When we last left Joel Reed Parker, he was spending most of his time assembling B-movie snippets, obscure Faith No More videos and nude scenes of Jennifer Connelly for his lewd cable clip show, packrat (see "Mondo Video," July 27, 2000). But now it appears our favorite videophile has hit the big time -- if you count hosting his own prime-time public-access talk show (which unfortunately airs during Monday Night Football and WWE Monday Night Raw) as the big time.
Parker, who has long served as the sidekick on Houston Media Source's Monday-night chatfest Primetime with Rob Zipp, recently replaced Zipp in the host's hot seat (hence the new name, Primetime with packrat). Other changes include the addition of a bile-spewing action figure by the name of Scare Glow. But the heart of the show remains the same. Eric Burns Dick (his real name, he insists) still serves as the music director, and Parker continues to show silly clips of bootleg videos (some of them from his own band, Inbred White Boy), astoundingly awful movie trailers and other recorded junk, while fielding phone calls from assorted goofballs who just want to hear themselves on the tube. Most of the time, packrat's "fans" call to shout an epithet and then hang up.
Although the ratings for public-access TV tend to be pretty low, some folks on the show believe they have viewers in pretty high places -- and they aren't happy about it. Former host Zipp says he gave a compilation of Primetime shows to an NBC page in New York a year ago and never heard back. Since then, he says, Leno has started doing material that's strangely similar to the shtick Parker does on Primetime. Take, for example, the quirky items like Simpsons contact paper and Backstreet Boys action figures that Parker finds in the dollar store and brings on the show. "The other day, Jay Leno decided to do that as well," Zipp says.
Apart from hearing Scare Glow call Leno a "big donkey schlong" on the program, don't expect Parker and his Primetime crew (mostly fellow porn, B-movie and junk-culture-enthusiast friends) to go on an anti-Leno rampage. They're too busy running one of the few original shows still airing on local access channels. And even though they're not doing Sopranos-quality work, they're hoping to inspire others to follow in their broadcasting footsteps. "We suck -- I'll be the first person to admit that," says director Mel House. "But in comparison to everything else that's on there -- and many people have told us this -- we're the best show on access. So if more people would come do more shows, and if somebody did a better show than us, then that's gonna push us to the next level."