Steve Blame – Interview

Steve Blame: „I don’t have the money – I have the passion!“

Steve Blame & Tina Turner

Living in Cologne since 2000 myself, Steve Blame is a visible character in the streets of my town. Always a smile in the face you see him working his way on the laptop in a certain cafe of town. Of course, his face and name rollercoaster memories of the late 1980s and early 1990s through my mind, beaming me back into the prime time of music television and MTV, the heydays of Acid House and Grunge and POP, the days and nights when POP was still that seductive promise of a better land and not just a random side street of late capitalism. Many moons have come and gone since then.

While other protagonists of this magic era got lost in cheesecakes, guided home areas and the repetition of the same stories, Steve Blame is still the curious boy wandering through the world for inspiration. These days he is mostly writing on screenplays (his second love); but he also wrote an incredibly personal, heartbreaking book named „The Greatest Achievement“, out hopefully sooner than later, telling the story of his life interwoven with the story of the relationship between his mum and him (whom he did take care of till the day of her death – and who is still present in all of Steve’s actions).

If there is one thing when can learn from this book – besides the main golden lifeline of them all: „love is the message“ –, it is: don’t ya ever think you are a one-trick pony, we all have the magic in us to reinvent us and go for new adventures. Sometimes it takes someone else to give us confidence. In Steve’s case, it was no less than the great Tina Turner. Let me quote from „The Greatest Achievement“:

„But I was never at such a low point in my life as I was in 1995 when I met her during my tenure at Viva II in Germany. I was trapped in a job I hated. I was a rabbit in the headlights waiting for the inevitable – the end of my career.
At the height of my despair, I received an invitation to interview Tina Turner at the Ritz in Paris for a British show coinciding with her 60th birthday. Tina greeted me with a warm hug. During the interview, she told me that she used to think her life was over during her tough period with Ike, far worse than mine. She told me that life does not end at 40, nor 50. She said that there can always be change and that she found her way. She asked me directly if I understood what she was saying. I did.”

Thomas Venker met up with Steve Blame for an early two coffee chat in Cologne in what now feels like a January much much longer ago than it actually is.

Thomas Venker: Steve, meeting up for an interview at 9 in the morning – does this feel like this New Order song „True Faith“ to you: „I used to think that the day would never come I’d see delight in the shade of the morning sun“.
Steve Blame: 9.26 am! I see the morning sun every morning.
Come on, the idea that 9 is early is today an anathema to me. 9 is probably a bit late. I actually start writing at about a quarter to 8 in the morning. I am not a night person at all anymore.

Of course, I was half-joking anyway. Cause even on the heyday of your let’s call it first career in the world of music television your schedule must have been crazy and you must have had many early flights.
Well, the difference is, when you are in your 20s you don’t need much sleep. When working for MTV, I often had to go away for the weekend and I would just party all night and would get on a plane, land and get in the studio and present. I wouldn’t have any sleep sometimes.

No sleep at all and in front of a camera?
Yeah. With quite a few other helpers – which is probably not good. It didn’t bother me. Everyone in the news department, which I was managing editor of, used to laugh, because whichever of the younger people – because at that time I was already around 30 and they were 21 or 22 – would go away with me, they knew, would not be in work on Monday and Tuesday. Because they would be so wrecked, I would show them how it really works. They couldn’t keep up. Of course, I was proud of my advanced years. I never had a day sick, I never took a day off, not one, not in the whole time I was there.

In how many years?
Seven years. And I worked practically every weekend. I was obsessive. I felt like: If I gonna party hard, I work hard.
I remember that MTV gave me – I was something like five years in – a present at a Christmas party. Most of the prizes were given to the cleaners, they would give them a holiday in the Maldives, some sort of fantastic thing, which is really nice. Of course, we earned money, we did not really need prizes. But one year they gave me a weekend in Champneys, the most famous health clinic in England. For me, that was the most horrendous prize, because I could not face the idea of not doing anything for a weekend. In the end, I went with my best friend Anna and we smuggled in lots of food into this health farm and went down to the local pub to get drunk.
It was a privilege to work at MTV, and we enjoyed it so much that we were prepared to do it day and night.
And I have that again now with my writing. I love writing. I am not successful in the way I was back then, but it is a passion. And that passion is something that keeps you going. Last night I went to bed with a problem in my current screenwriting and at 4.30 this morning I woke up and had to go and write myself an email with an idea, so I could work on it this morning. I am still an obsessive person, but I found a new passion.

You did study screenwriting, right?
Yes, I did a second education, a Master’s degree in 2006 in the UK, I went to the University of East Anglia in Norwich, which is the major writing Uni in Britain. And I took a two-year M.A course in one year, which was an interesting experience. The first day I was there I freaked out, I thought “what the hell am I doing with my life?“ At that point, I was 46. Everyone else was 21, 23, a couple in their 30s, and I was the oldest person in my class beside one other who was older than me.

Either you are the teacher or the old guy in the classroom. It is a bit like in clubbing: either you are the DJ or you are the old dancer.
The old dancer, that is horrendous. It is all about staying alive, having a passion, having your mind working on something. Whatever it is, that is such a great thing to have in life. Most people of my age, and from the generation I knew back then, have moved into this comfort middle-late age era of pre-retirement. I find that horrendous. I feel that not one of them has a passion, but they all have money. I don’t have the money – I have the passion! So I am wondering if you can only have one without the other.
For example, my brothers are very comfortable in their lives. They are very wealthy. Maybe their passion is spending money. They have a different lifestyle. But I feel like I am more alive because I am challenging my mental thinking every day. It is a learning process – you reach a point where you know you are good, I feel I am a good writer, but there is still such a long way to go.

Steve Blame by Marcel Kamps

What kick-started you to write screenplays?

Well, my first love was music. When my career ended at the end of the VIVA time, I fell into a big hole. At that point, I cut off music from my life. I sort of hated it. I lost all my success and I felt like I failed. I threw away my record collection, I threw away everything.

Really? I think about that a lot from today’s perspective with videos and pop culture being all around: why did those two major institutions who seemed too big to fail, MTV and VIVA, became so early so irrelevant?
Well, they lost their brand. I don’t know whether it is because it was linear… There are certainly other factors. There was an era when it became less interesting, possibly also because the mainstream popular music became much less interesting.

But you took it as a personal failure?
I hated myself. Why did I get into this position? What have I done to my life? Where am I going? I just was down a big rabbit hole.
Weirdly the thing that sort of turned it around for me, was a friend who used to come around all the time to work on ideas. He would just bring movies, all those movies I should have seen earlier. But when you are working 24 hours a day and running from one thing to the next you are not listening to that much music anymore, or watching films, or culture in general. This is a sad fact about working in this industry. After a while the passion you had before fades, somehow you don’t have time for the passion, it is a bizarre phenomenon.

Good point. The most music I was listening to was while working in a record store as a student, not while running a music magazine. Music is there but it is not there as you have so much work to do.
Before MTV I was always going to this nice little record store in Berwick Street in London to get all the latest records, stuff I’d heard in the clubs. But when I started at MTV I worked with more mainstream music. You concentrate on the interviews and presentations you have to make for your work. Having a daytime job takes you partially away from what you were originally culturally interested in. It’s is a real shame.
My film education started in the 90s I would say, I have a massive DVD collection now instead of a music collection – old fashioned in some ways but I watch films many times over. I go to the cinema, I watch as many films and series on the streaming services as possible. Not only because I like them, but because I want to work out how things work. It helps my writing to watch things. I see that as part of my education. So let’s see, maybe in the future when something works out, I’ll go back to what happened at MTV, where the learning curve is dulled because you are in the middle of it. But with writing books, that’s different, a writer is a writer, they have to write. They dictate and own what they write.

Coming from that logic: of course you have to listen to something before you do an interview, but I guess often the storylines of the MTV interviews were not about the music, they were about the other things around the person.
There is another factor in that: Yes, before you interview someone you need to know about him, but the problem with MTV was that sometimes I would be doing ten interviews a day. Tell me, how do you research ten interviews in one day? So I would draw up a priority list and look for a thread – in addition to the standard questions – and then wing it. You are not always doing the best interviews this way. But again: what did we use those interviews for? A small segment about the latest single. In essence, I did not need a lot of research. Unless it was for a major artist – then I’d be able to dedicate more time.

If you ever wondered how Steve Blame look in his early 20s – here we go

Did you get sloppy over time? Or was your passion always winning over the circumstances?
I got sloppy only at the end times of VIVA – because I lost my passion, and I was working in such a political atmosphere. I did not really wanna be there. It was a mistake for me to work there. It is unfair of me to say so now, but it is the truth.

Did you manage to get some of the MTV archives?
Not really. I did not take much material at all from MTV. I did not have any foresight in the way that this might be valuable in the future. I never really thought that what I did in life had value. Only now in retrospect can I see the value.

Why do you think you have such low self-esteem? I am sure people told you all the time how great you are, cause you were in the position to do so – until you failed, then they tell different.
Yeah, I used to think “you are the best, but you are the worst.“ I loved attention, you do not end up on television if you don’t love attention. But I think what happened when the attention left, I discovered who I was more than in any other period in my life. If you lose the attention, you have to change, or you end up on the “Jungle Show“, desperately trying to get attention anywhere.

Did you get an offer?
Yes, I did. I was sitting on a plane traveling to Cannes to the TV festival with the producer who worked for RTL at that time and when the plane took off he asked me. I’m not anti all reality show – I do like “Let’s Dance“, it’s fun and charming, so I mentioned something about that one, and he said: “You wanna be on “Let’s Dance“, you gotta go to the jungle.“ So I told him to fuck off and die. After that, we sat next to each other for another 90 minutes and did not speak. I wanted to make sure he would never ask me again. He’s a nice guy, it was a gut reaction.

Well done.
If I did something like that show, I would hate myself more than other people would hate me for doing it. I don’t know if the people who do it have those feelings, because I think it must be a horrible place to have those thoughts. We all go through difficult periods in our lives. And anyone who thinks life is just one steady climb up into some sort of fantasy world of love, happiness and money, is completely fooling themselves. It is the low points which are the most important in your life, where you discover who you are again and find out that to challenge and change yourself are the most interesting and satisfying points in life. There are two reasons to do the “Jungle Show“: money and attention.

Steve, as much as you are on a new path with the screenwriting, a lot of your income still comes from the old one, like moderations.
But I enjoy them now. The stuff I do for example at the Reeperbahn – last year I interviewed Matt Dillon for one hour in front of a live audience – is challenging and fun. I also hosted a food panel last year, and food interests me a lot. Maybe if I did them every week I would ask myself, why am I in my old life again?

It helps you to establish your second career.
I’ve been working on the writing career for some years, and I’ve had some successes. I’ve released two books, and I had several options for film scripts. When you option material with a production company, it does not mean it’s gonna be filmed most will not be filmed. I had one in America for a year and then they dropped it – but now the script is much better and I own it. I had options in Germany…

Can one make a living from those options?
Well, I do not need much to live from, so to me, I find them okay. I can survive. And my goal is not really to earn shit lots of money, it is to keep on writing. It all depends on what you want in life – and what compromises you are prepared to make to get there. Even doing stuff on TV, like for Vox, just blue-screen interviews, I enjoy that. I am not doing it every week, or even every month, but it’s fun to go there for one day and talk about the past or a pop star. It feeds what I like doing, so why not?

Steve, if I ask you to describe the kind of stories you are interested in as a writer…
… oh: identity. I am writing about my search for who I am in other characters, in other ways. I wrote a serial killer drama, which is a search for identity. It is deeply about identity, but it´s deeply in the world of a serial killer – which obviously, I am not. Not yet at least (laughs).

Elton John & Steve Blame

One of the reasons I ended up on TV is that my father did not have that much to do with me when I was young. I was the third child that he did not want and he stayed in the marriage because of me, but had affairs. He never really had contact with me because I represented the failed marriage. So my theory is: I searched for attention from my father – my life became just that – unfulfilled attention. And where do you get the most attention? It is by being on camera in front of millions of people – but you are still not loved, not really, not truly loved. That is the problem when you seek out something like that, you still will be not fulfilled.

Simon Napier-Bell, the manager of Wham and lots of other bands, said it the best: All popstars have psychological problems – and they think the problem will be over when they stand on the stage and get all this attention, because basically, they think: “I will be rich, I will get laid and I will get free drugs.“ And actually, they get the free drugs – which don’t help –, and they get the attention, but they don’t get fullfilment. So they still have these psychological problems. If you have not dealt with them, they are always going to be with you. That’s what I went through. And now I am out of that cycle and on the other side.

Did you get any attention from your father when you were on TV finally?
No, never. He left home and I visited him once and he said: „Oh, you’re on the telly, aren’t ya?“ – And I said: “Yeah.“ And then he asked if I was rich – and when I said “no“ he just replied “oh“. And that was the end of the conversation. That’s the only conversation we had in fifteen years.
I believe my search was to rectify this relationship, and I rectified it with – and that’s what the book is about – by my relationship with my mother. Somehow through our new relationship in the years before she died, we managed to open up the past and deal with it, both of us. It took me almost my whole life to deal with those psychological scars.

Steve, you took care of your mother until her death until a few years ago. Had you always been so close to her?
We had a fairly superficial relationship for many years. I was the typical child. The relationship you have with your parents through life is: you are a teenager, you do not ask your parents what they do or who they really are. The idea that your parents have a life and are doing anything interesting is a ludicrous thought. Later on, when you leave home, at my first University, or later when I lived in London or when I worked for MTV I was away a lot and saw mum only occasionally. I stayed in touch, but we never had deep conversations, we did not know each other in any real sense, I would say. When my life fell apart I remember my mum called me up and I was upset. I was in my late 30s and I was very suicidal at that point – I don’t know if I would have done anything, but I felt completely suicidal. I didn’t tell her but she instinctively knew from the way I was reacting that something was very wrong.

You must have had gone cold turkey from not working. You worked for so many years in a rush and then suddenly it was over.
I had time to think. Which can be the best and the worst thing ever. Slowly, after that period, I made the effort to get to know my mum, and then came the point where I said to her that I would look after her when she got older. She wanted to stay in her flat. Of course, what I said was just words and I never really thought that it would happen, I just said it to be nice. Then slowly, over time I visited her more often and we got to know each other better and better and eventually, I just feel into the idea: “Okay, I’m gonna do this!“
I found out that I got as much out of it as she got out of it. She was saying goodbye to her past: We would travel to places that reminded her of events in her past. Her mother’s death, the relationship to my father, all those things. And she would make peace with her past and at the same time, I would talk about my past and make peace with it. This was a wonderful journey for me and, for her.

What did this mean for your life and also economic structures here in Cologne?
During the last couple of years, I would travel back and forth to Germany, and the jobs dried up. I had been away and people move on very quickly. But being there was not a problem, for many years I could write. I’d get her up in the morning and she’d watch a film and I’d go and write in a café for two hours. Then we go out together in the afternoon or she would sleep and I’d write again. And then we’d spend the evenings together.

So you worked on your skills but not on work.
No, I had hardly any work in that period. And if I did I would fly in and out the same day. I don’t know anyone else who’s had this experience with the parent that’s been so beneficial in many ways. I don’t know if this has put me back a few years in sense of career, but what is important in life? You make value judgments your whole life, and I realized that certain things I valued highly in my life had no value at all. I was always a career-obsessed person, and I still motivated, but I view things differently today.
You asked me earlier if I had written anything that had been made – I don’t look at my projects like that anymore, I look at them in terms of their quality. If they get sold: brilliant. If not, I still wrote something with value. It´s so easy to miss out on that. Money and career are unimportant in the grand scheme of things. When you look after someone who is about to die, it is an absolute cliché, but there is only love. The only value that you can give to someone who is dying is love. And the only thing this person can give you is love. And I had this in buckets at the end and it was a wonderful experience.

Did you fall into a hole afterwards?
The process of grief that you go through after is really difficult. A lot of the first year is still a blur, and there are certain things I still don’t remember. I think I was quite weird in that year, but that’s normal, or maybe I should say that it should be seen as normal. When the grief came to an end, it ended on a particular day where I suddenly felt, “oh, I feel happy again.“ I did not fall into a hole, but I allowed myself to go through the grieving process. If you deny that you are in real trouble.

Steve, how old have you been when you started your MTV career?
I was 27.

What did you do before?
I spend a lot of my life in night clubs. What was I doing? I worked for British Telecom on Yellow Pages. There was this group of us who were the anarchists in this company. One of them was a real anarchist, the rest of us were just wanna be anarchists. I just lived in London and enjoyed everything the big city had to offer someone in their twenties.

Steve Blame & Sharon Stone

Back then you could still live a sub-cultural life in London 24/7 without thinking too much about work, right?
Absolutely. The one flat I used to live in was sort of a squat. Not officially, I paid 2 pounds a week. And I moved 6 people in for free. It was a massive house. We had parties and lots of fun and I enjoyed everything I wanted to. But I was also politically active in the 80s. I used to go marches, the miner’s march, the gay march, I was on every march you could go on. Then I took this course in journalism as I had the idea I should be a radio journalist. I have no idea why? After the course, I decided that this is the last thing I want to do in my life. And then I started writing articles for people until someone rang me up and said MTV is coming to Europe and is looking for people. And I had never heard of it. So I checked it out and applied and they interviewed me as a researcher. But they gave everyone a screen test, no matter what job you went for.

That way they were looking for the secret talents.
Yes. I thought different, I thought I was given a screen test cause they thought I was so fantastic!

Did you get picked immediately?
I remember that day well. Earlier that day I was on an early morning course, a sort of awareness training, where people talk about their problems and goals which was wonderful. There was one guy who had full-blown AIDS and he wanted to die in a positive manner. And then there was me talking about wanting to be a TV presenter. And one of the other people on the course was a well-known TV presenter. I asked him for some training. He showed me how to be big enough for the camera, and some other basic techniques. And after the screen test, I heard the guy who ran the test say: “That’s him, that’s the one.“ I quickly looked around and saw that I was the only person around, and I knew.

And suddenly your life speeds up from being a slacker to be nonstop in action.
I would turn up at work at 6.30 in the morning and read biographies and articles about the artists.

Well, I turned up for a very long time around 11 or 12 earliest and prefer to rather stay til very late.
I had an inferiority complex. Everyone else would say, “have you heard so and so?“ And I would think: “Shit, who are they?“ So I wrote down all those names. I felt everybody else knew so much more about music than me. I only knew some club music and some mainstream music – but, hey, that what MTV was anyway. The boss of MTV at that time, Liz, asked me: “Why are you here so early? You are the first person here every day.“ She used to come in at 8. I came in at 7 for a while. So I told her: “I have the feeling I know nothing.“ She replied: “No one here knows anything. Everyone pretends.“ She wasn’t completely correct, but there was a certain amount of truth in that. Particularly in the music industry, people love to try to be the one who knows everything. I think I was intimidated by that at the start. But after a while, the knowledge that you need comes with doing.

Steve Blame by Marcel Kamps

Would you say that you were paid fair in those MTV days?
Now we are on the money! No is the answer.

It is an interesting topic. In general. But in your case especially cause you were on television, the people saw your face every day – I am pretty sure you did not get only lovely encounters with the audience but also shit in public from time to time. So this should be paid fairly.
I never had people piss on me. I don’t know why. I think I have been lucky in that way.

Cause everybody loves you until today?
Nope. But I think people can misinterpret your reaction to them. I get nervous sometimes and that can come across as arrogance. And that happens normally just before I have to do something on stage, or in front of a camera. Why didn’t I get hate? I am a) not special – no one is. If you present yourself as special you are on a downhill path to hell. People notice it. In the end, I think I am just me. And to be honest, take or leave it. I have no problem with people not liking me. But I don’t need to be around them.

Do you sometimes catch yourself by getting in the TV modus with normal people?
I had this experience in England, this guy, a famous TV presenter in England – you don’t know, so I won’t say his name. I remember going to his house with a friend who used to work for him. And he opened the door and said like he was presenting his daily show: “Hi, oh, it is so good to see you, come in.“ I turned to this friend of mine and said: „Are we on camera? What’s going on here?“ And he stayed in presenter mode for two hours. This was the weirdest fucking thing. It was really tragic. I remember asking my mate, “Am I like this?“
I am not a classic type of TV presenter. I am not slick. And I am the same person on and off-camera. It would be so tragic to be in that role your whole life – it’s like treating everyone else as if they are an extra, a Komparse.

So, let’s come back to the question: Do you think you were paid fair?
Sorry: No! Well, yes and no.
If I look back now, I think I made shit lots of money back then. But back then I used to think, I don’t earn anything. I think in comparison to the profile I had: no. But I had a fantastic lifestyle. I could go out for dinner every night. I could pay for friends. I could do what I wanted. I never thought about money or bills back then. Not that I particularly do today – I just don’t have the same money, but I don’t let it worry me. It didn’t mean anything to me then or now. So in that sense, I had enough and I still do. But in terms of value – I don’t know. MTV was making a huge amount of money, so maybe they should have paid me more, more to the point they should have paid everyone more.

The Beastie Boys always said: the moment we had no money we could not afford anything. The moment we had money we got everything for free.
That is absolutely true. That is the weirdest thing ever. Cause people give you things when you do not need them. When you go out: your drinks are paid for, your meal is paid for, everything is paid for. And then of course, when you are broke, nothing is paid for.

How long did it take you to adjust to the new world order?
Oh, it took me until I lost everything. For me this is what happened: I had a big income, then I got a big pay off. Then I spent it on drugs and parties for six months. Then I woke up.

Fair enough.
Well, it was much better to be a friend of mine back then because then you would have been involved in it without spending your money.

Maybe better for my body.
That is one reason I am alive and healthy today, I ran out of money. And then I lost my house in England, I lost everything overnight. I remember a friend of mine’s mother said one day to me: “You need to go to the Unemployment Office“ – the Arbeitsamt. I was blind to the fact that I had nothing and had somehow to continue living instead of getting kicked out of the flat I was in. I could not afford the rent, I could not afford food. My cleaner bought me a lot of food from Aldi one day!. That was when it hit me: “Oh shit, my cleaner is buying me food because she feels sorry for me. I must be really broke.“
I went to the Unemployment Office and got recognized – this guy says to me: “Oh my god, Steve Blame! What are you doing here?“ – And I said: “Well, we are doing a feature about the Unemployment Office for MTV.“ He completely believed it, even tho’ I was without film-crew. And then it was like a scene from “Little Britain“ when I sat there with this very nice woman who asked me what I did for a living. I said: “I was the Programme Director of a TV station.“ She typed in the words Programme Director into her computer and said: “Oh, no jobs. Is there anything else you can do?“ And I said; “TV presenter“. And she replied; “Same thing. Nothing. As if…

I´ve been at the Arbeitsamt, I know what you are talking about.
They were really nice. And I came back and that’s when it sunk in, okay, I am in a little bit of trouble here. But it was also the point I couldn’t afford to go out, I couldn’t afford to drink all night, I couldn’t afford to take drugs, so it changed my whole existence. This is twenty or so years ago. So for the past twenty years, I have been much healthier than for the twenty years before.

Heike Makatsch, Steve Blame and Madonna

How many friends did you have until you got fired and how many after that day?
First of all: the same amount of friends, because real friends remain. .

Cause you were quite realistic before who is just work environment and who is there for real A lot of people think the cloud around them is the real one, but it is of course not, it is temporary.
Well, the thing is, I had come to a different country. I knew my friends in the UK, you can identify people easier in your society that you are used to, like what they are doing and what they mean. When I came to Germany I found it very difficult to judge people, cause I had no basis on how to judge them. It was like going to a new school, the first people that you meet are not necessarily your friends in the long term. But once I left VIVA, I started meeting a lot of real friends, that was before the court case and before the downfall. I met a lot of people in that period that I still know today and that I am still very close to. And I got to know a few of the people that I knew earlier, and a friendship blossomed. I don’t feel like I knew that many fake friends. I wasn’t a good friend back then either. People were generally really good to me.

I ask all this, because it is also part of your book. Not that you name people, but you take the essence of the stories, right?
Absolutely. Every writer does. But not one to one. The emotions and the themes or something that happens to you is in there as it fits a situation perfectly. And the good thing is, the more experience you have the better. That’s why the average age of a screenwriter in Hollywood is mid 50s / late 50s. That suggests that experience counts. If you have had lots of things happen to you, you can write about something from experience.

Did you read the stuff you were writing back then to your mother?
No. I was talking about this with her. It helped me in the process. It was interesting to communicate with someone of a different era who not necessarily had contact with these people.

It helps getting a certain zeitgeist out of the story.
Making it understandable? There has to be a level that anyone can understand the story. That was important. We all have so much in common, that’s why writing is so dramatic and why it always has an effect on us. When you watch anything good – it does not matter how commercial it is –, it will somehow reflect your Pysche, that’s how we understand the things in it. And that’s what you try to achieve as a writer.

Dalai Lama & Steve Blame

You are running out of time. So let’s come to the end here, Steve. What was the most significant interview for you in your career?

There is one that sticks with me, the Dalai Lama.
I asked him what he does in his private time – and he answered that he fixes radios, which seemed bizarre. For me, this was a realization that it is the most simple fundamental things in life that make us the happiest. This passion made him happy. That made me realize, a lot of my previous passions had been outside of me rather than inside of me. I realized I was on the wrong path. Another thing: I had to go for a walk around the garden in Dharmsala where he lives in North India, on the border, right at the base of the Himalayas. While we filmed the cut-aways that we put in the interview, I took the opportunity and asked him what he feels about homosexuality. And he said that the only important thing in love is the quality of love, not the quantity. There were so many gems he said in the interview that stuck with me. And that’s not a pop star answer!

Steve Blame & Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev

No need for that. But that’s a great interview. How long did you have with him?
About one hour. But we were there a couple of hours. It was the whole experience: flying to Delhi, fifteen hours in a car, staying overnight just before. It was bizarre. You travel in a car with a driver who says “I am Knight Rider “ – and crosses over to the other side of the highway because it was emptier, driving against oncoming traffic, and an elephant crosses the road. We stayed in this, well Hotel maybe you could it. I remember going into my room and hearing this banging on the roof. So I went into the room of Juan, the producer and asked what the noise was all about? And he answered: “It is the monkeys!“ The roof was covered with monkeys and they were banging on the roof the whole fucking time.
So we were in this completely different world, not the glamourous world of MTV, but in one of real beauty and interviewing the Dalai Lama. In one week, I interviewed Gorbachev, Madonna, and the Dalai Lama!

That was sort of phenomenal.

Steve, one add on question from today, March 26th 2020. Since Corona hit towns and we are all inside in our flats most of the time you started this daily Facebook programming where you do a kind of rap with song quotes. How did that start? And how is the feedback so far?
Feedback is great, just keeping spirits up and having fun! It’s an idea I’ve been playing with for a long time. I might turn it into a live show when this shit is over. But I have to say I have no problem being on my own, making silly fun things or writing or reading. I’ll come out this stronger as I hope most of us will!

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