Exclusive: Q&A With Will Russell, Founding Dude of Lebowski Fest


Now in its fifth year in New York, Lebowski Fest is a celebration of all things related to the Coen Brothers 1998 cult classic, The Big Lebowski. It involves tunes, White Russians, and the flick, followed by more tunes, some more White Russians, and bowling. Costumed Dudes, Walters, and Maudes mix and mingle. Last year there was a re-enactment of the Landlord’s dance cycle. This year’s festival, which hits NYC September 22-24 as part of the “Speed of Sound” tour, features a movie party/performance by the Black Diamond Heavies at Terminal 5, and two nights of bowling (the first at Lucky Strike in Manhattan and the next at Brooklyn Bowl). After the jump Flavorpill catches up with Will Russell, Founding Dude of Lebowski Fest, for the inside scoop on what to expect.

Flavorpill: Achievers are everywhere. Is there a connecting thread between fans of Lebowski Fest?

Will Russell: You’re not dealing with morons here. The Achievers are smart cookies.

FP: You see a lot of bowling alleys. Which one is your favorite in the US, and why?

WR: Vernon Lanes in Louisville. It’s the third oldest functioning bowling alley in the country, and has the old school lenticular starbursts above the lanes. There is now a music venue below the lanes and you can watch the balls on the ball return from below. The decor is old and grimy, the way a bowling alley should be. They keeps it real.

FP: You’ve been in touch with Jeff Dowd since 2003, but the Fest launched back in 2002. Was there a certain point where you grew large enough that you felt like you needed The Dude’s blessing?

WR: Having Jeff dig what we are doing is an unbelievable thrill. The Dude Abides!

Lebowski Fest “Speed of Sound” Tour video from Lebowski Fest on Vimeo.

FP: The Big Lebowski is often quoted. Do you have a favorite line to toss into conversation, or is that not really your style?

WR: Are you kidding me? All I do is work lines into conversations. It can be a natural zesty enterprise.

FP: We read that you guys got the idea to start the festival when a spontaneous crowd gathered to swap quotes during a tattoo convention in 2002. Do you have any Lebowski-inspired tattoos?

WR: I only have one tattoo and it is of The Pixies logo. It’s on my forearm but it could be worse. I could have tattooed it on my forehead.

FP: Was it more exciting to have Jeff Bridges or the Dude show up at Lebowski Fest?

WR: Both were exciting but I almost passed out when I first met Jeff Bridges. Talk about star struck.

FP: What do you have planned for your 5th Annual NYC edition of the Fest? Why two nights of bowling?

WR: One night of bowling in Manhattan and one night in Brooklyn. Can’t wait to check out the Brooklyn Bowl! I hear it’s the bees knees.

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