FYF Fest promoter Sean Carlson's L.A. Scavenger Hunt turns a bizarre list of items–like life-size cut-outs of Freddie Mercury–into charity goodness for downtown's Union Rescue Mission and the L.A. Food Bank almost every year. So if you're the guy wondering why a few hundred desperate costumed kids come pounding on the door to your Life-Size-Cut-Outs-Of-Queen-While-U-Wait store each fall, well, now you know.
This year, the Scavenger Hunt starts at 2 PM on Sat., Dec. 4, in the Dodger Stadium parking lot. For a modest entry fee–early birds get half-price tickets here!–teams of scavengers roam the city scoring points for collecting both charity-friendly items like dry foods and winter clothes and brain-breakers by Carlson and co. like “photo with Glenn Danzig” or “photo making out with a senior citizen.” The top teams get big prizes–like paid flights to Barcelona's Primavera Sound festival, or a very special shopping trip excusively detailed within–and the Union Rescue Mission and Food Bank get thousands of pound of socks and rice.
Exclusive interview with new details on Scavenger Hunt prizes and more after the jump!
I know you finish this thing off each year with thousands of insane artifacts. What have you kept? Something you couldn't ever part with?
Sean Carlson: A photo of a 18-year-old boy making out with a 60-year-old woman. Her tongue in his mouth. It was pretty magical. I've moved so many times in the past five years so it's hard to hold on to things. But I have that in a small case I keep that I'll never lose. I even traveled with it once. It's definitely an icebreaker. If I met anyone that was bummed, I'd show it to them to make them smile. The original item was 'PHOTO OF A TEAM MEMBER KISSING A SENIOR CITIZEN.' Nothing about tongue or anything. It seems like woman was pressuring the boy–the boy seems scared.
What items turned out to be the hardest for people to find? Or the easiest?
A family portrait with a dog in the portrait. You'd think maybe people could find that but only one person ever did. Or a photo with Glenn Danzig. We put his address in the Scavenger Hunt list. The first team showed up and got the photo, but showed him the list and he said, 'I need to get the fuck out of here!' I drove by an hour later and like fifty people were banging on his gate. Another item was a Brazilian flag. There's a Brazilian smoke shop on Alvarado and Sunset. So many people saw the word 'Brazilian' and stopped, and they had tiny flags for like $1. They immediately sold out. A friend of mine walks in and the guy is like, 'I'm out of flags! Can you watch the shop? I've gotta go buy more!' So my friend is just left there watching the shop by himself–totally confused. The guy had no idea why he was selling so many flags, but in one day he sold like a hundred of them.
Are you proud to stimulate the local economy that way?
Yes–happy to keep businesses in business. The actual purpose of the hunt is to raise material goods–it's a good time, but it's for a good cause.
You want to raise $100,000 for the Union Rescue Mission and the L.A. Food Bank. If you do get $100,000, what kind of practical effect will a donation like that have for those organizations?
It means comfort for them–knowing they have a couple thousand pounds of rice. Little things like tampons and socks they can never get enough of. So if we supply a couple hundred boxes of toothpaste, it's great. It's us being able to do everything possible for two organizations in the time of need before the holidays. It's cold and they need shoes, socks, dry foods … canned food, tampons, pasta … I have an FYF rep who keeps in constant communication with them about exactly what they need.
Tell me about the fabulous prizes.
The main one is a $2,500 flight credit to go to Barcelona for the Primavera Sound Festival. Pulp is re-uniting so it's extremely exciting. That's enough for three or four flights. Another is a $250 gift credit to go shopping with Keith Morris at Fingerprints in Long Beach.
What record will Keith Morris force you to buy?
'Chris Ziegler! Have you heard this Blue Oyster Cult album? This will change your life!'
I think I have that record already.
He will definitely say Gun Club because Jeffrey Lee Pierce was his best friend. 'Bands wouldn't be playing today without the Gun Club. We've also got boxes of records from so many labels, gift certificates to like four dozen restaurants in L.A.–so many little things, too. And everyone who signs up in advance gets a raffle ticket to see Weezer play Pinkerton at the Universal Amphitheatre. Third row seats.
What prize is your personal favorite? The one that will make you jealous of the winner?
I can't go see Weezer! That's one of my favorite records of all time. I purchased those tickets out of pocket. It's gonna be such a mass nostalgic moment. I wanted someone to be able to go.
One prize is a band plays your living room. What band will be playing some lucky person's living room?
I can't tell you.
When was the last time they played a living room?
Probably when they had a different name in 2003 or so. Maybe they have played living rooms since in other cities. They may even be accompanied by a different band. So maybe you get two bands in your living room. They've played past FYFs.
Is it Pusswhip Gangbang?
No, it's not them.
Will you vouch for the mystery band as polite houseguests?
Absolutely. I'd love to have them over for dinner.