Saskatoon-based Tapeheads Jon Vaughn and Tyler Baptist Re-Animate Video Rental Glory and Celebrate the Magic of Magnetic Tape with VIDEONOMICON!
The Videonomicon logo on some bitchin' bumper stickers. Stick 'em and stick 'em and support awesome analog dudes.How did the idea for the store come about? What inspired you to take on the project? Tyler Baptist: Jon and I had been working on the idea of Videonomicon for some time, actually a couple of years, when by chance it came up in discussion between our friend Scott Gowen, who runs Beaumont Records in town here. This was over a year ago now and previous to that, the plan for Videonomicon consisted mostly of us writing about VHS and possibly looking into releasing some of these unsung gems if we could obtain the rights. However when approached with the idea of putting our collections up for rental in Scott’s record store, we began pursuing the possibility of actually doing so, and finally took the Videonomicon project off the back-burner. Jon Vaughn: Tyler and I had been working on building an archive of rare VHS for some years and knew that eventually we’d come up with the ideal way to bring it to life outside of our basements. The video store just seemed like one of those it’s-just-so-crazy-it-might-actually-work kind of ideas that we decided it was the best way to begin putting Videonomicon in action. When it came to naming the store, our friend (local poet and actor) Brendan Flaherty conjured it up when the two of us were bored and brainstorming at our jobs working at a now defunct media store chain. Props!
Some totally killer booklets highlighting all the magnetic magic in Videonomicon! ANALOGANDA? I can dig it.You're renting VHS exclusively. I LOVE IT. Why go for this angle? TB: Simply put there are still a plethora of films and movies that have not made the leap to any other format. People need to see these movies, regardless of how good or bad they are. It’s important to take that risk. And there's something about VHS, and it's not just nostalgia because I grew up with it, but the physicality of it - it actually exists. That, and I greatly miss the video store and the younger generation need to experience it. And if they don't have a VCR, no problem… we rent those, too! JV: I find the entire experience of going to a video store, checking out VHS, drooling over the covers and falling into a hypnotic spell of its aesthetic conglomeration of elements a totally erotic and necessary experience for those interested in unique and imaginative cinema from the recent past. Everything from the texture and shape of big boxes and clamshells to the clicking and clunking noises as it enters one’s VCR are points of interest and intrigue for us. Beaumont Records, our home for Videonomicon, caters to this passion as well as being a supportive DIY marketplace for other enthusiasts of media-based art forms.
An example of a rental from Videonomicon's shelves! Damn, that's smooth.Have you been collecting tapes for a while? Tell us about your Videovore habits. TB: I've always had a VHS collection, which started back in 1990 at the age of 4 when I got TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES on VHS for Christmas. I still have that tape. I grew up in the video store, so when they'd have their annual previously viewed sales I'd stock up on my favourite former rentals. Since then my collecting habits have not changed, and I’ve definitely raided all the local video stores in and around my city when they sadly started to close their doors. The Internet has made it easier of course to obtain wanted titles, but I try to obtain most of my collection in the wild. JV: Besides being totally obsessed with going to video stores and renting VHS in my youth, the origins of my personal collection really began to take shape in the early 2000s. I was working in a video store that eventually started selling off and buying other video stores’ inventory for resale when DVDs came along, which opened the door for me to own what I believed to be works of high art that I had only temporal access to before. After that, there was no turning back, and I’d find myself tracking down leads on forgotten stashes of VHS tapes, going from friends’ to strangers’ garages and basements to every second-hand shop and video store that I could find anywhere in Canada on my travels. I also spent many ridiculous hours exploring the deep end of VHS retailers online, compelled to put together the puzzles in my memories of what bizarre and wonderful things I remembered from the glory days of renting and watching VHS. Along the way, I indulged in many tangents and found all sorts of amazing videos I’d never even dreamed would have existed. Very close to the onset of this quest, I knew that I wanted to create some sort of pubic archive or library. It was fortunate that I met Tyler through booking one of his bands at a show of mine and he invited me over to see his collection, which made it clear very early that an important dialogue as collectors and enthusiasts would be imminent.
A small section of Jon's collection, and the man himself. Super-rad Castle Greyskull Set not pictured.You've got all of your titles up on the site, with quite a few slabs o' analog awesome. Where do you get your stock? People can donate stuff, too, right? TB: The stock comes from the personal collections of both Jon and I. Since we only have a small shelf in the store we are limited to the number of rentals at one time, which is 50. Because of this, we completely rotate the stock every two months, thus keeping the selection fresh and interesting for our membership. We also carry a decent selection of previously viewed stock for sale. As far as donations, yes we gladly accept tapes if people are willing to donate for the better good! JV: Thank you! I agree it’s pretty slab-o-riffic. And so much more to come, too! It’s also a possibility that there could be contributions in the future from other collectors we know who have roots in the primordial days of Videonomicon, as well.
A peek at just some of what's for rent at Videonomicon. Mmmhmmm. Mmhmmm. I like what you've done here...Can you explain a little bit about your rental policy(ies)? Are you doing deposits for the rarer tapes? TB: All you need to do to rent at Videonomicon is fill out all the required and necessary information on the membership form and sign on the dotted line. It's completely free to sign up! However, you do need a credit card or valid driver’s license since we are in the business of rentals. No deposits or anything like that, but like Dave Foley said on THE KIDS IN THE HALL, "When you rent a video you enter into a sacred trust!" so there will be late fees, or replacement costs if tapes are lost or damaged. We do limit rentals to three tapes out at one time, and all rentals are 3-day rentals. And please, rewind! JV: The rarest of our tapes we are hoarding for screenings and possible releases. Everything else we are taking a deep breath and putting up for rental or sale.
A wider look at what's for rent. Man, that SWAMP THING cartoon RULES.Why do you think it's important to keep VHS alive? Why do you love it? TB: To preserve cinema. Home video opened up Hollywood to every back alley in the world, and it's important, even on some of those shitty Goodtimes EP tapes, to give people the opportunity to experience something that might entertain them more than anything they've ever seen or heard of before. I love it because VHS opened up the world for me as a kid and I decided at a very early age what I wanted to do with my life. I work in the film industry, and VHS was my gateway to my career path. JV: My motivation is also for preservation, with perhaps a bit more of a focus on the objects themselves and how VHS for me is also a collection of visual art and design pieces that I care about remembering. As an illustrationist and print designer I have taken a wide range of cues from video cover artists, from the visceral bruitism of Ghanaian bootlegs to the quasi-dadaist collages of Prism videos to the staged almost-performance art-esque scenarios photographed for such VHS releases as FEMALE PLASMA SUCKERS. I’m also incredibly interested in connections or lack thereof between the covers and the actual movies. For me, preserving that experience of not knowing a strange film or video and seeing its cover for the first time, to renting it and taking it home and watching it alone or with friends is what I’m interested in creating for people. In the end, though, it is all about celebrating the work of those we love even when no one else wants to throw them a party.
Some choice slabs o' analog right here, mang. The even got some Video Catnip for your analog-inclined kitty. DIG IT.Besides being a rental shop, you're also going to be using the website to promote and document VHS culture. What can we expect from you on Videonomicon.com? TB: We wanted a way to make Videonomicon more than just a local video store, but a place to appreciate home video and its impact… so we also offer reviews, interviews, and other articles on the site. We'll also be doing screenings and events, as well as releasing and distributing titles we've secured the rights to. JV: We’re pretty much a hyperactive idea factory and love thinking of new applications and things we could do with the project and if I reveal too much it might jinx us. However, I will say that we plan to make the old ones very proud! ;)
Massively groovy rentals all in a row! Lookin' GOOD.What's next, guys? TB: We're working on our first two releases right now, the first of which is a lost local film never before released called RYAN’S BABE we're slating for a late Fall / early Winter release. It's this insane road movie about a guy who has the worst luck with the opposite sex. He's always getting into bizarre trouble and has to constantly be on the run. Paul Corupe from Canuxploitation.com, who's seen the film, managed to work in comparisons to both The Room and Doris Wishman, so we're hoping to find an audience for it… because it deserves one! The second release we found film materials and rights for, so we're partnering with Vinegar Syndrome and releasing the Director's cut of Mike Cartel's RUNAWAY NIGHTMARE. They're handling optical editions; we'll be doing the limited VHS issue, so that'll be coming early 2014. Other stuff is in the works. JV: We want to keep expanding the scope of how the rare works of art we are showcasing in Videonomicon are appreciated and understood in our communities of collectors, aficionados, and casual appreciators. There are many ideas and aspects to these tapes we’re holding in our hands that could be explored and shared, and I think that in both our releases and rental content we want to focus on bringing the stories of their makers to the surface that in many cases could easily never be known. I genuinely love the videos in our collection and believe wholly in their artistic authenticity, aesthetic innovation, and relevance in many areas of arts and culture. What’s next could be a total surprise lurking around the corner waiting to pounce and shock the hell out of us and send us blasting off down another mysterious and alluring back alley in the wastelands of cinema!
Open for business, mang! Jon talks tape with a customer with a stash of beef jerky in his fanny pack. That's how to do it.Anything else for all the voracious Videovores out there? TB: If you're ever in Saskatoon, come visit Videonomicon! And keep checking the site, as we're keeping it updated with new content and continuing to usher in more releases in the future! JV: If you’re like me and you literally dream about finding magically obscure VHS big boxes of mind-bendingly weird films in strange stores off the more frequently traveled roads in this world, then Videonomicon just may be your grimoire, as well! ;)
Man, I dream about finding rare-ass big box glory ALL THE TIME! I’m glad to hear it’s not just me dreaming up seedy, dust-ridden establishments concealing mounds of magnetic magic. Makes a man feel like he belongs, ya know? And, hey, we do! One look at the analog addicted antics that occur on HORROR VHS COLLECTORS UNITE!, this website and all the efforts of the ever-growing army of VHS admirers, and you’ll know. And speaking of, stay tuned to Videonomicon.com for all sorts of video era celebration and appreciation, and if you’re in the Saskatoon area, go rent a tape or three! Support Independent Analog Dreams!