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10 Things You Never Knew About the Original MTV VJs

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Reading the book VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV’s 1st Wave  just blew my mind. It’s written by Martha Quinn, Alan Hunter, Mark Goodman, and Nina Blackwood with Gavin Edwards. They divulge all kinds of secrets, anecdotes, and back story on the channel that changed the face of music forever — Hard to believe if you’ve been watching MTV the last 20 years, but the M actually stands for “music.”

At its inception, MTV was edgy and remarkable. It was the center of the rock scene for years. Launching on cable channels in 1981, MTV was HUGE for me. I was 9 years old and I was glued to the TV every day after school — and during the summer my TV viewing knew no bounds. I watched it all — from videos to interviews to the awkward/witty banter of the VJs in-between videos.

Guys, it was better than Twitter.

Check out these mad facts about the first video jockeys and the job MTV invented — and remember, as Mark Goodman puts it, “We’re the reason you have no attention span. And you can pin reality TV on us too. You’re welcome.”

  • 10 Things You Never Knew About the Original MTV VJs 1 of 11
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    Photo Source: Martha Quinn Facebook

  • Mark and Alan Were Married 2 of 11
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    Not to each other — But Mark Goodman and Alan Hunter were both married when they were hired as 2 of MTV's first VJs. Mark's troubled marriage lasted until 1988. Mark partied and cheated on his wife as if he were a rock star, which took a toll. Alan Hunter's marriage to his wife lasted much longer—Almost 20 years! But in the end Alan divorced Jan, who had stayed with him through the antics of countless MTV Spring Break Specials.

    Photo Source: Martha Quinn Facebook

  • Martha and Alan Flirted 3 of 11
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    Martha and Alan admitted to having a slight mutual crush early on in their VJ careers. They flirted on camera when they would change shifts at the studio. Alan's wife was not happy about this. She even called up Martha and asked her to stop flirting with her husband. And Martha did! Martha recounts this as an early lesson she learned at MTV. She and the Hunters became good friends. Martha even babysat their first son, Dylan, when they were in the hospital having their 2nd baby. Martha was especially devastated by Alan's divorce.

  • Mark Goodman Was a Drug Dealer 4 of 11
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    It's true. Mark Goodman sold drugs to make a living during high school. He lost all his savings in a big drug bust right before he went to college. Apparently drugs continued to play a big part in Mark's MTV lifestyle. Let's just say the concert and interview circuit was not tame. David Lee Roth was around a lot. You do the math.

    Photo Source: Mark Goodman Facebook

  • They Did Their Own Makeup 5 of 11
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    It's hard to even imagine this now that celebrities are styled and handled within an inch of their lives, but for the first few years the MTV VJs were each given a makeup kit and they did their own makeup whenever they went on TV. Sometimes Martha and Nina Blackwood even put makeup on the rock stars they were interviewing. Nina did makeup for Steven Tyler, and Martha put eyeliner on Bob Dylan.

    Photo Source: Martha Quinn Facebook

  • They Weren’t Paid Great 6 of 11
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    Here's the breakdown of their salaries in 1981 when they were hired:

    Martha: 26,000

    Alan: 27,500

    Mark: 75,000

    Nina didn't say exactly how much she made. But the others are extremely forthcoming about what they made and the kinds of raises they got over the years.

    Photo Source: Martha Quinn Facebook

     

  • They Got $500 Quarterly For Clothes 7 of 11
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    Again, they weren't styled and there was no wardrobe for the first few years. The VJs each got $500 quarterly to go out and buy clothes to wear on-air. They eventually started getting freebies from designers as well. Nice perk!

    Photo Source: Martha Quinn Facebook

  • Martha Quinn Stole Paul McCartney’s Tea Cup 8 of 11
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    After a much-coveted interview with Paul McCartney, Martha Quinn noticed that Paul left half a cup of tea. She drank it. She then stole the tea cup, saucer, and spoon. It is under glass in her house and has never been washed. That's what we love about Martha—She was a crazy fan just like us.

    Photo Source: Martha Quinn Facebook

     

  • Nina Thought Dio Was Satanic 9 of 11
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    In a quirky revelation, Nina admits to being afraid of anything Satanic. Ronnie James Dio did the horns sign with his hand a lot (you know, pointer and pinky out). She also thought he had a musky scent and reeked of Satan. VJ intuition, I guess.

    Photo Source: Martha Quinn Facebook

  • They Shared a Co-Ed Dressing Room 10 of 11
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    Apparently MTV was a pretty low-budget deal in the beginning. And producers really didn't want any one VJ to become bigger than the channel itself. So they all shared a co-ed dressing room for the first few years. When you imagine changing clothes next to JJ Jackson you realize that being a VJ wasn't as glamorous as you thought!

    Photo Source: Martha Quinn Facebook

  • Martha Quinn Became a La Leche League Leader 11 of 11
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    Martha married Jordan Tarlow of the Fuzztones in 1991. They have 2 kids. Martha became a proponent of nursing and attachment parenting. Who knew?

    Photo Source: Martha Quinn Facebook

My review of the book, here.

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