[Editor’s note: It’s Thanksgiving, so your Flavorwire editors and writers are taking a much-needed break. We’ll return to our normal publishing schedule tomorrow, but in the meantime, we’ll be revisiting some of our favorite content from the past few months. This post was originally published October 20, 2010.] It’s time again to play that game where we look into the lives of people who were once in the limelight and have since faded, for one reason or another, out of sight. In the 1980s and 90s, the VJ was king and MTV was his domain. That was, of course, when MTV actually played music videos more or less continuously, instead of investing in low-brow culture staples like The Hills and Jersey Shore. Remember the omnipresent MTV News presence of Serena Altschul? How about Downtown Julie Brown, in her cutoffs and hats? What about Bill Bellamy? All this, and more, below the jump.
Simon Rex began his career as a small-time porn star — with a name like that, can you blame him? — and was vaulted into MTV fame when he was hired as a VJ back in 1995. He left the network two years later, and has gone on to a semi-successful acting career, with roles in shows like Everwood and Felicity, as well as well-attended if terrible parody films like Scary Movies 3 and 4. Weirdest of all though, is Rex’s burgeoning rap career under the handle “Dirt Nasty,” that made him a YouTube sensation as well as a guest on Paris Hilton’s My New BFF. He also made a cameo appearance in Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok” video (he’s the guy with the mullet and unfortunate mustache).
Image via NYDN
Bill Bellamy — who may be the originator of the term “booty call” — was a staple of MTV in the 1990s, starting at Def Comedy Jam and then working as a VJ and hosting MTV Jamz and MTV Beach House. Bellamy kept telling jokes and acting — he landed roles in Any Given Sunday and Love Jones, and currently hosts a show on TV One called Bill Bellamy’s Who’s Got Jokes, now in it’s fourth season.
Camp won his time at MTV through the show Wanna Be a VJ in 1998, and hosted Total Request Live for a year. After his time was up, he left the MTV world and joined a hair metal band, called Jesse and the 8th Street Kids. After releasing one album, Camp pretty much disappeared. In 2008, TMZ reported that he had last been seen working as a cashier at a pet supply store.
MTV News personality Serena Altschul was the more serious side of the network, hosting shows like True Life and Breaking It Down. She went on have a notable career in broadcast journalism, working at CNN in the early aughts and then moving to CBS as a correspondent in 2003. She also appeared as herself in the 1999 Jay-Z video for “Dope Man” and in the film adaptation of Josie and the Pussycats.
Martha Quinn was part of the original crop of VJs, and was voted by Rolling Stone readers “MTV’s Best Ever VJ” in the 1990s. Quinn stuck around television, working on The Brady Bunch sequel, The Bradys, and co-hosting Star Search in 1994. She also had a recurring role on Full House and worked as a correspondent for The Early Show. Today, Quinn hosts an ’80s show on satellite radio which has aired since 1995. She even has her face on a board game: The 80’s Game with Martha Quinn.
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Lisa Kennedy Montgomery — known to MTV audiences just as “Kennedy” — was the host of MTV’s Alternative Nation for four years, bringing the sounds of grunge and scuzzy folk rock to the airwaves along with her signature tousled curly hair. Kennedy went on to become a radio show host, first with Ahmet Zappa and then later, by herself. She’s also been a game show host for shows like Friend or Foe? and WinTuition. She currently hosts a morning radio show in Los Angeles.
Pinfield began his MTV career by hosting 120 Minutes and soon had a series of his own shows. He left the network in 1999 to host and write a show about music on USA called Farmclub.com. In 2001, Pinfield became the Vice-President of A&R for Columbia Records and made cameos on several albums, including a spoken word track on Limp Bizkit’s Significant Other. In 2006, Pinfield hosted VH1’s Top 20 Countdown and appeared on several episodes of Nickelodeon’s The Naked Brothers Band. Recently, he has been a DJ for the New York station 101.9 RXP, taking time off in 2009 to go to rehab for an unnamed “dependency” before resuming work at the station late last year.
Downtown Julie Brown
Image via NYDN
The half-Jamaican Brown was the face of MTV’s club music scene for the late 1980s and early 1990s, hosting the show Club MTV. Since her VJing days, Brown went on to be a sports correspondent on ESPN as well as played roles in shows like Walker, Texas Ranger and I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! In 1998, she posed nude for Playboy.
Adam Curry was one of the original generation of VJs, busting out the jams from 1987 to 1994 and hosting Headbangers Ball and Top 20 Countdown. Post-MTV, Curry has become a bit of a web whiz, running his own multimedia company. He was also one of the pioneers of podcasting, developing and promoting the technology that made it possible.
Lewis has been busy since her days as MTV host and VJ. She left the network in 2001 to host her own talk show, which lasted a season before being canceled. She then moved on to working as a correspondent on the celebrity news show The Insider as well as working to promotes a group of philanthropic organizations (Lewis is the spokesperson for the American Humane Society). She’s had cameos on a slew of sitcoms, and appeared on Celebrity Mole: Yucatan. Her latest gig was as co-host of the A&E show America’s Top Dog.