I’ve recently become aware of The Houston Entertainicle, a free (and indeed, quite entertaining) monthly newspaper that’s begun popping up in bars, coffee shops, stores and various other establishments inside the 610 loop over the past couple of months. The Entertainicle’s July issue features comics, crossword puzzles and Sudoku, unusually specific horoscopes (from Pisces: “3 people are taking advantage of your kindness. 1 is tall, another is short and smelly and the 3rd lives in Katy… Mike will pay you back on a Thursday”) and a cover story about a local epidemic of carnivorous “monkey-cat hybrids,” which I’m at least 98% sure is made up. That story (“Mystery Critters Plague Memorial Park”) was written by Entertainicle Managing Editor Keith Reynolds, one of the most uniquely anarchic creative voices in this city.
I’ve been a fan of Keith Reynolds' work for a long time. Probably most well-known as the creative force behind musical group-cum-theatre company Slump (whose semi-annual, semi-pornographic Christmas pageants have been performed everywhere from Diverseworks to Barnevelder Movement/Arts Complex to Keith’s own living room, which occasionally doubles as a piano bar), Keith is a capital-A Artist of the Renaissance type. He directed a brilliantly obtuse feature-length version of the Wizard of Oz that’s one part Palindromes, two parts Gummo and three parts PG-13 rated outtakes from amateur specialty web porn (last I checked there were a few DVDs for sale at Sound Exchange, but don’t quote me on that). He’s a classically-trained musician and composer, and as an actor has worked with groups like Infernal Bridegroom, Bobbindoctrin and the Brazosport Li’l Players. He's written and directed well over a dozen plays and/or variety/burlesque shows. He’s sold hundreds and hundreds of his five dollar paintings. I’ve spent at least fifty bucks on the damn things over the years.
I called Keith up on Sunday evening to chat with him about putting together the Entertainicle. We could not hear each other all that well. Here is a transcription of that phone call.
JM: Hey Keith, it’s Joe.
JM: Keith? This is Joe.
JM: Keith? Keith, it’s Joe.
KR: I can’t hear you.
JM: Keith! It’s Joe.
KR: Oh! Hey, what’s going on?
JM: Not much, how are you doing?
KR: Doing good.
JM: Are you at a… Where are you at right now, it sounds like there’s a crowd.
KR: I am at Poison Girl.
JM: I was calling to see if I could interview you about the Houston Entertainicle.
KR: (pause) You want to interview what?
JM: I want to interview you about the Entertainicle, for 29-95.
KR: Oh serious? That’s awesome.
JM: Yeah, I’ve got the July issue in front of me, I have a few questions…
KR: You mean, right now?
JM: Is now not a good time? I guess you are at a bar and stuff.
KR: Well, I’m at a bar. And my phone could run out of juice at any second…
JM: Okay… Well, I can talk to you later on, whenever’s a better time, or -
KR: I said, you can be rude to me and I’ll still do it.
JM: I mean… I don’t need to, that wouldn’t really help. How about I just call you tomorrow or something?
KR: Sounds good. Hey, thanks man.
JM: Sure, no problem.
KR: You’re not going to just rip me apart, are you?
JM: I … I wasn’t planning on it, but I could write some new questions…
KR: Are you going to make us famous?
JM: I mean, it seems like your circulation is already pretty good, I’ve seen the Entertainicle around at a lot of different places. Who’s your… distributor? How do you get the paper into different stores and stuff?
KR: No distributor, it’s just me and Ashley (Horn, Entertainicle Editor-in-Chief) spending half our fucking lives just driving around.
(at this point I decide we're just gonna do the interview)
JM: How did the Entertainicle start?
KR: We were friends, and we did some shows together, and we were like, we’re not making any money doing theatre, what’s a business where we can make some money? And I said, what about a newspaper? And she said yeah, yeah. And then I started backing up, saying no, this’ll be a huge pain in the ass. But she booked it, and we did it. We almost killed each other doing it – it IS a giant pain in the ass.
JM: So – it’s 2010, you were trying to figure out how to make money and you settled on a newspaper?
KR: Yeah, I know. It’s ridiculous.
JM: But it’s working out so far?
KR: Well… we’re breaking even. Getting there. We’re on our third issue. It’s hi-larious!
JM: You’ve got a lot of stuff in here.
KR: Comics, games and stuff. My “true stories.” And, um… advertising.
JM: Where do you get the Sudoku puzzles? I was curious about that… Do you actually make those yourself?
JM: The Sudoku.
KR: (pause) Make what by myself?
JM: The Sudoku puzzles, where do you get those?
KR: The what now?
JM: The Sudoku. The little, uh… number game things.
KR: Oh, I don’t do that, Ashley does that.
JM: Okay. I didn’t know how easy those were to make…
KR: I’ve never done a Soodookoo in my life. Whatever the hell it is. It looks like it’d be really hard… “Try to do an algebra question!” But I heard it was popular, so I was like, gotta put some of those in there. I don’t even look at them. I’m more of a Super Tic-Tac-Toe man.
JM: What’s The Houston Entertainicle’s circulation like?
KR: We make ten thousand copies of the damn thing. It’s like a giant palate.
JM: Are you… finding places to put them all?
KR: Yeah, mostly in the dumpster. No, we’re finding places for them all. You know where they go fastest? Gas stations, believe it or not. Unless they’re just throwing them away.
JM: Well, are you asking them? Or are you just leaving them there?
KR: No, we ask. There is one pet store that keeps asking for all these bundles… I don’t know why…
JM: I see what you did there.
KR: Good job.
JM: You’ve got a horoscope section.
KR: Guaranteed to come true, or your money back.
JM: Do you write them? Are you licensed?
KR: I usually just lie naked in my backyard, looking at the stars, then I write some stuff down.
JM: I assumed.
KR: We’re hoping to get rich and famous like the Free Press guys.
JM: Do you have any plans to put on a music festival?
KR: Of course.
JM: Can I get a preview? Do you have any big names lined up?
KR: Hell yeah! We’ve got one guy, Keith Reynolds. He’s going to play the whole time, twelve hours. Free cocaine –
(And then his phone battery ran out. I probably should’ve called him back the next day for a follow-up, but… y’know.)