Red Strings and Things!
An Interview with Desiree Gould

Interview by Jeff Hayes

DESIREE: Then and Now! And she's still tying strings around her finger!

When "AUNT MARTHA" stepped onto the stage at the SLEEPAWAY CAMP REUNION in April 2001, the crowd went absolutely crazy (pun intended)!! The fans cheered and watched in awe as the woman who played SLEEPAWAY's infamous AUNT waved and took her seat. SLEEPAWAY CAMP is full of wacky characters, that is part of what makes it so fun. That's also part of what makes it so memorable and helped the film to achieve it's remarkable cult status. Without question, Desiree Gould's quirky AUNT MARTHA was one of the most unique characters to grace the silver screen in the 80's. Her unique and amazing performance is a rare 80's gem of twisted mastery from the beloved slasher-cinema. When I saw Desiree in person for the first time at the SLEEPAWAY REUNION, I couldn't believe how remarkable she looked! It was like she had been frozen in time and hadn't aged since playing AUNT MARTHA. Many people have often wondered what was going on inside AUNT MARTHA's head. Only one woman truly knows! So tie a red string around your finger and join me as we journey into the mind of Desiree Gould...

How did you get involved with the allmighty SLEEPAWAY CAMP? I was working with an Agency called "Marje Fields Talent" located on West 57th Street in Manhattan, and my agent, Dorothy Scott sent me on an Audition for SLEEPAWAY CAMP. Where did you draw your inspiration for the character of AUNT MARTHA? Inspiration comes from an inner source. A persons creative energy and inner energy is an integral part of your being. I believe, a role is something that is created very slowly. It is a subliminal kind of thing .. it just happens when you are working. When I met Robert he did not want me to read the script, but physically act out what he suggested. I listened to his directorial and did the best I could keeping in mind his direction. Apparently, he saw something in me that was right for the role of "Aunt Martha", but actually at the time of the audition, it was so quick, I just responded, rather than created something at that moment in time.

AUNT MARTHA and ANGELA: Then and Now

What are some experiences that you remember most about being on the set of SLEEPAWAY? If I remember correctly, I was only on the set two times as I had two scenes. I may have been up in Saratoga at the Camp for a couple of days. As my time was limited, my contact with the other actors was short, and I had a couple of rehearsals with Robert. There were not that many experiences because I was not there that long. I just remember it as being fun and it was a professional experience with a lot of very nice people. What is it like for you, having played a cult icon of the beloved 80's slasher cinema? When the film came out in 1983 I must admit that there were a lot of teenagers that would stop me in the street or just stand there and scream: "that's Aunt Martha". At first, I was frightened because I did not know how to react, but after it happened a few times, I just smiled and if anyone wanted to chat I was right there to do answer their questions. Regarding being an actress that had a role that is considered a Cult Icon - I can honestly say, I hope my acting brought about some of this -- however, I'm sure that the whole story line for those folks who like "slasher-movies" ... was more a part of the cult... than myself. It was the whole project! And, I hope movie-buffs just realized it was a role and I was taking direction from the director! But, after all is said and done ... one can say it is a very unique experience to be recognized by the public for something I did in a film -- 18 years ago!! And, quite frankly, at that time, I didn't even think the film would be good enough to hit the streets... I mean, it was an ugly slasher...

AUNT MARTHA: 80's cult icon

What do Desiree Gould and AUNT MARTHA have in common? It is hard for me to say I am like the character... "Aunt Martha"... because I would never even consider doing what this character did to "Angela." What I think I am is that I may have some character traits that could play a role such as "Aunt Martha"... Maybe, the energy, or the absent-mindedness - or a combination of in real-life my being at times "very comedic with my friends and acting spacey and fun"... I don't really see me as "Aunt Martha" in real life. And, as I remember quite clearly, I said to Robert Hiltzik from day one... I can't play this character, the lines don't make any sense to me ... They are "slanted and too unusual"! And, Robert was truly amazing ...he said, "I want you for this role and he kept encouraging me"... so I went over and over and over the lines in the script - until I made some sense out of the lines. And, prayed a lot. (ha ha)

Desiree holds the SLEEPAWAY DVD and meets some thrilled fans at the SLEEPAWAY REUNION!

What was your reaction to the SLEEPAWAY CAMP REUNION? The reunion was truly an unbelievable event! It was hard to conceive that young kids and teenagers all over the United Stated remembered this film. I mean it was a very inventive & unusual plot with a lot of killings ... and there were some pretty great movies that were out there including ones with Sissy Spacek doing some incredible acting ... it was kind of unbelievable to see that SLEEEPAWAY CAMP would even be as big a success as it was! I was shocked by the whole experience. Truly.

Desiree chats with Jonathan Tiersten and Jeff as they await showtime at the REUNION...and she radiates on stage while she talks about strings around her finger-She just can't escape that infamous line!

Tell us what you do these days. These days I spend most of my time selling Real Estate with one of the largest and most prestigious firms in New York City. I also fly back and forth from Florida to get some rest and relaxation, as real estate could become exhausting at times. Most recently, after the REUNION, I kind of gotten bitten by the acting bug, and I am toying with the idea of doing something in the arts, but I am not sure at what time I will go and try to audition, again. We'll see. What do you do for fun? What I do for fun is be with my friends, enjoy good theatre, movies, great restaurants and living in one of the most exciting cities in the world ... New York City. There is just so much to do - not to mention that work occupies a lot of ones time.

Desiree signed autographs for hundreds of fans at the REUNION
Loris "Billy" Sallhian, Jeff Hayes, and Desiree Gould at the SLEEPAWAY REUNION.

What are some of your biggest passions in life? My passions are varied and those passions change with each new season in my life. At one time, Acting was the biggest passion in my life ... Another time, I spent days in ballet class trying to perfect every turn and angle to be like a dancer ... after all, I am an actress, not a dancer, so you could imagine how much time it took in ballet class to look - just - oh well - like I may have belonged there. So, as life turns each passion turns and brings you to the moment a person is in at that time. Right now I am concentrating on Real Estate and my passion for acting is slowly re-emerging.

Desiree has a blast chatting SLEEPAWAY over a few cold ones with the REUNION crew after the show.

How would you feel about reprising your role as AUNT MARTHA in a future SLEEPAWAY film... and how would you play her 20 years later? I believe I would play "Aunt Martha" again. I would have to read the script and anaylze my part and the impact it may or may not have on the public. I mean, who would have thought so many people would remember Aunt Martha -- for Better and Worse -- So, I would first start with the script.... than, my part, and how I would interact with the other players. It is hard to say how I would play Aunt Martha 20 years later -- or is it 18? Ha Ha .... I think the script would have a big part on the role. Also, to answer that question fully, I would have to do a lot of soul- searching and I am not at that point that I need to create Aunt Martha -- so I would hold off on writing about a definitive answer on how I would play her.

Desiree on the set of SLEEPAWAY with a few other familiar SLEEPAWAY faces!

I wanna extend an extra special thanks to Desiree for reliving CAMP with us. She loves it just as much as we do!! :-)