HAIRY HI-FI no.2    1989     TAV FALCO filmography by Marc Baines   Page 1 of 2


Gustavo Falco, possessed leader of the Memphis based PANTHER BURNS is set to make his hollywood acting debut later this year in ‘Great Balls Of Fire’, a biopic of Jerry Lee Lewis starring Dennis Quaid as ‘the killer’ and featuring Tav as his bass player. Anyone who has caught one of Panther Burns’ infrequent British live shows will know what a flamboyant and charismatic figure Tav cuts on the stage. With his pencil moustache and mass of black curls forming a quiff every bit as wild as Jerry Lee’s, he presents an intriguing bland of sleaze and charm. A sort of hybrid of Charlie Chaplin, Little Richard and a back alley pimp; perfect character actor material.

Jim Jarmusch (director of ‘Stranger Than Paradise’, ‘Down By Law’) wanted Tav for his forthcoming film, ‘Tuesday Night In Memphis’ [released as ‘Mystery Train’], but to their mutual regret Panther Burns were committed to a tour of Antipodean barns.

Tav’s emergence as an actor is more than just a whim or an attempt to heighten his profile, his involvement and obsession with film making goes way back. For several years he’s been involved with independent film directing, scouring the same scuzzy underbelly of America’s Southern States that he depicts in Panther Burns songs.

From a Pennsylvania hotel room a twelve figure number connects me with the Sugar Ditch Shack in Memphis, Tennessee. Tav gives me the lowdown on his film history...


“This one stars Kai Eric, a Panther Burns bassist, as an insurance salesman who drives down to Memphis in his ‘64 Thunderbird and enters a kind of Memphis Twilight Zone. He checks into the Lorraine Motel, the place where martin Luther King was assassinated, and there he has this big gold hallucinatory experience that leads to him stumbling across an organisation known as Truth Incorporated. They’re this bunch of guys who capture women and lock them in automobile trunks, eventually the insurance salesman finds himself locking some woman in the trunk of his Thunderbird! There’s this ritual involving a pine cone that acts as some kind of Kenneth Anger-type symbol, and the insurance salesman trudges off over the railway tracks in the direction of Arkansas. It ends with him sinking down into the foliage and mud, then rising up naked, raising a clenched fist and shouting “I live again!”. It’s an optimistic ending, a kind of back-to-nature thing.”

“A travelogue of Panther Burns In New York and on their way to New York to play at the now defunct ABC club at 8th St. and Avenue B. There’s a scene at the Odessa, a Russian bar and grill in East Village, and the Panther Burns recording of ‘Ooee Baby’ forms part of the soundtrack, all cut up with different kinds of stuff.”


“This was done in association with an artist called George Wheeler who got run over by a car a couple of years ago and killed. He did these pictures with crayons in an almost childlike manner, he had something of a childlike character too. He came back from the State Fair one time with one of those spinner windmills and we filmed him standing holding it. We’d done a tape of his mother talking and just shot his reactions to what his mother was saying.”

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