My next opportunity came just a few months later. There was a newspaper ad for auditions for a “wacky new game show.” All I had to do was go down and sign a release. That was it. No questions to answer or anything. They asked me if I knew how to write, said, “Sign this,” and I was on. I lied and told them I hadn’t been on a game show in the last three years, but then they said most shows have that silly “three-year rule,” but not us. It was a crazy quiz and prize show called “Wish Bag.” Sounds fun! Everyone loves wishes. Everyone loves bags, especially if they’re filled with valuable prizes.
Backstage was different than my previous experience had been. People were pretty unprofessional, swearing and drinking, and just being plain rude. The other contestant was all nervous and fidgety. Then she did jumping jacks for nearly half an hour. As show time approached, a producer told me to “just have fun” and do what the host says, and to greet him on-air by saying, “Love you. Love your show” and tell him he’s a great American. This sounded silly for a game show, but I wanted to please. Then I was pushed onto the chair from which I would be playing. I looked at the frightened girl to my left, my opponent. I started to say hello, but that’s when the show began. The room got dark and there was a smattering of applause.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” a voice said. “Welcome to The Wish Bag. And here’s your host…Elvis!” The theme song, typical game show fare mixed with a bit of circus music, started playing, then came the lyrics:
Wish bag, dishrag
Shish kebab zish zag
Bag and tag the purple fish hag
Amish news mags
Mawkish booze bags
Larry Tish and Lillian Gish bag
These were the actual lyrics. I memorized them because they were repeated seven times. During this nonsensical intro, a man in black face came out dancing and inexplicably tossing pizza dough in the air. Then a monkey came on stage dressed as a dominatrix and riding a bicycle. Upon seeing the monkey, the pizza man produced a shotgun, seemingly out of nowhere and shot him. The crowd booed and threw handfuls of what looked like paste at him as the music stopped. My second appearance on a television game show had started as ridiculously as the first one ended.
“Thank you, folks,” said Elvis the host, wearing a white sequin suit. “Thanks to our announcer, Mr. Chickenhead Antonucci. Hail Hitler! Welcome to The Wish Bag, the game show in which we make the wishes for you. That’s right, see that big sack over there,” he said, pointing toward Chickenhead. “Next to him is a large bag filled with wishes. Our contestants will answer questions. When you hear the sound of a pig being slaughtered, whoever is ahead gets to make a wish. We also have a really good carrot cake recipe, so stay tuned for that.”
“Carrot cake is good,” Chickenhead said. “Long live the carrot people.”
“Shut your hole, you rancorous, epicene simpleton,” Elvis said viciously. “Okay, contestant Roman numeral one, what is your name?”
“Megan," my female counterpart replied.
“Do you put out?”
“Nothing. That was our producer coughing. He has AIDS. Contestant two, what name are you using today?”
“Marcus,” I said.
“And what fast food drive-thru window do you take orders from?”
“As for me, I’m bloody rich.”
“Buddy Rich, ladies and gentlemen,” Chickenhead shouted.
“I’ll come over there, knock you to the floor, and rape you in front of all these idiots if you don’t shut up,” Elvis said intensely. “Now, let’s get right to the questions. First you, Megan, you sexy thing. For a thousand dollars. I’m sorry, there’s a period there. For ten dollars: Pro-wrestler The Iron Sheik is from what country?”
She considered it for a couple of seconds, then said, “Ummm, Iran?”
“No,” Elvis said. “I’m sorry. It’s Sweden. No points for you. Okay, Marcus, you ready?”
“Yes, I am, Elvis. Love you. Love your show. You’re a great American,” I said, trying to be helpful.
“Okay, shut up, putz. It’s my show,” he replied. “Also for ten dollars: Name the actress who played Barbara Cooper on the TV series One Day At A Time.”
“Oh, that’s easy,” I said. “Valerie Bertinelli.”
“Ooh, I’m sorry,” Elvis said. “The answer we were looking for was Fleagle.”
“Wait a minute,” I protested. “Fleagle was a character on The Banana Splits, and how many sheiks come from Sweden? This game sucks.”
Suddenly the horrid sound of a pig being slaughtered blasted throughout the studio.
“We know what that sound means, kids,” Elvis said. “It’s time for ye olde wish bag. Marcus, since you’re pissing me off, we’ll let you go first. Grab yourself a wish.”
I reached into the bag and felt something furry, which freaked me out. So I pulled back immediately.
“What the hell is that?” I demanded.
“Oh, sorry there, Marcus,” Elvis said insincerely. “That’s the magic bag of rat carcasses. No, boys, we want the wish bag for this one.”
An albino brought out a new bag and I reluctantly reached in and pulled out an envelope, and then handed it to Elvis.
“Well,” he said. “Let’s see what your birthday wish is, smarty pants.” He opened it slowly. “Ah, yes. Folks, Marcus’s wish is that your host, Elvis, would kick him in the testicles and push him into the alligator pit. Why, I’d be happy to, Marcus.” He came toward me and gave me a swift kick in the crotch. I fell to my knees in pain as the audience cheered gleefully.
“Boys, open the pit, will you?” Elvis shouted. I turned around and looked down at about a half-dozen alligators. “Bon voyage, Marky Mark,” Elvis said as he kicked me into the pit.
“All right,” Elvis said in closing. “Thanks for watching The Wish Bag. Remember, help control the population: have yourself castrated. Good night!”
“The Wish Bag.” I could hear Chickenhead announce. “Is a Mike Goodson television production, and has been brought to you by Pride Auto Parts, Second Coming Mayonnaise, Lust Auto Parts, NAMBLA, and the Ku Klux Klan.”
YES, THERE'S A PART THREE, AND YOU CAN CLICK HERE TO READ IT.
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Laura, Toucan Editrice