On August 1, the music network that made a generation want its MTV turns 30. Around-the-clock music videos may have gone the way of parachute pants, but former MTV VJ Martha Quinn keeps the ’80s alive as host of the Sirius/XM show â??80s on 8. We reminisced with Quinn from her home in Malibu, Calif., where she lives with her husband (composer and former Fuzztones’ member Jordan Tarlow), two kids, and three dogs—all vegetarians.
Q What is it about the ’80s that makes the decade endure?
A The ’80s were wild with possibility. On the one hand, it’s girls just want to have fun, but there was a global consciousness too. The era brought us Live Aid, Hands Across America, We Are The World, and Band Aid. The ’80s have this rap for being about taking, but it was so much about giving as well.
Q In those first days of MTV, did you know you were in the foreground of a revolution?
A I guess you can never really know. I did think, gee, maybe this could be something. Our generation grew up with 24-hour TV and music radio, so putting the two together made a lot of sense. We [VJs] were all lovers of rock ’n’ roll, and we had a passion for this new format. We were truly rebels with a cause.
Q You became a vegetarian in 1986, a year after the Smiths released the album Meat Is Murder. How did that happen?
A I went with a friend to [California’s] Santa Monica Pier. We were idly watching a guy fishing; he reeled in a fish, and the poor thing was gasping and writhing. I thought, I’m going to take a break from the animal-killing thing. I still think about the fish, and wish I could communicate to that spirit how many lives it saved.