Ten Years of PopCult

Today is the tenth anniversary of The PopCult Blog, written by Rudy Panucci. Every hour, on the hour(sort of), we’re going to bring you one of our favorite posts from the preceding decade. Some are significant “firsts,” while others are deeply touching or overwhelmingly goofy. We’ll leave it to you to figure out which is which.

An hour ago I posted my reaction to being featured in Sandy Wells “Innerviews” column. The reason for that was that we had episode 100 coming up. Here it is with some wordy damn production notes.

RFC 100 from Rudy Panucci on Vimeo.

Above you see the epic milestone 100th episode of Radio Free Charleston, “M.C. Escher Shirt.” I wanted to give you guys a normal show, but still a special one. I think we did a pretty good job. It’s our longest show, packed with great music, animation and short films, but we didn’t resort to using Zombies, toupees or any other gimmicks.

Our musical guests are The Hellblinki Sextet, The Nanker Phelge, Eva Elution and Jeff Ellis. The animation this time is by me, with music by David Synn. We’ve got a trailer for the new Kitty Killton short, plus promo clips for two upcoming Kanawha Players shows. RFC Big Shot Frank Panucci is represented by a batch of new interstitials, including the touching “Stuffed Potatoes” spot.

Our host segments were shot at Top O’ Rock, the architectural masterpiece built by Henry Eldon. I want to thank The Elden Family, Jon Cavendish and Realcorp Inc. and Thomas W. Sayre of KVLive.net for making this location available to us. It is a fantastic work of art. You can definitely see the angels in the architecture.

Speaking of angels, my sidekick showgirl for our big C-Note show is Chelsea Cook, also known as Kitty Killton, also known as Celeste The Zombie Supermodel and also known as “The Kid,” my imaginary daughter. It’s always a kick to work with Chelsea and I’ll come up with any excuse imaginable to get her on camera with me.

We also welcome a new crew member to Radio Free Charleston with this huge episode: Steven Allen Adams, a man who can strike fear into the hearts of Statehouse Reporters, moved to Charleston from Parkersburg earlier this year to cover the Legislature for WV Watchdog.org, and he’s become an invaluable addition to the RFC team. This is the first show that Steve’s work has appeared on, but he jumped into the mix in a big way, running camera for all four musical acts and on the host segments, too.

The show kicks off with a trailer for “Hair Rage,” the latest Kitty Killton epic, which you can see in its uncensored entirety right here. Kitty is the creation of Scotty Elkins, embodied by our own Chelsea Cook, and this time aided by Anna Rexia, a working girl and Perry the Perv. Scotty is Charleston’s heir to the Trashy Throne of John Waters, and RFC is glad to egg him on.

Chelsea first appeared in the RFC credits back on episode 24, as our “Official Barista.”

She turned up on camera for the first time in episode 28, and showed up in costume as a Geisha on episode 29. The first RFC appearance by Scotty Elkins’ Kitty Killton was back on our big 50th episode.

The Hellblinki Sextet usher in the music for our gala. We recorded them a few weeks ago at The Empty Glass. The song they perform for us is “Sanjule’s Junk,” which is about their friend Sanjule, who can swing around bricks and chains…..which are attached to his…..

Anyway, this song stuck in our heads. Melanie Larch, our resident diva and RFC Big Shot, is still walking around singing the “wah wah” refrain after running camera on the shoot.

Hellblinki first appeared on Radio Free Charleston in August 2008, on episode 49. You know we’re going to have them back whenever possible.

Up next we have the first of two promotional clips for upcoming Kanawha Players shows (that ought to put the lie to any nonsense about me carrying on a vendetta against KP). “The Complete Works Of William Shakespeare (abridged)” will happen the first two weekends in June. This production, directed by Tara Phares Pauley, stars three of The No Pants Players, Kevin Pauley, Jeff Bukovinsky and Brian Roller.

The No Pants Players have been part of RFC since the very first episode. Kevin Pauley was on our first show, while Jeff and Brian first turned up on episode 6.We’ve had the entire troupe on several times, most notably helping out with last year’s Halloween special.

We caught an earlier production of this show, directed by Tara, and starring Kevin with Jason Dunbar and Duncan Stokes of the NPP a few years ago, and it is a real gut-buster.

The Nanker Phelge is a virtual RFC supergroup. Stephen Beckner appeared on our second episode as a solo performer, and his brother, Mark, first showed up in a vintage clip of Go Van Gogh in episode 14. Last May was “Mark Beckner Month” on RFC as we showed clips of Mark solo and in Go Van Gogh and Hitchcock Circus. Casi Null has appeared on RFC as a member of The Clementines and Punk Jazz, and as a solo performer. Her first appearance was on episode 43. On episode 46 you can hear her song, “Blue Haze.” Dave Roberts has been on RFC 95 with his other band, Eva Elution, who also appear on this very episode.

We recorded The Nanker Phelge (the name comes from an old pseudonym of Jagger and Richards) at LiveMix Studio, which has also been part of RFC since the very first show. LiveMix partner and RFC Big Shot, Brian Young, returned to the audio engineer/producer’s chair for this session. The Nanker Phelge will make their public debut at LiveMix on June 18th. We are honored to offer the first look at this band on our 100th episode.

“Courting Disaster” is a World Premiere musical legal farce, written by Jeremy Eisler and Mark Scarpelli and directed by Kelly Strom. You can see it starting Thursday, May 27, at The Kanawha Players Theater, 309 Beauregard Street, Charleston.

RFC Big Shot Melanie Larch is in it, and I zipped in last Friday to shoot this funny little fake law firm spot to help promote it. This was actually the last thing we shot for this episode. The show has a great cast, a clever script and a terrific score…and it’s a World Premiere to boot! How can you pass that up?

Eva Elution is a new band, but we’ve had them on the show several times already. Lead by Justin James, who first appeared on RFC as the guitarist for Seven Minutes Til Midnight back on episode 24, and Chris Vance.

The Band also includes Dave Roberts, who does double duty on the skins on RFC 100 and Kevin Scarborough. You’re going to see them again very soon on RFC.

“Stark Charleston number one” is the so-called “top secret” animation project that I’ve been blabbing about non-stop for the last several months. This is my moody, surreal, animated black-and-white tour of our city.

This first installment features the tune, “Last Flight Of Icarus” by David Synn. David just debuted on RFC two episodes ago, and he’ll be back on episode 102, our next “Show Without Words.” He’ll also be appearing soon as part of the new band,Frequency Down.

The secret part of this whole project can now be revealed….it’s going to be a feature-length film, with music by a host of the area’s top musicians. I have enough material to do a ton of these shorts, and they’ll eventually be collected into the type of movie that they used to show in movie houses where they smoke the funny cigarettes.

Our final musical guest is actually the first one we recorded. Jeff Ellis was on two-week’s leave from active duty in Iraq last March, and he used that time to tour in support of his excellent album, “The Forgetting Place.” We caught up with Jeff at The Empty Glass. This night was Steve’s first time running camera for RFC.

We chose the song “Fade” from Jeff’s album, and we got the added treat of Bud Carroll lending his considerable guitar talents to the tune. Jeff and Bud will be performing at Live At The Levee on August 13. This is after Jeff finishes up his latest tour of duty in Iraq. I also want to thank Jeff for letting me pervert one of his songs into a dancing frog cartoon for our April Fool’s show.

Jeff first appeared on RFC back on episode 68, and Bud played guitar on “Swamp Thing” by The Scrap Iron Pickers, which we featured on episode 93.

There has been a long-standing issue with the show that has been bothering me. Ever since our first episode, it’s been like an itch I had to scratch. See, most episodes of Radio Free Charleston are named after the shirt that I wear during the host segments. I thought this made for a cool gimmick, plus it makes it easy to identify the shows real quick when I’m searching for files. I’ve made exceptions for some of the special episodes, but there’s always been a reason for the individual episode’s titles.

Except for the very first show. I wore a really cool M.C. Escher T Shirt (a gift from my sister, Debbie) in that show, but the first episode of RFC was titled, “Pilot.” That always bugged me. I love Escher and felt that he got cheated out of a tiny bit of glory simply because I hadn’t settled on that gimmick for the episode titles yet.

Since I still have the shirt, and it still fits, I finally remedied that. The itch has been scratched, and RFC 100 is “M.C. Escher Shirt.”

And no…he wasn’t a rapper.

I’d also like to take a moment to mention my own performance on this special episode of the show. I don’t think I was at the top of my game. Here it was a special show, I had the lovely Chelsea bouncing around behind me, all cute in her showgirl outfit, we were at Top O’ Rock, Mel was on hand, but while editing the show, I noticed that I seem to be all serious and dour on camera.

It’s because I was freaking exhausted. I was having a great time hanging out with some of my favorite people in a really cool place, but it was after a long day spent taking care of my ailing uncle, then running through ArtWalk so I could bring you photos in The PopCulteer, then I had to run home and write the script for the show, get dressed, pick up Chelsea and drive to Top O’ Rock. We had to have the show wrapped by 9:30, and when I got home I had to edit photos for The PopCulteer.

So that’s why I look so serious. I’m trying to remember what I was supposed to say next. I was mangling song titles left and right and my ad-libbed rant at the end goes off the rails, rights itself, then goes off on the other side. Not my best night, but RFC has never been about perfection. It’s all about the music…and the mind-hurting weirdness.

Despite me, I think it’s a pretty good show. Now I’m going to take a well-deserved rest.

Come back in two weeks for the first of our next hundred shows, with Josh Buskirk, the Gypsy Nomads and The ButtonFlies! One week later our next “Show without words” will feature music from David Synn and D.T. Stephenson.