This Week

Scott Pilgrim sought and found

Mar 24, 2008

American Hero: Behind The Scenes- John Fortune, Swash and DB

BUGLES PLANET DAILY is proud to bring you a "behind the scenes" interview with John Fortune (JF), Sam Washburn (SW) and Michael Vogali (DB). All three men are part of AMERICAN HERO, the first reality show to feature aces and jokers; John and Sam are literally behind the scenes, while Michael is a contestant.

Who will be the first American Hero? Well, we don't answer that here, but we have lots of interesting stuff below!

First, let’s find out who you are. How are you associated with AMERICAN HERO?
JF: Hi. My name is John Fortune. Peregrine, that is, my mother’s production company, is doing the show. I’m an assistant, liaisoning with the contestants.

DB: Me? I’m [bleep]ing Michael Vogali of [rock band] the Joker Plague. You can call me Michael, you can call me DB. Just don’t call me that other name -- the one they’re using on the show.

SW: I’m Sam Washburn, aka Swash or “His Nibs.” I’m production artist for the show. I’ve done a lot of logos and graphics and the T-shirts and coffee cup designs, plus some illustrations for the website. I’m a fairly well established artist and graphic designer, and an ace myself. Topper recommended me for the gig.

The auditions for the show seem to have been pretty intense. What’s your favorite moment from these tryouts… and what bits never made it to broadcast?
SW: Well, the show’s still running, so it’s more a case of “haven’t been broadcast yet.” There’s reels of footage, and every time someone gets eliminated, they’ve been going back to the original tryouts to show scenes of the contestants that they didn’t have space for in the first episode.

But without spoiling anything, I think my favorite moment has to be Dragon Huntress’s try-out. One moment she’s got this tiny toy, next moment BAM! This huge dragon. Startled me so much my fingers shot ink all over the page, but that’s what you call getting the creative juices flowing. I’ve got pages of that damn dragon.

JF: Boy, that’s hard to pick. There were so many great moments. Unfortunately, due to, um, time constraints and, um, such things, not all tryouts could be shown on television. There was Simoon’s tryout where, you know, her power is to turn into a living dust devil, but of course when she, ah, re-solidifies she doesn’t have any clothes, and the cameras – um, well, maybe we better not get too deeply into that.

DB: What audition? The auditions were a [bleep]ing joke -- our manager, K.A. Cohen, had already made arrangements for me to be on the show before the auditions even started.

As for the rest of the crew -- I never watched any of the auditions, so I have no opinion at all.

Do you feel sorry for the failed or discarded wild carders? I mean, some of them really tried hard… some of the Confessionals are very touching, even emotional.
DB: Sorry for what? For taking part in staged ‘challenges’ that didn’t mean anything to anyone, that didn’t show heroism, that weren’t about anything real, where everyone -- well, most everyone; the ones of us who have genuine abilities -- had to hold back on to make sure we actually didn’t hurt anyone? Why should anyone even [bleep]ing care?It’s a game. Period.

It’s no worse than losing at Monopoly.

SW: I feel sorry for a lot of them. I mean, drawing your wild card, it’s like Yay! Not dead! Yay, kewl power on top of it! Even if it’s something like fountain pen fingernails. Then a week later it’s Damn, still broke and everyone’s looking at you funny because you’re an ace and aren’t you supposed to be rolling in money? Plus you’ve got all sorts of troubles most people don’t even think about, especially insurance. I mean, slamming my tail in a door is not a “Pre-existing medical condition.”

I think the one who understands that most is Bugsy–Jonathan Hive–who’s got a really cool blog, but he’s not going to get the exposure like he would if he stayed to the end of the show. And that really sucks.

JF: (Shrugs) I don’t particularly care for the game-playing myself, bu, you know, the people who go on the show do so for different motives which we can’t really control. Some are very sincere. Others have more, um, complex, motivations. It takes all kinds to make a good television show.

Are the contests fair? Seems a bit harsh to throw Golden Boy at a bunch of rookies! SW: Well, you know, Golden Boy was a rookie once too. But I think the contests are as fair as they can make them. I mean the writers–all reality shows have writers–are always sitting around, talking about this contestant and this power and what will be a challenge for them and what will be a cakewalk.

There was a lot of talk initially of having Golden Boy go up against the Spades, because there were good odds of Rosa Loteria taking him out with a lucky draw, but they finally decided what would make the best television and also settle a question would be to see whether Bubbles bubbles were stronger than Golden Boy’s shield.

They weren’t, but it was a close thing, and remember, she’s just learning how to use her power.

DB: Duh. There wasn’t any ‘fairness’ in this at all. The producers knew who they wanted to be their American Hero -- or at least they knew who they wanted the finalists to be -- and they made damned sure that’s who got there. Right: throw three genuine aces at three teams, and then use a [bleep]ing stage musician with no ace skills whatsoever at the fourth. And they were still so lame they couldn’t beat the idiot.

Fairness? Life ain’t fair, either, but at least life ain’t rigged.

JF: Fair? Sure. Of course.

Do you have a favorite contestant? Maybe… a least-favorite contestant?
JF: Well, I shouldn’t take sides. Curveball is very...nice...

DB: Other than myself, you mean? Kate [aka Curveball]. Kate deserved to win the whole thing, and she should have.

SW: A favorite? Probably Tiffani. She’s very pretty and she’s fun to draw–diamonds have all these amazing refractions, so drawing her is like drawing tiny rainbows–and she really needs the money. I’ve met homeless jokers who weren’t that poor, and she’s going to be sharing whatever she wins with her family.

Least favorite? DB. He didn’t try out for the show, he was cast by his agent, and that isn’t fair to everyone else, especially people like Tiffani. But more than that, he’s talked all sorts of smack about my brother and his band, and I’m sorry, the Joker Plague is good, but they wouldn’t be where they are today if The Jokertown Boys hadn’t been there first.

What is Peregrine like out of the klieg lights? And is Digger that rough-edged in real life?
SW: Peregrine’s really nice, and she’s that funny in real life–it’s not just her writers feeding her lines. She’s the best thing that happened to jokers rights ever, and an incredibly savvy businesswoman too. Well, okay, her magazine flopped, but her power is flight, not predicting the future.

Digger? He’s...well, if you think he’s rough on the air, wait till you see his notes on possible logo designs. If he ever draws a wild card, it’ll probably to make Post-its that catch fire after you read them.

JF: Like any Mom who happens to be a gorgeous, multiple-award winning celebrity. (Shrugs) I grew up with it. I guess I’m used to seeing all those Emmys lined up in a row at the Malibu beach house.Digger is...unique. He and my mother go back a long way. My step-dad broke his nose, once.

DB: Outside the stage lights, Peregrine’s an old lady. You should see her in the sunlight, where you can see all the lines even past the facelifts and plastic surgery. And she’s hard as nails, too.

Downs? Yeah, he’s a [bleep]ing [bleep]hole no matter which side of the camera he’s on.

Help us understand the public fascination with wild carders. Why are we crazy about aces and jokers?
JF: Because, there but for the grace of God go you or I. I know.

SW: I guess it’s because people are always fascinated by the exotic, the extraordinary and the lucky, and that’s what every ace and joker is.

Don’t get me wrong, I know jokers who’ve been horribly crippled by the wild card, but the most crippled person I’ve ever met was a nat with cerebral palsy, and it’s hard for even the most whacked-out joker separatist to look at someone like that and not realize that whatever’s happened to them, they’re still luckier than that. And even a crippled nat is still luckier than the people who drew the black queen, like my parents.

DB: Guilt. Because you weren’t infected, and we were. Pure and simple. Cheering the aces makes you feel better about thinking “I’m so [bleep]ing glad I don’t have the virus, because I don’t want to die horribly or be turned into some horrible monster.” ‘Cause that’s what all you nats are thinking.

And you’re right.

What’s the best bit of gossip or favorite wacky theory you’ve heard kicked around? (My favorite is that Dr. Tod was working for the US government.)
DB: Look, gossip is garbage, and if that’s important to you, then this rag of yours is pretty much garbage too. Get a [bleep]ing life.

JF: I’ve heard it all. That Tachyon was working for the U.S. government, that he was a Russian spy – I mean, how crazy is that? Even that the Takisians are really Nazis who came from the Earth’s core. (Shakes his head)

SW: That’s wacky? I heard that all the time growing up in Jokertown. Lots of people think he still is, but he got jumped into a new body during the Rox war.

The craziest you regularly hear is that whenever some joker goes missing and they don’t find the body, people say they were spirited away to live with Bloat in a magical land filled with cake and ice cream. Or if there’s something really crazy, that it’s just a mental projection of Bloat.

Currently they’re saying that about the mayor’s budget.

Is the second season already in development? We hear ratings have been pretty solid…
JF: Oh, yes. Teams will soon be crisscrossing America, looking for the next edition of the American Hero.

DB: Sure, the second season will go on. With even more lame aces, too, since they’ve already picked the cream of the crop. They’ll let this [bleep] run as long as it makes money -- that’s what’s it’s all about in Hollyweird. Cash. The bottom line. That’s all the ratings mean: you’re making money or you’re not.

SW: Everything’s already in development. This is Hollywood. But yeah, ratings have been pretty good, which is great.

It’s been more than 61 years since Wild Card Day. Have you ever speculated about how the world might have turned out without the wild card?
DB: A hell of a lot less interesting. But probably no better -- we’ve been good at [bleep]ing each other over since long before the Wild Card. This just gives us another excuse.

SW: What, you mean like the Harry Turtledove alternate history novels? Or the Takisian Regency books, with Dr. Tachyon having an affair with Jane Austen?

But honestly, everyone knows how the world would have turned out without the wild card–we would have been eaten by the Swarm when they invaded.

Sure, I think we all would have loved if the Takisians had done better product testing, but it’s like drawing your wild card–getting something other than a black queen is a good thing. Earth–not dead. Yay!

JF: We’ve survived the wild card so far, we probably would have survived without it...though I’m sure that the world would have been a lot less colorful a place.

Lastly, any speculation on public figures who are hidden aces? I’ve got a bet riding on a certain big-name movie star being an unsuspected ace.
DB: God, you’re really stuck on this crap, aren’t you? Who the [bleep] cares? So someone wants to keep their power a secret so [bleep]holes like you don’t go bothering them with stupid [bleep] questions and shoving cameras in their faces.

Sometimes I wish I could be a hidden ace. I wish I could pass as normal -- and if I could, I’d damned well keep it a secret too. I say good for them if they’re still in the deck.

JF: I don’t speculate on things like that. I try to let people have as much privacy as they want.

SW: Unexpected? Everyone who looks at Vin Diesel knows that nats don’t get muscles that big naturally, though I’d call him more of a deuce or reverse joker, but so what? He’s a fun action star.

And I know she tested negative for the wild card, but if you’ve studied bone structure, you can tell that Paris Hilton has some Takisian blood. Maybe she’s not Tachyon’s direct love child, but if Takisians were coming here during the Regency? Oh yeah.

She’s definitely using mind control to get people that obsessed with her.

Thanks, and we’ll keep watching AMERICAN HERO!
JF: Thanks.

DB: That, my friend, just shows you’re a loser. But hey, you’re welcome.

BUGLES PLANET DAILY would like to thank John Jos. Miller, S.L. Farrell and Kevin Andrew Murphy for making this interview happen.

No comments: