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Music

Revisiting Glenn Danzig’s surreal sketch in ‘Portlandia’

Portlandia is the ultimate cult comedy. From its debut in 2011 to its eighth and final season in 2018, the show garnered a reputation as being one of the finest comedy shows around, and its bizarre take on the classic sketch show made it a favourite for hipsters worldwide. The brainchild of comedian Fred Armisen and Sleater-Kinney frontwoman Carrie Brownstein, Portlandia is, unsurprisingly, set in and around the city of Portland, Oregon. 

Given that Portland has a worldwide prestige as the epicentre of all things hipster, and as a safe haven for the country’s urban lumberjacks, the city of Portland provided the perfect backdrop for this surreal and eccentric take on life, as the city makes a strong claim to be North America’s most idiosyncratic.  

Notably, the most memorable feature of the show is the all-star cameos it featured, and specifically, the vast array of musicians that appeared across its eight wonderful seasons. Given that a lot of our favourite musicians are, to all intents and purposes, hipsters, it comes as little surprise to see some of the industry’s most revered artists appear in the show. 

The list is so extensive, that over 44 musical legends appeared in the show, indicating just how vital this aspect was to the overall composition of Armisen and Brownstein’s brainchild. The pull the pair had is quite astounding, and at different points, there are appearances from Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, Michael Nesmith of The Monkees, No Doubt, and even Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic.

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The majority of the appearances from musicians have been nothing short of iconic. One of the most famous is the recording studio sketch from season three, when former White Stripes frontman, Jack White, appears as a silent vision of himself, nodding along amiably to the obscure sound engineer.

However, one of the best is the beach sketch featuring ex-Misfits man and hero of horror punk, Glenn Danzig. In what is one of the most surreal scenes in the entire show, Danzig plays ‘Radu from Romania’, an affable beachgoer decked in black, who gives a pair of goths some aesthetic tips on how to enjoy the beach, free of their restrictive garb. 

In one of the show’s most memorable lines, Radu convinces one of the goths, Vince, to swap out his Victorian-style clothing for more relaxed beachwear from brands such as Billabong and Quicksilver. Before showing him a variety of beachwear from labels such as the aforementioned, Radu says to Vince: “Are you familiar with Billabong? Billabong, king of fratty, but they pop.”

A parody of the less self-aware facets of American beach culture, and the inherent jock spirit that underpins it, the scene is genius. Radu quickly convinces Vince to ditch his usual clothing, by telling him, “You can ditch that, you’re at the beach” and embrace the rather “lame” attire that is necessary to enjoy your day on the beach to the maximum. 

Watch Glenn Danzig is Portlandia below.

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