PETER ARPESELLA INTERVIEW
January 18, 2012
LSF: Peter, welcome to Limitless Sky Films, and thanks so much for joining me. Peter, you are a man of many talents. It's mind boggling. You've done well in everything from stand up comedy to writing, directing, producing, art, to working with heavyweights like Matt Damon, Anthony Hopkins, and you even coached Tom Cruise for his Italian scenes in Mission Impossible III. Is your own head spinning from the weight of it all? I know mine is!
PA: Sometimes it is. Sometimes I get confused and even scared, but mostly, I like it! I think it helps my creative juices flow fuller and stronger. I like to express myself and tell stories in different ways. I like to connect to an audience in different ways. Plus, one craft contributes to the others, they’re not separate worlds.
LSF: But, you know what gets me more than anything? The fact you grew up in that magnificent Grand Hotel Rimini your parents owned in Italy. And the Lady Godiva Las Vegas style nightclub downstairs from it. I think you'd have a bestseller on your hands if you wrote about it. What do you think?
PA: Yes, the environment and the people of my upbringing were "interesting," to say the least. It all fueled many of my stories and characters. I wrote a screenplay about a critical time of the family and the Grand Hotel, "Back In Business." Maybe I’ll find a good story to tell in a book some day, we’ll see.
The Grand Hotel was very much like Fellini described it in his Oscar winning, Amarcord. It was Fellini’s home when in Rimini, because, for some reason, even though Rimini was his hometown, he didn’t have a place there. My father had asked the Mayor to gift Federico with an apartment or something, but that never happened. Federico was a good family friend. I grew up with his niece, Francesca, and his sister, Maddalena, was a wonderful friend of my mother’s. She was a phenomenal joke teller. We loved telling jokes to each other. Sometimes I’d go searching for Maddalena, just to tell her my latest joke, when I thought I had a real winner. And she always had one to hit me back with, anyway. She, like Federico, was a real storyteller. Often, the punch line wasn’t much, but the way she told it, the build, the images she created, made it a total trip.
You mentioned the Lady Godiva. I have a podcast, M A D N E S S, where you'll find one of the episodes’ about the club. You'll find it on iTunes or on my website. It's called "My Father Was a Pimp," which kind of sums up the "beauty and the beast" of that whole reality for me. There’s a video version also on YouTube of the story you might enjoy checking out. I performed that and other episodes live around town and will probably do it again soon. I’ll keep you posted.
LSF: I'd love to see you perform live. Peter, I know your screenplay, "Run With Me," won the New York International Independent Film & Video Festival Grand Jury Prize, but now I understand you're writing a novel; same title, and I understand it's about a couple dealing with addiction and diabetes. Could you elaborate on that?
PA: "Run With Me" got traction and was well received. As it went through producers, I kept getting a similar note, “great story, but diabetes…isn’t sexy. If it were a book, it would be better and easier to sell.” I could’ve changed the disease, but I have something specific to say about diabetes, since I’m Type I since the age of seven. And I had family experience of the devastating effects of drug addiction. I have a particular take on the similarity between a disease and an addiction. That’s what prompted me to tell the story in the first place. So I figured, what the hell, if I can tell the story and entertain, maybe inform, inspire or even help one or two along the way, why not? I’ll write it as a book, which should be soon available as an e-book and hardcopy.
LSF: Wonderful! Peter, on your podcast, M A D N E S S, you deal with every day issues which affect us all, with some humor thrown in there. What inspired you to create the show?
PA: I love to work with my voice, and the idea of a podcast was buzzing in my head for a while. This was when podcasting was “new”. I had no idea how to go about it, but anytime I talked to people, at parties or just socially, I’d say, “Yeah, I want to podcast.” and I’d watch their usually excited reaction and listen carefully to anything that might clue me in as to how to actually do it. Then I spoke with a friend of mine and two weeks later HE had one up! So I scrambled and, 12 months later - lol, yeah, sometimes I’m super fast! - I launched M A D N E S S. I talk about everything, or many things, I should say, from personal stories, to current affairs, to the Federal Reserve, politics and health issues. My take is a bit unconventional. I talk about the things we usually don’t think about. And hopefully it’s funny, too. It’s free on iTunes, and on my website.
LSF: Oh, we love "free," Peter! Thanks. Now, as far as your acting, you've done features, television, a webiseries, and you've also got a role in Steve Harvey's new movie, "Think Like A Man." Tell us about that experience and what it's like working with Steve Harvey?
PA: The movie’s based on Steve Harvey’s best seller, “Act Like A Woman, Think Like A Man.“ It’s a fun ensemble, romantic comedy, funny. But, I didn’t work with Steve, I worked with Jerry Ferrara and Gabrielle Union and director Tim Story (Fantastic Four, Barber Shop). It was a blast! I loved working on it. It was one French-accented scripted word, it grew into a full, broken Italian scene. I hear it’s a lot of fun, haven’t seen it. I think the movie will hit the theatres this March.
As for the webseries, I have a recurring role in my wife’s webseries - jokes too easy here - Karma’s A Bitch! It’s a very funny and catchy series about Karma (Annie Wood) sent to earth by The Man Upstairs (chubby, Hispanic and gay) to teach human beings that their actions have consequences. And since people haven’t been listening much, Karma’s overreacting and running out of patience! It’s very funny. The series won an award, and my wife and the producers (Roundabout Pictures) are signing for worldwide distribution. You can view the first four pilot episodes online now.
LSF: Sounds great, and I'll definitely watch them. You know, I was surprised to find out you are, among other things, an artist. Tell us about your artwork and how that all came about.
PA: Just like everything else, basically. It’s a way to tell stories. I went to a gallery showing, I was about to buy a painting and I thought, "I can do that." So I went home, got art supplies and started painting. People liked it, I sold some pieces, and have been very happy about it. One great feeling I had, was when a buyer sent me a picture of my paintings on the walls of their home. I believe that stories are meant to be heard - I don’t like it when my paintings are unsold - I’m very happy when people get to experience them. You can see a selection of my art on my website, so email me if you’re interested.
LSF: I certainly will. Peter, you're a man of many flavors and colors. What is it you're most passionate about?
PA: Beauty. Real beauty. Be it nature, people, art or anything.
LSF: What are your plans for the future?
PA: Continue, laugh, grow, enjoy life. You know, the usual.
LSF: What would you like your fans to know about the real you?
PA: That I love them and I'd love to hear from them. I'm easy to reach at my website, and they can sign up to my podcast, to the news updates and also peterarp on Facebook and Twitter.
LSF: It's been a pleasure speaking with you, Peter, and I wish you the very best in the New Year and for years to come.
PA: The pleasure's mine, Kalika. Thank you very much.