I wrote about how early in my martial arts training I was featured in the local newspaper and how it got the attention of producers of a talk show in New York City. Due to the terrorist attacks that took place on September 11, 2001 I almost did not get to be on the show.
A few weeks later I get a call from the producers from the Maury Povich Show to tell me they still wanted me to be on the show. They would fly me to New York soon as airplanes were no longer grounded.
The episode of Maury Povich I was on called “Little People with Big Talent.” Keep in mind, this show was filmed 15 years ago and did not deal with paternity cases like they do now.
I explained to my mother I still wanted to be on the show. Since the attacks she had her reservations and said she could not get on an airplane. I told her I completely understood. I walked away and called my sister who is an adult and is married with kids. “Hey sis, want to go hang out in NYC with me for a day?” She was excited I had asked her and agreed to go with me. Mom put her foot down and said “No!” She said she would go with me instead of my sister. If something were to happen to us in New York City, she would not be able to live with herself if her grandkids did not have their mother around.
In the first week of October, I boarded a plane with my mother and we made our way to New York City.
When I talk about my martial arts experience I love to tell the story of being on a nationally syndicated television show. It isn’t so much as being on the show but the adventure that takes place.
You know in movies when the character of the story gets off of an airplane walks into the terminal, and there is a limo driver holding up a sign with the person’s name? Well, that’s how it was for me and my mom. We got off the plane and behold, we had a limo driver waiting for our arrival. He was holding a sign with my name on it. I was big city living. Keep in mind, small simple things like this is a big deal for people who are from a much smaller city such as Charleston, West Virginia.
We were taken to our hotel so we could drop off the bags. There we were met by one of the assistant producers. She gave us our per-diem cash and told us that they would tape my segment of the show the next day. She said we should go out to eat and enjoy ourselves. Now, I had been to New York City 9 months earlier. I was as a senior in high school with the yearbook staff attending a conference at New York University. So I had an idea on how to navigate the streets of New York City but for that evening we stayed near Time Square.
The next day we were greeted by the assistant producer at the hotel. We climbed into a van and taken to the studio. We were led to an office where I had to sign a bunch of legal documents. They asked if I would be demonstrating any karate on the stage. I said I would. They asked if I needed any background music. I said yes and that I preferred the song More Human than the Human by White Zombie. Less than an hour later they said no. They said they wouldn’t play that song for me. I grinned. They left the office and I changed into my gi.
I was a little nervous about being on stage and asked if I could see a list of questions I might be asked. They printed off the questions from the teleprompter. I reviewed them. I was then taken to another room to shoot a promo video. I was in the room for about 30 minutes punching, kicking, blocking, and doing all of my katas for the camera. I didn’t realize I would get a workout. After that, I was led to the stage for a quick rehearsal.
Before I get to this part of the story I must tell you something. When I am training and teaching mode I am focused. I am also serious about what I do. In this time of my life, I am oblivious to the art of flirting. It would be 5 years into marriage when my wife explained to me how oblivious I was when I was younger.
Mom is sitting in the audience section talking to the assistant producer. I am on the stage with the producer who is a tall good looking blonde in high heels wearing a skirt. We are discussing what I should expect when we are filming my segment of the show. I run through the kata Anaku (Shorin-Ryu style of karate) I plan to do. They tell me it is to long for the segment and I need to scale it back a bit. The producer is standing in for the talk show host and asking me the questions he is going to ask. I find out I have to teach the show host how to do a front kick. I go into teaching mode:
“Ok, here is how we do a front kick, left foot forward, right foot back. Bend your front knee until you cannot see your toes. The first thing you need to remember is that there are four parts to a….” I see the producer is not standing the way I want her to stand. Without thinking, I instinctively reach over put my hands around her leg and move it into place.
She responded; “Oh, so I stand like this?” I nod yes. She then asks “So, do I kick like this?” I am still in teaching mode and I go to tell her the correct method of kicking. She looks at me and said this is where I am to have fun with it. I didn’t need to be serious. I am to have fun with it.
I finally snap out of my teaching mode. I could hear behind me my mother, the assistant producer, and the camera guys laughing hysterically. It wasn’t until after the show on our way home mom looked at me and asked “Why did you have your hands all over that lady’s leg? Whatever you were doing you had everyone in the room cracking up laughing.”
After rehearsal, I went back stage and met another little person that was going to be on the show. He was from Missouri and did broadway plays during the day. He was on the show to sing for the audience. The segment of the show he was on had a clip of him doing a comedy sketch and signing at a bar. It was funny.
I finally went up on stage. As I walked around the wall I saw Maury Povich wearing a gi top. Come to find out I am the first person in the shows history to get Maury to wear something different from his usual gray sweatshirt. I walked over and I shook hands with Maury. His hand was huge. Went over and I took my place and I did my kata. I answered the first few questions as per the list I had reviewed earlier. I even taught him how to throw a front kick. I fought the urge to go into full fledge teaching mode. Then there was a change. The conversation moved from talking about my martial arts experience to talking about a person I had met earlier in the summer. A friend I had met earlier in the summer at the Little People of America Conference in Toronto came out and gave me a big hug. She went over and began playing the piano. She was very talented in playing Beethoven’s Fur Elise.
Once we were finished filming all three of us piled into the limo and were taken to Hard Rock Café for lunch. Once lunch was over Mom and I returned to the hotel where we rested for a little bit. We set out and explored New York City once more. I later found out that most people are flown on the day of the taping of the show and then sent home. Since the terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001, the producers were giving guests a few days to stay in the city to help bring back tourism.
The next day a town car met us at the hotel and we made our way to the airport. Mom and I boarded the smallest commercial airplane I had ever seen. Once inside I looked at my mother and said that our 20-foot motorhome was larger than this plane. There was only 1 other passenger on the plane at the time of our flight. I looked at mom and said, “Well, I think we know who the air marshal is on this flight.”
Stay tuned for the next installment as I tell about the aftermath of learning that I was not the father on the Maury Povich show …I mean when I returned home and was featured in a local magazine.
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