Reality Check TV, San Francisco's award winning video journal of underground culture, is the type of program to watch when the kiddies are asleep. “Make sure the tots are in bed, so they won't see the boobies, “laughs Edward “ace” Annese, Reality Check TV producer/promoter and host. So if you are a voyeur (and who amongst us isn't, right?) and you dig rock and roll and plain ol' rowdiness, you'll love Reality Check TV.
Reality Check TV provides quite a service and they've done so for the past decade. What the hell is that service, you ask? Well check it out, if you're way too lazy to go out and experience life in the Bay Area (and beyond) for your damn self, no worries mate, the Reality Check guys, Hugh “Huge” Mackenzie, the show's executive producer, editor, host D-D-Danny Shipman, host Dave Dragon and of course, Ace, have a ton of fun experiencing life for you. That's right, the Reality Check TV guys brave all the elements to bring you, the video viewer, award winning, controversial entertainment.
Explains Ace, “We're big on giving female artists their due. We always push girl bands that rock (no wussy Lilith Fair drivel) and women performers in all arts and entertainment, including Pro Wrestling. It gives the show balance and also proves that we're really not sexist, just more in favor of women being free and proud of their sex and sensuality ... like in Europe! “
Reality Check TV isn't just a mere cable access show. The creators have been expanding and getting in to other video gigs as well. With their RC Media division the boys have began collaborating with stars rather than just exposing them. Century Media, the label behind Oakland's very own Skinlab, approached Reality Check TV with a challenge: Give us a low budget music video that will stand up next to a million dollar MTV video. After a couple days of shooting Skinlab live and a few weeks of editing magic, the video for the song “Know Your Enemies” was a smash hit. It seems that the big boys and the fans dug RC Media's Lo-Fi video style. As a result, The Box, a cable music video show, listed “Know Your Enemies” as the most requested music video for three weeks with over 6,000 viewer requests. MTV Europe also picked up the video as did Headbangers Ball Australia. The video was shown on many other music video programs around the globe. Skinlab also included the video on their audio disk as a digital movie and streamed it on a bunch of fan websites. The video's pioneering scratchy Lo·Fi look and the use of black and white strobe images caught the eyes of the people over at the JOEY awards, which nominated the video for an award.
Other bands have also exploited Reality Check TV Footage for their own benefit. Count Dante and the Black Dragon Fighting Society commissioned Reality Check TV to create a short demo of their live act, which resulted in a boost in bookings. Simon Stinger, a theatrical rock band sponsored by Jagermiester, booked Reality Check TV to shoot a live performance and edit it together with older shows to create a College Circuit promotional video. Also, be on the lookout for a Testament enhanced CO for Japan and some taped acceptance speeches for High Times Magazine. Yep, those lucky dogs got to checkout the “Stony Awards” and hang back with the Black Crows.
They've picked up a few deserving awards along the way, also. Back in '97 and '98 Reality Check TV won “Best Rock and Roll Video Show” a Cable Access Award. The SF Bay Guardian hooked them up with a “Best of the Bay” award for Best Website for a Television Show” and back in '97 the Bay Guardian also crowned Reality Check TV as Best Cable Rock and Roll show. “We're in half a million Bay-Area homes ... all the hard work has paid off, now people are starting to call us to be on the show.”
Despite the entire accolade, somehow Reality Check TV pissed-off several right –wing Christian Fundamentalists. Yep, the bad boys of cable access made headlines when unsuspecting Suzie Hanson of Walnut Creek caught one of their eye-opening episodes. She was so appalled by what she saw, the nudity, the revelry and the rock and roll that she called AT&T and talked some shit. “We want to thank her immensely,” said Ace. “She helped raise the profile of the show. I'd love to send her a dozen roses.” In fact, she and several other anti-first amendment Suzy Creamcheses must have created quite a tizzy for poor ol' AT&T.
And then ABC News got involved. In Mid-December Reality Check was on Channel 7's, nightly news along with Hanson, the complainer. ABC showed some footage from past shows along with some interview clips and some words of Wisdom from Dragon Dave. All resulting in a slap on the wrist, a short Suspension and, you guessed it, tons of valuable free publicity!
But the show isn't all-bad. Even though It Is banned in SIX cities; you might actually learn something. Where else are you go to get business advice from Kiss' Gene Simmons, or hear about Todd Rundgren's move to Hawaii. The show educated the masses when sixties icon and concert promoter, Chet Helms, reminisced on camera about hippies, and filmmaker Russ Meyer talked about his childhood. In fact. Realty Check TV episodes are like half-hour “mini documentaries”.
Why wouldn't you want to document alternative celebrities, cutting edge performances and the strangest night dubs?
These guys go out to shows or events or festivals or conventions or wherever and document it all. They get back stage somehow and pull off great interviews and grab all the candid camera action they can. “We've finagled, connived and used the force,” admits Ace about getting back stage. “And if that didn't work, we snuck in. “ So if you want to see for yourself, the warts in Lemmy's (of Moorhead) face, down some Crown Royal with Dimebag Darrel, look down Elvira's top or congratulate Porn Star Ron Jeremy, you can! Well, I guess you can't, but Ace, Huge and the rest of the crew have access to do just that and they get to video tape it all, too.
Reality Check TV has checked out everyone from Kiss and Sabbath to Gwar and the Genitorturers. Of course they've exposed national acts like Korn, the Donnas, Machine Head, American Heartbreak and Papa Roach all before they got too big for their britches as well. They've infiltrated the Howard Stem show, they've hung out with Playboy Playmates Petra, Kerri Kendall and Rebecca Ferratti (to name but a few), and they've even hung out with all our favorite porn stars. “The cool thing about Reality Check TV,” says Ace, “is that we approach all this from a fan's perspective. We don't ask lame existential questions ... we ask real questions, what the video viewers want to know.
Some of their other past interviewees include such luminary figures as Cheech Marin, John Waters (Director of “Hairspray”, “Serial Mom” and “Pecker”) and AI “Grandpa Munster” Lewis. Stars like Burt Young (“Paulie” in those Rocky films), and Charo (“Coochie-Coochie”) have also appeared. And you can catch filmmaker/author Clive Barker, on an upcoming episode.
“We're in half a million Bay-Area homes ... All the hard work has paid off, now people are starting to call us to be on the show.”