ONE SMALL SEED MAGAZINE Issue #29 Digital 04 THE BEST OF - Page 62

Melvin van Peebles AIN’T NOT BOTHERED Melvin van Peebles’ life story can’t be traced along a single trajectory: He tried his hand as a cable car driver in San Francisco, traded some stocks, wrote a few novels - and is best known for his classic film Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song. His first feature film raised the eyebrows of the conservative 1960s Hollywood establishment that invited him to work as a director. But he had more on his mind than fame. By directing the politically loaded Watermelon Man and making Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song practically single-handedly, he played a major role in paving the way for the next generation of black American filmmakers. Despite criticism for opening up the blaxploitation genre with his film, he prefers to see the bigger picture. He is still going strong at 78 and performing with his new band Melvin van Peebles wid Laxatives (‘because they get shit done’). Sandra Pfeifer meets van Peebles for an interview in his New York apartment on 56th Street. It is decorated with a giant hotdog and the backside of a skyblue 1979 VW van that seems to have crashed through the wall. Fumes chug from its exhaust pipe. ‘You see?’ He laughs, ‘It’s still trying to escape...’