Sept. 14-21, 1994
Not selling out
J&B premiere of Rox at the 'Bird
By Jill McMahan
Although they've changed their name and are now armed with a budget of sorts, Joe Nickell and Bart Everson of the former J&B on the ROX promise they haven't sold out. This season's show, which premieres Tues. Sept. 20th at 11:00 pm on BCAT, complete with premiere party at the Bluebird, retains all the qualities that made it a local favorite.
'We found ourselves caught in a whirlwind of moving,' said Nickell. “Moving on Down” (as opposed to up) became the theme, “...with numerous sidetracks, including but not limited to pigsfeet, yard sales, spontaneous combustion and near-death experiences.”
One of the show's regulars, Andrew Galpern, a.k.a. Mr. G and self-described “token handicapped person and American Indian,” said, “The premiere could be called an epic journey, with all the pain and struggle appropriate to such a journey.”
The name change, from J&B on the ROX to just ROX, was done to help preserve the show's original flavor. (Well, they also didn't want to get sued by that other J&B, of the liquor fame.) They were a little worried that people were referring to the show as “J&B” and didn't want people to think it was just two guys blowing off about party experiences.
"The show has always been and remains to be about a small town in the Midwest and how it opens up to the world. All concerns about our selling out will fall by the wayside upon viewing our first episode,' he promised, 'if they can remember it in the morning.'
This season's shows are 'still the same, only more so. It has more people, faster editing cuts and the best special effects.'
Nickell and Everson and company got some national attention last year with their now-infamous “J&B Get Baked” episode, on which they smoked a joint, a marijuana cigarette, that most vile of illegal substances.
In-state response included a copy of the episode being sent to the Governor's Commission for a Drug-Free America, which in turn sent a letter criticizing the show to the Monroe County Public Library, which oversees BCAT, which airs J&B on the Rox. Apparently this was an attempt to somehow punish Nickell and Everson, although they themselves have never been openly contacted by the Commission, even upon request.
“To our critics,” Nickell said, “I would like to say go make your own goddamn video pointing out our immorality and put it on the air instead of going behind our backs with this subtle, indirect shit.”
He feels that such antics put BCAT in a position that undermines its highest purpose. “BCAT is an invaluable resource for people to get on their soapbox and get their views out there without spending a lot of money and/or sucking the dicks of the powers that be,” Nickell explained.
The flak from this episode got them media attention from Indianapolis, a mention on the Howard Stern show and a 15 second clip aired on an MTV documentary. Local response was mostly positive, with many people offering words of support (“You've got great balls, man!” was one favorite) on the street.
'It feels kind of strange to know that millions of people have seen me smoking mariluana on TV and that's all they know about me,' Nickell said. 'I mean, that was one of 60 episodes over 2 years we did with a zero budget.'
Their budget for the coming season is considerably higher, thanks to financial support from the community. A number of area businesses and individuals have contributed resources to allow Nickell and Everson to devote much more time to ROX, although this hardly equals great fame and fortune for the pair.
When asked why he'd stuck around and been a part of the show for these past two years, Mr. G replied: “I like what they do and how they do it. I like that they demonstrate their commitment by staying poor.”
Nickell and Everson and company are also working on their first real job, producing a promotional video for America's College Video Competition. Blackboard Entertainment from San Francisco puts on the contest. 'They (Blackboard) really encourage young people to express themselves through the medium of video,“ Nickell said. ”We are very glad our first job was for ACVC.'
Don't forget to attend the season premiere party at the Bluebird, Tues. Sept. 20th. It will be hosted by the inimitable celebrity Eloid and will feature two bands, El NiÃ±o and Chiba Dowa. ROX will be shown between the bands and Nickell says 'there may be some extra-special surprises.' The party is sponsored by Pizza Express, WFHB and Bloomington Voice.
Pizza Express will be giving away pizza slices if you get there early enough.