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"They call back and say, 'It doesn't even seem like he owns a mortuary,'" Tarr says. So he recast Sean as a mortuary employee.
The producers wanted the owner of the mortuary to sign off. Tarr made up a story that an Indian billionaire named Sunil Syon had recently bought the business. He created a fake business license for the company, and made a fake ID for Syon, who couldn't be reached directly because he lived in Bombay. Nervous that he might get caught, Tarr went to the production offices in LA. His worries were for naught. "I walk in and there's my photo on their scheduling board," he says with some pride.
During the taping in Los Angeles, Tarr won this fake case, earning $1,137. The show aired last February.
Since performers on court shows get paid by the show itself—not the losing party—there's an obvious incentive for "litigants" to collude. Especially when they can earn up to $5,000.
That's what Tarr did with collaborator Naomi, a singer and DJ from Oregon who responded to his Craigslist ad. On the Judge Mathis show, he played a notary public who claimed that Naomi not only jilted him at the altar during a romantic European getaway, but also destroyed his computer. Naomi countered that Tarr never reimbursed her for the airline tickets, and that she didn't plan to marry him anyway.
During the Chicago taping, Mathis called Tarr a "smartass," laughed at his story, and ruled in Naomi's favor for $2,700. The duo split the money.
Since reality shows pay for travel, food, and hotel expenses—and generally provide a cash payment of about $200 per appearance—Tarr had not only found a way to scam them, but get them to pay him to do it.
Throughout it all, Tarr had repeatedly pitched The Trisha Goddard Show, hosted by a 55-year-old British talk show transplant who once worked as a flight attendant.
He peppered NBC Universal for days until he finally found traction with a character named Eddie the Trucker, a lottery addict who was cheating on his fiancée with prostitutes. The first producer listened intently and told him, "I really relate to your story, and I want you to get the truth out there."
"At no point does she say, 'Is this for real?'" Tarr says. "She's taking it all at face value. Very little verification other than talking with us. You would think they would at least Google my name."
The second producer was a little more skeptical, but Tarr outwitted her by getting indignant. "This is a serious issue," he bellowed. A third producer asked about his mental history, any prior arrests, visible facial scars or tattoos, and—evidently most important—whether he was missing any teeth. She told him to submit a photo ID and a headshot to prove his teeth were intact.
Last fall, with Naomi once again along for the ride, he was retrieved via limo and flown to Stamford, Connecticut, for the taping. The show used the same studios where Maury Povich and Jerry Springer film their shows. The segment would be called "My Double Life Ends Today . . . I'm Ready to Tell the Truth."
In the green room before his segment, Tarr came across a spiral notebook in which guests were told to write down what they are going to say—part of the coaching process. "If you didn't treat your boyfriend like shit, he wouldn't have felt the need to cheat on you," one guest wrote.
And then there was this: "Fernando, I love you with all my heart and I want to believe you, but my son told me you hurt him. . . . What am I supposed to do when my son comes back with marks on him and he is saying daddy hurt him?"
He overheard producers telling guests what to say and making them repeat it to their satisfaction. He watched as one Povich guest pleaded with the producers to see her daughter before the taping. "She's begging, 'Can I see my daughter? Can I see my daughter?' And they're blocking her," he says. "They won't let her. That was disgusting."
Finally, he and Naomi were called to the taping. Goddard first questioned Naomi, who said, "I know he's keeping a secret from me." Affecting his Southern accent, Tarr declared, "I'm $70,000 in debt and they're looking to repo my truck. I drive up and down the coast and see call girls. I go to a place just past Fresno. It's a cathouse."
"When was the last time you slept with a prostitute?" Goddard asked.
Tarr waited a beat, then deadpanned, "Monday night."
The audience hooted.
Goddard wondered how he was going to fix the relationship. But Eddie the Trucker had his go-to move at the ready. "I'm going to seduce her like I normally do." Naomi pretended to cry, but Tarr offered comfort. "We would have beautiful children," he told her. "We could produce some nice product."
Your concept is awesome. Love it.
"Of, by, and for idiots" programming should be mocked at every turn.
Count my ass in if you ever need a player.
Keep it up as much as you can, now that the word's out
Wish I'd seen the blue-faced clown one on Judge Joe Brown, looks hilarious--seeing these shows get pranked would be only reason to watch them now, they are so done.
@warrenmart Haha! Thanks...the link to the Judge Joe Brown one is below.
Hi thanks! all the links to the shows are embedded in the article text on line. if u want to jump right too the JJB link, here it is: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xx089b_zozo-the-clown-s-adventure-in-working-with-people-outside-of-his-gypsy-caravan_shortfilms?search_algo=2#.UbbcQfbwIZI
These shows want to present outrageous characters and situations, and that is what this guy gives them. He isn't hoaxing the shows so much as just appearing on them. It's like professional wrestling. If some "hoaxer" went on the wrestling circuit how would anyone know? Why would anyone care.
Kenny Tarr is just an actor taking crappy acting jobs for small sums of money. A hoax requires someone to take you seriously. If he got the New York Times to cover one of his shenanigans as hard news that would be a hoax. Nobody takes any of the stuff he is doing seriously in the first place, so it isn't really a hoax.
@marina They do take the stories seriously. The producers were hoaxed. I have hoaxed a lot beyond the shows, Marina. You will read that in the NY Times eventually and thanks for the reading and following what I do.
The fact is...the shows I went on want real stories and they get them. I am not real and yet I was on those. They want real stories and do a lot to make sure they are. They believe I am real. By definition, a hoax. I do understand your point though and wanted to clarify some fine points...as the assumption is everyone is fake on TV and the stories are all 100% fake....nothing could be further from the truth and I have files and files and documents and documents of proof. Thanks!
I read this article on the L train and literally laughed out loud. Kenny Tarr's "hoaxes" are brilliant social commentaries. He's smart, he's funny and he's hot. If I were younger, I'd stalk him.
@mizzcarol ditto! maybe we can stage a brawl over him on some show.
@abby.normal @mizzcarol If anyone wants more information on my work, how the shows are executed or anything else, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org As no one has done what I have before, there isn't any precedent for my work so it takes a lot of work and explanation and it is not easy to wrap the head around completely. I travel to LA and NY a lot and though I understand some of the negativity and reactions to my story, I appreciate immensely the well-wishes and interest as well. Feel free to spread the word - I am not very active online or on twitter.
@mizzcarol Thanks again!
@mizzcarol Thanks email me at email@example.com if you want. Thanks for the compliment. It is interesting to hear from people that have heard or seen my ideas come to life.
Much respect and appreciation for the opinions and comments and for reading Graham Rayman's article about me. All the links to my work are included except for the Oprah hoax which is viewable at radiotitans.com/shows/the-kenny-tarr-show it may also be updated and linked to the article.
Enjoy the summer and thanks a lot!
I act and perform stories that I create. That is what I did and that is what I will continue to do in many different forms of mediums. A "He's no different than all the other people that TV uses"-type opinion is interesting to me as I don't see it that way and perhaps I can clarify elements of my story that you seem to be confused on. To be able to live off of my imagination is what I do as do many other people that create movies and television. No one else has done what I have in this way so I don't think it is possible to group me into other categories or bins of thought.
Carl I think you are mistaken but thanks for reading the article. Watch some of the TV shows through the links provided in the article if you would like. I am Kenny Tarr and I appreciate what you have to say but I am not sure that you have seen my work. I am not too clear on what you mean by "television is smarter than it appears and that it absorbs all criticism". I enjoy hoaxing the reality of many mediums and have hoaxed over 1,000 radio shows and all forms of actual social organizations and various facets of life. Television is something that I enjoy and I always have. To have become part of television history is nice. I am also not sure what you mean by being the people that are on TV because that is essentially a fait accompli by what I have done.
You're using the medium of television to become famous. You're not different than all the other people who have done the same thing. That's what I'm saying. That shouldn't be so hard to understand. I'm saying don't think you're somehow above the fray because your means of becoming famous seem to be slightly different. The article presents you as some kind of performance artist who is using the medium in such a way that it is also a critique of the medium and I'm basically calling bullshit on that. You're Puck from the Real World. You're the guy from Survivor who lied about his grandma being dead in order to score sympathy and stay on the island. You're Omorosa. Not to mention you seem to be smug as fuck. What are you so smug about? Because you tricked a bunch of people who work for television and radio? Didn't Howard Stern have some guy on his show who used to do that all the time? Call up Larry King and pretend to be someone else and then break out with the Baba-booey. You're that guy writ slightly larger. Congratulations. I'm sure you'll get a book deal and you're own reality show and then someone can hoax you and the whole cycle can continue on. Jerk begets jerk begets jerk.
@CarlSuntoro Cool, write an article about me and express your opinions. You are entitled to them and you seem to be all-knowing and wise.
No one has done the same thing as me, with all due respect. That is not a claim or me being smug that is just the reality. Hoaxing TV shows is not what Omarosa or Puck did, they participated and were selected as contestants or "to live in a house".
I call and hoax shows out of thin air. Enjoy the Summer, Carl! Get out there and take on the world, amigo!
It's a cliche, but it's true: you are what you pretend to be. Ken Tarr might be hoaxing the reality tv set, but the real hoax is on him, because he is going to become what he thinks he's making fun of. Television, as a medium, is smarter than it appears. It absorbs all attempts at criticism. That is Television's particular genius. Ken Tarr may have come up with a unique and fresh way to become moderately famous, but he's still used Television to become moderately famous. He's no better or worse than any of the other people desperate for attention.