Category: TV

Stryx – 1978

While browsing Youtube’s fine selection of Grace Jones videos the other day, I came across this nugget from Italian TV show Stryx in 1978. It features Grace performing her song Fame while trapsing about in a heavily smoke[machine]-filled set and cavorting on leopard print divans. Note the tone set by the fantastical cape and perched birds as she appears in a bubbling pitcher.

My interest was piqued and I carried onward, determined to delve more deeply into the abyss of Stryx. Unfortunately, as the show only aired for one year, there were a limited number of clips to devour. The journey was short, but not without its high points. In addition to Grace, the show featured an eclectic international mix of songstresses, including Amanda Lear (French), Patty Pravo (Italian), and Gal Costa (Brazilian). Stylistically, the show had a decidedly glamified 70s take on the Middle Ages with dark imagery and characters, though catered specifically to each performer’s song. Each performer’s set of segments was classified by a particular Stryx-ian title – Grace Jones was featured in Rumstryx; Amanda Lear in Sexy Stryx; and Patty Pravo in Subliminal Stryx. (A full list of performers can be found in the Stryx Wikipedia entry.) I SO wish Kate Bush had been on this show. But I digress. The show was yanked from TV channel Rai Due in ’78 due to controversy over the devilish undertones and nudity. So unfortunate, but on the flip side, these fun discoveries remind me how very fortunate we are to have youtube in the first place.

Check out some more Stryx clips below. I promise human hand candle fixtures, a smattering of loud costumes, awkward chorus members, a LOT of smoke machine mist, and even – no exaggeration – a whole litter’s worth of adorable black kittens, not to mention several other animal species making appearances.

I’m not terribly partial to the song, but the giant head and hand on set alone make it worth a watch.

Kittens galore! Plus this one has amazing costumes all-around.

Great intro on this one, and great cape

An awesome very moody Patty Pravo performance

And finally, more Patty Pravo excellence including toplessness (turn it up as the volume is low):

Sarah Brightman & Hot Gossip

I was searching the world wide web for pictures of Kate Bush the other day and stumbled into photos of this spacey lady:


To my surprise, it turned out to be Sarah Brightman, one of my dad’s fave divas. She played the lead role in Phantom of the Opera – her husband Andrew Lloyd Webber was the composer and creator, and the role was written specifically for her. These days she enjoys success as a soprano siren-diva blending classical and pop influences. I guess when you look into the range of styles she has experimented with in her career, it should come as no surprise that she first met with success as a disco dancer – still, it kinda made me chuckle.

Sarah debuted as a member of Hot Gossip, a British dance troupe that was led and choreographed by Arlene Phillips. Their performances were super glittery disco numbers with a sci-fi tilt that were bursting with sexual energy. Hot Gossip was showcased on the Kenny Everett Video Show in the late 70s and the troupe released a few singles with Sarah as their songstress – see I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper below. I’m also including their video for Supernature by Cerrone.

See for more info about Hot Gossip.

I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper

Supernature (includes a bit of footage of Kenny Everett at the end)

More Public Access Gold

This video is an unidentified cable access clip from Pittsfield (assuming Pittsfield, MA, but perhaps not) dubbed “What’s Your Problem?”
for reasons that will become clear whence you begin your viewing experience. Truly a tasty absurdist nugget that surprisingly does not get old. Brought to my attention by youtube (and real) friend Sophia Peer who had favorited it.

Stairway to Stardom

A month or two ago, my coworker Steve sent me a couple of videos of a public access show Stairway to Stardom that had been posted on youtube. Public access programming holds a special place in my heart, and this was aired in Manhattan, where I also have a video in rotation as a “filler” for weird late-night slots of dead air. I recently went back to youtube for a more in-depth survey of the show’s offerings and found it to be an enriching and engrossing research experience. Many of the acts created lasting memories in my mind, but some of those were quite unpleasant – think offensively bad stand-up comedy (and lots of it) and young boys crooning and warbling. Behold those that made the most favorable impression.

You can also find a brief NPR story on the show produced by Jennifer Sharpe. Most of the clips come from what appears to be her youtube channel, titled Sharpeworld.

Stairway to Stardom (1993) – Lola Perazzo

Stairway to Stardom (1984) – Lucille Cataldo

Stairway to Stardom (1983) – Reason to Live

Stairway to Stardom (1988) – Horowitz and Spector

Ya Gotta Love Weird Al

I watched UHF last night – it had been awhile – and was reminded that as stupid and corny as Weird Al’s humor is, it still cracks me up every time. There’s something about his particular style and charisma that elevates his flavor of comedy above other similarly stupid works like The Naked Gun. Then again, I seem to respond to super over-the-top corniness with a high cringe factor, so maybe it’s just his tilt toward risk-taking absurdity. After watching the movie, I revisited a Weird Al fave, White and Nerdy, and watched the entire nearly eleven minutes of the Trapped in the Closet parody titled Trapped in the Drive Thru. How did I not know that this existed?? I would have embedded the videos here but unfortch Weird Al TV won’t let me embed their vids. What’s up with that?

UHF – Stanley’s Rescue

DEVO on Sex and Scooters

DEVO’s Gerald Casale waxes poetic on DEVO’s goals and values, with occasional interjections by Mark Mothersbaugh (“If the spud fits, wear it”). In this first interview clip, Gerry discusses the controversial music video for Whip It and speaks rather eloquently about what is and isn’t acceptable and digestible to the public – specifically what types of sexual representation. Other topics include the band’s energy dome head gear and slick hair headpieces. Video quality is bad in the first clip but it’s worth watching. Check out FurionHazard’s youtube channel – this person has posted several other rare DEVO clips. I’m also including below a Honda Ad from 1984 that brilliantly highlights and plays on DEVO’s group image and demeanor.

DEVO 1980 Interview

DEVO 1981 TV Interview

DEVO Honda Scooter Ad 1984

Sondra Prill = Godmother of Bad Karaoke?

Sondra Prill is a Floridian public access diva with a sassy vision of stardom. She was the star of “My Show,” which aired between 1987 and 1992. Most of the show’s content appears to have been music videos in which she covers popular songs in her distinctly drunk-in-a-karaoke-bar manner, often grunting or yelling for emphasis. At other times she seems to be ad-libbing off-key, sometimes drawing unsuspecting victims into her circle of shrill (see the woman in this clip.) Perhaps most brazenly, she appears green-screened in front of the American flag, attempting a very serious rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner.

I submit the following provocative clips for your diligent consumption:


Pump Up the Jam

The Star-Spangled Banner

Unidentified Duet w/Piano Tie Guy

Wikipedia link.

Oddly, I discovered Sondra while on a google search for Carol Bove images…I had just listened to an episode of This American Life in which a woman named Carol Bove spoke about her mother, and I was wondering if it was the same Carol Bove. And that led me to look up some images of her work. Anyway, I was led to this blog where Sondra came to life.

Redman’s Crib

OK, so this is old news, but it’s new to me. A coworker sent me this MTV Cribs episode featuring Redman’s snazzy “de la casa” de Staten Island. There’s no frontin’ here – Redman’s tour is replete with unkempt details: crap scattered all over the floor, porn videos, frozen fishcakes, a passed out guest, and a broken doorbell (he instructs us how to twist the wires together in order to get his attention when visiting). I’m pretty sure there’s piss in the toilet too. I laughed out loud multiple times while viewing. Now this is quality reality TV.

Written by Comments Off on Redman’s Crib Posted in Music, TV

“Maude’s Problem”

I rented the first season of Maude from Netflix the other day, and I’m pleased to report that I’m already hooked after the first episode. When I plucked the DVD from my friend Jose‘s queue and added it to my own many months ago, I didn’t realize Maude was the work of Norman Lear, who’s also responsible for the great Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. Maude aired from 1972 to 1978, starring Bea Arthur of Golden Girls’ fame, a spinoff of All in the Family. Though I had never seen the show, my boyfriend often referred to it in reference to my ugly (in his opinion) oversized smock-type shirts, a style that Maude is apparently famous for.

Anyway, so I get the DVD and start with Season 1, Episode 1: Maude’s Problem. We are immediately informed in the show’s opening theme of the charming characteristics of “uncompromising, enterprising, anything-but-tranquilizing, right-on Maude,” compared in turn to Lady Godiva, Joan of Arc, and Betsy Ross. Her brash, straight-forward, demanding, and also very strong female lead dives right in to controversial subject matter in the first minute or so of the episode, discussing a friend’s hysterectomy with her fourth husband Walter. Shortly afterward, her daughter Carol (Adrienne Barbeau!) storms into the house, upset, wearing dark glasses, and refusing to tell Maude what’s wrong or why she is home so late. (Barbeau’s character is older and has a son but she is divorced so they live with Maude and Walter.) Maude eventually puts two and two together and realizes that Carol has been seeing a therapist and crying afterward (hence the dark glasses). She’s mortified and immediately declares “I WAS A GOOD MOTHER!” to which Carol responds “Maybe….” which is too much for Maude to take. In the ensuing tense dinnertime conversation Carol reveals her doctor’s name; Maude decides to pay him a little visit to set the record straight.

Of course when Maude enters the waiting room there is an insane patient repeatedly stating what time her appointment is for, and Maude manipulates the woman into giving up her time slot, forcibly entering the doctor’s office. Once inside, he cannot help but psychoanalyze Maude, though she is sternly resistant to his instincts to do so. She’s got classic textbook issues and the doc sees right through her. She’s going along with it until he asks her a direct question about her own overbearing mother, which prompts her to swiftly leave his office and close the door. Camera stays on the door and like clockwork, five seconds later she’s back in the chair.

Cut to next scene where Carol is fretting about why her mother is so late for dinner. Suddenly Maude bursts in the front door, wearing dark glasses, holding a pose with her hand on the doorknob for what seems like an eternity (see below). Long pause for studio laughter and dramatic effect. Of course she too has been crying from her visit with the therapist.

"Maude's Problem"

I can’t say Maude changed her ways as a result of her single therapy session, but I must say I was very happy to see her in the chair. I say YES to Maude for taking it to the shrink in the very first episode. Gotta love Norman Lear for exploring common neuroses in these half-sitcom/half-soap operas when they were being skirted around in a majority of TV shows. Looking forward to rapidly digesting the other episodes on this DVD.

UPDATE: Just found out that it wasn’t my boyfriend who said I wear shirts like Maude. Was it my dad? Scary.

Muppet Music

Just watched The Dark Crystal again last night and I’m having a wave of puppet warmth and nostalgia.

Shiny Happy Monsters – R.E.M.

Crocodile Rock – Elton John

School’s Out – Alice Cooper

Ghost Riders in the Sky – Johnny Cash