NPF: PEYOTE SUBSTITUTE

I turned 13 in 1991, so my teenage years overlap the heart of the 1990s perfectly. Let's put it this way: I have an impressive collection of flannels, thermals, and Docs. If I have mastery of any pop culture knowledge, it would be from the 1990-1996 era. These were my junior high and high school years, and not coincidentally my years of peak TV/radio consumption, video game playing, and the like. I recall most things that were on TV, in theaters, or in heavy rotation on MTV/rock radio at the time. With these years alone am I anything other than useless during the pop culture portions of trivia competitions.

Combined with my explicit love for a good old fashioned trainwreck, I have absolutely no idea how I managed to miss the Jim J and Tammy Faye Show. Just so we're all clear…that's Jim J. Bullock, star of 1980s powerhouse sitcoms like Too Close for Comfort and ALF, and Tammy Faye Bakker, ex-wife of televangelist and fraud enthusiast Jim Bakker. Watch this. Please.

OK. A couple things here.

Watching this video clip gives me the overwhelming feeling that I have accidentally consumed a significant quantity of peyote. What is going on here? Is this a real thing or a Saturday Night Live skit? What possessed someone someone to greenlight this thundering shitshow? And most importantly, how did I not know about this when it happened?

The studio audience looks lost, confused, heavily sedated, or all three. They look like someone grabbed them off the street and promised them that it would be fun to sit in a studio audience for some unnamed talk show…only for the show to begin and the enormity of their error in judgment to become apparent. But by then it is too late.

Did this actually happen, or have I been the victim of an elaborate prank? Tammy Faye looks like John Wayne Gacy and Jim J was clearly up all night doing poppers with the sword swallower. I cannot believe that someone involved in the production – which, based on the overall "snuff film" ambiance of this video, could not have been many people – didn't euthanize this thing halfway through the filming. You'd think one of the cameramen or segment producers would just stand up and say "Stop. Everyone stop. Return to your homes." or possibly chaining all of the exits shut from the outside and setting the studio on fire.

What network aired this monstrosity? Are there other things this horrible out there that have escaped my attention? I thought I had the bases covered. I was wrong. After seeing this, I will never be the same.

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35 Responses to “NPF: PEYOTE SUBSTITUTE”

  1. Joseph Nobles Says:

    This was real. It obviously didn't last long, but there it is in all its glory. And she and Jim J were great friends who kept up with each other after this failed. Check out the 2000 documentary The Eyes of Tammy Faye. Campy as all get out, but Tammy Faye turns out to have been a pretty great person all around.

  2. J. Dryden Says:

    Somewhere out there, someone has written a thesis or a dissertation tracking the correspondence between which recreational drug was most widely used in TV/Film Production, and the resulting zeitgeist. It's pretty easy to go back and spot the "everyone in Hollywood had just discovered LSD" years, and just as easy to spot the "the producers and execs have suddenly learned how to freebase" era (hint: smashcut! smashcut! smashcut! Kenny Loggins!)

    Not sure where this one falls–early 90s movie culture seemed to be a lot less of the cranked up "I am immortal!" coke-fueled nightmare of the 80s, and more of the "fuck it–I feel nothing–whatever, man, throw it against the wall and maybe it'll stick" languor of the "maybe it's time we gave heroin another chance" era. Hard to say.

    Point is: drugs, and lots of them, went into this decision. Tammy and Jim were probably not in on this aspect of the creative process, I suspect.

  3. Major Kong Says:

    Oh the humanity!

  4. daphne Says:

    I don't know how you missed it. I did as well. The question is how did you find it? I never would have.

  5. Daniel Says:

    I actually enjoyed that…TV Land should re-air this shit on TV every night.

  6. Xynzee Says:

    "What network aired this monstrosity? Are there other things this horrible out there that have escaped my attention? I thought I had the bases covered. I was wrong. After seeing this, I will never be the same."

    Perhaps this explains why the country is in such a mess. Starting with the 80s and the launch of cable TV. We went from 5-7 channels in most markets to 500. All in need of content to fill in the spaces between Brady Bunch and Gomer Pyle reruns. Anyone from PDX remember Jim Spag dancing around public access with his doodle doing the dangle? (visibly shudders).

    Prior to getting cable I'd never heard of 700 Club, Jim n Tammy or even Inspector Gadget.

    So how many markets in need of air time to fill, had niche shows that ultimately gave rise to "cult" followings of ideas that would (should) have died out or existed in isolated pockets like unvaccinated survivalists. So like the unsuspecting Aboriginals and First Nations we've suddenly been exposed to these pox infested people.

    I always thought Jim J was gay? So did TF become a Christian Liza Minelli, or am I misreading pop culture?

    The punk in me tries to steer clear of most pop culture crap.

  7. duck-billed placelot Says:

    I love how not one part of the production escaped total fuckery level. The intro sequence is not only horribly conceived and horribly executed, but no one apparently watched it before they aired it. "Neon pink and purple suit jackets? On a stark white background? Sure! There probably won't be any color halo at all! It'll look totally normal, and not at all! like their suit jackets are leaching off their ginormous shoulder pads like some sort of creeping alien mist!"

    Also, the way the standup segment was structured (I use the term veeeery loosely), I'm gonna go ahead and guess that everyone involved forgot to read it before air time, too.

  8. Middle Seaman Says:

    Wake up, we are surrounded by surrealism for ever and ever. OK, Tammy was really several variances too far from unreal, so what? Sorry for going back to politics, its the lingua franca after all. Is Romney different from Tammy or Obama different from Jim? Not in my old eyes.

  9. Elle Says:

    Not sure where this one falls–early 90s movie culture seemed to be a lot less of the cranked up "I am immortal!" coke-fueled nightmare of the 80s, and more of the "fuck it–I feel nothing–whatever, man, throw it against the wall and maybe it'll stick" languor of the "maybe it's time we gave heroin another chance" era. Hard to say.

    I know it's not really a daytime drug, but this does have some of the hallmarks of the kind of thinking that might occur when one is rolling on E. In between the smoking of fourteen cigarettes, I could see two people deciding that they loved Jim J, and loved Tammy Faye, and that if other people could just see them hang out, in, like, some kind of place with, like, a sofa, just talking, then they would love them too.

  10. J. Dryden Says:

    @ Elle: Yes. Yes.

  11. Jimcat Says:

    There sure were a lot of failed talk shows in the 90's. I thought that "The Chevy Chase" show was the biggest train wreck in television history, until I found out about "The Magic Hour", about a decade after it actually aired.

    Funny thing about that, I got to see Magic Johnson in person just last year, and he's actually quite personable and can have a warm, relaxed conversation with people he's never met. It's easy to see why someone thought he'd make a good talk show host, but it just didn't work the same in front of a camera and studio audience.

    I'd never heard of "Jim J and Tammy Faye" either. I don't think it's going to take over the title of Most Disastrous Talk Show, just because it didn't get the same nationwide attention as Chevy Chase or Magic Johnson, but it certainly deserves a place in television's Hall of Shame.

  12. c u n d gulag Says:

    ZOINKS!
    That was epically bad!
    Trainload full of orphans going over a cliff into shark-infested waters, bad.
    OY!

    Where DID you find this monstrosity?

  13. Purple Says:

    Too Close for Comfort was also a horrible program.

  14. garry Says:

    i haven't seen anything that crazy since the last GOP debate.

  15. anotherbozo Says:

    As God is my witness, I just watched a segment of Morning Joe and would rather have been watching this inanity. (Hey, at least there were bright colors!) MJ's discussion was of the nature of private equity vs. Bain's version, and yet another recount of the Corey Booker apostasy.

    I pray for the Daily Show/Colbert's return next week so I can watch a TIVO version with breakfast.

  16. Pat Says:

    I love how Ed's post accidentally matches the themes, and to a lesser extent the cadence, of Yeats's "The Second Coming."

  17. Nick Z Says:

    The appearance of an actual sword swallower caught me by surprise.

  18. DJ Says:

    There's a real sword swallower in the clip? I just thought Ed made THE WORST gay joke.

  19. Orphos Says:

    "Just wait'll you see what his wife does!"

  20. sbj Says:

    The mid-90s had a chat-show boom. There was an 18 month period where there was a new one every week. I was around ten years old and would watch Talk Soup, where they would splice together clips from the day's most bat-shit happenings, religiously.

    The Jim J. and Tammy Fay show was one of the best to come out of that era.

    This is now a by-gone era that could never quite happen again. Youtube can now deliver the same high.

  21. Tim h Says:

    In answer to your question, the originating orifice was the ptl network, Aka "pass the loot".

  22. Edward Says:

    The Morton Downey Jr. Show foreshadowed Fox News.

  23. Robert Says:

    Not only do I remember this, I remember "Talk Soup" lampooning its demise. They got one of their 'correspondents' done up in TF makeup, surrounded by a gaggle of 'fans' likewise adorned, singing the theme song (We've got a recipe you couldn't bake up/ Two times the fun and ten times the makeup*) as a dirge. Upon hearing 'this is the defining moment of our generation' the host, who I only remember as Skunk Boy, replied 'this isn't even the defining moment of this weekend!'

    Why do I remember this? Why?

    *And why did I not have to Google that?

  24. MTB Says:

    I recall watching JM J. and Tammy Faye back when it originally aired and it happened to be on one of the three tv channels I got in those days. Compared to Oprah hyping satanic ritual abuse or some such shit on the other channel it wasn't bad at the time. When Tammy Faye's cancer got worse she was replaced by Anne Abernethy who supposedly had been Regis' sidekick before Kathy Lee.

  25. Brandon Says:

    "Too Close for Comfort was also a horrible program."

    Without a doubt but I will always remember it fondly as Lydia Cornell was one of the earliest entrants in my spank bank.

  26. Faville Says:

    I was going to go a little bit nuts if someone hadn't mentioned the original name spelling of "JM J." That alone always creeped me out whenever I saw him on Too Close for Comfort.

  27. Southern Beale Says:

    Thumbs up to the commenter who recommended "Eyes Of Tammy Faye." I actually ran into her in a Nashville Pizza Hut once back in the late 80s. She was wearing a ginormous fur coat and the gobs of makeup that was her signature.

    Anyway, I don't find this any more surreal than, say, the Kathie Lee and Hoda show. Or a few minutes of Fox & Friends.

  28. Eric Titus Says:

    Those were the talk-show years. Now we have any number of horrific competitive reality TV shows that will seem more reasonable and twice as boring fifteen years down the road. And I expect that next we'll have an excess of TV shows that emulate indie youtube channels.

  29. Abstruse Says:

    The sword swallower is Zamora the Torture King. I met him a few weeks ago at my local live music venue. Nice guy, sober, so no poppers.

  30. Halloween Jack Says:

    The weirdest thing about that show is that it seems like much more of an eighties thing. Some of it is the colors that are used for the backdrop, but Tammy Faye is much more of an eighties phenomenon thanks to the meltdown of her husband and PTL, and Jim J looks like he's from one of those synth-pop dance bands featuring young men with impossibly sharp haircuts.

  31. Tosh Says:

    @DJ: It was a joke, and a damn good one too… It's just truth is stranger than fiction which makes it all the more entertaining.

  32. Tosh Says:

    The early Reagan era sexual subtext was perilously close to rupturing the narrative

  33. electricgrendel Says:

    I suspect that is not the first time the male host has aggressive shaken a floppy wiener in his hand. I also suspect it is not the first time he has made those particular noises while a man displayed his lack of a gag reflex.

  34. Lydia Cornell Says:

    This article is HILARIOUS! You are a very funny writer.

    BTW, How dare that guy say our show was a "horrible program" Too Close For Comfort was great. I played Sara Rush.

    Deborah and I vistied and did a guest appearance on the Jim J and Tammy Faye show. I have the footage somewhere.

    Thank you Brandon ;)

    Luv xo

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