Michael David Sonye (/ˈsʌni/; born April 22, 1954), best known by his stage name Dukey Flyswatter, is an American actor, screenwriter and musician, recognized for his work on numerous low-budget B movies and as singer for the Los Angeles horror punk band Haunted Garage.
Sonye first began acting as a teenager in community theatre, where at one point he received improvisation lessons from Del Close. His earliest screen credit came in 1975, when he worked as a script doctor on a draft of the screenplay for the horror film Frozen Scream, which was famously listed as one of the original "video nasties"; though the film was not banned outright, it still remains unreleased in the United Kingdom. Nearly a decade later, Sonye struck up a partnership with prolific low-budget director Fred Olen Ray. With Ray, Sonye penned the screenplays for his films Prison Ship and Commando Squad, both of which he acted in, and appeared in minor roles in films including The Tomb, Cyclone and Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers.
In 1987, Sonye wrote the screenplay for the campy horror comedy Blood Diner. A loose remake of the 1963 Herschell Gordon Lewis film Blood Feast, Blood Diner has since been dubbed a "cult classic" by horror fans and websites such as Dread Central, HorrorNews.net and GeekNation. The same year, Sonye appeared in a co-starring role as the villainous Mengele in the infamous Troma-produced Surf Nazis Must Die, itself also considered a "cult classic", albeit as one of the worst movies ever made. In 1988, he provided the voice of Uncle Impie, the primary puppet antagonist of David DeCoteau's Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama.
Since the 1990s, Sonye has mostly played cameos in smaller-budgeted independent horror films, though also appeared in a string of adult films playing comedic non-sex roles such as "The Clit Master" in the Extreme Associates film Terrors from the Clit and "P. T. Bone 'Em" in the superhero parody Super Quick 2, the latter of which earned him a nomination for "Best Non-Sex Performance – Film or Video" at the 2002 AVN Awards. In 2004, Sonye had a major role playing fetish filmmaker Irving Klaw in the Bettie Page biopic Bettie Page: Dark Angel.
In 1985, Sonye formed the horror punk/heavy metal band Haunted Garage in Los Angeles, where he filled the role of lyricist and lead singer at the behest of the band's bassist – as he recalled in a 2013 interview, "I hadn't done any singing, except [while] being drunk". It was during the formation of the band that Sonye created his Dukey Flyswatter nickname and stage persona. Wanting to be an "Isaac Hayes/Escape from N.Y./Duke of LA-type character", he adopted the name "Dukey", while "Flyswatter" was suggested by a bandmate. As he said in a 2012 interview, "Michael Sonye was gone and Dukey Flyswatter stayed...Michael Sonye was the reserved one and Dukey Flyswatter was the persona, the artist, and he was really out there".
Noted for their bloody and prop-filled live shows, irreverent B movie-inspired lyrics and Flyswatter's manic shock rock stage antics, Haunted Garage became a prominent fixture in the Los Angeles underground throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, recording music for and appearing onscreen in several low-budget horror films including Cyclone and Nightmare Sisters before eventually signing to Metal Blade Records to release their sole LP Possession Park in 1991. Following their disbandment in 1993, Sonye sang in several other groups including the cross-dressing riot grrrrl parody band Fox Twat, the Dead Kennedys tribute Hemorrhoid in Cambodia and the Dead Boys tribute Moronic Reducer, the latter of which was showcased in the 2001 tribute band documentary Tributary: A Study of an American Pop Culture Subculture. More recently, Flyswatter has fronted another Dead Kennedys tribute band, the zombie-themed Undead Kennedys, which, in 2015, was ranked 14th on LA Weekly's Top 20 tribute bands in Los Angeles.
After a series of one-off reunion shows spanning from 1995 to 2008, Haunted Garage re-formed in 2013 with an all new line-up, featuring Flyswatter as the only original member. In 2016, with producer Paul Roessler, the band released the EP Slenderman and Other Strange Tales, their first studio release in twenty five years.
In 1991, Sonye made a cameo appearance in the music video for Green Jellÿ's "The Misadventures of Shitman", which was later released on their video tape Cereal Killer, and in 2013 he appeared in The Radioactive Chicken Heads' music video for their song "Atom the Amazing Zombie Killer", itself the theme to the 2012 horror comedy of the same name. In 1992, he appeared with Haunted Garage on The Montel Williams Show alongside Sean Brennan of London After Midnight in a special about gothic rock and the vampire subculture. Sonye's eyeball is featured as the cover of Transmissions from Planet Awesome, a 1998 album by punk rock band ADZ, a side project of Adolescents singer Tony Cadena. ADZ additionally recorded a song called "Flyswatter" in tribute to Sonye which appeared on the 1999 compilation Odz 'n' Sodz.
Sonye is an avid fan and collector of vintage horror and exploitation cinema, and served as a creative consultant on Fred Olen Ray's 1985 Sleazemania!, a video compilation of exploitation trailers from the 1930s through the 1960s. He has written articles about horror and Halloween-related media and events for The Los Angeles Beat, and has also written several unproduced scripts and projects, including having co-written a musical adaptation of Blood Feast with Johnny Angel Wendell which is currently seeking financing.
In 2017, Flyswatter made a vocal cameo on the Radioactive Chicken Heads album Tales From The Coop, playing the role of "Dr. Baron von Kluckinstein" on the song "Dr. Kluckinstein's Manifesto" and appearing in the album artwork as the same character. He reprised this role in the Chicken Heads' television pilot "The Radioactive Chicken Heads Show", premiered the same year.
- See Haunted Garage#Discography