Cat Videos Before YouTube: kittypr0n On Access SF, Part 2
"We should do a public access show about cats!"
That's what my girlfriend Katrina said one night in December 2001 as we watched Channel 29, Access San Francisco. I thought it sounded like a great idea, and it still sounded good the next morning when we were sober. This is part two of that story.
(Please read Part 1 here. Also, in spite of how the font on this blog makes it look, kittypr0n is spelled with the numeral zero, not the letter O.)
Every tape submitted to Access San Francisco in 2002 was required to begin with 60 seconds of black, then a 30-second slate containing show and producer information so the programming coordinator would know it was the correct thing, and then a neato 10-second countdown provided by the station.After that, the station played whatever the next 28:30 happened to be. Lots of shows just kinda started and stopped, but it was important to us that kittypr0n be framed like an actual television program, with a title screen at the beginning and credits at the end.
The soundtrack to episode 2, "Catnipvision," mixed The Conet Project: Recordings of Shortwave Numbers Stations with Stephen P. McGreevy's Auroral Chorus II: Music of the Magnetosphere, both of which I bought at Aquarius Records. (I later offered Aquarius free tapes of kittypr0n for its video rental shelf. The shop was not interested.)
Katrina and I kept the show's visual aesthetics as straightforward as possible, editing in classic Eisensteinian montage and avoiding the janky effects that public access is infamous for, but we did use the studio equipment to create The Catnipvision Sequence, because OMG TRAILS.
In March, S*P*L*E*E*N was replaced by a show whose producers had been amongst the loudest and most obnoxious at the programming meeting, and the show itself was awash in icky homophobic posturing, such as this charmer in the credits: "Makeup: Don't Put That Shit On." Ugh. kittypr0n was apolitical, especially by Access SF standards, but this hypermasculine show still felt like our ideological opposite. Alas.
Our first piece of feedback came from Arnel, the Access SF front desk coordinator. In addition to personally liking the show, he said that people always stopped to watch when it was playing on the screen in the lobby -- meaning the station was showing it at other, not-after-midnight times. Very cool.