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Prism Interviews Chuck and Chino From the Cellar Part II!
by David Stanley, posted December 15th, 2008
[Print-ready Version]

As promised, here's Part II of our interview where we probe the writer (Chuck McKinney) and artist (Chino) of the fab webcomic, From the Cellar, about Chuck’s stage antics, Chino’s self-designed go-go boy outfits, and the artistic process. Check out Part I here.

Q: Chuck, I see that you turned one of the From the Cellar episodes into an animated cartoon. Will we see more?

CHUCK: I take it you're referring to the OUTED VIDEO we did for that episode. I'd love to do more. It was a lot of fun to give Chip and Sheriff voices.

Q: It seems like the perfect synthesis of your writing with your theatre background, without all the fuss (and hoping audiences show up!).

CHUCK: Yeah, it was perfect. I got to voice Chip. My editor, Marshall [Callaway] voiced Sheriff, and Chino did the intro. Chino was perfect for the intro. He has such a New York way of talking... It adds to the urban feel, and gives it some Latin flava'. I used my agent, Noel's equipment for all the voice stuff, and my friend, Frankie did the "video" stuff. I wish more people would hire me for voice-overs. I'd love to voice some cartoon versions of some super-heroes and villains! I was up for one of the Pigeons in the film, Bolt. That would have been a blast.

Q: You did a one-man show called Up, Up, and Away! Tell the readers what that was about and how the production went.

CHUCK: Oh, God. What the hell was that anyway?

CHINO: A transparent excuse to show off your big dong!

CHUCK: No! Let's see... It was a one man show I wrote and performed. It was about my love affair with comics, especially the art, ending with my own true story of personal heroics (that's where the brief nudity came in). You know... When I wrote that, I knew nothing about making comics. I cringe when I think back at some of the things I said. But that was the charm of it. It definitely came from the point of view of a "Fan Boy". Two performances from the run really stick with me: The performance that my entire family came to, and the performance the GAY LEAGUE came to. The GAY LEAGUE was planning a weekend get together around that time. They included my show as part of the festivities. I went to great pains to make the show non-comic-reader-friendly, but that night it became an entirely different show, because the audience was packed to over capacity with Fan Boys.

Q: Do people worry that things they say or do will end up in the strip?

CHINO: (laughs)

CHUCK: Yeah, I think some people really worry about that. My friend Ginger tells me all the time NOT to put her in the comic. And one of the cocktail-waiters I work with swears me to secrecy whenever he confides anything to me.

Q: Does anyone want you to write about them? I can see a scenario where people would audition for you, hoping you’ll make them immortal in your strip.

CHINO: Louis is always auditioning.

CHUCK: Cheryl (from "How Romantic") and Chelsea (from “Chelsea 101") are the only two who actually demanded to be in my comic. Oh yeah... the flame throwing queen in "Flamer" also demanded to be in. He told me that story as sort of an audition. Can you believe that little mess has never even bothered to log on and read the story he inspired? I think most people are excited when they learn they are going to be in it, then they see what I wrote and they are mortified. I stand by my statement that no one is safe, as my sister is soon to find out.

Q: Chino, I think the readers would really wonder what it’s like being a go-go dancer. Now, that’s really glamorous.

CHINO: No, it isn't.

CHUCK: Oh, come on! You were a go-go star back in the day. Tommy [Chino's friend of many years] says you had tons of people that only came out when they knew you were dancing.

Q: What is it like having everyone watch you like that?

CHINO: It had its moments, but mostly it was a job.

Q: Were there any job-related injuries you had to worry about?

CHINO: Yeah! One time I kicked some dude's drink right in his face after he tried putting his finger—

CHUCK: Uh.. I think he means injuries to you.

CHINO: Oh. I don't remember any injures to me. I was known for being feisty and acrobatic.

CHUCK: I can vouch for that.

Q: What were your outfits like?

CHINO: My outfits were awesome! I made most of them, and other dancers would get jealous. I'd show up to dance with six or seven costume changes. I was very creative. I remember making a mesh jock out of a sports bra and nude stockings... Mind you, this was 1991.

CHUCK: Ask Chino about parading around Brooklyn in a skimpy, lime -green, spandex jumper.

CHINO: Oh please. You didn't even know me then.

Q: Chino, what drives you to draw?

CHINO: I don't know... Definitely the enjoyment. It makes me feel like a kid again, and I love that feeling. When I'm drawing, my imagination runs wild.

Q: Does it calm you, excite you?

CHINO: Both. Everything.

Q: Do you like the process of doing it or do you like being finished?

CHINO: Again, both. I love the satisfaction of the finished product. The journey getting there can be frustrating, exciting, and everything in between. It's a roller-coaster ride. The nice thing about finishing something is I get to see it colored. Except when Chuck is behind. I finished a Poison Ivy pinup a couple weeks ago, and he still hasn't started coloring it!

CHUCK: I know, but I have to do the writing, the scanning, the word balloons, the color, get it ready for the web, save a version for print... it's endless. Then I go sling drinks for cute gay boys. All in a day.

Q: I love how the characters are often nude or wearing very little, yet it’s not pornographic—just sexy.

CHUCK: Thanks.

CHINO: He really stresses that in the scripts.

Q: I’m wondering if your family members or your straight friends read the strip?

CHUCK: Some of them. My mom has read some of it. Whenever I do an episode that I think she would like, or when "Mom" gets mentioned, I send her the link.

Q: So, what has been some of the reaction?

CHINO: The reaction is usually good, whether the reader is gay or straight.

CHUCK: Unless the story's about them... (laughs)

Q: Thanks, guys! That was fun!

Again, everyone, please check out From the Cellar, just a click away.


David Stanley is Prism's PR Chair and creator of "Summer in Mykonos" currently previewed in Prism's latest guide (2008), along with a new creation called "Fuzzy Creatures".

Prism Comics promotes the works of the LGBT community in comics. It does not implicitly endorse any other material or products associated with those works. Any opinions expressed are those of the author(s).


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