I first came to know of Max Wasa when I recorded the Andy Sidaris movie Savage Beach off of Cinemax one evening. Years later, when I saw that she was going to be doing a horror movie that was to be directed by another one of my Facebook friends, I knew that I had to interview her. Max Wasa is a very diverse performer. She’s an actress, a singer, a model, a podcast host…She does all sorts of things, and she does them very well. I had the chance to interview her on May 9th, 2016, and I hope you all enjoy getting to know her.
Say hello to Max Wasa!
Johnny: I always start off my interviews with these two questions. The first one is this: What were your pop-cultural likes growing up, like favorite movies and music?
Max: Oh, man, I had so many. Growing up, I loved science fiction, and the classic films like The Bad Seed, films like that, because they were dark. I also loved comedies like Caddyshack, and all of those really fun films that make you forget your daily life.
Johnny: What were your high school days like?
Max: Well, high school was busy. I played French horn in band. I was captain of the rifle team. I was an all-state singer, and also at that time, I was filming Miami Vice, so it was very, very busy. I was super-involved in everything and just crazy busy.
Johnny: I’d like to start off with some questions about your modeling. As a model, who have been your favorite designers and companies to work with?
Max: Well, I’ve worked with so many different designers. I would have to say J Gerard from The Peace Gallery is one of my favorites. I just love the way that she designs. She’s kind of a vegan designer, so all of her products are vegan and cruelty-free, so I really enjoy working with her.
Johnny: Alright. What’s the most outrageous design you’ve ever worn as a model?
Max: When I was very young, I did a magazine, I think it was Cosmo, and they had me in giraffe skin. I was so uncomfortable and I was crying through half of that. It was actual giraffe skin, and I just felt terribly guilty wearing it. It looked gorgeous on, but nobody should ever wear that.
Johnny: Perfectly understandable. I actually meant outrageous more in a positive way, but I’m sorry you had to deal with that.
Max: In a positive way, as a model I’ve worn everything from chocolate to tinsel. That’s outrageous stuff, and that’s what we do as models. We are just hangers for designer’s creations.
Johnny: I see. One of my favorite pictures of you would be the one on your ModelMayhem page entitled “A Formal Affair”, where you’re wearing a tuxedo top and a lingerie bottom and you’re surrounded by penguins. What was the story behind that picture?
Max: That is a pretty famous poster shot by Sam Maxwell. That was for Playboy, and it was sold at Spencer’s Gifts and all those places that handle posters all over Hollywood Boulevard. It came about because I love penguins, and Sam always came up with these great ideas for Pam Anderson and all of the top Playmates. He came up with this idea to have me with all of these penguins. It’s funny because that same day we shot that, I was shooting with the penguins and dry ice and all of this stuff, and I had to audition for Alice Cooper that same day. It was very rough (laughing), a very rough day.
Johnny: I’ll be asking about Alice Cooper later, but first I must say I really do like that poster. I feel it’s a combination of sexy (you) and funny (the penguins). It’s definitely a very cool picture.
Max: Thank you.
Johnny: No problem. From modeling, we now take a turn into your acting career. According to the IMDB, one of your very first film roles was an uncredited turn as a dancer in 1983’s Scarface, which is one of my all-time favorite movies. What’s your favorite memory of being on the set of that movie?
Max: You know, it was a very frantic set, a lot going on, obviously. It was quite violent, and I was pretty young, so it was a little overwhelming. I have very fond memories of Michelle Pfeiffer, because she was extremely kind to me, and she was just constantly complimenting me and just really, really sweet. We had to have this scene together where we were dancing, and she was just very helpful because there was so much going on, and so much screaming on the set. She was like “Are you okay? Are you okay?”. I said, “I’m good”. It was fun.
Johnny: Sounds like it. You stayed in Miami for your next film role, an uncredited appearance as Kandy in Where The Boys Are ’84. Produced by the late and infamous Allan Carr, who often turned the movies he produced into the film equivalents of his famous parties, was it fun working on that movie?
Max: That was definitely fun. All of my friends in Fort Lauderdale were pretty much involved. Everybody that was in music, or in the bar scene at the time, everybody was on set, so it was a huge party. I think it didn’t end for about four days.
Johnny: I thought that was a very underrated movie. I know it caught a lot of heat from critics at the time, but I liked it.
Max: Well, it’s very difficult to remake something that’s so popular at the time, you know. You had to deal with a lot, but it was a lot of fun.
Johnny: Yeah. A lot of your roles have been very athletic, and that was the literal case with Pulsebeat, where you played an aerobics instructor. There was a spate of movies like this in the 80s, from the drama Perfect to horror films like Killer Workout and Death Spa. What do you think the appeal was of exercise in the 80s, and do you think it could still be a viable topic for a modern movie?
Max: Of course it can. Everybody is into fitness, and especially at that time, the aerobics craze was just taking over. They used to have a show on TV that was just two girls on a revolving stage that did aerobics, and people were just sucked into it and would watch it for hours and hours and hours. There’s nothing bad in the world that can come from working out. It’s a very, very sexy thing when you’re healthy, when your mind is healthy, when your heart is healthy. For films, I think it’s great to show that, people working out, and making it fun and informative, which it was in Pulsebeat.
Johnny: Definitely. You had a small, but memorable role in My Stepmother Is An Alien. Had you auditioned for Kim Basinger’s part, or was the porn star the one you read for and landed?
Max: They had already booked Kim, and she had a hand in choosing me for that role. I was teaching her character how to have sex, and it was a very funny, memorable role. When I went in for the audition, they were all there. Dan Aykroyd, they were all there. The moment I auditioned, they went “Yes, that’s it! You’re the one”. (Laughing) Okay. Richard Benjamin? What a delight working with him, an honor.
Johnny: Yeah. I thought it was a fun movie. You played Kelly in 1989’s Savage Beach, one of the most memorable of the late Andy Sidaris’ Girls, Guns And G-Strings series. I saw it on Cinemax, and I thought it was enjoyable. I liked how all the women were sexy, yet got in there and kicked ass as well as the men. What was your favorite part of working on that movie?
Max: Well, I just adored Andy Sidaris and his wife Arlene. I’m not really a huge fan of appearing naked in a film (laughing), but if it makes sense to the role, then I’ll do it, like most actresses. If it’s just gratuitous, it’s just stupidity. With Andy, he always made everything make sense, and made it very sexy. The females were very tough and powerful, and I loved that about those films. They’ll go on forever, I think.
Johnny: Definitely. Moving into the 90s, in Where The Heart Is, you played a runway model. As you have extensive modeling experience, how accurate would you say the fashion sequence was in that movie?
Max: It was very accurate. They actually did a fashion show, and it was very, very accurate. They did their homework.
Johnny: Okay. Also in 1990, you played Alanya in an American Film Institute special called TV Or Not TV?. What was your favorite part of working on that special?
Max: That was incredibly fun. I’d worked with Kevin Bright on Dream On. I’m sure everyone will remember that Kevin Bright also co-created Friends. When he called me to do the part, he said, “You’re going to play this high priestess of sex. You’re going to box Ivana Trump. George Wallace is going to play Don King, and Milli Vanilli are also going to box each other”. I thought, “This is just going to be hysterically funny”. It was filmed for Saturday Night Live, so it was kind of a special for them. It was so much fun. For rehearsal, Kevin and I were in the boxing ring, kind of sparring, and I actually hit him in the face. (We both giggle). I don’t think he’ll want to get in the ring with me again.
Johnny: As you’re describing this special, it sounds really funny. Unfortunately, not only is it difficult to find, it seems that nowadays networks don’t do that kind of programming anymore. It’s kind of disappointing.
Max: Yeah. That’s a big problem I think we’re having today. We’re losing out on a lot of really fun stuff, and they’re replacing it with this uninspirational, non-humorous programming.
Johnny: Right, unless you have a dark sense of humor.
Max: Right, which, you know, is sometimes good, too.
Johnny: In recent years, your filmography has taken a turn towards horror, both based on real life, with your role as Rosemary LaBianca in House Of Manson, and completely fictional, as with the upcoming Grindsploitation and The Last Revenants. I’ve asked this question of several other actresses whom I’ve dubbed scream princesses: What is it about horror movies that you find appealing?
Max: Well, you know, I actually started in horror. That was my very first film. When I was seven years old, I did a film called The Ice Cream Man, so I’ve always been involved in the horror community for much of my career. I had done Tales From The Crypt and some other stuff. With what’s going on now, there just seems to be a huge turn with horror. It’s taking over the box office, really. There’s more money being made in horror than any other genre of film. I love all the people that are involved in it, the community of it, and getting any sort of title, “princess”, “queen”, any of those is just astonishing to me. I can’t wrap my head around it, but there it was.
Johnny: Proof of the diversity of your talents comes from the fact that you’re the owner of Liquid Music Group. What has music provided you with acting hasn’t?
Max: Well, I grew up doing music. I’m a classically trained musician. I’ve studied theory. I write and produce, and I’ve performed all over the world. I’m very honored to do that. It’s a different part of my soul. Acting? I get to be somebody else, but in music, I get to be me.
Johnny: Okay. Which five musicians would you most like to work with within the next five years?
Max: Wow. Sting, Danny Elfman, Anthony Esposito, and I would love to sing with Patti LaBelle. She’s probably my favorite musician of all time, like ever. She’s just like the queen of everything. There’s so many. On any level, any time I get to work with musicians, whether they’re just starting or whether they’ve been in the business forever and ever, it’s an honor. I learn from them every time, especially the newbies, because they’re green. They’re new. They stock the tables with stuff I haven’t heard, new excitement and joy.
Johnny: Yeah. Earlier, you mentioned being on stage with Alice Cooper. As I’m sure you grew up listening to him, what was it like to be supporting him as a performer?
Max: You know, it’s funny. I didn’t really know his music when I went for the audition. They kind of scouted me. I was singing at a club, and I was doing jazz, so it was really strange for them to come in and ask me to audition. When I went down there, there was about 2500 girls that were auditioning, like the best of the best in Los Angeles, and I was shocked that I made the band. When I got to perform with him? You have to stop and pinch yourself for a minute, because that’s Alice Cooper. Not only is he a great musician, he’s probably the best live performer anywhere. His stage antics are legendary, and it’s all theater. You’re not just singing or playing an instrument when you’re with Alice. You’re doing a play, so it was really exciting, a huge honor.
Johnny: Definitely. It sounds like a lot of fun. You also have several podcasts as well. What’s been the most rewarding part of podcasting?
Max: I get to meet and interview and get to know musicians, authors, actors, directors, artists, all different walks of life on my show. It really fills my heart, because we talk about not just what they do for a living, but who they are, and how their life is inspirational and can be to everyone who’s out there listening.
Johnny: I see. Speaking of things that I find inspirational, you’ve dealt with some nasty health issues in recent times, including lupus and cancer. What I admire most about you, more than your entertainment work, is the fact that you’ve been beating these health issues, and you’re continuing to thrive and survive. What has defeating these demons meant for you?
Max: Aw, thank you so much for asking that. You know, it’s been a rough run. Anybody who deals with chronic illness like lupus, and we’re in May now, which is Lupus Awareness Month…It’s something that is so difficult to deal with on an everyday basis. You wake up in the morning, and you don’t know what else is going to go wrong because lupus attacks all of your organs, one at a time. The best way to deal with it is to have a confident attitude, and to feed yourself positive words. I focus on the thought of floating. That’s how I live my life. If I’m floating, then I can’t be dragged under. If I keep lifting my chest to the heavens, I’m going to be light, and there isn’t going to be a disease that’s going to pull me down. That’s how I live my life. Every time I go to the doctor, and they say you don’t have much time, I laugh in his face. I say “You keep telling me that, but I’m going to outlive all of you because I’m not going to let those words pull me under”.
Johnny: That’s definitely inspirational, and I really do admire you for taking the fight to those bastards, and that’s what I really do think things like lupus and cancer are. I really do think they’re bastards.
Max: Yes, definitely. I went through chemo for the cancer. When you’re sitting there and you’re being hooked up to a machine that’s feeding you, basically, just toxins…I’ll never do that again. There’s natural ways of dealing with all of this. For anybody out there who’s fighting these good fights, be strong, feed yourself positive words and don’t let anybody pull you under.
Johnny: Good advice. On a lighter note, with all the directions your career has taken and continues to take, what’s your idea of the perfect day off?
Max: The perfect day off? That would be obviously in the water for me, either surfing or diving. I love the ocean and everything about it. I’m a liquid girl, which is why my company is called Liquid Music Group, and my holistic practice. I don’t know if you know this, but I’m a holistic practitioner, Reiki master and teacher. Everything surrounds liquid. Floating, water, it’s the essence of life. We can’t live without it, so the perfect day would be in the water, floating or surfing.
Johnny: Sounds good to me. We kind of alluded to this earlier, but in a bigger context, what would you say has been the biggest change in the entertainment industry between the 1980s and 2016?
Max: It’s been a drastic change, you know. For music, there’s no loyalty to a band anymore. Nobody’s going out and buying records. They’re either single downloads or basically stealing music, and it’s the same thing that’s going on in movies. They’re pirating movies, and it’s very difficult to make a living in any of these industries. When you hear about somebody saying “I’ve got this on my computer and I’ll share it with you”, it’s hurting everybody that’s involved in the making of that from the editors to the craft service people. They can’t get paid unless you’re paying for the work. You don’t go to the doctor and say “Well, let me steal that. I’m not going to pay you. Just take your medicine”. That’s what’s happening, and it wasn’t that way in the 80s. You could really make a living, and entertaining movies and music were out there. People were going to concerts. They were supporting their favorite bands and buying merchandise. Now everybody is so closed off and basically on their handheld computers. Even when you go out to dinner, you see everybody at a table all on their cell phones and they’re not communicating with each other. They’re not sharing like “Hey, have you seen this movie? Let’s go to the theater”. Nobody’s doing that anymore and that’s really a shame.
Johnny: Yeah. When it comes to the music, I find myself thinking of the recent death of Prince. For years, many of his fans were annoyed that he didn’t allow his music on YouTube, and now that it’s on there, I would gladly get rid of all of it if it meant having him back.
Max: Yes, definitely.
Johnny: I mean, don’t get me wrong. I love Prince’s music, but at the same time, it’s kind of ghoulish to be listening to it on YouTube and I feel kind of guilty about it.
Max: Yeah. You know, Prince was a friend of mine. I’d known him for many years, and he was a wonderful, wonderful man. It’s hard to talk about him without getting choked up. You know, it was a shame that the music industry was holding him kind of captive. He couldn’t put out the kind of music he wanted to because he was being controlled, and that’s exactly why he changed his name for a while, so he could at least write music under a different name. It’s funny. He’s written hundreds of thousands of songs, for so many artists, and he had locked away so many songs that there’s going to be more to come from him. I’m excited to see what he’s left behind for us. I miss him every day and I always will. Same with Michael and David Bowie, whom I worked with once. It’s a real shame that we’ve lost so many legends this year.
Johnny: Yeah. I definitely agree. It has been a rough year. I grew up loving 80s culture. I didn’t have a good time in the 90s, so I turned to the 80s as a way of escape. To me, it’s like these artists are eternally youthful, and then the deaths come in droves and you wonder “Wait a minute, what happened? This can’t be”.
Max: Yes, I agree.
Johnny: To lighten up the mood, I think you looked great in the 80s and you still look great now, but a lot of people look back on 80s fashions and hairstyles with a sense of mockery and shame. Why do you think that is?
Max: Well, it was a very over the top time. It was neon colors. For the guys, it was mullets and perms, and for the girls, it was bigger-than-life hair. For most of the rock stars, you were endorsed by Aquanet to get your hair as big as possible. The 90s kind of killed fashion altogether. Everything became really downtrodden. I think things are starting to pick back up, and you’ll see, when you’re going shopping, that all of the fashions are back to the 80s. It was such a fun, free, loving time. It was bold and exciting, and it was just a bigger-than-life time. Now I think it’s finally coming back to that, so you’re going to start seeing bigger and bigger hair.
Johnny: Sounds good to me. Now I come to the question I end every interview with, and it’s this: If you could go back to your youth with the knowledge that you have now, would you do anything differently?
Max: Um, wow. There’s always those little things that you think that you would want to change, but then there’s the butterfly effect. If you change one thing, everything’s changed. I don’t think I would do anything differently. You know what? I’m going to take that back (Laughing). I had an opportunity to sing with Elton John, John Entwhistle and Michael Bolton one night. They asked me to come onstage and I said no. That was (laughing) a poor, poor call on my part. I should’ve done that. If anything, that would’ve been it.
Johnny: I see. Well, I would like to thank you for taking the time out of your schedule to do this. It means a lot. When I saw your posts on Jim Wynorski’s page, as I’m friends with him on Facebook, and I thought about your career, I thought you would make for an excellent interview subject, and you definitely have been.
Max: Thank you so much.
Johnny: I once more thank you for taking the time of your schedule to do this with me, and I hope you have a good afternoon.
Max: Thank you so much. You take care.
Johnny: You, too. Bye.
Max: Okay, bye.
If you would like to find out more about Max Wasa, you can visit the Max Wasa Official Facebook page.
Who will I Flashback with next? Stay tuned.