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Even those who are not familiar with New York City's B-movie powerhouse Troma Films may well be aware of The Toxic Avenger (1985).

In Troma's signature film, ninety-eight-pound nerd Melvin tumbles into a barrel of radioactive sludge and transforms into the titular super-mutant, a misshapen, muscle-bound crusader who cleans up evil-doers with two big, green fists and his trademark mop.

To date, The Toxic Avenger has spawned three sequels and a TV cartoon spin-off. And yet it all began with weaselly, put-upon Melvin--a role brilliantly embodied by Mark Torgl in the original feature. In addition, Torgl played an obnoxious adolescent in Troma's flesh-packed teen sex epic The First Turn-On!!

Mighty Mark took some time to reflect with MrSkin.com on his Toxic stardom, the role of Troma in the movie universe, and, of course, naked starlets.

How did you get involved with Troma?

I was going to film school at New York University and during summer break Troma posted a job notice with NYU looking for crew for The First Turn-On!!

I met with [Troma president and Toxic Avenger] creator Lloyd Kaufman and he asked what I would like to do on the film. I said I would like to help write the movie; I went to work for no pay helping write additional scenes, and eventually being the script supervisor.

At one point during the shoot the actor that was cast to play Dwayne, Michelle's boyfriend, didn't show up. Lloyd said, "Torgl, you do it" and the rest is history. My character was a repugnant, zit-riddled teenage delinquent, I actually think my performance in The First Turn On!! is superior to Toxic Avenger.

In working at Troma, what did you learn and take away from the experience?

Not to take life too seriously, and above all else have fun and have lots of sex.

What was it like working with Lloyd?

Lloyd is on all the time; he's really funny and creative and expects the same from his actors and crew. He makes his movies for the love of the art, not money, and expects his actors and crew to do the same. I think he says paying people would soil the art, ha ha.

Did he teach you how to be a ladies man?

Not really. That would mean fewer ladies for him. The atmosphere on all Troma shoots is sexually charged. After all, we're all doing this for the experience of making a movie. Because of the sexual nature of most Troma films, sexual playfulness is always in the air and is one of the perks of working at Troma.

Troma is known for its sexy Tromettes. How was it to work with all those hot women? Were you nervous? Was it hard to keep your hands off them?

Who doesn't like to work with hot actresses? I wasn't nervous; I'm not as nerdy in real life as I am in my Troma movies. Who says I kept my hands off them? Ha-ha!

The First Turn On!! got a bad rap for being a crude teen sex comedy. The same can be said for the movies that are coming out now such as Scary Movie (Picture: ). What is your response to the bad reviews?

Teen sex comedies never get good reviews--it's the nature of the genre. Critics will never take seriously a movie whose primary goal is masturbation.

Who were some of the sexier actress that you worked with in this film?

The main actresses who played the campers were all hot and naked in this film. The camp counselor Georgia Harrell (Picture: - ) (Michelle), who played my girlfriend, was really funny, and uninhibited. We had fun in all our sexy scenes. Sheila Kennedy (Picture: ), a Penthouse Pet, was also in the film and was naked the entire time, which was great fun for the crew.

Is it true that Madonna (Picture: ) auditioned for the part of Anne?

It is true Madonna auditioned. She came in a camp outfit with props and was up for the part of my girlfriend. Damn, wouldn't that have been cool; I would have gotten to play doctor with Madonna.

How did you get the role of Melvin in Toxic Avenger?

The next year [after the The First Turn On!!] when Troma was casting Toxic Avenger, apparently they auditioned hundreds of kids for Melvin, and Lloyd said the character they were looking for was like what I did in The First Turn-On!!, and Lloyd finally called me and asked if I wanted to do it. Of course I said yes.

Was Melvin a fun character to play?

Totally. It was over-the-top, ridiculous acting. I had a blast.

The role looked like it required a lot of physical comedy. Did you perform your own stunts and did you get hurt?

The only stunts I didn't do was jumping out the window into the vat of toxic waste and catching on fire. If you look closely at the on-fire scene, though, you'll see my hand catch on fire, which they left in the final cut. I think I still have a scar from that.

There were no scenes with Sarah (Andree Maranda) and Melvin together in the movie. Did you get to interact with her at all?

We didn't have any scenes together, but I often rode back with her in her limo from location. Her then-boyfriend helped finance the film, so she was kind of off limits, but I must say there was some steam in the back of that limo, mostly from my glasses fogging up. Ha-ha!

Wanda, played by Jennifer Babtist (Picture: - ), and Julie, played by Cindy Manion (Picture: ), both appear topless in scenes with you. You got really close to touching Cindy's bare breasts. What was that like? Were the girls nice to you?

Everyone was great, the girls were not shy, and I enjoyed every take with Cindy that we did when she revealed her breasts to me. Lloyd made sure that I took long extreme looks at her tits, and I didn't object and Cindy enjoyed it.

Marisa Tomei (Picture: ) appears as an extra in Toxic Avenger. Did you get to meet her?

She was in the pool scene where I make love to the sheep. She was one of about a hundred actors laughing at me when the lights went up, so, no, I didn't get to meet her that I remember, and of course she wasn't known at the time.

Toxic Avenger is such a popular cult classic; did your involvement in the movie help you get work, and more importantly, did it help you get laid?

Since most of my career is on the other side of the camera, in post-production, my cult status is more of an amusement to all I work with. When it's revealed--usually by someone recognizing me--it's always entertaining when everyone runs in to meet me. While working with Troma I got a girlfriend on both films. Lloyd gave me a girl in lieu of pay. Just kidding.

Who are some of your favorite sexy actresses?

Elske McCain, Traci Lords (Picture: ), Patty Hearst.

What are some of your favorite sexy films?

Currently can't stop thinking of Crispin Glover's What Is It? You've gotta love the mongoloid getting the hand job, and the Downs Syndrome victim's sex scenes. Of course my all-time favorite is my own sex scene in The First Turn On!!, with the food on the table with Michelle's parents at dinner.

Who would you like to work with?

I'd love to work with David Lynch, Crispin Glover, John Waters, or any of the bizarre filmmakers who end up making cult movies.

What's next for Mark Torgl?

I am getting to know a lot of young filmmakers through MySpace.com who are fans of mine and want to put me in their movies. I love the idea of acting without auditioning or living the starving-actor routine.

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