How to Live
in the City:
The Story of The American Music Show
#2: Early Years
with James Bond and Potsy Duncan in person
Thursday, October 5, 2017
at Gallery 992 in West End
992 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd, Atlanta, GA 30310
A wholly successful, twenty-five-year project in do-it-yourself media, The American Music Show is a landmark of television and moving image history. But the story begins well before its characters and performers became legends – before RuPaul became Starbooty and DeAundra Peek’s Hi Class Hall o’Fame Theatre ruled public access. The American Music Show came into being through an unlikely conjunction of Civil Rights history, Atlanta politics, mixed gay and straight social networks, and musical subcultures. These fascinating origins are the subject of the second screening in How to Live in the City, Film Love’s American Music Show retrospective.
James Bond, who co-founded and co-hosted the show, was also a member of the Atlanta City Council. Alongside his brother, the well-known Civil Rights activist Julian Bond, James Bond played a crucial political role in establishing public access cable television in Atlanta in the late 1970s. With Dick Richards, a gay man who had met Bond while volunteering for the Democratic party in the 1972 election; Potsy Duncan, a veteran cable access advocate in Atlanta; and a tight circle of performers, comedians and musicians, The American Music Show was launched. For its first three years, it was taped in the home of James’ and Julian’s mother, Mrs. Julia Bond, near Atlanta’s West End.
On Thursday, October 5, Film Love screens a selection of very rare material from these early years. James Bond and Potsy Duncan will join curator Andy Ditzler for a discussion of The American Music Show’s formation and the establishment and evolution of public access TV in Atlanta. What happens when an Atlanta city councilman transforms himself into an onscreen trickster comedian? And when an irrepressible young man named RuPaul writes a fan letter to the show in 1981 and finds himself performing on television? And when Julian Bond stops by to run the video camera? Interracial Twister games, dirty jokes in French, Christmas greetings from the city council president, and other skewed forms of entertainment will demonstrate that The American Music Show’s political context helped produce its pioneering brand of anarchic humor – a humor that would provide a cultural beacon for Atlanta in the strange days of the Reagan era.
For this screening, Film Love returns to West End’s Gallery 992, in the same neighborhood where The American Music Show was first produced.
Program includes clips from The American Music Show and related programming, 1981-1984.
992 Ralph David Abernathy Blvd.
Atlanta, Georgia 30310
How to Live in the City: The Story of The American Music Show is a Film Love event. The Film Love series provides access to great but rarely seen films, especially important works unavailable on consumer video. Programs are curated and introduced by Andy Ditzler, and feature lively discussion. Through public screenings and events, Film Love preserves the communal viewing experience, provides space for the discussion of film as art, and explores alternative forms of moving image projection and viewing.