“So we have this girl on the trapeze,” he was telling me, “and she’s beautiful. Every guy in the audience is falling in love with her. Beautiful face, great chest, long flowing dress, and she’s doing these amazing acrobatic tricks on the trapeze while smiling at the audience.”
We’re sitting in the Paramount Hotel while he’s telling me this. He just gave me a tour underground the hotel where three floors deep are being excavated to fit his exact vision.
“People are in Las Vegas expecting a show like this. They want to fall in love with a sexy girl doing incredible things,” he continues, ” Then, when the girl is just about through with her amazing act, she takes her skirt off and you see…”
He takes a sip from his water.
“She has no legs.
“Everyone gets shocked. Some people even scream. Every act in the show is like that. It’s an experience and not a show.”
Randy is describing to me “The ACT”, a show he created in the Palazzo Hotel in Las Vegas. Then he describes what he’s going to do below the Paramount Hotel on 46th Street in NYC.
“People will arrive for dinner. But it’s not like any other dining experience in NYC where people sit there, eat, and decide whether the food is good or bad and then leave. I wanted to create an experience that was completely different.
“Every part of the experience has to break down patterns. I’m all about destroying the patterns that get ingrained so deeply in us from childhood.
“So you arrive at the place and there’s a line and then we separate you from your wife. You’ll meet up with her later but for about a half hour or more you are on your own. This really disturbs people. They are not used to going to a dining place and being separated from their spouse. We break all the rules. Then people go through this dark maze, a trap door to get into the place, we put masks on people to completely depersonalize them and then the experience begins.”
He describes more. Every aspect of the experience: arriving, leaving, going to the bathroom, eating, the physical setting around you, the way you navigate that setting, is totally the opposite of what you might expect. A desk might appear on your table. A key for the desk might be underneath your plate. Every person has a different experience. “People tell me everyone should have the same experience,” he said, “but that’s what people expect. It’s better when there’s simply no rules and you have no idea what to expect.”
“Why should there be rules,” he said. “Why should everyone have the same experience?”
“I don’t know if I want to get separated from my wife!” I said, “are people, like, having sex in here with all of their masks on and they don’t know who is who?” I got scared at the thought of Claudia having random sex with a stranger in a mask in the middle of a dark restaurant.
“No, definitely not!” he says but he smiles, “Who cares about sex? It’s always the fantasy that turns people on and gets people excited. Throughout the experience there’s the fantasy that anything can happen.
“We had this other show. A beefed up guy, muscles, mutton chops, close-cropped haircut, with two girls on either side. The song, “its a man’s world” by James Brown playing in the background while the guy shows off his muscles. But here’s the secret. The guy is really a girl who has taken a massive amount of testosterone. She has no breasts, she has hair on her face, muscles, etc. So at the end of the act, she takes down her shorts, and there’s a big, beautiful, vagina there. Mick Jagger was at one of the shows. He turned around and shouted, “What the Fuck!” ”
Randy laughed. “This is what I like to do. I create worlds for people. I’m all about breaking people out of their patterns, out of their expectations, away from the rules that everyone expects of them.”
Randy and I hadn’t seen each other in over a decade. We hadn’t even spoken in those ten years and hadn’t worked together in about 15 years. In that time, we’ve both had two kids, life’s turned upside down in every way. He IMed me at random at 4:30 in the morning the other day, “Meet me at the Paramount. I want to show you what I’m working on.” So, thus summoned, I went.
We went down into the basement. Three floors of construction workers cleaning out the place. “We pitched them what to do with this space,” he was telling me, “and I said to them, ‘don’t do some boring restaurant. Every place has that in NYC. People then sit and say, “the food is bad or good and then they leave.” That’s too routine. Let’s do something completely different.’ And they accepted. This is what I love to do, creating entire worlds for people that are entirely different from the world they are used to.”
When Randy and I worked together we would walk up and down midtown, visiting every record label trying to convince them to let us do their websites. We ended up doing ALL of them. He also knew the guys running The Source magazine. So we did the website for The Source. I had a fulltime job at HBO at the time and was on the side doing Reset while Randy was helping run it.
One time we were walking and I was very excited. I was describing this chess endgame I was reading about.
He said, “Wait! Just stop it! You’re James-fucking-Altucher. Chess is a game for little kids. You should be building Reset!” And he was right. So I quit my job, stopped playing chess 10 hours a day, and started running Reset full-time. That’s the entire reason I became a fulltime entrepreneur. A year to the day later, I sold the company.
I met Randy because at the time he was playing these elaborate pranks on people and putting the results on the Internet. We did some together and I even occasionally played a prank on him. Before that he was a Hollywood screenwriter. And after he left Reset he wrote a show for MTV before he started “creating worlds”. “TV was too boring,” he said, “two stories and a rudder for every show. Hollywood was afraid to break out of that because that’s what millions of people like.”
There’s no education for what Randy does. He created his own career. He created his own industry. And it’s taken him ten years of work to be established in this “brand new” industry. Now he’s got performances in downtown NY and London (“The Box”), in Las Vegas (“The ACT”) and soon – the Paramount Hotel in midtown NY. Plus he has an off-broadway show “Sleep No More” in the Chelsea area of NY.
Breaking the patterns in life doesn’t have to be limited to a specific event or location. I thought of my upcoming Kripalu retreat and how I can maybe break down patterns there.
I also started thinking during the breakfast if I make a practice of breaking the rules or patterns in my own life. I have a pretty fixed routine: wake up, read, write, exercise, eat, business, read, sleep, when I have a normal day at home. I wonder how I could break the patterns and rules in my life more.
I’m going to list every aspect of my routine and, for each one, see what I can do that’s the opposite, or at least different. To surprise myself. To break my own rules and patterns so I don’t get too attached to them. On the one hand I’m trying to have a theme of “Less” in my life but on the other hand I’m still clinging to all of these old stale patterns.
We walked a block or two after breakfast then shook hands. “What are you going to do the rest of the day?” I asked him. He was smiling.
“I have no idea,” he said.