King Blank. 1982. USA. Directed by Michael Oblowitz. Screenplay by Oblowitz, Rosemary Hochschild. With Hochschild, Ron Vawter, Will Patton, Peyton Smith, Nancy Reilly. Digital video from 16mm. 71 min.
A JFK airport motel serves as the fitting setting for an unmoored couple joined together only by their extreme alienation. The titular King Blank (the Wooster Group’s Ron Vawter), rejected from the military on the basis of his psychosis, dons military garb as he cruises empty streets and plays with a blow-up doll. His wife Queenie (Rosemary Hochschild, the film’s cowriter) works as a go-go dancer and endures the fantasies of patrons. This claustrophobic, moody feature continues Michael Oblowitz’s foray into transgressive and psychosexual terrain, as the postmodern couple’s relationship devolves into the existential turmoil of displaced desire and projected frustration—or is it the other way around? This film of opposites mines the fetish of melding Blank’s radio evangelists and Queenie’s go-go tunes, fatigues and fishnets, and a road to nowhere next to the gateway to New York, before reaching its violent but inescapable climax. The cast of Oblowitz collaborators Hochschild and Vawter is spiced with cameos by scene figures Cookie Mueller, Mark Boone, Jr., and Stuart Sherman.