Matt Cimber: The Candy Tangerine Man. How that came about? I had a friend – a guy who lived near me in Beverly Hills. He owned a club on the Sunset Strip called The Body Shop, which was very famous. It was a burlesque house. I used to go in there at night after dinner or whatever. I’d go in, sit in the back, and talk to him. He was a very nice guy. His office was like the kitchen and the backstage and we’d sit and talk. Occasionally, this guy used to come in, this African-American who was obviously a pimp. He drove this incredible car. This was the age of the Sunset Boulevard pimps, y’know?
Kliph Nesteroff: Sure
Matt Cimber: He would come in because he had a girlfriend. Not a prostitute, but a girlfriend who was a dancer at the Body Shop. He would come in. Sit. Talk to my friend. What did he talk about? The stock market. Sometimes, occasionally, politics. But mostly real estate investments! The guy was incredibly bright. Really bright. It amazed me because, my friend told me, “This guy never got out of the fourth grade.” Here he is working on the streets. I thought, “Imagine, this guy, if somebody put him in school – he could be the CEO of a major corporation. Who knows?" I never would have said President of the United States back then. Who would have guessed that? Certainly not in my lifetime. But I said, “Look at this guy! If someone gave him an education and dressed him up…” So for the movie I did it like... I tried… I made him a pimp who doesn’t turn out new girls. I don’t know if you ever saw The Candy Tangerine Man.
Kliph Nesteroff: Yes.
Matt Cimber: He takes the Indian girl and tries to send her home. He only takes girls who are already working, he manages and protects. I love when he gets up, goes out and puts on his button down shirt and goes home to his family. How else can he make a score? How else is he going to make money? So that’s how The Candy Tangerine Man came about. It was based on that. If you go through that whole thing, the Black talent in it is incredible. The guy who played the other pimp and the guy who plays the character Dusty. He’s incredible. He’s an incredible actor. An incredible guy with enormous sense. He wrote all of the rhyme stuff. That was just improvised and it worked. He was real terrific and one of the major reasons it was successful and why today, Quentin Tarantino tells me, it’s still Samuel L. Jackson’s favorite movie. He saw it when he was growing up.
Kliph Nesteroff: Right.
Matt Cimber: The guy who played The Candy Tangerine Man – I found out - he owned a nightclub on La Brea in the ghetto area. He was fantastic. He went on to make a few other pictures on his own. What was incredible – one day – many years ago – I’m watching a movie with this Black actor who has got a bit part as a preacher – and he’s preaching to his constituency and all of a sudden I start saying, “Man, listen to this guy. He’s got the same tone and rhythm as The Candy Tangerine Man! Listen to this delivery!” And it turns out that actor was Samuel Jackson! If you listen to Samuel L. Jackson when he talks he has his own unique rhythm of speech. And if you listen to The Candy Tangerine Man, you know they’re almost the same.
Kliph Nesteroff: How about the soundtrack...
Matt Cimber: When the time came to get the music for The Candy Tangerine Man – I had no money left. I went to talk to Barry White. I said, “Look. I have no money left.” He said, “Forget it brother.” Barry handled a lot of groups and he had his own studio. So I met with him on LaBrea. We had a hamburger. In fact, he ate three hamburgers. We sat and talked. I was always in awe of Barry White. He was one of the most romantic singers of all time. He said, “Look man, I can’t do it. I can’t ask people to work for free.” I gave him a reel. I said, “Go home,” he had his own screening room. “Watch the picture.” He watched the picture and called me up the next day. He said, “We got a group called Smoke who could do a helluva job on this film." And that was it.
Kliph Nesteroff: So they did it for free?
Matt Cimber: No, they got whatever royalties.
Kliph Nesteroff: How about some of the locations used? It evokes the era very well. Sunset Blvd had turned into a real sleazy neighborhood in the seventies as opposed to what it had been.
Matt Cimber: Well, that’s what it was. It was sleazetown. We were coming out of the era of the hippies and the flower children. Everything was not really as it should have been. There is this British writer… he reads all these things into The Candy Tangerine Man... all these metaphors, similes, and whatnot. When he interviewed me for his book I said, “Listen I shot that picture in ten days … I don’t know what I was thinking.” The films were made to supply a market. And the way I sold the films was territory by territory. I didn’t want to know what the box office was. All I said... was to the theater chain in Atlanta, “I got fifty prints here. Give me $75,000 you can have the prints for a week. Give me $100,000 you can have them for two weeks.” That was how we pieced it off all across the country and made all kinds of money. That was it. It’s unbelievable the people I run into that remember these films.