Early Punk Documented on Public Access Television

Early Punk Documented on Public Access Television

While working at Manhattan Cable’s public access channel, Paul Dougherty met a woman named Pat Ivers, and they soon began taking their young coworkers to CBGB. “It was our great fortune to see one of the first Talking Heads shows, opening for the Ramones,” Paul said. “So it was a eureka, epiphany moment for myself and everyone else. We began videotaping later that summer, during the CBGB Festival of Unsigned Bands.” Without that video footage of Blondie, the Heartbreakers, Talking Heads, and many other bands shot by the Metropolis Video collective, punk’s ephemeral early years would exist only in faded memories. Ivers and Dougherty had the public access department’s blessing to take out an entire remote studio, which helped raise the production values. “So instead of just going with a couple of Portapaks, we had the switcher, the mixer, and the cameras,” Dougherty said. “The first time we did it, we lit it and got pretty good sound, but it got a lot better.” After he moved away, Ivers plowed forward with her motley video crew, irregularly showing their live footage in late 1975 as part of a public access show called Rock from CBGB’s. “A place like CB’s was revolutionary and perfect for capturing the energy of this new scene,” Ivers said. “The intimacy of getting right up in the faces of these musicians telegraphed the intimacy of the room, where the border between musician and fan was quite porous. Also, the DIY methodology of the scene was in its DNA, so for me, being able to document the scene was an important contribution to the community, which I very much felt a part of.”

From Chapter 31 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


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