Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

RFC 165 Presents Clownhole, circa 1989

Clownhole at the Playhouse

This week we present what might be my most self-indulgent episode of Radio Free Charleston. “Wild Adventure Shirt” breaks our usual format and uses a skit to set up vintage footage of a 1989 concert at the legendary and defunct Charleston Playhouse by the band Clownhole.

Clownhole was a punk trio consisting of drummer Randy Brown, bassist Chris (Flair) Canfield, and Defectors veteran John (Sham Voodoo) Estep. This concert was held during the Christmas season in 1989 and recently fell into my lap when Randy got in touch with me and put a copy of it in my hands.

A gambling parlor now stands at the site of The Charleston Playhouse

This is pure nostalgic glee for me. The Charleston Playhouse, which I’ve written about here in PopCult almost since day one, was a very important place in my life. I met many lifelong friends there and even met the love of my life, my fiance’ Melanie Larch, about two weeks after this concert took place.

I used the Charleston Playhouse as a sort of second base of operations for the Radio Free Charleston radio program, recording many acts on the stage for broadcast on the show. Clownhole was one of the most requested bands on Radio Free Charleston, with songs such as “Heads On Fire” and “Old Man Jumping Over A Fence.” And they were also really good friends of mine.

Yes kids, once upon a time, this was considered proper attire for going to a punk rock show

One sign of how close we were is that in this concert, you will see Sham Voodoo wearing a hideous canary yellow sport jacket. He actually borrowed this from me. For some unfathomable reason, I thought it would be cool to attend this show dressed in the most idiotically garish combination of primary colors possible: a bright blue shirt, bright red tie, canary yellow sport jacket, fingerless gloves, and round sunglasses. It may be hard to believe for my PopCult readers who were not yet born at this time, but in the 1980’s and early nineties, you could actually dress like this in public without being socially ostracized and even still have the faint possibility of hooking up with members of the opposite sex.

Captured in the footage included in this episode of the show, you’ll see Clownhole’s singer/guitarist Sham Voodoo declare “Sorry Rudy, it’s too hot to wear your coat,” as he takes off the bright yellow sport jacket to reveal his “Die Yuppie Scum” t-shirt.

Much of the music you will hear in this show are original compositions by Clownhole, with songs such as “Aqua,” “Old Man Jumping Over A Fence,” and their showstopper, “Heads On Fire.” There are couple of covers sprinkled throughout, most notable among them, “The Banana Splits” theme song.

Sham Voodoo was not only a member of Clownhole, he was also one of the Charleston Playhouse Quartet, and one of the few people to persuade me to perform onstage. After our excerpts from the Clownhole show, you’ll get some extra treats, including the end credit music which sees John McIntyre, who at the time was tending bar at the Playhouse, joining Clownhole with a spirited rendition of “These Boots Were Made For Walkin’.” After the end credits, you might want to stick around for a couple of special Easter eggs, too.

Our host segments this time around are a fun-filled, hastily assembled guerilla filmmaking skit starring yours truly, Kitty Kilton, and RFC Big Shot and Resident Diva, Melanie Larch. This skit was written in five minutes, filmed in ten, and edited in thirty. It was a load of fun that we knocked off after a quick lunch last week. We shot it at the site of the Charleston Playhouse, which is now a Mimi’s gambling parlor in Kanawha City. It’s always a kick to spring spur of the moment acting roles on Melanie and Kitty because they always come through like gangbusters. Plus, my Melanie swings a mean rubber chicken.

The “Hello” segment, which we forgot to shoot on Thursday in Kanawha City, was filmed Friday in Mink Shoals. Notice Barone Brothers Pizza over my shoulder.

Our titular shirt this episode comes from and is a mashup of “Adventure Time” with Maurice Sendak’s “Where The Wild Things Are,” as such it is pretty freakin’ awesome. One other little hidden Easter egg is in our hello segment at the very beginning of the show where, just over my shoulder, you can see Barone Brothers Pizza in Mink Shoals. Not only do they make great pizza, but Frank was also a regular at the Charleston Playhouse.

Stick around after the end credits for a couple of brief Easter Eggs

That’s the dirt on this week’s show. I hope you guys forgive me for taking an episode to wallow in nostalgia and reminisce about the glory days with my old friends. Look for the next episode of Radio Free Charleston in a couple of weeks.

1 Comment

  1. Steve

    That was fun. Now I’ll be stuck in nostalgia mode all day…

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