George Kuchar, a prolific filmmaker whose campy yet heartfelt low-budget films inspired legions of followers like John Waters, died in San Francisco. His twin brother Mike confirmed the news last night, saying the cause was prostate cancer. Kuchar was 69.
Kuchar was born in the Bronx and attended the School of Industrial Art (now the High School of Art and Design) in Manhattan. He said that his father's taste for pornographic films triggered his initial interest in filmmaking, in an effort to explore "the sordidness of adults." Kuchar and his brother began making underground films in the '60s, mainly extremely low-budget shlock sendups like I Was a Teenage Rumpot and The Confessions Of Babette, featuring talentless (if enthusiastic) actors.
Kuchar and his brother produced films at an astonishing rate, gaining a cult following that included filmmakers like John Waters, who said that Kuchar “gave me the self confidence to believe in my own tawdry vision." After the release of his best-known work, the camp classic Hold Me While I'm Naked, Kuchar was invited to teach filmmaking at the San Francisco Art Institute, which he continued to do until illness forced him to stop last year.
Wily, joke-prone Kuchar said once in rare moment of reflection, “Makin’ movies, see, sometimes you see a very beautiful person. And the first thing that comes to my mind is, I want to make a movie of that person...I think in the movies that’s a wonderful way of pushing them on the public, and infusing the public with great objects of desire, and dreams, and things of great beauty.” The documentary It Came From Kuchar, directed by one of his former students, provides a solid introduction to the man known as "the Mozart of 8mm cinema."