The ad seemed innocent enough: actors wanted, indy Cameo, $100 guaranteed. I wondered if someone was shooting porn, but I could always bail if the address turned out to be some fleabag motel.
I’m wishing I’d listened to my own doubtful voices. Don’t believe what you're reading online. Here’s what really happened:
The place turns out to be a Skippers restaurant. I stroll past the ropes and the wooden steering wheel in the lobby and enter a dimly lit lounge. There’s a dozen people sitting around, sipping coffee and smoking cigarettes while a film crew sets up in the kitchen. The air, a mixture of smoke and fried fish odor, is pure nasty.
Two guys saunter into the lounge and hand out sheets with lines of dialogue. One guy glances around the room and says, “Don’t worry about specifics, just get a feel for the scene.” He hands each of us a hair-net and a polyester work shirt with the Pizza Hut logo stitched onto it. Everyone, he reassures us, will get paid, regardless of who is chosen. “But," he continues, a serious look spreading across his puffy face, “there’s one stipulation – this never happened. A very large stranger will visit any talkers. Remember, we have your contact info.”
I get paired up with Chucky, a pimply guy with a red afro. We don our outfits and enter the kitchen, which is littered floor to ceiling with rotting food and clumps of yellowing mayonnaise. The lights flick on and the “director” yells “Action!”
Chucky lifts the bun off of a sandwich. He spins toward the camera and says, “I think this Pizza Hut sub needs some relish.” Then he leans down to the countertop, presses a finger against a nostril, and blows a stream of snot onto the sandwich.
I smile into the camera and chirp, “That’s how we do things at Pizza Hut. Enjoy!”
The director yells “Cut!” He looks at us approvingly and says, “Oh, that’s it, no doubt about it.” He glances at his partner and says, “Send the rest home, we got a winner.”
Chucky and I smile like idiots, an inch from the Big Time.
You know the rest. When the video hit You Tube a firestorm erupted. Millions of unemployed people watched the clip, sharing it through Facebook and email. With sales plummeting, Pizza Hut offered $10,000 for information revealing the identity of the perpetrators.
I’ve only left the apartment once this week, going to the grocery at midnight wearing a fake beard.
This morning two VPs of Marketing at Papa John’s were arrested for impersonating a competitor.
By the time this blog post appears I’ll be in Canada. Or maybe Mexico.