My appearance on VH-1's "Totally Obsessed" - now on YouTube.
It's finally happened. My appearance on VH-1's "Totally Obsessed" has made it to Youtube. Here.
So, here's the scenario: It's 2004. I'm 29 years old. My wife is pregnant. I've just released my best-loved song ever and it's about to be the most requested song of the year on the Dr. Demento show. Then VH-1 finds my First Church Of Pac-Man page and contacts me about appearing on a new show they're doing. I say sure, as long as I get a link to the Pac-Man page.
I'm switching to the past tense now before I fuck up and do it unintentionally.
Recording this was a damned interesting process, and mostly fun. I absolutely refused to take anything regarding the show or my supposed "obsession" the slightest bit seriously. I am all about self-mockery through exaggeration for the purpose of comedy, and I was trying to give the world a show based primarily on the direction of "The First Church of Pac-Man" - genuine interest and knowledge of the subject matter, but presented in an obvious goofy manner. During the recording of this, it appeared that the show would reflect that. The people who showed up had a bit of a Hollywood edge to them, but they were very friendly and treated me well. They encouraged me to play up the "obsessive" shit - I HAD previously driven around screaming "Pac-Man" at people, but they got permission from Mall Security at the Greece Ridge Mall for me to do it there, and they gave me a megaphone. So I gave them a show. VH-1's purpose, however, was to make everybody on Totally Obsessed look totally obsessed - and this, through editing and severe fact manipulation (honestly, do the math on their "playing Pac-Man every day on his lunch break" thing...) is what they did. And the full-on performance of "Pac-Man Is Naked" they taped, which I assumed would at least get me some BMI royalties, was cut to just the intro followed by a snippet from the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Can't Stop." Could be worse, at least I *LIKE* the Chili Peppers.
The forums on VH-1's page, after the show aired, were chock-full of complaints by various people who had been on the show and were saying "I don't REALLY prance around like that all the time!" and "I don't REALLY dress like a Ninja Turtle when I'm doing karate!" and "They promised they'd do this and this and this!" I sympathized, but to the most of the world, who genuinely accept that these reality shows represent REALITY, they came off like whiny blame-passing douchebags. I immediately decided I didn't want to go that route. It's my own damned fault I didn't get shit in writing regarding the link, the performance, etc., and my own damned fault that I allowed all of these various things to be filmed, knowing that VH-1 could do pretty much whatever they wanted with the material. And ultimately, this show DID amuse a bunch of people, and that has always been my primary goal, because I'm a goddamned entertainer. But to a lot of people, the ultimate direction ended up looking like I was just trying to fake a serious obsession for the sake of fame, instead of trying to portray my love of Pac-Man in an amusing way. And I really didn't enjoy the various online forums where I was repeatedly called a loser based on a few edited televised minutes of my life. Most people who KNEW me and saw this episode were pissed off by it. Particularly my family. Even one of the show's producers (who has also worked with Weird Al, and commented repeatedly that my interview style was remarkably similar to his,) wrote to me, irritated that many of the best moments ended up on the cutting room floor.
I watched the first airing. I've tried to watch it again on repeated occasions, and I can't get more than halfway through it.
My fifteen minutes of fame after the initial airing, repeated to a slightly lesser degree with each rerun, were fun. I had a lot of "aren't you that guy?" moments, the most amazing one being in NYC when I was getting Alex Skolnick and Bob Kinkle's autographs after a performance of Jim Steinman's "Over The Top" (Got Steinman's autograph too!) and somebody recognized me and wanted to get a picture with me. I did appearances on a couple of radio shows, including Brother Wease here in Rochester, where after I put forth some reasonably-clever banter and set the record straight on a couple of the Totally Obsessed episode's "facts," his co-hosts mocked my music based on a 30-second snippet and Wease himself, the master of in-depth interviews, asked me if my wife was fat. VH-1 also paid to fly me to NYC and put me up in a disturbingly nice hotel so I could do an appearance on the CBS Early Show (which I did in a Worm Quartet shirt - defying VH-1's suggestion that I wear the same Pac-Man shirt I did in the show) to promote the thing along with the "Munsters house" people, a friendly, smart, and very amusing southern couple. Rode in a limo to the studio even though it was, unbeknownst to me, only a block away.
The Jimmy Kimmel show expressed interest in having me on based on this show. I had to refuse, as Kim was extremely pregnant by this point, and I never got back to them. No regrets here...I was busy as hell with a new kid by then, and while I repeatedly considered how I could build upon this episode's moderate success to bring more attention to my other projects, I was in many ways perfectly happy to let any fame I might have gotten from Totally Obsessed wither and die. I like being in CONTROL of how I'm mocked (lesson 1 in the "class clown" middle school survival plan,) and I relinquished too much of that control for this show. This isn't who I am. Most of my Pac-Man memorabilia never made it out of boxes after my last move, and some of it's been sold because I don't have room for it any more and there are more important things in my life.
On the plus side, I was introduced by Fred Willard, who was in "The Harvard Experiment" with Bruno Kirby, who was in "Sleepers" with Kevin Bacon. Three degrees, bitches.
Anyway. This exists. I acknowledge this, and I hope you guys get some enjoyment out of watching it. Comments are welcome.
A Man Obsessed with Pac-Man