Tesco Vee hosts the pilot episode of the lo-fi thriftcore travelogue TV series “Way USA”

By on May 27, 2019

In Way USA (1988) — the pilot episode for a lo-fi thriftcore travelogue TV series streaming in our Oddball Obscurities & Vintage Weirdos section on Night Flight Plus — the Meatmen’s potty-mouthed frontman Tesco Vee “sells his soul to the Devil for a chance to visit Baltimore!,” to capture Charm City’s sweaty charms.”

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During his occasionally NSFW half-hour mondo-type show — shot on Super-8 for that ultra-soft lurid touch — former fifth-grade school teacher Tesco Vee is first de-briefed by the “Pope of Trash,” John Waters, before “swerving through a lascivious pre-Internet underbelly of strip clubs, wig stores, beer bars, thrift stores, massage parlors, and other sleazy spots.”

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Trust us, you’re in for brief but wild ride, and if you don’t trust us (don’t blame you), please listen to our friend Richard Metzger over at Dangerous Minds, who called this “the greatest cult video you’ve probably never seen.”

Metzger also writes: “If more people knew about Way USA twenty-five years ago, if would probably be as revered today as Heavy Metal Parking Lot or the Butthole SurfersEntering Texas are.”

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Honestly, we’re not even sure this pilot– the first episode in a planned three-city series — ever aired on MTV.

That’s where Way USA‘s director, Peter Lauer, once worked, in the network’s graphics department (more recently, he’s directed episodes of “Arrested Development” and other cable TV sitcoms).

You can also watch Episode #2 (Niagara Falls).

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TV’s and Lauer’s initial idea was to create a ruckus wherever they went.

However, pretty much everyone they talk to at these bars, stores, strip clubs and other points-of-interest puts up with TV’s shenanigans.

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Tesco Vee (not: Tescovee) visits B’More’s notorious red light “Block” district; eats two-dozen scrambled eggs at the Lakewood Grill diner with an “all the eggs you can eat” policy (“If my heart stops, kick me in the chest!”); plays Twister during an S&M session with 448-pound greeting card model/actress Jean Hill (“the prize filly in John Waters’ stable”), and listens to Baltimore Sun crime blotter reporter John Richard “Dick” Irwin tell a pungent tale you won’t soon forget.

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TV also visits the 2 O’Clock Club, the Narcissus Room at the Pilots Motel, the La Fontaine Bleue (“the Taj Mahal of Matrimony”), the Dark Lady Cafe Tattoo, and the Mojo Lounge.

He also chats with Paul Taylor, who plays his Mighty Wurlitzer at the swank Beltway Motel (this reminded us of the early ’80s, when we used to go to the Orangefair Restaurant in Fullerton, CA, for drinks while listening to the sultry sounds of Dick Long & his Massive Organ).

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We haven’t even mentioned the weird interstitial commercials, including the totally legit Roy Rogers spot!

Read more below about Tesco Vee below.

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Check out Tesco Vee & the Meatmen’s Official “Behind the Music” Special (NSFW), rejected by VH1 for being “too high of quality”

If you’re unfamiliar with Tesco Vee — born Robert Vermeulen on August 26, 1955, in the fun-to-say city of Kalamazoo — well… he’s the the statuesque lead singer for the Meatmen, an obnoxious, offensive punk-infused metal act he formed in Lansing, Michigan, in 1979.

The Washington Post once called TV “a cross between Buddy Hackett and Johnny Rotten.”

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After subjecting Michigan citizenry to sonic effluvia for several years — and doing things onstage like shooting ping-pong balls out of a giant wooden dong — TV was eventually forced, in September of 1982, to re-locate to Washington D.C. (home of pungent political effluvia).

There his band was joined by a few ex-Minor Threat vets: Ian MacKaye, Brian Baker and Lyle Presslar.

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Their songs pushed the limits of political incorrectness and vulgarity with titles like “Tooling for Anus,” “Orgy of One,” “Camel Jockeys Suck,” “Crippled Children Suck” and “French People Suck” (those last three are actually the same song with modified lyrics).

No surprise, they’re still as pungent today as they were when they were fresh out of the oven!

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The Meatmen had an ever-rotating lineup (Baker reportedly quit because he reportedly was sick of wearing ballerina costumes and evening gowns onstage).

They released several albums — with titles like Pope on a Rope and Toilet Slave — and toured the USA for nearly two decades before being mothballed in 1997.

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Tesco Vee moved his family back to Lansing a few years later, but from what we’ve read, their hiatus wasn’t permanent, and they’re still going strong today (they’ve gotta Facebook and everything).

Vee has also made a racket with Tesco Vee’s Hate Police, Blight, and Dutch Hercules, among others, and collaborated with White Flag, the Chemical People and Blowfly (on Black in the Sack).

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Tesco Vee is also the co-creator (along with Ann Arbor pal Dave Stimson) of the Touch & Go fanzine, the pioneering, politically- and occasionally grammatically-incorrect punk & hardcore punk zine (1979-1982).

The zine folded after twenty-two issues, but in 2010, Tesco Vee — along with Stimson and editor Steve Miller (no, not that one) — compiled Touch and Go: The Complete Hardcore Punk Zine ’79-’83 (Bazillion Points).

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The book — a durable trade paperback that will undoubtedly stop any heavy door from closing — features all-new essays by both authors, Henry Rollins, Keith Morris, and many others, plus gig flyers, salacious photos, “found” art and crude-humor comics.

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In 1981, TV also founded Touch & Go Records, which was later taken over by Corey Rusk (of the Necros), who moved the label to Chicago and put out records by the Butthole Surfers, the Jesus Lizard, Calexico, Man or Astroman? and tons of other bands.

Rusk continued label operations until 2008.

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Watch Way USA 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.