Scott B & Beth B with cast members of The Offenders. (Left to right) Diego Cortez, Lydia Lunch, Johnny O’Kane, Bill Rice, and Adele Bertei. Photograph by Marcia Resnick. 1979.
If one wanted to encapsulate with a single work the spirit of the downtown art scene in the late 1970s, an appropriate choice might be Beth B & Scott B’s independent film The Offenders. A “savage satire” full of violence and nihilism, this low budget Super 8 film embodies the period’s do-it-yourself ethos, as well as, the fusion of art, music and club culture at the heart of the downtown scene.
The Offenders is set in a New York wasteland where some have accumulated great wealth and others live in desperate poverty having to turn to crime to survive. Part of the film’s appeal is it’s celebrity cast of downtown musicians and art-scene trendsetters like John Lurie, Lydia Lunch, Pat Place, Adele Bertie, Marcia Resnick, Bill Rice, Anna Sui, Diego Cortez, and Edit deAk.
Initially conceived as a 10-minute short, the film turned into an eight-week, shot-on-the-run serial that was screened weekly to cheering crowds at the club Max’s Kansas City. Beth B describes the process: “We scripted on Wednesday, cast and filmed on Thursday and Friday, processed the film and made posters over the weekend, edited on Monday, and screened the new sequences on Tuesday nights at Max’s.”
The Offenders was recently acquired and restored by the Museum of Modern Art with plans for a screening later this summer. Beth B’s most recent film Lydia Lunch – The War Is Never Over is currently playing nationally with a summer DVD in the works. Scott B also remains active in films as a principal at AntennaFilm in California.
Gallery 98 offers here posters and publicity stills connected with The Offenders. Learn more about the No Wave film scene of the 1970s and see more ephemera at our online exhibition “No Wave and Independent Film.”
Laura (Adele Bertei) fires a shot into the skull of the Lizard (John Lurie), a kidnapper, child-molester, fast food cook, noted for his perverted attempts at humor, and fetish for dismembered limbs. A publicity photo for Scott B & Beth B’s The Offenders, 1979.