By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
Profession:Filmmaker. After fleeing southern Illinois, flirting with unemployment in St. Louis, and spending four years working at a Catholic Charities group home in Minneapolis, Swanson now devotes himself full-time to his filmmaking. "It's like playing God, rearranging time and space," he says. Swanson's natural instincts and a degree in cinema art have helped spin his films into Warholian cult classics. Occasional showings of the campy, horrorfest Liz's Picnic still draw fans to cable access. The Last Musical in Sodom premiered at Walker Art Center, Blood Club debuted at First Avenue, and three films will be released on local TV channels this month.
Type of closet:Streamlined-functional from the Art Deco age. "This apartment building is named after Norma Shearer's film Marie Antoinette, because it was completed in 1938, the same year the movie came out."
Closet dimensions:9' x 4' x 2'
Occupancy:Multiple personalities. Swanson shares digs with his partner of six years, an accomplished harpsichordist. Like Hitchcock, Swanson's companion always puts in an appearance on film. "Here's the pastor's cassock he wore in Lutheran Possession Head Horror," Swanson announces, pulling a black robe from the inner depths. What about that robe with the fake blood? "That belonged to the pastor's wife."
Average usage:"Brief flashes of time . . . seconds, really. Of course, I have to move my computer chair to open the door, so it's a deliberate choice to go into the closet. But throughout the day I'm always throwing something in or pulling something out."
Color:Gauze ("Bride of Frankenstein gauze," adds Swanson.)
Organizational style:Cinematic. Props and costumes from films past and present jostle with mundane and sub-lunar attire. "This dress is for Liz vs. Space, the final chapter of my trilogy," says Swanson, fondling a bilious green confection. And among the cable-knits and flannels hangs a poster of Raquel Welch from One Million Years, B.C. "Now that cave girl knows how to dress--she's wearing a fur that can eat."
Most recent acquisition:A black T-shirt emblazoned with a full-color Godzilla breathing fire on downtown Tokyo. "The real Godzilla," says Swanson. "Not that knobby, scaly, pop-eyed dreck in the current movie."
Future yard-sale bargain:Swanson maintains a Bizarro-world relationship with yard-sales. "Everything in my closet is a yard-sale bargain. That's where I do most of my shopping."
Comment: "In the age of video, you can be broke and still make a film."