Monday, June 22, 2009

The Endangered List (Case File #34)

"This is Nancy Fancy with Home Economics! Today we’re going to learn about our clothing, and the way we’re going to learn is by making an actual piece of clothing we can wear ourselves or give to a friend! We are going to tie-dye a tie! Now watch carefully! First, we take the tie we’re going to dye and tie it! When the tie is tightly tied, we dip the tie in the tie-dye dye! When the tie-dyed tie is dry, we untie the tie and take the dye we’ve just applied and set it aside! Re-tie the tie-dyed tie, take another dye, dip the tie-dyed tie in this dye too, take it out, let it dry, untie the tie, and you’ve got a tie-dyed tie! And a tie is not all you can tie-dye! You can tie-dye a tutu, too! Take the tutu, tie the tutu, dip it in the dye and let it dry like the tie we dyed, now tear the tutu in two! Now you’ve got two tutus to tie-dye! Take the two ties you tie-dyed and the tutus you’ve torn in two and tied and dip them in the dye!"

-- from "Rock and Roll Classroom" by The Conception Corporation




VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW (1970)

featuring
THE CONCEPTION CORPORATION

Jeff Begun
Howard R. Cohen
Murphy Dunne
Ira Miller


The Conception Corporation was formed in Chicago in 1969 when Second City members Murphy Dunne and Ira Miller teamed up with Jeff Begun, creator and editor of the national satire magazine The Aardvark, and Howard R. Cohen, a Playboy editor and writer for The Aardvark. Originally the four planned to make a feature film titled MONDO GOLDFARB (Begun owned the Aardvark Cinematheque, the legendary Chicago movie house that specialized in foreign, avant-garde and adults only movies) but - lacking the money necessary to produce their vision - chose instead to write and record a comedy LP. The result, A Pause in the Disaster, was released by Cotillion Records in 1970. Around the same time, the New York-based Channel One had opened a video theater in Chicago and was having great success with their program THE GROOVE TUBE (read more about it here), so the Conception Corp. put together their own videotaped "underground television" show, VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW, and premiered it in two Chicago locations during the first week of 1971. In an attempt to one-up the Channel One theaters, which featured comfy chairs, big pillows and a refrigerator stocked with soft drinks and snacks (with the program itself shown on three closed-circuit video monitors), the Conception Corporation ran their show in four different screening rooms, including one that contained a giant waterbed!

When the members of the Conception Corporation relocated to Los Angeles a few months later to record a second LP (Conceptionland and Other States of Mind) and to pursue movie careers, they opened a theater at 428 N. La Brea specifically to show VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. The group split up after their third LP (The Conception Corporation Live at the Hollywood Bowl) was shelved by Cotillion during the vinyl crunch brought on by the oil embargo of 1973. That long-unreleased LP finally saw the light of day in 2000 as part of Rhino Handmade's Complete Conception two-disc CD compilation, but VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW hasn't been shown publicly in nearly 40 years.


Ira Miller wrote and directed the skit comedy LOOSE SHOES, which was produced by Mel Brooks, and has appeared in every one of Brooks' films since BLAZING SADDLES. He also turned up in the skit comedies TUNNELVISION and PRIME TIME with Murphy Dunne (who did the music for LOOSE SHOES).

Howard R. Cohen wrote UNHOLY ROLLERS, THE YOUNG NURSES, COVER GIRL MODELS, VAMPIRE HOOKERS, STRYKER, DEATHSTALKER and DEATHSTALKER III, BARBARIAN QUEEN and BARBARIAN QUEEN II, EMMANUELE V, and LORDS OF THE DEEP, among others. He directed SATURDAY THE 14TH (which he co-wrote with Jeff Begun), SATURDAY THE 14TH STRIKES BACK, SPACE RAIDERS (music by Murphy Dunne), TIME TRACKERS and DEATHSTALKER IV. He passed away in 1999 at age 56.

Jeff Begun co-owned the Festival Theatre Corporation, a chain of art (and later adults only) theaters in Illinois and Indiana, with gay porn tycoon Steve Toushin and the late Paul Gonsky. As a producer, Begun's credits include THE SWINGING CHEERLEADERS, SWITCHBLADE SISTERS, STREET GIRLS, JACKSON COUNTY JAIL (co-produced with Gonsky), SATURDAY THE 14TH (co-written and directed by Howard R. Cohen), HARDBODIES and HARDBODIES II, SCHOOL SPIRIT, VENDETTA and PRETTY SMART.

Murphy Dunne has acted in dozens of television shows as well as movies ranging from THE BIG BUS and HERO AND THE TERROR to THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES and THE ONION MOVIE, but is probably best known as Murph the piano player in THE BLUES BROTHERS and BLUES BROTHERS 2000.












8 comments:

Booksteve said...

Every word of this is new to me--including the great tie-dye bit!--and facinating stuff, too! Thanks as usual!

Kris Gilpin said...

I had a Conception Corporation LP ages ago. if I'm not mixing it up with something else, they had a hilarious song on there, Mulatto Joe:

"Mulatto Joe, Mulatto Joe,
He don't know which way to go,
Mulatto Joe, Mulatto Joe,
Is he white or Ne-ga-ro?..."

Temple of Schlock said...

Yes! That's on "A Pause in the Disaster." My favorite bit on that album is the monster truck and tractor pull radio commercial, "Sunday! Sunday!"

Scooter Gingold said...

Murphy Dunne will always have a special place in my cavalcade of comedy for his work as the obnoxious Lounge Singer/Pianist in THE BIG BUS. Especially for the song about the "Doggie Doctor."

Bo Bo said...

My favorite take on "A Pause in the Disaster" was the black for a day. The white contestants get to loot a grocery store.It was totally insane.

Strayhorn said...

I was working as a DJ in the early 70s when the program manager one day started cleaning out the bins and giving away albums that had never even been opened. One of them was "A Pause in the Disaster." I listened to it that night after "relaxing" with a couple friends. It was one of the few times in my life I've laughed so hard I cried.

The Sunday! Sunday! bit included the classic line: "See Tim Leary's overblown head!"

But it was "The Pope" bit, where a salesman from Lake Havasu City (who addresses the pope as "Mr Wizard") tries to sell the pontiff a retirement home, and gets him to sing "Camptown Races."

Let's face it - comedy was better in the 70s

Anonymous said...

Conception Corporation, along w/Firesign Theater & Monty Python, got me through the early '70s. I was delighted when Rhino brought out the Complete Conception compilation ... brought back fond memories. "OK nurse, hand me the coat hanger."

Anonymous said...

few things were as funny as the Conception albums ... "Hello My Name is Johnny Hash" as well as the several mentioned here already.