AD Main Menu

Whitekeys returns with Alaska 'history' video

Mike Dunham

Hey, boys and girls! Election results got you down? Looking for laughs in all the wrong places? Missing the old mood boost you used to get from the silly skits at the Fly By Night Club while enjoying six beers and a Spamburger?

Well, your fun fix is here. Mr. Whitekeys -- apparently missing the merry mugging that made up his life night after night for about 30 years until the Fly By Night closed in 2006 -- has come out with a new video: "Alaska: The First 10,000 Years."

The hourlong DVD consists of the antics that made the satirical seasonal revues at the defunct Spenard establishment a hit with locals and visitors for so long. Political zingers, weird headlines, pun-prone misprints and parody songs abound. The publicity promises "35 new pieces of music" -- actually new lyrics to well-known tunes. "Rain-Soaked Kodiak" is set to "Rocky Top" (miraculously filmed during a stretch when the sun shone over the island), and the video's climax is a big production number with Sarah Palin look-alike Crissy Ditmore and a camo-clad chorus line belting out "Girls Just Wanna Have Guns."

Dozens of well-known Alaskans, from artist Ray Troll to mattress mogul Ted Sadtler have vignettes. Former Gov. Tony Knowles declares Spam "really tasty," and local television star Jackie Purcell traces the routes of humans from Asia to Alaska on her weather maps. Few of these folk are identified, however, so Alaska celebrity spotters may need to ID them for out-of-state friends and explain why a grinning head shot of former Gov. Walter Hickel may seem funny to us.

Other one-liners, like Iditarod champion Martin Buser's crack about the Canadian health care system, will be more universally grasped.

As with the act at the old nightclub on Spenard Road -- where Spam was a menu staple and pretty good music vied with sleezy, cheesy comedy -- a lot of the jokes revolve around outhouses and related matter. The history of Alaska is "the story of what happens when you spend 10,000 years without indoor plumbing," says Whitekeys, the movie's narrator, at one point.

But there's also plenty of real history woven in: the Bering land bridge, the Russians, the Matanuska Colony, state politics up to Election Day this year and brothels from Kenai to Ketchikan -- all seen through the sort of insouciant and sometimes inaccurate prism of Saturday Night Live or The Daily Show. (Grass does grow in Kodiak, for instance, or else there'd be no cattle ranching there.)

We learn, for instance, of "Nimrod" Robertson: "The only man to eat a bear with its own teeth." And two Billy Mitchells: The famed father of the U.S. Army Air Corps who once commanded the troops in Eagle, and a cross-dressing firebug from Southeast.

Whitekeys' partner is award-winning producer Todd Hardesty of Alaska Video Postcards, creator of such Alaska gems as "Playtime With Ahpun & Oreo" and "The Best of Fairbanks." Stock footage collected over the years provides cutaway shots of wildlife and scenery.

Historical images came from a number of museums in Alaska and Yukon. Archival film was drawn from the vaults of the Alaska Moving Picture Image Preservation Association.

"Alaska: The First 10,000 Years" will be available in stores Monday and can be ordered online at www.akvideo. com. The official debut will take place Friday at the Wildberry Theater, a benefit for AMIPA. A donation of $50 is suggested. Admission will include some of the cast in person, the chance to see the show on a big screen and, Whitekeys promises, "a fabulous buffet with, you betcha, Spam."

Find Mike Dunham online at adn.com/contact/mdunham or call 257-4332.

ALASKA, THE FIRST 10,000 YEARS will have its world premiere screening at 6 p.m. Friday at Alaska Wildberry Theater, 5222 Juneau St. The event is a benefit for the Alaska Moving Image Preservation Association. Suggested donation $50. Call 786-4980 for tickets.

SNEAK PREVIEW ON THE WEB. See the song-and-dance extravaganza "Girls Just Wanna Have Guns" online at

www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BbyEbozR7g


By MIKE DUNHAM
mdunham@adn.com