This is a statement that we admittedly should have put out over a year ago, but since publishers end relationships with writers every day, we didn’t think it was necessary. We had hoped to resolve this matter privately, however recent public discussion and video posts on social media have forced us to address the situation concerning Grindhouse Purgatory and Happy Cloud Media’s parting ways with Peter Chiarella.
In January, 2022, Happy Cloud Media, LLC, severed all ties with Pete Chiarella, aka “42nd Street Pete.” All rights to his Drunken Master novels, his trivia book, and his first memoir, A Whole Bag of Crazy, reverted to him and they were removed from our Amazon POD publications.
The reason for this severance is due to a passage in his second memoir, Sloppy Seconds — meant to be a recounting of his days at Chiller Theater, but mostly a retread of his criminal days on 42nd Street. The passage was a confession to a hate crime, in which, in the vilest terms, he admits to beating a young homosexual man nearly to death. The passage is meant to show that he “doesn’t take shit from anyone.” While I had no ability to verify the veracity of Pete’s stories (something that continually came back to bite us following the publication of the first Whole Bag), I had to assume it was either A) true, and he’s boasting about almost killing a gay kid; or B) false, and invented a story about almost killing a gay kid to make himself look “cool.” (You tell me what I should think is the best outcome.)
He not only refused to do any altering, but he became incensed and immediately accused us of censoring him. We had no choice but to cut ties. In every HCM contract, there is a clause that reads, “this agreement can be nullified at any time by either party.” We exercised our rights to do so. Pete was issued a check for the balance of royalties owed to him and he was issued a “severance of ties” notice. This check was not cashed. Immediately upon receiving this letter, he resumed his campaign of slander against us.
Unlike our formal arrangement for his memoir and other books, our agreement for Grindhouse Purgatory was a simple handshake deal that was never upgraded. The deal was, as proposed to him, that we at HCM would take his stories and reviews, provide extensive editing, layout and design, and provide him with 100 print issues, all at our own cost. This would net him between $700-$1000 depending on how he would price it at shows. We would take the online sales to attempt to “recoup costs.” Again, this was a tremendous deal. For Pete.
Despite this being an alleged “partnership,” Pete never invested a single dime during the life of Grindhouse Purgatory. He refused to even solicit paid ads to help defray costs, declaring proudly that “we” gave away free ad space. This is the cold, hard fact he doesn’t want to acknowledge. Pete never paid any writers. All publishing costs came from us. Website hosting, entity registration, all costs incurred by HCM. Pete claimed that he mailed out complementary contributor copies (the absolute least pay a writer should receive), but we’d had plenty of authors contact us after publication, and we would send out the issues at our expense. If a cover was to be commissioned or an image licensed, that came out of HCM’s end.
A second fact: since none of the writers were paid for their work, legally, after 30 days, the rights to their articles revert back to them. Pete included. He can do anything he wants with the articles he wrote. Just as any of the writers — and we’ve had some incredibly talented writers on our roster — are free and legally able to do so.
Our continued publication of a magazine rife with glorification of the “the language of the ‘70s”, homophobic, transphobic, sexist, and racist material, even in a satirical sense, no longer fit with the Happy Cloud Media brand.
When we broke with Pete, we did so privately. However, we can’t prove that his slander has affected us at all. Sales of all other titles have not declined: we put out several handsome books by authors like filmmaker Scooter McCrae, award-winning author Andrew J. Rausch, and the legendary Tom Savini (a frequent target of Pete’s wrath in GP). Our flagship publication, Exploitation Nation, continues to sell steadily.
With all of the above in mind, we have made the decision to remove the print version of Grindhouse Purgatory from our POD roster. If any of the writers want copies, PM me and we can work out a wholesale price.
Otherwise: writers please submit your hard work to other publications. There are plenty of paying markets that accept reprints and reworkings of previously-published material. It’s your work. We own the format of the mag, not your work. We wish you nothing but the best and if you want to send stuff over for Exploitation Nation, our address is email@example.com We pay a flat $10 and 2 comp issues.
In closing, we wish Pete the best of luck in his future endeavors. This is our final word on this.