We (kind of) went inside the home of local cult personality Natalie Pollock.
You know and probably love Natalie Pollock for her cable access television show with her brother, Rockin’ Ron Pollock, in the 1980s, in addition to stints on Donahue, The Joan Rivers Show and The Jenny Jones Show, fighting for the rights of big-breasted women.
The Pollock And Pollock Gossip Show (which was later immortalized in Daniel Barrow’s 2009 compilation film Winnipeg Babysitter) featured a consortium of weirdness: giggly teen girls talking about “this and that,” a Liberace-loving cross-dresser who, Natalie says, “wasn’t actually gay,” and then there was the dancing – the elderly people, the ‘muscle dancing’ shirtless men, and Natalie’s absolutely amazing interpretive-style dance moves.
What you may not know is that the earliest incarnation of the show featured serious topics and interviews with cops and politicians, but changed formats after the station manager told Natalie that she couldn’t be serious.
“If we couldn’t be smart and intelligent, then we would overdo being silly,” she says. “It was a parody of a show like Sonny & Cher and Bob Hope – the gushy part of the entertainment business. Ronnie created these characters where we overdid everything – you know, overdoing the dancing and overdoing being ridiculous, and then I got typecast… I got stuck with that image, but that’s not me.”
Indeed, it isn’t really her. In the 1960s and ‘70s, Natalie and Ronnie were more concerned with making rock records than being on TV. They released a number of albums during that time – one of which was put out on Capitol Records and produced by Dionne Warwick (yes, Whitney Houston’s cousin). And although Natalie’s true passion was always to become a musician and meet Burt Bacharach (which she did, BTW), she instead found an audience on cable access.
But that was 25 years ago, and Natalie would rather be taken seriously for the things that she’s doing today. Since 2009, she and her brother have been posting videos on their Pollock And Pollock News Channel, a YouTube channel focusing on Manitoba politics, international human rights and LGBT issues. It’s also the same news channel that posted a video of a Manitoba Progressive Conservative leader (*cough Brian Pallister cough*) that went viral after he made a holiday greeting referring to “infidel atheists.”
Natalie wouldn’t actually let us into her house, because she doesn’t like strangers knowing where she lives, but she was kind enough to send us some photos of what’s inside – with the help of Ronnie, of course.
1) Upright piano
“All of our songs have been written on that piano. Ronnie’s the piano genius. He was playing concerts when he was nine years. He plays by ear. I don’t know how he does it.”
2) Pee-wee Herman and Dean Martin dolls
“I’ve had that Pee-wee Herman doll for so long. It was before he got into trouble… When he had that show (Pee-wee’s Playhouse) I loved him… I got Dean Martin from Walmart. They’re all collectors. You can’t buy them now.”
3) Pollock and Pollock slogan
“I gave that to Ronnie as sort of a joke, but he liked it.”
4) Winnipeg Babysitter DVD
“Winnipeg Babysitter wasn’t the original title. The original title that Daniel Barrow was going to use was Garbage Hill. I don’t know why… On the side of the DVD there’s a picture of the Cosmopolitans. They had a very popular show. They were a couple of ladies in a rock band playing Rolling Stones’ covers and they were about 80 years old… They were two lesbian ladies who fled some country in Europe, because they couldn’t be lesbians openly.”
5) Poster of Natalie and Ronnie with their records
“That’s about 1972 or 1971. That picture is from the Winnipeg Tribune, which was the newspaper of the time. The guy who worked at the vinyl record store on Osborne Street (Music Trader) gave that to us as a present. He made that into a poster.”
6) Painting of Natalie’s great grandfather
“He was always studying to be a rabbi, so in my head, even though he wasn’t a rabbi, I painted him as though he was.”
7. Tattered Neil Young poster
“I can’t recall if that’s from ‘65 or ‘66. (Neil Young) used to play at community club dances. He gave me that poster.” (Sidenote: Natalie was friends with Neil Young when they were students at Kelvin High School.)
Published in Volume 68, Number 26 of The Uniter (May 7, 2014)