A popular subject among people who are really into television history are “cult TV shows”, series that never really drew in big ratings, but are deeply revered by a small yet devoted group of people.
Sometimes a show starts out with a “cult following” and word-of-mouth turns it into a big hit. A recent example of this is CBS’ NCIS. Its eighth season began this week, with the series enjoying its highest ratings yet. However, NCIS also has something in common with several other cult TV shows—David McCallum.
Playing the role of medical examiner/ forensic psychologist Dr. Donald Mallard, “Ducky” has become a big hit among NCIS fans. Whenever internet rumors go around about someone leaving the cast, the comment section is always full of “I hope it’s not Ducky!” replies. In one episode, however, a sly reference was made to another cult TV series McCallum co-starred in.
Beautiful Darling: The Life and Times of Candy Darling, Andy Warhol Superstar documents the short life of the transsexual actress whom Warhol’s POPism memoir described as “the most striking drag queen I’d ever seen”. Oscar-nominated actress Chloe Sevigny supplies the voice of the Superstar, who grew up on Long Island being entranced by silver screen legends like Kim Novak and Lana Turner. After moving to Manhattan, her role in Glamour, Glory and Gold, written by Jackie Curtis, served as the entryway into Warhol’s orbit. In addition to appearing in major underground films like Paul Morrissey’s Flesh (1968) and Women in Revolt (1971), Darling inspired the Velvet Underground song “Candy Says” and is mentioned in Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side”. After dying from cancer in 1974, her Upper East Side funeral drew the presence of icons like Julie Newmar and Gloria Swanson, a fitting tribute to a young actress whose dreams of Hollywood stardom were left unfulfilled.
The legacy of her gender-bending brand of blond ambition has been transmitted to newer generations of glam-pop performers. In 2005, Madonna herself was rumored to be playing Candy in a film project that never actually materialized. Candy has also been a key inspiration for Darian Darling, a make-up artist and New York nightlife persona who used her blog to offer “love, respect and fascination” to her Superstar namesake. In July 2010, Lady Gaga named Darian as one of her fellow “Golden Girls of Rocknroll,” alongside Justin Tranter of Semi Precious Weapons and her longtime collaborator, Lady Starlight. Gaga tweeted a photo of the quartet to her millions of fans. Another fitting caption for this picture might be the question posed by Candy during her memorable scene in the Warhol-produced Flesh: “Don’t you want to learn to be glamorous?”
Director James Rasin and producer Jeremiah Newton will be present at the documentary’s screenings at the Hamptons International Film Festival and the Chicago International Film Festival, both in early October.
In the past I have sang the praises of the Canadian label Drip Audio, home of No More Shapes, Inhabitants, Fond of Tigers, and lots more wonderfully weird music that when description of it is attempted, gives the hyphen key on your keyboard a workout. Lots of jazz elements bouncing around, colliding with the rock edge that graces the post-everything world nowadays. If you are tired of trying to read my efforts to summarize the most on Drip Audio, you can go to their website and download ten songs.
In other news, the indie-racket group Fond of Tigers has tapped into the talents of Snadro Perri and Mats Gustafsson for their upcoming third album Country & Western. A few vocal numbers are kicked around in the dirt, but the instrumental barrage of “Soheb” and “Grandad” are not to be missed.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame recently announced their nominees for the 2011 induction, and as usual, it left many people disappointed. While there were some good candidates on the list, it’s impossible to please everybody. However, ardent fans have made a strong case for the following bands and artists who weren’t nominated this year and aren’t in the hall of fame yet.
Good news: www.destination-out.com is now selling complete downloads. In the past, these keepers of avant-jazz’s odd and obscure relics has dolled out free MP3s just a few at a time. Anyone who followed the site closely had to wonder “Where do they find all this crap?”
As of this writing there only two albums (more to follow), but they are two very curious finds nevertheless. Schlippenbach trio’s Elf Gagatellen features Evan Parker, Alexander von Schlippenbach, and Paul Lovens. Touch the Earth - Break the Sheels features Wadada Leo Smith pitted with Peter Kowald and Gunter Sommer.