The host of the raunchy, tacky, and hilarious Robin Byrd Show, former porn star Byrd is the grande dame of New York cable access television.
Byrd was raised in an adoptive family in Manhattan and ran away from home at 13 to live with friends. After attending Baruch College for three years in the '70s, she dropped out, paying the bills working as a nude model at the School of Visual Arts. A stint as a porn actress followed—she appeared in the classic porno Debbie Does Dallas in 1978—a period during which she also worked on porn mogul Al Goldstein's racy cable access show Midnight Blue. Byrd later landed a cable access show of her own, Hot Leggs, and renamed it the Robin Byrd Show a few years later. That was the only thing about it that changed over the years: For close to three decades, porn stars and strippers gyrated around her colorful set for a few minutes and then sat down with the bawdy Byrd for an interview; at the end of the show, Byrd and the guests danced to the novelty song "Baby, Let Me Bang Your Box" in front of her red heart-shaped neon sign. Byrd went on to produce a few other dirty cable access shows, including Byrdbrains and Men for Men.
Byrd's shows are no longer being filmed, but they live on as reruns, which means the smutty Byrd—with her metal-groupie hair, crocheted bikini, and white cowboy boots—will be preserved in all her '70s/'80s glory for a long while to come. (Byrd is so much a part of the city's collective memory that she's been spoofed on Saturday Night Live twice.) The nonstop re-playing of vintage Robin Byrd Show episodes also means that her kitsch celebrity status endures, and Byrd, for her part, has done what she can to exploit her lingering quasi-stardom, including personalized ringtones and radio shows. [Image via Getty]