Writer and Renaissance Man Glenn O'Brien on TV Party

Photography by Rachel Chandler

At the sad news of his passing, we remember the inimitable Glenn O'Brien's tribute to his infamous 80s TV show, which hosted the likes of Bowie and Basquiat

TV Party was pretty much impromptu and improvised, because if you have a lot of entertaining people you just let them do what they do. I liked that TV Party was really unstructured and almost like a real party. It was just real conversation, people doing crazy things, and somebody playing a song. Sometimes people came with a bit of an attitude and usually there was some kind of chemical imbalance to blame. There were a few instances where we had to pretend that the show was over to get someone to leave. A friend of Jean-Michel Basquiat graffitied the studio, which I wound up having to pay for. We didn’t do a lot of planning. We’d just invite people to meet at the bar across the street and maybe loosely run through a plan. But once a party starts, you don’t want to micromanage it. You’ve got to let it go – and make sure there’s ice.”

New York writer Glenn O’Brien joined the editorial team of Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine in 1970, spending his early 20s soaking up the scene at The Factory and getting to know its shifting cast of luminaries. Eight years later, with Blondie guitarist Chris Stein, he produced and co-hosted the now infamous public-access show TV Party, a lo-fi, underground version of Saturday Night Live, whose guests ranged from David Bowie to a little-known graffiti artist named Jean-Michel Basquiat. The show ran for four jubilant years, with pre-party sessions at a local working-class boozer, afterparties at the Mudd Club, and live studio shenanigans in between.

This article originally appeared in AnOther Magazine S/S16.

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