It’s not surprising in the current situation that human ingenuity, which must be embedded in our DNA, invariably comes to the forefront. Whether it’s a small bar providing home delivered cocktails, a former cocaine dealer selling door to door toilet paper or a gin distillery converting to make hand sanitiser, the pandemic has thrown up all kinds of enterprise.
In the case of Sydney couple Jay Katz and Miss Death, long time curators, DJ’s, performers and promoters of extraordinary events within the Sydney film and music underground, the initiative involves setting up their own internet TV station. For over 27 years, their Mu-Meson Archives, currently housed in an Annandale warehouse, have staged everything from movie nights and live music, through lectures and performance art to community knitting groups. As they recall:
“Dare we tell of our underground venue that remained under the radar for all those years. We would screen films and documentaries two or three nights a week, had guest lecturers, such as Markey Ramone, actor Crispen Glover author Jimmy McDonough, Steve Seriouse from Crass and Don Letts – to name just a few, plus numerous other events.”
A few years ago the local council hit them with a compliance order which restricted the use of their warehouse as a public space. It was an amicable settlement but one which disappointed the thousands of patrons who had supported the Archives over the years. The motivation was then for a ‘if you can’t come to us, we’ll come to you’ scenario and hence the idea of internet broadcasting on a regular basis.
In January of 2020 they decided to team with whiz kid producer and tech head Jack Ginger to make the broadcasts a reality and open up the Archives to the world. Whilst the instigation was pre-pandemic there’s no doubt the current climate has delivered a captive audience and one that has readily embraced the experience they offer.
As Katz and Miss Death explain:
“Little did we know that a global lockdown was on its way and as fate would have it we already had many shows in the can by the time the pandemic hit. We have always been about building community and this time our focus will be worldwide. We are grass roots comfort and distraction television in the midst of a global crisis – we are more real than reality TV could ever be.”
Broadcasting began in April on a subscription basis with a series of visual podcasts titled The Naked World featuring in-depth interviews with a host of global luminaries drawn from both the fringes of science and metaphysics as well as the broad counter culture of film, music, art, literature and performance.
Every Tuesday subscribers are treated to Cult Cinema Obscura with a live and often hilarious commentary over the top of one of the Archive’s vast treasury of rare and offbeat movies – a library of actual film stock including standard 8, super 8, 9.5, 16mm, 35mm, VHS, Betamax, DVD and BluRay.
On Friday nights the Archive transforms into a funky psychotronic disco with a two hour disco set complete with guest dancers and eccentric visual clips beamed straight into your lounge room. Needless to say this has been a huge hit during the lockdown with many of the patrons sharing their own manic dance steps in real time via Facebook.
Whilst the pandemic has taken a terrible toll worldwide, it has spawned many positives which hopefully will outlive the current lockdown and become part of the so called new normalcy. If you are looking for such a positive, when it comes to online streaming, go to www.mumesons.com or straight to www.patreon.com/mumesons.