The first 3 issues of NEON in 1977 - a fanzine for the punk band Tracks
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The number of issues continued to grow steadily. Soon we were laying out the entire magazine on a Macintosh computer, establishing a solid base of international subscribers and selling a bi-monthly NEON at select locations throughout New York. We began having complimentary copies dropped off at the hottest clubs in town. After a feature in Tower Records' Pulse magazine, agents and record company publicists started approaching us to have Lorry interview their artists or review their albums and shows. What probably appealed to Lorry the most was getting the opportunity to shoot shows of some of her favorite performers in action - up close and personal from the photo pit.

But Lorry got off on the interviews, too. Being a performer herself, she always seemed to be able to get an artist to relax and got the most out of her subjects. She tried to set the interviews up at our Lower East Side apartment (the original NEON Lounge) rather than at the record company or the venue they were playing at. While the mainstream publications were basically getting a version of the “Official Record Company Press Release,” Lorry’s interviews got into the head of the artist and brought out the human motivations that drove them. The interviews always seemed to quickly reach a point where the artist forgot that a tape deck or camera was rolling and would lapse into an easy and comfortable conversation. Of course, this meant that Lorry and I sometimes had to do a bit of discreet editing to save embarrassment to all.  We weren’t releasing puff pieces, but after all, NEON wasn’t 60 Minutes or the National Enquirer. Soon, Lorry Doll got a reputation within the industry for being the interview to do when you came to New York.


The first issue of NEON was published in 1977 in a dank artist’s loft in Boston. It was one folded sheet of paper making up four xeroxed pages of hand-rubbed LetraSet headlines, grainy photos rubber cemented into postition and copy banged out on a worn out Royal typewriter. NEON started life as a fanzine to promote the music of the punk band Tracks that I had put together in 1976 with Lorry Doll, but it also covered the emerging Boston new wave scene. Lorry and I put out three issues, moved to New York City and sporadically had NEON printed up when we felt our new bands (the Wild Ones and the Doll-Reys) needed an extra jolt of publicity. We continued to cover the rest of the local scene and eventually found ourselves deluged with requests from local bands, clubs and other fanzines to give them coverage. NEON Magazine was officially registered as a business in 1984 and we started having runs of four or five hundred printed up four times a year.
By the beginning of the 90s we were putting out a lot of copies of a pretty slick, large format newspaper and the production costs were escalating dramatically in contrast to our advertising income. Manhattan Cable offered an outlet to put NEON in front of a very large audience of New York City cable subscribers twice a week. Initially the record labels weren’t too enthused with the idea of public-access cable TV, but Lorry had her new stage with NEON TV and did it with a flair that couldn’t be replicated in the print medium. She did interviews, introduced videos that weren’t being played elsewhere, ran down the latest releases on the Quick Cuts segment (MTV would later have their Buzz Bin version of it - perhaps they even got that name from the Buzzz column Lorry wrote in NEON magazine), dished out the latest industry gossip and news, and basically hosted a spirited late night music party. Within minutes of our second show signing off, Joey Ramone called to ask if he could be on. Lorry had already interviewed him a few times for the newspaper, but he was really excited about the TV show. So we packed up our gear and walked the couple blocks to his apartment and shot a two-hour interview on his couch. After editing it into two shows, it looked great and convinced the stubborn record labels that getting their artists exposed on New York cable TV was a great idea, especially since MTV wasn’t always receptive to them. It wasn’t long before we had access to some of the stars that in the past wouldn’t have considered the somewhat limited audience of NEON magazine as an aid to advancing their careers. But, they were more than willing to appear on camera and hype their latest record and tour to the vast (and very hip) audience of Manhattan cable subscribers.


The first 3 issues of NEON in 1977
Starting out as a fanzine for a Boston punk band, NEON would evolve into a New York City tabloid that covered the local and national music scene featuring interviews and show reviews of international acts. It would lead to the cable show NEON TV hosted by Lorry Doll and eventually to NEONnyc.com
A (NOT SO) SHORT HISTORY
Producing a weekly TV show was not a job but a vocation. Lorry and I were going out to shoot video interviews at least twice a week. Plus there were phone calls to catch up on the doings and gossip of bands touring out of town or out of the country (remember, this was before the world got wired). We were getting five to twenty new albums and videos to review a day, had to go see bands perform almost every night, plus attend industry parties and record release events. That was all to just gather material for the show. Then we had to write on-air copy, set up and film Lorry’s segments and intros. Edit the artist interviews down into a reasonable and coherent format. Set up and take incidental shots of CD covers, publicity and performance photos. Take all that stuff, add computer graphics, background music, and additional video footage and edit it all down into a twenty-eight minute episode. Public access TV has a deservedly bad reputation for airing sloppy, amateurish programming. We were determined to produce a show that people would feel comfortable appearing on. We put a whole lot of work into production and felt each show we aired was a little gem that we were very proud of. It took an enormous amount of hours and effort and, oh yes, we still had our own band, too. Am I complaining? Let’s see. We met a lot of very cool people, saw a whole bunch of great shows for free and partied very hardy at the expense of record companies who on occasion got the chance to see our own band play at the gigs we were getting because of the publicity generated by our TV show. Not a bad deal and we enjoyed it completely.
NEON television
Featuring screen shots of some of the hot guests that appeared on NEON TV.

 
NEON pix
A gallery of  NEON concert shots featuring David Bowie, Billy Idol, Keith Richards, the Sex Pistols' Steve Jones and many more.


NEON interviews
Vintage NEON interviews with Joey Ramone, Dick Manitoba, Steve Jones, Lita Ford and many more.
NEON candids
Candid shots of some of the celebs NEON met up with off-stage. Featuring Dee Snyder, Metallica, ZZ Top and more.

NEON recent issues

LORRY DOLL site
The life and times of  NEON's founder and the original riot grrrl of punk.


NEON history
A brief history of  NEON's 25 years of banging out the best and  baddest punk 'n roll.
#105
(Apr/May '04)
#106
(Summer '04)
#107
(Sept  '04)
#104
(Feb/Mar '04)
#103
(Winter  '03)
#102
(Fall  '03)
#101
(Summer  '03)
#100
(Spring  '03)
25th Anniv. Issue
NEON TV - hosted by Lorry Doll, it aired spirited interviews, rock news and videos twice a week to a vast audience of Manhattan Cable subscribers
We managed to keep NEON TV going for several years, but Lorry and I were beginning to produce artwork again and found ourselves airing more and more repeats until we realized that we could no longer keep up the pace needed to produce great shows on a consistent basis. We began working on a format for a NEON internet site that would have some contemporary features, but for the most part be a static archive for the sights and sounds of the various music scenes we had been a part of for over twenty years. We were familiar with computers and graphics so it seemed like a natural transition ... but, our time was being consumed by other creative outlets, and eventually we ran out of time. But now it is time to continue NEON's long tradition of presenting the best and baddest of Punk 'n' Roll. Check out the Archives below to see what we covered over the past twenty-five years and to see what the new 'zine is all about. Hope the latest version of NEON is as much fun to experience as it is to produce.
- Jeff Rey
#108
(Spring '05)