Visual Arts

Steven Strange and Mike Red unleash Television Noir this weekend

Stephen Strange and Mike Red look kinda tired.

It's only natural, given that the two have been working around the clock since May on Television Noir, their beyond-bizarre late-night TV series that's debuting this weekend on local station KAZT.

But despite his fatigued state, Red's able to summarize the frenetic and freaky program rather nicely.

"It's an arts and comedy variety show with immature content, amateurishly produced, for a mature audience," says the 31-year-old musician.

As succinct as his synopsis sounds, it scarcely encompasses the myriad maniac characters and gonzo situations populating the program, which is akin to The Wallace and Ladmo Show on an absinthe bender. To wit: Red and Strange portray over-the-top versions of themselves, engaging in madcap-yet-macabre shenanigans (like dying in every episode) and operating a ramshackle magic television. The device "broadcasts" programming from multiple dimensions and throughout time, including vignettes starring the pair as such oddities as Terry the Alligator Wrestler or Meaty the Meatwagon.

"There's a good deal of surrealism and Dadaism in the show, which is our goal," says Strange, 32, the performance artist behind Phoenix's Strange Family Circus. "It's two crazy bald guys running around with makeup and wigs on, being as silly as we can."

Between all the crazy clips are equally weird commercials for Valley alt-cultural businesses, like a kung fu-filled spot created for Stinkweeds Record Exchange. It fits the show's wacked dynamic, Red says, and offsets the $330-per-episode cost of purchasing paid-programming slots on KAZT.

They're also providing airtime to support local creative types. Each episode will feature interviews with artists like painters Leslie Yazzie and Suzanne Falk, submissions from filmmakers and animators, and videos from such bands as JJCNV and Runaway Diamonds.

"It's essentially a half-hour commercial that we're creating for Phoenix and anything cool and underground here," Red says. "We're doing this is to hype our city."

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.