Mable's Unique Gifts






In 1982 director Frank Henenlotter created the cult classic Basket Case which is a movie about a young man named Duane and his deformed, homicidal Siamese twin brother Belial. In that movie and its two sequels Beverly Bonner played a friendly prostitute named Casey. So without further adieu we bring you an interview with the beautiful Beverly Bonner.

How did you get the role of Casey in Basket Case?

Frank Henenlotter and I believe Edgar Ievins, the producer had seen me in Women Behind Bars many years ago at the Truck and Warehouse theater in the East Village. He said he was going to be doing some films and if he did he would love me to be in them. Of course you hear those things all the time, but thatís exactly what happened. When he did Basket Case he called me.

Where you surprised the movie was being made on such a low budget?

No, I was very happy to have a little dressing room area. I felt like a movie star. They treated me really well. Certainly they said it was going to be low budget and I know they ran out of money on the first one. They had to get more money to finish it up. I started out having a small role. They ended up giving me the third lead and I got some points for the movie too. I also got my SAG card. That was a lot of positive things for me.

What was the lead Kevin Van Hentenryck like?

Particularly at that time he was a shy young man.

What are your thoughts on the actress who played his girlfriend Terri Susan Smith?

Right now sheís doing music that is just kind of out there.

Itís a complete contrast from her Punk Rock roots.

I know she cut her hair off before they did the film and they were very upset about that. When they hired her she had long hair and thatís one of the things they liked. She ended up wearing a wig and everybody was always asking why she had a wig on. Itís because she had cut her hair off and they wanted her with long hair. We got along great. I heard not everyone was in love with each other on the set. I maintained a very good relationship with Edgar and with Frank. Consequently, they put me in everything they did.

I saw the production stills and it looks like you smacked Kevinís butt.

No, I didnít smack his butt. Well, who knows? Maybe I did. He had something going on with somebody and I had something going on with somebody else.

Was somebody a guy in the movie?

It was somebody involved with the movie.

You were also in Basket Case 2 & 3.

I was Casey in both of those. Basket Case 2 was really weird because I think it was about 10 years after they made the first film or more. It was supposed to be right after he fell out the window. I felt a little strange doing that role because I had put on weight since that film and was older.

I noticed in the 3rd one youíre listed as a Fast Food manager.

Yeah, but my name was still Casey. I guess Casey got a legit job. I wasnít exactly the same character. That was just Frank. He has a great since of humor. Casey got a job at a hamburger place. That was shot in Atlanta by the way. On the third one they had moved. They lived in the house with a Jazz Singer Annie Ross. She was great and a lot of fun to hang out with.

Were you surprised Basket Case developed such a big cult following?

It still surprises me. Especially when the DVD came out, I mean I get a lot of calls from fans and people who are really into it. I think itís a good movie. We didnít have the money or anything, but it certainly is a lot more interesting than some of the stuff Iíve seen where people have 20 million dollars and thereís no plot and nothing is happening. People seem to identify with the characters.

By the time you got to Basket Case 2 and 3 where they providing food on the set?

They provide food anyway. There was never a time they didnít provide food. It was never that low budget.

Did you ever find your red panties and the high heels you lost during Basket Case?

That Edgar Ievins, the producer has got those. I never got them back. Itís Edgar because he was always grabbing my red panties. It was actually Frank who was clumping around in my high heels for the scene where you hear me walking around the room.

You have a Happy Smile Face theme in your apartment in the movie.

He filled that room with Happy Smile faces. Itís just a joke. Thatís his sense of humor. If you look at the film youíll realize there are a lot of funny things happening in it too.

I was surprised by the different locations they filmed in such as the gay sex club.

The Dungeon? We were shooting down there. It was funny because we started shooting so early in the morning. It was weird going in at 6 oíclock in the morning to a place like that. That was the scene where Kevin and I were getting drunk in the bar area. That was done very early in the morning. I think people donít realize how long it takes to shoot one scene. I know in the scene I was lying down asleep and Belial puts his hand on my breasts. I literally screamed for 8 hours that day. Just for that little scene. I lost my voice.

You got along well with the director Frank Henenlotter.

He reminds me of Opie from Mayberry.

Itís hard to believe considering all the strange things that come out of his mind.

If you go down to his apartment heíd have hands and all kinds of strange and scary things going across his lamp. Heís a little rosie cheeked guy. Heís very quiet. He doesnít like to hang out a lot. Heís even very selective as to who heíll even pick up the phone for. I consider myself one of the lucky people. Heís not a bullshitter and he doesnít like a lot of fuss made over him.

People remember these great movies and want to know when Frankís going to make a new film?

There are always things as far as money, distributors, and problems that arose. I know he got into directing videos. Iím sure heís going to do something again. I hope he does. I think he got really turned off with some of the stuff he had to go through with the films.

Basket Case played as a midnight movie at the Waverly in New York for a year and a half.

It did really well. Itís definitely a cult film I donít know if youíve heard of Joe Bob Briggs. He used to write about us a lot. We were voted one of the top 10 movies of all times for a drive in theater.

Did you start getting recognized more during that time?

When I had my TV show on in New York people would come up and hug me. When the Basket Case DVD came out I had my contact information listed. I got a great reaction from the people who were into cult movies considering how long ago it was. It certainly makes you feel good. It can be a little scary too. Thereís a downside to that sort of thing. Iíve had some stalkers too.

Whatís the scariest thing a stalker has done?

When I was doing Women behind Bars with Divine this guy got this fixation with me. He used to come up to the theater every night. Heíd try to get in. The producers had to keep him away. Iíd go to a store and he would suddenly appear. People get a fixation on you and they donít seem to be able to separate you from the character. They sit in there having all these thoughts about you. It can be very creepy and nerve racking. You never know what people are going to do. Thatís the only downside. Certainly, you always enjoy people appreciating your work.

What about Women behind Bars with Divine?

Divine was a very sophisticated, quiet, and gentle person. I used to go to his house on Christmas Eve and stuff like that. He had a penthouse on east 58th street. His Christmas tree was to die for. It looked like one of the windows on 5th avenue. He had $3,000 dollars worth of ornaments on it. It was beautiful colors. Divine loved my BBQ chicken. We went to Washington with the show. Weíd walk around as tourists. Divine and I would tell people we were married and theyíd look at us. He was just starting to play a lot of male parts. He was going to be on Married with Children. He had stopped drinking, he had stopped smoking grass, and he cleaned up his act. He was getting ready for the big time.

I remember reading that he & John Waters would get in trouble shoplifting things from stores.

You grow up in Baltimore and youíre pretty much locked in from anything out of the ordinary. Divine was a lovely guy. I remember coming out of my apartment one morning on my way to work and seeing him on the front page of the Daily News. I was totally shocked. I went to his funeral in Baltimore. I went to a couple of memorials. John had this classy high tea. Divine has spent some time in London doing some shows too. John had this beautiful table set.

I met his parents at a disco. There were a lot of celebrations of his life here in New York. At his funeral there were people from all over the world. Women behind Bars was a big hit and it ran a long time. It ran for over a year. There were people in the audience like Warren Beatty, Elton John, and Julie Harris. In fact Elton John did a concert at Madison Square Garden. He had Divine come out of the ceiling. He certainly had some good times. He seemed to be on a real health kick and itís so ironic to me. Once he goes and does everything healthy he drops dead.

Itís been mentioned youíre good at cooking. Whatís your best recipe?

BBQ chicken, Iím a great Soul Food cook. My grandmother raised me so Iíve been cooking for years. I had a catering business and I still do cater every once in awhile. I love to cook. Thereís nothing I love better than having friends over and to show them my love through the pots in my kitchen.


Would you date someone who was a Siamese twin?

If they were attached? No, Iím not into anybody watching me. That would definitely be a problem.

Do you think they should be separated at birth?

If thereís a possibility of them both living. If being separated meaning theyíre both going to die absolutely not. A lot of children in the early stages of life are being separated and thatís a beautiful thing. I canít imagine being attached to someone all my life. I wouldnít want to be bothered.

Some of them feel like they should have stayed together.

I have twin brothers and nieces. I actually wondered how it was going to be for my brother Thomas when his twin brother Tim passed away. Itís very, very difficult because they do have that connection. When you have a duplicate being with you all your life itís very difficult. I know they used to talk about what it would be like if one of them died and the other is looking in the casket. They were connected in a lot of different ways. I know as much as I miss Tim I know it was devastating for my brother Thomas.

Is there a movie that frightens you?

The Exorcist frightened me and one of the reasons it frightened me so badly was because it wasnít a movie about the castle, the rain, and the dumb blonde girl with the see through negligee yelling, "Help! Help! Help!" as she runs into danger. This was a situation where life was going well, the sun was shining, and people where going about their business. Sheís dealing with this horrible, horrible situation. Thatís a reality. That is frightening. Thatís what happens when you have tragedy. Thatís what happened when my mom died at Christmas. You wonder, "Why do they have these lights? Why isnít the world stopping because Iím dealing with this?" I think that is very frightening. When everything else is going on in the world and this horrific thing is happening to you personally. It just seems to scrape, agitate, and frighten you even more.

Are there other things that frighten you?

I used to have dreams about this as a kid is seeing a bunch of eyes in the dark. I guess I dreamed it or it bothered me because Iíve always thought, read or itís been said that the living part of you is your eyes. Itís so disconcerting when you see a blind person when you donít see that activity in the eyes. Where you can look into their eyes or their soul and read something thatís not coming from their lips. I remember reading a Stephen King book that had eyes on the cover. I lost it and I never got to read it. I thought this is my nightmare come to life.

What do you want to be remembered for?

That I was an accomplished hard worker and a good friend. Just remember that I want that on my headstone. Donít forget! I want a little Belial on the corner though.

-Randy Waage

Visit Beverly Bonner's website
Something Weird has a great Special Edition DVD of Basket Case
You can listen to a portion of the interview here