From the mud to the road, filmmaker Hunter Ray Barker tells the fantastical true stories of fringe entertainers
For founder Hunter Ray Barker, the documentary project Glory Hole U.S.A. is first and foremost a tribute to Sandie Crisp, aka Goddess Bunny. An entertainer in the truest sense of the word, Goddess Bunny has acted in the cult film Hollywood Vice Squad alongside Carrie Fisher, modeled for Rick Owens, and performed on stage at the MTV awards with Marilyn Manson. Barker has been a superfan since he was 12, when he encountered a clip of Bunny tap dancing and twirling a parasol. Gaze transfixed on the screen of his family’s desktop computer, he fell in love.
After moving to Los Angeles in 2012, Barker gravitated towards the remaining pockets of punk rock Hollywood. Through hanging out in the dwindling scene and befriending rogue legends like Manuel Vasquez and Jon Aes-Nihil, he met Bunny. The two immediately bonded, becoming best friends, co-conspirators, and one another’s adopted ‘mother’ and ‘son.’ “Sandie is my main inspiration in everything I do; her spirit is so unabashed and larger than life,” he says.
Glory Hole, then, is Barker’s way of celebrating Bunny’s eccentric star power. For his first order of business, he produced a short film in her honor, teaming up with the sunshine warrior and fellow documentarian Tucker Tripp. The project has since expanded, highlighting other entertainers who embody her spirit through a series of mini documentaries. Glory Hole’s roster of stars reads like the cast of characters in a comic book, including Snake Man, who walks around the city with his pet python named Butterfly; Stitch Face, who creates and assumes the roles of scary characters; and Taz the Toymaker, who boasts a collection of over 300 hand-made action figures. It goes without saying that all of the documentaries’ subjects are fantastical and hilarious; what is surprising is the enormity of their hearts and the poignancy of their stories.
An entertainer in his own right, Barker is also passionate about bringing people together to have a good time. Two summers ago, he co-hosted The Great American Mud Wrestle with Walter Pearce; Bunny attended, along with other “unsung heroes” from the entertainment industry. In the future, he’s interested in the idea of organizing “an epic concert where people can do whatever they want.” So, for now, Glory Hole is a fluid experiment, open to new ideas and schemes devised by Barker and his friends and collaborators—as long as they are Bunny-approved.
Caroline Reagan: How did the idea for Glory Hole come about? Was it through Bunny?
Hunter Ray Barker: I met Bunny shortly after moving to Los Angeles at 18 years old. I played a couple shows at a rock ’n roll store off Hollywood Boulevard run by my friend Manuel Vasquez. His shop was, like a 24/7 BBQ without a BBQ for every eccentric in Hollywood. Manuel introduced me to Jon Aes-Nihil, a Charles Manson Archivist and Kenneth Anger’s ex-roommate. He invited me to Goddess Bunny’s birthday party in Inglewood. It was us and a few people from her home. Meeting her changed my life forever.
Bunny and I really just hung out for seven years. There weren’t any projects, there weren’t any films or documentaries. It was really just us hanging out. I’ve always wanted to do something for her, but I knew nothing about cameras, and I didn’t know how to shoot anything. But I felt like someone as iconic as she deserved that—whatever it was going to turn into, I didn’t know, but I knew I wanted to do something for her. So, Glory Hole really arose from that relationship between me and Sandy.
I always tell people; it’s nothing new. Before, Manuel’s shop was a video store called Mondo Video-A-Go-Go, run by Colonel Rob, RIP. The Goddess Bunny performed regularly there amongst other stars like Vaginal Davis, Cosmic Danielle and Rocketboy. That place ended up being a hub for crazy entertainment and madness—it even got kicked out from a couple of different spots. Finally, the place had to be shut down.
So, in a sense, I feel like what we’re really doing is carrying that spirit on. Glory Hole is just another way for these entertainers to speak their minds. Also, my friends and I have been able to get all the people we work with paid—that’s my biggest hustle for these legends.
Caroline: Why the name ‘Glory Hole?’
Hunter: Well, it derived from the idea of us wanting to tell incredible, ‘glorious’ stories of people who are kinda on the fringe but also larger than life in such a fantastical way. It’s also just a joke—for such a classy woman, The Bunny has a sick sense of humor.
Caroline: What are you drawn to in the entertainers you feature?
Hunter: I think the biggest thing, above all else, is that they’re just funny. The more time I really spend sitting down with them—not just filming, but also hanging out—I see that they are all just trying to make someone else happy no matter where they’re at in life. Again, Bunny is the backbone to all of this, and she’s been given the roughest stick ever. But she doesn’t look at it like that, and she doesn’t accept pity from anybody; she’s a lot stronger than I am and a lot stronger than most people that I know—if not everybody. She doesn’t take life too seriously and does whatever the hell she wants. When people ask, ‘What really is the mantra?,’ or ‘What is it really that you’re trying to do?,’ it’s just Bunny’s spirit.
For Glory Hole in particular there is a certain vibe, a certain kind of soul or jibe that everyone shares. Like Bunny, they just wanna laugh and make others laugh as much as possible.
Caroline: Bunny aside, how do you find the subjects of your docs? How do you approach them and establish trust?
Hunter: I’m outside a lot and talk to people a lot. I met this guy named Stitch Face last October at a horror convention. Out of all the different costumes, his was the most intricate. He was a scarecrow with this massive hat; it was unlike anything else. Clearly, there was something really original going on there. So, I go up to Stitch, and I get his number. Approaching people like Stitch is organic for me because I’m in love with something that they’re doing or they made me happy in some way, immediately—the same way that it did with Bunny when I saw her videos for the first time.
In terms of trust, I think with any documentarian, you kind of just have to take a leap of faith on someone. Because I don’t know what their stories are…After sitting down with Stitch Man, he started choking up and going through all these scenarios. He’s come across a lot of tragedy, pulling people out of burning cars or rescuing people off the railroad tracks. I didn’t know any of this. He’s one of the 17 citizens who has won the Andrew Carnegie Hero award. A week later, his mother messaged me and told me he had passed away trying to help a man out of a semi truck that had turned over. Another truck had collided into it and took his life. His death soul-crushed me and many, many people around him. I believe he’d want me to still continue documenting stories.
Caroline: Can you talk about The Great American Mud Wrestle and how that ties in with Glory Hole?
Hunter: I’ve always been a major pro wrestling fan. When I was a little kid, I always wanted to do something with wrestling, but I was never in the best shape to be a wrestler myself. Another big inspiration for the event was all the work I do with the stunt community. That’s really where the idea was born. Then, I partnered with Walter to bring it to life. It became less about the stunts and more about a live, physical form of theater. We had a loose script of ideas, matches, and creatures and characters that we had created. Once it began, everything was improvised.
It ties in with Glory Hole in the sense that a lot of those characters—Bunny, Gold Man, K-NINE, this dog the bounty hunter impersonator, another friend of mine Shelly the Burbank Bomber, who was one of the original old-school tropicana mud wrestlers—hosted the event. Bunny officiated this mud wedding between two of my friends. I also brought in a few of the old-school G.L.O.W. wrestlers and other female wrestlers from the past to be hosts. A lot of people who I consider to be unsung heroes in different industries and areas of entertainment came together, whether they were judging or wrestling or hosting. It really became this great big muddy ball of chaos; it was extremely fun. And that was really the first Glory Hole production.
Caroline: What’s next for Glory Hole?
Hunter: Continuing the documentaries. It’s found its heart in telling those stories and bringing people together in different ways. Telling their stories and getting them paid—those are the only two things I really care about.