Perhaps the most satisfying of the programs on the Anti-Grunge Channel is Daily Grunge Burning, a regular dose of destruction unlike anything else seen on television-- and Martha Quigley is unlike any other television hostess. At times, she is prim and proper, especially when she never fails to offer each of her co-conspirators a cup of hot tea in the winter or a bottle of iced tea in the summer; at times she can be quizzical; sometimes she is just along for the ride if an expert in grunge destruction is her guest, but no one matches her diabolical laugh as she sees a pair of jeans go up into flames, a pair of sneakers exploded from within, or a corny t-shirt doused in black ink that blots out a stupid, cheesy sentiment plastered across its front.
Martha learned at the hand of her mother Miriam, who was the president of the local chapter of the Anti-Grunge Society in Abbot Village, Maine. Miriam Quigley was well-known for her raids on nearby establishments where grunge was popular; men would see her and flee so fast that their sneakers just fell off their feet as they ran in terror, and Miriam would go collect the abandoned sneakers and save them for an annual bonfire in the public square. She was just the sort of woman that no one-- not even the police-- dared question.
"I get my more refined side from my dad, Horace," explained Martha, who continued, "He taught me how to negotiate as well as instill fear. But I need my fearsome side to motivate people to negotiate in the first place." What viewers of Daily Grunge Burning never see is all the off-camera negotiating that is required to produces piles upon piles of grunge for destruction on the program, not to mention the offbeat and curious variations of the lamentable wardrobe miscues that people have actually chosen to wear over the years. Martha explained, "Sometimes I have to do lots of horse trading and old-fashioned cajoling to get some of the things we then go ahead and blast to smithereens on the program. It once took me a week of sweet-talking just to pry one yellow-polka dot bikini from this 17-year-old girl I saw at the beach-- I had to go back every day until she relented, and even then it cost the program $250. Fortunately, the management is quite tolerant of that sort of thing; we get a decent budget on account of our good ratings."
Martha came to the Anti-Grunge Channel with an impressive resume, starting with her radio work where she had a five-minute syndicated spot. "That one was frustrating for me, because I never had time to destroy large quantities of grunge the way I really wanted to," she lamented. "It was five minutes, but with two one-minute commercials and a short introduction, anti-grunge tip of the day, and a conclusion, I rarely had time to destroy more than a few pairs of jeans or a couple of pairs of sneakers before I had to close and say, "Martha Quigley, until tomorrow, reminding you to destroy grunge anywhere you see it." Martha uses that tagline to this day, but she made several other stops along the way, including one she remembers well.
"The one thing I did that I liked almost as much as DGB was my animated series, Martha Zaps Grunge, which was a cross between DGB and Bewitched, where I have these nifty magical powers that let me get rid of grunge without much effort-- but the powers that be made me promise to do other good things in order to keep my magic powers, so I get to help widows and orphans and the downtrodden in between zapping grunge off people as they walk down the street." Martha, of course, voiced her own character for that series, which will eventually reappear on the Anti-Grunge Channel in reruns. "Doing my own voice was a unique experience, and I'd recommend it to anyone who gets the opportunity," she said.
Martha now lives in Essex Junction, Vermont, with her husband Lou, her son Jake and his wife Trudy, and grandchildren Dorothy, Stephanie, Eric, and Victoria in one huge house overlooking a large lake. "We picked that because we didn't want to have to see too much grunge if we didn't have to, and it's such a peaceful lake. We do on-location shoots for the TV program all over New England, so we're near enough to the action, and it's a great way of life for us," said Martha. Viewers have found Martha even though she's a bit off the beaten path, however, and almost every morning she finds a carton of grunge on her doorstep marked "FOR BURNING-- THANKS!" "As long as the good folks watching me on the Anti-Grunge Channel keep that grunge coming in, we'll never want for material for new episodes," she said with enthusiasm, "and I won't have to do as much tedious negotiation!"
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