New Times WeeklyNovember 1976 Craig Coulombe Contributing Writer
The Love Workshop, a radio comedy show aired on KDKB on Wednesday and Saturday nights, is familiar to listeners for its ribald social satire and psuedo-feminist commercials.
The masterminds and stars of the Love Workshop are, Tod Carroll, alias Vern, and Wonderful Russ Shaw, or Craig. Carroll writes the scripts which the two tape each Sunday with undisclosed friends.
In the past couple of months, the Love Workshop on its own volition added two sponsors to their program - American Womans' Credit and Trust, a feminist savings and loan that "defaulted," and no longer advertises, and American Womans' Supermarket Cooperative. Both firms are ficticious, the concotions of the Love Workshop.
New Times interviewed the Love Workshop at Carroll's home in Phoenix.
NT - How did you guys meet?
Vern (Tod) - We met down at KDKB when I was doing Bunkhouse Capers (circa 1971-2) and Russ was down there doing something one evening. Russ started screaming at some sixteen year-old girl as I remember.
Craig (Russ) - Just trying to get her to relax probably.
Vern - Yeah just CALMING her down. I remember one of his quotes was "Listen baby, where I come from cock is king!"
NT - Where do you come from?
Craig - I've been on Earth for quite a while.
NT - Where in particular?
Craig - Phoenix. I grew up here. Phoenix is very fortunate to have someone like me here.
NT - And you, Vern?
Vern - I was born in Cleveland and I moved here when I was six months old. My parents came out about six months later.
NT- What sort of community service does your show fulfill?
Craig - Wasting everyone's time.
Vern - Wasting people's time and fulfilling people's anti-social needs. It's like the average little man can't go out and yell and scream at Negros and throw garbage out on the freeway. We can do it on the radio and people need that release. They need to get into various anti-social tangents every once in a while. Everything is so compartmentalized these days. You've got a big list of do's and don'ts. Everybody's a sacred cow - you can't make fun of this group or that, like the blacks or whoever else is in at the time. Is it cool for me to give them any shit or am I supposed to think they're great, or what? So anything people are expected to do we try to go 180 degrees from that and push it to the limit.
Craig - We've helped the business community like IBM and the Greyhound Company. Those people are continually thanking us for the fine job we've done for them. A number of religions we've helped. Almost any ethnic group, any minority. We draw the line nowhere. We've helped everyone. We've wasted more people's time-
Vern (interupting) - The business community likes it because we've built a real espirit de corps amongst the general public. And when they felt good about themselves, when they're happy, they buy more, they consume more, they work better on the job.
NT - So you, the Love Workshop, are indispensable to Phoenix?
Craig -No, I wouldn't say just Phoenix, but the whole world. You can't draw the line. Our show plays in a number of other cities. We're in Houston on KPFT. We're going to soon be in Los Angeles. We're just spreading out.
Vern - Sort of like a religion.
Craig - Yeah, better than a religion. Better than most religions, actually.
NT - Kind of like the heroin trade.
Craig - Better than heroin because this stuff is not bad for the body. People laughing occasionally get a stomach ache, but it doesn't hurt them. I mean, yes, the laughter is addictive.
NT - What show stands out in your minds?
Craig - Our singing shows. I'm one of the best vocalists that ever lived. My range is considerably better than John Gary's, my vocal qualities are a cross between Elvis Presley and Leon Russell. McCartney, Lennon, they're nothing compared to me. The ideas, the conceptual things I come up with make those people seem like assholes, literally.
Vern - You'd have to say Craig is more of a stylist than just a singer or musician.
Craig - All the guitar parts are played by Vern. He is better than Mahavishnu John McLaughlin on the strings. He makes real idiots out of Roy Clark and Jeff Beck.
Vern - I think we've done some great telephone call shows. We usually try to have two or three shows that deal with satire, and then have a telephone call or song show. The idea is that once you sort of build the listeners up thinking, well, they might be expecting some sort of humor here and there, we get into one of these telephone calls. They suddenly realize that they have seven or eight minutes invested into this rambling discourse. They suddenly understand that nothing is going to happen. Nothing's solved. No punch line. No joke. Nothing. Then Craig hangs up and they've wasted fifteen minutes.
Vern - The thing is to test the audience's capacity for self-abuse.
Craig - It's quite high.
Vern -You give them a treat if they can vicariously beat up Negroes and fags.
Craig - Have sex with their parents.
Vern - As long as they're not fags and as long as they're not Negroes. And they can get off on it,
Craig - Most of the fags who listen to the show will laugh.
NT - You mean the Gay community?
Vern - Queers!
Craig - Yeah, when they listen to the show as long as we're making fun of straights, it's real funny, it's a big joke to them. But push one of their buttons and all of a sudden it's not funny.
Vern - They - the fags - are probably the most volatile of all the people we do shows on.
Craig - The Mexicans I know who hear the show on themselves laugh, they think it's funny.
Vern - And the blacks usually don't give a shit. A couple of times we've gotten some flack from the NAACP, but it's nothing compared to the Gays. Because they're so sensitive, the best thing to do with fags rather than any satire or making fun of any particular quality of theirs, is just to have fags come on as characters, beat them up and take their money. And almost every time, they call the station. They're organized and are going to do lawsuits.
Craig - Yeah, that's terrible. Like if some homosexual person calls up and says "We don't like the Love Workshop," Vern and I don't organize a deal against them saying "You can't say that." But it's quite interesting. Let us say something against them and all of a sudden it's a real horrible thing. And we're sick of it. We're really, really sick of it. We've had it. I mean, why should we put up with that crap?
Vern - All they're doing is baiting their own hooks because the minute we get any kind of flack from the fags, it just gives us more motivation to do more stuff on the fags. So they're not going to stop us. What are they going to do, come over and suck us to death?
Asked about the commercials for American Woman's Credit and Trust, Vern said the State Banking Examiner made the Love Workshop issue a retraction on the commercial. So the pair led into new commercials for American Woman's Supermarket Cooperative.
According to Vern and Craig, Love Workshop makes $800 a week. In addition, they claim phenomenal discounts on everything throughout the Valley. KDKB, they said, pays all their taxes, furnishes them with new Ford company cars and supplies a "trouble-shooter" who handles all complaints with candy and razor blades.
"Everything is perfect," Craig said when asked the purpose of the Love Workshop. "What we do is add shit to people's lives. They need it. People need shit."
(Editor's Note: Shortly after this interview was conducted, KDKB announced the "Love Workshop" had been cancelled.)