Horror, trash, and carnival barkers are by no means new phenomena, but the internet has given these subcultures new places to shine. Filmmaker Dan Schneidkraut has captured one personality famous in such circles, R.P. Whalen, or Ray, in his documentary Vore King. Ray is most famous as a purveyor of vorarephilia, or “vore,” a fetish in which one creature consumes another, usually monsters eating women. The documentary follows Ray in his pursuits, but also depicts his struggles in suburban Milwaukee and in his rekindled relationship with his elderly father. The film premieres in Brooklyn, September 14, at the Alamo Draft House, and Dan and Ray will be in attendance! We spoke with Dan ahead of its screening.
Alex Teplitzky: How did you get to know the personality R.P. Whalen and his speciality, vorephilia?
Dan Schneidkraut: I first encountered Ray when I was working my way through the Troma Entertainment Incorporated back catalogue and saw him as the lead in a film called Go To Hell, one of the few Troma movies that doesn’t feature gratuitous nudity or gore. Several years later I saw him in the flesh as his altar ego Rock And Roll Ray at a weekly event he hosted called “Atomic Midnights.”
These were screenings of rare cult or exploitation films that Ray would introduce while flanked by a colorful entourage of flamboyant weirdos. He was usually pretty hostile towards the audience and often incorporated pyrotechnics into the show, so it was always pretty exciting. I became friends with Ray a while after that when I cast him in my first feature film as a college professor who eats cancer tissue out of a live human torso. He’s a brilliant performer.
Alex: Ha, I need to know more about your film about the guy who eats cancer tissue! So, what made you decide to make a documentary about Ray and vorephilia?
Dan: Sure, I’ll have DVDs when I’m out there, just remind me to give you one.
Well, Ray is probably the most interesting person I know, so I thought it was important that someone document his life and work. I was getting worried that no one else would step-up to do it so I sort of just bit the bullet and decided to do it out of a sense of obligation.
I had also just finished a super personal documentary that was emotionally and financially draining. I thought doing a documentary about Ray and his monsters would be a fun follow-up to that heaviness. I was wrong about that, it turned out to be the most draining creative endeavor of my life. But I’m still pleased with how it turned out.
Truth be told, the “vore” stuff was a pretty secondary consideration and not a major focus of the doc because it’s really the least interesting thing about Ray. I just thought I could use it to pique people’s interest because it seems lurid or whatever—I wanted to get some of that Tickled audience or people who dug that horse fucking doc, whatever it’s called.
Alex: That brings me to my next question. I’ve only seen the trailer and bits of the film, but I’ve heard you talk about vorephilia. I think some people—how best to say it?—bristle at the concept, even knowing it’s sort of a tongue-in-cheek, “transgressive” fetish. Having had a lot of experience with its fans, are there concepts of the culture that you could explain that outsiders might get?
Dan: For people who don’t know, the term vorarephilia encapsulates a broad range of fetishes related to eating or digestion or sometimes crawling into buttholes, which I guess is digestion adjacent? Anyway, the stuff runs the gamut from really disturbing, like people eating live mice and cannibalism fetish, to completely innocuous, like fully clothed people eating sandwiches. Ray’s specialty is monster vore which typically involves monsters swallowing women. I never really discovered how monster vore came about, but the imagery seems to have existed since time immemorial. I have a sense that sexual enjoyment derived from women being eaten comes from the most base level cro-magnon misogyny.
It’s troubling to imagine what it’s really about, but it’s also so absurd it’s hard to take seriously. I think it’d be interesting if someone did an in-depth intellectual or psychoanalytical inquiry into vore fetish, but that’s not something I’m qualified to do, I barely graduated highschool. I’m still as baffled by vore as anyone so I wouldn’t possibly try to explain too much about it or the culture. And even though it seems kind of sinister when you first describe it, Ray’s take on monster vore is stylized to a cartoonish level of absurdity that I don’t think anyone could possibly find disturbing.
I feel like his films are bordering on satire, and his irreverence towards the genre, if you can call it that, has actually infuriated a lot of dedicated vore aficionados. I find that strangely comforting, particularly because a lot of vore people were total condescending assholes when I tried to politely engage them on the internet. That was really my only direct experience with the culture. I am an outsider myself and so is Ray to a certain extent, neither of us masturbate to this stuff.
Alex: How was the Creative Capital award helpful when you received it midway through the film being made?
Dan: Before Creative Capital came into the picture I was only able to travel to Wisconsin to spend time with Ray, which gave me compelling material but not really a complete story. The support from Creative Capital allowed me to travel with Ray to some of his favorite shooting locations like Las Vegas and Tampa, Florida.
We also had the opportunity to visit with some of his friends from the past including members of The World of Wonders Circus Sideshow and the world’s oldest sword swallower. It was in these new places where I finally got to see Ray thrive and captured rare ecstatic moments that provided an important contrast to the oppressive drudgery of Waukesha, Wisconsin. By documenting those experiences I was able to more accurately capture the life of the underground artist: years of soul-crushing struggle with fleeting moments of creative ecstasy. And most importantly I was able to document Ray’s return to Minneapolis where he spent weeks building the world’s largest people eating sex monster. Dubbed Vorehemoth, the massive beast ate over a hundred willing volunteers over the course of the afternoon. If it wasn’t for Creative Capital I wouldn’t have been able to secure a venue for that event or the crew necessary to capture such a large-scale spectacle. If it wasn’t for Creative Capital The Mighty Vorehemoth may have never been summoned to this earthly plane!
Alex: Are you excited to show the film at Alamo Drafthouse in Brooklyn?
Dan: The screening at Drafthouse will probably be the last for a really long time! I will be there to defend the movie and Ray will be there to entertain/harangue people and to defend monster vore.
And I can guarantee that it’s not like any documentary anyone has seen before.
For tickets to the screening Vore King, view Dan Schneidkraut’s eventbrite.