Before American Idol came along, people relied on cable access television for their fix of second hand embarassment. With the only barrier for entry being an inexplicable belief that you deserved to be on TV, the no-budget broadcasting platforms drew a flood of some of the most bat-shit insane characters ever seen outside the gates of an asylum. Here are seven of the most terrifying, surreal and all together hilarious moments ever broadcast on cable access TV.
Why It Rules: While the borrowed fur (and the borrowed footage from another music video) help bring this clip to the brink of awesomeness, it's Sondra's complete dearth of talent that really gives it that extra push. Each awkward pelvic thrust, each attempt at a sexy come-hither look (which all come out looking more like demonic possession) put yet another nail into the no-talent coffin. Every time she screams "NASTY!" try to remember that she actually thought she was going to be a star. Every time she bugs her eyes out all crazy, try to remember that she probably thought it looked sexy. Remember this all, then listen to her lovely singing voice and die a little inside. As an added bonus, the dancer at 1:33 looks a lot like Val Kilmer in Real Genius, so it's got that going for it, too.
Why It Rules: This video provides a unique window into the mind of a complete lunatic. It's easy to forget that the mentally ill, despite spending most of their time kneading raw ground beef and drawing up intricate blueprints for machines that will never work, may actually own televisions and absorb fragments of pop culture. Okay, so David Thompson admittedly mucks up a few facts (like that whole thing about the existence of a "rogue helicopter pilot"), but you've gotta give him credit for name-dropping John Walsh. So what if he thinks he's actually IN the FBI? As an added bonus, you get to hear him call someone a "chameleon, lemon-headed, coward, terrorist pussy," and you know what? That's special. If only there was footage available of the last time he came to speak at the community forum. You know - about "the bundling." Whatever the hell that is.
Why It Rules: If you tried to market this video under the title "Understanding Your Goth," you could make millions of dollars selling it to confused and desperate parents around the country. You wouldn't even need extra features - the DVD could be two minutes long. Why would it sell? Because it teaches you everything you need to know about goth teenagers: A: They are awkward wretches. B: They're friends with fat chicks. C: They're gonna be really embarrassed in a few years. Pay close attention to the first two seconds of the video. Did you see that? Wait, no - rewind it. Did you see it that time? What the hell was that? Some kind of goth ballerina move there? The icing on the cake would be his friend's excruciating pause/paws pun at 1:25, but goths hate cake, right? What would be a better phrase there? The maggot on the corpse? The blood on the ankh? Oh, wait - goths hate phrases, too. I'm going to go light some candles and blow my brains out with a shotgun. How's that?
Why It Rules: Calling someone a "fag" or a "cockhead" isn't funny in and of itself (okay, maybe "cockhead" is), but it's a different story when it happens 20 times in 5 minutes. Say what you will about the chump of a host, but the guy takes more abuse than a newly-imprisoned dance therapist and responds with little more than a wink to his cameraman. Watch his face as he listens carefully to the callers diatribes, as he considers the subtleties of each point they make. He furrows his brow, he says "that's a good point," and then he gets called a "cockhead." Awesome. Sure he's a douchebag, but you have to admire his tenacity. If you don't admire his tenacity, he's got pretty cool hair, too. Admire that instead.
Why It Rules: Because after you count all the things that rule in this video - the suit, the insane haircut, the Parliament Funkadelic playing, the bizarre camera work, the completely inappropriate backdrop and, most importantly, the drug-fueled, incomprehensible blasphemy - there just isn't anything left that DOESN'T rule. It rules by the process of elimination. On its own any single one of these things would be amazing, but put them together and pepper it with lines like "I come in the name of Jesus... repeat after me, bitch!" and you've got something completely different. Something so awesome that it melts your face off.
Why It Rules: With his bald, sweaty dome and rumpled, paint-splattered suit, John Kilduff is a fucking mess. Most of his callers hate him (why are so many gangbangers watching public access anyway?) and his paintings don't come out particularly well, but throughout it all Kilduff remains remarkably upbeat. Whatever-how well do you think YOU could paint while running on a treadmill? You can say a lot of things about John Kilduff, but he genuinely seems to love what he's doing. Even if it's... you know... kind of deranged.
Why It Rules: This video is the holy grail brain bomb of public access television. So much so that you need to watch it all in complete silence, possibly more than once, to really pick up on every subtle and bizarre nuance. It could use a commentary track, really. Every dish he tries to make is a disaster, every prep technique he uses is either wrong or flat-out dangerous, and then, just when the ship really starts sinking, he starts in with the impersonations. You can rationalize laughing at this video by saying you're laughing WITH him, but remember: no matter how you justify it, if you laugh at this video you are going to hell.
Instagram influencers are often absurd.
Well, this is terrifying.