Q&A: Phil and the Osophers’ Drummer Kevin Estrada on His Wheel of Fortune Appearance


“Vanna White came into the green room in sweats, without any make-up, eating a piece of cake, and asked if anyone thought it was fair Brandy was eliminated from Dancing with the Stars while Bristol Palin remained.”

Around these parts, Phil and the Osophers have gotten a bad rap for their gimmicky name, a pre-frosh moniker at least one SOTC contributor has suggested might be one of NYC’s worst. Unfortunate, since the name tends to overshadow the foursome’s Hype Machine stream of listless-afternoon jangle-pop singles. Also: their personal game-show prowess. Just last week, Phil and the Osophers’ drummer Kevin Estrada aired as a contestant on Wheel of Fortune, in which he clapped loudly, solved three puzzles, and won a grand total of $5100. In his introductory segment, Estrada identified himself as a former San Franciscan with a dayjob in desktop publishing and interior-book design. But his distinguishing characteristic was, of course, the very thing so many of you dismiss: “I play drums for a band called Phil and the Osophers”–pause–“like philosophers.” To which Pat responded good-naturedly, “You don’t have to explain it, I’m okay.”

Kevin did have to explain how he got on Wheel of Fortune, or so we asked him to via e-mail. Though the Brooklyn resident’s currently traveling through Europe–Berlin, then Milan and Varese, Florence–he was kind enough to find Internet access long enough to recount his one special moment with Vanna and tell us where he got that argyle sweater.

How did you end up on Wheel of Fortune?

I signed up for audition notifications, so when Wheel held them in New York, I went. Quite a few people were there, but I think I was the best clapper, which shot me to the top of the list. 

Have you always been the annoying Wheel Watcher person who yells out the answers first and ruins the game for the rest of the room?

I’ve always been more of an annoying Jeopardy player: confidently saying wrong answers and telling people they’re wrong when they’re right. 

How did you decide what to wear? Related: Where’d you get that sweater?

Initially, I was going to wear a suit, but I needed something more jumpy to make up for whatever personality I may lack, due to excitement. Since I don’t usually wear any colors, I just wore this argyle sweater my brother got me for Christmas three or four years ago. I do love that sweater. 

When did the episode film?

The episode filmed in November, a week before Thanksgiving.

How did you practice for your appearance?

I generally watch Wheel of Fortune at least twice a week, so my routine didn’t really change. But I did get the game on my phone so I could play at work, the subway, or on the toilet. 

You won $5100. For those who weren’t watching, what puzzles did you solve?

SATIN SHEET MUSIC (Before & After category)
KIDNEY BEANS ($3000 Toss Up)

You are a musician. How did you miss GREAT BALLS OF FIRE as the answer in the Song Titles category?

I dropped the ball on that one; I was basking in my head too much about solving FASHION PHOTOGRAPHER. 

What are you doing with your winnings?

Something smart, mixed with a dash of adventure and romance. 

Any personal moments with Vanna or Pat?

Vanna White is really sweet. She came into the green room in sweats, without any make-up on, eating a piece of cake, and asked if anyone thought it was fair Brandy was eliminated from Dancing with the Stars while Bristol Palin remained. 

During a commercial break, Pat Sajak told me he hoped I would win more money since only solving the first one. 

How do they determine which contestant gets each spot? Related: how’d you get stuck in the last place?

That’s determined by a random draw. Everyone wanted the red spot, to be closer to Pat. I wish I was closer to Pat. 

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 19, 2011


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