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Chapter 9: Old Yeller (and be your Brand)

Greetings from Tromaville! Here is Chapter 9 from my book, Everything I Know about Business and Marketing, I Learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER. This chapter still resonates strongly with me to this day. It’s all about the importance of consistency when building a brand. What do you think?

If you haven’t done so already, you can read the Foreword by Troma co-founder, Lloyd Kaufman, and the Introduction to the book as well as Chapter 12345 and 67 and 8. You can also see me read a few chapters live, along with Lloyd and Toxie, at Florida Supercon as well as a few chapters I read on Facebook Live. Stay tuned for additional chapters to be published here. If you like what you read and can’t wait for more, please don’t be shy. You can buy the book now on Amazon (and also please don’t be shy about sharing, and reviewing the book when you do read it.) Both Toxie and I greatly appreciate your support! – Jeff Sass

 

Chapter 9: Old Yeller (and be your Brand)

The most valuable trait to understand and recognize in someone or something is consistency. We, humans, are hardwired for pattern recognition. We are built to spot things that are consistent, for a pattern is simply something that appears or occurs consistently. We can deal with patterns. We can deal with consistency. When I first arrived in Tromaville, I quickly learned that Lloyd and Michael were yellers and screamers. Especially during film production.

Author’s note: We realize that the previous chapter espoused the importance of using “we” instead of “I,” and yet here we are using “I” throughout this book. We are distraught over this blatant contradiction and recognize that we may lose some credibility and perhaps even some of your trust. We feel truly awful about this and hope we have not let you down. However, in the context of a somewhat autobiographical tale (after all, the subtitle of this Tromatic tome is “one man’s journey to Hell’s Kitchen and back”), the author felt we could take creative license—and risk it being revoked—and share the stories and lessons herein from the author’s unique, first-person perspective. We hope you will forgive us. And now we return you to chapter 9, already in progress.

When the pressure was on, the yelling and screaming was also on. And on at a very loud volume. Before joining the Troma Team, I don’t think I really understood what it meant to be yelled at. Sure, as a child I had done stupid stuff to the point of provoking one or both of my parents to raise their voice at me. But never in business had I been the object of such verbal aggression. At first, it was shocking and upsetting to me, and since it was such a foreign experience, I took it personally and assumed that I was being yelled at for something I had done.

But soon the patterns revealed themselves, and as a genetically sound human, I came to recognize that the yelling had absolutely nothing to do with me. It was simply the way the mad moguls operated. They were screamers. They were yellers. And they screamed and yelled consistently, at anyone and everyone. They screamed and yelled at each other. Hell, they set up an office environment where they faced each other all day, probably (consciously or not) to facilitate easy yelling.

And once my pattern recognition light bulb went off, the yelling no longer bothered me. Consistency is easy to deal with because your expectations are set and accurate. If someone always yells, you always know what to expect. If someone is consistently an asshole, you know what to expect. You understand their pattern and can deal with them accordingly and with less stress. It is the inconsistent people who challenge us. The person who rarely yells and then suddenly, unexpectedly screams, will truly throw us off. The person modeled on Jekyll and Hyde, who is sometimes your best friend and sometimes a maniacal asshat, and you never know which to expect, that is the most difficult person to deal with. They are unpredictable. They don’t fit a pattern.

So, the yellers were easy.

And to their credit, by the time I left Tromaville they had calmed down quite a bit, and the old yelling, with true vim and vigor, was seldom experienced.

So, what does all this talk of yelling have to do with branding? Consistency. It is all about consistency. An effective brand must always stand for the same thing. An effective brand must be consistent. What your brand is consistent about perhaps matters far less than the fact that you are consistent in presenting the brand values. Know your brand. Decide what it stands for, good or bad, and get behind it consistently. The more consistent your brand message is, the more lasting it will be. Look at the great brands. If you ask ten people what those brands stand for, you will get ten very similar answers. They all have the same expectations of the brand.

At Troma, the brand image was one that resonated deeply with our fans. We were a team, The Troma Team, and if you were a fan, you were a part of that team. You were welcome in Tromaville. We took our business seriously, but we didn’t take ourselves too seriously. If they had not already been violently ripped from our throats, our collective Troma tongues were held firmly in cheek.

Understanding and appreciating the Troma brand was critical to my success in Tromaville.

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That’s Chapter 9  –  Another one of my favorite lessons in the book: the power of Consistency, learned from a couple of real screamers! Stay tuned for “Chapter 10: Find Something to Believe In” in which I reveal my true feelings about the films I had a hand in making during my tenure in Tromaville…

 

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Author Jeff Sass on The Chris Voss Show (video)

In yet another podcast appearance and another video podcast, it was a pleasure to talk Toxie with Chris Voss of The Chris Voss Show. Turns out Chris is a fan of The Toxic Avenger so our talk was very Tromatic. Enjoy!


 

 

Chapter 8: The Power of We

Greetings from Tromaville! Here is Chapter 8 from my book, Everything I Know about Business and Marketing, I Learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER. While a short one, this is one of my favorite chapters in the book and one I am most often asked about when I’ve done interviews about the book. It is also one of the more powerful lessons I learned while working for Troma, and something I still try to practice in my business dealings today.

If you haven’t done so already, you can read the Foreword by Troma co-founder, Lloyd Kaufman, and the Introduction to the book as well as Chapter 1234, 5 and 6, and 7. You can also see me read a few chapters live, along with Lloyd and Toxie, at Florida Supercon as well as a few chapters I read on Facebook Live. Stay tuned for additional chapters to be published here. If you like what you read and can’t wait for more, please don’t be shy. You can buy the book now on Amazon (and also please don’t be shy about sharing, and reviewing the book when you do read it.) Both Toxie and I greatly appreciate your support! – Jeff Sass

 

Chapter 8: The Power of We

Wheee! Rather, “we.” If Troma were to publish their own Elements of Troma Style, two things would happen. First, William Strunk Jr. would roll over in his grave. Second, the book would begin with the statement, “Never, ever, ever, say ‘I’ when speaking or writing on behalf of the Troma Team. It is always ‘we.’ There is no ‘I.’”

This simple rule was enforced by Lloyd as if it were gospel. More than gospel, as if it were the single most important thing above all other important things. As if by violating this one seemingly simple rule, one would be engaging in the most heinous act of corporate malfeasance. In Tromaville saying, “I” was a crime. You as an individual did not exist. Only the Troma Team existed. You did not do anything. Whatever you think you may have done, you didn’t do it. We did. We, we, whee!

If Lloyd caught wind of a letter going out with “I this” or “I that” in it, he would go ballistic. It didn’t matter who you were or what the topic or contents of the correspondence was; you had to use “we” instead of “I.” Always. Without exception. And that went for Lloyd’s own correspondence as well. In Tromaville, though seemingly a royal pain in the ass, the use of the Royal “we” reigned supreme.

And it was great. And it was a great lesson, not only in building a brand but also in creating a culture. Think about it. By enforcing this one simple rule, the notion of being a part of a team was deeply instilled in every employee at every level. From unpaid students and interns to barely paid senior executives, we were all collectively the Troma Team. Everything we did was to support the Troma Team.

As important was the subtle message this consistent use of “we” instilled in the outside world, even if they didn’t quite realize it. Something was different and special about Troma, and you could sense it from every letter or e-mail that always started with “Greetings from Tromaville” and never put self ahead of team. And once you got used to it, it felt better to say “we” than “I.” We were a team and saying “I” felt like you were taking something away from the group. On the other hand, after a while, saying “we” made you feel good. It reassured you that you were indeed part of a tribe (albeit an odd and sometimes creepy one).

To this day, I prefer to say “we” in business correspondence, and it took me a long time after my tenure in Tromaville to not feel a touch of guilt when I wrote “I” in a business letter or e-mail. In truth, “we” is often much better and more accurate. Just like making a movie, business is a very collaborative process. Unless you are truly a sole proprietor, it is unlikely that there are many, if any, business projects or accomplishments that are truly achieved by you alone. If you are an employee or an employer, you are part of a team, and for most things you might take credit for, just saying “I” is a bit disingenuous. And even if you had the lead or did most of the work yourself, saying “we” lets you share the love, and sets a great leadership example. Even today, I often find myself cringing in meetings when I hear someone spouting “I did this” and “I did that” when I know, as does everyone else in the room know, that the person shining the light on him or herself had lots of help from other members of the organization.

Here’s an exercise: Go forty-eight hours deliberately using “we” instead of “I,” and see what happens. How does it make you feel? How do your coworkers and others treat you when you credit “we” for everything?

•••

That’s Chapter 8  – Yes, another short and sweet one (are you seeing a pattern here? This book is an easy, enjoyable read!) Stay tuned for “Chapter 9: Old Yeller (and Be Your Brand)” where we learn a valuable lesson about consistency and branding (and working with a screamer). 

 

 

Chapter 7: Branding Begins on the Ground Floor

Greetings from Tromaville! Here is Chapter 7 from my book, Everything I Know about Business and Marketing, I Learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER. It’s a short one. 🙂 If you haven’t done so already, you can read the Foreword by Troma co-founder, Lloyd Kaufman, and the Introduction to the book as well as Chapter 1234, 5 and 6. You can also see me read a few chapters live, along with Lloyd and Toxie, at Florida Supercon as well as a few chapters I read on Facebook Live. Stay tuned for additional chapters to be published here. If you like what you read and can’t wait for more, please don’t be shy. You can buy the book now on Amazon (and also please don’t be shy about sharing, and reviewing the book when you do read it.) Both Toxie and I greatly appreciate your support! – Jeff Sass

 

Chapter 7: Branding Begins on the Ground Floor

Greetings from Tromaville! That was how every single bit of correspondence began—from the letters we’d type on typewriters and word processors in the early days, to the telexes, faxes, and eventually e-mails we would send. The lessons I learned about building a brand and brand consistency while a member of the Troma Team have stuck with me for more than twenty years. What was this offbeat, off-kilter, often tasteless runt of a movie studio doing that was so compelling from the standpoint of branding? First of all, they were building a brand, something in those days arguably no film company except Disney had done.

Nobody went to see a movie because it was a “Paramount Picture” or because it was from “Warner Brothers.” They went to see a movie because it starred Robert De Niro or Meryl Streep, or because it was based on a favorite book, or was directed by Martin Scorsese or Francis Ford Coppola or another star director. The studio was secondary and largely meaningless to the moviegoer. Except for Disney. People, especially families, went to see a movie because it was a Disney movie. And Troma. Our fans would go see (and still go see) a movie because it was a Troma movie. Whether it is Redneck Zombies or Tromeo and Juliet or some other odd title they never heard of; as long as it was Troma, our fans would show up. Why? Because, like Disney, based on the brand, they knew what to expect. That’s what branding is all about—establishing trusted consumer expectations. It doesn’t matter if the expectations are for family-friendly fare or tasteless, sophomoric gore, as long as the brand message is well established and consistent, it works.

And a strong brand has to be rooted in something accessible. Something consumers can relate to either by association or by aspiration. Something that makes them feel that by supporting the brand, they are part of a community or tribe of like-minded consumers and fans. This is as true for toothpaste as it is for a cookie or, in this book’s case, a low-budget, independent movie studio.

Troma has achieved remarkable brand affinity over forty years and around the globe by creating an inclusive universe—Tromaville, where everyone is part of the “Troma Team.” This concept is hammered into every Troma employee and everyone who watches a Troma movie. From the opening logo to every Troma film, the message is clear. This is “a Troma Team release.” There is no “i” in Team, and there is definitely no “I” in Tromaville. Well, I suppose there actually is the letter “i” in the word “Tromaville,” but aside from that grammatical digression, once you enter the land of Tromaville, you must always put the Troma Team first, literally and figuratively.

•••

That’s Chapter 7  – Another short and sweet one (are you seeing a pattern here? This book is an easy, enjoyable read!) Stay tuned for “Chapter 8: The Power of We” where we learn a valuable lesson from a simple rule we lived by at Troma, and something you might consider trying. 

 

 

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Marketing Lessons From The Toxic Avenger – This Week’s Six Pixels Of Separation Podcast

Mitch Joel is not just a highly regarded author and marketing thought leader, nor is he just a long-established blogger and podcaster. He’s also not just a co-founder and president of a successful global digital agency, nor is he just a former rock and roll journalist. Mitch Joel, above all these things, is a mensch, in the truest sense of the word. For those of you perhaps not as familiar with the Yiddish term, a “mensch” is a person of integrity and honor – an all around great guy. That’s Mitch Joel, and I am fortunate to have had the pleasure of breaking bread (not bad) with him on more than one occasion. I am even more fortunate to be the guest on Episode #593 of his long-running and popular marketing podcast, Six Pixels of Separation.

It was great to talk with Mitch about my book, marketing, and even share some mutual love for the Mel Brooks comedy classic, Blazing Saddles… It is a fun, and hopefully informative and entertaining conversation. Click here or on the embed below to listen, and if you’re not already a follower of Mitch, please consider subscribing to the Six Pixels of Separation podcast.

If you enjoy listening to my conversation with Mitch, please consider reading my book!

 

 

 

Chapters 5 & 6: Working FREE-Lance & Becoming a Full-time Tromite

Greetings from Tromaville! Here are Chapters 5 & 6 from my book, Everything I Know about Business and Marketing, I Learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER. Since they are short and related, I am including both chapters here. If you haven’t done so already, you can read the Foreword by Troma co-founder, Lloyd Kaufman, and the Introduction to the book as well as Chapter 123, and 4. You can also see me read a few chapters live, along with Lloyd and Toxie, at Florida Supercon as well as a few chapters I read on Facebook Live. Stay tuned for additional chapters to be published here. If you like what you read and can’t wait for more, please don’t be shy. You can buy the book now on Amazon (and also please don’t be shy about sharing, and reviewing the book when you do read it.) Both Toxie and I greatly appreciate your support! – Jeff Sass

 

Chapter 5: Working FREE-Lance

Lloyd, Michael, and I hit it off quite well, and I was immediately fond of them and enamored by the crazy, self-contained, and self-controlled world they had created for themselves in that messy building on Ninth Avenue. But despite our good connection, they had absolutely zero interest in doing any business with Satori. Troma was, and is, fiercely independent, and if anyone were going to distribute their movies to pay TV and beyond, it would be them (or someone willing to pay an exorbitant fee in the form of an offer they could not refuse.) So we parted ways as friends.

Until, some six months later, when I decided to leave my job at Satori to become a screenwriter.

I had been with Satori for five and a half years and at that point felt I had gone as far as I could within the organization in its current structure. It had been a great run for me, and I had gained incredible experiences there, producing the early Cable TV show, Celebrity with hostess Alison Steele, traveling the world to film festivals, and much, much more. But my personal creative itch was screaming to be scratched. I wanted to be a screenwriter and make movies. While Satori gave me many opportunities to be creative, it was clear the company was on a path focused more on distribution than production, and I wanted to make stuff.

So I struck out on my own, with the initial goal of writing (and hopefully selling) original screenplays. I got to work on my very first screenplay, Wunderkind, and upon completion, I sent it over to Lloyd and asked him to read it. While a comedy, Wunderkind wasn’t a Troma-style film, but I was hoping to get feedback from someone who actually made movies.

Lloyd was kind enough to read my script, and he and Michael invited me to visit them again in Tromaville to see what I was up to. I once again found myself sitting in the kooky chasm between the desks of Messrs. Kaufman and Herz. I was young and green and passionately told them how “I wanted to write and make movies.” They said that based on Wunderkind they thought I could write and if I wanted to, I could write a screenplay for them. They had an idea for a story.

They offered to pay a little something if I was able to turn their story idea into a full screenplay. My recollection was that it was around $1,200, payable when an acceptable script was delivered. I probably would have done it for free, but it was even more exciting to have a “paid” writing assignment. I was briefed on their story idea, took notes and their treatment, and got to work on it.

During the eighteen months after leaving Satori, I wrote three full screenplays (Wunderkind, Deep Cover, and the Troma Project). I also formed a production company with Academy Award-winning animator Jimmy Picker and another partner to write and produce a clay-animated and live-action special, My Friend Liberty, which aired on CBS in the summer of 1986 to mark the hundredth anniversary of the Statue of Liberty. Troma paid me my small fee, I made a modest fee from My Friend Liberty, and one of my screenplays, Deep Cover, was optioned by a Hollywood producer. I also got married, and we eventually became pregnant.

I thought My Friend Liberty would immediately lead to tons of work for our burgeoning production company and that I was on my way. But I was way off in my naive enthusiasm. More production work was not forthcoming, and the dwindling funds and insecurities of the freelance life were not conducive to starting a family, not to mention supporting one. I needed a job. A real job. I settled for working for Troma.

•••

Chapter 6: Becoming a Full-time Tromite

Back at the Troma Building, I told Lloyd and Michael that I was ready for full-time employment. I wanted to make movies. They thought that was nice. But, they weren’t in production on anything at the moment, and besides, they didn’t really pay much to the folks they hired for production work since there were so many willing and eager to work for literal peanuts (and a cold beverage to wash the nuts down with) just to gain some hands-on experience on a real film crew. If I wanted a working wage, I’d need to do something more important than making the movies, I’d have to sell them.

Given my background in acquisitions and distribution over at Satori, they thought I’d be the perfect guy to start moving Troma into the blooming home-video and pay-TV markets. It wasn’t much of a salary, but it was a real job. It wasn’t what I wanted to do, but it was a step closer to making movies, and I figured (correctly, as it turned out) that once they were actually in production again, I’d find a way to get more intimately involved in that process, along with my sales responsibilities.

We came to an agreement and shook hands. And Lloyd walked me out into the main office, swiped a mess of papers off the corner of a desk where there was a phone, and pulled up an orphaned chair. “Here you go, Sass,” as he pointed to the workspace he just created. “Welcome to Tromaville!”

And so it began.

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That’s Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 – Two more short and sweet ones (are you seeing a pattern here? This book is an easy, enjoyable read!) Stay tuned for “Chapter 7: Branding Begins on the Ground Floor” where I share insights as to how Troma built a unique brand that has lasted more than forty years… 

 

 

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Chapter 4: Trailer Trash

Greetings from Tromaville! Here is Chapter 4 from my book, Everything I Know about Business and Marketing, I Learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER. If you haven’t done so already, you can read the Foreword by Troma co-founder, Lloyd Kaufman, and the Introduction to the book as well as Chapter 12 and 3. You can also see me read this chapter live, along with Lloyd and Toxie, at Florida Supercon. Stay tuned for additional chapters to be published here. If you like what you read and can’t wait for more, please don’t be shy. You can buy the book now on Amazon (and also please don’t be shy about sharing, and reviewing the book when you do read it.) Both Toxie and I greatly appreciate your support! – Jeff Sass

 

Chapter 4: Trailer Trash

Having huffed and puffed my way up to the fourth floor, I entered the editing lair. Here, there were a few seemingly ancient Moviola “flatbed” film editing consoles. Remember, this was more or less predigital, and still in the age of film. Editing involved literally cutting and splicing strips of film and magnetic sound tapes in an attempt to make something cohesive. A film editor works with prints of the raw footage that was shot during production. When the edited film is finalized and approved by the director, it gets sent to a “negative cutter”—someone skilled in the art of carefully and cleanly handling the camera negatives. The negative cutter conforms the original film negative to the approved edit, and that cut negative, when married to optical effects and a fully mixed soundtrack, becomes the master from which all the prints are made, that eventually end up in theaters. This was 1985. The first nonlinear video editing systems were just being demonstrated and were several years away from being put to any practical use by filmmakers. And, anyway, Troma was decidedly “old school” in those days.

As I took my tour with Lloyd, he showed me a work in progress, a new trailer for the intentionally gross, soon to become legendary, Troma epic, The Toxic Avenger. The film had enjoyed some early notoriety but had yet to find its niche in B-movie history as the so-called cult classic it remains today. I don’t think I had actually seen The Toxic Avenger at the time, but its reputation preceded it and I had a pretty good inkling as to what it was all about. My impression, from reviews and word of mouth, was that it was fairly gross and somewhat sophomoric, yet somehow charming and disarming because of an underlying sweetness and humor. Lloyd showed me the trailer in progress, which was fairly graphic and straightforward, and ended with a particularly dry and emotionless tagline, “A Different Kind of Hero!”

Lloyd asked me what I thought. I answered honestly. “Meh.” My understanding was that part of the movie’s appeal was that it had an element of comedy to it, despite the graphic, arguably tasteless violence. I felt the trailer, in the end, fell flat, largely because the tagline, “A Different Kind of Hero,” didn’t really convey how Toxie (or the movie for that matter) was indeed different. It was boring. It was plain.

“Well,” said Lloyd, “What tagline would you use instead?”

I thought about it a moment and asked a question. I had done my homework and read up on the film. I knew that much of it was filmed across the Hudson River from Manhattan and that the locale had been worked into the story as Toxie’s home. Like any good New Yorker, I also knew the various slurs and aspersions we’d lovingly cast at our Garden State neighbor. So, thinking fast I responded, “The Toxic Avenger is from Jersey City, right?”

“Uh, yeah,” said Lloyd.

“So,” I continued. “I’d use the tagline “The First Superhero…from New Jersey!’—something that is an immediate wink to the audience, letting them know that there’s a hint of comedy here too.”

Lloyd paused a moment in deep thought. Then he repeated my suggestion aloud, quietly, like a freshly assigned mantra. “The First Superhero from New Jersey…That’s great. Can we use it?”

“Sure,” I said.

The trailer was changed. The posters too. And like that Toxie became the first superhero from New Jersey.

And that was the first of the many things I would end up writing for Troma.

 

The lesson here, of course, and one I have used again and again since is to share your ideas. Don’t be afraid to give someone a good idea or help them without expecting anything from it. Holding back your ideas because they are precious or valuable or because you are afraid someone will steal them, is just a way to hold yourself back. This is especially true when you are trying to get a job or a new client. Give them a tangible taste of what you are really capable of. Give them a sampling of your valuable ideas that they can use and benefit from whether they hire you or not. More often than not, if your ideas are good, you will get hired or get the client. If you allow your best ideas to be turned into secrets, you may never get to see your ideas put to use.

There’s also a great lesson here from Lloyd’s behavior. He listened! Even though it was probably he who came up with the original tagline, “A Different Kind of Hero,” Lloyd was open to change and to new ideas, regardless of where they came from. Who was this Sass guy, anyway? He had just met me for the first time. I had no track record to speak of, and yet when Lloyd heard a good idea, a better choice, he was ready and willing to discard what he had already done and make a change that he perceived to be for the better. And it cost money to change the trailer and the posters and flyers. But it was the right move.

How open are you to accepting suggestions and new ideas?

•••

That’s Chapter 4 – Another short and sweet one (are you seeing a pattern here? This book is an easy, enjoyable read!) Stay tuned for “Chapter 5: Working FREE-lance” and the story of how Troma became my full-time employer… 

The book in previous posts:

Foreword, by Lloyd Kaufman
Introduction: Lights, Camera, Action!
Chapter 1: Welcome to Tromaville!
Chapter 2: The Troma Building
Chapter 3: Meet the Moguls

 

Chapter 3: Meet the Moguls

Greetings from Tromaville! Here is Chapter 3 from my book, Everything I Know about Business and Marketing, I Learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER. If you haven’t done so already, you can read the Foreword by Troma co-founder, Lloyd Kaufman, and the Introduction to the book as well as Chapter 1 and 2. You can also see me read this chapter live, along with Lloyd and Toxie, at Florida Supercon. Stay tuned for additional chapters to be published here. If you like what you read and can’t wait for more, please don’t be shy. You can buy the book now on Amazon (and also please don’t be shy about sharing, and reviewing the book when you do read it.) Both Toxie and I greatly appreciate your support! – Jeff Sass

 

Chapter 3: Meet the Moguls

There were three stories above the street-level storefront and countless stories within those three stories. On the first floor (actually the second floor of the building, but the first floor of the Troma offices), after climbing the narrow stairs, one entered the main office landing. To use the word “reception” area would be disingenuous, as visitors were not received as much as they were ignored, and once noticed, most likely put to work.

Two uncomfortable and mismatched office chairs were against the wall to your left. Before you was a beat-up desk, most likely occupied by a heavily tattooed and pierced young person of indiscriminate gender who had been “working” for Troma anywhere from two hours to two days. If they had survived for longer than two days, they would no longer be assigned to the front desk but would probably have been reassigned to head up theatrical sales, or edit trailers on one of the flatbeds on the fourth floor, or given some other critically important task they were grossly ill prepared and underqualified for.

Eventually, some screaming and yelling would emanate from behind the smoke-glass walls of the office diagonally opposite the “reception” desk. The yelling was often followed by the slamming of phone receivers (the old, heavy plastic kind, with cords and such) and perhaps the sound of books, magazines, and film cans being tossed across the room and into the walls. If you were lucky, the screaming and yelling would get the attention of the heavily tattooed and pierced young person of indiscriminate gender who would finally notice your presence. “Oh,” he/she/ it would say. “May I help you?”

“I am here to see Lloyd and Michael.”

And before he/she/it could respond further, Lloyd himself would come bursting out of the office, screaming like a banshee, “What is it? Asshole time?” Blasting past you as if you were the invisible man himself, Lloyd would light into the reception person as a lion attacks its prey, tearing them apart, psychological limb by psychological limb, until they either quit, broke down in tears, or simply accepted their fate and moved on to the next outrageous task Lloyd would assign to them.

And then his attention would drift to his unannounced guest, and zap! Kaufman transforms into the charming, almost delightful, intelligent, and affable Yale graduate (albeit a slightly scruffy one) you may have imagined.

“Come in, come in.”

Their office was a cluttered and messy room, large enough for two desks facing each other, with a sizable chasm between, Michael to the left and Lloyd to the right. Set up for an intentional daily literal face-off, staring at each other with no privacy. By design, they could overhear each other’s every phone call, and chime in from across the room. By design, they could argue over the smallest minutiae and yell and scream at each other with freedom and abandon whenever their muse manifest itself. It was manufactured mayhem. And, for them, it worked.

I sat in the aisle between them, shifting back and forth to face the speaker of the moment. It was funny. It was fun. We sort of all got along. I explained about Satori and asked about their video and TV syndication plans. They ignored me and asked if I’d like the tour of the Troma Building. Of course, I would. And up the stairs we went, starting at the top—the editing rooms.

The fourth floor of the Troma Building was arguably where the magic happened.

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That’s Chapter 3 – Another short and sweet one. Stay tuned for “Chapter 4: Trailer Trash” and the story of how I came up with the now classic tag-line, “The First Superhero from New Jersey.”

The book in previous posts:

Foreword, by Lloyd Kaufman
Introduction: Lights, Camera, Action!
Chapter 1: Welcome to Tromaville!
Chapter 2: The Troma Building

 


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Sharing Some Marketing Smarts from the Book on the MarketingProfs “Marketing Smarts” Podcast

If you’re a marketer you have likely heard of MarketingProfs, one of the leading online marketing resources, with over 600,000 members. In their own words, “MarketingProfs is the one source that individual marketers, marketing teams, and some of the world’s largest organizations turn to for modern marketing tools, training, strategies, articles, online seminars, discussion forums, and much more.” As a marketer myself, who has written a marketing book, I was honored to be a guest on the popular MarketingProfs podcast, “Marketing Smarts,” hosted by the talented Kerry O’Shea Gorgone.

Kerry and I had a great conversation and not only talked about the book, Troma, and Toxie, but we also discussed new domain name extensions like .CLUB and some domain name marketing tips (I am CMO of .CLUB Domains) and we talked about corporate culture, including some things I learned working with cartoonist Hugh MacLeod and Gapingvoid. I hope you enjoy listening.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE MP3.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE SHOW ON MARKETINGPROFS.

 


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Video Highlights from Book Promotion with the Troma Team at Florida Supercon

I had a blast reuniting with the Troma Team at Florida SuperCon to promote, sell and sign copies of my book, Everything I Know about Business and Marketing, I Learned from THE TOXIC AVENGER. Every time I get together with Troma co-founder, Lloyd Kaufman, it is just like old times and we slip back into the rapid fire, Troma-esque, witty (if we do say so ourselves) banter that fueled our fun working relationship so many years ago. As much as it was fun to hang out with Lloyd and Toxie for a few days, the highlight of SuperCon was by far having the opportunity to talk about my book with true Troma fans – signing copies, posing for selfies, and even getting great feedback from folks who picked up a copy of the book on one day, and came back the next day to tell me how much they were enjoying reading it. Nothing could possibly be more rewarding for an author, so thanks to all of you who I was lucky enough to meet during Florida SuperCon. And if you missed it, Lloyd, Toxie and I hosted a live reading from the book during one of the SuperCon panel sessions. I was even awarded a long overdue “Troma Diploma” 23 years after my service. 🙂

I took a lot of fun pictures and at SuperCon and below is a short video of some of the highlights. Enjoy!