“Postmodern psychedelic deconstructionists…[and] auteurs of the last frontier of American free expression.” – LA Weekly
“The Threee Geniuses is an improvised mish mash of music and colorful imagery that takes the limited technology of their public access studio and twists it into a throbbing explosion of visual stimulation.” – Inside Pulse
“I grew up watching television and, to this day, I’m still addicted. The Threee Geniuses is very, very underground and happening TV, and I’m glad this is finally coming out on DVD. Now I can finally watch it any time that I choose.” – Rodney “Rodney on the ROQ” Bingenheimer, KROQ-FM
“The Threee Geniuses is the most twisted, perverse and insane TV show I’ve ever seen. They’re totally nuts! When I’m a guest on the show or even just watching it, I feel like I’ve taken a brand new drug or combo of drugs that doesn’t even fucking exist. At least that’s what I think, and my opinion is all that matters, kiddies.” – Andy Dick
“I love this show! Something for everyone. Threee Geniuses is fun for the whole family!” – Mike White, screenwriter of School of Rock, Chuck and Buck, and The Good Girl
“I’m not in harmony with everything that’s on the Threee Geniuses. They’re just throwing things together. I told them if they would focus their energy on doing a show that was saying something positive, they would have something.” – David Nkrumah Liebe Unger Hart, producer of “The Junior Christian Science Bible Lessons Show” and star of “The Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!”
“The Threee Geniuses are so far ahead of their time that it will take 500 years before human beings begin to truly understand the show—and then it may be too late!” – Don Perteller
AS THE GERM TURNS (from the January 14, 2000 L.A. Weekly)
PUBLIC ACCESS HOLLYWOOD - INSIDE PULSE
It all started in the mid-70s, when Chicago-born puppeteer David Hart left the chilly Midwest and headed West to take a shot at becoming an actor. Due to bit parts on Chico and the Man and the Richard Pryor vehicle Brewster’s Millions, Hart thought he was destined to become the next big star in Los Angeles. Sadly, like many before him, Hart struggled to find any follow up roles and soon he was forced to take a more extreme approach to making his name.
Hart — who also goes by David Nkrumah Liebe Hart, David King Liebe Hart, and David Unger Hart — decided to fall back on his puppeteering and started his own Christian Science children’s show on a local public access station. Raised as a Christian Scientist from an early age, it was Hart’s personal experiences with racism from his fellow worshippers that drove him to succeed as a religious entertainer.
Using Jim Henson as direct inspiration (he often claims that Henson was his Sunday School teacher), Hart built his show around distinct characters and sang his own hymns that fit the message of each show. Starting in 1988 with the assistance of his ex-wife, Hart set his program up like a variety show, offering a talk show format in which various local guests could come in and perform. If David Hart’s story was only so simple, he would probably be a respected regional children’s entertainer, if not a minor national religious figure. But instead he conceived the most baffling kid’s program ever produced, The Junior Christian Science Bible Lesson Show, a weekly dose of outrageous brilliance fueled by Hart’s sincere (and almost tragic) will to succeed.
Hart calls upon a menagerie of bizarre puppets to deliver his message, including Chip the Black Boy, Teddie Eddie and Doug the Dog. These aren’t so much different characters as they are various sides of Hart’s complex personality, offering a cherished peek into the mind of Hollywood’s strangest outcast. Hart’s religious philosophies have been hopelessly twisted by UFO encounters, a painful divorce, and loneliness, which adds a dimension to his show that no other public access program could ever hope to achieve. Add a heaping helping of monotonous (and lengthy) self-penned hymns and a parade of whacked out local celebrity guests and you’ve got the most bizarre show
Tape traders flipped out over Hart when he was first discovered, and soon his programs were a hot commodity among the seekers of the bizarre. The late, lamented Melbaworld website offered a fantastic tape with episodes of The Junior Christian Science Bible Lesson Showpaired with other religious TV oddities like Captain Hook andBibleman, while the twisted minds behind the Lost and Found DVD series included Hart on the second edition of their series.
DEATH TO SATELLITE DISHES!
While many a young collector took great joy in showing their Hart tapes to unsuspecting friends, one man took this fascination further: director Will Peragine. Peragine is the director of Public Access Hollywood, a hypnotic look into the strange world of Los Angeles’s many public access celebrities. While many Hart fans still take a condescending view of his show, Peragine saw him and his fellow minor TV stars as an unfairly ignored cornerstone of L.A. entertainment, and saw fit to tell their story in a genuinely touching way.
Fittingly, Peragine’s camera never feels intrusive when following these Hollyweird types. Almost all are born performers, and their personalities bubble over into their every day life as well. No example is more telling than Dan K-pelovitz and Giddle Partridge, a real life couple whose obsession with both psychedelia and TV has manifested itself into a California-based cult in which members of the Partridge Family are used as deities. Their show, The Threee Geniuses, is an improvised mish mash of music and colorful imagery that takes the limited technology of their public access studio and twists it into a throbbing explosion of visual stimulation.
A lesser filmmaker could have easily made K-pelovitz and Giddle seem like a pathetic joke, but Peragine paints the pair as the Sonic Youth of television, passionate defenders of low tech entertainment that are knowingly on the fringe and loving it. K-pelovitz and Giddle are so entranced by the public access scene that they even make frequent appearances on Hart’s show, often as modest Bible verse readers (although K-pelovitz has been known to break out his guitar at hilariously inappropriate moments). In turn, Hart appreciates the help and makes his own appearance on The Threee Geniuses, although he mostly just chastises Giddle and K-pelovitz for their sinful ways.
While Hart may be the most interesting character in Peragine’s documentary, the charming Francine Dancer is the film’s emotional core. Francine, a former bikini dancer who now finds herself homeless and in a wheelchair, has the number one public access show in Los Angeles. While an unspecified back problem keeps her from walking, every Friday night she dresses up in skimpy outfits and climbs out of her wheelchair for a half hour of live televised go-go dancing. Francine is over the average age and weight of most sultry bikini dancers, and she’s well aware of it, but she knows that she fulfills a strange niche and cheerfully obliges without a word of complaint.
As Peragine follows her from the doorway in which she sleeps to the television studio, he finds plenty of Francine fans along the way, most of whom can’t believe she’s in a wheelchair. In his many conversations with her, Peragine reveals a kind and lovely woman who doesn’t pretend to understand her success, even if it doesn’t translate into a career. Her fellow public access stars adore her and often let her sleep at their apartments, which transitions nicely into a birthday party scene where everyone from the studio treats Francine to a nice dinner. It becomes obvious that they really are friends outside of the studio, and seeing the way they interact is genuinely touching.
Of course, Public Access Hollywood isn’t just about these three shows. Call in shows like Michael Devine’s Hollywood and Devine and The Jim Berry Show, which are shot in the same studio, are given plenty of time as well. While Berry and Devine are certainly odd, they don’t quite have the zest of the documentary’s other subjects, leaving them as somewhat secondary characters. Neither are unlikable, which can’t be said for the obnoxious Zuma Dogg Show, a headache inducingAli G rip off in which a beach bum talking in a fake voice runs around with a camcorder and bothers people.
The only show that feels short changed is the intriguing Dr. Susan Block Show, which is barely featured despite being in the middle of a publicized controversy in which a conservative cable company owner tried to stop the show from being aired. Certainly more time could have been spent on the situation, but Peragine chooses to briefly cover the incident before moving on to other things.
With this minor complaint aside, Public Access Hollywood is still a fun and interesting look into downtown Hollyweird. From David Hart’s twisted religious puppet show to the Threee Geniuses’ psychotic TV freak out, there’s a lot to discover here for cult film enthusiasts. While there isn’t necessarily an easy way to get the film right now if you don’t live in L.A.
DREAMING OF A DAY-GLO XMAS: DOUG HARVEY'S MOSTLY PSYCHEDELIC SHOPPING LIST by Doug Harvey (published: December 24, 2009 in the LA Weekly)
I’ve been looking around at all these Top 10 Art Books of 2009 lists, and geez, it’s no wonder everyone thinks art is so boring and stuffy. The upside is that if some rich, misguided relative actually buys you the $600 six-volume edition of Van Gogh’s complete letters the cognoscenti are drooling over, you can return it and buy everything on my list, with enough left over for a bag of weed and six hours of Thai massage.
Speaking of a bag of weed, those who routinely flipped by their L.A. public-access cable channel between 1996 and the untimely demise of the medium in January of this year at some point probably stumbled incredulously upon The Threee Geniuses, a transcendently self-indulgent orgy of cheap video wipes, stroboscopic edits, trashy glam psychedelia and incoherent studio actions, all mashed up in real time, usually to the equally fragmentary soundscapes created by the Venemous Invisible Amanda, aka Don Bolles. Augmenting the titular genii (Dan K-pelovitz, Jon Shere and Tim “Mr. X” Wilson) were an array of talents ranging from cable-access luminaries like Francine Dancer and David Liebe Hart to noted schizophrenic street people Andy Dick and Ariel Pink. Titled The Re-Death of Psychedelia (3geniuses.com) the 3Gs’ new compilation DVD proves the show was as physically difficult to watch as it always seemed, and perhaps the most challenging and inventive structuralist video art of the new millennium. If it ain’t headache-, nausea- and seizure-inducing, it ain’t avant-garde!
Andy Kaufman was only incidentally a professional comedian, though the exact nature of his primary vocation is hard to pin down. I used to consider him in a similar light as the 3Gs — a great performance artist whose work was ignored by the Art World because it frequently took place on TV — but now I tend to think of him as more a sort of confrontational philosopher along the lines of Diogenes the Cynic, using his body and personality as mutable props to instruct the public in the flimsiness of socially constructed realities.....(To read the rest of this article clickhere.
PUBLIC ACCESS LIVES! (ON DVD): ONE OF 'THE THREEE GENIUSESS TALKS THE RE-DEATH OF PSYCHEDELIA by Lina Lecaro (published: Fri., Nov. 13 2009 @ 10:30AM at LA Weekly.com)
Taking LSD over seven times may or may not make you legally insane (if the myth were true, some of us here at West Coast Sound might have just missed the loony bin), but we can assure you, watching the psycho-delic circus known as The Threee Geniuses as many times is likely to drive you nuts, at least temporarily.
The visually demented Los Angeles public access cable TV show -which celebrates the release of a new Best Of DVD, "The Re-Death of Psychedelia," this Sunday with an all-star in-the-flesh musical freak-fest at the Silent Movie Theatre- was seemingly created for the sole purpose of pushing the boundaries of taste, logic and FCC laws. It was conceived, shot, mixed and edited on the spot, in "real-time," so anything could and often did happen. This clip of Kitten Sparkles aka Germs' drummer Don Bolles as "the pyschedelic monster" is one of the creepier examples.
Don Bolles, Francine Dancer, Go-Go Giddle Partridge and Kim Fowley will be performing at the release party in front of a video presentation. Sun., Nov. 15, 8 p.m.; $12, free for Cinefamily members. At the Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave. See Cinefamily's website or the 3 Geniuses site for more info.
(Interview with Dan K-pelovitz, one of the Geniuses responsible for this creature, after the jump.)
We've always been intrigued by the Technicolor chaos that seemed to surround one of the geniuses, Dan K-pelovitz, and his lovely wife Giddle Partridge (a frequent show star). Both have become pals over the years. But we never knew a lot about the 3-G project, and some of the warped imagery just made our head hurt. Was there any semblance of method to the madness and absurdity or was the show truly and simply the deranged experimental free-for-all it appeared when we'd come upon it while channel-surfing at night, drunk and desperate for distraction? Mr. K, who created the show along with fellow geniuses (artists/musicians/weirdos Jon Shere and Tim "Mr. X" Wilson), attempts to shed some light on the mindfuckery.
How and why did this bizarre broadcast come to be?We started in 1996 and basically continued sporadically until public access was killed off in Los Angeles. We were inspired by Francine Dancer's dancing show and David Nkrumah Unger Liebe Hart's Christian Science puppet show, both also on public access TV. They both later became guests of our show and vice versa. We had no concept of what we were going to do, nor did we even have a name for the show until a second before airtime when the technician needed a name to type into the character generator. We signed up to do two shows in one day, and after the first show, the cable company employees couldn't believe that we still wanted to shoot another. They were completely confused by what we had done.
What was your relationship like with the various cable companies who tramsmitted the show over the years?
Most of them seemed to hate it because they couldn't understand it. We would come in to the studio with no plan whatsoever, and then 30 minutes we had, what we believed anyway, was a masterpiece. I mean, in Hollywood, people pay tens of millions of dollars to make a film that is usually less entertaining and of lower artistic quality than an episode of the Threee Geniuses, which was made for free--unless you count the $10 spent on the U-matic ¾-inch video tape. Sometimes they would purposely try to mess up our shows, writing snide comments with the character generator. We were also banned from the studio for six months once because some guests of our show ended up pepper-spraying each other in the studio. The entire time this was all happening, the cable companies were desperately trying to get rid of public access because they didn't want to pay for it. Public access television was this magical thing that only happened because most cable stations were forced to have it by the cities that gave them their local monopolies. And most of these deals were made in the late '60s and early '70s when cities (and even cable companies) were more into promoting channels of free expression than they are today. And finally, the cable companies won, and there is no public access in Los Angeles anymore.
Tell me about the technical aspects. What kinds of boundaries were you trying to push visually or conceptually?
We would go into the studio and just go crazy on all the buttons, mixing in videos, and cutting the show as quickly as our fingers could move. And we didn't care if the colors exceeded FCC allowances, so that they could theoretically bleed into other channels, or if the show just became a series of glitches or octuple exposures. We would make the cameras do all kinds of crazy things too, so the entire picture seemed to be warping uncontrollably. Then Don Bolles joined our show and did much of the sound. He would run everything through these outdated reel-to-reel tape machines so that the entire show would often descend into infinite echo.
Who were the biggest, favorite stars/characters seen on the show?
Our biggest star was Stangelyne. He was an extremely glamorous transvestite bodybuilder with Tourette's Syndrome. The LA Weekly once described him as a cross between the Terminator and Marilyn Monroe. I even wrote an article about him for Bizarre Magazine, which they loved and they ran, and then months later, accused me of making up the whole thing. That's how mind blowing Stan was. Unfortunately, he was murdered in a bizarre love triangle. We probably should have had the decency to stop doing the show then, just like Led Zeppelin disbanded after John Bonham died. The DVD is very much a tribute to Stan's genius, containing many of his greatest television moments. We had a bunch of other great people on the show. Go-Go Giddle was on one of our very early shows and then when she moved to Hollywood, she became one of the main stars along with Stangelyne. We had Andy Dick on a couple of shows. We've had the late Gidget Gein, the Goddess Bunny, the Bunny Boy, Karen Centerfold, Imaginary Bear, Bear, Zolar X--basically almost all of the most intense people in Hollywood have been on the show at one time or another.
What about Threee Geniuses highlights? Are these represented on the DVD?
We're kind of like Woody Allen, in that a lot of people prefer our early funny shows. But I like the later episodes that were totally mind-bending. I like the moments where the cutting is so rapid that peoples faces are melting into each other and into inanimate objects and you can't even tell what you are seeing, but all you know is that what you are seeing is psychedelically beautiful and are images that have never before been seen on television--or even ever before existed. You really have to watch the shows about 100 times before you see everything, and even then, you probably will have missed a lot. I also like it when the equipment malfunctions in such a perfect way to create these magical moiré patterns or trails. I also like the content of the dialogue on the show. Some of the conversations captured on the show, say, between Giddle and Stan are some of the most unusual conversations ever committed to tape--although at times they can be difficult to decipher with all of the tape echo going on. This DVD is pretty much representative of the psychedelic era of the series, hence the name, "The Re-Death of Psychedelia." Our next DVD might be of the early funny shows, which were more like twisted talk shows.
The soundtracks driving the visuals, it seems, consisted of eerie noise and feedback. Were there often real musical components?
We would have bands on sometimes, but they were often under the misunderstanding that we would have them perform their songs on the show. Instead, it inevitably would turn into a psychedelic free-for-all with everyone grabbing different instruments all run through Don's machinery anyhow. We had Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson of Throbbing Gristle and Alex Haacke of Einsturzende Neubauten on different shows. The Centimeters were on the show. The Bibs were the ones who maced each other. Howie Pyro has been on the show. He was amazing on it, and his episodes are represented on the DVD. When Ariel Pink was 19 years old, he stopped me and Jon Shere on the street because he recognized us from the show. He said it was his favorite show and that he would tape it and watch the episodes over and over again. So we let him on the next shows we did, and we even shot some music videos for him, one of which is a bonus track on the DVD.
Any future plans for the show?
We might take the show on the road, since public access is dead in L.A. anyway. We're, of course, doing the show Sunday at the Silent Movie Theater, and we were just part of the Downtown Los Angeles Film Festival, where we performed at the AT&T Center. And some art galleries have contacted us, so we might do installations and things like that. If the DVD is a success--or if it at least breaks even--we will do other DVDs. We might do one that consists of the best one minute of each of the nearly 200 shows. But just like when we're taping the show, we usually don't know what we are going to do until we are doing it. (This interview originally appeared here.)
MATERIALISTIC FETISISM RECONSIDERED
(A last-minute gift-giving guide)
Published on December 23rd, 2004
If you must watch TV, please watch cable access. If you don’t get cable access, go to www.publicaccesshollywood.com and order a $12 postage-paid copy of this year’s most underappreciated documentary, Public Access Hollywood, featuring local legend Francine Dancer (performing her should-be hit Pizza Box), Christian Scientific Ventriloquist David Hart, postmodern psychedelic deconstructionists the Three Geniuses and other auteurs of the last frontier of American free expression.