Friday, February 4, 2011

Videowave Clips Vol. 1: Joey Ramone, Lydia Lunch, Nick Cave, Jim Foetus, Bow Wow Wow, Lene Lovich, Nina Hagen

Text (c) Robert Barry Francos, 2011
Videos (c) Alan Abramowitz/Videowave, with permission

I became involved in the Videowave cable access program pretty early on, starting off as a photographer and ending as a videographer, but for most of the shows from the 1980s, I was floor manager for those clips below, being the connector between the set and the control room. Yeah, the guy with the clipboard and the headset. There was no money involved for anyone, but it gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of great talent, and also connected FFanzeen to some future interviews.

Back then, the technology was top of the line U-Matic 3/4-inch tape, but in today’s HD world, well, it looks worse for wear. However, the artists are what matters, and what they say is still relevant for fans, if dated. However, it is not as passé as some of the fashions being worn by the artists and especially the interviewers.

Here is a selection of a half dozen of bits of interviews from shows on which I worked. Meanwhile, Videowave is still on in many of the tri-state markets, and new shows are still being created. These interviews were taped at Young Filmmakers Studio (no longer in business), on Rivington Street on the Lower East Side, during the first half of the 1980s, except for the first one, done on-location. The stage background was a painted on shower curtains by the late artist Chester Parnell.

Here is the first in what I hope will become a series of blogs, but I will only put up ones that has a direct link to either FFanzeen, or to me directly.

1. Joey Ramone, April 1997
With me on camera at Arturo Vega's apartment, Jimmy Marino interviews Joey R. on the night he was filming a clip to be shown at a party for Boston DJ Oedipus, which we got to watch being taped, and included Aurturo paint the “blood” on the apron. The apron was thrown into a corner after the interview, and I took it home as a souvenir; I later heard that Joey had a fit, and I returned it with an apology. If I still had it, it would be framed and put on the wall. RIP, Joey…

2. Lydia Lunch, October 1983; November 1985
Merle Ginsberg (who has gone on to a media-focused career: interviews Lydia first, followed by my then-FFanzeen Managing Editor Julia Masi. I had interviewed Lydia back in 1977 when she fronted Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, and she was a complete asshole, but she was still quite young. A lot of her anger came across as bullshit poseur, and that’s what turned me off to her. The whole I’m cool because I’m a nihilist; aren’t I just terrible and annoying? came across as performance art to me. At the time of the first interview shown here, which I floor managed, she was collaborating with Nick Cave, Clint Ruin and Marc Almond, as well as doing “poetry” with Exene Cervenka of X. I don’t believe I was present for the second interview, though. It could also be noted that she did not remember me from our first encounter.

3. Immaculate Consumptive (Clint Ruin and Nick Cave), October 1983
This is just a short clip of Merle interviewing Clint Ruin (Foetus on the Wheel, etc) and Nick Cave (Birthday Party, Bad Seeds, etc.), which was taped the same day as the first Lydia Lunch interview above (explaining why Merle is wearing the same outfit). While Lydia was being taped, they sat in the back of the studio finishing bottles of whatever it is they were imbibing, and by the time it was their turn, they were completely blitzed (note the bottle in Cave’s hand). Though they were pissed to the gills, they were not disruptive to whatever was going on around them, I’m happy to say. The pre-chaste Dawn Eden talks us down at the end, and I believe the photo of her is one I took when she was interviewing the Buzzcocks on a hotel bed.

4. Annabella Lwin (Bow Wow Wow) , July 1983
They had recently played at a club called the Brooklyn Zoo (great show, BTW), and from there went further on their tour when disaster struck. This was actually the beginning of the end of the band, though Merle or Annabella could not have known that. It was really hot in the studio that day, as it was mid-summer and the air conditioner broke, but Anabella was a true dear and stayed around in a sweat without complaint.

5. Lene Lovich, March 1983
Introduced by Michele Piza, Lene was a pleasure to work with, as she was when Videowave interviewed her again in 1990, on location near Grammercy Park. Here in the studio, she was interviewed by David G. (Rosenberg), and was very open and friendly. American born and living in England, she later shared the interview stage with fellow expatriate Holly Beth Vincent (to be shown in a later blog), who gave me the impression she did not want to be there (though Alan had a different, more successful experience with her that day). But Lene, no one had any argument about her positive energy on that day, and in ’90.

6. Nina Hagen, February 1984
Nina Hagen did everything she could to be a thorn in the side of all of the people working on the show, including holding up a can of guava juice in front of her face and refusing to take it down for a long, expensive waste of time. Again, I wonder how much of her “personality” is real, and how much is affectation. I do know that I wanted to smack her. Merle was a total pro, though, and she did not reflect the previous goings on during the interview.

Should I continue this series, readers?


  1. This is a great read. Please do continue.

  2. Its amazing how a little cable show has managed to stick around for so long.