Legendary Seattle DJ Marco Collins is the subject of the new SIFF film ‘The Glamour and the Squalor’

Jun 2, 2015, 5:55 PM | Updated: Jan 25, 2018, 1:01 pm
(Left to Right) Geffen Records Susie Tennant, Marco Collins, and Nirvana's Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic backstage at The Paramount Theater in Seattle, 1991. (Photo courtesy of Marco Collins)
(Left to Right)

In 1991, Seattle’s Marco Collins was the first DJ in the country to play Nirvana. He was the first to play a Pearl Jam song.

“We were just able to really forge a path in breaking a lot of artists nationally, even internationally,” Marco said. “Beck being one of the artists that we broke, ‘Loser.’ Garbage, The Presidents of the United States. We were the first station to play the Foo Fighters, Prodigy. Weezer, I was the first person to play Weezer.”

Related: EMP celebrates 15 years of pop culture

Marco was a DJ and music director at 107.7 The End. But about eight years in he started partying hard, hanging out with Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love and the other Seattle grunge rockers he befriended through his show.

“I sort of believed that I was kind of a rock star and I lived that lifestyle. My rule was, I have to be in bed by noon so that I could sleep from noon to six, wake up, be on the air by seven. Very little show prep; I kind of lived the show prep. It was crazy, that was a really crazy time. That really was the beginning of the unraveling, the beginning of the squalor.”

“The Glamour and the Squalor” is the name of a new documentary about Marco Collins’ rise and fall, and everything in between. After several years of production, the film is finally debuting at the Seattle International Film Festival on Wednesday.

“It’s the fastest selling film this year at SIFF, which shocked me. We didn’t even have time to tell our friends to buy tickets,” Collins said.

If you were into the 90s music scene, you will recognize everyone in this film.

“Carrie Brownstein from Portlandia, Sleater-Kinney,” lists Marq Evans, the film’s director. “Mike McCready, from Pearl Jam, not only is in the movie but scored the film too. There’s a great interview we found with Kurt Cobain talking about, I don’t want to spoil it, but talking about Marco and the End. That’s a great little scene with Marco and Kurt. Patty Schemel from Hole, Matt Pinfield from MTV days, Shirley Manson from Garbage.”

One of the other things the film highlights is Marco’s eventual coming out.

“I just didn’t feel comfortable coming out in the 90s. At that time, I felt like it was career suicide. So coming out, for me, has been many stages. And now I really don’t care who knows. But I do regret not having come out earlier because there were so many people that found out that I was gay who wrote me and said, ‘Man, if we had only known that when we were kids, you were our hero, it really could have maybe helped us.’ That’s one of the biggest regrets I have.”

Marco did not agree to do the film right away. He’s trying to move forward, not go back.

“A radio company that I worked for in Sacramento asked me to do the Resurrection Show. And I was like, ‘Hell no! I’m not being typecast as the resurrection guy!’ And they were like, ‘What if we give you a new music show, back-to-back?’ And I’m like, ‘Done!’ I can tell stories for days about the 90s, the stuff that I can remember. But the new music is really where my heart’s at, where my passion is. If you looked at what my playlist is, on my phone right now, nothing on this says 90s at all. It’s just not where I’m at.”

Ron and Don

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Legendary Seattle DJ Marco Collins is the subject of the new SIFF film ‘The Glamour and the Squalor’