Nancy's Drug Problem


1971 | 00:08:35 | United States | English | B&W | Mono | 4:3 | 1/2" open reel video

Collection: Videofreex Archive, Single Titles

Tags: Film or Videomaking, Humor

In this short but provocative tape, recorded August 4th, 1971, Carol Vontobel “interviews” Nancy Cain who is speaking about her “coke addiction problem” under the pseudonym Nancy X.  Nancy’s addiction, the viewer soon learns, is not to cocaine but coca-cola. As such, the segment unfolds as a spoof, both playfully calling attention to the proliferation of depictions of, and conversations about, the pervasive use of drugs in the U.S. in the early 1970s.

Referred to as a “soft drug” for which there is no formal program for coping or combating addiction, Carol and Nancy’s dialogue about this type of “coke problem” pokes fun at the over-legislation of youth subculture by authorities seeking to contain it, while also gesturing towards the ways in which capitalist consumption of consumer products, such as coca-cola, are infectious. By maintaining their composure throughout the parodied interview, the Freex’s performance anticipates and resonates with today’s popularized form of parodied news reportage, such as the Colbert Report and the Daily Show. In effect, Carol and Nancy take on imagined personas of reporter and subject before the camera, but leave a message that remains open-ended, and characteristically lighthearted.

— Faye Gleisser


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Stream Single Title

Title Awards Image Major Exhibitions/Festivals Description
Sea in the Blood

Equal First Prize for Best Male Short, Inside Out, Toronto Lesbian and Gay Film Festival

Sea in the Blood

OutFest (LA, CA.), 2001

Rotterdam International Film Festival (The Netherlands), 2001


Athens Int'l Film/Video Festival (OH), 2001



Sea In The Blood is a personal documentary about living with illness, tracing the relationship of the artist to thalassemia in his sister Nan, and AIDS in his partner Tim. At the core of the piece are two trips. The first is in 1962, when Richard went from Trinidad to England with Nan to see a famous hematologist interested in her unusual case. The second is in 1977 when Richard and Tim made the counterculture pilgrimage from Europe to Asia. The relationship with Tim blossomed, but Nan died before their return. The narrative of love and loss is set against a background of colonialism in the Caribbean and the reverberations of migration and political change.

"Sea in the Blood was to be a meditation on race, sexuality and disease, but after working with the material for three years, it was the emotional story that came through. It's hard to work with such personal material, but in the end the work takes on a life of its own. 'Richard' is a character. Because of the subject matter — disease and death — I wanted to avoid sentimentality. I'd like the audience to think as well as feel."

— Richard Fung