After years of tracking down people involved in "Sleepaway Camp," It's always great when one of the actors that I haven't yet found finds me! Frank Trent Saladino Jr. (or "Gene-o" as you all know him) is one of those people. A friend of Frank's told him about the website and Frank decided to check it out. To his amazement, he saw that the film he was in 23 years ago had grown into a cult classic. He was able to see what a lot of his friends that he hadn't seen in 23 years looked like now. And most importantly, it brought back a whole world of memories that he considers to be "one of the greatest times" in his life. Frank was happy to share with us many of those memories....
You told me that SLEEPAWAY CAMP was actually a turning point in your life. Tell us about that. Yes, Sleepaway Camp was indeed a turning point in my life. You asked it Jeff so I hope you have some time! Quite honestly I never had any intention of being in the movies. Throughout high school I focused on two things (three, if you count girls); baseball (my dream job) and academics with the aspirations of becoming a fighter pilot/astronaut (my more "realistic" job). I had a passion for it. It was my life-long desire "at the time" to be the commander of my own squadron of F-16 Falcons!
Ultimately flying for the Blue Angels or becoming a Top Gun instructor was my own personal challenge. When Tom Cruise appeared in Top Gun in 1986 it made me sick to watch it because that is where I should have been in real life at the time. It made me sick because I was accepted into the Air Force Academy by a congressional nomination 5 years earlier in hopes of becoming a fighter pilot. Anyway, I was always a very focused person who never really allowed myself too much room to stray from my "To Do" list. I never drank or did anything else, still don't. I sang and played a lot of guitar. I've been playing since I was 6 years of age thanks to my father's (my 1st. mentor) instruction. I would serenade a dog if it sat there long enough! And if you saw some of the girls I dated, just kidding. That is how I became intoxicated, by playing. Not artificially. And as soon as baseball season started, the relationship with whom I was dating at the time was immediately dissolved. I always had a strong will. Not too many people could do that, especially if you saw some of the bra sizes!! (don't print that) well, OK!
Perhaps it was all beginning to weigh quite heavily because somehow, I found myself enjoying far different flights than I was used to, the flights of fancy of becoming an actor! My mother Rosemary, who is very beautiful and won quite a few beauty pageants including Miss Niagara, had a manager to help find her modeling/acting work. Her name was Mrs. Betty Geffen: a wonderful woman who made many charitable contributions particularly to children's causes. Mrs. Geffen was also the manager of Christian Slater, Jake "Body by Jake" and quite a few other people. With feelings of great trepidation, I decided to let the compass in my heart, rusted due to non-use, lead the direction over the compass in my brain. I took Mrs. Geffen on as my manager.
I guess for me, my practical and analytical side was becoming overloaded and I needed to find a place where I was free to explore a new direction "without feeling guilty". To me, everything had to be justified. If I wanted to pursue acting, even by taking acting classes that meant that something else had to suffer. There are only 24 hours in a day and I only slept for 3 or 4 of them so I was pretty busy. Getting into acting went against everything I had ever believed in. Everybody's struggling, everybody's beautiful, everybody's talented, everybody's broke. To me, you had to be struck by lightning to make it. I was tasting blind passion for the first time in my life and it tasted terrible but I stuck with it because that's just me. My cousin Marc Fratello (my 2nd. Mentor) introduced me to a saying, "Luck is where skill meets preparation". To me acting didn't follow this definition because there are wonderfully talented actors that can't find work while there are less talented actors that always work.
The need for actors is so small against the availability, that skill and preparation are nullified because they are "all" skilled and prepared: basic economic law of supply and demand. So here we are back to gambling, with no predictable outcome, something I am very uncomfortable with. However, it was the best thing I had ever done! Who would have thought, certainly not I, that I would have ultimately dashed any hopes of becoming a fighter pilot, something I had worked so hard to become just to see where an acting career would take me! My life would have certainly been different had I stayed the course and honestly, a big piece of me still regrets the decision. I abandoned my dream. I prostituted myself for the brief limelight and a part of me hates myself for that. I probably always will. As fate would have it, in the end it seemed necessary for personal growth. When you are auditioning among all the competitors, there is no one but you out there in front of those strangers: a very sobering experience. Stage fright eventually turns to steely confidence. Actors would make great sales people because they could have a million doors slammed in their faces and yet still be able to wear a big, enthusiastic smile at the very next door!
Fear of failure is a killer. It paralyzes most people into doing absolutely nothing (like a deer in the headlights) and so I became friends with failure very early on in order to learn how to negotiate through one's bone-yard of life's failures while keeping a forward momentum towards success. Life is not predictable and you should be able to survive or perhaps even thrive in a world of unpredictability - hence the term, "risk rewards"! Acting taught me this incredibly valuable lesson.
Keeping what I considered to be my analytical personality in check while cultivating my "new" risk-taking personality has combined to become the best of all worlds, what I am today; an entrepreneur- Founder and CEO of a NY based firm. Having not allowed myself to pursue an acting career I would have never embarked upon the businesses I started, including Trentco Innoventions!
Sleepaway Camp was my life's turning point. If I didn't get the part of Gene my risk-taking exploration would have ended and I would have returned to my more predictable and perhaps safer venues, if you can call flying fighter jets safer! Well Jeff, sorry for all the hot air but you didn't expect a "turning point" in someone's life to be expressed in only a few sentences did you?
About 2 months prior to shooting SLEEPAWAY CAMP, you got your first taste of the horror movie world in a Troma movie. Please tell us about that. Actually, the first movie I was in was not a horror film but rather a comedy. At one point I considered this comedy a "horror film" as you will soon understand. It was called The First Turn On and made by the same company that made the cult classic, "The Toxic Avenger" and "Nukem' High." Briefly, The First Turn On was about a few campers (too old and too hot to really be campers) that wandered away from the nature hunt that the counselor took the rest of the campers on. They were smoking weed in a cave when they got busted from the counselor. Upon exiting the cave, a flagellating camper caused a cave-in whereupon the campers were forced to sit while waiting to be rescued. The topic of discussion was the first time each of the campers "got busy" as they say. My character (strangely enough I think the name was Jeff) was in the flashback scene of the first story. Tell us what it was like for you working on SLEEPAWAY CAMP and why you consider it one of the greatest times in your life. It certainly was one of the greatest times of my life! Any experience filled with hope and promise has got to be wonderful. Because I had just turned 20 years old I had some life experience under my belt. Because I was in a movie prior to this one I was able to enjoy all of the aspects that being a part of SC had to offer. I wasn't overwhelmed by it and as a result I was able to absorb it all and thoroughly enjoy every morsel of filming.
After graduating from HS I took on a job as a lifeguard. (WOW, can I tell you stories!) This allowed me to continue to go on auditions. We had ½ hour shifts and would rotate. I cut a deal with the other lifeguards to take my place and I would do the same for them. This law was designed to keep a lifeguard alert. Staring at faces in a pool for more than a ½ hour in the sun could very easily put you to sleep. Thank God for mirrored sunglasses to conceal my closed eyes because I used to rely more on hearing a scream than seeing anything else. By the way, I worked from 9 - 5pm but also had another job from 8 to 4am so I was always pretty tired. After filming and returning as a local celebrity to the swim club, as a lifeguard I was plenty tired for sure but this time it wasn't from working two jobs!
I used to sneak out of the Forest Hills Country Club to pursue the auditions for SC through the back of the kitchen, jog a mile (up hill both ways) to the train station and take three trains to the audition. Am I showing my age with that joke? Anyway, I was always in a bathing suit when I auditioned for Robert and Missy but obviously they didn't know it because I wore pants over it. When I returned to the pool club I usually had to sit on duty for at least 2 hours straight. I got some of my best sleep on the lifeguard stand! I remember being told to stay out of the sun because I was getting too dark for the film. I thought, what kind of Sleepaway Camp is this? One in which the campers only come out at night when the sun is down? Being of Sicilian heritage I was always pretty dark. By the way, because I was a certified lifeguard I became the official lifeguard on the set. Anytime someone was in the water I was there. Too bad Robert wasn't making a film about some hot synchronized swimmers!
I think I spent a lot of time observing and enjoying not only my own experience but observing and enjoying the experiences of others particularly that of Felissa because she was so young and had such a big part. She was like the little sister I never had. As her designated and protective older brother (I designated myself) I always kept one eye on her too, even though her mom had it completely covered. Joan was an absolutely lovely woman. Neither Felissa nor her mom, seem to have aged at all from the pictures on your site! I don't know how so much talent could come in such a small package but Felissa obviously pulled it off or else we wouldn't be having this conversation 23 years later! I was a little older than most of the other actors but I got to make friends with most if not all of them. When it came to chow time we all got together to talk about the days events and share stories. I loved the camaraderie. We were like a big family. I even took out my guitar and sang for everyone at the mess hall. I sang privately for a couple of the locals also. Whoa! I just had a complete blast!
It was the greatest time for me because of many things. I am sure that you have heard the phrase, "love it when a plan comes together". Well for me, passing the audition and the subsequent filming was witnessing my plan coming together. It is wonderful to see the fruits of your labor unfold before your very eyes. It was great to know that hard work does pay off. That was my first big accomplishment after experiencing so many failures on other fruitless auditions. It proved to me that you can indeed succeed after trying "just one more time"!
This invaluable experience became a foundation for many more of my building blocks. Ultimately, this happily brought me to where I am today. Remember how important this was to me because I had already decided not to pursue my Air Force career and was still very skeptical about knowing if I had done the right thing. Being in SC and getting my Screen Actors Guild card helped me find the peace I so desperately needed. I was filled with renewed hope and confidence.
In the first movie I was in I never got to see the filming and all that was involved. However out on location with SC, I got to see almost everything that went into it and developed a great appreciation for those that work so hard behind the scenes to make it all come together. So much credit is given to the stars when just as much, if not more should be given to the people behind the scenes. 'Till this day, whenever my wife and I watch a movie I always wait until the credits roll at the end so I can cheer for the electricians. My wife cracks up. I am actually a third generation "A" Journeyman electrician and still hold my International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers card for Local #3 in NY for over 20 years.
Another reason why it was so good was an obvious reason, one that I'm not too sure Robert wants to hear but the cash was great! Young, single and a pocket full of cash: all I kept thinking about was Cagney's line, "I'm on top of the world Ma"! I thought I was on the road to the Magic Kingdom! The best part was that we had to get paid even if we didn't work. The simple fact that we were there and available for work made us eligible even if I was fishing or (the other "f"). Scratch the last line if any kids read this stuff! LOL. Bottom line was that I was in Heaven.
All in all my experience with the film and everyone associated with the film was absolutely priceless! I was certainly blessed to have been a part of Sleepaway Camp and it remains to be one of my, most fondest memories!
Tell us a few interesting stories about things that happened during the course of making this movie. Hanging around the set of a horror film was sure to bring a surprise to any unsuspecting victim. I was one of those victims on more than one occasion! We were shooting the "social" scene. As I recall we were shooting at an ungodly hour - about 4am. Although I tried to sleep during the day in preparation of the late night, it was impossible. I think we were picked up for breakfast at midnight with the anticipation of shooting at 1 am or something strange like that. I just remember my entire biological clock being turned upside down. I felt like a zombie and I knew I was not alone. We were all messed up.
Anyway while we were in the process of shooting I became even more tired and very thirsty. I went wandering around alone looking for something to drink when I came across a refrigerator. I assumed that the solution to my thirst would be found within the confines of this box. As I opened it up waiting to find something cool, refreshing and invigorating what I found at 4am startled me enough to make any woman proud. Did you ever hear of "Jack-in-the-box"? Well I found "Kenny-in-the-box"! I included the picture of him, as I found him in the refrigerator.
Remember the scene where Kenny is found washed up on the beach after the lifeguard curses the campers for trashing the place? Well the lifeguard says, "what is this doing here" or "how did this get here", I don't really remember but he turns over the canoe. When he does so he is horrified to find Kenny's decaying body with a snake exiting his mouth! Well I had never seen this before. I didn't even know it existed. Evidently the corpse was made out of a gelatin that needed to be refrigerated. It was the entire torso. Can you imagine being half awake and in desperate need of something to drink at 4am, alone and running across this!!!
Another quick story, I was eating dinner next to Kathy Kamhi. She was about to do the scene where she is found dead by Mel after being sliced in the back. Kathy had just come from makeup and she looked great. Her face looked absolutely ghoulish. It was odd to be enjoying such a nice conversation with a living, breathing stiff! She had the jagged slice down her entire spine and it couldn't have looked more real. I guess it must be nice to know that you can still look pretty even as a stiff!
I remember shooting a scene with the campers in the sleeping quarters. For some reason I had a hard time remembering my lines. I would get lost and just start ad-libbing all the way. I honestly think the scene was scrapped though I could be wrong. Robert always had great patience but I guess after so many takes I finally found his breaking point. I'll never forget it because he was so funny. He finally got tired of me messing up and with the script flying in his hands he yelled, "What do you think this is, creative writing? Read what's in the script"!
As you know, I would always go fishing during the day if I had nothing else to do. One day I decided to go fish off of the dock in the campsite. More often than not I trekked through the woods to fish the Hudson River but this particular day I figured let me try the camp lake. I think they were shooting the scene where the boys are throwing water balloons at Angela. This took place toward the middle and lower part of the camp if I remember correctly. It was not near the lake.
I must also say that it was not uncommon to have locals walking around because sometimes they were required to be in the shot. As I stood alone fishing at the end of the dock I was approached by a huge farmer-type character: overalls and everything. He saw that I was fishing and engaged me in a conversation. He was a strange looking guy and I just thought that he was here to play some part (30 years late for Deliverance!) so I spoke with him thinking nothing more of it. After a few minutes the conversation took a turn. He told me he was just curious about the movie and wanted to see what it was all about. He asked me if I wanted to go fishing on his private lake. I said, "What"?! He said, "C'mon now boy I got some good fishin' where I'm at." I'm thinking " Oh, so that's what you call it - fishin"! So I told him to get lost. He was pretty persistent. I had a few choices. Swim (because I was at the end of the dock), fight (in which there would have been a real dead body on the set - not mine) or talk my way out. Fortunately I was able to talk my way out with no further incidence.
I told Robert about it but the guy had vanished. From that moment on, my eyes were on the lookout for any strange characters. Coming from the city, I hadn't met any "friendly" farmers and wasn't about to start! It was for this reason I kept an even closer eye on some of my younger buddies, particularly my baby sister - Felisssa. We didn't need for this to turn into a "real" horror story. Great premise for a movie though!
A schedule was always left on each of our hotel room doors. This would let us know if we were on call for the shoot that day. If we were, it gave us the pick up time in which we were brought to the campsite. You always had the option to go have breakfast, lunch or dinner even if you did not work. The mess hall was at the campsite. The bus was always available to take you back if all you wanted to do was eat assuming you had no obligation for the day. As you already know, I used to go fishing when I wasn't on call. I have enclosed a few pictures of me fishing, quite successfully on the Hudson River. It was so far up north that the river had broken down into smaller streams. It did not resemble the huge river that connects Manhattan, NY to New Jersey. I took Loris that day and he took the pictures. We had such a great time catching fish and I really enjoyed his company. Here is a talented guy custom made for the theatre. If there was someone I thought would make it to Broadway my money would have been on him for sure! He deserved it, certainly more than I did. Anyway, this particular time I went alone. The area I fished was about a mile or more into the woods off the highway. I followed a narrow dirt path to a fisherman's paradise. I swear that any fish in that area had never seen a fishing lure! I caught a fish on almost every cast!
I was so preoccupied with catching one fish after the next that the hours just flew by. Before I knew it, it began to get dark very fast. I always wore a pair of fishing waders over my pants to prevent me from getting wet. This allowed me to enter the water to make longer and more accurate casts. Well I know you may not believe this but it is absolutely true. I knew it had begun to get dark rather quickly and I started to get worried that I would not find my way out of the woods. Just as my concern started to become elevated I felt something around each leg. To my horror I had a snake wrapped around each leg by the knee. They both must have been washed down stream by the current and thought my legs were trees or something. I took the butt end of my fishing rod and carefully placed it between my knees and the snakes and pulled them off very slowly, one at a time. They continued to get washed down stream.
Now you may think that this was the scary part but it wasn't. It got dark and I got lost in the woods! Now I was scared. Fortunately I carried a flashlight but it didn't do much to help because in the woods you need a spotlight with a 30-foot circumference. All I saw illuminated with my 2-foot light beam was leaves, trees and bushes. My flashlight was almost useless! As I walked hoping to find that little dirt path, I walked smack into a bush. Face first! Here I was with all of my fishing equipment, completely lost and beginning to hyperventilate. It was pitch black dark. I have never seen this kind of dark before in my life. Having already had the "friendly" farmer experience the only thing that was going through my mind was Dueling Banjos! Yes, the theme from Deliverance was screaming through my head like the Jaws theme to every swimmer!
I must have smashed into every bush and tree grunting like a cave man as I tried to get out. All I knew was to go up the hill since I came down a hill to get to the water. It was what I could have run into along the way that had me so worried ie; Clem and his brother Clem. Look, I'm from the city. I have no problem with the concrete jungle but to me the woods were the real deal. And to navigate them in pitch black darkness is insane! Finally after what seemed to be at least an hour, battered and bruised I stumbled onto the highway at about 10pm. I had sticks in my hair, leaves and scratches all over me. It was a disaster. Problem was that I was a few miles from where the motel was. What a way to end such an ordeal, with a brisk 4-mile hike!
To put things in their proper perspective I told this story to a friend of mine a few years ago who was quite older than I was. I was excited about telling the story with the snakes and getting lost in unfamiliar territory thinking it was a pretty cool story. He said, "Do you want to know what is even more scarier?" I figured there can't be too many things scarier than that, so what is it? Then he told me. He said, "Frank, how would you like to get dropped into North Vietnam in the middle of the night by parachute? They know you are there and you hear them walking around while you try to hide. The snakes that are there are not the kind from the Hudson River but rather 10' - 15' pythons." My friend was the only one to survive that particular evening. He wasn't worried about Clem. He was worried about Charlie. That's a man's man!
You told me an interesting story about how you originally first met Kathy Kamhi. Please share that. Perhaps 6 months to a year prior to shooting SC I auditioned for the soap opera, All My Children. I can't remember if I was on my way in or on my way out but nevertheless I passed in front of Kathy Kamhi's dressing room. I didn't know much about the soap opera and certainly didn't know who she was but as I passed in front of her dressing room I heard a blood-curdling shriek! I could have sworn that someone was getting slaughtered. The screaming was to such a degree that I didn't even hesitate to bust into the room or give any thought to the fact that I have no business going in. It was more of a natural reaction that I think anyone would have done. Anyway, when I ran in I saw Kathy sitting on her chair in front of the make-up mirror with her knees and feet held high above the floor, arms folded in and screaming for dear life. Not seeing any threat (like a rapist) I asked, "what's the matter"! She pointed to a cockroach under her dressing room vanity. I sighed in relief for the lack of any danger but then again I wanted to kill her (figuratively of course) for giving me a heart attack! I sleighed the beast with a quick foot, she thanked me and we sat for a moment to enjoy a nice, relaxing conversation. Who would have known that in the near future I would be working not only with Kathy but John, from All My children as well! It was a nice reunion when I got to see her again though I'm sure she didn't want to be reminded of the incident. In Kathy's defense, I personally know 2 of the biggest, burliest guys that are scared to death of spiders! Their screams and reactions can challenge the best of any woman's! It happens to the best of us
How did you first learn about the website? What was your initial reaction to everything you saw on it? I first learned about your web site about a month ago (end of 04 - beginning of 05). A colleague of mine was getting into acting and we used to talk about it from time to time. I had mentioned about being in SC in 82 and another colleague of mine mentioned that he had been the manager of a Blockbuster years ago and remembered the haunting picture on the video with the knife going through the sneaker. What an impression it made on all of us! I framed the movie theatre poster and still have it! He remembered seeing the film and loved it. He was the one that told me about the website. I looked at him in disbelief saying, "boy - someone's got an awful lot of time on their hands to create a site dedicated to a flick made so long ago. I figured with all of the other great horror flicks, who would have picked SC? There were no academy award-winning actors and it was made so long ago. Why all the interest? I did acknowledge that the concept was actually far better than most, not only for its time but even till this day. Naturally I was proud to have been a part of SC and biased towards the film because I was in it but I couldn't understand why anyone would create a site for a film at all, be it SC or Gone With The Wind. Who cares? To me a film is a film; it came, it went. Personally I do not use my computer for anything other than business. If it is not business related then my computer is not on. I do not surf the net nor do I have any interest in doing so. However curiosity did get the best of me in this instance and upon my friend's suggestion I went to the site. When I did, I was blown out of my chair!
I couldn't believe to what extent the site was created! So expansive, even encompassing all of the sequels! I was completely flooded with wonderful memories and at the same time sadness came over me. I loved every minute of it and wished I had pursued my acting career wondering what would have happened. Ironically it was the same feeling of wondering what would have happened if I pursued my flying career. It is funny how things change over time. I was also bowled over to see pictures of my friends and I. It is funny when you are 42 years old looking back on yourself at 20. The first thing my wife said was, "Wow - look at all that hair"! I just said, "Honey - have I ever told you how much I love you"?
I had quite a few of these pictures and I am proud to have added to your collection but the fact remains that this is something that happened so long ago that I never really thought much of it and consequently never went looking through my old photo album until seeing your site. Any photos I look at now are of my kids if anything. After seeing your site I raced to the album to see what I could send you. It was hysterical. I was so excited! You brought back such wonderful memories and bless you for doing so. I couldn't believe the details of the site and was impressed with it all. There was some trivia that even I didn't know! I love how your site is put together. It is easy to navigate and you have so much to offer in the way of pictures, interviews, trivia and updates.
I remember when we filmed SC, Robert made sure not to print the ending into the script to ensure that the end would remain secret. Did you guys do the same with RTSC? It is amazing to know that you were such a fan of SC that making "Return" became your dream. It is refreshing to see someone follow through with their dream. Congratulations!
I think the best part about your site was having the ability to contact you and thus get in contact with people that are so dear to my heart. Since talking to you, I have been in contact with Felissa and she is just adorable. I missed her so much and can't wait to see her again. I miss all of my friends. I am so happy that your interest has given her a new platform, allowing her to re-launch her career. It couldn't have happened to a nicer person! Thank you Jeff for bringing us all back together again! I was initially hesitant about contacting you. I figured you would have thought it was a joke. When I wrote in the subject line, "This is Gene-o" I thought you would think it was a hoax and delete it. I'm glad you decided to read it because it has reopened a wonderful world to me of years past.
What was it like to see so many of the people you worked with 20 years later on the website in the SLEEPAWAY CAMP REUNION section? It was great to see all of the present pictures of my old friends in your SC Reunion section. I actually worked with them in 1982 so for me, it has been 23 years since I've seen my friends. I am delighted to see how they are doing and what they look like today. They all look great! I am proud of them all and what they've done over the years.
I take my hat off to Robert for having the courage to follow his vision and though I am happy for all of my friends I am happiest for him because it is he that gave us all the experience of a lifetime. Like the MasterCard saying might go; "Seeing your face and name up on the big screen " PRICELESS"! That's a unique feeling a fella (or gal) can proudly take with them to the grave. Thank you Robert for the greatest time of my life and thank you Jeff for (please excuse the word) resurrecting that life. Who knows what the future may hold?
Anyway, when I ran in I saw Kathy sitting on her chair in front of the make-up mirror with her knees and feet held high above the floor, arms folded in and screaming for dear life. Not seeing any threat (like a rapist) I asked, "what's the matter"! She pointed to a cockroach under her dressing room vanity. I sighed in relief for the lack of any danger but then again I wanted to kill her (figuratively of course) for giving me a heart attack! I sleighed the beast with a quick foot, she thanked me and we sat for a moment to enjoy a nice, relaxing conversation. Who would have known that in the near future I would be working not only with Kathy but John, from All My children as well! It was a nice reunion when I got to see her again though I'm sure she didn't want to be reminded of the incident. In Kathy's defense, I personally know 2 of the biggest, burliest guys that are scared to death of spiders! Their screams and reactions can challenge the best of any woman's! It happens to the best of us.
I was so happy to see that you guys made "Return To Sleepaway Camp". I wish you so much luck. I'm thrilled that there is still interest. I would have loved to have been a part of "Return" and enjoyed seeing the old gang at the reunion. I wish I could have been apart of that also, perhaps next time.
How do you feel about SLEEPAWAY CAMP now that it has been around for over 2 decades? What are your feelings on the movie now as compared to when it first came out? I am very excited about Return to SC for many reasons! First of all, I am excited for you. I like to see people do well and it is always encouraging to see people follow their dreams. There are not enough who do. We should commend those who follow their dreams even to failure. It is because you have tried that brings out the best in all of us.
You are one of the few that has now set the example for the rest to follow as Robert had set an example for you so many years ago. Through the success of the underdog (entrepreneur), the rest of us find the strength to persevere through the seeming insurmountable obstacles that are sure to come! For this I am proud of you and wish you nothing but success!
I am excited for my friends who have found new beginnings and experiences through your work while reliving fond memories and making new ones. Your passion to produce another "Sleepaway Camp" made has given new hopes and joys to wonderful people: most notably Felissa. I am so happy for her because a whole new world filled with promise and happiness (both professionally and personally) has found her and I know of no one that is more deserving.
Lastly, I am excited that your work has brought us all back together again after 23 years! I am only sorry that I was unable to enjoy the company of my friends on the set. We all, I'm sure find life passing by so quickly that we hardly have time to look back because we are too busy looking ahead. It took your efforts to bring the past back to life again and in doing so, old friends have become reacquainted: to the enrichment of us all.
Regarding the film per se, I can't wait to see my friends on the big screen. I'm sure the story line will be just as unique as well. With today's technology the effects have got to be fantastic!
If you were asked to reprise your role as "Gene-O" in a future SLEEPAWAY, what would you say? Absolutely!! I knew I was so very lucky to have become a member of the Screen Actors Guild 23 year ago and I have always been a member in good standing since, all in hopes of one day returning to acting. I was sorry to have not had the opportunity to enjoy my friend's companionship on the set of "Return" so I would never again miss the opportunity to play the role of Gene or any other role for that mater. I must admit that it would be quite interesting to see what Gene would be doing at a sleep-away camp 23 years later; unless of course it was a "Nudist Camp"! Oh Jeff, please let me write the script for that one!! Just kidding. I'm happily married plus I'd probably cringe whenever I heard the word "CUT"! Willy Kuskin who played the camp nerd "Mozart" said that one of the actors really used to pick on him frequently and he said that he believes YOU were the guy who always helped him out and got the bully to leave him alone. Do you remember this at all? Willy wasn't sure which guy was the bully...but anything you remember of this, please share.
I have always said it pays to be nice because people will remember if you were good or bad - evidently, even years later. Willy has quite a memory - better than mine! I'm glad he has fond memories of me. Having been picked on myself as a kid, I have always supported the underdog and never stood for anyone picking on someone else, particularly in a gang. I am exactly the same way today though the bullies I see now are more frequently found around a negotiating table. I'd rather win a trip to Disney Fist than being beaten up at a negotiating table. The pain lasts far too long! I liked Willy. He was a great kid but they all were to my recollection. I actually have no idea who it was that used to bother him and honestly can't recall the incident(s). Obviously Willy can - so to whomever it was that was picking on Willy, if you read this you probably have kids of your own by now. I hope, for your kid's sake it is not payback time but rather they will learn from your mistake instead and protect kids from guys like you. You gave them that job 23 years ago!
I know that if I had seen anyone picking on him or anyone else I would have put a stop to it immediately. Like I had mentioned earlier, I was 20 years old and these kids were younger. I don't know if Willy fit into this category but for some it may have been their first time away from home and that in itself, would have been quite an adjustment. Being on the set among all of these strangers would have been an additional strain. The last thing they needed was to be picked on. No foul play on my shift and I had tried to be a surrogate "Big Brother" to whomever needed or wanted one.
I knew it would be nice for each and every one of us to look back one day and think of the experience with great fondness. I wouldn't be surprised if the bully (whoever he was) now works for Willy! Nerds (if that's what you would call Willy's character) have a great habit of becoming very rich!! I love it when the tides turn! Good luck Willy wherever you are and thank you for your kind thoughts. Remember Willy NEVER to do sit-ups (not even one) - especially with your eyes closed! I believe you are the only person I know where exercise, particularly sit-ups can be detrimental to your health.
Anything else you would like to share? There are those of us, myself included that from time to time reflect upon the past and wonder what could have been had we made a left in the fork rather than a right. I guess life seems to be a succession of forks in the road and we try to make the best decisions along the way. We have to live with those decisions and hope we can do so honorably - so think first. It appears that we look back more often when things aren't going well and I submit to you that there are two things to cerebrate. Never envy another because with their apparent, overt success, joys and material items may come with it hidden sorrows that hurt so deeply that they are too great to bear.
Secondly, we all have a lot to be grateful for. Blessings come in many disguises. In the words of Dr. J. Michael Bennett, "Yesterday's history, tomorrow's a mystery and today is a gift - That's why it is called the Present." Had I deviated even once along any road(s) I would not have the wonderful family I have today. Is this not what is really most important? Perhaps fate dictated that one specific failure along the way would make me choose a right instead of a left but ultimately, this is where I am today and I would not be happier anywhere else!
My wife Nancy is as much a beauty, as she is a treasure: intelligent, creative and supportive in every way. She is my best friend and a wonderful mother to our children, Marina and Frankie III. My fondest memories are with her. I owe my greatest accomplishments along with a debt of gratitude to my wife. Hey Willy Kuskin, perhaps this is my payback for saving you all those years ago! Thanks for being a nerd (just kidding)!
I look back at the many failures and great disappointments throughout my life and though I was often very bitter at the time, have come to realize that they were all necessary evils and I would do it all over again because the prize at the end is worth every lump and bump along the way! I guess the next time you suffer a devastating blow or setback just thank God for what you were already given and know that your reward will be that much sweeter in the end. My father, Frank Sr. used to say, "There was a man was crying because he had no shoes until he met a man with no feet"! Be kind to each other.
And there you have it- "Gene-O" 23 years later! Always beware of friendly farmers who invite you to go fishing with them in the middle of the woods! Anyone wanting to correspond with Frank, please Email firstname.lastname@example.org and your email will be forwarded to Frank.