By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Tom Ryan and I were booked together at the Laff Stop in Houston and were talking one day about Jerry Springer. Tom tells me he has a stripper friend (every good comic has at least one) who was going to do an episode and needed people to go with her and play different roles. Her motivation for going on the show, he explained, was to push her new literary achievement, How to Be a Successful Stripper, or some such horseshit, that she’d evidently penned between spins on the brass pole. He said that his stripper friend, Suzanne Starr, had spoken with the Springer people, who’d shown interest but said she needed to come up with a storyline around which she could push her book.
Now she needed not only players, but someone to come up with the angle, too. Figuring a storyline for Springer was about as difficult as writing a knock-knock joke, I called Suzanne immediately and started plotting out possible scenarios. She was worried most about being the only blonde girl on the show and, of course, pushing the book. Don’t forget, she has a message.
I tried to recruit as many of my friends as possible and was surprised at how many of them wanted no part of it. I guess the prospect of going on national TV and shouting “I’m a whore!” for all to hear doesn’t hold the same allure for other people as it does for me. In the end it wouldn’t matter.
The producers called Suzanne and told her they’d come up with a storyline of their own. I would be brought to the show so that my “girlfriend” could reveal to me her secret life as a tittie dancer. I would act as though I were kicked in the nuts. Then, a second girl would come out as my girlfriend’s new lesbian lover. Another shot to the nuts. Adding more insult to injury, they’d then perform a striptease for the audience, during which I was to go apeshit. End of segment. Suzanne would now seek out a third girl to play the girlfriend while I worked on getting into character, pretending to hate tittie dancers while my friends took turns kicking me in the nuts. I first spoke with the segment producer, Norm Lubow, about a week before the taping. He briefly went over the storyline, asked a few pertinent questions and told me that I could not, at any time, for any reason, tell anyone that this story was anything other than the truth, including my own friends. I agreed, as my friends on the other extension tried not to laugh. He’d arrange my air fare from L.A. to Chicago, where the show is taped. The taping date was, appropriately enough, April Fool’s Day 1998, although we’d get there two days ahead of time to rehearse.
A limo waited for me at Chicago O’Hare. No matter how many times I get in a limo, I always look around first hoping that someone I hated from high school was nearby panhandling. No such luck. As I waited in line at the hotel I noticed a young trailer-trash couple ahead of me looking completely out of place and had to assume they were here for the show. I listened to their conversation with the front-desk girl as they told her about that day’s taping. These two were for real. They didn’t need any coaching, I’m sure. I’d bet they fucked in the limo, not sure if they’d ever see one again. I bet they fucked in the shower for the same reason.
I checked in and was given $100 in “Jerry Dollars,” which could be turned in immediately for cash. Why they didn’t just give you cash, I don’t know. Maybe just for the fun of saying “Jerry Dollars.” Either way, it was the only money I was going to get.
I met with Suzanne and her friend Danielle, who would be playing my girlfriend. Both seemed pretty war-torn, Danielle from a two-day ecstasy binge and Suzanne from too many years of tittie dancing. It was obvious why she left the lap dance for the lap top.
It was clear from the beginning that we weren’t on the same page. My plan was to be so outrageous that we were shoo-ins for the Too Hot for TV video, even if I had to punch Jerry right in the face. Suzanne, ever the pacifist, wanted absolutely no violence. She was very Ghandi-like, if Ghandi were an aging stripper with a bad tit job. Danielle actually said that she wanted our segment to have “a little class.” I waited for laughter but none came. I was definitely a man alone.
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