Carmela Hayslett grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where she had original aspirations to become a writer because she wanted to “entertain without feeling stared at”. An ironic saying for someone who was later to be known for her acting career. Hayslett was first known for horror hosting in Philadelphia as her zany alter ego “Roxsy Tyler” a character she wrote stories about in her youth. Her web show, “Roxsy Tyler’s Carnival of Horrors” attained more success than her and the producers could have ever predicted. Her break out role was in Apocalypse Kiss as a murderous, muted lesbian named Katia. This raven-haired eccentric, commonly known for her unique physical features (big eyes and very long legs) often chooses to play odd-ball roles ranging from nerds to underdogs to villains to vixens.
INTERVIEW WITH ROXSY TYLER:
ECIM: Tell us about the day you first met Roxsy Tyler. What inspired her to come alive?
ROXSY TYLER: I have no idea where Roxsy came from. I know how I came up with her name, her wardrobe, her attitude but I can not pinpoint the day she started coming alive in my head. She was just always there. I wrote a book called, “Big Boots and Black Hair Dye” when I was a teenager. Don’t read it. I’ve outgrown it. Like I said, I was a teen when I wrote it. That’s how I originally got her out of my head. Then I started dressing up as her and taking pictures of myself… then that wasn’t enough. Then I went on Midnite Mausoleum as her and I thought that would be enough but it wasn’t. I guess she’s a part of my personality that demands to be heard.
ECIM: You are a big fan of The Marx Brothers. What was it about them that sparked your creativity?
ROXSY TYLER: The Marx Brothers were brilliant men on and off screen. They resemble a kind of comedy that has died out. It was smart, quick-witted, you had to pay attention or you were going to miss it. On Carnival of Horrors we did try to model our comedy after them. We were hosting classic horror movies so we took our queue from classic comedy and it just doesn’t get anymore classic than The Marx Bros.
ECIM: You grew up in PA. Home of the zombie film, and grandfather of zombies George Romero. Any love for the undead?
ROXSY TYLER: I certainly don’t hate the undead but I’ve never been much of a zombie fan. The horror genre is so oversaturated with zombies now that it doesn’t feel special anymore.
ECIM: I’ve read that you always wanted to host the monster movies you loved the most as a kid, but couldn’t, due to copyrights. What goes into selecting your videos for your shows?
ROXSY TYLER: At first we were just looking for anything that we knew was public domain. Towards the end of the series we hosted short independent films and I chose those accordingly to what I thought my audience would like.
ECIM: What was some of your favorite movies you’ve hosted on Carnival Of Horrors?
ROXSY TYLER: Two of my absolute favorite movies we’ve hosted at the Carnival of Horrors are ‘The Last Man on Earth’ starring Vincent Price and ‘The Gorilla’ starring the Ritz Bros. and Bela Lugosi. Last Man on Earth was our pilot episode and Johnnie 13 and I agreed on it because we both love Vincent Price. I could honestly watch that movie a zillion times and not get tired of it. I love the Gorilla because it was a comedy mixed with horror. That’s pretty much our show in a nutshell so it was the perfect movie to host. Plus, it’s just hilarious. In fact, I started seeing The Gorilla get hosted a lot more often after we did it. That made me happy because it’s one of my favorites.
ECIM: You got your start on Midnite Mausoleum with Marlena Midnite and Robyn Graves. What was your process to becoming Roxsy Tyler and how much of a change was it from who you really are?
ROXSY TYLER: Actually, it wasn’t much of a process at all. As I’ve said before, Roxsy was a character from a book I wrote so the blue print of who Roxsy is was already there. Blake from Midnite Mausoleum had read that book and knew who Roxsy was. So, I guess it’s like tracing a picture. It’s all there already… you just have to make it your own. I just needed to find the clothes… Marlena and Blake gave me a black wig (I have black hair now) and I was ready to go. It is a big change though because I’m nothing like Roxsy. I’m much more fragile and sensitive and introverted. She’s like a living explosion.
ECIM: You have written, directed, acted and edited the Carnival of Horrors episodes, as well as with short films and feature films. Which role do you like the most?
ROXSY TYLER: That’s a tough question. I hate directing so we can scratch that off. Despite Miss Tyler’s personality I actually hate being in charge. I love editing and writing. I went to a bunch of different writing schools… it’s what I originally intended to do with my life. I feel the most accomplished when I write. Editing really keeps me sane though. I can lock myself in a room and edit for hours. It’s just really fun for me. I make a small living on the side as an editor. I’d say writing and editing are the roles I love the most.
ECIM: You stated that you wanted to write so you could entertain without being stared at. What are your feelings now towards acting? Do you get nervous on while on camera and how did you overcome your fear of being stared at?
ROXSY TYLER: I grew up with social anxiety disorder. It was never easy for me to socialize with people. I wasn’t anti-social… I was “scared” social. I wanted to socialize but I just couldn’t. Roxsy Tyler opened a lot of doors for that. Through acting, the world was coming to me and I didn’t have to worry about how to introduce myself because people already knew who I was. There’s been very few times I didn’t get nervous on camera. I just kept getting in front of the camera. Acting for me is not about being famous or ridiculous notions that I’m going to be rich. For me, acting is my way of connecting with people.
ECIM: . Now that you are ending your Carnival of Horrors show, what will happen to Roxsy Tyler?
ROXSY TYLER: Roxsy Tyler will be retired for the Carnival of Horrors. The show is done. It’s not coming back. Roxsy will be doing cameos in a few movies throughout this year. She will be in Thomas Berdinski’s “Giant Rubber Monster Movie 2” Some other things are in the works including a short Roxsy Tyler movie that we plan to do this summer. I just want to keep acting, keep writing, keep editing, keep living.
ECIM: You have written a couple of scripts lately, would you like to share a little about your next movie?
ROXSY TYLER: The recent script I wrote is entitled, “Roxsy and Me”. I actually named it after a book Groucho Marx wrote called “Groucho and Me”. It’s about me, Carmela Hayslett, retiring from Carnival of Horrors and continues with her actual acting career but people only remember her as Roxsy Tyler. Roxsy’s in the movie too. She nararates and eventually repossesses Carmela. It’s going to be pretty fun. My last script, “Death Follows” I acted and directed it. It’s now in the film festival circuit.
ECIM: Do you have any wish to be a part of the Hollywood lifestyle?
ROXSY TYLER: Well, I don’t want to live in Los Angeles. I like Philly. I like the idea that if I had a “Hollywood” career that I can have that life there but leave the chaos when I can and go home to Philly. It would be nice to look shiny and pretty all the time but that seems like too much effort just to impress a bunch of people you don’t know. I want to be successful at what I do but I don’t know if I’d want the “Hollywood” lifestyle.
ECIM: Have you ever thought of doing something other than horror?
ROXSY TYLER: I have done things other than horror. I’ve done crime dramas, comedies, my latest film Apocalypse Kiss (coming out April 8th) was a science fiction film. It just happens that more people are making horror now than anything else which is okay with me.
ECIM: You have been in several movies with some legendary actors, care to elaborate on how you ended up working with such great stars such as Michael Berryman, Doug Bradley and Ernie Hudson?
ROXSY TYLER: I actually did not work with Michael Berryman yet. Fun fact: When he did our film, “Apocalypse Kiss” he did his scenes in Los Angeles with a second unit. However, Berryman and I will be working together on Potent Media’s “The Sugar Skull Girls”. It’s a trilogy of children’s films. As for Hudson and Bradley, you know, the director gets them on board for the films and I ended up being lucky to be on set with them.
ECIM: Is there anywhere fans can go and check out your videos or buy some Roxsy Tyler merchandise?
ROXSY TYLER: You can check out some of the old Carnival of Horrors episodes at http://vimeo.com/carnivalofhorror As for merchandise, there is none anymore. We’re going to start an indiegogo for “Roxsy and Me” where contributors will get DVDs of the film and a t-shirt for their donation.
ECIM: What’s next for Potent Media? What would it take to collaborate a story with you guys?
ROXSY TYLER: Next for Potent Media is a trilogy of family films called, “The Sugar Skull Girls”. We start this summer and have some great people attached. We have Michael Berryman, Leslie Easterbrook, John Amplas, and Addy Miller all on board for this film. It’s not hard to collaborate with us. Just be available, be awesome, and be willing.
Sugar Skull Girls Teaser: http://youtu.be/Qn7Xb3iGsgs
Potent Media Official Website: http://www.potent-media.com
Apocalypse Kiss Trailer: http://youtu.be/L7J1l63XTys
Carmela Hayslett on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/carmelahayslett
Death Follows trailer: http://youtu.be/4MypOybISRo