Celebrity Encounter: Robin Byrd
Monday night, I had a nice chat with NYC cable access legend Robin Byrd, as we both waited for our take-out Chinese food on the Upper East Side. I've seen her walking her dog on 68th Street many times, but only realized then who she was.
Robin is a legend in NYC for her long-running and raunchy cable-access Robin Byrd Show, which features complete male and female nudity and simulated sex and runs unscrambled on a lower-tier cable channel. In the late 70's, Time-Warner's former incarnation, Manhattan Cable, tried to force Byrd to scramble her show, with only subscribers who wrote to the company to be allowed to view it, forcing Byrd to the U.S. Supreme Court, where she prevailed. When I first saw the Robin Bryd Show, I was floored that it was on television at all, much less free and unscrambled. Watching the show became a must-do part of all my visits to New York City. The show still plays today in reruns.
Robin was charming in person, introducing me to her Yorkie, Om. We chatted about Fire Island, where I mentioned having met her once, years ago. She graciously lied, "Oh, yes! Of course." Her show is about to hit its 30 year anniversary and she shook her head as if she couldn't believe it herself. The conversation turned to sex clubs in the 70's (as they so often do when you are talking with somebody who was in Debbie Does Dallas) and Robin made me laugh with a cute story about having cruised herself in the mirror at the infamous Plato's Retreat. "I saw this hot girl and I thought, 'Wow, I'll do her!'"
I couldn't leave with my sweet-n-sour chicken without mentioning one of my favorite parts of Robin's show, the ads for phone sex lines, and I recited my all-time fav, the ad for 976-PEEE. "That's 976-P-E-E-E! The extra E is for extra pee!" That made her laugh.
The Robin Byrd Show plays nightly on Time-Warner Cable channel 35.