The Story of ‘Midnight Blue’: Sex, Lies, and Videotape – Podcast 76

The Story of ‘Midnight Blue’: Sex, Lies, and Videotape – Podcast 76

Imagine this. It’s one night in New York in 1974. You’ve partied with friends. You stumble home at midnight, turn on the TV and flop onto the couch. On screen is channel 35.  This isn’t the Partridge Family or the Rockford Files. Did you really drink that much?

This was Midnight Blue, a one-hour, regular TV show that aired on Manhattan Cable. And it was like nothing you’d seen before. It was a cross between a late-night chat show, a surreal variety review, and a bad acid trip.

You might see interviews with characters like Debbie Harry, O.J. Simpson and Arnold Schwarzenegger, back-stage location reports from strip clubs or brothels, and conversations with adult film stars like Marilyn Chambers, Seka, or Harry Reems.

And interspersed between the features were bizarre advertisements for swingers clubs, prostitutes, phone sex lines, synthetic cocaine, and sex toys. 

So how did a show like this come to exist? And how was it even allowed on the air?

This is the story of the rise and fall Midnight Blue.

We grateful to Alex Bennett and Josh Alan Friedman for sharing their memories with us, and to Blue Underground for the use of the Midnight Blue clips in this podcast.

Blue Undergound has several DVDs featuring the best moments from the show – including a recently released six disc set, Best of Midnight Blue, that comes highly recommended.

This podcast is 79 minutes long.

The musical playlist for this episode can be found on Spotify.


Midnight Blue

Midnight BlueAl Goldstein in the earlier days of the show


Midnight Blue


Midnight BlueA young Sharon Mitchell interviewed on the show


Midnight BlueAlex, Al and Georgina Spelvin


Midnight BlueAnnie Sprinkle reviewing the latest sex toys


Midnight BlueAn ad for Plato’s Retreat featuring Larry Levenson and his partner Mary


Midnight BlueMarilyn Chambers interviewed on Midnight Blue


Midnight Blue parody ad for the Home Humiliation System


Midnight BlueTiny Tim interviewed on Midnight Blue


Midnight BlueAl interviews adult film director Gerard Damiano


Midnight BlueAl interviews comic Gilbert Gottfried


Midnight BlueAl interviews Veronica Vera


Midnight BlueAl interviews Veronica Hart


Midnight BlueAl interviews Chris Stein and Debbie Harry


Annette HavenAl interviews Annette Haven


Midnight BlueChristy Canyon


Midnight BlueJeanna Fine


Midnight BlueAl with R Crumb




  1. Sam Kaylor · January 7, 2018 Reply

    Superb account of the glory days of adult entertainment in the Big Apple.

    I’m listening to it now and am staggered by your production values and breadth of content. Absolutely fantastic!

  2. Badassssss · January 7, 2018 Reply

    Knockout!!!!!!! Can we expect a part 2 with Robin Byrd?????? LOVE IT!

  3. Mikey · January 7, 2018 Reply

    There was another NYC cable show (on channel J?) in the eighties called Interludes After Midnight, hosted by a bearded guy named Mark. Could you do a piece on that show as well? Keep up the good work RR!

  4. Tom Peak · January 7, 2018 Reply

    Epic as usual… Al Goldstein was the King of Porn in New York.. For many years… His rants.. interviews.. Cable TV Show and articles.. Got him plenty of press back in the day.. So in the honor of Mr Al Goldstein.. Once more as I pick up a copy of his legendary Screw Magazine… Lets all repeat… Screw You… As Al would always say!

  5. Rod · January 7, 2018 Reply

    Midnight interlude was like an infomercial to sell ads for escorts. The host, who probably also produced and sold the ads, was called Daniel j. Even as an 11 year old who at the time got wood during the opening scene of petticoat junction when the sisters popped up in the water tank, I could see thru the guy as a phony. The show was all naked people , supposedly swingers, and oozed no sexuality . Robyn Byrd show on the other hand…

  6. Yizmo Gizmo · January 7, 2018 Reply

    Not to be confused with Electric Blue, Playboy’s soft core porn show of the early 80’s.

  7. Hand Solo · January 7, 2018 Reply


  8. Patrick Palmer · January 7, 2018 Reply

    Loved Midnight Blue as it was shown on some satellite channels as a re-run back in the 90s as well.

  9. Steven Millan · January 7, 2018 Reply

    It’s great to see The Rialto Report finally catching up to covering Midnight Blue(from its humble beginnings to its sad end),for a lot of informative facts about the show and it surprised me that Alex Bennett,who I familiarly know as a San Francisco(/San Francisco Bay Area) radio personality,worked on Midnight Blue as both a producer and an on-air personality. His New York connection also explains his rivalry with Howard Stern,a man who Alex openly despises.

    • Bondurant · January 15, 2018 Reply

      Howard made a lot of enemies among lazy disc jockey’s clinging to morning zoo formats or just didn’t have the talent to go head-to-head.

      It’s ironic, though, that Howard has turned into what he used to hate.

      As for this episode of TRR, one of the best.

  10. Steven Otero · January 7, 2018 Reply

    The Rialto Report is more then a podcast it’s Theater of the Mind.

  11. Tom · January 7, 2018 Reply

    Always nice to hear more detail about something I only saw on the television – though even then I knew they had a real cast of characters running the show.

    A random question: this is podcast 76 but what happened to 75?

    Thanks again for keeping a consistently great show up and running!


  12. J. Walter Puppybreath · January 7, 2018 Reply

    Love the home humiliation robot! 🙂

  13. Pulp Lass · January 8, 2018 Reply

    Wonderful report! I am proud to have received ten penises from Al!

  14. King Midas In Reverse · January 8, 2018 Reply

    Another great podcast by The Rialto Report !

    Another late night cable tv show I remember from early 90s was “Voyeur vision”. There would be a non nude model performing phone sex for men calling on the phone. As was the case with Midnight Blue, the commercials would consist of 900 numbers, escort services etc.

    With the advancement in technology today, its so funny to look back and see, by comparison, how dated this stuff has become lol

  15. Glenn · January 9, 2018 Reply

    I really liked this. Thanks so much for all you do.
    I laughed, I (nearly) cried, I learnt, I enjoyed. I can’t say more than that.
    Wonderful, wonderful.

  16. Pritch · January 9, 2018 Reply

    2018 – and the bar keeps getting higher, raised by the inimitable Realto Report, I love all that that you do, and this is no exception, please don’t stop.

  17. Me and Me Alone · January 9, 2018 Reply

    Very entertaining.

    For me what I like about your work, is that “adult film” is just the departure point for a broader investigation into the whole era and sub-culture. This should be part of every serious attempt to understand the post sexual revolution generations.

  18. Galloping the Old Lizard · January 9, 2018 Reply

    Local cable access shows rule! Once while visiting grammaw in Grampa Bay, Florida some hot full nudity strippers show came on that was very exciting. This was late 90s so it is probably long gone.
    Al is a defiant F-U and your feelings rebel and these types of people always improve the world. Love the Melvins-I Like Porn song that is on the Screwed soundtrack.
    R. Crumb has some killer comics and Jeanna Fine, so so hot! Everything was better in the golden age not just porn.
    Ohh yea! A young Sharon Mitchell and Blondie aka Debby Harry. RR rocks! {:o)

  19. Outlaw Scumfuck · January 9, 2018 Reply

    Such a show would not be allowed today in PC world. Sad. Thanks to those who preserved it on DVD.

  20. Rick · January 18, 2018 Reply

    The test of an interesting podcast is if you enjoyed it even if it wasn’t YOUR nostalgia. I wasn’t around in New York back then to watch Midnight Blue, and I enjoyed this immensely.

    Some odds ‘n’ ends:

    -Arthur Bremer was the guy who stalked Richard Nixon and ended up shooting and paralyzing George Wallace as a target of opportunity. In his diary which he kept during his stalking (later published as AN ASSASSIN’S DIARY), he mentioned buying a copy of Screw and going to a massage parlor advertised in it. (The experience was not a good one.)

    -I remember a short parody of Midnight Blue on Saturday Night Live with none other than Al Franken playing Al Goldstein.

    -The hypocrisy of the anti-porn crusaders is legendary, but it never seems to be remembered. Wally George was a mess in his personal life with six ex-wives. His estranged daughter Rebecca De Mornay (whom he should have been proud of for her acting accomplishments) said he had committed bigamy. This was not a guy who should have been wagging his finger at anyone else and telling them the right path to be on!

  21. Greg · January 19, 2018 Reply

    Ah, good ‘ol Channel J. The Extra ‘e’ is for extra pee!

  22. Diane · July 16, 2020 Reply

    His ending was a very tragic one, but it was one that was of his own doing I’m afraid. Besides all of the ranting and personal vendettas that took over Midnight Blue, I really can’t understand why he didn’t make the transition onto the internet the way that his competitors had. As of today Hustler, Playboy and Penthouse are still in existence, but Screw is gone.

    I think if he had just made that move onto the internet Screw would still be around, and it probably would have expanded into even more ventures, just like his competitors.

    The last part of the podcast was very sad, but a good listen.

  23. Thomas · October 15, 2020 Reply

    Ever jonesing for the next installment, I go back periodically to revisit some favorite RR podcasts. Listening to #76 again tonight I’m struck by April & Ashley’s ability to so naturally blend the heat, humor & humanity as they tell these stories. The Story Of Midnight Blue is a remarkable piece of work. Thank you April.

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