TODAY   |  May 06, 2013

Original VJs reminisce about 1981 launch of MTV

Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, and Martha Quinn, four of MTV’s original VJs, have kept in touch over the years and are now sharing their stories in a new book, “VJ: The Unplugged Adventures of MTV’s First Wave.” They talk to TODAY’s Matt Lauer about their rock ’n’ roll adventures.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> nina blackwood , mark goodman , alan hunter and martha quinn are

sharing their stories in "vy: the unplugged adventures of mtv's first waves." good morning, you're all still kids.

>> absolutely right.

>> how did that happen? who remembers the audition process? what was the job description ?

>> i do, i was out in los angeles and i read "billboard" magazine and there was an article looking for --

>> harp players.

>> be quiet, anyway long story short they came out and we did auditions twice and then they said you have to move to new york, we want to hire you, and at the luncheon at tavern on the green i inhaled a piece of bread.

>> this is taking me in a direction i didn't expect. it's okay.

>> never thought the heimlich would come into it.

>> the heimlich method was done on me and i got the job.

>> and the rest is history. when it went on the air back in 1981 , did you immediately know it was going to change things forever?

>> i knew it would change my life forever because i was working at a dorm. i was working at weinstein dormitory, i was like should i continue to dispense toilet paper and light bulbs or work for this full time job? i thought it was a good bargain, good gamble.

>> mark or alan, what was the video in your opinion that absolutely changed the game forever?

>> the first one, the buggles.

>> i think mark is going to say "sledgehammer."

>> i think it's one of the greatest videos of all time so is "hot for teacher" but game changer, michael jackson 's "thriller." they wanted "beat it."

>> and the premiere of "thriller" was the first 11-minute video.

>> you guys were huge stars, you became instant stars. sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. did you take part in the whole --

>> read the book page one is all about that.

>> you were involved with the sex, drugs and red sock 'n' roll.

>> we had to have experience and knowledge. we had to know what they were getting into.

>> was dating the rock stars a part of it? raise your hand if you ever dated one of those.

>> it's easier for girls in rock 'n' roll than guys to date girls. of course we were married.

>> that was a problem. martha did you ever date any of the stars in the videos?

>> let's see -- yes.

>> can we mention who?

>> sure, i should mention introduced me to my husband so it worked out perfectly.

>> love you buddy.

>> let me come up with a couple of names and you say the first thing that comes to your mind.

>> madonna.

>> fleshy. i was recently quoted as saying she was a little flashy back then. she wasn't handled when i first met her. she was full of baubles and trinkety things.

>> one of your toughest interviews, frank zappa .

>> oh, god.

>> why?

>> he was condescending to me and it was one of my first interviews and i didn't know how to handle it. it was very bad casting and you know when the wrong person is put in --

>> bad chemistry.

>> yes.

>> a couple other names, cyndi lauper .

>> huge talent and made a mistake with the wrestling thing. left-hand turn she shouldn't have taken.

>> david lee roth .

>> to me, david lee roth , i mean wouldn't you guys say he sums up the '80s completely his over-the-top personality, everything about the '80s, the texas of decades, the hair was bigger, shoulders wider and the spandex was tighter.

>> and michael jackson .

>> game changer.

>> tragic.

>> you said recently, mark, the vj days were wonderful and terrible. wonderful terrible experience. if someone called you today, you knew nothing about it but would you do it again?

>> with these guys.

>> yes.

>> yes.

>> it's better to be the if,. i didn't want to be the second vj. we wrote the handbook such as it was. they promptly threw it out after we left.

>> i'd only do it in the same situation exactly the same.

>> at that time it was like being at the center of the universe . why would we say no.

>> the greatest thing about mtv is it introduced us to each other and we're so happy we can continue down the road of life all of us together.

>> if we hadn't done it we wouldn't be sitting here with you.

>> thoughts to j.j. as well.

>> hear, hear.

>> thank you so much.