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MOVIES/MUSIC Director Julia Nash keeps legacy of gay deceased father alive with Wax Trax! film
by Jerry Nunn
2021-12-17

This article shared 916 times since Fri Dec 17, 2021
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Industrial Accident: The Story of Wax Trax! Records is a documentary telling the story of two gay men who created a music empire in the '80s. Jim Nash and Dannie Flesher were a couple who made a safe space for all in a retail record store and brought to life an influential music label called Wax Trax! Records. Industrial music found a home in the Windy City at a time where being different was a radical concept. Punks, drag queens and the disenfranchised all gravitated toward each other while sifting through records every day, side by side.

Julia Nash, the daughter of co-founder Jim, directed the film to remember this rich music history and honor her father's legacy. It is packed with intimate interviews from artists who were inspired by this magical time, such as industrial metal band Ministry's Al Jourgensen and Paul Barker, Front 242's Richard 23, Nine Inch Nails' Trent Reznor and Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl.

Nash talked about the creation of the documentary and her work with Wax Trax! Records after a recent screening of Industrial Accident at House of Vans. Streamed live before an audience, Nash was joined by Chris Connelly of the Revolting Cocks and Groovie Mann from My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult for an unforgettable evening.

Windy City Times: Do you still live in Chicago?

Julia Nash: Well, outside of Chicago in Oak Park, but the label has a space in Chicago above Dusty Groove, at 1120 N. Ashland Ave.

WCT: This must still be such a labor of love for you.

JN: It is, and really due to Mark Skillicorn. He is the force behind it. I have another job and we have a small staff made from old friends and family. The love for this label and for Jim and Dannie is so loyal.

WCT: What inspired making Industrial Accident?

JN: In 2011, the Retrospectacle at Metro—after Dannie passed away—was the impetus for this happening. We were filming that to put out a live video of the three nights. After that, I had so many people coming up to me to tell me what that time meant to them. I really wanted to show them who these two people were.

WCT: How do you describe them to other people?

JN: My dad had an insane amount of energy. He was totally restless, like always moving and making things happen. He was inspirational to so many people.

Dannie was a laid-back parent—so sweet, soft and kind. He was a Southern gentleman.

They worked well together and that partnership was so perfect. None of this would have happened without the two of them being together and finding each other.

One of the greatest gifts was my mom being so open to accepting their life together. Coming from Kansas, she was a sweet Catholic girl and was 19 years old. It rocked her world when her husband came out, but she remained friends with them both forever. She never spoke a single bad word abut my dad or Dannie. I owe a lot of my relationship with them to her. Can you imagine? It was 1970 and your husband tells you he's in love with a man and you have two children.

WCT: The couple did drag in the film. We don't know their drag names?

JN: No. They just did it at a Halloween party. I do remember them being The Supremes one year, which was great.

WCT: [It's amazing] how much has changed since your dad passed away from AIDS in 1995.

JN: Yes, it has. When I went into nursing school that is why I wanted to work in infectious disease and that community. I ended up going into oncology instead.

WCT: What do you think Jim would say about the LGBT community in current times?

JN: I think he would say the same thing today as then. He didn't care what people thought of him back then, and today he would say this is all about time!

He was not flamboyant and people had no idea he was gay. I didn't know until I saw them kiss in the reflection of a mirror once when I was 13 years old. Up until then, I just thought they were best friends and lived together.

When I was 17, we were sitting on his deck and he told me that he knew he was gay when he was 12 years old. He said, "It didn't stop me from loving your mom. It was just a really hard time."

WCT: I didn't know until the doc that Jim made up the band name 1000 Homo DJs by saying they would need that many people to play the record to make it a success.

JN: That is part of his sense of humor. It was difficult to show that in this movie. I wonder if people really get it. You had to be there! My dad was so funny and sarcastic.

WCT: Do you have any memories of the legendary Divine, who made records on Wax Trax?

JN: When Divine came through, I was in Kansas at the time, but I remember hearing he was sweet and kind. I do know that he stayed with my dad in his apartment—and that he ate him out of house and home!

WCT: Talk about the new Accidents and Outtakes sequel to Industrial Accident.

JN: If people bought the hard copy, the second disc is the outtakes, but it has never been streamed before. It has only been available physically.

It is stories that I loved when we were making the movie. I couldn't put them in because of the documentaries storyline and arc. We have even more that we didn't use!

WCT: This could keep going on and on…

JN: Yes; there are so many different factions. There's the gay story and there are the fans. They fostered a community of people that didn't belong. There were gay and straight people with attorneys that shopped next to drag queens. It was a beautiful place.

WCT: I noticed on social media that you are asking for more stories from people.

JN: It is part of a separate project that we are starting to put together. That will be a fan-based movie with stories. We will put it together for a third film.

WCT: What a great way to honor your dad and his partner.

JN: It is really important to show that a gay couple weathered the storm. Yes, they succumbed to AIDS and that is really unfortunate, but so many people were touched by their story. People could walk in that record store and feel accepted by a bunch of weirdos. They felt like they were home. The customers connected to the music and it is still happening. It is so beautiful that the music resonates today. It still draws people in and makes them feel a part of something bigger.

That is what it is for me. It is not keeping it alive for any other reason other than to honor my dad and Dannie. It is to pay respect to all of the people that it has touched so deeply.

WCT: You have raised money with this project for Center on Halsted in the past with an event. Is that continuing?

JN: No; it was a one-time partnership. My goal was to bring everyone together to celebrate my dad and Dannie. I didn't know if anyone would show up, but it was a final send-off for Dannie who had just passed away.

The momentum was overwhelming because Mark and I did that by ourselves. I wanted to donate anything we made above production costs to an LGBT organization and give back.

WCT: Was there a certain piece of memorabilia that has meant a lot to you?

JN: There were so many, but the British flag that I recovered out of a garbage bag was around since Denver, and I was six years old. It was a powerful moment because it hung in both stores.

There was so much. We found storyboards of their videos. They kept everything—even their canceled checks!

WCT: Vinyl has come back in a big way. Do you think industrial music will, as well?

JN: I think it is always evolving with new artists. I can still put any industrial music on and it sounds like it could have been created today. I think that is why younger fans are still discovering it.

>I>The Coda Collection via Amazon Prime Video began streaming Industrial Accident and a bonus footage film on Dec. 10 at codacollection.co. Visit WaxTraxChicago.com for information or to share a story!


This article shared 916 times since Fri Dec 17, 2021
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