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EP.72 - FENTON BAILEY NOTES
Hello, Adam here. As I write these notes myself I thought I may as well start doing it in the first person rather than pretend I have someone to do it for me. It’s more or less a transcript of my spoken introduction, but here it is for your reference pleasure.
Podcast number 72 features a conversation with an important figure in my life, British born producer and director Fenton Bailey who, along with his partner Randy Barbato, set up the production company World Of Wonder.
In the early 90s I would stay up late and watch 'Manhattan Cable'. It was one of a number of World Of Wonder programmes that showcased and celebrated marginal culture, often with a trashy or camp aesthetic although from time to time they also produced shows like 'LA Stories' and Jon Ronson’s series 'The Secret Rulers Of The World' that had a more serious journalistic edge.
In an effort to tap into British homemade video culture Channel 4 commissioned World Of Wonder to make a show called ‘Takeover TV’ in 1995. I sent in some videos I’d made while at art school and ended up presenting several episodes. By that time Joe Cornish was also involved and we went on the make ‘The Adam & Joe Show’ for Channel 4 between 1997 and 2001, with much of it shot and edited in World Of Wonder’s office opposite Brixton tube in South London.
Although the bulk of World of Wonder’s output, which currently includes the phenomenally successful ‘Rupaul’s Drag Race’, is overseen from their offices in Los Angeles, Fenton and Randy met in New York in the early 80s. It was in NY that they formed their electronic dance duo, The Fabulous Pop Tarts, and in the course of gigging around New York’s clubs they met not only drag artist and musician RuPaul but the so called Club Kids, a group of outrageous party scenesters whose number included Michael Alig. Fenton & Randy had already begun filming the antics of the Club Kids when Michael Alig and his roommate Robert Riggs murdered fellow Club Kid Angel Melendez.
The story formed the basis of World of Wonder’s 1998 documentary ‘Party Monster - The Shockumentary’, and was further adapted as a 2003 feature film ‘Party Monster’ starring Macaulay Culkin and Seth Green.
My conversation with Fenton took place in November 2017 at World Of Wonder’s LA offices.
Thanks to Seamus Murphy Mitchell for production support.
Music & jingles by Adam Buxton
MANHATTAN CABLE (1991)
LA STORIES - THE RIOTS THAT SHOOK THE CITY (1992)
‘PARTY MONSTER - THE SHOCKUMENTARY’ (1988)
MICHAEL ALIG & THE CLUB KIDS ON ‘GERALDO’ (1990)
THE FABULOUS POP TARTZ - ‘NEW YORK CITY BEAT’ (1985)
ARMAND VAN HELDEN - NYC BEAT (2007)
RUPAUL - ‘SUPERMODEL OF THE WORLD’ MUSIC VIDEO (1993)
JON RONSON’S ‘SECRET RULERS OF THE WORLD - DAVID ICKE, THE LIZARDS AND THE JEWS’ (2001)
JON RONSON - STANLEY KUBRICK’S BOXES (TRAILER) (2008)
JON RONSON’S FOR THE LOVE OF - LUNAR CONSPIRACY
(Another ‘fun fact’ here: I made the titles for this series. Yes, those are my stubby fingers manipulating the Dymo Tape machine. And for the super Adam & Joe nerd, yes, it’s more or less the same as the David Fincher style titles I made for the Adam & Joe toy version of ‘Se7en’.)
ADAM & JOE’S ‘SE7EN DWARVES’
Sorry this comment isn't related to this episode but I don't like Twitter and this seemed the best way to make contact.
Basically, I've started from the beginning and have just recently listened to Ep 26 - Sally Wainwright.
You sounded so enthused about Happy Valley that it made me find it on Netflix.
'My wife' and I have just finished watching it and we thought it was great too.
So, thanks for the recommendation and keep up the good work, I really enjoy the podcasts.
( I recently bought some badges and Jingle boxes 1 and 2 from you - so I'm not a complete freeloading cheapskate, honest!).
Hey Adam. You probably have already come across it, but a lot of the early 80s New York scene (including appearances by Fenton and Randy, and an embryonic Ru Paul) was documented by videographer Nelson Sullivan. His collection of recordings can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/user/5ninthavenueproject
A note about Comments
Hello Podcats and Blog friends,
I wanted to let you know that comments have been disabled on the blog and the app for the time being. This is not because of anyone posting anything abusive or anything like that, but just because I seldom get round to moderating the stuff that comes in as promptly as I should, and rather than irritate people who don’t understand why their comment hasn’t been posted, I think it’s easier if I just switch them off. Sorry about that, but time is scarce and I’m disappointed to discover I can’t do everything! And if you’re one of the people who submitted a comment and it hasn’t been posted - sincere apologies.