Once upon a time when human beings could pay attention long enough to read a newspaper and choose their visual stimulation with care as opposed to swiping through hundreds of garbage GIFs, there existed a wonderful form of expression called Public Access Cable. Some could argue that the finest Public Access programs could be viewed in and around Los Angeles.
Around 1990ish, Angelenos lucky enough to have a teevee and luckier still to have basic cable might have tuned in to be optically blown away by Decoupage! With Summer Caprice! The show was a bundle of joy born in the brains of Kathe Duba and Craig Roose. Roose would morph into gorgeous hostess Summer Caprice to sit resplendent in ’70s couture—“Well, I’m just stuck in these Bob Mackie creations”—on a stage set of ’70s décor, themed heavily with decoupage and so many more artifacts from the era of Sexual Liberation. Curiously, the big blond hair is more 1960s Dusty Springfield, though Ms. Caprice—allegedly a former jazz dancer—compares her talk-show gimmick to that of Dinah Shore.
Ms. Caprice opens each Decoupage! with a thoughtful monologue dripping of dry-martini humor (such as flaunting the show’s sponsor diet drink Sego), before segueing into a bit reading kitschy “Cards and Letters” from fans. Then Summer would bring her guests on, most of them playing along with the kaleidoscope joke of Decoupage!
However, the first-ever episode had some bumps, even though Ms. Caprice confesses in her monologue she wants “freedom, openness and love” to propel her series. After Ms. Caprice interviews Llana Lloyd, “one of the first groupies on the Sunset Strip during the Glitter Rock experience,” she welcomes drummer Robin Ryan on the show. In the late 1980s, Ryan appeared on the Los Angeles scene, showing up, possibly uninvited, at social events around town to beat drumsticks on empty water-cooler jugs in her version of edgy street performance art. During her Decoupage! stint, she weaves awkward standup comedy interludes between bouts of drumming. Throughout her interview time that follows, Ryan sulks and insults her hostess and fellow guest, inexplicably trying to pick a fight, but Ms. Caprice holds court as the rightful Queen of Qiana. Thankfully a streaker races across the set, prompting Ms. Caprice to cackle and say to Ryan, “Oh, who cares about you at this point?” Brava to Summer Caprice!
Classic Decoupage! episodes aired 1990 and after, with very interesting guests like Fred Willard, L.A. performance artist Perpetua (aka Carol Cetrone), all-American Jewish lesbian folksinger Phranc, Julee Cruise, Vaginal Davis with her extra-salty “mother” Susan Tyrell, and the band Redd Kross. A fabulous reboot, Decoupage 2000: Return of the Goddess, was produced in 1999, which featured L7 backing the legendary Karen Black in song, and spoken word by Exene Cervenka.
Decoupage 2000 and clips from classic episodes are viewable on the Decoupage! YouTube channel, hopefully for all eternity.