Wednesday, January 4, 2012


At the end of the last century, public access television in New York City was an important part of a culture that almost entirely doesn't exist any longer. Look at the hand-drawn 1998 postcard above -- my hostess and our main guest both were on to plug their self-published zines they sold at a local store, SEE/HEAR.
Back then we could promote stores and venues on our shows, it was a different time than now, when we aren't even allowed to say where an artist will perform beforehand!
I think it's a terrible misreading of the intention of the bylaws that results in us not being able to do shows promoting the local community. I have girls from Florida star on my show now. It makes sense for me-- they're nicer than New Yorkers!

Nearly everyone has friends in multiple countries these days, thanks to the internet. Nearly everyone does their business and performs or presents their art internationally. Back then it was really very different, the whole world was local, at least to us DIY artist-types. For the most part, I'd say things are better now for the small or underground artist but I miss things like real local television and real neighborhoods all the artists lived in and local stores selling handmade magazines.

Not THAT much! The internets are vastly superior! Just once in a while.

By the way, this was the worst episode of that show I ever did, but it's not because we didn't have a good guest. The problem that time was we had too many good guests. I'd have to explain the weird time and bizarre subculture the show existed in for you to understand. After all this was 14 years ago! Hardly a man left alive to tell the tale of Williamsburg when it was still scary -- ooooooh! 
Actually, Frank Wood has lots better stories than mine about Billyburg, but I can only give you mine.

Okay, P5 was a psychedelic glam queen artist scenester party girl known for wearing outrageous outfits and makeup. She played drums in a band that was favorited by the survivors of the Warhol scene. The first time she came on the show happened in a weird way. This girl from LA who showed me photos to prove she had worked in a record store with Pat Smear had me over her place to meet P5, who proceeded to ask me if she could read incest porn on the show while topless. The other girl volunteered to wear KISS makeup and react comedically (to the incest porn).
I remember insisting P5 wear a bra but otherwise let these two follow their creative vision.
Wouldn't you?
It was going to be on after 1:30am haha.
When it aired, it got 14 calls in 7 minutes, which is a big deal for public access, so P5 was the new star as far as I was concerned and I wanted it to revolve around her.
I didn't know about her Warhol following at first and so I didn't understand the Warhol chatter about our show (until years later when I saw Andy's early "interview" film work, which was alot like our show in a way haha).
P5 was a leader, and she was known in every community, by every ethnicity on every scene. All the graffitti artists knew her by name at least, she was quite streetwise. One time she got annoyed at me for stopping taping while she was talking about how much money she spent on drugs that week, haha! She was so funny, I liked her alot and we had some real fun times as well as hairy times together. We started off doing the show as a party in P5's amazing Pee Wee's Playhouse on acid apartment filled with furniture, walls and doors she'd repainted herself to have a big eyeball on it or something really bizarre. She lived on Bedford and one of the NY Press cartoonists lived in her building so boy cartoonists I won't name would leave their new comic books on her doorstep haha. Anyway, the plan each week was we'd invite twice as many people as we figured we needed to make a good show, and hope half of them showed up.
Everyone would get drunk or whatever (usually both-- it was a trippy scene) and we would tape the show for 2 or 3 hours till the party broke up. I would later on run the shows directly from the camera into a vhs tapedeck for 29 minutes each week and hand in another "episode" but it would be live footage of P5 and her guests getting progressively more wasted week to week. I could get 3 good episodes/weeks out of each taping by cutting away to footage of the bands or other artist guests performing at local clubs that I'd shoot another time, but we would do it as though we were doing a live TV show with no edits or retakes.

This episode above is the one that marked the point when P5 and I accidentally crossed over into doing an "in-fashion" show for a while--
We invited twice as many guests as we needed and EVERYONE showed up!
And it got LOUD really fast, it was just too many people.
It was impossible to hear anyone.
My throat was sore by the end of it.
I watched the footage and wasn't sure what the hell to do with it.
Nobody would be quiet so anyone else could answer a question, it was just horrible, a disaster.
Really good guests but a total disaster.
I sat on the episode and P5 and I thought we should do episodes with girls as guests instead.
Wartella kept asking me to run it, I'd tell him it sucked! haha
He would say yeah but Bob Bert-- Pussy Galore, Sonic Youth's first drummer-- he's great!
And I'd say yeah but you can't hear him on the tape!!
And this went on for months until people were actually getting angry at me for not airing the show,
which utterly baffled me, like everything else with those guys, basically.
So anyway, vainly trying to please the people who were going to be angry at me anyway, I spent forever cutting out the crap, leaving the best parts of the "show" and got like 12-16 usable minutes.
Then I got this other girl to host the segments in her bedroom upstate and explain the action to the folks at home, cutting back and forth to the footage at P5's in Brooklyn.
She volunteered to do it in blacklight with the show's phone number taped to her bra.
I always encourage the creativity of my collaborators!

That's one thing that I don't think I would ever want to change.

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