I was working as a staff writer at Rolling Stone. I had a friend who worked at MTV, and she called me and said, "They're looking for VJs for this new channel. Do you want to try out?" I had zero TV experience, but I thought, "Well, what the hay."— Jancee Dunn
The most heartwarming Jancee Dunn quotes to discover and learn by heart
What most people find festive-a weekend at a beach shack with friends, a boat trip down a river, a crackling bonfire on a summer night-I see as a bleak nightmare to be grimly endured. I would sooner put lit cigarettes in my eyes than share a vacation house with a crowd.
[On a high school visit by Destiny's Child:] Then they appeared, golden Glamazons resplendent in hot pants the size of a dryer sheet and gold stiletto boots. The kids in the front row, clearly on funkiness overload, had the walleyed look of the Today's Catch section of the supermarket.
if your subject is an actor, he or she will also be shorter in person than they appear onscreen. This, also, you must keep to yourself. Even if you think you are giving their lack of height a positive spin, you aren't. 'You always seem larger than life in photos, but it's nice to see that in person you're just like us' might seem like a compliment, but what a star hears is 'You're stumpy, and you will lose jobs to taller people.
I had this producer who became a friend, named Lou [Stellato].
Maybe it was a budget thing, but he never wanted to do any retakes. The more I would have a mental breakdown on the air.
[ Lenny Kravitz] is really handsome, and I know I should be objective and think about his music, but up close, he is a really good-looking guy. He was hugging me while I was trying to go to a video, and I completely... You turn into a giddy girl, and it was just horrifying, because he really smelled good, and just the whole package... It's just too much.
I wondered how I was going to do it and keep my job at Rolling Stone at the same time. They were very nice, and they let me disappear for two days a week for a couple of hours. That's how long shooting was.
I started getting fan notes from people saying, "Oh, keep up the mess-ups," and I'm thinking, "I'm not doing it deliberately. This is just who I am." But people thought it was funny. I guess if you're watching and you see that I could do it, maybe it gives hope that anybody can do it.
I think in its own small way, it did push people to be more accepting of different kinds of music. It definitely made music more egalitarian in terms of, it took away the shame of the goofy bands that you liked.
I would get adult acne when it was somebody really famous I had to interview, so sometimes I would have to look straight at the camera because I couldn't look sideways or profile, because it would show.
If I felt like not saying what was on the cue card, I would. We rarely did retakes.
A few of the artists knew my name, because I have an unusual name, from Rolling Stone.
What really takes me back is when I'm walking around the Lower East Side, because we went to so many places [there] - the bakery, a mannequin store, all these factories with mice running around. That also is very visceral and takes me back. Pool halls, tattoo parlors, all kinds of stuff like that.
I got a unicorn horn on my head once.
I said, "Can you really see that on camera?" My producer said, "You can see it from space." I would have to angle my head a certain way so that I didn't look misshapen on camera.
When they've shut down, you get more nervous.
They react to that, and it's just this hideous shame spiral. Although sometimes that can be some good train-wreck TV. That's another reason it's definitely difficult - when you are just not connecting, and it's there for the world to see.
When you disclose something really personal in hopes that the person will then disclose something personal, too? It's all there on camera, your techniques that everyone can see through.
When I hear the Spice Girls, yeah, all that '90s stuff, like Limp Bizkit.
Dandy Warhols! Whenever I hear them, it takes me right back, because they were friends of the channel, too.
I'm a sucker for a man who giggles-not a high-pitched serial-killer sort of giggle, but a lighthearted laugh.
Coldplay was unknown, and we played them over and over and over again, and they were really loyal to us. They went on M2 way after they had broken and become famous, because they remembered us.
The worst was I had little control in terms of smoothing out my questions and making myself look good the way I could in print. All the ums and uhs and rambling and apologies and hyenalike laughter at something that really isn't funny. You know when an artist will crack a joke, and you're like, "That's so hilarious," like, the fawning laughter that you can at least cut when it's print? It's just all out there, and it's really humiliating.
And when I say [M2 was] lo-fi production, it was so great and grimy.
I was used to that world anyway, because we shot in bars, we shot in thrift shops, we shot on the street. And the bars, they would have just opened, and still there was barf on the floor and beer. We certainly kept it real. It was a small crew.
I don't look like a model; I'm a rock writer.
If you were to share your workout playlist with the world, I guarantee there's stuff on there that wouldn't pass the cool test, and M2 helped in that way.
We had a wonderful department that scouted out new music.
It was beneficial to Rolling Stone, because I would come back and say, "You have to hear this, you have to hear that," and I found a lot of bands to feature, emerging bands. It [ended up being] symbiotic.
You can see when that happens with bands when they do TV appearances;
they just shut down. They get really irritated.
I can barely listen to my tapes when I'm transcribing, because I can't stand how I sound.
When someone shuts down on you... There were a couple of times of somebody that was just unpleasant, and you can't get them to loosen up. It's this horrible spiral when it's on camera, because you're trying to get them to like you, to trust you, to give you decent answers.
I was 35. I was the oldest female VJ at Viacom ever. I left them, which at least preserved my dignity, because I'm sure they would eventually have kicked me to the curb. I mean, who there is over 35 now? I can't even imagine. On air? I was glad I lasted that long.
I grew up in New Jersey in the '80s. That means one thing: Big hair. ... I had big hair, my boyfriends had big hair, we all had big hair. Our prom looked like the poodle division of the Westminster dog show.
Also because few people were watching - aside from a healthy amount of incarcerated people, because M2 was offered in a lot of prisons - I was able to ask really long, kind of muso questions, that they loved. We could really geek out and talk about music for long periods of time, and that tape would just keep rolling and rolling.
We were really responsive. It was very personalized for the die-hards that did watch, and I thought that would be a big draw, too.
Before M2, I really felt self-conscious about some of my choices, and I was slotted into a category. At Rolling Stone, I was the alternative chick, and that was just the way it was. That did break me open a little bit, and that was maybe its legacy. And it's a nice one.
It hit me that being hip was a full-time job, and I was only a part-timer.
I couldn't hide forever that I liked county fairs, particularly the goat booth at the 4-H tent, or that I once spent a week with my grandmother at her house in the giant retirement community of Sun City, Arizona, and it was one of the most carefree times of my life.
[MTV] just wanted a regular person that knew a decent amount about music.
I'm so used to doing solitary interviews. You have some control - it's quiet, it's just you with your tape recorder and the person. Then when I was in front of the camera, I broke out in hives, which I continued to do well after I got the job.
I'm trying to think of who was really unpleasant or just not in the mood for talking. We had on Thurston Moore and he was just not feeling it that day, so it was difficult. Your difficult interview is out there for the world.
Sometimes we were really surprised. There were major artists that would come by because they wanted to.