MTV's Early VJs: Where Are They Now?
MTV's original VJ crew (l-r): J.J. Jackson, Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Martha Quinn and Alan Hunter
When it comes to the attention spans of teenagers, entertainers are on borrowed time. Which might explain the turnover rate of MTV's Video Jockeys, or VJs for short. Currently, MTV doesn't have any VJs, a symptom of not playing any videos until the wee hours of the morning. Though it's worth mentioning that MTV2 has a few, including Matt Pinfield's return to 120 Minutes.
But that left us wondering, where have some of the most memorable on-air talent found themselves today. A few have been lucky, some of have passed on, are some in a dumpster? Maybe. Here is what we found for 6 MTV VJs Then and Now.
Martha Quinn (1981-91)
She was the girl next door who apparently had an entire library of Pat Benatar videos for us to watch. While Nina Blackwood was the rocker with hair like she could sit in on drums for Poison, Martha was the sweet one you could take home. After her tenure at MTV, Quinn bounced around hosting gigs on Star Search and The Early Show and even an appearance in Problem Child 2. But eventually, she returned to her natural element: The '80s. Quinn now DJs on Sirius/XM's 80s on 8 with her former VJ pals Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter and Blackwood. The fifth member of the original group, J.J. Jackson, passed away after a heart attack in 2004.
Riki Rachtman (1990-95)
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It's funny to remember that Headbanger's Ball was hosted by Adam Curry before Riki Rachtman. They just kind of gave Adam a leather jacket and said "wing it." Luckily, Riki took over the reins and proudly gave metalheads something to watch. For every Whitesnake or Warrant video they played, they would play a Megadeth or Napalm Death clip. After the show's abrupt and controversial 1995 cancellation, Rachtman went back to what he knew best, managing his L.A. metal club Cathouse. He would appear on TV again working with NASCAR and, most recently, hosting the intellectually stimulating Rock of Love series and its spinoffs Daisy of Love and Rock of Love: Charm School on VH1.
There aren't many job opportunities that allow, nay, encourage you to be as obnoxious or annoying as possible. MTV is thankfully one of those safe havens. Kennedy graced our small screens hosting Alternative Nation, but her persistence didn't stop there. She was most notable for hitting the red carpet and giving her "charm" to celebrities, who probably weren't entirely aware of who she was. Post-MTV, Kennedy did what most punks and alts promise to never do: Grow up and become Republican. She even has a pink elephant tattoo on her thigh, though to be fair to her, she claims the Libertarian Party. After hosting a few shows on the Game Show Network and guesting on Fox News, MSNBC and VH1, she is now on The Discovery Channel's Pitchmen as "As Seen On TV" kingpin Anthony Sullivan's assistant.
Simon Rex (1995-97)
If is there ever a roller-coaster ride for a VJ, it's with Simon Rex. Incredibly, he has enjoyed possibly one of the most successful careers after a VJ stint. His time on MTV was brief, a mere two years, before a fresh changeover in talent. But if not immediately after his exit, gay porn films were soon unearthed that tied him to performing under the name Sebastian. Despite doing the dirty deeds (though apparently, he was the only performer onscreen) he would bounce back quickly on such series as the aptly titled Jack & Jill and What I Like About You and as a featured performer in the Scary Movie franchise. To make matters stranger, he also has a rap career as Dirt Nasty, appearing on tracks with Mickey Avalon and LMFAO.
Bill Bellamy (1993-98)
He was the dude who was cooler than the other side of the pillow, when it was cool to say something like that. Holding down the fort at the MTV Beach House and MTV Jamz, Bellamy used most of his standup comedy training to be the resident clown, well, second only to another certain scrawny VJ. After joking around on cable, Bellamy got serious with a film career starring in a number of feature films including How to Be a Player, Any Given Sunday and, more recently, Lottery Ticket and USA's Royal Pains. One thing we all actually may owe Bill for? He is credited with coining the term "booty call." We should thank him more often for that one.
Pauly Shore (1989-94)
While we mentioned Bill Bellamy might have been the resident clown at MTV for a moment, Pauly Shore has taken that as a life calling. It seemed that there was nothing bigger than The Weasel in the early '90s. He made five feature films in four years. But as big as he was, that soon came crashing down at the end of the decade. However, as monumental as his collapse was, so was his resolve. Shore still tours comedy clubs today, and has been featured on Entourage multiple times (as himself, naturally). We went from paying to see Bio-Dome, to making Pauly the butt of our jokes for how awful he is, to watching Bio-Dome when it reruns on cable within the frame of irony (and really, with a hint of earnestness). Fame is a funny thing.
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