Monday, March 14, 2011

If you thought Don Draper was good...


I’m always looking for effective ways of selling my book. (By the way, it’s gotten great reviews, it’s very funny, and the ebook costs only $2.99. What are you waiting for??? Order it here for Kindle, here for the Nook, here for everywhere else. And the paperback has just come out.  It's only $6.99 and you can order that here.  

But when I think of great salesmen, one name immediately comes to mind. Reverend Gene Scott. I’ve mentioned him before. He was a mainstay of local LA television in the ‘70s and ‘80s. He had this cable channel and was on it 24 hours a day. Twelve of those hours he was live. Twenty-one of those hours he was pitching for money. You rarely, if ever, saw him actually teach or preach the gospel.

He used a variety of techniques. Dr. Scott was a ruggedly handsome figure with flowing white hair and piercing eyes. Every time you tuned in, there he was, sitting on this garish wooden throne of buffalo antlers, staring at you, soliciting. Every other TV evangelist would cajole you, appeal to your sense of commitment and faith, and even occasionally beg. Not Dr. Scott.

He would get angry at you. He would yell at you. He would call you worthless.  He would accuse you of being in league with the devil.  (Dr. Scott was very big on the devil.  That was his go-to guy.)

He would sometimes set time limits. $30,000 in 30 minutes, or else! (I never knew what “what else” was since he never actually preached.) And then my favorite – he would just stare at you… for an hour. At the time I’m writing MASH and thinking, “I’m killing myself trying to come up with material to pack into every minute of the show” and this guy is more mesmerizing just sitting in a chair staring at me.

He brought in money by the bucket loads.

Now, obviously I can’t do that. I guess I could ask you to stare at the picture at the top of this post until you break down and buy the book, but I don't think that would work. 

Recently, I heard someone else try to emulate a Dr. Scott method with disappointing but riotous results.

I was surfing one night through iTunes radio, sampling different internet stations. I came upon this oldies station from Great Britain. A record ends and the owner of the station comes on. He says the station survives on donations alone. He then tells his audience to go to his website and pledge a donation. I was just about to move on.  But then he said this: “I’m not going back to music until I’ve received thirty pledges”.

Allll-riiiight! Now I knew I was in for some fine entertainment.


There are a billion other oldies internet stations. Some play the hits, some play obscure songs; there’s probably four that play Annette records 24/7. So his threat is completely toothless.

For the next half hour this guy vamps like there was no tomorrow. Clearly, he's getting no takers. How could he get thirty pledges? There couldn’t have been more than five people (including me) listening to this.

At first he jabbered on and on about how unique his playlist was. Uh, no. There are a thousand other stations playing that same Clarence Frogman Henry records. Then he discussed how hard he works and how much time this station requires. Uh, who’s telling you to do it?

Then he fumbles around for ten minutes groping for anything to say. Finally, he gets angry. But he's British. So he can't just yell at you like Dr. Gene. The best he can do is be properly peeved. And inside I know he's ready to explode.

Finally, out of pity (and gratitude for such a delightful half hour) I went to his website to make a donation.

I got an error message. The site wasn’t working.

It was the devil!  The devil I say!!

22 comments:

Dimitri said...

Ah yes, the good Gene Scott. I remember his fame peaking briefly in the late 80s when Robin Williams played him on Saturday Night Live, most appropriately as the co-host of the cable ACE awards.

Todd said...

Gene had the honor of having PO Box #1 in Los Angeles too...

Jon J said...

I must have watched Scott more than Ken since I remember many hours of glass screens filled with Greek, arrows, lines, etc.

Scott's riding bikes with the Playboy Bunnies was hilarious.

Read Ken's e-book over the weekend.

YEKIMI said...

LOL! I was doing the same thing, tooling around the internet and stumbled across that guy. I listened to him moan and rant, he got the 10 people he wanted to to go to the website so he started playing music again, After 5 songs, he went back to his "go to this website" rant and I moved along to another station that actually played music.

VP81955 said...

My brother briefly lived in Los Angeles in 1979, when he was essentially an itinerant, and got to know Gene Scott. Apparently Scott's church (headquartered in the old United Artists theater on Broadway that Mary Pickford's millions helped build in the 1920s) did quite a bit to aid the Skid Row community through soup kitchens and such.

My brother, not the most religious of persons, had nothing but praise for Scott. Certainly I would prefer him to the politically motivated organizers of some of these megachurches in the suburbs of the Deep South.

LA Nuts book said...

I didn't discover Dr. Gene until he was near the end, relegated to Sunday nights on Orange County's channel 56, aka the Wally George channel. I think he was too old by then for fire & brimstone and name-calling. He was just a guy in a powder-blue suit grunting bible passages from memory, occasionally getting up to explain some word origins in Latin or Aramaic on a chalkboard.

I regret not knowing of him during his "peak," when he did really religious things like ride bikes with Playboy bunnies.

AlaskaRay said...

If you promise not to stare at me for an hour I'll buy your book.


Ray

RCP said...

If you buy but one book this year...make it "Where the Hell Am I?" by Ken Levine - RCP

OK - now stand back, Ken!

Mac said...

There was a guy who wrote a self-help book and in the foreword he wrote "This book is dedicated to my beloved mother; we pray that one day she will regain her eyesight."
What sort of swine would give that a bed review? No-one did, but it was discovered that his beloved mother was hitting 100 years old and had been blind for about twenty years.

Mac said...

"a bed review"? Should be "a bad review."
Today is not happening. Tomorrow I type good again.

Ruth Harris said...

My late (literary) agent was a Good Ol Boy who started out in the Carolinas as a fire & brimstone preacher. He either got or lost religion depending on how you look at it & moved to NYC where he became a publisher, then an agent.

Best G.D. agent I ever had. He could get money out of a rock.

benson said...

Ken and all, ran across this article, etc off twitter. Written by an occasional poster on this board.

http://www.kansascity.com/2011/03/14/2725433/hollywood-walkout-a-tragedy.html

te said...

Ken, if you fell for that internet guy's "I won't play music 'till I get the money" pitch, you must be supporting NPR single-handed.

Dr. Gene loved to show off the horses he raised. Chalkboards? I wonder if Glenn Beck was a fan.

MrEd said...

Dr. Scott ordained his hot wife, so the ministry continues.
http://www.pastormelissascott.com/index.shtml

Anonymous said...

I've said it before. Glen Beck is doing a great imitation of Dr. Scott, using all the same crazy (like a fox) techniques to confuse the listener/viewer into believing all the B.S. he's spewing out!

Cap'n Bob said...

Never had the pleasure of hearing Gene Scott, but I checked out the link to his wife and she is indeed a babe.

Again, I recommend Ken's book. Chock full of great observations and truly funny material.

Buffalo have horns, not antlers, but what the hey? They don't know.

MrEd said...

According to the internets (they never lie), Mrs. Scott is the former porn star Barbie Bridges. So I guess it's a lay ministry.

Larry said...

The trouble here is you don't understand Gene Scott's theology. According to him, the number one biblical commandment required of his flock was that they tithe their money. So there was nothing more important for their moral health than Dr. Scott receive it.

T Beck said...

Reminds me of the Buck Henry skit on SNL where he plays a radio talk show host who can't get anyone to call in no matter how horribly controversial he tries to be. "Forced abortions for everyone? I'm in favor of them. What do you think"?

Tony Collett said...

I got a Kindle earlier this week. Usually, when I get something new that allows me to venture forth in a new way to enjoy an entertainment media, the choice of what I use first on that new platform is significant to me.
Your book was the first thing that I selected to get to read on my Kindle.
Oh well.

And yes, you can use that a blurb. You can even take out the "oh well" at the end, or replace it. I thought your response to my selecting your book as the first thing I enjoy in this new medium of ebooks would be something along those lines.

Mike said...

I worked for a TV station in 1985 that aired his show at midnight for an hour. Sometimes we would join the show and it would be just an empty chair because he had gotten pissed and left. So it would be an empty chair for an hour.

David said...

I loved his show! Back in the 80's, I was a college radio DJ. Someone called me up to tell me what a crappy job I was doing (I think it was the DJ they kicked off the shift to make room for me). Next time I was on the mike I gave them my version of Scott's Don't Call Me On My Phone And Criticize Me rant.