Clive Barker’s HELLRAISER has become an integral film within the horror genre, eliciting fear in the hearts of many with the creation of Pinhead and the Cenobites. For Women in Horror Month we had the chance to speak with Barbie Wilde who is widely recognized as the Female Cenobite; however, Wilde’s accomplishment span far and wide in not just acting but as an author as well. Taylor had the chance to speak with Ms. Wilde for Women in Horror Month to learn more about what it was like to play the Female Cenobite as well as her many inspirations for the stories she has written.
Nightmarish Conjurings: It’s such a pleasure to speak with you today! To start things off, what’s one trait about yourself that you want everyone to know? What makes you, you?
Barbie Wilde: That’s a really difficult questions! Well, a phrase that is often attributed to the male of the species is: “I am what I do”. Now, more and more, women can say the same about themselves. My work is me: specifically my writing. I always try to write about things that inspire me. I never start a project unless I can put everything into it. I don’t cut corners for convenience’s sake or laziness. I never edit myself. In the words of Joseph Campbell, I try to follow my bliss.
NC: The horror industry is home to quite a niche of different people, personalities, and talents. What do you find to be your favorite facet within the industry, and what do you find to be your least favorite?
BW: All the fans, actors, writers, directors and artists that I’ve come across over the years have been kind, generous, intelligent, funny and incredibly knowledgeable about the genre. I honestly can’t think of one negative facet that I’ve experienced personally.
I do know that some women in horror have come across misogny, as well as ageism, but that’s par for the course for being a female human. We have to become more aggressive in our demands for more screen time for our projects and just risk being called a “bitch” or a “nasty woman”. In fact, wear those words proudly as a badge of honor!
NC: You’re best known for your role as the Female Cenobite in Hellbound: Hellraiser II (my personal favorite Cenobite). Tell us about your experience! On set, how it’s changed you, how it’s shaped your persona as an influential woman in horror (and I have to know, does it make you crazy that people get your Female and Gracy Kirby’s Female confused?!)
BW: I was initially reluctant to even audition for the role of the Female Cenobite, because I found the first Hellraiser film so disturbing. Oh, the sweet nightmares! However, I’m so glad that I did go to the audition and get the part. It’s wonderful to have been part of anything that has Clive Barker involved in it, because he is such a genius and a Renaissance Man. I loved the novella on which the films are based, “The Hellbound Heart”, and in fact I’ve written a trilogy of Female Cenobite stories that are contained within my illustrated short horror story collection, “Voices of the Damned.” (Fun fact: the original Lead Cenobite in “The Hellbound Heart” was female, which I found very inspiring).
There’s nothing like looking in the mirror for the first time in full Cenobite makeup (which took 4 hours to apply) and see a completely transformed you. At first, I thought I was so ugly: bald, corpse-fleshed and with a big vagina-shaped wound in my throat, but that feeling didn’t last long. As I continued to gaze into the mirror, I saw the power that my character possessed: power, sensuality and the willingness to give up her soul for the delights promised by the Lament Configuration. It was an amazing moment.
Grace and I. I must admit, I’ve always been a bit puzzled how people cold not spot the difference. (Grace’s neck is so much longer than mine, for one thing!). There’s the different throat wound jewelry, Grace’s few wispy and creepy strands of hair, things like that. We have very different eyes and bone structure. Our make-ups had to be custom designed to suit our faces (with casts of our heads done, that kind of thing). However, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest if people get confused. We are two facets of the same character, if you like.
NC: When you are offered a role in a film, what dictates whether you take the role or not? Is there any specific detail that you look for, and is horror your favorite genre to be a part of?
BW: Until this year, when I was given the part of Rose in The Offer, I hadn’t done a horror movie since Hellbound. Whatever the genre, everything is based on the script. If I like the script, and the people involved, and if I think that the part will suit me, then I’m up for it.
Here’s some info about The Offer. It’s a horror film directed by Chris Griffiths and Gary Smart and written by Gary Smart, Adam Evans and Neil Morris. “7 strangers are invited to partake in a game to win £10,000,000. Unbeknownst to them the game is to death!” It also features Laurence Olivier, Award-winning actor Kenneth Cranham (Hellbound: Hellraiser II, Layer Cake), Hellraiseralumni Simon Bamford and Nicholas Vince, and Bruce Jones (Coronation Street, The Full Monty). With a special guest appearance by John Castle (RoboCop 3) and special make-up effects by Stuart Conran (Shaun of the Dead, Hellraiser, Braindead).
NC: You’re not only an actor, you’re also an author (and a brilliant one, at that)! You’ve written short stories, as well as a novel, what inspired you to write?
BW: Thanks for your kind words about my writing! My inspirations are my obsessions, my dreams, my fantasies, things I see in the news, etc. Serial killers, demons, witches, vampires (non-twinkly ones), aliens and, of course, the scariest monsters of them all: humans, have appeared in my work.
By the way, one of my latest horror stories, “Blue Eyes”, which appeared last year in an anthology called Great British Horror: Green and Pleasant Land, will soon be a feature length film directed by Chris Alexander (Blood for Irina, Queen of Blood, Female Werewolf, Blood Dynasty) with a script written by Chris and myself, starring electronic music legend, performance artist and actor Nivek Ogre (Skinny Puppy, Repo! The Genetic Opera, Queen of Blood). Stay tuned for further news about our Kickstarter Campaign!
NC: Your novel, The Venus Complex, is a deliciously morbid story about a serial killer that puts Silence of the Lambs to shame. How did you come about the idea for the novel? Is the character Michael inspired by anyone?
BW: I’ve always been fascinated by serial killers and psychopaths. One of my close friends was a professional dominatrix and she once confessed to me that her greatest sexual fantasy was to sleep with a serial killer. This concept appalled me, but it also intrigued me. It kick-started an idea that eventually became The Venus Complex.
Up to the point of writing The Venus Complex, I hadn’t come across a fictional serial killer book that truly explored their sexual fantasies. In most serial killer novels, it’s all about the violence – the more outlandish, the better. After doing extensive research on the subject: talking to psychologists and homicide detectives, etc., I wanted to explore the sexual mindscape of serial killers. That’s why I wrote from the male perspective, in diary form.
I suppose that Ted Bundy was a major influence, as he was an intelligent sexual serial killer who meticulously planned his crimes.
NC: Last, but certainly not least, if you could collaborate with three famous people (that you’ve never worked with before, alive or dead), authors, actors, directors, etc., who would you choose and why?
BW: I would love to work with 1. Rod Serling, who wrote with such humanity and intelligence. He came up with ideas and scripts that haunt me to this day. 2. David Cronenberg for his uneasy, ferociously intelligent and visceral dramas and horror movies. 3. The Soska Sisters, for their unique, ingenious and fearless approach to horror and other subjects. American Mary is still one of my favorite films of the genre. (And of course, I’d love to work with Clive Barker again!).
For more information on Barbie Wilde and to keep up to date with her projects, visit her website at www.barbiewilde.com, and follow her on social media on Facebook at www.facebook.com/barbie.wilde and Twitter @barbiewilde.
Barbie’s “diary of a serial killer” novel, The Venus Complex (“Damaged people, ultraviolence, murder and explicit sex – what’s not to love about her work?” – Fangoria) is available as a paperback and Kindle on all online bookstores such as Amazon, etc.
Barbie’s full color, illustrated collection of short horror stories, Voices of the Damned, is also available as a trade hardback, a deluxe edition hardback, paperback and Kindle on all the Amazons and from SSTPublications.co.uk. The artwork and illustrations in the book are by top artists in the genre like Clive Barker, Nick Percival, Daniele Serra, Tara Bush, Steve McGinnis, Vincent Sammy, Ben Baldwin and Eric Gross. (“…horrifically bloody, lascivious and wickedly shocking.” “If testosterone jumping erotica combined with heart racing fear is your bag of horror then this is just what you’re looking for.” – Scream Horror Magazine).