Insiders remember the early wild days
In the early days of MTV, life often imitated art.
So a real Beastie Boys party, hosted by the music channel, came to look a lot like the group’s raucous video “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)”.
“The events of this trip could have led to dangerous results,” an MTV producer told The Post who asked not to be named.
It was 1987 and someone from the network had the brilliant idea for the band to “kidnap” a fan and take them to Spring Break in Daytona Beach, Florida.
“The kids had sex on the dance floors of nightclubs, the Beasties got the winner drunk and put him in a hot tub with a group of girls, the kids were jumping off balconies,” the producer recalled. . âOJ Simpson was [there as] judge for the Hawaiian Tropic beauty pageant. He wouldn’t have been here without MTV.
âEveryone was huffing it and showing off because of our cameras. “
Finally, the producer had to slow down the action. âThe Beastie Boys were getting lost in a pool and it could have become dangerous,â he said.
After all, he pointed out, MTV was a multi-million dollar company. âSponsors played an important role in all of this. “
Back when MTV debuted on August 1, 1981, it seemed destined for business and pleasure to mix. The channel was playing rock ‘n’ roll videos 24 hours a day, after all. It revolutionized not only pop culture but cable television as well, making music a visual product and bringing a host of party models to homes across America.
And at MTV’s headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, off-screen hijinks were often as wild as the videos the network played until the early years, when reality shows became the new normal.
Sex in the elevator, cocaine in the office, melting stars – all of that was normal at MTV.
Ken R. Clark, who managed on-air talent, recalled an executive who walked into a living room at network headquarters and found a subordinate sexually gratified by the singer of a New Wave group.
As Clark told the Post, the executive only shouted three words at his subordinate, âClose that door!
KISS bassist Gene Simmons, meanwhile, was known to roam offices and, as Clark put it, “hitting the staff.” On at least one occasion, however, the pleas got out of hand.
âA woman who worked in the office flirted with Gene,â Clark added. âShe said she would do anything for a backstage pass. He picked it up and put it on [the green roomâs] pool table. “We don’t know what happened next, but” She came out of the room screaming. “
As one of the network’s original VJs, Mark Goodman had a front row seat for outrageous rock stars.
He recalls conducting a behind-the-scenes interview with David Lee Roth at the 1983 Us Festival, which his band Van Halen was headlining.
âThey got paid a ton of money, had a huge complex backstage and David was completely drunk and coked,â Goodman said, not looking at all surprised by the behavior. “He’s the funniest guy in the world and he kept laughing at his own jokes.”
Goodman also admitted that he did his fair share of the game.
âI didn’t take cocaine with him that night,â he said of Roth. âBut I have done it several times.
âI went out for about a week on tour with him,â Goodman added. âAlthough doped with coke and pot, we talked about Chinese art. David makes crazy associations and his mind is moving fast.
Other messed up rockers turned out to be less engaging. Goodman, who now hosts a show on Sirius XM, was eager to do the first American interview with Frankie Goes To Hollywood when their song “Relax” was a big hit on MTV.
Then he met singer Holly Johnson and co-singer Paul Rutherford.
âThey got into the studio right after a night out at the gay clubs, partying, without sleeping,â Goodman said. âI was asking a question, Holly was whispering in Paul’s ear and they were both laughing.
Finally, I said, ‘I love Frankie Goes to Hollywood, but America doesn’t care. If you want to do an interview, let’s do it. Otherwise, let’s stop. Holly said, ‘Okay, let’s stop.’ “
A few days later, however, Johnson stopped by the studio to apologize.
Goodman is still skeptical of the apologies: âMaybe his manager said, ‘It’s MTV. Go ahead and apologize to this guy.
Such edits were not made by Ian Astbury, lead singer of The Cult, after a New Years altercation in 1987. MTV’s five VJs hosted the night’s coverage of various bashes around town.
âI bought a packet of Coke and a bottle of Cristal,â said Goodman, who sipped champagne during breaks. âI was about to light a cigarette when Ian and the Beastie Boys came out of a bathroom. They were partying and drinking. Ian walked past and took the cigarette out of my mouth. I got it. grabbed by the backhands, I threw him to the ground and said, “What is this?”
Before things got out of hand, Goodman added, “People took me out of him.”
The incident took place off camera, but it was not always the case.
VJ âDowntownâ Julie Brown, who joined the network in 1987 and now hosts the â90s on 9â show on Sirius, hosted âClub MTVâ when she faced the alt-punk band Dead Milkmen.
âThey went on stage and handcuffed me. I panicked, âsaid Brown, who tried to walk away from the pranksters. The producers cut a commercial and, added Brown, âsomeone came on stage and unblocked me. I was upset that I was in this situationâ¦ and they weren’t on the show anymore.
Over the years – when MTV was still focused on music and before reality shows became the bread and butter of the chain – it has become more and more common for bands to come by to promote new music. . This has led to opportunities for shenanigans both behind the scenes and on the air.
Every time MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e walked in, they “were a moving party,” Clark recalls. “They would sit in the green room, with girls or groupies, and have coke on the pool table.”
A decade older than most of the guys at CrÃ¼e, Ozzy Osbourne, meanwhile, had different needs. âThe makeup artists had to hide her facelift scars,â Clark said.
Howard Stern knew how to stir up trouble. During a Thanksgiving appearance in the 1980s, he showed up with a freshly killed turkey and attempted to hand it over to Middle Eastern cab drivers outside of MTV’s headquarters in Midtown.
In 1992, Stern made an even more outrageous appearance at the Video Music Awards: Dropping from the ceiling of UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion as a gas-blowing superhero called Fartman. It all promised to be off-putting enough that one insider told The Post, âWe had to have 10 or 15 people co-present with Howard before Luke Perry agreed to do it. Luke was not our first choice.
In the late ’90s, MTV launched its afternoon countdown show “Total Request Live”, which was broadcast live, with a studio audience, from the studios in Times Square.
One of the show’s most notorious guests was Mariah Carey, who in 2001 made a messy, unannounced appearance – performing a striptease, handing out ice cream, and completely dismissing host Carson Daly.
As a former staff member recalled who asked not to be named, âIt was a last minute reservation, which was unusual. Usually his lighting manager came ahead and told us how to light it – it was always controlled. This time she rode with an ice cream cart. She gave Carson a rambling interview and seemed to have her Britney shaved head moment. In the control room, we watched with our mouths open, but we didn’t cut it short.
Another favorite diva, Madonna, hosted an exclusive for MTV employees ahead of the release of her controversial 1989 video âLike a Prayer,â which showed her kissing a black Jesus and dancing in front of burning crosses – and cost her a Pepsi sponsorship.
For the preview, [Madonnaâs team] “bring [the video] in a Brink’s truck, like they’re afraid one of us will steal it, âClark said. It turns out that the fears were justified.
Before the clip shows, “Someone punched a hole in the wall [of the room where the video would be viewed] and ran a cable through a back office with a VHS recorder. While they were viewing the video, a copy was made.
Did Madonna care? âGive us a break. She wouldn’t have a career without MTV.
Another time, Madonna herself was challenged by a rival diva. It was at the 1995 Video Music Awards and MTV News presenter Kurt Loder was doing a serious interview with the singer who had just won her first “real” – Loder’s words – VMA Award: Female Video of the Year for “Take a Bow”. (His previous awards were for technical categories like cinematography.)
Suddenly, Courtney Love started throwing makeup containers at Madonna under the interview platform.
Madonna requested that Love be kept at bay but Loder, recognizing a juicy moment, invited her anyway. âCourtney Love is in dire need of attention,â Madonna said.
Love then rushed to the interview location and accused Madonna of being “mean to me”.
âCourtney was lost and was going after Madonna,â said an MTV producer who was there.
But questions remain: how did Love get to start throwing stuff at Madonna? Who let Mariah Carey collapse on “TRL”? And why hasn’t anyone stopped the Beastie Boys from losing a fan?
As the producer puts it: âIn the early days of MTV, the standards of traditional television did not exist.