabled “rude little video store” in publications like PREMIERE, FILM THREAT and EMPIRE, as well as lengthy profiles in the Tarantino bios SHOOTING FROM THE HIP by Wensley Clarkson and QUENTIN TARANTINO: THE MAN AND HIS MOVIES by Jamie Bernard. A former employee has even taken to selling Video Archives paychecks he’s obtained made out to and endorsed by Quentin Tarantino.To think: all this about a little video store I patronized for much of my life. It’s gratifying to think that, unlike the writers of the above-mentioned articles and books, I’ve got firsthand knowledge of this Ã¢â‚¬Â¹now fabled establishment. Unfortunately, I’m also aware that I’ll probably never see its likes again.