Personality Crisis: One Night Only tells David Johansen’s story through his songs

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The new David Johansen documentary Personality Crisis: One Night Only is airing now on Showtime. The film was co-directed by Martin Scorsese and David Tedeschi, and producer Margaret Bodde says the Academy Award winner Scorsese was the perfect person to help tell the story of the New York Dolls frontman, who went on to have fame as Buster Poindexter.

“Martin Scorsese has really long been an admirer and fascinated by David Johansen,” Bodde tells ABC Audio. “He loved the New York Dolls, that has been an inspiration for him throughout a lot of the filmmaking that he’s done.” She adds, “I think the idea of reinvention was really fascinating for Marty, when David then became Buster Poindexter or channeling that era of swing music.” 

The film is centered around Johansen’s one-man Café Carlyle show, which co-director Tedeschi says gives you a different perspective on Johansen’s career.  

“The show was radically different than anything else I’d ever seen partially because he tells the story of his life between the songs,” he explains, “but also because he wrote the songs in the set list, which is unusual for him. I don’t know if he ever did a show where it’s just his songs.” 

Bodde adds that Johansen “is really like a musical connoisseur,” and him sharing his life in this way is a unique opportunity to learn about him, noting, “I think David is not someone who really courts that kind of attention.”

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