Back in the ancient days before Youtube and things that go viral, it was not a common occurance for videos to get widely circulated. They had to be copied from VHS to VHS tape, usually one at a time and handed off to a like-minded friend. In 1996, I traded tapes online with a comedian who happened to have a huge collection of fun, weird videos. On his list, he rated each video’s hilarity and one called “Larry Gives Directions” was rated highest. Without spoilers, I asked him to include it and he was right. It was hilarious. Two guys on vacation from California stop to get directions to a Motel 6 in Longview, Texas. They happen to stop one Larry Williams. For reasons unknown, they videotape him giving the directions, which are so funny that even the cameraman can’t help cracking up.
Since it was nearly impossible to find to discover the origins of the video, I put a page up on my lo-fi website hoping to find answers. Thousands of people found it and dozens left theories and rumors in the page’s guestbook. The tape was circulated by Hank Williams Jr. The drivers were producers working on a Corona ad campaign. They were location scouts for Robert Longo’s movie “Johnny Mnemonic”. In March of 2006, I got an e-mail from the friend of Kim Rust, the man in the passenger seat of the video. I dropped Kim a note and he was happy to answer questions about the famous video. He probably wasn’t shouting but I left his CAPS LOCK responses intact.
Shortly after posting the interview on my band’s website (for lack of other webspace), I let my website account close and with it went Kim’s 15 minutes of fame. Six years later, I started this page and thought I’d repost it here. When I finally went to find it on archive.org, I could access the entire deceased band website….except for the page about Larry. That meant that the only place I could find it was on a backup Zip disc I hadn’t touched in eight years. To my shock, my MacBook Pro recognized the zipdrive and I found the HMTL page from the website. As soon as I copied the text, I got a spinning rainbow trying to open another file on the disc and that was that.
Here it is. Resurrected for the holidays….
Alright, Kim. Besides answering these questions, please give us your reactions on hearing about how popular it’s become. Thanks in advance. We’re honored.
IT’S STRANGE BECAUSE WE WENT OUT OF OUR WAY TO NOT HAVE THIS THING GET OUT. I DON’T THINK IT WAS GIVEN TO OVER 7 TO 10 PEOPLE. IT’S INTERESTING HOW IT HAS GOT AROUND. YEARS AGO IT WAS WRITTEN ABOUT IN THE SAN FRANCISCO NEWSPAPER AND THE LA NEWSPAPER. SUPPOSEDLY, ACCORDING TO ONE ARTICLE, JAMES CAAN AND ROB REINER HAD COPIES OF IT.
First, when was the video shot? Were you the cameraman or in the passenger seat? Who was your friend?
THE VIDEO WAS SHOT IN MAY OF 1988. I WAS THE BIKE RIDER IN THE PASSENGER SEAT WHO SPONSORED THE TRIP. THE DRIVER AND CAMERAMAN WAS ROBIN WREN, WHO I HAVE LOST TOUCH WITH.
You guys were in Longview, Texas. Where were you heading to and from and why?
AS ONE OF SEVERAL ‘MID-LIFE CRISIS” ENDURANCE EVENTS, I DID A 29 DAY, COAST TO COAST BICYCLE RIDE STARTING IN JACKSONVILLE, FL AND ENDING IN SAN DIEGO, CA. IT WAS TO BE PART OF A BOOK THAT WAS NEVER PUBLISHED.
Were you just filming ANY fun stuff you came across on your trip? Is that why you decided to film someone giving directions? Lucky you did. That seems to be the most obvious question: WHY did you choose to film Larry? Did he just look like he had pornstar potential?
WE SHOT LOTS AND LOTS OF FILM. EVERYTHING FROM THE LANDSCAPE TO PEOPLE WE INTERVIEWED. ALTHOUGH THIS WAS THE FUNNIEST, OTHERS WERE VERY INTERESTING & FUNNY. I have many times thought a couple of guys could spend 6 months on the road and put together a blockbuster of a film with a mixture of funny stuff combined with “Charles Karult” Americana. Frankly, it is something I would be good at and enjoy. Shoot the stuff, develop a theme, then edit. WE ASKED HIM FOR DIRECTIONS. HE STARTED TO RESPOND. WE KNEW, WHEN HE DID, SOMETHIING FUNNY WAS ABOUT TO HAPPEN. WE TOLD HIM TO WAIT, STARTED THE VIDEO AND HE STARTED OVER, PRETTY OBLIVIOUS TO THE FACT THE VIDEO WAS RUNNING. IT WAS ONLY SHOT ONCE AND EVERYTHING WAS TOTALLY IMPROMPTU. THE THING ABOUT ASKING HIM HOW BIG HIS DICK WAS, WAS IN RESPONSE TO HIS MENTION OF “DEEP THROAT”.
Were either of you really a bike rider or a movie producer?
ROBIN WASN’T A PRODUCER, BUT I DID RIDE COAST TO COAST IN 29 DAYS.
Do you remember how funny you thought it was right after it happened? The cameraman can’t stop laughing in some parts.
WE DID KNOW IT WAS FUNNY RIGHT AWAY. THAT NIGHT, BECAUSE, I HAD SET UP PEOPLE TO MEET ALONG THE TRIP, WE WERE INVITED TO HAVE DINNER WITH AND SPEAK TO A SMALL BICYCLE CLUB IN ONE OF THEIR HOMES. WE SHOWED THE VIDEO TO THE GROUP WITH TREMENDOUS RESPONSE.
Were his directions good enough to get you where you needed to go? Did you use the video to get you there?
WE DIDN’T USE THE VIDEO TO FIND THE PLACE AND, ACTUALLY, THE DIRECTIONS WERE VERY CONFUSING AND, AS I REMEMBER, NOT VERY ACCURATE. IT WAS ONLY ABOUT A MILE AWAY AND PRETTY STRAIGHT FORWARD.
Did you send him a letter? He left off his zip code so I sent a few letters to different 302 Brown Streets in Longview. All the letters were sent back. Someone left us a note saying many houses in that part of town are now gone.
WE NEVER TRIED TO COMMUNICATE. GUYS LIKE THAT DON’T STICK AROUND ANY PLACE VERY LONG, OR LIVE TOO LONG, FOR THAT MATTER.
How many people do you think you’ve made copies of the tape for?
AS I PREVIOUSLY SAID, LESS THAN 10, WITH INSTRUCTIONS TO NOT COPY OR DISTRIBUTE.
I got the tape in trade from a standup comedian who traded videos online. I put it on a 2 hour compilation that I’ve made dozens of copies of. I’ve seen it on several websites over the years. When did you realize that the tape had circulated so much? How do you think it happened?
I HAVE NEVER SEEN IT ANY PLACE. MY DAUGHTER, WHO IS NOW LIVING IN ASPEN, CO, SENT ME AN EMAIL A COUPLE OF MONTHS AGO WITH A LINK TO A PORN SITE WITH THE VIDEO ON THE SITE. SHE HAS MANY, MANY COLLEGE FRIENDS WHO CAN RECITE THE WHOLE THING AS THEY USED TO, AND STILL DO FROM TIME TO TIME, HAVE LARRY WILLIAMS “ROCKY HORROR” PARTIES.
Do most of your good friends know about the video?
MY FRIENDS DO KNOW ABOUT IT, HOWEVER, THEY ARE OF THE AGE IT DOESN’T MATTER. ALL MY DAUGHTER’S FRIENDS, ON THE OTHER HAND, DO.
Has anyone ever randomly mentioned the video and you said “That was me!”
How often do you watch the tape? Is it as worn as some of the duped copies you’ve seen? The version on youtube.com is awful. In looking around, I found a better copy which has a few extra seconds on the beginning that I’d never seen before of a random guy putting on a bicycle helmet (with Simple Minds playing) and the passenger actually asking Larry how to get to Motel 6. It was like seeing a deleted scene from your favorite movie.
I RARELY WATCH IT. I HAVE IT STORED WITH ALL THE OTHER ORIGINAL TAKES SHOT ON THE BIKE TRIP AND OTHER ENDURANCE EVENTS I DID THAT YEAR. THE GUY WITH THE HELMET IS ME. IT WAS SHOT ABOUT 15 MINUTES BEFOR MEETING LARRY WHEN I HAD COMPLETED THE BIKE RIDE FRO THE DAY, STARTING AT SCHREVEPORT, LA.
I assume you’ve watched it enough to quote it. Do you ever? Many of my friends do.
CERTINLY I CAN QUOTE SOME OF IT, THERE ARE THOSE, HOWEVER, THAT CAN QUOTE THE WHOLE THING.
What’s your favorite part or parts? Anything worth noting that most people might not catch?
ONE OF MY FAVORITE PARTS IS ABOUT HIS DICK, HE SHOWS HOW LONG IT IS THEN, AFTER LOOKING AT HIS HANDS EXTENDS AND ADDS TWO OR THREE INCHES.
How old were you and your friend when you shot it? What are you both doing now? Does your friend have stories about the video circulating?
I WAS 45. I AM A PARTNER IN AN OIL AND GAS EXPLORATION COMPANY AS WELL AS A PARTNER IN AN MERCHANT BANKING FIRM. I HAVE LOST TOUCH WITH ROBIN.
How do you feel about your valuable contribution to popular culture?
I’M AMUSED. I DO THINK IT WOULD BE FUN TO GO ON THE ROAD, TRAVEL THE U.S. AND SHOOT A PROJECT. IT WOULD BE, CORRECTLY DONE, NOT ONLY, AS YOU PUT IT, A POPULAR CULTURE TIME CAPSULE, BUT A FINANCIAL SUCCESS. IT’S SOMETHING I COULD DO.
Thanks for your interest. I can be contacted at this email address: climber3333((at))msn((dot))com or by phone (withheld, clearly Larry’s influence of giving out personal information has stayed with Kim)
Looking around for any info online that’s cropped up online since 2006, there was almost nothing other than this hysterical mapped version of Larry’s directions…..
According to some Youtube comments from the past year, there have also been some recent Larry sightings in Longview. If anyone knows the man, drop us a note at YouDownWithOLD (@at gmail dot calm) or through our Facebook page.
Here’s an old, hysterical e-mail from the relative of the legendary R&B singer also named Larry Williams (the Beatles recorded several of his songs) that someone who put the video on their site received:
> Frankly you have it all wrong > my late father was Larry Williams > the character in this video looks nothing like my father. > my fathers career did slow down in reguards to music, but never, ever was >he that dam broke that he would beg for money. I don’t know what you get >out of this but I would advise you to talk to those hippies who filmed >this and find out what kind of weed they were smoking when they labeled >this man my father the artist.
> hoefully you didn’y pay for this video if so… you got burned > I would appreciate if you would get your facts straight > I will begin an investigation to have the persons > whom are false accusing my father of being this man > remove this trash , or at least take his name off this video.
> that is not the the artist that wrote and performed the hit songs that >made him famous > Nice Try! > Dad live in Hollywood Burbank in Laurel Canyon > why would he need to beg in texas
FROM THE OLDE GUESTBOOK:
I would truely like to find out the origin of that video and actually find Larry himself. Called Longview Texas PD about 10 years ago and spoke to a Sergeant there who at the time advised he had never heard of the video or of Larry Williams. PS. LaQuinta Inn became a hit with us as a result of this video.
ALSO FROM THE OLDE GUESTBOOK:
i grew up in Longview and Larry’s directions are very precise. there really is a large factory with big domes, and everyone always said they built bombs there. he is standing at the corner of HWY 80 and Spur 63.