“Go ahead. Eat up. I dare ya!”
She’s a chef, a horror enthusiast and yet another prime example of a proud woman in horror. She’s got a bubbly personality and high motor lung power that make her a perfect horror radio host.
Nicole Andrea Guzman was born in the Bronx and currently resides in San Francisco, where she co-hosts a wildly entertaining horror show titled Planet Houston (Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito in a Frankenstein film? I’m in!) and also lends her voice to The Phantom Zone Radio Show, which has drawn rave reviews from fans and spotlights talented artists from across the horror landscape each week.
As an encyclopedia of horror knowledge and quotes, Nicole is a treat to chat with.
Here is my conversation with Nicole, where we talk about the amazing Vincent Price, gourmet horror treats and the inspirations behind her shows.
C’mon in, kiddies… the water is fine…
1. What were some horror films or shows that really caught your attention growing up?
There are so many horror films that made an impression on me as a kid. The most memorable for me would be Nosferatu. I was about 3 or 4 when I first watched it and I was so scared!! I really dig the old school black and whites like Frankenstein with Boris Karloff, Dracula with Bela Lugosi, and so on. But then when I was 5, I was taken to the theater by my sister to see a little film called Friday the 13th! Talk about being scared! You think I was ever gonna go away to camp?? No WAY! Thanks to Jaws I wouldn’t go swim in the ocean, and thanks to Jason, lakes were out of the question as well! I also remember Creepshow really scaring the daylights outta me, too! I want my CAKE!!! Poltergeist, The Exorcist, Invasion of the Body Snatchers with Donald Sutherland, Re-Animator, Day of the Dead… wow! Now, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is another film that stuck with me cause it felt so real with the way it was shot and how the actors just went for it. I mean, I can go on and on about horror films! Not a day goes by where I don’t watch at least one horror film.
My mom was a huge Twilight Zone fan, so many of those episodes stand out for me. Like the “Invaders” episode with the woman that discovers the U.F.O. on her roof with the “little aliens”. Another episode is the one called “Masks” where an old man makes his greedy heirs wear these masks in order to obtain their inheritance… and of course, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” with William Shatner. Now that one is a true classic and scared the crap outta me! To this day, I deliberately take a window seat when I fly and imagine that there’s something on the wing! But then there’s other great show’s like Friday the 13th: The Series, Tales From the Darkside, Werewolf, Freddy’s Nightmares, even cartoons like Scooby Doo, Where Are You? and one of my all time favorite shows, The Hilarious House of Frightenstein! Billy Van was a genius, and it doesn’t get any better than Vincent Price!
2. You’re a culinary artist and horror enthusiast, much like myself. What’s the scariest thing about Motel Hell, the fact that they serve up human remains or that not ONCE do we see anyone wash their hands properly while preparing raw product?
Hahahaha!! Well, it takes all kinds of critters to make Farmer Vincent’s Fritters! It is kind of an unspoken kitchen joke, aye? Never mess with the people who cook your food! But I would have to say the not washing your hands part is scarier. I mean, people don’t realize how many things they touch within an hour, let alone a day! And then you go and handle people’s food after scratching your scalp with all that dead skin under your nails… picking your nose goblins and then sprinkling herbs for garnish, touching your nether regions before making them a sammich. You think it’s pepper don’t you? Go ahead. Eat up. I dare ya! That oh so familiar smell that you think is cheese, but IS IT? Gross, I know… but the idea of that is scarier to me than Farmer Vincent’s Fritters! I think we’ve all had worse in our mouths anyway…
3. You’ve done some major state hopping over the last two decades. We all know New York pizza beats Cali pizza, but where is the better indie horror scene in your mind, the east coast or the left coast?
You got that right!! I SO miss New York pizza! It’s the water that makes the dough so good… but hey now! There is also nothing like Chicago deep dish pizza, baby! Just saying… that’s in a class all by itself! But the better indie horror scene? Hmm, that’s a toughie. I would have to say that California has no doubt released some impressive indie horror films, as well as the South and the East Coast, too. But so has Mexico, Canada and the U.K. and lest we forget all the wonderful Japanese indie horror flicks that America has taken and re-made over the years like Ringu, Ju-On, A Tale of Two Sisters, The Uninvited, just to name a few. I have a soft spot for Asian horror films. They’re not afraid to go over the top with the blood and gore, and the killing methods and torture scenes are quite impressive, and yet it doesn’t over take the story being told. I mean, I like my porn to cut to the chase, but when it comes to horror flicks, I want to be scared and creeped out as well as entertained. I think everyone making indie horror today brings their own style and flavor to it. I’ve enjoyed the creativity I’ve seen over the past few years. People are really coming up with fresh, new stories and ideas. I love it!
4. Planet Houston is hysterical. I absolutely love it. Having grown up on Svengoolie here in the Chicagoland, there are few things I appreciate more than a good horror-themed satire song. Who are some horror hosts you love or grew up watching?
Why thank you, Justin! Glad you liked P.H.! Well, I mentioned earlier about The Hilarious House of Frightenstein with Vincent Price. He really made quite an impression on me with the way he spoke as well as acted, and Billy Van with all of his characters. One of them being Grizelda The Ghastly Gourmet, who had a direct influence over my character’s development and skit for Planet Houston, “Mystic Meals with Madame Zas”. Then of course there’s the great Vampira. I was just facinated with her the way I was with Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Two very creepy, campy, beautiful and funny women. They were both so cutting edge when they first hit the scene, all the set props and puns they used to come up with, and B movies I had never seen or heard of. It just opened so many doors in my imagination about what I could do and be. But I also LOVED Mystery Science Theater 3000!! That was a great show! I loved all the commentary during the films and again it introduced me to films I had never seen or heard of before. So I got quite the education from those folks. And it totally planted the “campy” seed in my brain for sure!
5. The show is very well put together- the skits are hysterical, the music is spot on and the technical aspects of the show are great. How long does an episode of Planet Houston usually take to put together?
Thank you! I have to say, Jay Luna my other half, who did all of the artwork, editing, drawing, stop motion animation and the voices on the show, needs to be given major credit here. This was our brainchild and we worked really hard to put it together in a way that showcased our talents without taking ourselves too seriously in the process. When we first started creating the show, the late actor Jeff Conaway was involved and collaborated with us on many things and we had just started the audio recording with him shortly before he passed away. So putting P.H. together took a bit longer than anticipated because we were thinking about whether or not we should still go forward with it. But we knew it’s what Jeff would have wanted, so we continued on with the project, with the audio Jeff had recorded for us.
It was like something out of Tim Burton’s Ed Wood (both men are extreme influences on P.H. as well). We had this little tiny film canister of footage, or in this case audio, and had to piece it together just right for the pilot. Most people have a team of writers and animators to help them out- editors, stuff like that. Jay and I literally did everything single handedly as most of us upstarts do! A true labor of love. All of the hours Jay spent drawing and animating everything, then doing the voice work and editing, I was writing, getting funding and networking like crazy to get the pilot off the ground. We were getting friends like Master Illusionist Ron Fitzgerald and Butch Patrick aka Eddie Munster involved. We worked 24/7 on it and still are! Thankfully, we’ve made some amazing friends along the way, not only in the Hollywood industry, but musicians as well who have all contributed to the show’s pilot episode. And we’re really pleased with the way things turned out.
The format of the show is exactly what we wanted… A 30 minute horror comedy variety show, with skits, cartoons, music and more! Now that most of the work is done in terms of the intros and things like that, I would say that at this point, Episode 2 will probably take anywhere from four to six weeks to complete depending on who else is on board with us. The initial pilot took almost a year to complete given the fact of Jeff’s passing and trying to get the show out there by the anniversary of his death cause we dedicated the pilot to him. But we made it! Now we’re in the process of getting things together to start filming for Episode 2 and we’re really excited about who we’ve got involved with us! Can’t say just yet, but there will be some more musical guests and a few celebs sprinkled in there as well! Our goal is to make the show a combination of some of the shows we loved growing up like The Muppet Show and Pee Wee’s Playhouse, while also keeping the horror vibe and dark humor throughout the episodes. I think we’re on the right track!
6. You also are a co-founder of The Phantom Zone Radio Show, which is rapidly growing in no small thanks to your quirky personality and some awesome indie faces and voices. Tell us a little more about this project and where we can listen to it.
The Phantom Zone and Planet Houston are connected in a strange way. Jay and I are both huge Superman fans, especially the films. We named the web series Planet Houston after Superman 2, when Zod, Ursa and Non first break out of ” The Phantom Zone” (wink, wink, knudge, knudge) and land on the Moon and they overhear the astronauts call over to “Houston” and look at Planet Earth, mistaking it for “Planet Houston”. So we thought of how perfect it would be to name our show P.H. because only on this planet are things so topsy turvy and crazy! It’s like stepping through the looking glass, which is the same concept for the name of the radio show. Each week we all get to step through the looking glass together into an alternate place where we get to interact with people that we probably would never get the chance to otherwise.
This whole idea of us doing the radio show in addition to the web series was spawned by our dear friend Wick’d Jfay, who is a gothic perfume designer and has her own company called Studio 3B. She was a fan of our web series, skits and over all sense of humor. She also created a signature unisex scent for Planet Houston which Jay aptly named StarGasm. Jfay had done podcasts in the past and she asked Jay and I if we ever considered doing the same. Jfay is the third member of our team, running the chat room for us every week cause it’s pretty hard to keep up with while you’re trying to interview someone and type in chat at the same time! So without Jfay believing in us and seeing something in Jay and I, we probably wouldn’t be doing the radio show at all. We owe her many thanks for planting that seed in our wick’d little garden. I mean, to be honest with you, we really never thought about it before. And being that we do know a lot of actors and other folks in the entertainment industry, we figured, why not give it a try, right?? I have to say that it is one of the best and smartest things we’ve ever done! Our fan base is growing more and more with every show…
We’re getting to interact and speak with some amazing and brilliantly talented people who are all, like Jay and myself, on the verge of something major. It’s like being down in the well in the movie The Goonies. “Down here, it’s OUR time!! Once you go up Troy’s bucket it’s all over!” I mean, it really is our time. It’s like we’re all the next in line to get “in” or go into the next level. We love doing The Phantom Zone Radio Show every week and pride ourselves on being a cut above the rest in many ways, not only because of the caliber of guests we have every week, but because of our style as well. I don’t want to be like all those other shows out there, asking the same old boring questions all the time. In this day and age, anyone can literally have their own radio program, so the competition is out there, but as I said, our formula is different because we really don’t have one! We ask the questions that we and our listeners want to know the answers to, but after that it’s all improv, unscripted and whimsical. I also want to know who our guests are as people, not just by their occupation that they’re known for. Jay and I are just a couple of crazy, silly meows getting to talk to some of our favorite people in horror, music, cinema, pop culture and so on. We just want to hang out and chill with them for a while, and that’s how we want the show to feel. There’s literally no editing, so whatever little technical mishaps that may happen (and they do), we just leave it in there and make it part of the show! Life is full of beautiful imperfections, as are human beings and we’re not trying to come off all polished or anything.. We’re just keeping it real and having a great time getting to know some remarkable people. We just press the record button and let whatever happens happen.
We are very blessed to be in such great company and are really having a wonderful time doing the radio show. Jay and I have a great balance between us. He’s really mellow and super chill, while I’m the one who talks and never shuts up and is a bit more on the hyper side. So we really do have a harmonious balance with each other both on and off the show, both in front of and behind the camera. Jay is really the greatest person I have ever met and I am so happy to be going on all of these crazy twisted adventures with him and am proud to be the Bonnie to his Clyde!
You can hear The Phantom Zone Radio Show every Wednesday at 5pm pacific/ 7pm central/ 8pm eastern on blogtalkradio! Please stop by and join us in the chat room! I’m telling ya folks, it’s a crazy party going on every week and we’ve got some wonderful guests coming up on the show, so stay tuned!
7. If you could sit down and pick the brain of one horror icon, past or present, who would it be and why?
I think the one person that I would love to have a spot of tea with and a few nibbles would be Vincent Price. He really was such a brilliant man. So fascinating and impressive. Just the way he spoke , the sound of his voice and the way he carried himself. How misunderstood he was in his time. How he embraced the dark side of the force and was completely and totally himself all the time. He loved to act and entertain and he really left quite a mark on my life, ever since I was little. And like you and I, Justin- he loved to cook! He was noted as being quite the gourmet, so can you imagine going to his place for dinner and having a night of wine and feast?! Wow.
It’s funny how certain people make such an impression on you. From The Ten Commandments to Batman, House of Usher, The Pit and the Pendulum, The Hilarious House of Frightenstein to Scooby Doo, Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” to his work with Tim Burton (another one I’d LOVE to hang with), Vincent Price really is someone I would love to at least spend one day with if I could. Yeah, as you can see, I’m a huge V.P. fan. I’m kinda old school like that!
8. You are organizing an all-night horror movie marathon. What films make the cut?
Great question!! Lets see… in no particular order :
1. Halloween (1978)
2. An American Werewolf in London
3. A Nightmare on Elm Street
4. Dawn of the Dead (1978)
5. The Exorcist
9. I must ask… what snacks and goodies are we serving at this marathon?
Hahahaha!! Yes, well we’ll be serving some ghoulish delights to be sure! Perhaps some deadly donuts or spider cider? You know what we used to do at the movies? I’m sure lots of folks still do this but, we used to buy the big tub of popcorn, twizzlers, gummy bears, M&M’s and such and just throw it all in the bucket, mix it all together and nosh!! So I would totally make that a junk food kinda thing for the marathon. Chips, soda, pizza would be included of course! Comfort food to remind you that it’s just a movie… right? So bad, but for a special occasion like that, why not indulge a little, hmm?
10. Any last words?
Our website (where you can purchase our signature unisex fragrance StarGasm or commission Jay to create a portrait for you with his amazing talent!) has tons of links on the page so you can also check out some of our gruesome friends!
We look forward to meeting you all, chatting with you and hearing your feed back and just getting to know you a little!
As far as last words go, like they say in the movie, Highlander… there can only be one. And for me, that one word is… Meow!
I sincerely thank Nicole for all of her time and undying enthusiasm! Be sure to check out the shows- you will not be disappointed!