Weird Paul Petroskey is a Pittsburgh, PA lo-fi musician, archivist and prehistoric vlogger. Between 1984 and 1988, Weird Paul filmed over 120 hours of video footage, and many of the videos resemble the same types people make in the modern day. A food review, a product review, a video game playthrough, comedic short films and videos of Weird Paul just sitting in front of the camera speaking to an "audience". Plus, over 600 "fan music videos" for popular songs. These videos are routinely uploaded to YouTube, along with new content. Subscribers nicknamed Paul "The Original Vlogger", a name he now uses for his channel, www.youtube.com/weirdpaulp. He was the subject of the documentary "Weird Paul: A Lo Fidelity Documentary" which was an official selection at the Chicago Underground Film Festival and The Leeds International Film Festival in 2006. A new documentary about his YouTube channel is currently in production.
People often ask me where I got the ideas for the videos that I made in the 80s, or who I was making them for. I have chosen these videos for my curation, because they were influential on my 80s videomaking.
THE HOMEMADE COMEDY SPECIAL 1984
part one of five
In early 1984, I saw THE HOMEMADE COMEDY SPECIAL on NBC. People all around the country were asked to send in their homemade videos and then the best ones would be shown on a program hosted by Michael J. Fox and Angie Dickinson. This program was the first of its kind. There's some amazing stuff on here and some cringe-worthy stuff. But the important thing about this program is that it made people like me think, "If I have a video camera, maybe I could make something that would be shown on TV, too!"
MORON MOVIES 1985
part one of five
MORON MOVIES was the first of two videocassettes that was released by MPI in 1985. These extremely short films were made by a guy named Len Cella. I first saw some of them on Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show in 1983. I was mesmerized because I could tell it was something someone had made at home. Carson continued to show them for a couple years and then they started appearing on the show TV Bloopers and Practical Jokes. When I saw these films, I thought, "I can make movies like these, too. People make movies at home and get them shown on TV." Len Cella is a comedic genius and a real personality. Check him out on Facebook, he's still making "content" today.
SUSPICIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES 1984
I saw this short film by the video artist Jim Blashfield, in 1987. It was in the middle of the night on the USA network program Night Flight. My whole family was asleep and it was one of the creepiest things I'd ever seen. Partly because of the fact that it was made with photo cut-out animation, so it has an "other-worldly" quality about it. It was probably my first run-in with "surrealism", which became one of my favorite types of art thereafter. Due to it's influence, I started trying to make films of my own that had surreal moments in them.
HOPELESSLY LOVE YOU by Fiona 1986
As of January 1987, I'd seen 2000 different music videos. I was very obsessed with them throughout the 80s and they were a HUGE influence on the videos that I would make myself. In curating this month, I decided to think of a music video that I could use as an example of what "80s music video" meant. Recently, in one of my old journals, I saw an entry that read, "Fiona looked so sensuously sexy and awesome in HOPELESSLY LOVE YOU video." I didn't remember the video, so I just watched it again for the first time in 30 years. I decided that THIS was the video I wanted people to see to understand what "80s music video" means.
MAX HEADROOM PIRATING INCIDENT 1987
This is not a video that I saw in the 80s – I didn't even know back then that it had happened and I only saw it much more recently. However, this was something that I and probably most kids with video cameras dreamed of back then: what if I could break into a TV signal and show something on a channel? For almost anyone, this was a just a fantasy, but these guys DID it. And not only did they do it, it's one of the strangest things that's ever appeared on a television.