John Lydon Destroys Sex Pistol Rarities For Television Pilot

The artist formerly known as Johnny Rotten burns his punk past in first episode of his VH1 show.

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

series,

"Rotten Television."

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,

Lydon's manager.

"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

1977.

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

vinyl.

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

which --

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

November.