New Wave Theatre was a television program broadcast locally in the Los Angeles area on UHF channel 18 and eventually on the USA Network as part of the late night variety show Night Flight during the early 1980s. The show was created and produced by David Jove, who also wrote the program with Billboard magazine editor Ed Ochs. It was noted for showcasing rising punk and new wave acts, including Bad Religion, Fear, the Dead Kennedys, 45 Grave, The Angry Samoans and The Circle Jerks.
Peter Ivers, a Harvard-educated musician with a gregarious personality and a flair for the theatric, was the host for the entire run of the show. The format was extremely loose, owing partly to the desire to maintain the raw energy of the live performances and partly to the limited production budget. The program was presented in a format dubbed “live taped”, in which the action was shot live and the video was then interspliced with video clips, photos, and graphics of everything from an exploding atomic bomb to a woman wringing a chicken’s neck.
The show started with a montage of clips from punk and new wave acts while the title appeared and the theme song, an abrupt mixture of Fear’s “Camarillo” and The Blasters‘ “American Music”, played. Ivers would appear at the beginning and end of each show wearing dark glasses, spouting a stream of consciousness spiel about life, art and music. Besides the top-billed music acts, short skits were shown, including Sri Maharooni, a chain-smoking Indian fakir speaking about the meaning of life, and Chris Genkel (played by actor Robert Roll), a pitchman hawking bizarre products for “gherkins” from his company, Genkel Wax Works, in Adonai, Illinois. Celebrities, including Debra Winger and Beverly D’Angelo, were known to show up at NWT’s tapings; Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, who’d just begun hosting Elvira’s Movie Macabre on KHJ-TV, appeared on Episode #2 and delivered one of the Genkel Wax Works commercials that week.
New Wave Theatre came to an end in March 1983 when Ivers was found bludgeoned to death in his LA apartment.
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