TV Party by Glenn O'Brien

Part of the Editor's Choice series.

BOMB 1 Spring 1981
001 Spring 1981
Tvparty 1

Glenn O’Brien. Photo by Bobby Grossman.


TV PARTY is cablecast LIVE every Tuesday night from 12:30 to 1:30 on Manhattan and Tele-prompter Cable Television in NEW YORK CITY.

GLENN O’BRIEN’S TV PARTY premiered in December, 1978. It is a variety show—incorporating elements of formats pioneered by Jack Paar, Steve Allen, Johnny Carson, Woody Woodbury, Fulton J. Sheen, Ed Sullivan, Hugh Hefner, Dick Clark, Dinah Shore, and Don Cornelius. Like Hugh Hefner’s Playboy After DarkTV Party combines the talk and entertainment format with an actual PARTY. Distinctions between entertainers and “the studio audience” disappeared. Party guests might suddenly favor the group with a song. “How about a number, Sammy?” At TV PARTY even the home viewers can entertain the PARTY over the telephone. On one show home partiers sang and played with WALTER STEDING, CHRIS STEIN, BOB FRIPP and THE TV PARTY ORCHESTRA featuring LENNY FERRARI. There is a party in every home where the TV PARTY is TURNED ON.

TV PARTY is a medium for establishing a PARTY NETWORK. THE PARTY is the highest expression of social activity—the co-operative production of FUN. THE PARTY is the first step in organizing society for mutual interests.


Richard Sohl and Chris Stein. Photo by Bobby Grossman.

TV PARTY believes that SOCIAL affinity groups will provide the foundation for any of effective political action. SOCIAL DREAD is what keeps citizens out of existing political organizations. Existing political organizations such as the political parties do not have the inclination or ability to truly PARTY, indicating the negative character of their functions.

TV PARTY will run a full CAST of candidates in the 1981 NEW YORK CITY ELECTIONS, led by Producer and Host of TV PARTY Glenn O’Brien, who is running for mayor. A distinguished slate of artists and musicians will be announced in the near future, running for City Council, and other important posts.


Using the models of HONG KONG and other free ports, TV PARTY will establish a government which makes a profit, eliminating the need for most TAXES, and paying citizens a NATIONAL DIVIDEND. A profitable government will not be hard to achieve once the draining taxes of New York State and the Federal Government are eliminated. Profits will come from various government businesses, such as a monopoly on GAMBLING. New York might become a banking center like SWITZERLAND or THE BAHAMAS, a shipping registry haven like LIBERIA or PANAMA, a major philatelic producer like THE VATICAN.


Glenn O’Brien and Debby Harry. Photo by Bobby Grossman.

TV PARTY will make New York a truly FUN CITY by eliminating harmful laws, deregulating personal relationships, achieving full employment and reinstituting Rent Control. But the first task will be for the FREE PORT OF NEW YORK to repossess the local electromagnetic spectrum from foreign interests such as THE CONTINENTAL AND GLOBAL COMMUNICATIONS MONOPOLIES, CALIFORNIA based ENTERTAINMENT CARTELS, and ANTI-NEW YORK “cultural” propagandists.

In America TV is the form of government. Nothing can be governed but people and TV has proved the greatest modern instrument of their control. TV PARTY presents and reveals ENTERTAINMENT as the ACTUAL form of GOVERNMENT. The institutions commonly called the government are merely the dramatic program, formalizing the results of TV’s direction of masses of minds.

The TV MASS MIND is a sophisticated archetype of informed idiocy, created after years of research by government, media, and industry working hand in claw. The networks are geared to the LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATORS of opinion and emotion. The low level of intelligence manifest is often decried by intellectuals, but it is practically universally accepted by the same intellectuals and sophisticates of all sorts because this blandness and bad taste and stupidity is presented as a result of Democracy in Action. The stupidity of TV is accepted by the vast masses with intelligence superior to the TV COMMON DENOMINATOR because it arouses in them feelings of superiority and contempt for the average. TV is a camp. The average person believes himself above the average person whom he believes is a moron.


Debby Harry, Marie-Paule and Terry Toy.

Cable TV has made it possible for local alternatives to the standards of national programming. Recognizing the inherent POLITICAL POWER of all television programming, TV PARTY is the first political party to deal directly with the ACTUAL MEANS OF MODERN GOVERNMENT. TV PARTY runs and RE-RUNS on a platform that begins with personal relationships, personalities conspiring for fun. We take it from there. THE PARTY serves as an accelerator and co-ordinator of interpersonal relationships, and as a model for larger social and political networks based on positive social inter-action, i.e. FUN.


TV PARTY will campaign for putting all important governmental processes on TV. The present cable system can be expanded easily with government subsidies, providing slots for City Council meetings, court sessions, and the Mayor’s Show. GOVERNMENTAL PROCESSES will be scrutinized by the entire populace and if they do not INFORM, DEBATE, CONSIDER, DECIDE, and ACT EFFECTIVELY (not to mention intelligently and ENTERTAININGLY) they will be changed. Statesmen will perform or their ratings will fall and they will be DROPPED.

GOVERNMENT consists of GOING THROUGH CHANNELS. We can change the government simply by CHANGING THE CHANNEL.


Glenn O’Brien, David Byrne, Ernie Brooks. Photo by Bobby Grossman.


Chris Stein, Walter Steding, and Robert Fripp. Photo by Kate Simon.

CONTINENTAL PROGRAMMING is the enemy of culture, which is always local. A national American culture is as impossible as it is undesirable. The attempt to create such a culture by the CONTINENTAL AND GLOBAL COMMUNICATIONS MONOPOLIES is the last and most reprehensible phase of imperialism, a technique termed “Global Absorption” by National Security Guru Zbigniew Brezinski. It is responsible for destroying whatever fledgling cultures existed on this continent at the turn of the century. It is responsible for SHOPPING CENTER ARCHITECTURE and TRAFFIC COP as CULTURE HERO.

The only cure is MASS LOCALIZATION. Independence for NEW YORK is just the first step in creating a DIVIDED STATES OF AMERICA and a DIVIDED NATIONS (D.N.). Culture begins with LOCAL PROGRAMMING. The failure of the National Networks is the same as the failure of the National Government. Local programming and fully empowered local government can make this city as good as it is in REALITY. But as it is our REALITY is constantly assaulted by dreams and visions of an inferior quality. NEW YORK is America’s greatest center of culture, but this culture is nearly totally blacked out of radio and television communication. NEW YORK has dozens of the greatest bands in modern music but their music is not played on the radio. New York performers are not seen on television. Why should we import all of this “talent” so inferior to or own? We are not doing it. It’s being beamed in. The Networks are polluting our environment. TV PARTY demands local control of the Electromagnetic Spectrum. No image irradiation without representation.

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TV PARTY is produced and hosted by Glenn O’Brien.

Directed by Betsy Sussler.

Managed by Babs Egan.

Cameras by Edo, Fred Brathwaite, Coleen Fitzgibbon, James Nares, and Lisa Rosen.

Sound by Kris Randall.

Subrealism by Glenn O'Brien
John Miller by Liam Gillick
Miller 1

John Miller and Liam Gillick talk about repurposing painting, conceptualism, and reality TV.

Screen Interactions: Howardena Pindell’s Video Drawings by Olivia Gauthier
Pindell Review1

Television and its simulations.

John Giorno, Poet by Rebecca Waldron & Chris Kraus
John Giorno Feature 01

John Giorno’s influence as a cultural impresario, philanthropist, activist, hero, and éminence grise stretches so widely and across so many generations that one can almost forget that he is primarily a poet.

Originally published in

BOMB 1, Spring 1981

Betsy Sussler by Craig Gholson, Carl Apfelschnitt by Sarah Charlesworth, Michael McClard by Kathy Acker, Eric Mitchell, Becky Johnston, and Amos Poe. Cover design by Sarah Charlesworth.

Read the issue
001 Spring 1981