FROM THE POSTER CONCIERGE
"OBSESSION" and "HOARDING" are such ugly words. So let's pretend they don't apply here. I was three years old when I scored my first movie poster (The House That Dripped Blood US 1 sheet), a freebie -- but when you're three, what isn't? My favorite stop on my frequent walks with my grandfather in Fort Kent, ME, was the Century Theatre, where I'd stare at the two posters (Now Playing & Next Attraction) on display in glass cases outside the box office, lingering as long as possible whenever there was horror involved. I was so taken by the one-sheet cooked up by Cinerama Releasing Corp for a British anthology chiller starring Peter Cushing & Ingrid Pitt, I'm told I requested extra walks for a few bonus peeps at its lurid majesty, which features a long-haired beauty, the lower half of her face a toothy swath of bare skull, holding a man's severed head on a tray. One fateful afternoon on what had to be one of the final days of the run, theatre-owner Gilberte spotted us and came out to greet her dear friend (my grandfather) and his unnervingly precocious tow-headed rambling-companion (me). Apparently I then asked if I could have the poster when she was done with it. Charmed or shocked, or both, she said yes, and soon after delivered this treasure to my grandparents' door, thoughtfully enclosed in a stiff cardboard envelope, wrapped in a thin blue plastic shopping bag.
Dissolve to Hollywood, California, 43 years later. I still owned that poster -- and roughly 2999 others. My taste for horror was completely intact, but it had broadened to encompass all manner of salacious and macabre pieces of original movie art from a dozen countries, ranging from 13x18" French petites to a ten by five foot 6-panel Italian billboard for the spectacularly sleazy 1975 Giallo trash epic Strip Nude For Your Killer (which I had foraged piece by piece from a mouse-infested pit of paper beneath a Roman antique shop in the shadow of the fun-hating cinephobic Vatican itself). Finally allowing myself to splurge on linen-backing and archival framing to display the billboard and nine other large-format Italian Giallo posters with the panache they deserved, I had a moment of clarity while narrowing my Top 50 down to the ten I could fit on my home and office walls: I could have five pads, two offices and an unlimited restoration and framing budget and I'd barely make a dent in this outrageously massive, meticulously archived collection. 3000 movie posters?! I was out of my fucking mind.
The only sins I believe in were the ones overheated copywriters brazenly trumpeted across hundreds of these very posters, but if I'd remained in Fort Kent long enough for the Catholic church to wash my brain to their strict local cleanliness standard, I'd have a new sin for the popular Mortal category --- allowing these amazing, beautiful pieces of Pop Art to languish in storage, when they all belong on walls, rolled-out or completely unfolded, to be enjoyed daily by like-minded connoisseurs of the salacious and the macabre. Like one of those no-kill pet shelters everyone with a heart should lavish with donations, I was determined to find good, loving homes for all of them. (And attempt to recoup a reasonable return on my what-I'm-too-terrified- to-actually-calculate-but-must-be-high-six-figures-minimum investment.) So, two years ago, with the brilliance of friends/design-photography mavens Paul (panelistmedia.com), Barry Morse (instagram: barry_morse_artist) & Beth Hall (@bhalldesigns), WestgateGallery.com was born. Named after my childhood porn theatre in Bangor, ME (see below), whose painfully cropped ads in the local paper were my entree into the delectable poster paradise of the XXX Golden Age, this webstore answers Stevie Nicks' question in a certain Fleetwood Mac #1 chart-topping single: Do you have any dreams you'd like to sell?
WESTGATE GALLERY'S ORIGINS
Named after our curator's childhood porn theatre, Bangor, Maine's long-gone Westgate Cinema, WG is a virtual boutique celebrating the timeless cool and lurid delights of the most exciting, entertaining Pop Art-form of the late 1900's-- the exploitation movie poster. Our admittedly broad definition of the term "exploitation" encompasses many genres and applies to films ranging from acknowledged classics and infamous cult sensations to obscure foreign gems and appalling sleaze, represented byoriginal theatrical posters of every size from around the world. With a few "classy" and understated exceptions, the vintage pieces we offer exploit our universal fascination with sex and violence and entice potential movie-viewers to experience a dizzying swirl of forbidden thrills and outrageous shocks sadly lacking in most of our daily lives. And they're going to look amazing on your walls.