After surviving my first show, I was entrusted with producing some more. They included another reunion show, where a guest fell out at the last second and my AP tracked down and booked my first girlfriend thus making me a guest on my own show. My performance, about a B minus.
There was Richard Bey’s Summer Olympics 1996 which featured a screaming Captain Lou Albano who was out of control even after the cameras were turned off. This show also included a remote where we had our “contestants” do a “synchronized” dive into the freezing cold pool of the hotel next door; it also had a race, in and around the WOR building, after the contestants had stripped off their sweats revealing naked body suits with fig leaves haphazardly placed. But, to top it off, the highlight of this episode was behind the scenes when we saw a guest try to walk out before the taping had even started. Before a show, people would occasionally get cold feet and you had to calm them down and get them on stage, whatever it took. Sometimes it was a pep talk, sometimes it was yelling and sometimes it was just $100.00 and extra time in the limo after the show. Fortunately for us, he was stopped, naked suit on, gym bag in hand, not by a producers, but by his daughter who told him he had to do the show and marched him back to the dressing room.
There was Richard Bey’s Greatest Show on Earth, an entire show devoted to both amateur and professional sideshow acts. From a spoon playing father and son to the fire eater, to the teenage belcher to the contortionist that used the same dentist as me, the episode was a favorite of mine and helped fuel my love of the unusual that I would use in the years to come.
Then of course was the show that will always be near and dear to my heart: “Richard Bey’s Greatest Fan” also called “I Love You Richard”. This was a show I wanted to do since the day I arrived. An homage to Richard and his passionate fans. These were the people that made up the audience, the ones that watched on TV, and some that even got rides homes from Richard when the last bus to NYC left before our taping had ended. To book the show we used a “crawl” on the local feed. The crawl is/was a live scrolling ad running during the show asking for guests. Like most things with our show, I seem to remember that the people at WOR weren’t thrilled about doing it, but like everything else with the show, it got done. So the crawl would run and depending on the topic the phone would ring off the hook or awkwardly stay silent alerting the producer that they had better find another topic. For Richard Bey’s greatest fan, the phone line went crazy. We had every misfit, stay at home mom, college burnout, and non-English speaking fan within 200 miles of Secaucus. The selection process was arduous, but we narrowed it down to 9 people who would go through a litany of tests, while dressed as Richard, to see who in fact loved him most.
It was perfect and then a gift was granted. Every so often you’re in the right place at the right time, for me, it was the taping of another show. There in the audience he was, my AP and I saw him and just had a feeling. Little did I know that that he would wind up as the first member in the Hall of Fame of Guests. Varinder Bey aka Vindi Bey aka The Turbinator. Now, not only was Vinid an audience member, but he was a med student who actually was living with a bunch of other students in the same hotel where we staged our pool follies. And he wore a turban. Jackpot. Through sheer persistence, that most likely included stalking the hotel, we tracked him down, convinced him he wasn’t jeopardizing his medical career and finally landed him by agreeing that he wouldn’t have to put a Richard Bey wig. Well it also may have taken a couple hundred bucks, but it was worth it. While the others were crazy, from singing Richard original songs, to giving him teddy bears, to professing their love in Spanish, to even passing out at the dance portion of the show from dehydration or maybe some other substance, none could touch the Turbinator. As soon as he bounded on stage he was a fan favorite. Eyes bugging out his head, he enthralled everyone. He jumped, he yelled, he high fived, he danced and laughed and he delivered like no other…and he wore a turban.
Given the beauty of the internet you can actually watch his highlights here.
Vindi Bey highlights
But what sets him apart and puts him in the hall of fame is the line he uttered after drinking a blended concoction consisting of cottage cheese and fish and milk and tomatoes, and various other products, not including meat. After gulping it down he spontaneously grabbed Richard’s mic and exclaimed,
“I don’t smoke dope, I don’t drink bourbon, all I want to do is shake my turban.”
Sheer perfection. And to think today he’s most likely working as a gynecologist.
My Richard Bey years ended soon after this as I was allured to the calling of working at the greatest building in New York television, 30 Rock working right next door to the show that was about to change daytime TV.