The Out Of Bodies began in the late 70s when two aspiring young artists, Donald Jefferes and Dan Banic, met during cartooning/animation class while attending the High School of Art & Design. In comparison to many of the students at A&D, both Donald and Dan may have been considered quiet (maybe even shy) individuals - so it's unclear what prompted Dan to one day bring his electric guitar into school to show Donald. But during a lunch break one day in the school's cafeteria, that's just what happened.
Dan unsheathed his guitar from a case barely held together with gaffers tape, and proceeded to amaze Donald with the ending chords to The Beatles' "The Ballad Of John and Yoko." Donald may have been even more amazed if the guitar was attached to an amplifier - but he got the basic gist of it.
Talking further, Don learned that Dan also possessed a 4-track recorder in which he could piece together songs of his own. Having already been recording comedy bits and creating music with his long time buddy from Hollis Queens, Lloyd Goldfine (who also attended Art & Design), he was already thinking about what they could all do together. The end of the school year was approaching fast, however, and the idea of creating musical collaborations took a back seat to other things.
Two scary monsters '75
Lloyd and Donald were friends since elementary school and together they shared similar interests. Whatever projects they came across throughout their days in school they'd usually finagle ways in which they could work on them together - regardless if they were in the same classes or not. This included creating and selling their own brand of comic magazines, which they named "Wow Ink-corporated", building their own "muppet" puppets, which they jointly performed with, and a good number of super 8 films they made which were also produced by their "company", Wow Ink. They hand-painted and sold t-shirts, performed puppet shows in their basements for each other's amusement (and/or horror) and took a particular liking to dressing up as monsters, for any reason but never limited to just Halloween.
Lloyd caught on camera, Spring Art Festival '78
Arriving at A&D, Donald majored in cartooning while Lloyd gravitated towards film making. As much as they could, schedules allowing, they continued to do those things in which they derived pleasure from. The comics, the movies, the comedy recordings, but most of all - just being silly. Being in different classes and not sharing the same majors, however, their talents strengthened in two different areas. Donald became more serious in cartooning and animation, while Lloyd's interests grew in film production.
King Mark in '82.
While in his cartooning class, Donald met up with Mark DeGross - a slightly mysterious character who sometimes wore shades indoors and could be a little intimidating. What Donald grew to learn in time, was that Mark, like Lloyd and Dan, shared many of the same interests as he did - and his shades and somewhat brooding demeanor were meant to ward off undesirables from his neighborhood in East, New York. Donald often joked "I figured if I just kept him laughing with my silly drawings he wouldn't beat me up!"
After their stay in A&D, Lloyd went on to attend Queens College and Picker Film Institute while Dan, Donald and Mark all headed towards the School Of Visual Arts. Unbeknownst to Don, and giving proof to the expression that "it's a small world, " it was here, in film class, where Dan met up with Don's second cousin from Brooklyn, Joe Vento. Going back to when they were little kids, when Joe and Donald were brought together by their parents or aunts and uncles, they were quick to share their interests with each other right from the start. Joe's three biggest loves were apes, dinosaurs, and any old stop motion films which contained either or both of the two. He was particularly fond of Willis O'Brien's King Kong. So much so, that Joe, Donald, and their cousin Pam once attempted a recreation of the story with a silent, super 8 movie camera.
Joe and Dan do their infamous "Stevie Wonder" bit for the video camera, mid 80s
With Joe living in Brooklyn, and Donald living in Queens, the two of them would sometimes take long train rides to each others homes. One of these trips resulted in the first time Joe, Lloyd and Donald worked on anything together - it was a film of Lloyd and Donald's called "The Undead" in which Lloyd starred in the title role. Donald played the victim, and Joe played the even more unfortunate camper who tries to come to his aid. The make-up application on Lloyd was so involved that applying it took longer than expected, and filming became a literal race against time as they tried to shoot all the main scenes while the sun was still out. Unfortunately, the film was never completed.
During the summer before Donald was to begin SVA he was offered a job at Ovation Films, the animation studio he interned at during his senior year at A&D. It was then he decided it was better to get the experience first-hand, while earning money, than at SVA - spending it. He did however, remain at SVA for a while, long enough to finish his animation class during the evenings. Meanwhile, Mark, Dan and Joe attended classes throughout the day - occasionally crossing each others paths. One evening, Donald and Lloyd had a screening of their film "Jaws" (a spoof of the movie by the same name) in SVA's Rotunda Theater - and Mark was there to see it. He was quite shocked to see them popping up like that. Again, "small world."
Donald at Ovation Films '79.
Although at some point during their stay at SVA both Dan and Joe decided they weren't going to continue anymore, they did manage to collaborate on a film together before leaving - a spoof on the Three Stooges called "The Three Kooges." In it, Joe played a slippery gangster, and naturally - with his hair style, Dan played the part of Moe. During this time Dan also made "Fish Funk", a film heavily influenced by Laurel and Hardy/Little Rascals film producer, Hal Roach. But it was Lloyd who took film making the most seriously. While in A&D, together with his friend Floyd Martinez, he created the well-renowned "Lloyd & Floyd Comedy Team" and a hilarious film titled "Hostility In Teachers" among others. During his stay at Picker, he grabbed whatever film projects he could get his hands on, often working for free, until he eventually landed a long-standing job at Griffin Bacal.
In retrospect, as the 80s rolled in, so did the inevitable circumstances of life and many directional changes. Dan took a job as a messenger for Shea and Gould, Joe became a federal employee working for the post office, Mark moved to Rochester after working as an airport security person and a graphic artist at Shopwell, Lloyd continued at Griffin Bacal, and Donald began working as a graphic artist at Brooklyn Union Gas. A very, very busy time - and that's to say nothing of the even busier individual family lives. Amazingly enough - it was during these years from the mid 80s on - that the Out Of Bodies were formed.
Donald and Lloyd workin' the "wheezer" in '86.
Gradually, but surely - Dan, Joe, Donald, and occasionally Lloyd - began to meet more often to record music around this time. Their first attempt at a "music video" was shot by Donald in '86 - featuring Dan on his own walking alongside a cemetery - lip syncing a song he wrote called "Death", but it wasn't until a short while later in that year when Lloyd shot a more "official" one featuring all four of them. The song chosen for that video was "I Wonder", a much more upbeat selection, and it featured mostly Dan, Joe and Donald being chased around the park by a ventriloquist dummy. Lloyd chose wisely to remain behind the camera for most of the video.
By the 90s, Mark, once an out-of-town Out Of Bodies fan, returned to New York and became an Out Of Bodies member, joining Donald as an employee at Brooklyn Union. In '91 Dan, Joe, Donald and Mark had an impromptu live jam session in the company's video/photography studio, which was dubbed "The Traveling Dinkleberries" by Mark. Parts of it were photographed and audio-taped by a hand full of fellow co-workers. As fun as they were, however, for one reason or the other, Out Of Bodies sessions became fewer and far in between in later years. Although Donald possesses a disarrayed smattering of cassette tapes of sessions to follow - the last "documented" recording is dated June 1995.
The Out Of Bodies, minus Lloyd and Mark, in 1995
Having all this said and done, however, there is one piece of Out Of Bodies history that will always remain a mystery... It's never been made clear exactly "why" the group were ever called the Out Of Bodies. Nearest explaination is a fuzzy one. Dan believed in aliens, big foot, and other aspects of the paranormal. He also believes he may have had an "out of body" experience one morning while an alien was trying to communicate with him. The others don't know for sure if he was serious about telling them this - and after they stared at him for a few moments he refused to elaborate further. All they got out of Dan at first was what the alien sounded like, because Dan did his best to mimic the voice he heard. He said "now don't laugh, because this is gonna sound strange.... but he sounded a little bit like Bert from Sesame Street... only more like this..." and then he did the voice - Frank Oz caught in a vice-grip... "Eyaaaaaaahhhh Dannieeeeeeeeeeee, can you heeeeeeear meeeeeeee?" Donald explained, "After we teased Dan about this mercilessly he never mentioned it again. But on occasion, without warning... I'd slip it into conversation and go....
Of course Dan would just ignore it. No wonder he doesn't see us anymore.
Below, just a few of the most early examples of what the Out Of Bodies were up to before they became the Out Of Bodies...
Donald's attempt at trying to do a cel painted cartoon in less than a week resulted in this mess, "Spooky For President." Pre-digital era, this was shot on an animation stand at the School of Visual Arts. Like many of these early clips sound was added much later. That's Joe singing "You Spin Me" in this one...
Anyone who used that same animation stand in SVA's claustrophobic camera room got that annoying caught between the lenses dust ball. You'll see it on all these cartoon clips - just there on the upper left hand side. It sort of became the identifying "watermark" for every young filmmaker who sweated it out in that infamous room. Here's Dan's brief "Beatles Cartoon"...
Dan would often adorn his letters and notes with this creation of his he called Ka Ka Cat - sort of a Felix the Cat type character. He made several early cartoon shorts with this happy little fellow - including this one, which Dan says he never got to finish, called "Planet Of The Cats. Again, another silent super-8 film with Fleisher-esque sounds added later by Donald...
Lloyd and Donald often used (and abused) puppets in their early films together - which resulted in many of them eventually losing their bodies - where only the heads remained. At one point many of the heads went missing which prompted the two to believe they were probably off somewhere plotting their revenge. They even recorded a little song (sung to the tune of Billy Joel's "Where's The Orchestra?") they titled "Where Are All The Heads?" Here's a little clip that combined that song with one of their puppet films - filmed in Lloyd's parents unfinished basement - which perhaps makes it even that much creepier...