From swamp land to outlet malls to high rise housing, Secaucus New Jersey has it all. (well, it all except for being counted as a correct spelling in spell check) For me, the most important resident of Secaucus was WOR, Channel 9, a fixture in my house growing up. With shows like Romper Room, to my beloved Mets to Morton Downey Jr., to the first Howard Stern TV show to People are Talking which changed to 9 Broadcast Plaza which then changed again into the Richard Bey show, Channel 9 was my favorite station growing up. Now, here I was, walking into its hallowed halls, ready to go to work with the man himself, Richard Bey.
The office was like nothing I had ever seen. From what I remember, it was on the second floor, at the top of a stair case in what seemed like open floor space broken up by mid sized dividers. At Carnie, we all had our own phones and voicemail, but this was not the case here. There was one central phone line which housed the single answering machine. One machine for all the people working on the show and yet, they made it work booking their own brand of crazies for the air. The other distinct feature I recall about our floor was the cafeteria on the opposite side of the building. A standard no frills affair, it’s where I ate everyday. The food was passable, but I don’t think I ever deviated from whatever Chinese rice concoction I had ordered on the first day.
And then there was Richard. I had spent my years at my third rate law school, the months studying for the bar exam, the months after that looking for my first job, the years after that working as a lawyer and finally the months at Carnie as a fan of Richard Bey and now I was finally going to meet him. He would dress in costumes, break up fights, dance in the audience and bring out the best in whatever insane guest was put in his way. I remember seeing him that first day and probably incoherently saying something about being a big fan and that it was an honor to work there. I have no idea what he said, but whatever it was, it thrilled me.
Again, while I loved everything about this show but, I only spent a short amount of time working there. I started as an AP and worked on such classics as “I Am Opposed to Your Racist Views” where a 21 year old punk called both Richard and me stupid Jew or something super witty to that effect; the reunion of long lost crushes, where of course I had the pleasure of booking yet another silicone enhanced Playboy bunny/Penthouse Pet, back when people cared about those magazines and various other shows where people would scream at each other. Nothing, however, was better then the times we found out that people on air had lied about their story. Not only were they subjected to the “Wheel of Torture”, a spinning wheel were someone was strapped down, spun around and then had tons of different crap, from hershey syrup to spoiled milk to actual crap thrown on them, but because that sometimes wasn’t enough, there were some that were escorted off the stage, found their bags packed, return plane tickets confiscated and no way to go home.
The shows, the people, the building, everything was great and it was here, in my very fortunate meteoric rise up the ranks, I became a trial producer even after proposing a show called “Pubic Hair Makeovers” which was met with stunned silence by everyone except Al Goldstein who loved the idea when I pitched it to him many years later.
As a producer I was able to conceive my own show and get it on the air. It was a dream come true. I was in control. It was my vision that was going to see the light. Unfortunately, I can’t remember that first show, the guests or the outcome. I do however remember the day like it was yesterday, because it was also the same day I had to drive into NYU Medical Center to make a deposit at the fertility clinic. We, like other couples, were having trouble having a baby and decided to try our hand with a fertility doctor. Now the menstrual cycle did not give a shit that it was my producing debut so here I was, in the pouring rain, double parked on the east side of Manhattan with an episode full, of hopefully real guests, scheduled to show up in Secaucus, NJ.
It was the fastest I ever moved in my life. Leaving the car in the street with the blinkers on, I ran up to the clinic telling them I was double parked and had no time on my hands. As they showed me to my room, I remember uttering these words verbatim,
“Don’t go away, this will take a second.”
Before she closed the door, I was done. No magazines, no videos, nothing. It’s a record that stands to this day. Pants barely zipped back up, I ran down stairs, drove through across town through the monsoon and put on my first Richard Bey show. I guess it was a success as I was allowed to produce some more, including two that I will never forget…and nine months later, my son was born.