A Night Flight Exclusive: “How to Be a New Wave Video Slut,” starring Ann Magnuson as “Fallopia”

By on July 12, 2019

Ann Magnuson’s performance art video piece as “Fallopia,” the latest in a line of sexy Prince protégés — which she describes as “a classroom lesson in “How to Be a New Wave Video Slut” — was produced exclusively for Night Flight in the 1980s, and you can now watch it on Night Flight Plus.

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Fallopia: “My rise to the top was pretty much standard stuff, same as everyone else’s. First there was the live sex acts, then the stag parties, then the sleazy piano bars and conventions, then “Star Search.” And then after, gosh, I don’t know how many ‘dates’ with record company executives, I was signed to a major label, and my own rock video, and today I’m one of the BIGGEST New Wave Sluts in the industry!!”

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Ann Magnuson leading everyone in a Fallopia singalong — with lyrics on black paper scrolled down onto the stage — at The Pyramid Club in the East Village, circa 1985/86 (photo by Tseng Kwong Chi, courtesy of Ann Magnuson)

We asked Ann to tell us more:

Night Flight: “Can you tell us about the origin of the ‘Fallopia’ piece, and how you came to write it with William Fleet Lively?”

Ann: “William Fleet Lively was a dancer and choreographer (with that name he better be!) and he was one of the first people I met when I came to NYC in 1978 (working as an intern with an Off-Off-Broadway theater for my final semester of college).”

“William was one of the smartest and funniest people I have ever known and we made up a lot of shows together, at Club 57, Mudd Club, Danceteria and elsewhere in Downtown New York during the early ’80s.”

“We were forever giggling over the absurdity of modern life and delighted in satirizing mainstream culture in performance and video. I was always creating characters to portray so when Prince introduced his protégés Vanity and then Apollonia I immediately created Fallopia as a parody.”

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NF: “We read an interview that you did with Kim Harlan Tassie (“Trangressive Feminism vs. the Video Slut”) where you said that Prince’s ‘pimping’ was really bugging you, and you said that “Fallopia” was born out the fact that you’d heard that Prince had originally wanted to name his protégé Vanity “Vagina” — can you elaborate on this a little bit?”

Ann: “Prince was pretty over the top with his depiction of sexuality. We were simply having a laugh with the absurdity of those videos.”

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NF: “Was this performance that aired on “Night Flight” in 1986 the first time you’d performed the ‘Fallopia’ character?

Ann: “I’d have to dig through my boxes of notebooks and ephemera to give an exact timeline but I think I performed Fallopia on stage at The Pyramid Club first (where Joey Arias guest-starred as Prince!) and then Night Flight invited me to be a guest VJ or something like that and I just naturally pitched them the Fallopia character who would teach viewers ‘How To Be a New Wave Slut’ using examples from videos the channel had at their disposal.”

“We filmed at the Night Flight studio (or some studio) but way beforehand the producers sent tapes of videos to choose from and we wrote a basic script based on improvisations I did while watching the videos.”

Read more of our exclusive interview with Ann Magnuson below.

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NF: “There are numerous video excerpts in the piece — by Billy Idol, Southside Johnny, Duran Duran, Vanity, Diana Ross, Madonna, Belouis Some, Dominatrix, Motley Crue, Apollonia, Van Halen, Barbra Streisand, Sheena Easton, Prince, Glen Campbell, and Phillip Michael Thomas of TV’s “Miami Vice.”

“You told Kim Harlan Tassie that the biggest ‘jawdropper’ among them was Vanity’s video ‘Pretty Mess’? Can you tell us why you chose some of those crucial ’80s video picks?”

Ann: “Some videos I specifically requested because, of course, this was the advent of the ‘music video’ and you were exposed to those things constantly. The ‘New Wave video slut’ had already become a trope by then and that was early on in the game!”

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“As I said before, you’d see these things on TV and I just couldn’t believe some of them – they were so absurd. So I started making a list and William contributed ideas (I’m guessing the Barbra Streisand came from him – it’s so out of left field and soooooo William to toss her into the mix) and my manager at the time, Lauren Lowenthal Swift, also chimed in.”

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“We’d sit around watching these things and just laugh our asses off. Any one liner or ‘bon mot’ that was said made it into the script. Our mutual friend Frank Holliday (also from Club 57 and a very successful painter with a show in Rome right now) would drop by and he always had some zingers to contribute. It was a group effort to be sure. Just like what Buddy and Sally and Rob were up to in their comedy writers room on the old “The Dick van Dyke Show,” which we all loved.”

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“I know William would be THRILLED that our wacky silliness would live on in this newfangled internet world of the 21st century [William Fleet Lively died of AIDS].

We NEVER thought any of this would last beyond the one-night-only shows we put on for our own enjoyment way back then. The fact this stuff exists on video is amazing and a bit embarrassing to be honest!”

“I did so much crazy stuff back then that I NEVER thought anyone would see outside a few hundred people. I just know some internet trolls are gonna come after us. I didn’t mean any disrespect to Prince. The man was a musical genius but ….come on! Those protégés were pretty silly. And so was I! (Still am actually!)”

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“Obviously it is a time capsule of a particular time in the 1980s culture. But maybe it can give a glimpse into how ‘devil may care’ most of us living the boho life in the East Village back then were.”

“We lived for the moment and were always looking for ways to make each other laugh. Those were happy times and nice to remember what it was like before AIDS cast it’s dark and tragic shadow over all the merriment.”

Thanks, Ann!

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Ann Magnuson will be premiering a new music video on July 18th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo Moon Landing (on July 20th).

The video is for her song “I Met An Astronaut,” written about meeting astronaut Dave Scott (who was technical advisor on Tom Hanks’ HBO series “From The Earth To The Moon,” in which Magnuson portrayed “Dee O’Hara,” the astronauts favorite nurse; the series is being rerun this month by HBO for the anniversary).

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Pretty Songs & Ugly Stories (2007), photo by Rocky Schenck

Magnuson’s astronaut song is the first single released off her 2007 album Pretty Songs & Ugly Stories, produced and arranged by Kristian Hoffman, which is being re-released digitally on Magnuson’s Bandcamp page on August 16th.

This is the first time this album will be available as a digital download. See Ann’s website for more info.

The black & white photo of Fallopia below is courtesy of Ann Magnuson (photo by J. Henry Fair).

Watch Ann Magnuson as “Fallopia” in “How to Be a New Wave Slut” on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.