William S. Burroughs on Saturday Night Live, 1981

Let’s rewind the videotape to November 7, 1981. That’s when Beat writer William S. Burroughs made his first appearance on American national television. Appropriately, it was on the irreverent, late-night comedy show, Saturday Night Live. Actress Lauren Hutton makes the introduction, setting up Burroughs to read from Naked Lunch (1959) and Nova Express (1964). You can watch the action above, which happens to be the opening scene of Burroughs, a 1983 documentary by Howard Brookner. The complete film is listed in our collection of 450 Free Movies Online (look under Documentaries), along with a 1997 BBC documentary on the author. For more good video dedicated to Burroughs, don’t miss the following:

William S. Burroughs Reads His First Novel, Junky (find it also in our collection of Free Audio Books)

“The Thanksgiving Prayer,” Read by William S. Burroughs and Shot by Gus Van Sant

Gus Van Sant Adapts William S. Burroughs’ The Discipline of D.E.: An Early 16mm Short

William S. Burroughs on the Art of Cut-up Writing

via @BrainPicker


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  1. Ahmet Issever says . . . | February 14, 2012 / 6:57 am

    Knowingness , above not knowing per se @ having read and with it ‘no problem’ seems to be the ultimate ideal. Stay with peace

  2. Jason says . . . | September 27, 2013 / 3:05 pm

    Interesting that the music at the end is East St Louis Toodle-oo, which was later covered by Steely Dan, who took their name from Naked Lunch. Nice tie-in. Kudos to whomever put the vid together.

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