To Tralfamadore And Beyond:
The Montana Wildhack interview
by Andrew Darlington
She’s a legend, the subject of Kurt Vonnegut’s highly-rated novel Slaughterhouse-Five, portrayed on film by Valerie Perrine, this is the first attempt to get at the truth behind the legend, and talk to her direct…
‘What really became of Montana Wildhack…?’
(– title of a feature in Midnight Pussycats magazine)
The continuum-link from Tralfamadore is, at best, liable to glitch-ups and wavelength dropouts. So it’s a fortunate alignment-configuration of planets that gifts the station with a degree of clarity this night, of all nights. Because our guest is simply out-of-this-world! As the static clears we can see that Montana Wildhack has her auburn hair retro-styled in a Jane Fonda bob, and that when she flutters her eyelids, which she does delightfully, her lashes resemble buggy-whips. Around her neck there’s a silver chain with a heart-shaped locket. She wears nothing else. Inside the locket is a faded grainy old photo of her mother. Her mother was an alcoholic. On this direct link from distant Tralfamadore, she smiles and waves ‘hello’, and adds ‘isn’t this a nice moment?’ Then she leads off directly by enquiring “Are you guys into astrological signs? The zodiac and stuff? Me, I’m a Moonchild, a Child of the Moon. That says a lot about me. The moon rules tides and changes of the season. Although, you could say, I’m way higher than the Moon out here.”
So first, is Montana Wildhack your real name? She giggles both absurdly and derisively. “Of course not, that would be stooopid! Once you’re up for this game, it’s like the 1950s’ pop stars who became Fury, Eager or Wilde, you have to assume a new role-identity that’s expressed by your screen-name. Remember ‘Dirk Diggler’ in Boogie Nights?’
So who were you prior to the movies? “I was born California Wildhack,” she divulges.
When you say ‘game’ you mean working in soft-core porn? “Watch that potty-mouth if you very much don’t mind. There’s a difference, you know. I prefer to be called a ‘B’-movie starlet. I’m happy with that. Think, say, Valley Of The Dolls. Did you happen to see me at the drive-in as Messalina – the promiscuous wife of Emperor Claudius? One thing’s for sure, they didn’t spend a bundle on the costumes for that movie! But that’s just the way it was with them rascally ancient Romans. And anyway, like the Tralfamadorians say, morality is a quaint Earthling illusion.”
Many porn-activists, as well as participants in the wider media-domain, have enhanced their er, physical charms. Has Montana ever indulged in cosmetic tweaks? “That idea, especially out here, tends to be a little creepy,” she explains. “‘There are silicon-based life-forms in this galactic sector, which adds disturbing implications to actually having silicon injected into your tits!” she shudders in a quite delightful way. “If you catch my drift? It’s a kinda creepy idea. Anyway, I’m big up there already. Guys tend to appreciate that about me.”
Her expressions changes, like the tide, to become a little more thoughtful. “Of course, my career didn’t quite work out as I planned, I’ve got to be honest with you,” she reveals. “This, I didn’t expect. This abduction. But when you’re a Moonchild, you play the hand fate deals you. There’s a story I was rubbed out by the Mob. Obviously, I wasn’t. Although they say there’s what they call a time-dilation effect. All this science – I don’t understand, but it seems you can be away from Earth for years, yet it only takes a microsecond of time. It was 1967 when I was kidnapped, lots of people took strange trips around then. I was twenty. I was toning up for my next movie at the home of a producer friend of mine in Palm Springs, catching some all-over rays by the pool – no halter-marks you know. Next thing, there’s this flying saucer, and it’s got purple lights in kind-of port-hole things all around the rim. Big it was, at least a hundred-feet across. And it hums at me with a sound something like an owl, a melodious owl. It emits a purple light that comes in all around me, and I get this overwhelming compulsion to walk up to this snakey Ferris-Wheel kind-of ladder and climb aboard. I guess you know about them, the Tralfamadorians, they don’t speak like you and I do, they use a kind of computer hooked-up to a voice-box organ. They talk to us – to me and Billy, through that box. And I was brought here, with Billy, and we’re exhibits in this-here galactic zoo. We can’t leave the dome, ’cos they breathe cyanide out there. Can you credit that? And there’s no real night – just something like one hour of dark in every 62 hours, so they sometimes simulate night for our benefit, what they call ‘the night canopy’. But there’s nothing tacky, no sireé, we got furnishings direct from Sears & Roebuck. Colour-TV and stereo. The TV didn’t work at first, until they fixed up the continuum-link, now I get all the channels. There’s a pool table, issues of Life magazine, nice clothes – I take a ten. We’ve got mint-green bathroom fittings, a home bar with two stools, and wall-to-wall federal-gold carpet. Except, there’s no walls of course. The better for them to see. They even got tour-guides who lecture about us to the crowds. But hey, back home, could I afford stuff like this? I could not!”
Billy – that is, Billy Pilgrim, was also kidnapped to be part of your geodesic-dome zoo-lifestyle. Whatever happened to him…? “Billy was a babe. A kind of gangling six-foot-three tall funny-looking guy shaped like a coke-bottle. He was twice my age, 44, and he was working on his famous Dresden book. Come a little closer. Turn up the volume so you can hear me breathe. Like Jean-Luc Godard says, for Billy there’s a beginning, a middle, and an end. But not necessarily in that order. Tralfamadorian books also have no beginning, no middle, no end, no suspense, no morals, no causes or effects. It’s like that for me, yes, I’m the time-traveller’s wife. Or non-wife. He was here, and then he wasn’t. Time-tripping is a bitch. I guess we ‘mated’. Billy has a tremendous whang, incidentally. But he was a gentleman. You don’t meet many gentlemen in the entertainment business. We waited a full week. So it goes.”
Do the Tralfamadorians ogle porn? Do they enjoy your work? “Hey, everyone enjoys sex, after all, they’re only human – well no, in actual fact they’re not human. More like kind of green two-foot high toilet-plungers. With a single hand stuck on top. And an eye, just one green eye, set into the palm of the hand. They hold up their hands so their eye can see better, and clench into a fist if they don’t like what they’re seeing! But you know what I mean? Even species that reproduce by cellular-division have prurient imaginations about who does what to whom, and I know, ’cos I’ve met them. A dirty mind is no bad thing in this business. People like people who like sex. Look at Silvio Berlusconi. Trouble is, they – the Tralfamadorians, they see in four dimensions, and they have five sexes. So they know stuff about human sexuality we don’t even know about ourselves, and they know all this stuff before we do.”
On questions of porn past, what do you – the real Montana Wildhack, think of Valerie Perrine taking your part as her role in that 1972 Slaughterhouse-Five biopic? “There’s this game people play – who would you most want to play you in a biopic. Well, in an ideal world I would not have chosen Valerie Perrine to play me. But Tralfamadore is not an ideal world. Nothing like. So I gotta take what I can get. Instead I was thinking, maybe Lady Gaga. She could do me, do me good. A tad more attitude. A bit more out there. But don’t get me wrong, the movie was OK. If the movie told lies it told sweet cosy cupcakes of lies, so no, it was a total trip. It did me no harm. And that’s a natural fact. I saw Valerie Perrine in an episode of Burke’s Law. I really did. And did you know she was in the May 1972 issue of Playboy? That coulda been me, if things had worked out different. If things that happened to me, hadn’t happened.”
As the time-window winds down she pauses, considering her strange extraterrestrial situation. Behind her, across the alien sky, there’s the static orb of a planet that very closely resembles Jupiter in our own solar system. Finally, she concludes “Listen, think about this, sure, things didn’t work out as I anticipated, but this thing I’m in now – it’s like the biggest Reality-TV show ever, with the biggest audience on the planet. Not what I’d intended maybe, but not so bad. I’ve come out of it pretty good. So it goes…!” The continuum-link from Tralfamadore finally succumbs to interplanetary glitch-ups and wavelength dropouts. She waves goodbye. The real Montana Wildhack – ladies, gentlepeople and children. Nevertheless – don’t reach for that remote, another fortunate alignment-configuration of planets gifts the station with yet another out-of-this-world guest! Stand by, we got Jedi-Master Yoda up just after this word from our sponsors…!