Freelance writing and making funny commercials is exactly what you’d expect it to be but working in TV is bizarre. Networks commission hundreds of pilots a year for big money, but for every eighty pilots they have written, only one will make it to air, and even then it will probably be canceled after a few episodes. It’s an entire industry where people are creating content for the garbage. I’m developing a show with FX right now called Trim about three straight guys who become hairdressers to get laid. The odds are about 100 percent it will never see the light of day but that’s just the nature of the beast. Some think it’s great. I know writers here in New York who don’t even want their shows to get picked up because they don’t want to move to L.A. I’m not like that. I’m too much of an attention whore to let things go unnoticed.
For example, I did a pilot for Al Gore’s network, Current TV, called The Immersionist. The pitch was, I wouldn’t just go and hang out with a group of people, I’d immerse myself in their lifestyle the way George Orwell did in Down and Out in Paris and London or Barbara Ehrenreich did in Nickel and Dimed. We picked a biker gang in Oakland called the East Bay Rats as our first “tribe,” and I flew out there to go live with them.
They call themselves the Rats because they live in a crackhead slum and their motorbikes were dirty pieces of shit made from scrap metal. Against all odds, I managed to ingratiate myself with the group and almost convinced their president, Trevor, to sort of make me a kinda Rat. Pretending to be in a motorcycle gang is fun as shit. We destroyed a car with sledgehammers and then hitched it to a tow truck and rode it around the neighborhood. We crashed motorbikes and raced tricycles down a mountain at neck-breaking speeds. And we fought.
The East Bay Rats have a boxing ring in the backyard of their clubhouse and insist every member fight. When they asked me if I knew how to fight, I mentioned years of boxing experience, so they brought in a pro MMA fighter named Meathead Eric. He was a bald Asian kid with arms that looked like they were hiding bowling balls and shoulders as wide as an ox. He was nervous before he saw me but when I walked into the room with my shirt off, he smiled and started bobbing back and forth on the balls of his feet in anticipation. I wasn’t even remotely nervous because I had a plan. I was also a bit drunk.
One of the trainers at [my boxing gym] Church Street was the reigning IBF Continental Africa cruiserweight champion. He calls himself Jaffa “the African Assassin” Ballogou and yells shit like, “I AM A REAL MAN,” in the changing room as his penis swings around like a rubber snake in a Darth Vader helmet. We would spar occasionally and got to be such good pals, he let me in on a secret trick that wins any fight in the world.
The trick involves standing perfectly still and acting like you’re ready to receive a good right to the head. As the right comes at you, you immediately drop to your knees and nail the guy in the stomach. As he doubles over in pain, rise up off the mat like a phoenix and knock him out with a super uppercut to the chin. Bang. He’s out. Then the crowd cheers and girls start excreting juices. It never fails, but Ballogou told me I could use his black magic only as a last resort.
The referee snapped me out of my Ballogou flashback and reminded me I was in the ring with a monster. We were the first fight of the evening.
The referee introduced me as Sissy La La due to my less-than fearsome presence, while Meathead Eric was allowed to stick to his real name. As the bell rang for the first round, the bikers chanted, “Sissy La La,” again and again.
We sized each other up for the first round. We each threw a few loose jabs to the head to see how fast the other guy was. It became clear very quickly that this guy was a fighter jet and I was a horse-drawn carriage. He was an energized cat playing with an alcoholic mouse. I hit him in the face a few times and he accepted each blow as if it was a breath mint. I’m surprised he didn’t say thanks.
When the uneventful first round ended, I went back to my corner and sat on a stool while nobody gave me a pep talk and told me what his weaknesses were. I looked around the backyard and it dawned on me that there were no paramedics. I thought, “What if things go bad?” I was starting to get nervous. “Shit, we’re in Oakland. We’d be lucky if 911 garnered any response from anyone. This could be my last night on earth. Fuck. What about my kids?”
Visions of my wife danced around in my head as the second-round bell rang. This was no longer a publicity stunt. I came at the fight with a whole new mentality: survival.
I laid into the buff Chink with everything I had and got in a good five punches in a row. The footage of this sequence shows that what I thought was a brief moment of victory looks more like a puppy who’s way too happy to see his owner. Eric stepped back and blocked most of my happy-dog advances until one of them managed to hit him square on the nose, which made him mad. He reached back with a wild right that dropped me to the ground like a bag of potatoes. Adrenaline and drugs propelled me instantly back up off the mat, lowering Eric’s confidence from 110 percent to 109 percent.
Being strategic about fighting is like trying to play pool while someone throws bowling balls at your head. I wanted a good fifteen minutes to recover from every hit but I had less than a second. As I tried desperately to regain my footing, Meathead hit me with a one-two combo that made my world go completely black for about two seconds. The referee stepped in and asked me if I wanted to go on.
The cameras were rolling. I couldn’t call off the fight after an extended blink. I told the referee I was ready to continue and decided it was time for an all-or-nothing grand finale.
Ballogou’s gigantic head appeared like an African moon above the crowd. “Go low,” he said in his weird Togolese accent, “then come up hard.” Eric’s right came at me like a meteor and I sank to my knees below it and nailed him in his twelve-pack as hard as I could. This caused Eric approximately zero discomfort so before I could deliver the deadly phoenix uppercut, I felt a left hook obliterate my head and send my whole body sprawling backward into the corner post. I was unconscious for about fifteen seconds.
“Stand back,” were the next words I heard as light flooded back into my black universe, “everyone stand back.” I understood English and knew that was a guy telling someone they had to get out of the way. Someone had been hurt, I guess. Then I saw a flashlight in my eyes. The referee asked me if I knew what my name was. He seemed relieved after hearing me say my name and told me to lay there for a while. Somehow it registered that I was in Oakland. I remember saying aloud,“Why the fuck am I in Oakland?” My new friend Trevor walked up to me and asked me if I knew who he was. He was a total stranger to me. “That’s not good,” he said.
Another strange side effect of being knocked out is you can feel your brain. You know how you can feel the shape of someone’s fist on your leg when they give you a charley horse? Same thing. I could feel the exact contours of my brain pressing against my skull, and every square inch of it ached. I knew I had kids but I couldn’t remember their names. I knew Blobs was an important word but I wasn’t sure why.
Within forty-five minutes I knew who I was again. I was a little frazzled but still able to laugh about the hilarious romp I just had with someone several light-years out of my class. I felt like Icarus. He gets a lot of shit for flying so close to the sun but at least he pushed it as far as it could go. I’d hate to go through life with wax all over my wings wondering if I could have gone a little bit higher.
When I got back to New York, I had a neurologist check me out because my head still hurt, and he said my brain was swollen but medication would take care of it. A week after that I discovered something that hurt my brain even more—the show was canned. I almost died fighting a ninja superhero and the footage is going to sit in a dusty warehouse somewhere? How am I supposed to tell this story in a bar? It’s only a beginning and a middle. I can’t end a story like that. I needed an end. So, I made one.
I got the production company to send me the fight footage and issued this challenge on our website:
My training has finally got to the point where I can take anyone in the entire world. Therefore, I challenge you, world, to a fight. Now, this doesn’t mean you can pop me in the face when I’m walking down the street. Nor does it mean I will meet you down an alleyway at 4 in the morning. What it means is, I will meet you in the ring of your choice and fight you for at least 10 rounds with a certified ref present so we don’t die. I don’t care how many wins you’ve had or what your weight class is or any of that shit. I don’t even care if you are a professional fighter. I will fight anyone in America and I’ll fly down to the city of your choice on my own dime.
I received an alarmingly high number of submissions but eventually “chose” a kid from Oakland named Meathead Eric. Then I pretended to fly out there and get knocked out by him. Once I could pretend the fight happened as a result of a challenge, I could use the preshot footage as proof. A week after the “challenge” was accepted and several months after the original fight, I posted the footage with the following text:
Apparently I cannot beat the living shit out of anyone in the world. In fact, if the guy is much bigger than me and knows what he’s doing, I’d be very lucky to get one punch in before the whole world turns to black.
As is always the case, the press fell for it and The Village Voice ran a feature titled “Gavin McInnes Gets Knocked the Fuck Out,” which read in part:
After reviewing applications sent in by everyone, McInnes settled on a character, vowing to fly to San Francisco, where he would quickly make short work of [Meathead Eric]. Except what actually happened was that McInnes got knocked the fuck out. In about 40 seconds. It turns out being a tough tattooed drunk is no substitute for actually knowing how to fight.
The story now had an end and was ready to be told in its entirety. I may have been a little punch-drunk, but I still wasn’t a dumbass fact checker at The Village Voice.
THIS EXCERPT WAS FEATURED ON ASKMEN.COM