The Weird World of Blowfly tells the story of Clarence Reid, a Miami musician who wrote and produced romantic and spiritual songs for some of the greatest Southern soul and R&B acts of the 1960s and '70s. He is also the gonzo performer Blowfly, Clarence's freaky alter ego and the original X-rated rapper. Now 69 years-old, with a gold-spangled superhero costume and a catalog of the world's raunchiest tunes, Blowfly tours the world, struggling for success and recognition after 50 years of making music.
The film highlights both Clarence's and Blowfly's unique contributions to music history, including Top-10 hits for artists like Betty Wright, Gwen McCrae, and KC & The Sunshine Band, and what might be the world's first rap song, recorded in 1965. Surprisingly, although Clarence has shocked and grooved audiences with Blowfly's hilarious and provocative hard-core songs for more than four decades, he remains to this day a deeply religious man who forswears smoking, drugs and alcohol.
Shot over the course of two years, the film follows Clarence today and we see his life, career and philosophy unfold. A revealing portrait of an unheralded man, The Weird World of Blowfly examines Clarence's personal and professional contradictions, explores his legacy and celebrates his musical and cultural significance as a rapper and soul music legend.
Clarence "Blowfly" Reid
Born on Valentine's Day, 1939, Clarence Reid worked in the cotton fields of Georgia as a boy. He passed the time by singing dirty parodies of popular songs - "Do the Twist" became "Suck My Dick" - and when his grandmother heard what he was doing she exclaimed, "You're a disgrace to the human race, and no better than a Blowfly!" And so a legend was born.
When he was 13 he hitchhiked to Miami to pursue a career in music. Clarence began singing at local record "hops" where he met many of the people he would work with throughout his career. In 1964, in exchange for studio time, he worked stacking records in the warehouse of TK Records, run by recording legend Henry Stone.
By the late 60s Clarence had become the central figure in the growing Miami soul, funk and R&B music scene, writing, producing and performing on countless tracks. He wrote and produced the #1 R&B hits "Clean Up Woman" for Betty Wright and "Rockin Chair" for Gwen McCrae, and he wrote KC & The Sunshine Band's first hit, "Sound Your Funky Horn" (their first gig was at Clarence's wedding).
In 1965 Clarence recorded the world's first rap song, "Rap Dirty", an epic story of Blowfly as a truck driver, driving coast to coast and battling the KKK in a redneck bar - that particular song wouldn't be released in the US until 1976 but it firmly cemented Blowfly as a pioneer in rap and hip-hop - and in 1971 he unleashed Blowfly on the world and released the first full-length Blowfly album, "The Weird World of Blowfly".
Since then Clarence has written, produced, and recorded hundreds of songs, including the Blowfly classics "Porno Freak", "Shake Your Ass", "Hole Man", "Funky Party" and "Suck It". His career has outlasted all his contemporaries, the disco era and TK Records, the label powerhouse that was his home for over ten years. Blowfly continues to record, tour - in 2008 he played in front of the biggest crowds of his career - and show the world how weird it really can be.
Jonathan Furmanski, Director/Producer
Jonathan Furmanski has been working in the film and television industries for over 15 years since graduating from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Film Production in 1993. He is a member of IATSE's Local 600 camera union and has worked as a Director of Photography on numerous independent films, episodic television shows, commercials, and music videos. Since 2002 he has focused on shooting documentary films, including loudQUIETloud: a film about The Pixies, Arctic Son, I Am An Animal: The Story of Ingrid Newkirk and PETA, and Unstrung. The Weird World of Blowfly is his directorial debut.
Cy Christiansen, Editor
Cy Christiansen graduated from NYU's Tisch School of the Arts in 1998 and immediately began working in post-production on projects with Michael Moore and Jay-Z. Since 2006 he has edited various projects for PBS, MTV, and the OWN Network, including In the Heights - Chasing Broadway Dreams, Britney Spears - For the Record, and Masterclass.
"'The Weird World of Blowfly' sure as shit isn't an Oscar kinda film, but as a candid look into the life of a man trying to find his place in history, it's a solid gold hit."
"The Weird World of Blowfly" is listed as one of the "Top Five Music Documentaries the Academy Should Consider This Year ".
"The Weird World of Blowfly" is listed as one of the "Top Ten Films of 2011 That You Never Heard Of".
"Mr. Reid may or may not have invented a substantial part of music as we know it...but he comes off (ouch) resplendent in a cape-and-cowled superhero's outfit, spewing obscenities in rhyme, as Jonathan Furmanski's 'The Weird World Of Blowfly' documentary follows him through one-night stands spanning the globe."
"Without giving too much away...those who get the vital energies of a genuinely inspired performer choosing to take the weird road, staying DIY even when it seems insane, should really give this doc a shot."
"First time director Jonathan Furmanski deserves kudos for shining a dirty light on the weird world of the lascivious 1970s proto-rapper Blowfly in a new documentary so deep it peripherally captures something important about the weird world in which we all live."
An interview with director Jonathan Furmanski and Clarence "Blowfly" Reid about "The Weird World of Blowfly".
"[There are] many tender-via-twisted moments that make 'The Weird World of Blowfly' an unexpectedly feel-good affair"
"In a film filled with words, most of them unprintable here, these moments resonate and elevate 'The Weird World of Blowfly' to a strong recommendation."
"This is a movie that will blow your 305 mind."
"If the goal of 'The Weird World of Blowfly' is to reintroduce the world to a forgotten musical pioneer, warts and all, it does that in spades."
An interview with director Jonathan Furmanski about the process of making the film.
"In the end, Reid proves to be an epic, hard-working musician who refuses to be ignored, and Blowfly is a richly complicated figure worth paying attention to."
"It's important that directors like Furmanski continue to open audiences eyes to musical history that can oftentimes go forgotten, and especially so when they present a crotchety, but completely lovable, character like Clarence Reid."
"'The Weird World of Blowfly' is the earthy, living history of the roots of rap through the ribald and bemused perspective of a septuagenarian veteran of the music business."
"While Blowfly doesn't shy away from the facts, it wisely celebrates a man whose records may have been hidden under the mattress, yet wielded enormous influence."
"Perhaps this is why 'The Weird World of Blowfly' is so refreshing... [the] movie makes the case for Clarence Reid, aka the infamous filthy 'rapper,' as his own biggest champion...and worst enemy."
"Furmanski's melancholy, involving documentary ultimately registers as a haunting character study about the sad man behind the filthy music."
"'The Weird World of Blowfly' manages not to blindly glorify its subject, if only because Clarence, now somewhat depressive being elderly and poor, isn't the party monster his Blowfly music makes him out to be."
"[Clarence] Reid might be the most interesting entertainment story out of Miami that most people have never heard."
"You are not likely to meet a more intriguing, unusual person in any other documentary you'll see this year."
"A highly entertaining and very personal portrait of one of the forgotten geniuses of musical pop culture."
"Director Jonathan Furmanski finds humor and sadness in the saga of the 69-year-old singer as he is rousted from obscurity."
"A tragic and touching portrait of the famously foul-mouthed soul singer."
Clarence "Blowfly" Reid and film director Jonathan Furmanski are interviewed by music journalist Nardwuar, the Human Serviette, on Canadian radio station CITR (the interview starts at 33:20).
An interview with director Jonathan Furmanski on musicfilmweb.com, a website dedicated to films about music.
An interview with director Jonathan Furmanski on WFMU's "Seven Second Delay" while the show's hosts, Ken and Andy, are electrically shocked by the live audience.
An interview with director Jonathan Furmanski in the official Cambridge Film Festival magazine.
"Swinging wildly from raucous and vulgar to heartbreakingly sincere, director Jonathan Furmanski follows this potty mouthed performer, uncovering more than just a musical talent or an envelope pushing pioneer, pushing further to see just what keeps Blowfly ticking."
"'The Weird World of Blowfly' is an intriguing documentary about a very fascinating guy. (There, I said it, Blowfly is fascinating.)"
"It's a pretty fun documentary that will introduce (or re-introduce) you to this legendary character, and take you deep inside his life."
"But if you can't at least giggle at 'Should I (expletive) That Big Fat (expletive)?' set to 'Should I Stay or Should I Go?' or 'By I Time I Get to the Clinic' to 'By the Time I get to Phoenix', you are probably not alive!"
"Blowfly's world is certainly weird, but also unexpectedly affecting."
An interview with the legendary rapper Clarence "Blowfly" Reid and the director of the film, Jonathan Furmanski.