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By William J. Wright | March 4, 2004

I’d intended to kick the interview off by asking you about Bubba Ho-Tep and upcoming projects, but, as it turns out, you’ve been dealing with some real life horrors.
The fire . . .yeah. That’s a good one to talk about because here I am in the middle of it. My wife Gigi just went down the hill on Highway 18 which we’ve not been able to use until the last couple of days and she just called me on her wireless phone and she said it was like going through the seven stages of grief to see what that fire did and how close it actually came to us. Nobody ever really told us, either in the media or anywhere else how close that fire came to taking us out. So, we feel incredibly grateful. As Gigi said, the hand of God was at work. I don’t know how the firefighters stopped it the way it was moving up that hill . . . and to think some son-of-bitch started it!

But, the fire did come close enough for you to become evacuees . . .
Yeah, we evacuated our community and our home and our business for ten days. We were stuck in a motel with two queen beds with two of our associates who had no place to go and our three cats. But, what we did do, because we were there over Halloween and there were a lot of kids stuck in the motel with their families . . . although I had to appear at the Halloween 25 convention in Pasadena, Gigi and our two associates threw a party for the kids and the adults downstairs in the lobby . . . a big Halloween party. Gigi is a makeup artist. So, she did makeup all night and she bought pizza and sodas and candy for the kids and they just had a terrific time. It’s really interesting that when these catastrophic events happen people come out of the woodwork to help. I received some help from some good, good friends. It was rough. We didn’t have a lot of cash with us. We had to get some help just to get the motel, which we got from two really good friends who said “Sure, man. Here.” We wanted to give back, too. So, as soon as we could get some money, we were happy to spend it to see some smiles on some kids and adults who were in a bad situation.

So, what does an evacuated Reggie take on the road?
Well, the four barrel had to go first because you’ve gotta protect yourself in these situations, so I threw that in the ‘Cuda (laughs). A couple of the first things I grabbed were the “tools of my trade” so that I could be sure we could make some money on the other end of this thing if we lost everything. I grabbed my guitars and the stuff I take to the shows with me – my CD’s and stuff like that because I knew I had to at least do one show while we were away and I didn’t know how long we would be away. We basically grabbed a few clothes. I grabbed a bunch of warm jackets . . . more than I could use because I figured maybe wherever we were going to, somebody might need one. And I was right. Somebody needed a warm jacket and I was able to help them out. And we grabbed our three cats. You haven’t lived until you’ve traveled in a car with three cats! It was an adventure. So that’s what we grabbed: the cats, the “tools of my trade,” a few clothes and our a***s!

What’s the state of the Bannister compound in the fire’s aftermath?
Right now, we’re trying to dig out of what is certainly a mess. We have a little production company called Production Magic Inc. and we stay very busy keeping busy. Looking for business. We do live events, videos. We help in production of film and so forth. For example, we helped in the “Phantasm” series – the last two actually and most specifically in “OblIVion” we helped on production a lot. We helped with production on Bubba Ho-Tep. That’s the kind of stuff we do. So, when you’re away for ten days and all you’ve got is your cell phone . . . no computer, nothing, trying to catch up and trying to prioritize is a challenge because there are certain insurance things that have to be taken care of. We had a haunted event that was going on, which of course, we missed our last two weekends on. So that was fairly devastating financially. Then, of course, our home . . . our home is fine but insurance has been working with us on out-of-pocket expenses like trying to refill our refrigerator because our refrigerator became toxic waste, basically. So, we’re catching up. It’s been a real challenge, but we’re up to it and we’re doing okay.

The interview continues in part three of REGGIE BANISTER: HOT AS LOVE>>>

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