Saw Sayonara (from 1957) last night, with Red Buttons in a kimono and Marlon Brando doing Elvis in a colonel’s uniform. A deep dive into Japanese culture, with none of the usual smarm and patronizing, it turned out to be quite a moving flick, and a pretty effective anti-bigotry story. Doubt it’s everybody’s thing, and no Stella! or you’re a big lousy dirty stinking mug moments, but it ain’t no Tea House Of The Freaking Harvest Moon either. Also, Ricardo Montalban in kabuki drag. Shot in Japan.
I’d totally blanked on the name of the strange only-in-Hollywood real life character who hosted a public access interview show in which he’d interview stars, sometimes famous stars. The interviews could be pretty great, actually. His name was on the tip of my tongue. Jiminy Glick was basically Martin Short’s impression of him in a fat suit. I remember he’d been a child star. His and Dr. Franklin Ruehl’s–who is broadcasting on Facebook–were my favorite public access shows, hand down.
Skip E. Lowe. That was it.
This came up because John Altman and Terry Gibbs were talking about Red Buttons and I remember that Red gave a terrific, revealing interview on that little public access show, which I thought was pretty classy.
I miss the days of public access television. It was endlessly entertaining. I remember for a while we got WOR, the NYC station (well, New Jersey station). I tried watching the NYC public access. It was appalling. Howard Stern was Shakespeare in comparison. LA’s was almost professional in comparison, though you wouldn’t think so until you saw the NYC public access. Back there it was a guy named Vinnie and a couple aging fat strippers talking about masturbation, out here it was all about the movies.
Incidentally, WOR’s local news was all New Jersey. There were always bodies dumped in the river and an angry Teamster named Sal who looked like Chris Christie but without his tailor. And Joe Franklin, who was New York. The show may have been broadcast outta Jersey, but Joe Franklin was New York. He’s hard to explain to Angelenos. One surreal night it was I think was Fay Wray and the 1910 Fruitgum Company. If it was possible to love a band, Joe loved that band. They played Yummy, Yummy, Yummy but to their credit couldn’t remember it, and it spluttered to a dismal end and Joe stood up and applauded them for the effort with complete sincerity. If it’s possible to love a band, he said, he loved the 1910 Fruitgum Company. They thanked him. You are New York, Joe, they said, yes you are. Joe beamed.
Actually I was on the Skip E. Lowe show one night. We were in the audience to see our friends, Oozing Thumb. Somehow Oozing Thumb were on Skip E. Lowe’s show, filmed in a club I can’t recall, somewhere in Hollywood. Skip peered into the beautiful people out there in the dark and saw this enormous hulk of a man. Me. I was big gnarly dude back then, strong as an ox. Skip had the camera pan my way. He asked how tall I was. Six foot five, I said. Skip shivered. He asked my wife if she liked her men big. She rolled her eyes. He giggled. Skip E. Lowe was Hollywood.