Meet the Queen of Smut, Robin Byrd

by:   |   Mar 11 2014

In 2013, while everyone was out accomplishing important life milestones like having a baby, getting that promotion, or buying a summer home, I was focused on something that REALLY matters: I met Robin Byrd. Talk about having your goddamn priorities straight! As far as I’m concerned, Robin Byrd is New York royalty. Some of my earliest memories in N.Y.C. include coming home after some weird party, laying in bed watching the Robin Byrd show, and thinking that this crazy fucking place was exactly where I needed to be.

TheRobinByrdShow

robinbyrdboat

Musto-with-chip,-robin,-Joey-Stefano

robinloveme

Born and raised in N.Y.C., Byrd got her first big break when she won the “Ms. All Bare America” contest—which helped launch her career in the porn industry in the late ’70s/early ’80s. (Her most infamous film being Debbie Does Dallas.) In 1979, she started a public access show in New York called Hot Legs but quickly changed the title to the much more reasonable The Robin Byrd Show. Each episode featured Byrd in her trademark black crocheted bikini and white nail polish, on an all-red set with a large, heart-shaped neon sign that bore the name of her show. At the beginning of the program, you’d see a feather-haired Byrd applying lip gloss and asking her viewers to “lie back and get comfortable.” Then she’d invite various porn stars and strippers on the show, both male and female, to be “interviewed,” perform, and take calls from viewers. At the end of the episode, Byrd would interact with her guests by playing with their nipples or spanking their asses while they sang her infamous outro jingle, “Baby Let Me Bang Your Box.” Needless to say, it was an anything-goes, No Prudes Allowed zone.

The Robin Byrd Show was a portal into a world that I knew nothing about; I couldn’t believe you could watch these amazing, sleazy performances in the privacy of your own home. While cable access has obvs been home to plenty of hyper-sexed programs, there was some kind of special magic floating around the Robin Byrd studio. She managed to conjure up an incredible combination of low-budget trashiness that was sex-positive, artsy, and joyful; there was a lot of big hair, fringe bras, dudes in spandex unitards, giant breasts, boys kissing, glitter thongs, beefcakes, and, of course, leather. It was over the top, but it never felt shameful or grimy. (And as a bonus, much of it was set to bangin’ ’90s house music.) Robin always found a way to work in some kind of “message” to her shows—she was always preaching about dental dams and safe sex—and had an almost-motherly way about her. Whether or not it was true, you got the sense that she respected her guests, and really wanted to promote them in a positive light. Progressive and downright entertaining, it quickly became the late-night backdrop in my N.Y.C. apartment. And if you watch these clips, there’s a good chance you’ll get hooked too.

)

)

(Her website really says everything about Byrd’s commitment to low-budget entertainment. In the “Who Is Robin Byrd” section, you can watch clips of her show displayed on a big-ass TV from the ’90s. So weird, and so Byrd.)

So last year, the opportunity for me to go see the Robin Byrd variety show came up, and of course I was so fucking into it. I had no idea what to expect but I was ready for anything. It was held at the N.Y.C.’s Cutting Room, and the audience consisted of mostly old New York heads, industry people, and other long-time weirdos/watchers like us. It was hard for any two-hour variety show to live up to the legend that Robin Byrd had become in my mind—there was a serious dearth of men with mullets and sequin thongs dancing to house music—but I suppose that type of performer doesn’t really exist anymore, except in my memory. But it was still a fun, nudity-filled evening complete with sexy dancers, drag performers, and Byrd being her oddball self. The real mind-blowing moment didn’t come until we decided to “hang out” next to Byrd’s dressing room after the show, to try to get a photo with her. After about 30 minutes of seeing drunk, glitter-covered people come and go from her dressing room, she finally appeared. We introduced ourselves as longtime fans and fawned all over her, and she couldn’t have been sweeter or more gracious. We took some photos, cracked jokes, and just became the BFFs I always knew we were meant to be. Being in the presence of this smut legend was a completely dreamy experience. Ms. Byrd, thanks for creating a beautifully awkward and sexy portal for so many New Yorkers. More importantly, thanks for letting your freak flag fly, and letting us all take a peek.

And if you want to see the shots of me, GAL Ed-in-Chief Molly, and Honorary GAL McZue fanning out with Robin, feast your eyes on these:

IMG_4304 P1030786 IMG_4301

 

 

The following two tabs change content below.
Jenny

Jenny

Creative Director of G.A.L.
Jenny

Latest posts by Jenny (see all)