Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath

David Lee Roth – No Holds Bar-B-Que (video)

Back in 2002, David Lee Roth came up with the idea to make a feature-length collage of music video and reality-type surreal TV, and spent about a million dollars of his own money doing it. The video went out to all of the big names in the music and TV industry, with the hopes that, on the heels of The Osbournes, Dave would get some sort of new reincarnation of Dave TV, but with more money. Instead, the people in the industry all simultaneously thought “what the fuck is this guy smoking?” and passed on the idea. There was talk of a DVD, maybe sold only from his web site, but nothing happened.

I never even heard about any of this, until I was cruising around and saw that bootlegs are available from your less reputable and out-of-the-way tape traders. I managed to snag a dub of the tape on VHS for only $4 plus shipping, so I figured I had nothing to lose, right? Riiight.

Do you remember back in the 80s, when those huge VHS camcorders became popular enough that some dude on your block had one, and you used to pretend to be friends with him so you could film dumb shit and imagine that an hour’s worth of footage of household produce getting flushed down your toilet would someday make you the next Marty Scorsese, or even better, George Romero? And then, when you had a party and this dude brought the camera, you’d set it up and everyone would do reeeally funny shit, like fake falls off the couch and talk with their mouth full and act like they were on MTV or something? Well, basically David Lee Roth has done the same thing in this video, but instead of a six-pack of Haams and a Little Caesar’s pizza, let’s just say his tastes are a little more, um, esoteric.

For starters, Dave’s got the women. That includes playmate Victoria Fuller and the Dahm triplets, also playmates. (If triplets are playmates, does that mean they are collectively one playmate, so like Erica Dahm is 1/3 a playmate, or would you say they are each a playmate, and collectively they are the miss December 1998s? I don’t know.) Anyway, there are models. There are also dwarves, or I guess they are now called little people, and there are guys dressed up as SWAT commandos, and rednecks, and lots of pirates, and Mexican dudes dressed in Hawaiian gear, and ninjas, and a lot of other shit. It’s basically like if you got a 12-year-old boy with a lot of money to direct a P. Diddy video, after he took a pound of mescaline.

There is no real theme here. It opens with Roth doing Kung Fu with a sword in Seattle at six in the morning, running down the street and doing high-kicks and splits and whatnot. Then it melts into a weird montage of him running around, the Dahm twins in either incredibly attractive (catwoman, skin-tight suits, hula girls) or disturbing (pregnant trailer trash, some kind of rabbit thing) outfits. The dwarf (sorry, “little guy”) runs around, and Dave breaks into Spanish when he’s not singing, unless audio from a porn tape is spliced in. The camera work is very jerky and all over the place, so much so that it would make an MTV Real World cameraman reach for the Dramamine. Colors are saturated and weird and acidic, and the sets range from cardboard to “why did he spend money on that?” mixed with stuff at his giant Pasadena house, where almost everything is filmed.

These aren’t music videos per se; it’s not a collection of VH1-ready clips from his last album, as much as it is him and his band running through songs in the background as the action is going on. Some songs are from previous albums, and sound good; some are really strange cover tunes, 70s stuff including a Beatles song and I think some BTO, along with Edgar Winter. When he gets bored of a number or a tune, it simply stops and it goes into something else. Between bits, Roth either be-bop improvises some weird raps or just goes off on a transcendial vocal riff in which he sells an imaginary product to an imaginary alien audience on the 17th dimension.

It’s really hard to sit and watch this tape, at least without some kind of mind-altering substance. This is so fucked up, it makes Crispin Glover’s most avante-garde filmwork look as conventional as an episode of Happy Days. If you have no tolerance for DLR, you won’t make it ten seconds into this thing. If you play it in the background, it’s weird. You will barely make it through the whole thing, but then wonder if maybe you should watch it again. If you get a copy with director’s commentary, it’s actually a much better film, only because Diamond Dave has no attention span, and he randomly yells out stuff like “WE WERE GONNA SHOP THIS PART OUT TO BURGER KING, BUT THEY SAID IT WASN’T PATRIOTIC ENOUGH” or “WE HAD AN OPEN CASTING CALL FOR CATWOMAN, AND INVITED BACK EVERYONE.” Then when he does some karate kicks and swings around his sword, he gets really serious and explains exactly what year of Japanese history influenced his form or something. I personally would pay any price to have Dave add commentary to somebody else’s movie.

So, neat stuff, but not for anyone. I’ve gotta wrap this up so I can make a sword out of my shower curtain rod and practice my dojo-mojo now.