Dancing in the dark
A conversation with Red Dog director Luke Dick
Red Dog Saloon in Oklahoma City
The Red Dog, a strip club in Oklahoma City, was notorious in the 1970s and ‘80s. Luke Dick’s mom was a dancer there when he was just a toddler, and his new film Red Dog explores the humanity and hilarity of that wild world.
You’ve called yourself first and foremost a storyteller. When did you know that about yourself? It wasn’t actually until I got behind the camera for the first time, which was when I was living in New York roughly 10 years ago. … I didn’t know if I’d ever have a budget for something, or if it was just gonna be me running and gunning with a camera or something like that, but that I could put things together and that it would be a creative outlet for me.
I saw the film [Red Dog]. I really didn’t know what to expect going into it. It’s a family piece.
It is! It’s this great love letter to your mom to your childhood experience. How old were you when you realized that she worked there and the full story of it? I mean, I always knew that she worked at the Red Dog and I knew what the Red Dog was. But it wasn’t until I was probably somewhere between 10 and 12 that I realized she was a dancer. There wasn’t that much digested about the fact at the time. I mean, what can you do with it? … It wasn’t until I started asking her to tell me stories … there’s something, I don’t know, wild about that lifestyle, and I wanted to know more of the particulars.
What was that community like for her? Those were her best friends. Her best friends are still people from the Red Dog … When I was growing up, the Red Dog people would come out once a year for a party and pitch tents in the yard and it was crazy. My dad Randy had a bunch of crazy friends from there and they would bring like, explosives and shit like that. It was pretty nuts. It wasn’t nuts to me. It was awesome.
So what is the biggest message you want people to take away after seeing this film? Obviously I love my mom and I love the people that she was around. There’s humanity everywhere, you know? There’s humanity in the strip club. Like there’s humanity in the trenches of your enemy, you know? So really, it made sense to me to paint a picture of what that was like. It wasn’t like I set out to make a movie about humanity. All you have to do is set up a camera and talk to someone and it’s really easy to see.