John LaZar (b.1946) has always blamed his freaky, over-the-top role as Ronnie “Z Man” Barzell in Russ Meyer’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970) for his inability to secure a proper, legitimate film career. But, from another perspective, perhaps it was just the role he was born to play. Can you picture anyone else in the part?
“This is my happening and it freaks me out!”
“You will drink the black sperm of my vengeance”.
“I am Superwoman!”
Born and raised in San Francisco, LaZar studied at SF’s American Conservatory Theatre. In addition to his classical acting chops, He is skilled at martial arts, fencing, and ballet. Like Tura Satana he is part Native American; the rest has been described as “Mediterranean” (the surname Lazar is common the Balkans). Almost the entirety of Lazar’s career has been spent on regional theatre. He was playing the part of Caligula in Hawaii when Meyer spotted him for Beyond. His second film was Meyer’s Supervixens (1975). Robert Hyatt’s Every Girl Should Have One (1978) was a rare opportunity for him to escape the ghetto of porn, horror and camp he’s been consigned to throughout his career. In this comedy he was second billed to Zsa Zsa Gabor, and was supported by Robert Alda and Alice Faye. (Technically I guess this one qualifies as camp, too, but at least he was surrounded by genuine stars). Other credits include Up ‘n’ Coming (1983) with Marilyn Chambers, Deathstalker II (1987), Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfolds (1995), Night of the Scarecrow (1995), the lead in the cable soft-core mini-series Click (1997), and Maximum Revenge (1998). All told he has fewer than two dozen screen credits, including film shorts, and bit parts. But I bet he is dynamite on stage!