How was West Hollywood in the seventies and eighties? Most locals probably have no idea as they are transplants from other parts of the world or simply haven’t been here long enough: local oral history doesn’t get passed around that often. Apparently there was a bubbling video scene that pioneered alternative film techniques and filmmaking that captured performance and art entrenched in a specific LA queer community. Who knew?! ONE is currently exhibiting the work as a part of the eponymous show EZTV. It’s a little education in a lost history of queer video.
The show turns the small ONE space into the headquarters of the EZTV group. EZTV was co-founded by Michael J. Masucci and they sought to share diversity on film, “programming as opposed to curating.” Although varied in subjects and not founded in a queer basis, the group used cinematic screenings to share the varied, multi-cultural interests of filmmakers at the time. Their work is part punk rock movie making and art experiment documentation. The show is a celebration of the works on display but also an important benchmark: the archive of the group’s work—over three hundred videotapes—has been donated to ONE Archives. This show is the group’s coming out, a celebration of an otherwise overlooked left-of-center artistic movement in town.
EZTV does confuse though in the best ways possible. ONE in West Hollywood is an little gallery and, as mentioned, it is installed to feel like EZTV is a group actively making in the moment. You feel suspended in time surrounded by bulky televisions and VHS players. A table when you enter is covered with flyers and zines made by EZTV and have an alt-cuteness to them that is quite endearing. The video content spans a range from performance documentation with live commentary to man-on-the-street interviews with bygone WeHo types like mohawk donning punk rockers, who explain how queer their culture is (and how that is suppressed). A photograph of a giant West Hollywood sign installation that was formerly outside of the EZTV headquarters brings it all together, really punctuating the group’s anti-Hollywood/DIY Hollywood spirit. It’s inspiring and fascinating.
The importance of ONE is that they unearth and share lost histories in local art (queer and not), giving them their own due even after their heyday has ended. EZTV is an excellent example of this. It also shows how Los Angeles’ history although young is greatly undocumented. Think about it: West Hollywood was at one point gritty and alternative enough to have birthed a counter-cultural video space. That’s wild! Now it’s mostly glitter and high-gloss lip makeup (which isn’t bad—it’s just more polished and mainstream). Los Angeles needs more celebrations of lost histories like this.
EZTV will be on view at ONE through June 1. There are also upcoming free screenings as well: West Hollywood City Council Champers is hosting a digital art showcase on April 15 called Computer Love, May 16 at Human Resources will be Video Free Earth about EZTV sister organization of the same name, and May 31 in West Hollywood Park will be ONE Night, a going away of sorts for the show.