First we put an ad in the paper: “looking to go on a date with a pretty girl? Please write back.” We got over 100 responses.
Then we picked out a restaurant. We arrived before the date and wired up the restaurant. We picked out a table and put recording equipment in the vase. We had secret cameras all around pointing at the table.
We took Francois with us to protect the girl and we sat down at the table next to the date.
Francois was 65 years old but he used to be in the French Foreign Legion and was a big guy and always smiled. He kept impregnating women despite repeated vasectomies.
Amy was the girl.
She was very funny and beautiful. She could get people to talk.
The guy on the date would have no idea he was being videotaped until the end. Then we would tell him.
Date number 1: He discussed with Amy that he thought he was gay. Gay or straight or a little bit crooked? He didn’t know. He signed the release form but the next day he called Amy and left a message. He was crying. “Life is to be lived. Not videotaped.”
Date number 2: In the middle of the date, the guy got a call. It was from his wife. They had a long discussion and then he got off the phone to finish his date with Amy.
At the end of the date Amy asked him to sign the release form. He said he would if she would have sex with him. He didn’t sign the release form.
I wanted to produce a TV show. I had lots of ideas. This was the second idea I was pitching HBO. The first one was already in pilot stage and I was in the middle of shooting it. I pitched this one to a different branch of HBO. HBO Independent Productions.
It was one of those things where they said, “WE LOVE THIS!” and then I never heard from them again. The secretary would say, “Dave’s in a meeting” and then I would say, “I’ll wait” and then she would give me advice. “That’s not a good idea.”
I would get really frustrated. I would pound my head on my cubicle desk.
So then I had to pitch it to the other part of HBO. They said, “We like this but we think it’s a little bit too mean,” said the producer of “Hookers on the Point” and “High on Crack Street”.
That was that. I gave up. In fact, I hated the fact that I worked on something that was fun and creative and interesting to me (I always wanted to spy on other people’s dates. It was like a dream come true for me). And yet, all it took were one or two people to completely destroy my dreams. And I still had to smile at them whenever I saw them.
I quit HBO and started doing my company full time. I didn’t want anyone to OWN me. I wanted to own me.
One time Amy, Joe, me, went to Cafe Edelweiss, a transvestite bar all the way near the West Side Highway and 43rd Street. Amy wore a hidden microphone and started talking to the guys there who were not dressed like women.
One guy told her he was married with kids and living in New Jersey but every now and then he couldn’t help himself.
He told her, “Sometimes I just like to get BLEEP in the BLEEP here in the bathroom and then I go home to my wife and kids.”
All the time we were spying on people. All the time we were figuring out new ways to get people to tell us stories.
I like to come up with ideas and then figure out the next steps. Then I Prepare, Make it happen, Accept the outcome.
I make it happen by giving myself as many chances as possible to succeed. I diversify the possible outcomes. Then I can accept the outcome. I did my job. Onto the next one.
This is what I learned when it took only one or two Masters to squash my passions and destroy my ideas. Because I felt like they destroyed me.
I’ve spent the past 15 years systematically destroying anyone who tried to own me.
I don’t want any slave-owner to kill my ideas anymore. Killing is bad. I wanted my ideas to live. And yes, life is to be lived.