Friday, November 27, 2009

Documentary Released: Harley & Annabelle - Living Legends in Erick, Oklahoma

The documentary "Harley & Annabelle - Living Legends in Erick, Oklahoma" is now available at (

Two years in the making, this documentary reveals the story of transformation of a couple of struggling, conventional-business entrepreneurs into wholly unconventional entertainers now responsible for dealing out "Insanity At Its Finest" for thousands of travelers coming to Erick, Oklahoma from around the world specifically to see Harley & Annabelle, "The Mediocre Music Makers" and their "Sandhills Curiosity Shop".

Press Kit


Joe Summars said...

I moved in and lived with Harley and Annabelle to shoot this documentary. We woke up and started the days together, moved out and began preparing for arriving tour groups together, had our meals together, and wrapped up the days of hard work together. Every day was an event, to say the least. But the most eventful day of all for me was the final day of the shoot.

The day before had been as busy a day as any and we had all gone to sleep late that night totally exhausted. We were all hoping to sleep in a little while in the morning to recharge a bit more than we had the day before but mother nature had other plans for us.

The first thing I usually notice of a morning is the sunlight intruding into my blissful dreams. That morning it wasn't sunlight that intruded but an overwhelming odor that I knew all too well from a single childhood close encounter with the only creature on earth capable of generating it.

SKUNK! The odor was so strong I was certain that one, or maybe even two had gotten into the house and sprayed right under the sofa bed I was sleeping on. Of course, that was not the case at all, but it turned out to be pretty damned close.

Begrudgingly, thinking all skunks should immediately be exterminated from the face of the world, I got up and got dressed. While I was folding up the sofa bed, Harley and Annabelle shuffled into the living room as bleary-eyed as I'm sure I still was, wearing grimaces I'm sure were just as pronounced as mine. The smell was horrific. "Must be a skunk under the house", Annabelle said. "I wonder how we're going to get it out?"

The first thought to hit my brain at that moment was memory of a story a neighbor lady told me about how her husband sent her under the house with a long stick to prod the skunk from under their house while he waited outside with varmint gun in hand ready to shoot it when it emerged. I'm pretty sure Annabelle wouldn't have gone for such a plan, though. She was just too smart.

More to come...

Joe Summars said...

Ever the gracious hosts, neither Annabelle or Harley suggested I go under the house to ferret out the vile pests, which was a relief because they know I can be fatally altruistic if encouraged even a little bit. Harley grabbed his rifle and donning a grim countenance, headed down into the basement. Annabelle and I looked at each other, our eyebrows scaling our foreheads in unison.

Initial glottal/gagging noises from Harley confirmed how much worse the smell was in the basement than it was upstairs. Harley emerged from the basement and turned to me. "There's four of 'em".

I'm sure I blanched. "Two ran inside a couple of big garden vases." he added. I just nodded, thinking exactly what he was, how to get those two out of the vases and all four of them out of the basement?

Harley went back down to deal with it. I knew he could handle it, being a natural at improvising. I stayed at the top of the stairs, keeping watch in case any of the skunks made a break for it. I had no intentions of trying to stop them if they did. My plan was to give a warning shout for Annabelle and get the hell out of the way.

One shot rang out. Well, it didn't exactly ring out. The basement walls muffled it considerably, but that first little pop was a sweet sound to hear. I fervently hoped the target was suffering a slow, painful death. Then another shot. Some grumbling and gasping noises all combined together with the sound of garden vases being moved, and finally, two more shots.

Wide-eyed and expectant, Annabelle and I asked together "Did you get all of them?"

Joe Summars said...

Harley nodded, exhibiting no signs of remorse for his killing spree. "I need a pair of gloves." was all he said.

One-by-one, he carried the carcasses at arms length to the pickup truck, then he drove them out to the dump for unceremonious disposal. While he was doing that, Annabelle opened up all of the windows to get the house airing out as much as possible, and I moved my gear and clothing out to my truck to prevent further, irreversible fumigation. Then I checked the dogs (Harley and Annabelle allowed me to bring my two dogs along for the duration of the shoot). None of them had been sprayed by the skunks.

When Harley got back and had thoroughly washed his hands (up to his elbows), he said "Let's get outa here!". No one argued one bit and we all set out together heading west on Route 66 with no real destination in mind. I wouldn't have cared if we had gone all the way to the Santa Monica pier before turning around. It was going to be a long time before the Redneck Castle was not so malignantly odorific again. It was just so good to be out and away and no longer having to smell that smell that it didn't really dawn on any of us that all three of us were carrying a good dose of that smell on us.

Joe Summars said...

We didn't keep driving west all the way to Santa Monica. Our first stop was in Shamrock, Texas. We went to a few antique shops there so Harley and Annabelle could look for old signs for sale.

In retrospect, everyone was so nice to us, considering the distinct aroma each of us exuded. And I suppose it's probably good that none of us realized how bad we smelled. We were having fun, the people in the shops didn't seem to mind so much, and the weather was great for a road trip.

From Shamrock we headed south and east to Hobart, then north to Cordell (where we ran into Harley's brother Steven) and then to Weatherford, antique sign shopping all the way. No one, not even Steven, said one word about our odorous state. It was amazing.

By the time the sun was starting to set, we realized we were all getting pretty hungry, so we stopped at a buffet joint in Elk City and chowed down amongst a good-sized crowd there, never hearing a peep out of anyone along the lines of "Do you smell that?" or "Where's it coming from?" because I'm sure everyone there knew everyone else smelled that smell and knew precisely where it was coming from because there is absolutely no way to hit a buffet line alone and we didn't even think to do so. We all three moved up to the lines and moved through them together. So it was skunk-o-rama times three where ever we went. The song 'O Sole Mio comes to mind now as I reflect on it all.

We were so hungry we tried a little of almost everything. Chicken, shrimp, mashed potatoes, spinach, okra, salad...and dessert. It was all so, so delicious.

Joe Summars said...

After the feast at the buffet joint, we drove a circuitous route back to the Redneck Castle for a little sightseeing around the large wind generator array going up just outside Elk City. We got out and stood beneath one of them, marveling at its size and the low, powerful whoosh the blades made as they rotated majestically.

Back in Erick late that evening, we were happy to find the Redneck Castle did not smell quite so horrible any more and began settling down for a good night's rest after a hectic day. We sat and talked for a little while then Harley and Annabelle began commenting on feeling some stomach upset, asking if I was feeling any. "No, not a bit." I told them, feeling some deep worry that they fell ill almost simultaneously.

Before I finally got to bed, Harley and Annabelle had both surrendered their magnificent buffet feasts to the Redneck Commode and immediately staggered off to bed feeling deathly ill. It didn't hit me until midnight when I woke with a start and lurched out of the sofa bed toward the Redneck Commode, reaching it just in the nick of time. After that, we all three did our level best to take turns at the Redneck Commode as the food poisoning ravaged our systems.

After spending weeks recording Harley and Annabelle performing energetically for dozens of elated groups of tourists from all kinds of places around the world, our time together for the season was coming to a close amidst much heaving and groaning.

No one felt any better at all by morning but I knew I it was high time for me to get going on home. I had more than a hundred hours of footage to review and edit once I was well enough to get to that, and as it was, I wasn't sure just how long it would be before I would ever feel well again to begin that work. So between two or three more sessions with the Redneck Commode, I loaded up the rest of my gear, folded up the sofa bed for the last time that summer, and went outside to give the dogs the news that we were hitting the road.

Joe Summars said...

The dogs were nowhere to be found. They had somehow managed to flip the latch on the back gate and escape.

Fighting the urge to hurl every few steps as I staggered around the neighborhood trying to whistle them up, I finally spotted them near the end of the ally. All I had to say was "Let's take a trip!" and they were dashing for the truck.

I managed to get the rear hatch opened just in time for them to leap in, and as they did I was bowled over by that distinctly nauseating smell of skunk again. Apparently, they had chased down the fifth sibling of the bunch Harley had handily executed and it had thoroughly sprayed them for their trouble (or out of revenge, maybe).

I didn't tell Harley and Annabelle about the dog's odorous state matching our own. I just pulled myself into the drivers seat, waved weakly goodbye, and eased out of town, keeping the dog bowl handy all the way back home as waves of nausea overwhelmed me at almost every rest stop and town along the way.

What a way to wrap up a documentary shoot, I can think now and laugh about it...until I realize that I didn't think to shoot even one second of the whole ordeal. What a totally unique segment it would have made in the documentary!