ONE’s EZTV Exhibit Offers a Look at an Era When WeHo Was ‘World Capital of Video’ Art

Tue, Mar 25, 2014   By Staff   
Still from Tery Arnold and Sherry Barnett’s 'Ladies Who Go to Lunch,' 1983. Video, 3 minutes. EZTV Video Collection.

Still from Tery Arnold and Sherry Barnett’s ‘Ladies Who Go to Lunch,’ 1983. Video, 3 minutes. EZTV Video Collection.

Video may have killed the radio star—but it also spawned its own art.

“Micro-cinema” and production house EZTV, founded in West Hollywood in 1979, became “ground zero” for thinking about how to use video as an artistic medium, according to ONE Archives Gallery and Museum curator David Frantz. Frantz called the EZTV of the 1980s and 90s “a very eclectic kind of hotbed space.” EZTV was also a venue that screened video you wouldn’t see elsewhere. “These people were definitely pioneers in a lot of regards,” Fratz said.

ONE is showcasing this slice of WeHo history with the “EZTV: Video Transfer” exhibit at the ONE Archives Gallery & Museum, 626 North Robertson Blvd. at Melrose.

Several events are being held in conjunction with the exhibit, including tonight’s screening of the low-budget 1984 film “Blonde Death.” Frantz calls it EZTV’s tour de force, a “campy, dark comedy-drama” about a teen girl who is kidnapped by two bisexual convicts. The screening takes place at 7:30 p.m. at Cinefamily, 611 N. Fairfax Ave. at Melrose.

The exhibit itself comes after EZTV (now located in Santa Monica) recently donated its 300-video strong archives to the ONE Archives. Digital copies of some EZTV videos are being used for the exhibit, on view through June 1.

Though EZTV was never an LGBT-specific operation, it showed plenty of works with queer content or sensibilities. ONE’s exhibit focuses on EZTV content that relates to West Hollywood and to LGBT history.

In the gallery, monitors hang on the walls and sit on tables. There are 16 screens in all. Visitors can walk up to each one, put on the provided headphones and take a glimpse back in history. There are clips from full-length films, a video tour of the EZTV headquarters and other vintage video.

One video playing at a gallery near you: footage of the 1986 unveiling of the West Hollywood sign, which stood outside the former EZTV space. WEHOville.com reported on the sign’s history last year.

Artist Michael Masucci spent $50 on cheap plywood to create the sign. EZTV had an unveiling ceremony that also celebrated the 30th anniversary of the invention of video tape. The unveiling was filmed as a performance art event, attracting a crowd of onlookers as well as several news reporters.

“At the time we took it as a joke,” Masucci said. “We thought, ‘Hollywood is the world capital of film, so West Hollywood is the world capital of video.’ When we put the sign up, we did it without permission. We never asked the landowner, so we expected it to be up for five days and we would be court-ordered to tear it down. But we quickly saw that it meant a lot more than we first imagined. What started out sort of as a joke, ended up staying up for five years instead of five days. It really became a symbol for a lot of people, for a community and for a cause. It celebrated diversity and liberation.”

Still from Sondra Lowell's 'Tap Dance the News,' 1988. Edited by Michael J. Masucci and Jake Wirshafter. EZTV Video Collection.

Still from Sondra Lowell’s ‘Tap Dance the News,’ 1988. Edited by Michael J. Masucci and Jake Wirshafter. EZTV Video Collection.

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