Hunter, one of the original five VJs on MTV, talks with Like Totally 80s
about his time on MTV, favorite interviews, weighs in on the state of
today's MTV and shares what he's up to now. Sharp-witted with a slightly
off-kilter sense of humor, Alan
would call it like it saw it, and we love that about
him. Thanks so much to Alan Hunter for agreeing to talk with us! You can
connect with Alan on Facebook at
were in the music video for David Bowie's “Fashion.” We've rewatched the
video looking for you. Are you the guy in the dance studio in the
I am the guy with the blue
striped mime shirt and suspenders, but didn't you notice my
black dance tights? Yowza! Great gig: 3
days, 3 square meals and $50/day and I got to meet the thin
white duke. Only 3 months later, I got the MTV gig...how prophetic.
What's the craziest thing that ever
happened during your time with MTV?
Well, first, getting the gig in the
first place. I was ill prepared. As far as a single project I worked on,
AMUCK IN AMERICA had to be the most insane. It was a pre-cursor to many
of the road reality shows to follow (reality shows with a home video
look in general). AMUCK was non-stop debauchery...and I mean that in a
R&R cliché way. I was never in a band but got to live like a maniac on
the road for MTV in the summer of 1986...acting like a crazy man,
fucking with middle America, with a model sidekick and a band of merry
men & women on the crew. Did I mention I had a 3 month old child and a
What was your favorite moment as an
It was always nice to gather with my
fellow VJs and the entire crew and office staff at MTV for those year
end Christmas videos - Billy Squire, PeeWee Herman, David Johansen,
yes....I'm missing a few. A warm feeling back in the days when MTV,
though a big company, was still like a wonderful dysfunctional but close
family. Live New Year's Eve shows were fun but by 2am, it was difficult
to concentrate in the middle of the greatest party in the world that
What is your favorite artist
interview that you've done? Why?
Well, I had many and sometimes they
weren't rockers - Robin Williams and Dan Akroyd. Even though Ozzy
Osbourne was incomprehensible and I was sweating to make an interview
happen, it was fun. I interviewed Lou Reed just after Andy Warhol died.
They were big friends and he came into the studio to eulogize and
requested that I do the interview. It was very flattering. The most
compelling and rewarding interview was Billy Joel in Russia, my first
freelance job for MTV. I went to Russia with Billy's tour during the
middle of Perestroika. Fascinating times and a good long interview with
Were you ever starstruck by any of
the musicians you interviewed over the years? Who?
Sure. JJ was interviewing Robert Plant in the studios and we'd all come
down when someone that big was in the house. After it was over and his
huge entourage was milling around, I braved going up to introduce
myself. I approached and did a funny royal kneeling gesture, to which
Robert said, "arise, Sir Alan.” Alas, the guy knew my damn name. A weird
thing that all these rockers knew us.
Did the 5 VJs socialize? What were the off air personalities like?
We'd go out together quiet a bit, maybe share a table at a concert. I'm
looking at a swell picture of Mark, Nina, Martha and me at the Roxy for
a Tina Turner concert. When we hung as a group, it was a head turner for
folks in the club. There was less hanging out in the final years as we
each ran in our own circles. Still lotta love.
Do you watch MTV now? We've asked
Nina Blackwood and
Martha Quinn this same
question – how do you feel about the direction MTV has taken?
“Evolution,” I say to those that bemoan
the direction. Ever since Remote Control started in 1987, the channel
was looking to move beyond the video jukebox. It was about money and
selling shows, not a 24/7 atmosphere of video music. Certainly the past
decade has produced very little for a man of my age to care about, but
then I ain't the target. I tune in occasionally just to keep up with
some of the vocabulary but I can't relate.
What do you miss most about the
The innocence, the eclectic pallet of
music, the big tent tolerance, the experimentation and the fun.
Aside from your work at MTV, what work are you most proud of?
My 4 beautiful children.
What brought you back to
I started a production company with my
brother (film and TV production) and built an entertainment complex
called WorkPlay. We just sold WorkPlay after 10 fabulous years of
building a great national reputation as a music venue. We've garnered an
Oscar nomination and our films have had Sundance and South by Southwest
premieres. We are developing several film projects presently and hoping
to sell a reality TV show to a major cable outlet.
As a pioneer in the reality TV genre (thinking of MTV Spring Break and
MTV Hedonism Weekend with Bon Jovi), how do you feel about the recent
crops of reality TV shows?
Well, per last answer, my company is
developing a reality show that's more of a documentary reality show.
It's about a company in the security and entertainment business. Yes,
those early Spring Break, Hedonism and AMUCK shows were ground breaking
and I'm really proud of them. Inevitably, the audience has grown more
fascinated with looking at themselves. More accurately, they're fixated
on watching the suffering of other poor souls, vicariously working out
angst about their own crappy situations. These reality shows bore me,
except for “Intervention.” I must admit...I'm addicted. Ouch. They seem
to actually help people, not just exploit them. So, the bottom line,
exploitation of the weak and ignorant...not into. Survivor”, “Big
Brother”-type shows...boring because it's all manipulation. “Kitchen
Nightmares” and Anthony Bourdain's cooking show...love it. “Iron chef”
(the Japanese version - "squeeze-on")...oh yea!
summer will mark the 30th anniversary of the launch of MTV. Holy Cow.
Does it seem like 30 years, or more like yesterday?
Some days, when my back aches, it seems
centuries ago. Other days, when I'm talking to Goodman about something
or somebody comes up to me in the street and lands a fond memory on me,
it's a not so distant delight. Most days, it's just a seamless,
continuous part of my life. I don't partition or compartmentalize the
various phases of my life. The blending flow of it all, the ups and
downs, good bad ugly are ever present in everything I think and
everything I do. Swear I didn't read this philosophy anywhere. I left LA
a long time ago.
I look forward to seeing your new movie, “Lifted” that you co-produced
as well as co-star in. When will it be out on DVD?
I would love for you to see that swell
little movie too. I hope the DVD will come out this year. It's not going
to be a theatrical release sadly, a function of the difficult time an
Indie movie has making it to the cineplex these days. But it was great
fun, a labor of love and stars some great talent - Dash Mihok, Nikki
Aykox, Trace Adkins, and Ruben Studdard.
What other current projects are you
The reality show, which is secret until
we announce it's sale (hopefully soon), another film project in
development and the book we've all been waiting for.....the early days
of MTV as told through the eyes of the original MTV VJs. You heard it
here. Stay tuned. Of course, I'm busy busy with my SiriusXM Big80son80
and Classic Rewind shows. I'm a tired puppy.
Check out our interview with Nina
Check out our interview
with Martha Quinn!