Sex, Lies and TV Talk

Tempe pranksters crash seven talk shows--and live to gab again

Case in point: While Timmy was dissing women on Jones' show, an angry guest demanded to know how he'd feel if someone treated his mother that way.

"Everyone expects me to say, 'Oh, that's different,' right?" asks Timmy. "Uh-uh. Instead, I said, 'Hell, if my mom's stupid enough to be taken in by some guy, she damn well deserves it!' Of course, that's exactly what those producers want you to say. They loved it!"

A master of audience-baiting antics--on Jones' show, Timmy also boasted that he regularly serviced his much-older, female Wal-Mart boss in a Volkswagen parked behind the store--Timmy proved to be such a crowd-pleaser that the program's producers invited him back for two follow-up shows.

Tossing the tabloid aside, Timmy rolls his eyes.
"For God's sake, look at me!" he says. "I'm not a great-looking guy; I'm not Brad Pitt. For me to use women like I said I did is silly. And for someone to believe me is even sillier."

Still, why argue with success?
On the mend after a nasty fall, Timmy was at home nursing a broken arm when Carnie Wilson issued a call for guests one afternoon several months ago. "Would I like to be reunited with a one-night stand?" Timmy asks. "I looked down at my cast and said, 'Well, of course I would.'"

Using his fractured wing as a springboard, Timmy concocted a wild tale of an insanely jealous woman with whom he'd had sex, who, after finding him in bed with another woman at a party, attacked him with a Louisville Slugger. In his phone pitch to the show's segment producer, Timmy didn't ask for much--only that the "crazy bitch" get down on her knees and beg his forgiveness "in front of Carnie, Carnie's crew, the audience, God and the United States Coast Guard."

"They couldn't wait to get me on that plane," says Timmy, snickering.
When he arrived at the New York studio where Carnie Wilson was taped, Timmy delivered the goods in a big way.

Sprawled back in his chair, he defiantly told the audience that, sure, he and his off-stage date had enjoyed an evening of wild "animal sex." But what of it? If she didn't know the difference between true love and a one-night stand, that was her problem, not his.

As the audience gasped and jeered, Carnie introduced the wronged woman, a Michelle Pfeiffer look-alike who pretended to be stunned to see Timmy as she walked onstage. The young woman immediately won over the audience's heart when the loutish Timmy hurled a bouquet of flowers at her, barking, "You owe me an apology--big time!"

Lurid as his story was, the show's producers couldn't resist the temptation to goose it up a notch. During Timmy's on-air confrontation with the bat-wielding ex (in reality, an actress friend he'd recruited for the part), Carnie told the cheering audience that the woman had actually been aiming for a more private portion of his anatomy.

"I never told them that," grouses Timmy, whose attempts to rectify the error during the taping were drowned out by the cheering studio audience. "But what do you expect from a show where they're holding up cue cards that say, 'Call her a bitch!' These were the same people who kept telling me, 'Remember, stand up and shake your hand at her. Don't be afraid to use profanity."

Asked whether he thinks the producers truly believed his story, Timmy shrugs. "I've asked them that myself--'What if I'm bullshittin' you?' One woman told me, 'At this point, Timmy, I don't even care.' See, once you're there, it's no longer their job to care. At that point, they're playing their cards like you are telling the truth 100 percent."

Timmy and Roberto aren't the first people to con their way on to a talk show--and they almost certainly won't be the last. And if the deceptive duo aren't exactly breaking any new ground, they're at least following in some well-worn--and highly publicized--footsteps.

In 1988, a Chicago-based actor and actress rocked the talk-show universe when it was revealed that they'd faked their way through the Sally/Oprah/Geraldo trifecta, posing in such disparate roles as a sex surrogate and a frigid housewife. After some initial mumblings about filing criminal charges, Geraldo followed Oprah's lead and decided to take his lumps quietly.

But Sally wasn't about to let anyone pull the wool over her famous red-rimmed spectacles. Doing what any ratings-hungry talk-show host should have done, she invited the impostors back for an inflammatory on-camera showdown in which she charged that the hoaxsters had single-handedly betrayed the audience's trust, as well as besmirched the integrity of all 7,728 guests who had previously appeared on her program. In the bargain, she argued, the impostors had also transformed the talk-show genre into a "joke."

The gag was not lost on a quartet of impostors--two men and two women--that scammed its way on to Jerry Springer last year. Amid much sobbing and shouting, the foursome enacted a pair of intersecting love triangles in which a woman learns that her husband is having an affair with the couple's baby sitter. Rounding out the torrid triad was--gasp!--the baby sitter's boyfriend.

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