The South Park guy takes
political incorrectness to new levels with a Mormon porn farce
Trey Parker sort of lurches
into the room with his straw-yellow hair strewn all over as
if he just got out of bed, even though it's the middle of
the afternoon. But you've got to forgive him for acting like
a star: Parker is the toast of Hollywood, having given show-business
execs a blueprint for reaching that all-important youth market
with his crude, hilarious animated series South Park. These
days, he's working with longtime writing partner Matt Stone
on a feature-length movie version of the instant hit, due
to reach theaters in April, while waiting for this weekend's
theatrical release of his cult classic-to-be Orgazmo.
Some believe that with
the new movie (actually filmed more than two years ago), Parker
has gone from obnoxious to offensive: Orgazmo has been branded
with the dreaded NC-17 rating. The story follows a straight-arrow
Mormon missionary (Parker) who stumbles across a porn shoot
while spreading the good word door to door in Los Angeles.
Lured into the business by big bucks that can help him give
his fiancée a proper wedding, he quickly becomes a
star, and an ass-kicking superhero. Stone appears in a small
but sexually conflicted role as Dave, the Lighting Guy.
Meanwhile, the four foul-mouthed
third-graders that Parker and Stone created continue to shock,
stun, and generally piss off just about everyone every week
on Comedy Central. Among the classic South Park episodes the
duo has donated to the cultural consciousness are a piece
of talking poo called Mr. Hanky, a gay dog, aliens who give
anal probes, and the recurring horrible deaths of a mumbling
kid named Kenny
During an interview with
Mr. Showbiz in Los Angeles recently, Parker's penchant for
uncensored speech was on full display. Shortly after referring
to the MPAA ratings board as "Nazis," he reflected
on the research he did while writing the Orgazmo script, saying,
"In the entire porn industry, I have not met anyone nearly
as hateful and evil as the people in the Hollywood movie industry."
Care to read on?
You must be pretty upset
about the NC-17 rating.
Yeah, that really bummed
me out. What I told the MPAA rating board is that you're going
to have college guys going to this thinking they're going
to see the raunchiest film ever, and they're not. But it still
has the NC-17 rating.
And for what?
Right, there's nothing.
The only nudity is two guys' butts. And the only sex has everyone
clothed and they're pretending to have sex. And the only violence
is that kung fu bullshit. It is absolutely baffling!
And the MPAA didn't tell
you what it didn't like?
They won't tell you, because
they say if they tell you then they're a censorship group
but that's ridiculous because they are a censorship group!
What it comes down to is the language. That's it!
But even the language
isn't all that--
Exactly, but there's no
control. This group, the MPAA, is such a big scary thing in
our society. They're Nazis, and they can say what they want
and it goes. It's very scary. It's completely arbitrary. Throw
this up against other movies like Seven or Boogie Nights and
tell me which one is R-rated and which one should be rated
And Boogie Nights showed
Completely, and it had
lots of sex and lots of nudity. It really makes no sense.
I did cut stuff out and sent it back [to the MPAA] three times.
Finally I said, "I don't know what else to cut guys."
So I went back to October Films and said, "Well, look,
I can't afford an editor. I can't keep cutting this thing
and we have to do South Park."
So is the version that
I saw last year at the Toronto Film Festival any different
from the one that's going to be released this week?
It's not much different.
You won't even notice it, because once they said NC-17, I
started putting stuff back in.
Good for you. This is
something that is obviously going to attain some type of cult
The thing is that when
we made Orgazmo, we were thinking that in the best-case scenario
we would get this thing into Sundance. It was a movie to go
to festivals, because that was the joke—that in the
midst of all these very serious films you would get this.
It was not meant to be this big, widely released movie at
all. So I'm glad that it's not.
There's a lot of sparring
in Orgazmo, and your character is a martial arts expert. Did
you really know how to fight?
Oh yeah, I've done tae
kwon do from the time I was about 11 to the time I was 15.
So those were real moves?
Yeah, but I didn't do
Orgazmo until I was what, about 25, so I had to re-learn things
Have you known any Mormons
in your own life?
Oh yeah, I grew up in
Colorado, so we had a lot of Mormons that we went to school
with. Actually, my first girlfriend was Mormon. Every Mormon
I've ever met is a great person, and to me this was a great
character—I didn't go out of my way to make him give
up his religion, like Joe's been stupid all this time. He
remains a Mormon, he wins, he destroys evil, and stays a Mormon.
The Mormons win.
when we were in pre-production on Orgazmo and we were living
down in Playa del Rey [California], two Mormons came knocking
on the door. I said, "Oh, thank you. Come on in,"
and it was perfect because I was working on those scenes where
they were knocking on the doors. I sat there and listened
to their whole spiels and afterward I said, "Thank you,
I can't thank you enough. I'm writing a movie about you guys
and you just totally helped me." They were just like,
Is there going to be an
Orgazmo sequel? You set up that possibility.
No. We have no business
making a movie, and Orgazmo has no business being a movie.
Part of the joke is that we're setting it up like we're going
to do another one. That's really more of a joke than anything
Are you being apologetic
Apologetic? Whatever do
Well, people didn't go
see it. Weren't you disappointed about that?
I would have been more
bummed if it opened huge and then people hated it, but the
truth is that nobody saw it. Nobody went to go see that movie.
That's OK. The whole thing about BASEketball is that [Matt
Stone and I] had the experience of being involved with a studio
movie without the pressures of being a director. It was a
great opportunity—I wouldn't take it back for anything
in the world. That was the best film school I've ever seen,
just sitting there being able to watch [director] David [Zucker]
all the time. He'd say, "OK, go stand over there and
say this," and we'd go over and do it and watch what
happened. We never took any huge ownership over BASEketball,
you know. We didn't write and we didn't direct it. We were
sort of just acting in it. And believe me, it didn't shock
the hell out of us that people weren't ready to embrace us
as Alec Baldwin.
Now, you have obviously
been on some porn sets—
Because I can tell that
you know the lingo. You don't just know that people walk out
and say, "I'm not going to do any ass-licking today,"
and not have been on a porn shoot.
Right, right, right. [Laughs.]
When [Matt Stone and I] had the first draft of the Orgazmo
script and were trying to make some money, we were PA's on
a BBC documentary about American porn. There was a guy down
there shooting named Tim Lake, a director. He was great. He
read the script and said, "You'll have to come down to
a video shoot." And we were all stoked. It was hysterical,
and a lot of stuff just wrote itself, you know. We didn't
have to make too much stuff up. [Laughs.]
What struck you as unusual
about being on a real porn shoot?
What's funny is that being
on a porn shoot is like being on a regular movie shoot in
that for about five minutes it's really titillating and after
about five minutes you're kind of like, "All right, what
am I doing here?"
And you see how un-erotic
it really is?
Yeah, and you see that
it's really . . . well, however, I have to say that I've been
on a couple sets that were like way hot. You know, like the
director says, "Let's break for 10 minutes" and
they didn't. There were definitely times that people were
Do you have favorite porn
Only people that I know,
like Juli Ashton. She is such a great person. The first draft
of script was that this story was about a very overbearing
guy and all these women who were very weak, they were all
drug addicts and dumb. And then I met some women in the business
who were really cool and very colorful women.
And you changed the script?
Yeah. They were very powerful
women, they liked what they were doing, and they were fine
with it. I changed their characters, because the director
Orbison, as powerful as he is with the guys, it's different
with the women. When she says, "I'm not doing any ass
licking," he's like "OK, OK," and backs away
from her. That's really the way it is.
Have you met guys like
Orbison in the adult industry?
Not really, he was more
like the cliché bad guy. I just needed a good villain.
In fact, in the entire porn industry, I have not met anyone
nearly as hateful and evil as the people in the Hollywood
movie industry. [Laughs.]
Do you remember any of
the titles of the porn flicks that you worked on?
Yeah, yeah, Tim Lake's
films were called Profiles for the Young and Horny and Sex
Do you think you would
ever direct a porn movie? Even under a pseudonym?
If I did, I wouldn't do
it with a pseudonym, I'm not embarrassed about it at all.
If I did do it I wouldn't use a fake name. But I probably
wouldn't do it, because I probably wouldn't be good at it.
I only know comedy. I don't think I would be a good drama
director—I don't have the patience. Everything I do
is very sloppy and haphazard because I just want to get it
over with and go onto the next project. That's how I work.
Do you hope to do more
movies along the lines of Orgazmo?
You know, we've always
just done what we find amusing at the time. We started doing
little cartoons and we're probably going to do that for a
while. We're sort of locked into South Park for awhile, which
is fine because we love doing it. We'll just keep doing that
and then if something else comes about, we'll try to do it.
How do you react to the
attention you've had since South Park became a hit?
Well, the coolest advice
I got kind of early on, just when South Park was taking off,
was from [Beavis and Butt-head creator] Mike Judge, who said,
"The biggest thing that you've got to learn now is to
ignore all press."
So that's why you're here
talking to me?
Believe me, that's not
No really, good press
and bad press. He said, "Don't let the good press go
to your head, and the bad press you can't let it go to your
heart." It's totally true. When South Park came out everybody
loved it because we were nobodies, because we were one of
them. Then South Park became huge and we became millionaires
and everyone loves it and now everyone hates us. It's exactly
what Mike said it would be. We don't really care; we ignore
it. Luckily we were so prepared for it that by the time BASEketball
came about we didn't care. Whatever anyone says about Orgazmo,
we did it and who cares. Ignore the press and ignore the critics
and just do your work is the biggest lesson you learn.
But these are your fans,
these are not just critics.
Yeah, but the only way
to truly ignore it is to ignore it all. That's what I'm saying,
it's sort of a Zen philosophy: if you get too far into the
good stuff, then the bad stuff is going to hurt you. But if
this [good] stuff happens and you really ignore it, and you
don't listen to the praise, then you don't have to listen
to the criticism.
So do you explore the
Internet on your own? Do you ever need to use it?
Not really. Sometimes
we do when we need last-minute song lyrics. Before the show,
both Matt and I were big computer freaks. But when it got
to the point that no matter what we clicked on, there was
a little thing of Cartman coming up, I swear to God, I got
turned off to going onto the Internet anymore.
Where do you find things
that are funny? Do you go out and look for them, or do funny
things just sort of happen around you?
I sort of see the humor
in everything. Especially when we're doing South Park—we're
taking things that really shouldn't be funny and we really
play it up, because everything's got a funny side to it. That's
the beauty of it. What's so interesting about humor is that
people view it in such a wrong way; people get so offended
because they think if you're laughing at something, you hate
it. If I laugh at a Mormon, they think I hate Mormons because
I'm belittling Mormons. It's so untrue—like I said,
every Mormon I've ever met is a great person. I totally respect
them. But I can laugh at them and they can laugh at me. Because
laughing doesn't mean that I hate you. It doesn't mean that
I think you're stupid. As corny as it sounds, funny comes
from fun. And it is more than just a philosophy: yeah, we're
all fuck-ups, we're fucking up the rainforest, and that's
funny, too. It's not that we hate the rainforest or that we
don't care, but jokes about paving the rainforest—that's
funny. We don't mean it.
Then there are the situations
where someone like Barbra Streisand gets her nose bent out
of shape (so to speak) about how you're making fun of her
on South Park. What do you think of that?
To me, that specifically
anti-Barbra Streisand is so over the top that that's the joke:
we're going so far out of our way to make fun of her. You
know what, I've never met Barbra Streisand. I really don't
know what she's like as a person. I don't hate her. It's just
funny to say you do.
And I'm sure you own Barbra
Uh yeah, well—funny
is just irony, and the irony here is that everybody loves
Barbra Streisand, and we came along and said, "Fuck Barbra
Streisand," and that became funny.
Among the South Park kids,
which one is most likely to grow up and be gay?
Uh, I think Stan, probably,
because he's more sensitive and he's more in touch with love
than anyone else is. You know what I mean? I think that's
And which one is most
likely become a serial killer?
It's so obvious to say
Cartman, but oh, it's Kenny, definitely.
Do you have trouble challenging
yourself to become edgier with these episodes every week?
You've hit on so many taboos now that we watch to find out
where you could possibly go now. Is that difficult to do?
Is there a lot of pressure? Is that frightening?
It is. But you know, we've
never sat down and thought "What offensive thing can
we do this week?" We never have. We've always started
from a place of, "All right, what's another third-grade
story we can remember?" And I would say, for instance,
"I remember the biggest thing that happened to me in
third grade was that my dog ran away," and we'd say "OK,
let's make the dog gay." And it would sort of stem from
there. I think that there are going to be shows that we don't
do anything that's that offensive, and you're going to have
shows that are a little more emotional. And every now and
then we'll hit something and people will go, "Holy shit."
Do you worry about running
out of ideas?
Of course we'll run out
of stuff. But as long as society is going the way it's going,
we'll always have a few more things to throw in.