FAST FRIENDS: Jeff: John and I met because we had both done a documentary about old Washington movie theaters. He was this cool guy who was into the same things I was, so we started collaborating. It's been since 1985. God, we should have an anniversary party.
TAPEHEADS: John: Back then there wasn't the proliferation of quality video equipment that's available on every Mac and PC now. But we were both doing community television in Forestville, so we had access to 3/4-inch format videotape. Under the guise of making public-access videos, we'd go out and do our own thing. We were really interested in covering music and music documentaries.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING: Jeff: It was just a fortunate stroke of luck that Judas Priest were performing at the Capitol Center on May 31, 1986, a Saturday night. At the time, John and I weren't into heavy metal, but we were both fans of offbeat subcultures. So we took the equipment out to the Capitol Center's parking lot.
SCENESTERS: John: A heavy-metal tailgate party was going on. It was fueled by intoxicants of different kinds. Everyone was energized and excited that their heavy-metal idols were about to hit the stage.
IN AND OUT: Jeff: They gave us great stuff with very little prompting. We showed up at like 4 o'clock and left by 6, maybe 6:30. We had dates that night with our girlfriends.
CULT CLASSIC: John: We shot an hour's worth of material and ended up with a 16-minute documentary that we titled "Heavy Metal Parking Lot." It was never destined to be aired on public access -- we gave it out for free. But then it became a bootleg phenomenon. It was the music cognoscenti who really found it and embraced it. We found out that Nirvana and a lot of West Coast bands were really digging it.
NEXT STEPS: Jeff: John and I realized we had something. We wanted to capitalize on it and do a sequel, so we did "Neil Diamond Parking Lot" in '96, which was a lot of fun. We did "Harry Potter Parking Lot" in '99. We were trying a bunch of different ways to keep this thing alive -- as we got savvier, we sold them all on the Internet [www.heavymetalparkinglot.com]. Then, out of the blue [in 2002], we got an inquiry about turning our idea into a TV show. That became "Parking Lot," on the Trio network. The second season begins Sept. 13 with "Michael Jackson Parking Lot."
DNC/RNC PARKING LOT: John: This summer we also shot at the political conventions. Our focus is once again on fandom, so we're going after people who are really obsessed with politics, from Republicans to Democrats to the protesters. We're going to give it a pop culture viewpoint. Our show's about the fans, not about celebrity politicians and celebrities, but we did see a lot of them.
SIGHTINGS: Jeff: In Boston we got to see Triumph the Insult Comic Dog in action. That was a thrill. We interviewed each other, but he wouldn't sign the release to use the footage.
As told to Michael Cotterman