The Cornuzine Interviews: Dean Cameron
Sure, I could write a bunch of flowery shit about how great 1980s B movie icon Dean Cameron is, but I think this affectionate Movie Channel promo for Ski School hits most of the important notes:
“Women love Dean Cameron.” That’s true. “Men want to party with him, or destroy him.” Also true. He has an “effortless, non-threatening charm.” Jeez, I couldn’t have said it better myself.
The only thing this ancient commercial left out was funny. Dean Cameron is naturally, wonderfully, amazingly funny, not only in movies (like Rockula and Summer School and Men At Work) but also in print. The actor’s website is rife with hilarious blog entries and work recollections.
The interview below, which originally appeared on my ramshackle entertainment review website Cornuzine, is a great example of how chuckle-worthy Dean can be off-the-cuff. It’s probably my favorite of the interviews I conducted for Cornuzine (mostly because of the Eddie Vedder anecdote).
KICKIN’ IT WITH DEAN CAMERON
JAMES GREENE, JR: So you played bass in [a band called] the Ducks, not to be confused with the Ducky Boys, correct? Just how long have you been molesting the four stringed beast, and how did you end up in the Ducks?
DEAN CAMERON: In ninth grade, Tammy Moore liked guys who played guitar and really liked this guy who could play “Stairway To Heaven,” so I started playing guitar. I learned “Stairway To Heaven” about six months later. I always liked the bass more than guitar and, during the guitar wars of the eighties, I decided that I didn’t have enough time to practice all the scales over and over and over and over again just to play Yngwie solos, so I did what any lazy fuck would do: I made bass my main instrument. In the early nineties, I started going to a friend’s club every Sunday night and playing in these sort of pickup bands. We’d learn ten songs by a certain band and then play them the following week. One of the guitar players was Russ Parrish. He went on to play guitar in Fight, the band Rob Halford started. After that ended for him, he started the Ducks, a nifty power pop trio. Back in ’98, he needed a bassist for a week when his regular bassist wasn’t available, so I played with them for a week. It was really fun for me. Last year, they needed another bass player, so I’m doing that. From looking at your site, I think you’d hate us.
JG2: How could I hate anything involving Chainsaw? I’ve heard you’re a fan of King’s X. Have they had any influence on your technique? Who else has influenced the mighty fingers of Dean Cameron?
DC: From King’s X, I learned that it’s okay to play with a pick, use down strokes as much as possible, and that really good bands go unnoticed. Their sound really hit me hard. Those harmonies with that heaviness underneath it was stunning. They’re still around, touring, happy and great. I’ve become friends with them in the last few years and their tenacity is inspiring. I grew up loving all the overplaying rock virtuosos – Chris Squire, Geddy Lee. I’m over all that now. Root, fifth, repeat.
JG2: Just who authored the rap you performed in Rockula? Was it you? Are you a fan of those block-rockin’ beats? Do you like any rap at all?
DC: I wrote the lyrics to “Rapula.” One of things I’m most proud of in my life is “you can read the commentary by William Safire/he’s the d.j., I’m the vampire.” I listened to nothing but the first NWA record for about six months when it came out. I like the Marshall Mathers LP. Is that stupid?
JG2: Naw. My mother really likes “Will & Grace,” but I’m not too familiar with it. Whom did you portray on that program?
DC: I had a tiny part as a guy who was nervous about asking another guy to marry him. I kissed Woody Harrelson, but they cut it out. It was a miniscule part.
JG2: Do you ever talk to [your Ski School co-star] Stuart Fratkin anymore?
DC: Yes, quite often. He has two children and a wife. I, on the other hand, have only just learned how to sustain a relationship with a woman over two years.
JG2: If I wrote the script for Ski School 3, would you guys reunite?
DC: I would want a lot of money. If I’m going to whore out, I want to really whore out.
JG2: Noted. Share your oddest celebrity encounter please.
DC: When I was at the premiere party for the movie Singles, Eddie Vedder was wasted out of his mind and being sort of dragged down this long hallway by his “handlers.” It was really stupid rock star bullshit so I yelled out, “NICE TO SEE YOU HANDLING SUCCESS SO WELL, EDDIE!” He heard me, looked right at me and tried to stand up and say something. He couldn’t. It seemed like this weird, lucid moment for him.
JG2: Speaking of Pearl Jam, are you by chance related to their current drummer/former Soundgarden drummer Matt Cameron?
DC: No. I wrote a song called “Chris Cornell,” though. I’ll never be as cool as Chris Cornell.
JG2: Aw, he ain’t all that. You played Jeff Spicoli on the TV version of Fast Times At Ridgemont High. Have you ever met Sean Penn, and if so, did he critique your performance of the character he made famous?
DC: Coincidentally, we studied with the same acting teacher. He wasn’t really in class when I was, but would drop by, watch, and intimidate the holy fuck out of everyone. I knew him peripherally; enough to say hi. I doubt that he’d remember me now. I heard through friends that he was glad I was the guy who got the Spicoli gig. Maybe my friends were just being nice.
JG2: Whose side are you taking in the whole Limp Bizkit/Wes Boreland split?
DC: I don’t know anything about this. What is it?
JG2: Well, uh, that one dude in Limp Bizkit asked the guitarist Wes why he was wearing Birkenstocks all of a sudden, and he freaked out and quit. No, I’m kidding. Actually, Wes claims he woke up one day and said he felt like a sell-out, so he quit. The rest of Limp Bizkit is going around the country to Guitar Centers trying to find a new guitarist.
DC: Thanks for the Limp Bizkit/Wes lesson. Has the Wes guy returned all of the money?
JG2: Probably not. I will forgo a final question so that you may plug away at whatever it is you are currently involved in.
DC: I helped develop a nifty web service called tightcircle. I co-wrote a movie that got made called Hollywood Palms. Maybe someday it will come out. Besides that, I’m trying to figure out if the acting career is in a slump or if it’s just over and I wasn’t notified. If I figure it out, I’ll post it on deancameron.com.
JG2: Well, there’s always Ski School 3 (fingers crossed).
– Cornuzine.com, 2002