Amazingly enough, this "video journal of underground culture" got its start in 1991 because of a Gulf War protest. "I was working at the Fairmont [Hotel] at the time and the protests were going on down on Market Street," says Reality Check creator and executive producer Hugh “Huge” MacKenzie. "I said, "I'm going to borrow a camera and show all the mayhem that is happening.'"
After documenting the chaos, the New York native and NYU Film grad decided he wanted to air the footage on San Francisco's cable access television station. His idea for an alternative news program quickly morphed into “controlled chaos” as he and his original co-host, Moca D. Lite, realized they could showcase the weird things that happened every time they left the house. The pair aired the first episode of Reality Check on a Tuesday afternoon in September 1991. It featured the war protests, a house party, several bands, and various "shenanigans" at Murio's, the Nightbreak, and other Haight Street haunts. Masterpiece Theatre it was not.
But high art was not the intention: The show's creators merely wished to capture the wacky underbelly of San Francisco society. "We'd try to find the cockeyed humor in everything," Huge says. Classic early episodes included "See You Next Tweak," in which the duo spent all night with a bunch of furniture-arranging, paranoia-spewing freaks, and "The Show With Three Jennies," in which a friend brought home three different Jennies from three successive raves.
The program really hit its stride when Ace and Danny joined in 1993. Ace (aka Edward Annese), a Brooklyn native was a DJ and a hard rock columnist for several fanzines. One night he went to the Paradise Lounge Club for a show. "I saw this thing on the wall that said, 'If you enter the premises, you agree to be filmed for Reality Check TV.' I thought, "That's pretty ballsy for a tiny company to put that up like a big media company. I've got to meet this guy.'"
Ace suggested Huge come down and film the wild shows where Ace was a DJ. Soon, Ace became a regular fixture on Reality Check with segments devoted to local and national celebrities.
Danny, a headbanger with a love for metal and shock rock, first met Huge during a segment chronicling his roommates' Kiss "museum." Afterward, Danny ran into Huge again at the fourth annual SF Battle of the Bands, and Huge stuck him in front of the camera. With his musical knowledge, his fanboy enthusiasm, and his pronounced stutter, Danny made an unorthodox and oddly endearing interviewer.
The last piece of the puzzle was Dragon Dave (aka Dave Dragon), a movie extra from Colombia. Dave began in 1997 as one of many guest interviewers; when he wanted to become a permanent host a year later "I had to figure out what I had to give that they didn't have," Dave says. "I knew a lot of XXX stars from working at a video store where they would come in when they would feature dance. When I told [the other hosts] about it, they said, "OK!'"
"Reality Check TV has provided the community with a much needed outlet. Before there was Youtube, the crew of Reality Check TV was documenting the avant guarde culture that makes San Francisco the vibrant community that it is. From it's humble beginings on Cable Access all the way to it's current status as a world wide, multi million viewer web phenomenon Reality Check TV continunes to champion underground culture."
Reality Check TV Trailer
Ace and Huge interview -
What is Reality Check TV?
Reality Check TV on ABC News
For some people, the American Dream is about getting a high-paying job, raising a family, and buying a house in the suburbs. None of those people will ever be featured on Reality Check TV. The show's host and editor claims it is for a particular kind of Everyman. "Reality Check is the show for the all-American guy," says D-D-Danny (aka Danny Shipman). Reality Check TV is a non stop backstage rock and roll party and you are invited!
Reality Check TV is a cable tv show and video fanzine that covers Pop Culture, Classic Film and TV Stars/Personalities, Hard and Heavy Music (Rock, Punk, Heavy Metal), performance and other artistic mediums, adult entertainment and whatever else they find interesting. It’s all done with a certain kind of reverence and enthusiasm that is genuine. It's immersive video where the viewer feels like they are on the adventure with the hosts whether it be taste-testing Burning Man specialty cocktails, interviewing metal giants like Gene Simmons, drinking whiskey with Lemmy Kilmiester or catching up with punk legends Green Day. Over time the show has highlighted the noisy, salacious, and totally bizarre, gaining fans such as Rancid's Lars Frederiksen and Metallica's Kirk Hammett along the way.
Reality Check Guest Stars
Then show grew to include it’s own ‘wack pack’ of guest reporters. Scotty ’Stoner Scotty’ Dion is the show’s 420 expert and green man about town. Ron Skullsmasher is resident crypt keeper with a penchant for the macabre and bizarre. The show also included a rotating cast of ‘Reality Chicks’ - ladies who were part of the underground scene as musicians, designers , dancers and creators. The female host with the most longevity is Yvonne Fimbers whose claim to fame is her title of the first Miss Exotic Erotic Ball winner.
By 1999, the show was really rolling. It had picked up two Cable Access Awards -- for Best Music & Variety Show and Best Rock & Roll Video Show -- and its hosts were starting to get recognized on the streets and in bars. They had interviewed such well-known rockers as Joey Ramone, Glen Danzig, and Motörhead, classic TV stars like Adam West (Batman), Al Lewis (Grandpa Munster), and Elvira, and porn stars like Marilyn Chambers, Nina Hartley, and Ron Jeremy. The cameras rolled as musician and producer Todd Rundgren added color commentary at Burning Man, and as Penthouse model and porn star Teri Weigel gave Dragon Dave a hot scoop he'll never forget (or forget to talk about).
On various episodes,you may find yourself at comic conventions, sci-fi conventions, merchandise conventions, the Exotic Erotic Ball, the Grammies, and the Vans Warped Tour. “I was trying to spur on the image of us having this never-ending party," Danny says.
Overall, Reality Check attempts to journal underground culture. "We try to be on the cutting edge, to be the first," says Ace. “At a past Wondercon Comic Convention in Oakland we interviewed Julie Newmar, Gary Berghoff (Radar from MASH), and people on Star Trek. We get local heroes like Sammy Hagar, Huey Lewis, plus had the first interviews with The Donnas, Korn, Nashville Pussy -- they have all been on the show before anyone else was doing anything about them."
Reality Check TV booth at
Haight Ashbury Street Fair
Early 1990's Promo Flyer
Along the way, Reality Check TV has amassed multiple awards such as the world famous “Best of The Bay Award”, Cable TV Awards, awards for video editing and many people’s choice awards.
Over the years Reality Check TV has amassed a huge library of video fun. RCTV has broadcast over 700+ half hour episodes, 6 one hour specials, many streaming live video specials and posted thousands of clips online. Reality Check footage has been seen on E! True Hollywood stories, on MTV, on ABC NEWS and in several award winning music documentaries.
Master of Bay Area Metal, Thrash, Girl Bands and all things Twisted and Loud! Plus Wrestling and Comics.
The Toastmaster General. Friend of Rock Stars, TV Stars, Artists and Politicians. Host of RCTV live shows.
The Creator of RCTV. Usually behind the camera or reporting on festivals, rock shows, tech and media.
The movie star. Hollywood insider, TV wresting host and adult entertainment reporter.
The 420 reporter and expert on all things cannabis. Drummer, DJ and party animal!
The RCTV crypt keeper. Expert on horror films, creepy culture and oddities. And a girl band geek.
Click on a photo below to follow a host on facebook
REALITY CHECK TV SACRAMENTO TEAM
They bring you the best in metal, new rock, festivals and concerts in the Sacramento Area
Your Sacramento Producer and Host. Metal and rock reporting plus much more.
Your backstage host for metal concerts, festivals, underground culture events and more.
REALITY CHECK TV LEGACY TEAM
The Reality Check TV hosts and crew from the past -
still making guest appearances today.
The original Reality Chick. Backstage host for rock, metal and the club scene.
An original Reality Check cameraman. Still covering the Bay Area music scene.
The original Reality Check Host and Co Creator of the Show!
Reality Check TV is Award Winning and proud of it! The show is well known for it's pioneering work in digital video, content, online video and live streaming. Recognized in the television and music industry, known for our charity work and loved by fans worldwide, Reality Check TV shares it's success with you, the video viewer and all the RCTV fans and guest stars. In the words of Stan Lee himself, "Excelsior!"
WINNERS!! 2018 BEST OF THE BAY - BEST LOCAL TV SHOW
RCTV’s innovative work with digital video won many Cable Access awards , the San Francisco Bay Guardian Newspaper's Best of the Bay award for Best Rock and Roll Video Show, Best Website, Best Local Television Show, San Francisco Weekly Reader’s Poll Award Winner, a Telly Award for video editing, New York Film Award and a prestigious JOEY award.
2016 BEST MUSIC and ARTS SHOW
Watch the RCTV crew accept the SF Cable TV Award at the Gala Award Event in San Francisco!
Reality Check TV was an early adopter of video on the web. Starting by offering downloads of small Quicktime clips in 1994, the show would eventually ‘break the internet’ when they launched clips on their early Youtube channel. Even in today’s ocean of content, Reality Check still captures millions of views with a world wide base of loyal fans.
Now franchising, Reality Check TV is in Sacramento, CA starring hosts Cameraman Kev and Shell and plus their team of co-hosts.
Reality Check TV is proud to note that the show has influenced many viewers to follow their dreams. Several locally produced cable TV shows cite Reality Check TV as their inspiration. An Emmy Award winning producer credits RCTV as an early influence. A local concert promoter says he got into the business because of all the great bands he saw on Reality Check. And recently, a metal head from Texas made the move to the Bay Area because he watched RCTV on the internet.
Says Huge, "We do it for the fans, for the artists and for the community. We like to say we are 'Saving Rock n Roll one night at a time!".
RCTV - Supporting the Arts, Charity and Community.
What is Reality Check TV ?
Reality Check TV is active in the community, giving back to artists, fans, neighborhoods and local media outlets.
Reality Check TV supports the San Francisco media community. RCTV was a member and supporter of Artist Television Access, the famous Valencia Street studio/showcase for emerging video producers. RCTV played an active role in the original Cable Access Channel 29 and Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) not only as members and producers but also teaching and encouraging other local video creators.
When San Francisco Cable Access was about to be shut down, RCTV was on the front lines covering the rallies, testifying in front of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, marching in City Hall and calling for community support on the air. With the support of RCTV and many others, Community Cable Access lives on - now housed at Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC).
Reality Check TV uses the power of media to raise money for charity and non profits. RCTV is a sponsor for the Annual Battle of the Bands, a local music showcase that raises money to support the Haight Ashbury Street Fair. RCTV has provided sponsorship and support for Guitars Not Guns, San Francisco Comedy Day, GarageAid and Lifebeat. RCTV supported cancer awareness and promoted raising funds with Thrash of the Titians (benefit show) and Breastfest (breast cancer awareness).
RCTV is a co sponsor of the annual Battle of the Bands held every year as a fundraiser for the Haight Ashbury Street Fair. A run of six concerts features 4-5 local bands who complete for a coveted spot playing live at the Haight Ashbury Street Fair. The Battle raises thousands of dollars each year, brings the local music community together and also helps support Lennon Music Studios.
The Reality Check TV team will never shy away from controversy. RCTV was the only independent media on the streets when protests of the first gulf war broke out. RCTV covered the Free The West Memphis 3 Benefit and supported the cause. RCTV was there when City College of San Francisco took to the streets to preserve an accessible college education. The show gives an uncensored voice to local politicians such as Senator Mark Leno, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and even former mayor Willie Brown.
Reality Check TV is also an agent of change. RCTV is a vigorous supporter of Free Speech. An ABC EVENING NEWS lead story ‘Cable Controversy’ featured RCTV and our battle with an East Bay cable provider over freedom of the press (RCTV prevailed). RCTV has reported on Greenfest, Harmony Festival, Deep Green, Bioneers, Earth day and other progressive events.
In the 2000s while conventional media was awash in tales of Silicon Valley success, Reality Check TV forged ahead to bring viewers the wild and creative side of the Bay Area and Beyond. Staying true to it’s roots, RCTV covered local bands and events while taking viewers on the road to AVN in Las Vegas, Rocklahoma in Oklahoma, Tattoo the Earth in New York and even to Dracula’s Castle in Transylvania.
RCTV is proud to note that the show has influenced many viewers to follow their dreams. Several locally produced cable TV shows cite Reality Check TV as their inspiration. An Emmy Award winning producer credits RCTV as an early influence. A local concert promoter says he got into the business because of all the great bands he saw on Reality Check. And recently, a metal head from Texas made the move to the Bay Area because he watched RCTV on the internet.
Building community is still at the forefront of Reality Check TV. With the advent of social media, streaming video and mobile access, RCTV is using the latest technology to showcase, connect and inspire the next wave of musicians, artists, video producers and creatives.
Join Reality Check TV and our thousands of fans, friends and guest stars as together we support creativity in the Bay Area and Beyond.
For more information on our community work or to team up with RCTV for your cause: