I was contacted by Barry Hickey some time
ago. Hed read our Complete Guide
to Klaus Kinski at the ER Web Site and
wanted to contribute his own tales of
You see, Barry had actually
acted with Kinski well, sorta,
but thats getting ahead of things
in the flick REVENGE OF THE STOLEN
STARS (available from Video Search of
Miami). This was late in K2s career,
an era defied by linen jackets with rolled
up sleeves and the kinds of performances
he gave in CRAWLSPACE.
Barry and I finally got
together over the phone one night and
chatted for a couple hours about his career
in low-budget cinema and working with
Kinski in Mexico. The following is Barrys
tales of working with Kinski, director
Ulli Lommel, Lommels wife (and DuPont
heiress) Suzanna Love and other assorted
crazies and characters on the set of REVENGE
OF THE STOLEN STARS.
Id also like to point
out that Kinskis dead, so hes
not here to defend any of the stories
set forth in the pages to follow
this is simply one mans tale of
It was the first film that
I ever did in Hollywood. I was 30 years
old, but I looked like I was 21. I was
living out of my car doing singing telegrams.
And this movie came about because they
have this thing called Dramalogue
because all those straight-to-video B-movies,
thats usually where they cast from.
There was a Saturday audition
for this movie called SIX STARS TO SINDINAO
and the director was Ulli Lommel, who
had a film a few years earlier called
THE BOOGEYMAN (1980). Another good German
And it has been said that
that movie really started the HALLOWEEN,
FRIDAY THE 13TH movies, you know, that
kind of psycho slasher stuff. Personally,
I think it was TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE,
but Ulli wanted to take credit for it.
Hed read articles so Ulli believed
his own hype. The movie made about a million
and a half, two million dollars in the
[late] 70s. He basically kept remaking
that film for the next five years.
And here I was doing singing
telegrams and there was an open audition
for [this movie] down at the Coronet Theater.
I went down there at 9 in the morning
and I had six singing telegrams that day,
I remember. There was about a hundred
guys in line, so I waited in line, couldnt
get in, went and did my singing telegram
thing and came back. Now there were about
another 50 people on line, [and] I had
to do another singing telegram. I kept
coming back for the audition this
was for the lead. They were looking for
an unknown. I came back about four oclock
and the line was way down and I was the
last guy they auditioned out of a couple
They hired me and four days
later Im on a plane to the Philippines
with this cross-eyed Australian producer
who is also a witch and he looked like
Peter Sellers. And he limped all the time
cause he got stabbed in the foot
working for the Peace Corps, when he was
in his 20s, by a New Guinea tribe that
attacked his van because he was teaching
a competitive tribe how to bake bread.
So [he's] like my buddy...
he still is. Hes as crazy as a loon.
Anyway, Im on a plane with him and
Id never really been overseas to
a tropical destination. So I get drunk
as a skunk on the plane, we get to the
Philippines, were there, Im
working with Ulli and his wife Suzanna
Love. [She] was funding the movie and
shes one of the DuPont family. Remember
John DuPont who killed the wrestler? Thats
her family tree, the crazy artist side.
Shes one of the stars
with me, and shes in other films,
of which I can never remember any of the
titles. Anyway, shes a pretty girl
and a decent actress; she was actually
in HAIR on Broadway that was her
claim to fame.
Ulli, when he was younger,
his claim to fame was that he was an actor
and did the German Starsky and Hutch.
He was the German Starsky.
He was also the voice of Robin in the
Batman tv series. Whats really funny
is about two-and-a-half years ago Im
sitting out at Burt Wards house
and hes married to the heiress of
RC Cola. So Im sitting there with
Burt Ward and Ulli Lommel and were
talking about this movie were all
going to do together and I realize that
Im in a room with the two Robins.
And I knew my career was in trouble.
Ive done about 20
movies with Ulli. Hed call me out
of the blue and say, Barry, can
you be a detective today? And hed
always give me like $300 cash when I showed
up. Id ask, Well, whats
this movie about?, and he never
knew. Hed say, Its about
a man in the bushes with a gun...stand
over there. And thats the
kind of movies hed be doing. Id
show up and thered be all these
Germans or Swiss or French people, theres
some guy Nick something who was a big
actor in Germany. And Ullid bring
them here because they wanted to come
to Hollywood for a couple days. I met
Ulli on SIX STARS.
So there I am in the Philippines
with this guy and hes hypoglycemic
and hes freaking out and were
filming with people in the Binali rice
fields, which is one of the seven man-made
wonders of the world. During World War
2 these people used to kill the Japanese
and eat them because the Japanese decimated
the Philippines. The chief gave me the
head of a Japanese guy as a gift. He told
me, I killed him, I killed him,
I ate his brains.
And this is all before I
knew Klaus was in the movie. They gave
me a script which was supposed to be,
at the time, an action script. Sort of
like Indiana Jones. Thats what he
was trying to do a B-movie version
of Indiana Jones. The story was about
a guy named Gene and Im a musician
for the San Francisco Orchestra and I
find out my uncle died, my favorite uncle,
played by Tony Curtis. He died and left
me a ruby mine in the fictitious country
of Sindinao and I had to go there personally
to take the mine on or I lose it.
So I go to Sindinao and
I meet Suzanna Love who [played] the secretary
to my dead uncle. And Ulli played the
villain, hes this mysterious lawyer.
And apparently, when my uncle died he
had all the rubies hidden, which are worth
a lot of money and theres all these
ghosts and curses. My uncles murdered
by one of his foremen over the location
of the rubies.
Were filming in the
Philippines and we come back, Tony Curtis
cant work another week; were
negotiating with his agency to find out
whens Tony going to do the movie.
Finally, were shooting most of it
in Malibu now. We turned Ullis house
into this tropical place and then we went
up to San Francisco and filmed me walking
around town for two days.
Then we had some problem
with the distributor, Media Home Entertainment,
about something. And Im starring
in this movie and I got paid for four
months work, $1200.00 to star in my first
movie. And I had to beg for that!
Meanwhile, Tony Curtis is
supposed to film in five days. But we
had to make it out of this country because
he couldnt work [in the US] on a
non-union film. So we pay him $50,000
to be my uncle. Two days before we go
to Mexico Tony goes to Betty Ford instead.
And Ive been playing the character
the whole movie I always knew the
comedic instinct was there that Im
playing this guy who has a funny dead
uncle. Cause its Tony Curtis
playing this Brooklyn Jewish uncle.
At the last minute Curtis
couldnt do it. Then they had Ernest
Borgnine, but he wouldnt do it because
he was selling some cosmetics with his
wife. All of a sudden [the agency] says,
You know, Klaus is available.
And Klaus Kinski was [Ullis] idol.
And I was a big fan of Werner
Herzogs work and I knew about the
whole story in Brazil and thought this
guy was really interesting. Plus, I was
a film buff and I saw all of these [Kinski]
films when I was in college. So I thought
it was really cool to work with this guy.
I also thought hed be totally wrong
for the role. Ulli said, It doesnt
matter, hes a star in Germany.
they send me on to Mexico the star
to find locations, [and] Klaus
will work next Monday. So [Ulli] sends
me down to Mexico. So I go to Mexico and
I bring a friend of mine. He used to recruit
football players for Stanford. I bring
[him] with me because he said he spoke
Spanish, but he didnt speak a word
of it hardly.
[He] and I go there and
we stay at the Rosarita Beach Hotel, and
I go out to find locations to film in.
I finally go out and find a bullfighter
who was a well-known Mexican bullfighter
and he used to know a realtor. He takes
me to the Johnny Carson of Mexicos
house in Tijuana and he has the perfect
house it matches the Philippines
as much as we could.
Meanwhile, I call the US
and Klaus has committed and now heres
the deal. Barry, were paying
Klaus $75,000 for two days. He wanted
$50,000 per day but we had to pay him
cash. So everythings gotta be ready.
But I dont have any money, were
charging everything to my room and Im
wearing the same shoes I had from four
Were ready to go.
Klaus comes in from Marin County they
pick him up at LAX in a stretch limo and
theyre driving to Mexico. We have
this girl who played a maid in the movie,
she was also a part-time makeup artist,
and her name is Joyce Lin-Lew. She used
to be on Kung-Fu the tv series.
She played David Carradines girlfriend
who gets killed when hes a little
Chinese guy. Shes our makeup artist
on it, too.
Theyre driving down
in the limo the whole way and Klaus wants
to sleep with Ullis wife. Thats
how Ulli hooked him because he knew about
his sexual stuff. And Suzannas playing
like she likes him. Klaus has this ego
and he buys into everything about him,
he thinks hes the center of the
universe. Thats also why they brought
Joyce along because, well, Klaus liked
So theyre driving
down and [Ulli] didnt tell Joyce
this, she just thought she was going down
to be the makeup artist. The whole way
[Klaus] keeps trying to put his hand up
between her legs. Ullis not doing
anything to stop it and Suzannas
laughing like its a good time and
Joyces totally freaked out. Shes
going to Mexico with this sex maniac she
doesnt know, nobodys helping
her, shes in a limousine going 80
and theyre all giggling!
They get down to Mexico,
Klaus is staying at the Rosarita, I get
back from location and I havent
met the guy yet. Ulli runs up to me and
goes, You cant meet Klaus
What is he, the prince?
And realize something, I grew up in Chicago
in a gang on the South Side. To me, just
having moved to Hollywood was a joke.
I dont come across that way, people
think Im this real naive, Michael
J. Fox kind of guy.
What do you mean I
cant meet him, hes sitting
right over there.
Please Barry you dont
understand how delicate the situation
is Klaus thinks hes the star.
Ulli, hes working
a fucking day on it.
I sat at the bar drinking and I kept waiting
for him to introduce me. And Klaus, at
that point in his life, I dont know
why, he always wore these linen jackets.
He always rolled the sleeves up and thats
what he wanted to wear in movies. In the
later movies hes basically wearing
the same clothes. You know, hes
a weird dude, hes 56,
he never bathed, he smelled. Its
nine oclock at night and Im
with Ray whos drunk as a skunk.
Finally, I say, This is bullshit
and I just walked up to him, Klaus,
Barry and stuck my hand out.
And he doesnt even
raise his hand. He looks at Ulli and Suzanna
and Joyce whos sitting there with
this terrified face.
What is this?
Oh, this is Barry,
he plays Gene.
Yes, but what is this
with the hand?
Im Barry, Im
starring in the movie, I guess you play
I dont shake
hands with people.
I just started laughing
and I walked away.
So Ulli came out and said,
You shouldnt have done that.
Come on Ulli, whats
the big deal hes just like everybody
No, hes the
Laurence Olivier of Germany, you cant
The next day were
all at the set. I get there earlier, they
bring him in the stretch again. By this
time Klaus is now totally hitting on Joyce.
Hes sitting in a makeup chair, I
come in and sit in another makeup chair.
Were supposed to be doing our scene
together where I come into this room where
my uncles [been] killed and his
ghost appears and talks to me, telling
me what to do. You know, Im getting
ready for the scene and he looks at me
and goes out of the room. And Joyce, the
makeup artist, whispers to me, SAVE
I go, What?
Save me from him.
What do you mean?
This guys the
weirdest dude Ive ever met!
So Ulli comes in ten minutes
later and says, Barry, were
going to shoot the scene a bit differently.
Were going to shoot Klaus first
and then Im going to shoot you.
I figured reverse angles, no big deal.
Finally, theyre in there and about
to shoot and I come into the room. Theyre
shooting and Klaus gestures for Ulli and
whispers something in his ear.
Ulli comes over to me and
says, Barry, you have to leave the
Because you cant
see Klaus. And hes buying
into this, hes explaining to me
Klaus logic. Because Klaus
is a ghost.
Yeah, I know, hes
But you cant
see him and if you see him now itll
destroy his performance.
Help me out here Ulli.
This is my comedic, fun-loving Irish uncle,
now hes a crazy German who whispers...?
Thats what he
wants and thats how he acts. Im
paying him all this money Barry.
Payin him for
what, the guys a nut! So I
walk out of the room and Im back
in the makeup chair. Joyce comes up and
says, Hes putting his hand
up my skirt. The night before he kept
coming to my room, he came to my door,
he came to my window, he tried to get
in. One time he saw me, he stood up and
said he was Nosferatu...anything to get
me to open the window.
Im back at the house talking to
her and he sees me. So he tells Ulli he
wants the makeup artist on the set the
whole time for him. Shes sitting
on the set all day, Klaus is working all
day, and he would never talk. He would
So the funny part is, I
come into the room and say, Uncle!
Youre alive! and he would
whisper, No Gene, Im a ghost.
And thirty of us say, What?
Ulli walks up and says, Klaus, could
you say it a little louder. Think about
it Klaus, this kid barges in and sees
you and hes surprised to see you.
No, no, no, hes
a ghost...he doesnt yell anymore.
Hes a dead man and hes living
with the dead. And when you live with
the dead you whisper because voices have
no meaning anymore.
And Ulli says, Ah,
yeah, that makes sense, lets film
By this time Ive snuck
into the room and Im standing in
the corner. He doesnt see me. We
did this one take 50 times. All he has
to do is say, Gene, listen to me.
Over and over again. Nobody can hear him.
The soundman cant get a level and
Im not sure what hes doing
half the time. Meanwhile, the Johnny Carson
of Mexico is there now and sos the
bullfighter, and these guys are doing
the Mafia thing on me: Okay, youre
filming here now, I know we told you you
could film here for $300 a day, but now
that we realize youve got these
famous stars here maybe its worth
more like $3,000 a day. And it turns
out that Johnny Carson is
best friends with the head of the police
department. So I realize were getting
railroaded by the Mexicans.
Meanwhile, I cant
tell anyone because I know what Im
going to do: Im going to sneak all
the equipment out when nobodys looking.
But these German people are too bizarre
and the directors already freaked
out on me in the Philippines. He freaked
out on me in a few more locations. And
now hes freaking out with Klaus.
So we film the first night,
well, they did Im not even
in the scene. We all go back to the hotel
and everybodys having dinner. Klaus
is being Klaus, I still cant go
near him so Im sitting there with
a few of the extras and [Joyce] comes
across to me and says, Barry, will
you do me a favor? Will you stay with
me in my room tonight?
First of all, I want
to sleep with you and second it keeps
him away from me. Will you come over to
the table and just sit down next to me?
Shes over there with
Klaus and Ulli because theyre treating
her like a hooker. I just walk up and
sit down next to her, kiss her on the
cheek, hold her hand and hes freaking
out, but in a very subtle way. The funny
thing about Klaus Kinski is that for all
the bravado hes just a scared little
man. All you have to do is stand up to
him. Herzog knew and I knew that, too.
He wasnt a bad person, hes
just so self-centered. Everything was
his way or the highway. I admired a lot
of the work that he did previously, then
he got into all the great stuff like the
attic movie and the sorority things. Thats
when I knew my career was really over,
when the guy from CRAWLSPACE was playing
So here I am, this is my
first movie and Im thinking this
is what its all about. I go back
to her room with her and Klaus is knocking
on the door for half the night and I finally
answer. Klaus, do you mind? I won,
you lost, now get outta here. And
he leaves. Now I know hell never
act with me, not a chance.
The next day hes totally
the ghost now, wont even acknowledge
me, doesnt talk or anything. Wont
talk to Joyce anymore either. This kind
of business went on and we couldnt
even get him to come in [afterward] and
do foley work or anything. The next night
I had one more shot at getting him to
work with me. Then hes [playing]
games with the director about me: Well,
I cant act with him, hes a
nobody. And now hes trying
to pick up Ullis wife. So that was
the new game.
All he cared about was money.
Ulli would say, Klaus, say this
line. And Klaus would say, You
didnt give me those lines before.
Itll cost you $5000 for me to say
this line. Or, I can make the sentence
shorter and Ill charge you $3000.
By the third day I said screw him
I just sat there.
Its kind of sad in
[Heres] a few of the
funnier stories I knew about him, one
[from] after I did the movie with him,
one from before. Why Ulli was impressed
with him was back, I want to say in the
50s, Klaus did a show at one of the soccer
stadiums in Munich. He came out, according
to Ulli who was a teenager when he saw
this, to do a solo performance, it was
avant garde art. Nobody knew what it was
going to be, but it was Klaus Kinski.
80,000 people in a soccer stadium, he
came out and he had a tiny little Farfisa
organ like the Doors had. He wasnt
a musician and he came out and started
playing Mary Had a Little Lamb.
And 80,000 people were talking and he
stopped and stared at everyone out in
the stadium. And he left the stage. People
started chanting, Klaus, Klaus...
Twenty minutes later hed come back
on and play Mary Had a Little Lamb
again. Hed hear a noise out in the
audience, stop and walk off the stage.
He did this it was like a five-hour
performance until you could hear
a pin drop in a stadium with 80,000 people,
listening to Mary Had a Little Lamb,
which is all he did all night. It was
all about controlling people and showing
that he could mesmerize people. He was
sort of a genius in that way. Im
not sure what he got out of it in the
The other story was from
a girl in CRAWLSPACE, I forget her name.
He [plays] an older man that gets into
bed to seduce the girl. She gets in bed
with Klaus, they kiss, the sheets are
over them. All of a sudden the girl jumps
out of bed and goes AH! She
walks up to the director and says, tell
him to stop it. And the director says,
Stop what? She says, I
cant tell you. So the director
walks up to Klaus and says, Klaus,
whatre you doin? Im
doing nothing, what? He goes back
to the actress and says, Were
okay, get back in bed. Klaus leans
over, kisses her and AH! she
jumps out of bed again. And she slaps
him this time and says, Thats
it, tell him to stop it or Im not
going to do the scene, and she leaves
the room. He walks over, says Klaus,
whatre you doing? Im
doing nothing, Im making love to
her like you told me. He goes to
the girls trailer and says, Come
on, you can come back, you can do the
scene. He says hes not going to
do anything. This goes on for like
two hours, finally shes crying in
the trailer and [the director] says, Alright,
just tell me what hes doing.
She says, Well every time you yell
Action he leans over and kisses
me and then he sticks his finger up my
ass! So he goes back to Klaus and
says, Whatre you doing? She
says youre sticking your finger
up her butt. Klaus says, Yeah,
whats wrong with that? Thats
how I make love. And thats
how he was those last eight years or so.
The movie ended up being
called REVENGE OF THE STOLEN STARS and
it was aired in Europe. People tell me
Im a big star in Yugoslavia. It
showed in San Diego and actually outperformed
INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM at
a multiplex. The problem was I know I
only made $1200, and I know that we shot
it in the directors house, and I
know that we went to the Philippines and
that we shot it MOS and that we shot it
with a Filipino crew that was each making
$20 a day. And I know that they gave me
$10 a day spending money. Suzanna was
supposedly paying for the movie out of
her checkbook. It may have been a $1.5
million movie, but it was all going to
the Executive Producers. The crew never
got paid, Joyce Lew was doing it for $30
a day cause she wanted the credit.
She ended up making five times as much
on the movie as I did for being the makeup
artist and the maid.
It also got into litigation
between Media Home Entertainment, Tri-Mark
somehow got involved, so it really became
a question of international rights, who
owned the picture. Ulli was the kind of
guy who didnt care about any contract.
Hed say, Yeah okay, thanks
for the $50,000 and then go shoot
two days. Then hed sell the movie
to another company and get $60,000. Youd
have nine companies on your movie and
he didnt care. So he made a lot
of pictures that were never released.