This obituary was published in Ben
Is Dead, Issue #12, April 1991.
Other pages update and expand upon
some of the facts here and document additional details of what this guy
did. This is simply reprinted as published.
Several other obituaries were published,
too, and are being sought to include here in the Dedication page.
Portrait photograph by
JIM IS DEAD
was a self-educated, self-made
Renaissance Man. Shy, always behind the limelight, and incorrectly thought
by some to be aloof, he was disgusted with the popular music and club scene
and personally went about trying to change it by promoting the special
things he loved. That began in 1981 at what was the ONE-WAY in Silverlake
(now a disgusting sticky-floored unsafe sex club called EXILE).
Along his way he discovered many an alternative band and embraced what
he called the "non-boring" school of performance art and, with
the help of many friends, presented a legendary series of twisted party
events called THEORETICAL.
The name must have represented his vision of what could or ought to be;
in that way he was an optimistic futurist. He opposed the "ghetto-ization"
of the gay community (which he blamed upon the gay community itself and
no one else) with events that actively encouraged the co-mingling of anyone
and everyone who wanted to have fun and were adventurous enough to risk
experiencing something new. A sort of "extended family" of creative,
art and theater people flourished in the home Van Tyne provided.
What we currently call the "underground" or "alternative"
scene in Los Angeles (as wimpy as it has become lately) was, in part created
by Mr. Van Tyne (a.k.a. by several fans as "The Great Van Teenie").
He contributed much to a two year period of greatness at the now rotten
pay-to-play AntiClub and despised owner Helen ("Hell-N") for
her overt greed and arbitrary censorship (he nicknamed her "Jaws"
because she could often be observed rudely cutting through a darkly clothed
audience with her platinum-dyed fin-like coiffure toward the stage to pull
the plug on acts she did not like). Her epitaph should read "I pulled
the plug on Glen Meadmore." When she sued Russell Jessum, Jim and
I back in '86, in an attempt to steal the name Russell invented some years
earlier, we won, but without compensation or a club and bar. That pissed
us off a lot so Jim and I went about producing THEORETICALS
at an alarming rate around town through 1988 or 89. Then suddenly in 1989
he decided to stop. That was probably when he new what was happening to
his body. He chose not to share that information with me and said he was
going on to an early retirement. For someone a little younger than me,
I was pissed off. But in retrospect, he was just being sensitive about
my feelings. This guy would have hated sympathy more than anything.
He did like ridiculous old movies like "The Wild Woman of Mongo,"
"The Wild, Wild World of Jane Mansfield," "The Women,"
"Plan 9 From Outer Space," and early John Waters (he worshipped
and helped introduce Edith "The Egg Lady" Massey to Los Angeles
and he and Craig Lee "dragged" Glen Meadmore out of his apartment
and made him the star he is today. He and Craig Lee also produced "Lotus
Lame and The Lame Flames"
He had an intensely sarcastic light-speed wit, once you got to know him.
He also had a passion for making bizarre costumes and clocks and was a
fussy, gifted graphic designer. "A THEORETICAL,"
I once accused, "is just another excuse for you to make another one
of your odd postcards." No denial there. He was the most masterful
anti-disco disc jockey this town will ever know. He loved all cats and
shared some others' belief that they are not of this earth, but assigned
to study and love us. His untimely death due to AIDS has robbed our community
of huge and subtle source of inspiration.
Sign-Off Edition was held at AL's Bar on Sunday, February 10. Thirty out
of thirty-three scheduled acts performed at the seven hour marathon. $2,700.
was raised through the door. Half of that has gone to a hospice and the
other half to a group of administratively un-top-heavy research doctors.