On Oct. 9, Associate Professor of Political Science Kevin Dunn’s feature-length documentary “My Life is Great: The Stevie Stiletto Story,” will premiere at the historic Five Points Theatre in Jacksonville, Fla. The documentary, set to be released on DVD with a 22-song retrospective CD, was produced, directed and edited by Dunn and tells the story of the 25-year career of the legendary punk band Stevie Stiletto.
“When I was growing up in Jacksonville, Florida, I listened to albums by bands like the Clash, Sex Pistols, Ramones and so forth,” recalls Dunn. “But in the early 1980s, when the first punk band in Jacksonville, ‘Stevie Stiletto and the Switchblades’, was formed it was transformative.”
For more than 25 years, the legendary band Stevie Stiletto, led by Ray McKelvey, were punk rock stalwarts, yet never got the national recognition they deserved. After dozens of releases, thousands of shows, hundreds of brushes with the law, countless line-up changes and one terminally ill diagnosis, Dunn hopes they finally get their due with his two-hour documentary.
Just five years ago, while Dunn was working on research into the global punk rock scene, lead-man McKelvey was rushed to the hospital and given a diagnosis of hepatitis C and cirrhosis of the liver as well as just three days to live. Today, the punk pioneer is still making music.
Dunn decided he needed to reconnect with Ray and Stiletto because of the influence they had had on his development dating back to the days in Jacksonville. “My initial plan was to just to see what I could use for my own academic research,” says Dunn, “But I soon became captivated by the prospect of completing a documentary.” Dunn’s research that coincided with this project looks into the ability of punk rock to explore the exchange and circulation of goods, people and messages beyond the limitations of international relations.
“Every one of the thousands of bands out there living a do-it-yourself lifestyle has an important story to tell, and I saw the documentary as a way to connect with a non-academic audience and bring attention to some of the ideas of an anti-status quo attitudes and disalienation that that Ray and Stevie Stiletto embody in their everyday life.”
In the film, Dunn captures the tumultuous decades that Stiletto lived what McKelvey calls “the rock star life,” hanging in the best hotels, and opening for and touring with some of the biggest names in punk and metal: The Ramones, the Dead Kennedys, Motorhead, Megadeth, Iggy Pop, the Flaming Lips, and a host of others.
“It has definitely been a labor-of-love project. Stevie Stiletto was influential on me in so many ways. I feel I owe it to them (and my teenage self) to make this documentary,” says Dunn. “Hopefully it will help give them the recognition that they deserve but that has always been just beyond their reach.
Limited theatric release begins in October, with the DVD/CD combo set available through www.geneva13.com and amazon.com. The trailer for the documentary can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bMvMvw1am5E