The Last Starlet: Cori Dials and the Memphis Scene, Circa 2006-2009

Time and Space are a funny thing. There wasn’t enough time or space to include these galleries on the Cigarette Girl DVD, where I originally conceived of them as extras. This voume of content speaks not only to the photographer talent involved, and to the talent within the photos, but to the creative spirit of Memphis.

”Scenes” are merely fronts for identity, like a play is a front for an actor. I have been involved in many “Scenes” since my arrival in Memphis in 1984. The eighties punk scene gave me a certain identity when I was unsure of my own. The Nineties was a proving ground for my identity as a filmmaker. And, as if that wasn’t good enough, each period (or Scene) came with a unique and original Memphis soundtrack.

In 2006, when I met Cori Dials, I saw a chance to put some theories in motion and perhaps transcend this notion of a Scene. It was over before it began. In my quest to find Elvis through the creation of new comic books, rock & roll, and movies, Cori became “The Last Starlet”. The point in which all things could be accomplished with one face. One voice. One charismatic soul. All contained within a sexual persona that was as unaware and un-self-conscious as a young Elvis Presley. This is why I call Cori Dials “The Last Starlet”.

Although we worked within the usual poverty that made a Cadavera feature film unlikely, nor could we promote or release a vinyl record of Fingers Like Saturn, nor would I find the time to draw an entire comic book with Cori Dials as a model. Now these things are only possible through the imagination, as Time and Space move forward.

I see Cori move through these years, becoming more and more accustomed to the camera. This reminds me of Bowie moving from Hunky Dory, through Ziggy Stardust, arriving at Aladdin Sane (in about the same amount of time). The idea of how a beautiful artist allows a persona to evolve until it takes on a life of it’s own. But then it must come to an end.

Somehow, this could only have happened in Memphis.

Considering the artless nature of everything that surrounds us as we move further and further from the rock and roll century, what an incredible way to close out the decade and begin a new century in the city that created our American pop culture identity.

Hail to Grandpa.
— JMM