I found two articles from former customers who wrote about Q.T and the history of the Video Archives :
What do the Ku Klux Klan, Quentin Tarantino, surfers and the McMartin Ã‚Â preschool have in common? Ã‚Â Answer: my hometown of Manhattan Beach! Manhattan Beach, CA may not seem like much…and indeed it isn’t. Ã‚Â It’s a standard beach community in most respects, indistinguishable from the dozens of other surfer havens dotting the So Cal coast. Ã‚Â Look a little closer, though, and you’ll discover some fairly important, if inconspicuous, landmarks.The Strand Cleaners building, for one, located about a mile from where I grew up, is where the infamous McMartin preschool, where numerous kids claimed to have been molested, was once located. Ã‚Â A bit nearer the beach youÃ¢â‚¬Â°ll find a strange-looking park amidst a gaggle of townhouses; this was where a black family was run off the land back in the 1920Ã¢â‚¬Â°s, and which the Ku Klux Clan controlled city council subsequently turned into a park in order to keep them away.Another landmark, one that should be of particular interest to patrons of this site, is situated on a small stretch of Sepulveda Boulevard, an undistinguished looking mini-mall where THE GREATEST VIDEO STORE IN THE WORLD once was.Yes, Video Archives, which started in the early eighties, as a hole-in-the-wall located at 1822 Sepulveda, was indeed the greatest video store in the world. Ã‚Â Now I’ll grant that all such distinctions are subjective and subject to the whims of memory and nostalgia, particularly in this case, as the business in question has been closed for over nine years. Ã‚Â I’ve patronized a number of video stores since VA’s closing that may possibly be better–West L.A.'s Cinefile, Santa MonicaÃ¢â‚¬Â°s Vidiots and Vancouver’s Videomatica–but was unable to make a first-hand comparison in any case, so Video Archives remains at the top of my list.I remember this now-famous establishment vividly: my family, after all, was, according to an overheard comment by one VA’s longtime clerks, there since day one. I even recall my customer number: 387.At a time when video rentals were a novelty and most video stores had puny selections (not unlike those of your modern-day Blockbuster or Hollywood Video chains), Video Archives had everything: Hollywood blockbusters, documentaries, foreign films (organized by country, an unheard of innovation at the time), cult flicks (which had their own wall, another innovation) and the all-important “adults only” section. Ã‚Â The place also had a cool big screen TV, where I experienced my first taste of quite a few great films.An added attraction was the guy who worked there whom we knew as The Tall Guy With the Big Chin. Ã‚Â You know him as Quentin Tarantino. Ã‚Â You’re aware, I’m sure, that the one-and-only Quentin Tarantino worked as a video store clerk prior to hitting it big…well, Video Archives was where he worked. Ã‚Â As I remember, he was always amped, plugging any given video with such enthusiasm you felt you had no choice but to rent the damn thingÃƒâ€“I specifically remember Quent selling my mom on UNFAITHFULLY YOURS (1948) and myself on a James Bond flick (it might have been DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER). Ã‚Â After watching the videos, we both agreed it was more fun hearing Quent talk about them!
I found two articles from former customers who wrote about Q.T and the history of the Video Archives :
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.
On the QT
So what’s my connection with Quentin Tarantino, writer and director of the modern film classics RESERVOIR DOGS, PULP FICTION, and JACKIE BROWN? Well, currently there is none, but at the time that I first moved to L.A. in 1987, my girlfriend (now ex-wife) Denise Dumars already had an account at Video Archives, the now-legendary (and defunct) video store in Manhattan Beach, and she used to have long conversations with Quentin about horror flicks and movies in general. VidArc was a tiny store in a mini-mall, with barely room to squeeze past other customers, but it made up for its size with the percentage of rare and obscure titles that were available, and with the knowledge of the film-nut staff, notably the cinema-obsessed and mile-a-minute talker Quentin, whose low-budget life at the time has been explored in several books. Denise’s card was number 1410, and when I made my trek from Oregon in the Orange Monster (my '72 Olds Cutlass), I became a customer as well, discovering the world of strange and disturbing cinema under the tutelage of Quentin, Rowland Wafford, Gerald “Big Jerry” Martinez, Stevo Polyi, Roger Avary, and the owner of VidArc, Lance Lawson.
Then one day Quentin was gone from the store. And sometime later we read in the paper that he was making a movie. We saw him in the store one time when he was visiting, and he confirmed it. Something called RESERVOIR DOGS. When the movie came out, in 1992, we saw it at an old theater on Wilshire in Santa Monica, and we were blown away. Our Quentin made this? This is a real movie…not just that, a great one! Just the opening scene, culminating in the “guys- walking-in-slo-mo-to-cool-to-live” scene (paid homage to in the recent film SWINGERS), totally blew us away. And of course, Q was in the film as well…there he was, someone we knew, in a movie! DOGS is still our favorite of his films. After the movie came out, VidArc (which had recently moved to larger digs in the same mini-mall) held “an evening with Quentin.” The place was packed wall-to-wall. 200 people must’ve shown up. Tim Roth and Chris Penn were there, and Lance introduced the three of them to the cheering throng. There was a Q&A session, and Denise got in a question about the future of horror cinema. Later, Jerry Martinez introduced us to Scott Spiegel, co-author of THE ROOKIE (and writer/director of the new FROM DUSK TILL DAWN sequel, TEXAS BLOOD MONEY).
It was great. But it was weird. Someone we knew had become famous. Still, it wasn’t like he’d won an Oscar or anything. We ran into Q a time or two at VidArc when he was browsing, like us…he still made use of the collection. We spoke with him at the Fangoria Convention in '93, the one where Lawrence Tierney showed up and we had to dissuade him from beating up an Elvis impersonator. (See Todd’s Larry Tierneypage.) Then, in 1994, PULP FICTION came out. That was too much. TOO much. Exponential fame. Minimum wage clerk to director of 100-million-dollar and Oscar-winning screenwriter. There was Q and Roger Avary accepting the gold statuette in front of 800 trillion viewers. The movie itself was way cool, a lot of fun, and the cab that picked up Butch (Bruce Willis) was from Big Jerry’s Cab Company, with caricature of himself by Jerry Martinez. Years passed. No follow-up to PULP. Quentin took a breather, though one punctuated by appearances in a number of films, notably FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, directed by Robert Rodriguez from Q’s script, where he was the murderous brother of cool crook George Clooney. That was the picture where Q wrote a scene where Q himself licked tequila from Salma Hayek’s leg. Talk about the power of the written word! Then I heard rumors that Q would be adapting Elmore Leonard’s novel “Rum Punch.” And bringing blaxploitation queen Pam Grier in as the star, and Samuel L. Jackson and Robert Forster as her loathe and love interests, respectively, and that he’d be filming in L.A.'s South Bay! And one day in 1997 there was studio equipment in the parking lot of the Del Amo Mall in Torrance, and Denise and I took a walk in the mall and there was Q, sitting in his director’s chair, and Big Jerry and Rowland were in the crew, and it was a Video Archives reunion, ten years later. We spoke briefly with Q, and Rowland let us be “walking extras” in a scene that was later cut out of the film. Later in the week we showed up for some of the food court shooting, and had lunch at our favorite fast-food place, which Quentin had transformed into “Teriyaki Donut.” We sat in the background of a few shots, and Q and Pam Grier posed for pictures with each of us. Those pesky fans! JACKIE BROWN is a wonderful film, and captures the quirky charm of the South Bay beautifully, as well as immortalizing the legendary (now-closed) bar at the Cockatoo Inn in Hawthorne, just a few blocks from where I lived in the late ‘80s. The Cockatoo bar was one of my old haunts (ask me about the accordion player, the theme from “The Godfather,” and the Screamin’ Orgasm sometime).
So that’s it. Video Archives moved to Hermosa Beach and went belly- up. I’m still living in the LA area (Long Beach, to be precise). And Quentin is no doubt at this very moment cooking up the next cinematic masterpiece to sear our minds and offend El Segundo sensibilities. I eagerly await his next picture.
Sock it to me, big guy!
Q.T was already a legend back in the Video Archive days. He memorized very every video on every shelf in the place. After a while he could tell the customers their customer number just by seeing them ! Rumour has it that he even went to the houses of the customers who hadn’t returned their videos in time to slip a threatening letter with many swear words under their doorstep. That is what I call dedicated to your job !
If I had a timemachine I would travel back to late eighties to visit Q.T in the Video Archives. I wonder which movie he would have recommend to me … Ã‚Â
[quote] Q.T was already a legend back in the Video Archive days. He memorized very every video on every shelf in the place. After a while he could tell the customers their customer number just by seeing them ! Rumour has it that he even went to the houses of the customers who hadn’t returned their videos in time to slip a threatening letter with many swear words under their doorstep. That is what I call dedicated to your job !
If I had a timemachine I would travel back to late eighties to visit Q.T in the Video Archives. I wonder which movie he would have recommend to me … Ã‚Â [/quote]
One of my parents said that when they forgot to return a movie and that he would leave threatening messages with lots of profanity on their message machines, which is one of the reasons they stopped going there.
I am sure our parents were not the only customers that got this treatment …
Wouldn’t it to be cool if someone of the “victims” hadn’t deleted one those “messages” ? You would have a message machine with Q.T. cussing at a “bad” customer on it !!
" Return the fucking videos or I’ll blow our fucking head off …" Ã‚Â
You could certainly earn some bucks on ebay with that …
BadMotherFucker , our parents went to the Video Archives ?!
What do your parents think about Tarantino , “this impolite videostore clerk” how that he is famous ?
Do they watch his movies ?
They only remember the messages, and they kind of remember his face, but they don’t remember much. It was like ten years ago. They don’t watch his movies, cuz my mom hates violence and my dad is only interested in seeing movies that suck. He did see kill bill with me though and said he liked it.
Wow, he was one fucked up mother fucker. Holy shit.
Admin, the first article is a good overview of the history of the VA. It would be perfect for this site, don’t you think ?
Why don’t you ask the guy for permission to use this on your site ?
Does anyone have more Q.T. Video Archive stories ?
i read once that he used a picture of roger avary that was printed in the news paper and taped it to the wall of the gay section and wrote I would like to suggest:insert gay movie here
[quote]i read once that he used a picture of roger avary that was printed in the news paper and taped it to the wall of the gay section and wrote I would like to suggest:insert gay movie here
That’s funny. I don’t know why anyone would, but if you want i could take pictures or film the building that it is now, and where it is in context to everywhere else, for those “EXTREME QT STALKERS” I live like two blocks away, so if any of you want me to just tell me so.
Yeah, make a photo and post it in this threat !
Wow, I didn’t know QT use to work right by my house… I’ll have to ask my grandma and mom if they have any stories about him…
I’d give my left nut to see My Best Friends Wedding. I don’t care if it’s not good, I want to see early Tarantino.
What exactly is this “bootleg circuit”? Kazaa? WinMX?
[quote]Yeah, make a photo and post it in this threat ![/quote]
Ok, but it’s gonna be pretty boring. A bagel place that used to be VA, a street, a parking lot, my house covered in feces, and a dead hobo.
Do you guys know the bar that’s around the corner called "Schooners?"
I used to go there in the early 90’s…I wonder if Quintin ever dropped by to have some Jager shots.
I grew up in El Segundo and remember Video Archves, but I only stopped in once…
[quote]I’d give my left nut to see My Best Friends Wedding. I don’t care if it’s not good, I want to see early Tarantino.
What exactly is this “bootleg circuit”? Kazaa? WinMX?[/quote]
it’s called my best friend’s BIRTHDAY and I am working on getting it out. the problem is: i don’t know how to get it from VHS to CD.
somebody should buy the DVD-R at supperhappyfun.com and send a cd-rip over