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Speakeasy with Michael Jai White and Scott Sanders

Black Dynamite's creative duo sheds light on blaxploitation films



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Your MySpace page alludes to the “Plastic of Hollywood.”
White: My friend core don’t tend to be plastic. There’s a lot of that element in Hollywood, though. But there are people who, like me, look at it as a job and our family and friendships are of the utmost importance. Scott and I are good friends, so you want to work with your family if you could. Making this film wasn’t incredibly difficult because you have your friends coming out. [During the filming of Black Dynamite] There’d be people who didn’t have to work that day who’d show up and just hang out.

Sanders: Mike would call and say, “Hey, would you like to be a pimp for a day?” and they’d say, “Yeah, where do I sign up.” We had more people who wanted to be pimps than we could actually have in the movie. That’s a fun day.

White: I had friends that unfortunately could get in.

Who did you have to turn down?
Sanders: We wanted Macy Gray to be a pimp. But her plane got stuck, and we were on a 20-day schedule so we had to move on.

What was her pimp name going to be?
White: Lady Gelataine, [a take] off of Lady Marmalade. She was going to be a throwback from Nichelle Nichols’ character … that woman talks shit like nobody else in the movies. [If] you rent Truck Turner — Nichelle Nichols — she’s the coldest woman on film. She turns Truck Turner into a little boy!

Sanders: Oh my God, “I want that nigga Truck Turner dead!”

Talk to me about the soundtrack — some of the funniest fucking songs I ever heard.
Sanders: A DJ buddy of mine Adrian Young had been collecting old instruments and old analog equipment trying to make records that sounded like 1970s records. So I told him now he has a place to put them. A lot of the songs from the movies are like modeled from blaxplotiation movies; they will tell you what’s happening on screen.

White: The influence on that was Three the Hard Way because clearly somebody made the song after the movie was done. The song wraps up everything that happens but they play it in the middle of the movie. So if you really listen, they’re telling you about things that haven’t even happened yet. If you look at Black Caesar, at his mother’s funeral, there’s this song that comes on that goes “Mamma’s gone, Mamma’s dead.”

Sanders: Listen to the actual theme song of Black Dynamite in the beginning of the movie. If you hear the whole song, it’s the whole plot in the song.

Most don’t realize how funny you are. Why don’t you do projects [comedies] like this more often?
White: It's weird, every movie I work on there’s a thing for me to try to stay serious. I guess with movies like Why Did I Get Married, I’m doing more of the comedic stuff. I’m one of these confusing people. I’m considered a weirdo because you don’t usually have the guy who might be the toughest guy to be the funniest guy. I enjoy confusing folk, but my friends know I’m not as serious as I look.

Sanders: I think the thing with Black Dynamite is that he’s all that at once.

So Scott, I hear you were a DJ?
Sanders: Well, I directed Mike in Thick as Thieves with Alec Baldwin and in between, I was a DJ. Then I made a movie 10 years later.

Confirm a rumor: Are you in on the Predators project, yes or no?
White: I don’t know. I mean, I absolutely don’t know. I mean, there’s this crazy-ass rumor but no one from Predators has spoken to me. I’m on IMDB as the star of the thing. I don’t know why I’m connected to the project. Similarly I was connected to Surrogates a long time ago. On IMDB there was my name and Bruce Willis.

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