Interview

Interview

Exclusive: We Get ‘Bitch Slapped' by Zoe Bell, America Olivo and Minae Noji

Last weekend, I had the good fortune to share drinks and chat with the stars of Bitch Slap, the exploitation homage from writer-director Rick Jacobson about three kickass beauties out to steal a fortune from an underworld boss. A few days ago, I posted my interview with stars Julia Voth and Erin Cummings (who play, respectively, Trixie and Hel, two of the three central women). After the jump, check out my chat with the film's other stars: Friday the 13th's America Olivo (who plays the third woman, Camero) and Minae Noji (who plays their deadly yo-yo slinging nemesis, Kinki), as well as legendary stunt woman Zoe Bell (of Grindhouse, Kill Bill and Xena fame).

There's been a couple of exploitation homages in recent years. What is it that makes Bitch Slap unique in this genre? 

Bell: Tits, ass, and guns.

Noji: [Laughs.] Tits, ass, and guns.

Olivo: Unapologetic.

Noji: Tits, ass, and guns.

Bell: Good word, eh? Unapologetic. Good word for this movie.

Olivo: Yeah. We meant it and we mean it and we like it.

Bell: It wasn't a mistake. We did that on purpose.

Olivo: We totally did it on purpose.

Noji: We're proud.

Bell: Every inch of it. Every inch of tit, every inch of ass, every inch of gun.

Zoe, you're the expert on action and stunts, as well as everything else.

Bell: I kinda like you when you say that!

Well then – you're a professor of the art of action. How did these girls do?

Bell: Amazing. I signed on because I loved the people who were involved from the very beginning a.k.a. [screenwriter] Eric [Gruendemann] and [writer-director] Rick [Jacobson]; and my one request was like, "Listen, I know you guys are gonna make the movie that you want to make and you're putting me in charge of this particular department and it's my first time doing this for a feature film… Please, please give me women that have at least got potential or at least desire to look badass." And I got women that were willing and capable and committed to looking badass and were hot. I'm like, "Fucking genius." That's the combination I wanted. So I had a really malleable Play-Doh to start with you know? I had good modeling clay, and they listened and they wanted to listen and they wanted to learn and so it made my job a lot easier. And my job turned out to be a lot more work. Like, I end up respecting my coordinators in the past a lot more having done the job that I did; and I appreciate how fortunate I was to have those girls that I had to work with. And to be honest, regardless of the point of whether they are guys or girls, I had awesome people to work with as a cast and so I was blessed and impressed.

Noji: Oh, blessed and impressed! She's a rapper and she knows it!

Bell: [Makes record scratch sound.]

Noji: I would say it's the best fighting in cinema history, personally. I really do, Zoe! I'm not kidding! When you watch it you don't think, you know a woman choreographed it because the way women think and the way we fight. You know they always have a kind of fight but this was dirty.

Olivo: Yeah, I got bit in the crotch. No, really.

Bell: Box bite! We did the first ever box bite!

Noji: First ever box bite.

Olivo: Can I just tell you that I got a bruise from that cinematic box bite? Which should have been like just a mock of what it would be like? No. My costar bit me. And bruised me. Just to let you know.

Bell: She was in character. I asked all of them and they gave. In love and war. And box biting.

Olivo: But Minae and Erin [Cummings] and I went over to Zoe's training facility on the weekends before we actually started shooting and she trained us in our different fighting styles and Minae has experience in dance and also a bit in martial arts… I just made that up, but you should.

Noji: No, that's karate.

Bell: But dance mixed with determination means I can train these girls. "I'm a dancer, therefore I'm good at fighting." I'm like, funny you should say that because ask any boxer if he's good at dancing and you know the answer is? Not yes! But Minae was determined and the only time you see my face in the movie is fighting opposite Minae and it was last minute. They were like, "Well we need this person," and I'm like, "I asked you about that," and they said "We don't have time. We don't have money," and I was like, "Fuck it. Put me in costume. I'll do it." Because I had been working with her and I had choreographed it so I was just like, "I know the fight already," and she and I had been working together already so I was like, "Let's do it."

Noji: I got to fight with Zoe Bell.

Bell: No, you didn't just get to fight me! You got to knock me the fuck out!

Noji: I kicked her ass!

For the uninitiated, can you guys just briefly describe your characters?

Olivo: My character Camero, she's a street-fighting, drug-running, man-hating orphan, who is just looking for kind of a break.

Bell: A little bit of love.

Olivo: A little bit of love. Really! No, a lot of love. She's full of love.

Bell: A little love. A big high.

Olivo: She wants a better life and she'd like to, you know, maybe escape to an island with her loved one and live it easy for once. She's got a good heart, a big heart.

Noji: She's had a tough life… I play the role of Kinki. Kinki's a Japanese schoolgirl, who is a lethal yo-yo-er. So her weapon is a yo-yo. I personally think she's a very, very sweet person, just don't cross her. That's the problem.

Bell: No, the problem is the line of crossing her is really fine. [Laughs.] She's sweet, but if you cross her you can cross her just by saying, "Hi." And you get yo-yo-ed.

Noji: She practiced with her yo-yo a lot growing up. She just wants to make use of it. [Laughs.]

Zoe, you're on-screen briefly, as you said, as Rawhide. Could you talk about your different responsibilities on the film?

Bell: Stunt coordinator and "filler of all ye spots that need ye filling" – a.k.a. doubling just about everybody whenever that's required, and being Rawhide opposite Minae. Someone had to stand there and get their ass kicked, and that was my job. I was like, "I can do this."

Olivo: Instead of wearing a lot of hats you wore a lot of underwear.

Bell: Yeah, I wore a lot of different underwear. A lot of different push-up bras, and multiple pairs of shoes. [Laughs.]

Will we see a sequel?

Bell: There's definitely a sequel or two.

Can you say where you'd like to see it go?

Olivo: I'd like to see it be a prequel, all about Camero's life. [Laughs.]

Bell: That's funny, because I'd like to see it be the continuation of Rawhide.

Noji: That's interesting, because I really thought Kinki was pretty mysterious. I'd like to know a little bit more about her and her yo-yo. [Laughs.]

Bell: We could do a prequel about how we were all once lovers and that's why there was so much tension.

Olivo: It's so great not to have Julia [Voth] and Erin here. [Laughs.]

Bell: Fuck those guys! Because, you know, I didn't even like those bitches anyway. [Laughs.]

What's next for each of you?

Bell: I have a movie coming out called Game of Death, with Wesley Snipes, at some point this year. Oh my God, panic – I don't have an answer for this…

Olivo: You did Whip It.

Bell: I did Whip It; that just came out on DVD. Thanks, America… I have a TV show that I'm not gonna talk about, in case the whole bubble situation…

Olivo: Minae and I are both in it. [Laughs.]

Bell: Yeah, yeah, you guys are gonna be in it… I've been surfing a lot and loving it, and my mum is not dying of breast cancer. So we're happy. She's completely clean and free.

Noji: I'm still doing General Hospital. I play the world's best gynecologist, in the fantastic universe. I'm also a sexaholic gynecologist.

Bell: Whoa. That's a bad combination.

Noji: It's a fantastic combination. [Laughs.] And I don't want to talk about too much, but I'm producing a show to empower women.

Bell: Hey!

Olivo: I've got some more music coming out. My single "Déjà vu" came out on the Billboard charts. And I've got another film Circle, and one with my husband Christian Campbell, called Neighbor, coming out; and I'm starting production on a western in a few months.

Ladies, thank you so much.

Bell: Our pleasure!

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