REALITY CHECK by Ted Sallis
It all started in January of '91 when creator Huge and original host Moca D. Lite decided to sling on a camera and enter a video glimpse into the San Francisco underground.
Now nearly a decade later, Reality Check has taken us through a Night Gallery tour of the rock world's culture as well as the music itself. Being host to this menagerie is Danny Shipman who joined in 1993 as an interviewer/host and moved on to be the most important link in production and editing of the show.
Also on hand are Ace and Dragon Dave, who's veins have tapped the Reality Check radio program and web site.
They've also broken Bay boundaries by venturing towards the wild life in Las Vegas and 'behind the business' approach of Foundations Forum and NAMM shows. Every major U.S. city has had local cable rock and roll video shows. They come and go mostly go, but what separates Reality Check from these is the heart and core of the show itself they care about the scene! That, and they do the show for the viewers, not themselves.
With so many clubs closing down over the years it's been hard for bands to get any kind of an audience, yet Reality Check has had more bands showcased than any club will over the next year. This may be why Reality Check has earned a 1997 Cable Access Award for "Best Music and Variety Show", and the 1998 "Best Rock and Roll Video Show Award". In 1999 they earned New York Festival's Award Music Video.
A great thing about the show it its unpredictability -you just don't know what to expect. One episode can feature coverage of a comic book convention, then the next will feature the "coverage" of Bunny Ranch employees being taken off! Yes "uncensored and outrageous" is the show motto! As well as local celebrities, the show has had an A to Z list of the most famous celebrities in every form of business you can think of. You can access this impressive list and see video bits at www.realitychecktv.com.
It's because of this diversity that we should tune in on Saturday nights (are you doing anything different?). Reality Check Radio features the best in local and national underground bands and can be tuned in on Tuesday nights from 10pm 'til 12am. Reality Check TV is on every Saturday night on channel 29, in San Francisco at 11:30pm.
What Co-Founder Hugh has to say about Reality Check:
Reality Check has meant the same thing to me ever since I created it back in1991. It is a television show that takes the viewer on an adventure into a world that they may not know exists. The goal is to convince the viewer to become part of the adventure. Reality Check takes you into the world of unusual entertainment where you meet the people who create the scene. You travel to real parties, get backstage at rock shows and travel to bizarre artistic events.
Basically, it's all the stuff I like to do.
Reality Check is basically a journey into the unknown. When I go out with Danny, Ace and Dave on a Reality Check adventure, never know how the evening will end up. The interview planned may not happen, a national celebrity may show up by surprise, we may get dragged to a totally different party, or midgets could kidnap Danny. It's never a dull moment.
I have always been attracted to art that pushes creativity to the limits, yet retains a sense of humor. I enjoy watching Reality Check myself because ... it's funny! The event Reality Check covers are wild and wacky, but I've found the creators of the underground scene are a very intelligent and dedicated group. It takes a lot of time and effort to pull off some of the stuff we've seen. Reality Check is my way of showing my appreciation of cutting edge art and music by bringing the underground scene to a wider audience. For instance, if someone sees a Reality Check feature on a band and that feature makes the viewer go out to see that band the next weekend, I have accomplished my goal.
The celebrity interviews are another essential part of my Reality Check experience. Who can deny the rush of hanging out with heroes like Joey Ramone, John Lydon, Joan Jett or Lemmy? But the real rush is the interview. The Reality Check approach is: we are folks in the scene just hanging out with other folks in the scene. We always treat 'stars' for what they really are: hard working, dedicated artists. To my continued amazement, Ace, Danny and Dave usually know the celebrity personally. The results have been very rewarding. Our interviews are unlike any other TV show interviews I've ever seen!
Reality Check has also been rewarding to me as an Independent video producer. Being one of the first shows to actually broadcast with Hi8 video, I used to get a lot of disrespect showing up with my little camera. But, I was capturing moments you could not get with a big Beta cam camera rig filled with intimidating lights and boom microphones. Now, of course, full-length feature films are shot with Hi8 and mini digital cameras. Independent shows like ours proved that you do not need millions of dollars in equipment to produce quality popular entertainment.
We are currently working on creating a syndicated version of Reality Check. It's our humble way of bringing our special of madness to the world. If Reality Check stays local at least I have over 200 episodes of strange antics for my own kids to watch.
A Few Words from Danny:
I always knew my knowledge of the obscure - bands, trivia, wrestling and music - would come into use for something someday! With Reality Check, I've been able to make the TV show I've most wanted to see. Other programming like MTV and such never gave any coverage to the bands or artist I'd want to see, or have any real knowledge of whom they were interviewing.
I'm very influenced by fanzines. Fanzines were my turn-on to the underground music scene. As Editor & Producer, I try to give our show a fanzine look. We mainly cover the metal, rock, and punk scene, ranging from nationally known bands like Motorhead, Nashville Pussy, the Misfits, to local bands like Bite, Swarm, and The Loudmouths.
We're diverse enough to have cult figures like Elvira, Al “Grandpa Munster” Lewis, or Julie Strain, to covering events like Incredibly Strange Wrestling or the Exotic Erotic Ball. I have dedicated myself to giving our viewers the most entertaining show possible. It's a good episode when people say, “Is over already?” You'd be hard pressed to find many shows in the “public access” field that have accomplished what we have. Even if we never get to a level of doing this as a career, I'm very proud of what we've done. If it ever ends, we had a good time while we were here.
A Few More Words from Ace:
Being part of Reality Check has many wonderful aspects. First, we bring the viewers a wealth of unusual and interesting artists, bands, dubs, events and personalities/celebrities for their perusal. It's done in a style that has intimacy and immediacy, without the annoying smarminess and sometimes-outright condescension that many other programs have.
Our approach is from the fans perspective, since we are fans of what is presented, which our viewers appreciate. I get to have fun with 3 other guys who bring passion and a commitment to the show and the viewers.
Plus, we get to do things, go places, meet people, interview performers (many of whom are heroes of ours), drink booze and ogle tons of hot chicks! And our fans love us for it! And that's the best part of all-as time goes on, we get to meet more of our fans, who tell us how much they dig the show. Nothing tops that part. And it helps inspire us to continue to bring the viewers more cool stuff to watch.
Thank you for watching- and remember, there's more yet to come. Oh, and let's not forget our Radio Show listeners over in Oakland. We'll be doing more cool stuff as time goes on there as well!
The Last Word from Dave:
I joined Reality Check at the perfect time. Although they had already established their credibility within the music industry, and they had built a strong fan base, they still had yet to reach the next level of success. This was surprising to me considering the caliber of Rock stars that have been on the show like Johnny Rotten (Sex Pistols), Joey Ramone, and Gene Simmons (KISS), just to name a few.
When I expressed my interest in being a permanent member of the show, I knew hat I had to bring something original and new Reality Check before hadn't explored that. Since I had friends in the Adult Entertainment Industry, I knew that bringing these two worlds together would definitely create a buzz among our fans, and it worked!
I'm proud to know that some of the concepts and ideas for shows I've given have turned out to be some of the most popular and most talked about shows we've ever broadcast. These include the Adult Video Convention from Las Vegas, Erotica 2000, The AVN Awards Show (also from Las Vegas), and my famous trip to the Moonlight Bunny Ranch live from Carson City, NV.
Being a part of Reality Check has been amazing to me, not only do I get to check out great rock and roll shows, but I also get to talk to some of the most beautiful women in the Adult Video Industry or anywhere else, for that matter (not a bad gig at all!).
Along the way I've gained some long lasting friendships with some incredible people like Dennis Hof of the world famous Moonlight Bunny Ranch, Harley Hall of The New Century Theater, and XXX stars Teri Weigel, Nina Hartley, and Anita Cannibal, just to name a few. When all is said and done, the one thing that will always bring me satisfaction is when our fans stop us on tile street, or calls the hotline to let us know that our show “always kicks major ass,” and that we are “the bad boys of Cable Access Television.”