On the side of a building in Deep Ellum, there are two aliens painted in a far-out galaxy with a spaceship that lights up Commerce Street at night. This is the home of Weed and Whiskey TV — A Video on Demand streaming service. The channel is like Hulu or Netflix, but with cannabis- and alcohol-related content.
The Weed and Whiskey TV membership fee costs a friendly $4.20 a month and starts with a seven-day free trial. April 20 also happens to be founder of Weed and Whiskey TV Jerry Joyner's birthday.
Joyner describes his streaming channel as "TV with a twist." The channel is everything a cannabis user could hope and dream for, with content divided to appease every stoned mood: comedy, educational, sexy and high tunes, all rolled into one fat blunt of a streaming service.
Joyner is trying to break down the negative stigma associated with cannabis use by continuing to grow and push his project.
"I think part of the unique manifestation of Weed and Whiskey TV is to both have a platform to create dialogue about whether people should be able to use cannabis if they're sick, and to also help enlighten people that not everyone that uses cannabis is a pothead or stoner," he says.
For 10 years, Joyner has worked from his storefront managing his businesses, one of which supplies artwork for hospitals. “The backstory is that for 15 years, I’ve been putting artwork in hospitals all over the United States," Joyner says. "We’ve been very blessed. When I go to bed at night, I’m happy because the artwork, it’s been proven can help sick people, and I’m playing a part in that.”
But the 4-foot green cannabis leaf logo for Weed and Whiskey TV has been on the window only for a little over a year. The sign and the streaming service went up together. Joyner says people see the leaf and mistake the space for a dispensary — impatiently ringing the doorbell and banging on the glass in hope of buying fresh herbs, like in states where cannabis is sold legally. Oh, stoners.
The elaborate artwork that surrounds the exterior of the building is Weed and Whiskey TV's only advertisement. Joyner says he's seen people take pictures with the aliens and spaceship as late as 3 a.m. Once buzzed into the building, visitors step into an open-floor studio that resembles a news set with two big-eyed, gray-skin aliens seated at a desk, ready to read from a teleprompter.
The streaming service records much of its original content in Deep Ellum. Joyner says they're working on a new series based on a character drawn by the son of family friend Willie Nelson. Videos of Nelson’s daughter, Raelyn Nelson, can also be streamed through the channel.
It's important for Joyner to feature success stories about people who do not fit into stereotypes, and he's looking to break into the mainstream with a series involving world-renowned musicians.
"It would allow a bigger voice to be out there to say Hey, not everyone that smokes weed got Cheeto fingers and sitting on a couch," Joyner says. "And at least let the sick people have some cannabis. I would buy a bag of weed for a sick person every time I got my bag of weed from the street pharmacologist if (Texas) had that program, but they don't."
While sliding through titles on Weed and Whiskey TV, one stumbles upon old propaganda films, like 1936's Reefer Madness.
“We have quite a few of those propaganda films simply because they’re in the public record,” Joyner says.
In addition to full-length films and short videos that run for 4 minutes, 20 seconds, music videos and content from artists like Raelyn Nelson, Valerie June and Superglu can be found exclusively on the channel.
Joyner doesn't believe he would've been able to grow the streaming service at such a rapid pace if he'd been merely motivated by monetary rewards. He says he's genuinely enjoyed the process of building the streaming service from the ground up.
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The Weed and Whiskey TV app used to be found on Roku and Apple TV, but Amazon and Google Play kicked them from their app stores, Joyner says.
“They kicked us for illegal activities but wouldn’t tell us what illegal activities we were doing," Joyner says. "(But) Apple and Roku have been real friendly to us.”
Those in the neighborhood are free to stop by and ring the doorbell at the streaming platform's offices in Deep Ellum, Joyner says. If you think "Nelson" immediately when you hear the name Willie, you will feel at home on your tour of Weed and Whiskey TV. But visitors should remember that they won't find any weed or whiskey inside the building.
"If there is any message I could get out, it would be the illusion that we are a (weed) store … We are sorry we can’t sell weed yet, but watch us on our network," Joyner says.