Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Dennis Hopper at Rice

Dennis Hopper came to the Rice Media Center in 1983 for a performance, the Russian Dynamite Death Chair Act, in which Hopper entered a coffin that was then blown up with dynamite. My old film professor, Brian Huberman, filmed it.

Here's what Huberman writes on his blog about that eventful evening.
The dynamite coffin stunt could not be performed at Rice for safety/insurance reasons, so Hopper hired a fleet of school buses to transport the audience to a race track north of town off Hopper road. Hopper brought in a Hollywood stuntman to design the event & all went as planned. The video clearly shows how out of control our hero was at this time who was being supplied with a steady diet of exotic substances.

Hopper vanished into Mexico following his Houston experience & the last I heard he was seen running naked through some city street. Too tough to be destroyed by such self abuse, Hopper later appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair, recovered, regenerated & ready…!
Then Brian adds...
p.s. I forgot to mention that the large guy making the sign of the cross is the writer Terry Southern and the jerk threatening to blow up my camera is the German filmmaker, Wim Wenders.
There is another first-hand account of that crazy evening is here. Alas, I was a freshman at Texas A&M when this craziness was happening. I transferred to Rice the next year. I had three classes with Brian while at Rice--he was a great, easy-going, laconic professor. He had what seemed to me a bizarre fascination with John Wayne (strange for an English guy--but his love of Wayne and Westerns in general were probably what brought him to Texas in the first place). He is still a professor at Rice after all these years. I practically lived at the Media Center for a year or so as an undergrad. And after Dennis Hopper blew through town, folks associated with the Ferus Gallery continued to visit Rice and do cool (if not actually explosive) things, including Robert Irwin and Ed Kienholz. I put it all down to the influence of Walter Hopps, who showed up in Houston in 1981.

(Hat-tip to Glasstire.)

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