WOWPresents: Clips” is our EXCLUSIVE daily peek into the extensive library of WOW shows, interviews, and pop culture ephemera we’ve collected over the last three decades that are NOW AVAILABLE on our new streaming service WOW Presents Plus.
Nelson Sullivan’s World of Wonder, a 1994 doc that aired on UK’s Channel 4, presents a compelling portrait of life in downtown New York by Nelson Sullivan, a video diarist, who created an archive of some 3000 hours before collapsing and dying on the 4th of July, 1989. It features such luminaries as Andy Warhol, Keith Haring, John Sex, RuPaul, Lady Bunny, Dean Johnson, Quentin Crisp and more, cavorting for the camera in their natural habitat, and generally just being their unguarded, iconic selves. In this clip, Nelson, Ru, Lahoma, Larry Tee, and Trade (awww, Trade!) all go to the 1989 Pride parade in NYC, where they encounter some Radical Faeiries, Manhattan Cable legend Sybil Bruncheon, and the late jewelry designer David Spada (the unidentified shirtless man in the swirly jewelry).
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And watch the trailer for Nelson Sullivan’s World of Wonder below.
And from the World According to Wonder:
When New York City’s dilapidated downtown was starting to wake up and smell the cocaine, the South Carolina expatriate Nelson Sullivan had already quit his music store job, moved into an old building in the Meatpacking District (where meat was still being packed), and begun videotaping 24/7 what would become the city’s most decadent decade – the 1980s. With his old-school camcorder strapped to his shoulder like a third arm, Nelson maneuvered through streets and passed doormen, getting up close and personal with the big and small stars of the new scene, all the while providing a continuous chatty narration in his southern drawl, y’all. He was always welcome, whether it was backstage with the Pyramid drag queens, at Limelight with the club kids, or visiting Sylvia Miles in her kitchen. Everyone felt comfortable talking to him and his camera. Over the course of his short life (after making an eerily prophetic tape sitting by the Hudson River on July 3, 1989, he died suddenly of a heart attack at age 41 the next day), he had amassed nearly 3,000 hours of tape, the footage including the likes of everyone from Andy Warhol to Keith Haring to John Sex to Cookie Mueller to Deee-Lite to a not-yet-famous RuPaul (always a delight!) to drag queen Christina and other denizens of the Chelsea Hotel. World of Wonder’s Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato have sifted and sorted through the hundreds of hours of Nelson’s tapes and edited together the rarely seen highlights of what turned out to be important sociological documentation. Who knew?