John Lydon -- known to the rock world as the Sex Pistols' Johnny Rotten --
promised that he'd destroy everything sacred in his proposed weekly VH1
Based on the show's pilot -- in which the irascible punk icon tosses a
large chunk of his own history onto a bonfire -- he seems to have gotten
off to a good start by burning highly collectible Sex Pistols memorabilia
worth close to $2,000 and probably more to fans of the punk forefathers.
That pilot, which was delivered to the boomer video-channel three weeks
ago, is expected to feature Lydon making waste of such rock collectibles as
a rare, signed copy of the group's only official album, 1977's Never Mind
the Bollocks (Here's the Sex Pistols), according to Eric Gardner,
"In keeping with the 'Cleanse the Century' theme of every show's last
segment," Gardner said, "where John takes popular cultural icons and
destroys them in some spectacular way, in the pilot he built a huge bonfire
on a beach at night and burned a bunch of original Sex Pistols memorabilia."
Among the items that Gardner said Lydon gleefully torched was the T-shirt
bearing the word "Destroy" that Lydon/Rotten wore in the video for the
group's career-making song, "Anarchy in the U.K." Also consigned to the
flames was one of a dozen or so copies of a colored-vinyl version of the "No
Feelings" single manufactured by A&M Records, which briefly signed the group in
Also trashed in the clip is the one-of-a-kind copy of the group's classic
debut, Never Mind the Bollocks (Here's the Sex Pistols). It was
signed by all four original members, including late bassist Sid Vicious,
guitarist Steve Jones and drummer Paul Cook, as well as original bassist
Glen Matlock. An original tour poster from the Sex Pistols' 1977 British
tour was also torched.
Aside from sentimental value -- which they apparently did not hold for
Lydon -- the objects in the segment carried a monetary value as
collectibles, according to one rock-memorabilia expert.
"It's all worth some money, some more than others, depending on how rare it
was," said Tim Duca of San Francisco rock-memorabilia store ArtRock. Duca,
who prefers punk co-godfathers the Clash to the Pistols -- speculated
that the poster could be worth $300 to $400, perhaps as much as $1,000 if
it were signed by all of the bandmembers. He said the T-shirt would probably
cop $50 and the signed album perhaps as much as $250. He said he didn't
have enough information to hazard a guess about the value of the colored
Assuming that the pilot gets picked up, future shows might include segments in
which Lydon destroys similar sacred cows by dynamiting them in the desert,
shoving them over Niagara Falls in a barrel or loading items up in a truck
and shoving them off a cliff, Gardner said.
In addition to the "Cleanse the Century" segment, the pilot also features a
celebrity interview with former "Saturday Night Live" cast member Jon
Lovitz and garden-variety social commentary from Lydon.
"Jon was the first person brave enough, or dumb enough, to be interviewed by
John," said Rob Barnett, vice president of program planning at VH1. Barnett
said the strict interview rules included a five-minute limit and a
30-second "plugging" limit on pushing upcoming Lovitz projects. "Plus,"
Barnett said, "we stuck Jon with a $325 sushi bill."
Another segment, entitled "Videos," features Lydon's often acerbic comments
on videos of his choice.
"The idea behind the show was insurrectionism, not John cooing over these
videos," Gardner said. In the pilot, Lydon screens clips of two videos, one
for gravel-voiced troubadour Tom Waits' "I Don't Want To Grow Up," which
Lydon praises, and another for the Rolling Stones' "Love is Strong," for
as might be expected -- Lydon has fewer kind words. "He basically
sleeps through the Stones video," Gardner said.
Lydon hopes to have word on whether VH1 will pick up the show by late