JOE REDNER, often called “The Larry Flynt of the South,” is a most unlikely folk hero.
While Redner has many admirers, he has even more detractors. Depending on who you talk to, he has been described as a pimp, a patriot, an intellectual, a humanitarian, a hypocrite, a pig, a criminal, a narcissist, a hero and a genius.
Who is this guy? Redner is the owner of an infamous strip club in Tampa called Mons Venus. He has been arrested an estimated 150 times.
While he is a self-made millionaire, Redner has little formal education, having earned his GED while doing jail time. But don’t think he isn’t smart. In an effort to fight back against town hall, Redner educated himself about free speech law.
Redner is the subject of a film, Strip Club King: The Story of Joe Redner, that will be screened Feb. 4 as part of the 6th Annual Psychotronic Film Festival. This is the film’s premiere and one of the first times it’s been screened publicly.
The film was created by Shelby McIntyre, a Tampa-based filmmaker. “Funding for a feature film was a little low at the time, so I decided to film a documentary,” McIntyre says. “I wanted to find the most interesting person in my area and Joe was the obvious answer.”
McIntyre contacted Redner, and the result is Strip Club King. “The scope has stayed the same throughout - to tell the whole story of his life and career, the good, the bad and the ugly,” McIntyre says. “Joe is a very honest person, so he had no problems with it. His only request was for me to tell the truth, which we did.”
The only challenge McIntyre and his crew faced during the project was getting interviews with Redner’s adversaries. “Believe it or not, many of the people Joe had battled in the past, with high media coverage, wanted nothing to do with the doc,” McIntyre says.
“I think (it was) because Joe had embarrassed them publicly in the past,” he says. “They figured we would try to do the same. No matter how many times we tried to tell them that this was an independent film, they still would not return our phone calls or emails, or they flat out said ‘no.’”
The response to the film has been positive, even with little marketing. “Our biggest coverage has been in Exotic Dancer Club Bulletin, which did a wonderful two-page story on us,” McIntyre says.
The North American release of The Strip Club King DVD is projected for late March or early April. It will be distributed by Passion River Films.
“We have international representation with Aspect Film in the UK,” McIntyre says. “I think once the film is officially out on DVD and some strategic marketing has been set up, then we will see a bigger response.”
McIntyre wants the audience in Savannah to keep an open mind until they’ve seen the film. “The biggest take-way from this film is to not judge until you know the full story,” he says. “Most people only know Joe from the news stories throughout the years.”
It’s pretty obvious McIntyre admires his subject. “Whether you love him or hate him, there is much more to Joe than just owning strip clubs,” he says.
“He really is the American Dream personified,” McIntyre says. “A man who literally started with nothing, dropped out of school in the 10th grade, has been arrested 150 times defending our First Amendment rights, earned his GED in jail at the age of 40, is a recovered drug user, has built a real estate empire -- as well as being a parent, grandparent, and great-grandparent.”
Remaining films in the 6th Annual Psychotronic Film Festival:Jan. 28, DOLEMITE 2: THE HUMAN TORNADO - 1976 film by the late Rudy Ray Moore, a comedian who paved the way for Redd Foxx, Richard Pryor and Eddie Murphy
Jan. 29, MONSTER ROAD - 2004 documentary about stop-motion animator Bruce Bickford.
Jan. 30, ISLE OF THE DAMNED - 2008 indie spoof (made in Baltimore) of early '80s Italian cannibal horror films.
Feb. 2, MASSACRE AT CENTRAL HIGH - Little-known, violent teen drama from 1976.
Feb. 3, S.O.S. PACIFIC -1959 British thriller on the high seas, starring Sir Richard Attenborough.
Feb. 4, STRIP CLUB KING: THE STORY OF JOE REDNER - Ga. premiere of a new indie documentary about a Tamapa businessman known as "The Larry Flynt of The South."
Feb. 5, THE CREMATOR - Newly rediscovered, surreal Czech-made Third Reich allegory from 1969.
Feb. 6, SPECIAL MYSTERY SCREENING! - Award-winning, unreleased 2002 documentary on a legendary late '60s Detroit rock band.
All films begin at 8 p.m. at The Sentient Bean, 13 E. Park Ave. Seating begins at 7:30 p.m. for ALL-AGES. Tickets are $6 at the door.
For more information - and to watch trailers and clips of the films, visit myspace.com/psychotronicfilms, or call The Sentient Bean at 232-4447.