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The Case of the Missing 40,000 Jerry Nugget Decks
The Case of the Missing 40,000 Jerry Nugget Decks: A Detective Story NB: I first published this article (with pictures) at PlayingCardDeckshere. Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards. The story of the original Jerry's Nugget decks is a fascinating one, and there are many interesting side-stories to explore about along the way. You can read the main story about the Jerry's Nugget decks in my previous article here: The Legendary Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards. But the full truth still remains somewhat hidden, and there are aspects about the Jerry's Nugget story that even today we can't totally be sure about. And with the passage of time, several juicy tidbits of lore have become attached to this famous deck. In this article I invite you to join me in a quest to explore another juicy story that has become part of the Jerry's Nugget legend. Is it true that the final stock of 40,000 Jerry's Nugget decks was bought up from the casino by a mysterious overseas buyer? Because this is an oft-repeated part of the story, that you'll hear whispered rumours about across the landscape of the internet. But this a statement of fact or fiction, and is it truth or myth? It could mean that right now someone is potentially sitting on a small fortune of Jerry's Nugget decks worth around $500 a piece. If it's true. So please put on your Sherlock Holmes trench-coat and deerstalker hat, arm yourself with a good amount of deductive logic and persistence, and join me as we see if we can really get to the bottom of this mystery, and dredge up the truth behind this famed haul of 40,000 decks!
A Secret Stash of 40,000 Decks?
If you are curious - like I am - and do some digging about the story and history of the Jerry's Nugget decks, it won't take you long to stumble across mention of the claim that a stash of the final 40,000 decks of Jerry's Nuggets was bought up in a single swoop, cleaning out the casino's remaining inventory of these prized decks. The story about some lucky buyer nabbing a final stash of 40,000 decks is circulated quite widely around the internet. Do a Google search for "40,000 Jerry's Nugget" and look at how many hits this gets! Some places that sell the decks even include this in their ad copy. For example, here's the ad copy over at one online retailer, which was selling authentic decks for $525 before they sold out: Another online retailer says the same. Many reviewers have parroted this information as well, such as this example. So do various sites dedicated to information about playing cards, such as this example. As far as many people are concerned, this information is more along the lines of "fact" than fiction, and it's become part of the story that everyone accepts. Little wonder that it is often repeated by collectors in discussion forums about playing cards, and that it has given more than just one person a tinge of envy.
Who is the mysterious buyer?
So who is the lucky guy with 40,000 decks of precious Jerry's Nugget decks hidden in his basement or garage? And is the story even true? Some of the sources for this story seem quite credible. And they also reveal the buyer's name: French magician Dominique Duvivier. One person quotes Jordan Lapping, apparently among the first cardists to get Jerry's Nugget decks and use them for flourishing. Dominique Duvivier is a French magician who performs and works with his daughter Alexandra, and together they have a high profile in the world of French magic. They are even well known in the circles of international magic, and were featured on the cover of the June 2013 issue of Genii Magazine. Norwegian magician Allan Hagen has a long-time interest in the Jerry's Nugget decks, and he also mentions Duvivier's purchase of 40,000 Jerry's Nugget decks as apparent fact in something he posted on Reddit in 2015, where he describes his perspective on their rarity and value. You'll read similar reports in an article published by Ukrainian cardists Alexander and Nikolay about Jerry's Nugget decks in June 2017. Two things are common to all these accounts: the number 40,000 for the haul of decks purchased by the mysterious overseas buyer. And now his name: Dominique Duvivier. I contacted a number of different sources, including people who had personal connections with some of the key players who were closely involved when Jerry's Nuggets decks first became a fad among magicians and cardists in the late 1990s. One source told me: "Interesting, the name of the European magician - it was a big secret back then. Someone actually told me his name back then, but it was on the proviso that I never publish it. Well, I see it's out of the bag now."
Was Dominique Duvivier the buyer?
But is there any evidence that Dominique Duvivier was really the mystery buyer whose name had been a carefully kept secret for some time at least? It was time for some more detective work. Google brought me to Duvivier's personal website. It didn't take long to discover that Duvivier does indeed have a real fondness for Jerry's Nuggets Playing Cards. They are everywhere - in his photos, his videos, and his instagram. Judging by the many French-language comments on his site, it also becomes apparent that Duvivier is highly respected and appreciated in his home country for his magic. It's also evident from reading some of the comments that his Jerry's Nuggets decks are a signature of his performance. Some even consider them to be the equivalent of a Stradivarius that Duvivier uses to perform with as a master magician. But it was when I checked Duvivier's youtube channel that I found some real gold: Dominique himself performing with Jerry's Nugget cards in this clip. In fact, if you check out his other videos there, you'll find quite a few where he performs magic with Jerry's Nugget playing cards, like this performance from 2014, this more recent ace cutting routine, and this false shuffle. Duvivier has even contributed a Jerry's Nugget themed trick to the magic industry, entitled Jerry's Nuggets Cards in Bag. You can watch the promo video for this trick in French or English. His daughter Alexandra Duvivier successfully used it to fool Penn and Teller on their show Fool Us. Here's the episode, and some unseen footage. But just because Dominique Duvivier happens to really, really like Jerry's Nugget playing cards doesn't prove that he bought out a massive stash of the last 40,000 decks from the casino. So this still begs this question: Did any of this even happen? And is there really someone on this planet with a hoard of 40,000 decks, whether it is Dominique Duvivier or anybody else? One of my favourite photos on Duvivier's site is this one here, with his haul. If that's any indication, surely the legendary haul was starting to seem somewhat plausible. It was time to ask around, and check in with some of the people who were around when the Jerry's Nugget decks first became the rage. Of the sources I consulted, few could be considered more reliable than Lee Asher. For many people Lee is synonymous with the Jerry's Nugget phenomenon. He also had close connections with the events of the time, and was instrumental in bringing the Jerry's Nuggets into the limelight in the first place, by singing their paises. He was kind enough to respond when I contacted him for comment about Duvivier's alleged haul of 40,000 Jerry's Nugget decks, and Lee bluntly told me the following: "This is misinformation. There weren't 40k decks left in 1999. We don't even know if Jerry's even printed 40k decks." Really? Apparently Lee Asher knew Duvivier personally, and he was the very person who first told Duvivier that the casino even had the cards for sale. He also visited his home and shop in Paris many times throughout this period of time. In Lee's words: "Without a doubt, I NEVER saw 40k of ANY deck there. That's basically nine pallets worth. The house, their magic shop and night club weren't big enough to house these decks. It also seems Duvivier isn't the last one to buy the remaining decks. Jerry's Nugget Casino believes they sold the last case of cards to someone in Japan in 1999." Well, it seems that the story had to be put to rest. Was this entire story perhaps just a magnificent urban legend after all? And if it was, where does the number of 40,000 decks come from, and how did this story get so much traction that it spread all around the internet, and is accepted unquestionably by so many people? My task had just become a bit harder, but I wasn't going to give up yet. It was time to try to track down where the many websites that quoted this story got the figure of 40,000 from in the first place.
Where does the figure of 40,000 come from?
With some more digging, the oldest article I could find on the subject was by a card collector who has a collection of fine articles on his site, White Knuckle Cards. This particular article dates back to 2009, and is one of the earliest references to the legendary stash of 40,000 decks that I could find. This particular article seems to be the first time the figure of 40,000 pops up, pre-dating all the more recent mentions of it. And it's not hard to figure out how it spread from there. On 6 August 2015, someone called "Doctor Papa Jones" added these details to Wikipedia's article on Jerry's Nuggets, evidently relying on the White Knuckle Cards article. As a result the Wikipedia article now read as follows: "In 2000, a private collector purchased the remaining stock of 40,000 decks". So now this "fact" is on Wikipedia and has some real "credibility". In fact, the number 40,000 stays up on Wikipedia for the next five years unchallenged! And that allows it to spread around the internet and go wild. Because where does everyone go when they're looking for reliable, authoritative, and trustworthy information about something? Wikipedia! Despite the mention of the magical stash of 40,000 decks, Duvivier's name remained out of the spotlight for a further four years. It was simply a mysterious "private collector" who had purchased the big haul. But in 2019, someone connected the dots to Duvivier, and so the Wikipedia article was changed to include his name. So how did that happen? Well the supporting reference that Doctor Papa Jones included in his 2015 edit was a link to an article by Dan and Dave Buck, dating back to 7 Dec 2011. This article is also no longer available, but can be tracked down with the help of the Internet Archive here. It doesn't give the figure of 40,000 but does drop Duvivier's name. So the evidence seems to suggest this development: Apparently relying on the White Knuckle Cards article from 2009 as a source, the number 40,000 first embedded itself in the WIkipedia article on Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards in 2015. Slowly the story grew, until somebody finally connected the dots that were hidden in plain sight elsewhere on the internet, and as a result Duvivier's name gets added four years later. Now things are set up for a great story: Mr Duvivier is sitting on a massive stash of 40,000 Jerry's Nuggets in France. The story gained even more traction as a result of the revived interest in Jerry's Nuggets that inevitably happened when a tribute deck was printed in 2019. It was inevitable that many would rely on Wikipedia as a source, and so the details even ended up being quoted in ad copy for the reprinted decks. What had previously just been a matter of quiet rumour or speculation, was now considered as fact. Oh, the joy of Wikipedia - it has certainly helped promote quite the legend here! And it doesn't take a genius to see that if this is true, Duvivier could be sitting on a small fortune. At $500 each, 14,000 decks would be worth around $700,000. Naturally a market flooded with them would drop their value. But even if the going price dropped to $100 a piece, that would still value his holdings at over $100,000. Even if he just sold the occasional decks at $500 a pop, this windfall could generate a nice little secondary income. That is, if the legend is true, a fact yet to be proven....
Revising the figure
Because this year, the Wikipedia article was changed. By now of course the (mis)information about Duvivier's haul had gone far and wide, and a lot of potential damage has already been done. But on 25 March 2020 someone called "TheCongressGuy" changed it to read that Duvivier "purchased the remaining stock of 1,500-2000 decks". Suddenly the number of Duvivier's legendary purchase had been reduced from 40,000 to something around 5% of the size. A figure of 1,500-2000 seems much more likely. So who made the change and what was their source? I did some more digging and managed to track down TheCongressGuy. He is Kevan Seaney, who describes himself as an "antique playing cards collector, specializing in the Congress 606 brand" and posts here. In February 2020 he wrote here that he'd learned that Duvivier had not purchased 40,000 decks. I was curious, and eventually found the following video that he posted about this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2pctAEuiZA And who was his source that Kevan credits for correcting the previous (mis)information about the number 40,000? If you watch that video, you'll find out that it is none other than the great Lee Asher. Lee Asher isn't just "anyone". He's a playing card expert, and the current president of 52 Plus Joker The American Playing Card Collectors Club. He's the guy who first generated public interest in Jerry's Nugget decks, brought them to the attention of cardists like the Buck twins and Chris Kenner, and was later a purveyor of these icon decks via his website. He's also had personal connections with Duvivier, was the person who informed Duvivier that they were available from the casino, and has personally spent a lot of time with him in Paris. And Lee Asher is a key person that has helped get real Jerry's Nugget decks into the hands of a new generation today. He's the guy who was instrumental in making a collaboration happen between Jerry's Nugget Casino and Expert Playing Card Company, by suggesting that EPCC get the exclusive licence needed to reprint these iconic decks in 2019, as announced in an official press release here. It's plain that along with EPCC's Bill Kalush, Lee Asher (pictured below) was singularly responsible for getting an officially licensed Jerry's Nugget deck back into the hands of a new generation and into the collections of those who couldn't afford the massive sticker price of the originals. So if anyone has a passion for the original Jerry's Nuggets, it is Lee Asher. Of anyone in this picture, Lee is the person with the most credibility, and his opinion and perspective should carry a lot of weight. With Asher as his source, Kevan Seaney points out that 40,000 decks of Jerry's Nugget playing cards is the equivalent of around 8 pallets. That's a massive amount, and would weigh around four tons. And it would take up a tremendous amount of space! Kevan cites Lee Asher as saying (via voice messages in Instagram) that in 1999 Asher told Duvivier that he could get the decks from the casino, and that Duvivier bought around 1,500-2000 decks at the time. Lee subsequently visited his home and store - France's oldest magic shop - in France many times. And according to Asher, there was no way Duvivier had room for 40,000 decks. Kevin also says that Lee Asher pointed out to him that these were technically not the final lot of decks sold by the casino anyway, and that the last decks (a "case" of unknown size) probably went to Japan. Wow. That really changes things! So based on this apparent "new information" from Lee Asher - who to his credit has apparently been saying this all along - Wikipedia gets a new edit by TheCongressGuy aka Kevin Seaney. The impressive figure of 40,000 is reduced to a much more modest 1500-2000, which is paltry by comparison to the much larger figures circulating the internet, and not nearly as impressive a story. But this is only after Wikipedia has been singing a different tune for five years, so the `damage' has been done, and the story of Duvivier's windfall of 40,000 Jerry's Nuggets is already accepted by most people as a true story.
Duvivier's own story
Suddenly it occurred to me to investigate Duvivier himself. Was this perhaps a line of inquiry that might produce some solid leads and definitive facts? Has the man himself ever commented on all these stories about his legendary haul? Could I find anything directly from the man himself that would shed some light on these legends? In fact, why hadn't I thought of this earlier? Just because nobody else seems to have dug up or reported anything from the man's own mouth, doesn't mean that it doesn't exist. I slapped myself for my own foolishness, and headed back to Google. As it turns out, Duvivier has written about this! But because it's an article in French, it's escaped notice from most people. Since he's popular as a professional magician in France, he not only has his own website, but he also writes his own blog. And sure enough, he's addressed this very topic in a blog article that he wrote in April 2011 under the title "Magiphageuh No 14: Les Jerry's Nugget". With the help of an online translation tool, we learn this:
"As most of you already know, I only use real "Jerry's Nugget" cards to work with and have been doing so for many years. As these cards happen to be extremely rare to find on the market (I am obviously talking about the original Jerry's Nugget cards and not the recently reprinted ones) and they excite the magical world a lot, I am therefore constantly asked how many I own, how long have I owned them, what deal I made to get them and with whom, why do I have so many cards, why did I choose these specifically, why don't I want to sell them, why, why, eh?! And I hear such amazing stories about myself on these famous "Jerry's Nugget" cards that I decided to speak on the subject myself today."
This sounds very promising! Duvivier then goes on to tell the story about how the Jerry's Nuggets gained their legendary reputation, and the unique qualities they have. In France in the 1970s, American playing cards were quite rarely seen, and Duvivier knew a French pilot commandant called Reyno who loved magic, who would occasionally bring back cards from the US to a small circle of French magicians. At this time even standard Bicycle and Tally Ho decks were prized by these French conjurers, so besides them a Jerry's Nugget deck was considered a real crown jewel. Over the years Duvivier occasionally got more of the Jerry's Nugget decks, sometimes even an entire case of them at once, especially via his friend Michael Weber, who was his main supplier. We fast forward to 1999, when he finds himself heading to Las Vegas to perform at The Magic Castle. Here's the story in his words, courtesy of an online translation tool:
"In 1999 (if I'm not mistaken) my daughter Alexandra and I were hired to perform for a whole week at Magic Castle and then for a few contracts in Las Vegas. You may think that I had only one idea in mind at the time: a trip to the original casino where my favourite cards were from, Jerry's Nugget! Michael Weber had told me that there were still a few decks for sale there, so as soon as we arrived I immediately asked Philip Varricchio, who had come to pick us up in a limousine, to take us there. He was rather surprised, as we hadn't even put our bags down at the hotel (yes, I'm a fool) and the old Jerry's casino wasn't really known for being a must-see place! So I told him that I wanted to go there to buy Jerry's Nugget cards. According to him it was impossible to get them for the simple reason that they hadn't been around for a long time, but I was so insistent that he finally complied (hey, hey, hey!). When we arrived there, we went to the gift shop of the casino and I asked the salesman if he was selling their decks. - Yes," he told me, "I have a few. He shows me a small piece of wall in the back of the store where a hundred decks were on display. I ask about the price. Not even expensive! - Well, I'll take them," I say (laughs). And of course I ask if he has more in reserve! Yes, there were about a hundred boxes left (each box containing a large number of cards, 144 decks!). After a little negotiation, the unit price was even lowered to less than $1. That's it, that's how it happened and that's it. In fact, in all this story, the most difficult, the longest and the most expensive was to get the stock back to France. Since then, I've been seeing, little by little, the bids going up on these cards in a rather hallucinating way, whereas, of course, that wasn't my initial motivation at all. From the moment I bought the remaining stock, it's as if everyone wanted to own even more! But I just wanted to have enough stock of Jerry's Nugget decks because I'm a card fanatic and these in particular. I use these cards because they're the best cards I know and I've fought like a big man to own enough of them for me (I should mention that I never had a middleman or a partner to buy these cards). Anyone could have done as I did and I don't understand why no one did: you just had to take the trouble to go to this casino, because the cards were available! In any case, now they are all warm and cosy in different safes, which I won't tell you about. They say I'm the person with the most cards in the world, but I have to say I don't care. I know Chris Kenner is the one who planned it, he has a lot of them too. I've been offered golden bridges to sell a few packages, or even my entire stock. I've had some incredible offers over the years. I never intended to create a buzz with these cards: I just use them for my own personal consumption, that's all...because they're my favorite cards."
Probably the key sentence in that account is this, and the best translation seems to be something like this: "Yes, there were about a hundred boxes left (each box containing a large number of cards, that's 144 decks!)." The formula is simple: around 100 boxes with 144 decks each. If true, that would mean 100 x 144 = 14,400 decks. Given that this is directly from the horse's mouth, suddenly the story becomes slightly more plausible. So too is his additional statement: "In all this story, the most difficult, the longest and the most expensive was to get the stock back to France." That suggests he didn't bring the whole stash to France in one go, which might explain why visitors like Lee Asher and others who saw his home and magic shop never saw any evidence of them. I'm not a French speaker, so I'm happy to be corrected if I'm misunderstanding anything Duvivier has written - by all means check the article for yourself in the original French, to see if I've got it right. But the long and short of it seems to be that Duvivier is saying that what he bought from Las Vegas around 1999 was not a stash of 40,000 Jerry's Nuggets decks, but 14,000 decks. 14,000 is not nearly as impressive a figure. But even though it's only a third of the size of what the legend floating around the internet says, 14,000 decks is still an incredibly impressive haul. Certainly the amount of pictures and videos that show Duvivier performing with Jerry's Nugget cards, seems to suggest that they are very much part of his regular repertoire. It could just be possible, and maybe I've finally found the truth! Perhaps the most defining photo of all is this one (credited to Zakary Belamy), which shows Duvivier enjoying a bath with his Jerry's Nugget playing cards! Given the value of these playing cards on the market today, some might consider this sacrilege, but it sure suggests he has a large enough supply of Jerry's Nugget cards. At any rate, his collection of them seems large enough that he can even afford to take them to the bath for a photo op along with his favourite yellow rubber ducky.
But is it true?
Was the mystery solved at last? It was time to get back in contact with Lee Asher, and share my findings. But despite the claims of Duvivier in his 2011 article, Lee is not convinced that Duvivier is a credible source. To be fair, this is what Lee Asher has been saying all along, and for years he's been saying that the story about the legendary haul of 40,000 decks wasn't supported by the facts. Ultimately what this comes down to is: are we going to believe what Duvivier says? For the most part, Duvivier has appeared to have had little interest in setting the record straight, despite the fact that the rumour of him nabbing 40,000 decks persisted as long as it did. And if he does have a large stash, why has he shown little interest in selling any of the decks that he does have, instead being happy to hoard them or use them only for himself? Would he really have spent all the time, energy, and money necessary to ship even 14,000 decks of playing cards across the ocean from the United States to Europe, just for his personal usage, at a time when the street value of these was only a dollar or two a piece? And if he did, where did he put them, and why has nobody ever seen his stash, including those who visited his home? There are other details about Duvivier's record of events that call aspects of his narrative into question, such as his complete omission of any mention of Lee Asher, who was the one who made him aware of where he could get them. And in those days, the casino gift shop was very small, so is it really reasonable for them to display 100 decks on their back wall, as Duvivier claims in his 2011 article, when they had such little space to work with? I had some private correspondence with another magician/cardist who has also stayed at Duvivier's house, and that individual expressed similar sentiments. He agreed that there was no evidence of Duvivier ever owning that many decks. Just do the math: 40,000 decks would mean Duvivier could use a brand new deck every single day for more than 100 years before he chewed through a collection of decks that size. Again: very unlikely. If he really did have that many, it would be way more than he could ever use, and surely he would have sold some by now - which he hasn't. This person remains somewhat skeptical, but acknowledges that the figure of 14,000 is a more realistic number that is not beyond the realms of possibility, especially if Duvivier has them locked up in a storage facility in Paris somewhere. As an educated guess, it seems that there is good reason to cast some suspicion on this story, and there are some aspects about it that seem rather unlikely. Shipping that many decks, at the time only worth a buck or two each at most, all the way from Las Vegas to Paris would be crazy. But a man willing to jump into a bath with a yellow rubber duck and destroy $1000 worth of playing cards in the process strikes me as crazy enough to do it. Perhaps Duvivier's story is true after all.
A final twist
I was now several weeks into my adventures as an investigative journalist, and I was getting ready to wrap up my story and publish it. But there was one final lead that I had not yet explored. If I was really going to try every possible avenue of information, I had to try contacting Dominique Duvivier himself. Why not? Admittedly, the odds of getting a response from someone about his apparent stash of precious Jerry's Nuggets wasn't likely. If there was any truth to the story about his legendary haul, even to some degree, then he's undoubtedly had hundreds of inquiries over the years. Just imagine the long lines of people asking him about his stash, trying to convince him to part with some of it. If yet another email comes in on this subject, he'd probably roll his eyes and press `delete'. He is working full time as a professional magician after all, and has a career to worry about. I couldn't blame him if he was tired of responding to what undoubtedly would be countless messages from prospective buyers. But I had no intention to buy anything, so as a good amateur journalist, I had to try. It was a long shot, but to my surprise, I got a response from Duvivier the very same day! It wasn't much, but it included one unexpected bombshell - especially after the journey I'd been on so far: "You'll be glad to know that a special article is going to appear in next Genii Magazine. It's called Dominique Duvivier and Jerry's Nugget cards." I was stunned. Was someone else working on exactly the same story as me, and had they beat me to the punch? Maybe even Duvivier himself? Could it really be true that in little more than two weeks time, the next issue of Genii was scheduled to come out, and would potentially reveal all? Suddenly I knew that I had to wait with publishing my story. In further emails, Dominique was tight-lipped about any more details. At the very least, surely I would have to wait until that issue of Genii was available, and fork out my cash and purchase a subscription in order to read it. I owed it to my readers to explore every last clue, and give them a story that included all the evidence. So that is what I did. I waited for the July issue to appear online. Digital editions of Genii are released online each month on the 20th of the month. Finally 20th of June rolled around, and I eagerly perused the contents of the latest issue. Nothing. Nothing remotely Duvivier related. Nothing Jerry's Nugget related. Was Duvivier for real? An inquiry with the editor of Genii produced this response: "Not this issue. Coming up." Would it be August or September maybe? Further inquiries produced only silence. In follow up correspondence with the Frenchman himself, Duvivier told me "I wrote the article myself. It?s quite long." That sounded promising, but it could just be about his love affair with Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards, rather than a "tell all" story about his haul. There still was no guarantee that it would even be published. And I couldn't be sure that it would offer any more information than his blog article from 2011 which already gave his side of the story, or that it would be any more reliable than the version of events he'd provided there. Was it really worth waiting any longer? It was time to share my findings with the world anyway, and I could always provide an addendum to my story if any credible new information appeared.
Is this the final word on this subject? No. I've tried to do the best I could based on information available to me, and shared as much as I could with my readers, so that you can form your own conclusions based on the evidence so far. Undoubtedly there are still some missing puzzle pieces, and in future years some new information could come to light that shows that some of my conclusions were misplaced or that puts aspects of this story a slightly different perspective. Today we are two full decades removed from the time when the original decks first sold out at the Jerry's Nugget casino. And the further removed in time that we come, the harder it becomes to uncover the truth. Memories become murky. As it is nobody at the casino seems to remember the specific details of what happened. At the time they were probably only too glad to get the remaining stock out of their hands, and nobody could have anticipated how these decks would become the famous icons that they are today. Even their chief evangelist Lee Asher has to be somewhat surprised at the turn of events he's produced since first singing their praises some twenty years ago! So what can we conclude from all of this? Here's some final thoughts that I'll leave you with: 1. Don't believe everything you read on the internet. Unfortunately, it's a fact of modern life that not everything on the internet is true. And as we've seen, this also applies to sites like Wikipedia. For topics that have a large number of experts or people interested in a particular subject, changing the facts on a Wikipedia article will quickly see the changes being reverted. But with a more niche subject, like Jerry's Nugget Playing Cards, and especially when it concerns circumstantial material that nobody is quite sure about, it's easy for misinformation to enter Wikipedia. And once it's embedded there, eventually the lore spreads and becomes considered as "fact". So it's important to check your sources, and don't take everything you see online as gospel truth - even if it's on Wikipedia. 2. The legend about the stash of 40,000 decks should be put to rest once and for all. It's a myth, and there simply is no evidence for this claim anywhere. At most, there is the claim from Duvivier himself that he bought up about 14,000 decks. That might be true, but again, we only have his word for this. As a counter-point, there are those like Lee Asher who know Duvivier and have visited him many times, and insist that they never saw any evidence of this. The enormous cost of shipping a large stash like this to Europe already makes it somewhat hard to believe. There's no doubt that Duvivier is a huge fan of Jerry's Nugget decks, and he appears to own and use them more than most. But in the end, how credible is he? How seriously are you going to take someone who is happy to post a picture of himself in a bath with a rubber duck and playing cards from a Jerry's Nugget deck? Either that means he has far more decks than he knows what to do with, or he is a little loopy. Or perhaps it's a bit of both. You've had an opportunity to read all the evidence for yourself, so you decide. Either way, we can safely say that there has never been a stash of 40,000 decks, and the jury is out on whether there was even ever a stash one third of this size. But even if the size of the legendary stash turns out to be smaller than first thought, the reputation and magnetism of the Jerry's Nugget decks has only increased in size, and these now iconic decks will remain firmly embedded in playing card lore. ------------------ Update from the writer: After the original publication of this article, Dominique Duvivier personally phoned me on 24 July 2020 to discuss it, and to share his side of this story. He remembers events slightly differently than Lee Asher does. As Duvivier recalls it, his own interest in the Jerry's Nugget decks dates back to the 1970s and 1980s. At that time he was sourcing them from his friend Michael Weber, who along with magicians like Chris Kenner was also interested in these decks. According to Dominique, he only met Lee Asher during his USA tour in 1999, after he had already bought out the remaining stock from the Jerry's Nugget casino. Duvivier confirmed that the figure of 14,000 accurately reflects the approximate number of decks he purchased from the casino at this time. He shipped the majority of these to France by boat, and stored them in a warehouse, intending them to serve as a life-time supply for himself and his family. Look for his story in an upcoming issue of Genii magazine.
Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives. PREVIOUS YEARS ARCHIVE: 1991 • 1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998 • 1999 • 2000
The wrestling industry in the United States is in uncharted waters right now and Dave is starting this issue by examining the overall situation. Part of it is due to outside factors. The mood of the country is still shaken by the events of 9/11 and the effects of the attack on the economy are still uncertain. WWF is the only major pro wrestling company and its closest competitor is UFC, which isn't even wrestling. Dave says it's been a horrible year for the business, with WCW and ECW folding. Wrestling magazines closing up shop. The Invasion angle was totally botched. By every metric, business is declining. It's a terrible time to start a new company in the U.S. because getting a major league product off the ground is a just too expensive. Dave thinks the WWA idea in Australia might be the best option right now. Build some buzz over there where the market is easier and then try to strike a deal to air it in the U.S. But the biggest problem with WWA is, well, Vince Russo is the guy in charge. Dave says that Russo's idea of wrestling was a massive failure in WCW and the problem is that he didn't learn from it, and to this day continues to blame his WCW failures on outside forces (18 years later, that hasn't changed). Dave expects WWF to feel the crunch of business declining and suspects that many of the low-paid developmental wrestlers under contracts should probably start being concerned for their jobs.
WWF and DirecTV struck a temporary deal to air the Unforgiven PPV. If you recall, they have been negotiating a new deal and it wasn't going well. But the two sides agreed to air Unforgiven under the terms of the old deal while they continue to negotiate a new one. Not airing the show would have cost both sides around $1 million each in lost profits, so needless to say, they both want to settle this. So for now, negotiations continue...
The unpredictable concerns over the economy in the wake of 9/11 are already becoming noticeable. Merch sales for WWF were down significantly since the attacks. House shows this week did okay but most of those tickets were bought when they first went on sale weeks and months ago, prior to the attack. The next round of house shows go on sale this week and seeing how those sell will be the real test. One WWF house show in Fairfax, VA was already cancelled this week due to low advance sales. WWF is also scheduled to return to Madison Square Garden in 2 weeks. Tickets for that show went on sale before 9/11 and were already weak and needless to say, they aren't picking up any steam now. Rock is working that show (one of the few house shows he's doing) and it seems that since returning from filming Scorpion King, even the Rock doesn't have the same drawing power he had beforehand. That being said, WWF has lots of revenue streams, lots of cash reserves, lots of stock they can sell, and they pay their wrestlers far less than any other sport. So WWF is uniquely positioned to weather this storm and probably still be okay.
For UFC, on the other hand, 9/11 couldn't have happened at a worse time. UFC's parent company Zuffa is based out of Las Vegas and the attacks have hit the Vegas casino business hard, with cancelled trips, people spending less money, etc. Nobody wants to get on a plane these days, much less just to fly to Vegas and throw away money in an uncertain economy. Zuffa owner Lorenzo Fertitta, who operates casinos in Vegas, also owns an investment company whose major offices were in the World Trade Center. Financially, Fertitta is getting hit on all sides right now, right as he's trying to get the revived UFC off the ground.
Oh yeah, speaking of WWF Unforgiven, that show is in the books and was highlighted by Kurt Angle winning the WWF title from Steve Austin in his hometown by making Austin tap out clean. The crowd was kinda flat for most of the show, despite a lot of good matches. From a long-term booking standpoint, Angle winning the title doesn't make a ton of sense, because there's a lot of mileage in Austin as champion, but it seemed as though the decision was made to give the crowd a feel-good ending considering the last few weeks the country has had (Bruce Prichard later admitted that, yeah, having Angle win the title here was purely a short-term "give the American audience something patriotic" decision). There were also a bunch of minor injuries during the show with Perry Saturn, Edge, Jericho, and Austin all got busted up lips or eyes.
The biggest story coming out of the show was the UndertakeKane vs. Kronik match which was so bad that it resulted in Kronik leaving the company after only debuting 3 weeks ago. Dave says it was the worst WWF PPV match of the year. No word on why Kronik left yet (some say they quit after the match and others say they were fired) but they have already reached out to Russo about working the WWA tour in Australia. The big story going around is that Jim Ross told them they would be sent to OVW or HWA for more training and in protest, they quit but Dave hasn't been able to verify that. If it's true, Dave suspects WWF was hoping they would quit because those 2 guys have lots of experience (both have worked for WWF in the past) so Dave feels like this might have been a way to push them into quitting. Considering they're not great workers anyway and they were notorious troublemakers in WCW, Dave doesn't understand why they were even hired in the first place, aside from the fact that Brian Adams and Undertaker are friends and it was basically a favor for Taker. (Dave clarifies a bit of this in later issues, not all of that is entirely correct).
Other notes from the PPV: Dave points out that Raven is in the best shape he's been in years. The first Edge vs. Christian match, which needed to be a star-making performance for both guys as they branch off as singles stars, was good but the lack of crowd reaction hurt it a lot. The aforementioned Kronik match gets negative-2 stars. RVD was one of the few guys to get a reaction, as the crowd was nuclear for him. This is the match where Jericho got his eye busted from a kick and needed stitches and Dave says RVD is getting a reputation for this sort of thing, which isn't good. And Angle's family celebrated with him in the ring after he won the title and they played it up as if he finally achieved his life-long dream, conveniently forgetting that Angle's already won the title once before. Lots of 3 and 4 star matches here, but the crowd really hurt the show overall.
UFC 33 is happening before you read this but after press time, so Dave hasn't seen it yet. And I wouldn't normally cover this but this show is legendarily bad, so here we go. Things were looking good at first. The show sold out weeks in advance, setting a record live gate and attendance for the company and UFC did a hell of a job promoting the main event for months beforehand. But then 9/11 happened and the economic woes of that are expected to take a toll on the buyrate. Then, due to 9/11, the high-profile Felix Trinidad vs. Bernard Hopkins boxing match got moved to within 24 hours of the UFC PPV, which is also expected to cause a major hit to UFC's PPV numbers. Then 10 days before the show, Vitor Belfort had to pull out of the show due to an arm injury in training, completely derailing the main event they spent months building. Vitor somehow fell through a glass window during training and suffered a horrible cut that required 40 stitches and partially severed his tricep. When he couldn't go, UFC scrambled to find a new, big name opponent for Tito Ortiz. First, they reached out to Ken Shamrock and offered him $180,000 to take the fight on a week's notice. Shamrock countered, asking for $500,000 and that pretty much ended those negotiations. So then Frank Shamrock was offered $150,000 but also turned it down, not wanting to risk his 4+ year unbeaten streak by taking a fight on such short notice with no time to train and prepare. It eventually went to Russian fighter Vladimir Matyushenko. Many insiders are predicting Matyushenko will win because he's a better wrestler and punches harder. Dave gives credit to Ortiz for also taking this fight without having time to prepare for it and thinks it's a hell of a risk for Ortiz. So we'll see.
Antonio Inoki and the promoters from PRIDE and K-1 held a joint press conference in Japan to announce another Inoki New Year's Eve show taking place on 12/31. It will be a joint show with PRIDE fighters, K-1 fighters, and pro wrestlers. The hook for the show is that there's expected to be a lot of Inoki's guys (all of whom fight for PRIDE) going against K-1 fighters, so basically inter-promotional MMA with a wrestling twist.
The idea of Universal getting into the wrestling biz is back on the table and it looks to be a go starting in November. Hulk Hogan had been in talks with Universal off and on for most of this year about starting a new promotion but as of press time, word is Hogan is not involved in this. Hogan is said to be more interested in returning to WWF than he is running his own promotion but until his lawsuit with Time Warner (over the whole Vince Russo/Bash 2000 incident) is settled, he probably won't be doing anything. Hogan is trying to argue in the lawsuit that the incident damaged his career, and it's going to be hard to prove that if he goes back to WWF and has a big money-making run there. Plus he's still recovering from a recent knee surgery. Jimmy Hart has continued negotiating with Universal and it appears he and Nasty Boy Brian Knobs will be running this new promotion, with Kevin Sullivan helping with booking. A 2-hour pilot is scheduled for filming in November and several former WCW stars and other unsigned names (mostly old 80s stars) have been contacted about coming in. They're also looking at some younger indie names and seem especially interested in former ECW star Super Crazy. Dave expects this to be run like an old Memphis-style studio territory show and figures Jerry Lawler will probably be involved too unless he re-signs with WWF before then. Anyway, Dave doesn't seem to have high hopes for this succeeding (indeed, it does not).
And now we have an article from Ben Miller. Dave drops an editor's note and says to welcome Ben Miller as a columnist for the Observer and expects him to have a column in here once a month or so. It's fine I guess, but it's really just an opinion piece by some guy who isn't Dave. But to his credit, it's a well-written column that makes some good points about what WWF needs to do to improve and make the Invasion angle and upcoming brand split work. But it just feels out of place here in the Observer. I believe Miller later become a columnist on the website and was involved for years after this.
In Puerto Rico, former WWF wrestler Tiger Ali Singh now wrestles for IWA and since 9/11, he has become the biggest heel in the promotion, with the fans chanting "terrorist!" at him (just in case you're wondering, Singh is from India and is not Muslim).
Remember the MMA fighter Brian Johnston who suffered a major stroke backstage at the last PRIDE show? Good news! It was originally thought he would be paralyzed from it and confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, but in the last few weeks, he's made a miraculous recovery, regaining a good deal of movement on his right side and is even able to stand with assistance. He still can't talk but he has total recognition of people who visit him. Doctors are optimistic that he will make a full recovery and should be able to walk again, although it would take an even bigger miracle for him to ever compete in MMA or wrestling again. (Here's an article about him from 2013. Long story short, he mostly recovered. He still suffers symptoms and doesn't have full motor control, but he recovered well enough to pretty much live a full life. But no, he never fought again).
Antonio Inoki finally made it back to Japan after being stranded in the U.S. after 9/11. As soon as he got back, he spoke with the media and criticized NJPW for the main event of their upcoming Tokyo Dome show, saying nobody wanted to see it and bashing them for not booking Fujita vs. Ogawa instead. Dave thinks this is some peak-WCW shit. The most popular icon in company history rips into his own company right before a big show, saying their main event sucks and nobody wants to see it. That's gonna do wonders for ticket sales. At least in WCW, the owners of the company weren't criticizing it publicly. While we're on the subject, Dave reviews the most recent NJPW TV show and says it's WCW-in-its-last-year levels of bad. Three different matches get negative star ratings. ("dAvE iS bIAsEd fOR neW jaPAn!")
Bushwhacker Butch was hospitalized this week with a staph infection. He had complained of a neck injury and then passed out and was rushed to the hospital and diagnosed with staph and pneumonia. As of press time, he's still hospitalized and breathing through tubes (yeah he ended up getting sepsis and nearly dying).
In regards to the WWA tour in Australia, Vince Russo is reportedly pushing to have toplessness or maybe even full-frontal nudity for a women's bra & panties-type of match on the PPV they're filming. One of the women is former ECW/WCW valet Kimona/Leah Meow (so yeah, this match happened, but she wasn't in it. It was 3 women and a guy in drag, all nameless people who never went anywhere in the business. It was called a Skin To Win match. Two of the women (Penthouse Pets brought in to "wrestle" end up getting their tops taken off but they were wearing pasties because I assume they were forced to. When this PPV aired in the U.S., the match was edited off. Russo's brilliant billion dollar idea that would have revolutionized the industry, foiled by the censors again!).
Dave has been hearing rave reviews about a 4-way indie match featuring American Dragon, Low Ki, Christopher Daniels and Scoot Andrews, with many who saw it calling it the independent match of the year. Dave hasn't seen it yet but expects to have a tape in a week or two and will report back.
The New York Times did an interview with Linda McMahon for a story about how WWF is handling the current real-world situation in the wake of 9/11. The story hasn't ran yet but it's expected to reference WWF's exploitation of the Gulf War in 1991. In the interview, Linda mentioned that the name 'Raw Is War' is going to be changed to simply 'Raw' and that the December PPV Armageddon will be renamed (it becomes Vengeance). She also admitted that the events of 9/11 did play a part in Kurt Angle winning the WWF title this past week (I completely forgot Linda admitted it here).
Notes from Raw: Dave says it was a strange show. For starters, the night before at the PPV, they talked about having a big birthday celebration for Stephanie on Raw the next night. But that didn't happen. Stephanie's birthday was acknowledged, but there was no big party or angle about it. They also spent the entire episode teasing what would happen when Austin showed up but the entire show aired and....he never arrived. Dave again points out that hyping something for 2 hours and then simply not delivering is some WCW shit (it's also some 2019 WWE shit). There were several little things like that throughout the show also. Dave thinks back to 18 months ago when WCW used to do dumb shit every episode and he would always write, "WWF would never do this," and here we are 18 months later and it's happening all the time. Shane McMahon announced a match with Kurt Angle defending the WWF title against Booker T, leading Dave to wonder how in the hell Shane, as part of the Alliance, has the authority to make WWF title matches. DDP is now doing a self-help gimmick (who'da ever guessed?). RVD has been getting over huge as a face lately, so of course they put him in a match with Rock (the most popular guy in the company) and had him lose clean, which accomplished nothing other than killing RVD's momentum.
Sean O'Haire got into a fight in the crowd at an indie MMA show last week and was actually choked out by another fighter before the police broke it up. The guy who choked him out was also a lot smaller than him, but he also came up behind O'Haire to do it. But size doesn't matter and Dave says when a trained fighter gets the jump on you from behind and puts you in a choke, you're probably going to sleep no matter how big you are. That being said, O'Haire is lucky he doesn't work for Bill Watts because losing a real fight (to someone smaller than you no less) as a pro wrestler would get you fired back in Watts' day. O'Haire and the other guy were arrested after O'Haire was awakened from his slumber.
Eddie Guerrero is expected to leave rehab soon. During his time in treatment, Guerrero has been living with Tom Prichard, who has also been battling some addiction issues. Guerrero is still being paid his downside guarantee and is expected to be brought back to TV when he's done with rehab. Dave talks about how some guys don't succeed in rehab but then points out how William Regal is seen as the best case scenario. Regal had a nasty drug habit and was on the verge of washing out of the business and being deported, but he cleaned himself up and is now back on WWF TV in a prominent role and doing great. Dave hopes the same for Guerrero. When he's out, he'll probably spend some time in OVW first before returning to WWF.
Jim Ross answered a bunch of media questions on some conference thing last week. It was mostly a discussion about the future plans for WCW and since there isn't any definite plan yet, he had to be vague. Praised Booker T, RVD, and Kanyon for being 3 of the WCW guys to adapt well to WWF. Others praised Hurricane for the same but Ross was kinda dismissive of him, seeming not to agree. Noted that Jazz from ECW has signed and will be working with Sharmell Sullivan in OVW. Speaking of Sharmell, she was pretty much only signed as a favor to Booker T. He also praised Rey Mysterio and Juventud Guerrera but basically said there's no place for them in WWF right now. Ross was asked about Ken Shamrock and praised him but said Shamrock has a lot of MMA stuff he wants to do and only wants to wrestle in WWF part-time. But they want him full-time, which is why he hasn't been brought back at all. In regards to Rock's blooming Hollywood career, Ross shrugged it off and basically said Rock is under contract to be a wrestler full-time and that's what he loves to do. Ross predicted that Rock may take off once a year to film a movie but that the WWF is his priority. Time will tell on that. If his movie career takes off, Dave doesn't see Rock sticking around.
Various WWF notes: the list of wrestlers who are hurt right now in WWF is absurd. Dave says it would be easier to list who's not hurt. Anyway, Dave lists everyone who's hurt, their injuries, their surgeries, when they're expected back, etc. There's going to be a WWF-themed episode of NBC's The Weakest Link show featuring WWF stars taping this week. Mick Foley is appearing on Celebrity Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Shane McMahon was on the Opie & Anthony Show and was asked about Stephanie's breast implants, which led Shane to respond that "they are 2 good reasons to tune into Smackdown this week." Dave thinks that's kinda weird. Sara Undertaker has dyed her hair brown and is training to wrestle.
WWF is meeting with former WCW wrestler The Wall next month. He was originally going to be signed and brought in when they bought WCW, but then they learned he had a pretty nasty drug problem so they passed on him. Dave kinda doubts they'll hire him. He's big, but he's also not very good and already in his 30s with a drug strike against him. They might sign him and send him to developmental but they already have a ton of guys wasting away down there already.
If you've been noticing all the references to Ric Flair on WWF TV lately, it's not an accident. There has been a lot of consideration recently of buying out the remainder of his Time Warner contract. The reality is WWF has completely failed to create any new stars out of the WCW names they signed and if they are serious about running WCW as its own brand next year, they need big names. The other names discussed were Sting and Goldberg, but they both have a lot higher contracts with more time left on them and economically, it just doesn't make sense to WWF right now to bring them in. That being said, Dave kinda questions how valuable Ric Flair could be in WWF these days. WWF has a younger audience than WCW did and Flair isn't getting any younger. He can talk his ass off but as far as working matches, Dave doesn't seem to see much value in Flair as an in-ring guy beyond a few nostalgia matches with big name WWF stars. All in all, Dave feels like bringing in these big name WCW stars would have worked much better if they did it at the beginning of the angle months ago. Although in the end, it doesn't matter who they had. The way it was booked, with WWF just rolling over WCW like they were nothing and nobody wanting to sell for or put over the WCW stars, it would have still failed no matter who they had.
The latest on Triple H is that he isn't expected to make it back by Survivor Series as originally hoped. Now it's looking more like December (not quite).
FRIDAY:First season of Tough Enough comes to an end, WWF ordered to pay the World Wildlife Fund's legal bills, details on new XWF promotion, more on Kronik, NJPW ticket sales, and more...
So, I've been reading some about how at least western adults are being socialised into thinking and acting immaturely. Here is one good piece on the subject, and I quote:
Meanwhile, tourist destinations like Las Vegas market excess, indulgence and freedom from responsibility in casino environments that conjure memories of childhood fantasies: the Old West, medieval castles and the circus. Scholars have also explored how this form of Las Vegas-style “Disneyfication” has left its stamp on planned communities, architecture and contemporary art. Then we’ve witnessed the rise of a “therapy culture,” which, as sociologist Frank Furedi warns, treats adults as vulnerable, weak and fragile, while implying that their troubles rooted in childhood qualify them for a “permanent suspension of moral sense.” He argues that this absolves grown-ups from adult responsibilities and erodes their trust in their own experiences and insights. Researchers in Russia and Spain have even identified infantilist trends in language, and French sociologist Jacqueline Barus-Michel observes that we now communicate in “flashes,” rather than via thoughtful discourse – “poorer, binary, similar to computer language, and aiming to shock.” Others have noted similar trends in popular culture – in the shorter sentences in contemporary novels, in the lack of sophistication in political rhetoric and in sensationalist cable news coverage.
Media communication comes to the rescue and becomes the primary vehicle for the dissemination of values, trends and guidelines that establish the symbolic universe of the individual’s ethical choices. This communication, as recently ascertained (Bernardini 2012, 2013), legitimizes, on the one hand, immature and childish behaviors, and on the other hand promotes an unprecedented lifestyle that thirty years ago Laslett (1989) defined as youthfulness. Marketers and media have become obsessively devoted to the exaltation of youthful image in every aspect: clothing, physical form, and behavior. As noted by Bonazzi and Pusceddu (2008), media communication, and especially advertising, nowadays seems to promote a kind of collective regression: needs should be satisfied immediately because it is imperative to take here and now everything that life, or rather the consumer’s society, promises to give us. And youth - like beauty, success and money - becomes an object that is possible to own, always. In other words, youth, a biological condition, seems to have become a cultural definition. One is young not because he is a certain age, but because he is entitled to enjoy certain styles of life and consumption.
I think there's so much Catholic commentary - and, better yet, evangelisation, that can intercede here. We should press quite hard on how holiness is the antidote to this strange phenomena of adults regressing into childishness, and children wanting to be adults; hook-up culture, make-up and all. In holy Catholic circumstances, children are free to be children and care about child things. Their wellbeing and dignity in this state is respected, and it is the adults who protect them and raise them in a personal, age-appropriate way, as is their God-given duty. The adults themselves aspire to suffer hardships with triumph from their Creator, and recognise adult immaturity as sin, to be avoided with humble, patient struggle. In general, isn't growing in holiness synonymous with growing in maturity; clarity and responsibility? I, for one, think both if the articles linked above are spot-on, and surely, "kidults" must feel that something big is missing from their lives? We already have a branch who say (traditional) Catholicism is counter-cultural a lot, referring to social issues and our submission to a God many of us think it's weird to even seriously consider. Wouldn't it help save souls to advertise how the Faith is the opposite of the self-indulgent, age-regressive, and void of wisdom? By that, I mean cultural infantalisation as more of a broad psychological term than I'm referring to specifically pride parades, or women wearing pants. I'm not on a trad crusade here (though pride culture is a tragedy, don't attack me), I just think the sociological topic of infantilisation of culture is important, and interestingly, we have had the answer for almost 2 000 years now.
Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives. PREVIOUS YEARS ARCHIVE:1991 • 1992 • 1993 • 1994 • 1995 • 1996 • 1997 • 1998
Dave has officially declared the Monday night wars over. Obviously, both shows are still going on. But WWF is riding an incredible wave of success while WCW is free-falling in self-destruction and he doesn't see that changing anytime soon. Sunday Night Heat did a record 5.09 rating, followed the next night by Raw doing a monstrous 6.46. At one point, Raw was more than doubling Nitro's ratings during certain segments of the show. Add in all the mainstream publicity (Sable in Playboy, TV Guide doing another 4-part covers series but only WWF this time, etc.) and just weeks away from Wrestlemania which will undoubtedly be the biggest money event in WWF history and the biggest non-boxing event in the history of pay-per-view, and WWF is simply on fire right now.
On the flip side, there's WCW. For the last several weeks, Eric Bischoff has apparently been on vacation in France (Dave gets an AWESOME line here, saying it would be more appropriate if he was in Rome playing the fiddle). That left Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan in charge of Nitro this week and Dave says it was possibly the worst TV show put on by a major promotion in history and that Nash and Hogan used the show as a way to get themselves over and went to absurd lengths to basically bury everyone else in the company. When asked about it, Bischoff has basically said he's giving full control to Nash and giving him the chance to sink or swim on his own. Most people feel that Bischoff has pretty much given up and mentally checked out of the company and is looking for a way to get off the Titanic before it sinks. Dave thinks Nitro had to have been designed to fail this week because it takes a lot of thought to actually present a show that terrible, it couldn't have been an accident. He talks about how WCW has had a long tradition of bad booking, dating back to the mid-80s Crockett days where everyone did heel/face turns until the fans didn't care about anyone, screwjob finishes, and the booker pushing himself as the top star (Dusty) and obviously, nothing has changed in the last 10 years. Locker room morale is at rock bottom. Scott Hall is pretty much planning to sit out right now and has talked about suing WCW because it was a WCW employee who ran over his ankle a few weeks ago, injuring him. Benoit, Malenko, guys like them have been forgotten. Bret Hart's burial is complete and he's a midcard nobody now (he worked a 10+ minute match against Van Hammer this week, in case you're wondering). Arn Anderson, one of the top 3 promo guys in the biz, is being phased out. Billy Kidman, arguably the brightest new star in WCW in the last year or so, is barely on TV anymore. Same with Juventud Guerrera, who is the single best wrestler in the U.S. at the moment. Chris Jericho has potential to be the next Shawn Michaels or Ric Flair and he's booked like a nobody and is almost certainly WWF-bound when his contract ends. But we still have nonstop Scott Steiner, Buff Bagwell, Nash, and Hogan. Goldberg is still being booked strong because even WCW isn't foolish enough to totally bury him, but he's not going to be pushed above Hogan (who is turning face) and Dave wouldn't be surprised if they do something stupid like turn Goldberg heel (still a year away from that awful idea). With Ric Flair now being booked as the top heel (at 50 years old) and Hogan as the top babyface, it does nothing to dispel the notion that WCW is the elderly, out of touch company, while WWF is the hot, cool product. People who recently re-signed contracts are wishing they could get out of them and Dave expects nearly anyone who has a chance to go to WWF when their contracts expire will probably make the jump. But aside from all the comparisons of 1999 WCW to 1988 Crockett, Dave says there's one big difference. In 1988, even though morale was bad and the product was suffering, the performers didn't quit. They still tried to put on good shows. But now, in 1999, everyone from the wrestlers, to the announcers, to the front office...all of them have already mentally quit. Almost everyone is just collecting a check and phoning it in at this point and it's never been more obvious. And for that reason, Dave says the game is already over. WWF has won the war.
Vader became the first wrestler in history to win both New Japan's IWGP title and AJPW's Triple Crown title after defeating Akira Taue to win the title recently vacated by Toshiaki Kawada after an injury. Dave says this puts Vader up there alongside Lou Thesz as one of the only wrestlers to hold more versions of major league championships than any other wrestler ever. Vader held the CWA title in Europe in the 80s, which was a bigger deal then than it is now. The UWA title in Mexico (back when they were the top promotion there). IWGP in Japan, 3 times, and the WCW title 3 times, among others. At one point in 1990, he was the CWA, UWA, and IWGP champ all at the same time, which probably makes him the only wrestler to ever hold 3 major world titles on 3 different continents at once.
At the latest UFC PPV, Tito Ortiz got into a confrontation with Ken Shamrock, who was cageside for the fight. After Ortiz won his fight against Shamrock's protege Guy Mezger, he flipped off the Lion's Den corner and then pulled out a t-shirt that said "GAY Mezger is my bitch." Upon seeing the shirt, Shamrock jumped up and climbed the cage and started yelling at Ortiz, saying that if he put the shirt on, he would rip his head off and chastising him for poor sportsmanship. Due to UFC being afraid of any negative publicity these days, the camera pulled away from most of it, but Ortiz had to be pulled away and Shamrock nearly climbed into the cage and had to be restrained. For what it's worth, Shamrock has talked about wanting to fight again, but of course, he's still under WWF contract. He's had discussions with Vince McMahon about allowing him to fight, perhaps sometime this year but no word if it's led anywhere. And Shamrock reportedly wants to fight for the UFC title, and doesn't necessarily have any interest in fighting Ortiz, although now there's obviously some intrigue if that fight were to ever happen. But right now, UFC doesn't have enough visibility on PPV to even be able to afford to bring in Shamrock. But there's talk that UFC is making headway with the PPV providers and they seem confident that they may be able to start getting unbanned soon.
The career of Lizmark, one of Mexican wrestling's all-time legends, may have come to a sudden end due to heart problems. He'd been dealing with chest pains recently and finally checked himself into a hospital only to find out it was bad news. Doctors then told him he absolutely could never wrestle again because he would be risking his life. Dave gives a brief recap of his career, talking about him as one of the innovators of out-of-the-ring dives that have become so popular in Lucha Libre ("tope suicida!") and how his son Lizmark Jr. currently wrestles in WCW. He's 49 and had already been talking of retiring anyway but was holding out hope that he would get to wrestle his final match with his son but the WCW/CMLL deal fell through and they're in different promotions so it looks like it won't happen. In fact, Dave says Lizmark's mask is one of the most famous in Mexican wrestling history and that legacy is the reason Lizmark Jr. has repeatedly refused to lose his mask in WCW, which is why they never push him. (Turns out this wasn't the end for Lizmark. He took about 6 months off and then resumed wrestling a slightly lighter schedule but still pretty regularly for the next several years. And in even better news, he did get to wrestle with his son a bunch of times during those years. He ended up retiring in 2013 and died in 2015).
There's a quiet power struggle taking place within AJPW between Mitsuharu Misawa and Motoko Baba, the widowed wife of Giant Baba. Apparently Motoko Baba wants to oversee everything Misawa does while he wants to be left alone to run the company as he sees fit. He also wants to modernize things a bit. If you're recall, Giant Baba wasn't exactly the most in-touch guy when it came to the modern day wrestling business. (This behind-the-scenes power struggle goes on for the next year or so and eventually, Misawa leaves and takes almost the entire AJPW roster and office staff with him to form Pro Wrestling Noah which damn near puts AJPW out of business overnight. But we'll get there...)
For the first time in AJPW history, Stan Hansen won't be part of the upcoming Champion Carnival tournament. Dave explains how in sumo wrestling, when a grand champion can no longer compete at the highest level, they are usually forced into retirement in order to spare them the indignity of losing to low level fighters. AJPW is basically doing the same thing here. Stan Hansen is without a doubt the biggest foreign star in the history of Japanese wrestling but he's 50 years old now and he simply can't hang with the newer generation of stars. And since it wouldn't make sense to push him as a top star anymore, they don't want him in the tournament losing to midcard guys and looking bad. So to preserve his legendary status, they are simply not putting him in the tournament at all.
Shinya Hashimoto was expected to return to the ring for next month's big NJPW Tokyo Dome show but he won't be ready. He had major reconstructive surgery on his nose after getting it shattered to pieces in the Jan. 4 match against Naoya Ogawa and won't be medically cleared in time for the show.
Riki Choshu has announced that he plans to come out of retirement. It's got a lot of people concerned about the financial condition of NJPW because, when he retired last year, Choshu vowed he would never come back unless the company was in such bad shape that they needed him to. Soooo...now he's coming back, so obviously people are questioning things. NJPW is denying that there are any money issues and in fact, most of the wrestlers who recently re-signed were given big raises. But house show business in the last year or so has declined so who really knows. No word on who or when Choshu will wrestle again (must have been some confusion here because Choshu stayed retired for another year-plus before finally coming out of retirement in mid-2000).
Kenzo Suzuki, a former collegiate rugby star, has started training at the NJPW dojo and will likely debut for the company later this year (he doesn't last long in NJPW. Spends a couple of years in WWE during the mid-00s, and then ends up back in AJPW for most of the last decade).
Nobuhiko Takada is still not giving up the dream of being a real MMA fighter and will face UFC fighter Mark Coleman at the next PRIDE show (this ends up being one of the more notorious "fixed" fights in MMA history, with Coleman clearly taking a dive for Takada).
Speaking of Mark Coleman, WCW offered him $50,000 to come in and work a match against Goldberg and to put him over. But Coleman's people advised him against it and then Kevin Nash also shot down the idea, saying what if Vince McMahon offered Coleman $100,000 to double-cross WCW and shoot on Goldberg live on PPV and embarrass the company? Dave says the obvious answer to that would be to tape the match in advance just in case. But either way, it's not happening now.
Legendary retired sumo wrestler Akebono has been denying rumors that he plans to get into pro wrestling now that his sumo career is over (took him a few years, but yeah he eventually becomes a pro wrestler).
Women's boxer Shannon Hall reportedly has an offer to sign with WWF. She's also a former American Gladiator (she does sign with WWF but never makes it out of developmental).
Dave finally saw the A&E Biography episode about Andre The Giant. He says it was a very well-produced fairy tale. Definitely entertaining, but about 80% inaccurate, at least about his wrestling career. There were some good interviews with his family members and friends about his childhood and personal life but as far as his wrestling career goes, most of it was revisionist bullshit.
Legendary women's wrestler Mae Young has been playing the role of Sean Stasiak's mother on Power Pro Wrestling in Memphis. She had a wrestling match with Stacy and, at 75 years old, that makes her the oldest person to have a match that Dave is aware of (Lou Thesz had one at 74 a few years back). She took a few bumps and then faked a heart attack before sneak attacking Stacy with a purse.
A 17-year-old kid named Andre Verdun made news in Ventura, CA for his backyard wrestling group where him and a bunch of other kids were having barbed wire matches and jumping off rooftops on each other through tables and whatnot. The principal at Verdun's school was furious at the newspaper that ran the story, saying all they did was give the kids more fame and notoriety by publishing it. Verdun was apparently signing autographs at school after it happened and now there's TV shows wanting to do interviews with them (I googled the guy and it looks like he did a bunch of garbage backyard death match shit for years. There's some videos on YouTube. He also played a big part in a 20/20 piece about backyard wrestling that also interviewed Mick Foley and others. Anyway, looks like this Verdun guy is all grown up and he's a lawyer now. I can't find the local news piece, but here's the 20/20 story from later in the year which features Foley).
ECW paychecks are finally starting to clear now that they got the big influx of cash, so morale is better but no one is betting on the future. Even Tommy Dreamer, thought to be the most loyal guy in the company, went on a radio show this week saying that he only has a handshake agreement with Paul Heyman, not a contract, and said that if a serious offer came along from either WWF or WCW, he would take it.
ECW also lost their TV deals in several major cities due to financial issues. Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh TV deals were all lost. They're working on getting Boston back. They voluntarily gave up the Chicago TV deal because they were paying $3,000 a week for TV there but they've never actually run a show there so they decided it wasn't worth the cost. Same for Atlanta, although they're looking for a new TV deal there. Pittsburgh dropped them due to bounced checks.
Tammy Sytch and Chris Candido still aren't being used by ECW. They have told Heyman that they are in counseling and doing an outpatient drug rehab program. Tammy's mother also went to court this week and got a restraining order against her daughter extended (she was arrested a few weeks ago for violating it).
ECW TV this week kept taking pathetic shots at WCW. Once might have been okay but it went on and on throughout the whole show and came off as whiny and desperate. They talked about WCW ripping off ECW's gimmick with the "Uncensored" PPV. Talked about the three-way match between Raven, Hardcore Hak, and Bigelow saying they are using ECW wrestlers for an ECW-style match. And they knocked the Hogan/Flair barbed wire cage match, saying that the match will suck because both guys are 50 year old millionaires who won't take risks and besides, the barbed wire is fake anyway and in ECW they use real barbed wire. Then they showed the famous Terry Funk/Sabu barbed wire match (not bothering to mention that Funk is older than both Flair and Hogan) and basically just spent the whole show knocking WCW.
As if this week's episode of Nitro wasn't bad enough, they also failed to sell out the show in a 12,000 seat arena. It's been a long time since Nitro failed to sell out an arena that size. A few days later, a Thunder taping only drew 4,000 fans to a 15,000-seat arena, which was disastrous (they'll be happy to draw 4,000 fans to any show a year from now). During Thunder, they aired 2 promo videos hyping next week's Nitro and both clips featured Sean Waltman, who has been gone from WCW for over a year now and is, of course, currently in WWF. The wheels are falling off this company.
Also on Thunder, the crowd was chanting "steroids!" at Scott Steiner and at one point, he legit lost his cool and ran into the crowd after a fan, which they had to edited out before broadcast.
In a magazine interview with Goldberg, he was asked his thoughts on WWF and said it was "shock TV" and said he would retire from wrestling tomorrow rather than ever go to work there. Sure thing, buddy.
WWF injury/illness Report: Mankind is dealing with knee issues and will need time off soon. Billy Gunn missed a few shows due to fluid in his lungs and a respiratory infection. Steven Regal is still in rehab with no plans to return soon.
Regarding rumors that Raw will be expanding to 3 hours, apparently it was discussed several months ago back when the ratings war with Nitro was still neck-and-neck. They didn't like that Nitro had a 1 hour head start and talked about adding a third hour to Raw. But now that Raw is dominating Nitro, they don't feel the need to do it anymore, so it won't be happening. Whew. Could you imagine?
Kurt Angle will be sent to Memphis to work for Power Pro Wrestling for a bit before they put him on WWF TV.
Luna Vachon was fired this week due to several separate incidents. She has had a lot of heat with Sable, Marc Mero, Jacqueline, and agent Jack Lanza. She also complained about not getting a push because she wasn't as pretty as Sable (which she also said on TV and it was more shoot than work) and she even challenged Marc Mero to a fight backstage at the St. Valentine's Day Massacre PPV. Basically, she's just been pissing off too many people and none of the other women were comfortable having her around because she's kinda wild, so they fired her. Funny enough, she was booked to face Sable at Wrestlemania and was even booked to win the title, but that's obviously off now and Sable will likely face Tori instead.
WWF is considering doing their own women's wrestling show patterned after the old GLOW promotion of the 80s. They're holding a casting call in Los Angeles next week to bring in more pretty women for it (this never got off the ground but they ended up signing a few of the casting call women to developmental deals).
CBS wants to do a Movie of the Week type deal with Steve Austin playing the same character he played on his recent Nash Bridges episode, since that did such a huge rating. And of course, if the movie does good, it would possibly lead to a full blown spin-off TV series. Austin's guest spot on the show opened a lot of eyes in Hollywood since it did such a big rating, more than even Hogan or Piper could have ever done on network TV.
Public Enemy has a good bit of heat in WWF already, with most people feeling like they don't belong and are out of their league. They had a match against the Acolytes on Sunday Night Heat where both guys (Bradshaw especially) were stiffing the hell out of them. It was reportedly meant to be a message to PE and was approved by the office (yeah this match is BRUTAL and pretty much ended PE's run in WWF).
Sable has been making the media rounds to promote her Playboy issue. She was on Howard Stern this week and will be filming a role for La Femme Nikita next month. She was also interviewed by the New York Daily News and had this to say in regards to WWF's product: "As a responsible parent, I choose not to let my child watch it (Raw). My child is very young. She has a bed time and she's in bed when our show comes on. To me, that's being a responsible parent. Ultimately, it's the parent's decision. If you do not wish your child to watch the WWF, change the channel. It's not our place to put on a show that's supposedly for your children. It's your place as a parent to monitor what your children watch. Are they saying it's not okay to see the characters we play beat up each other but it's okay to have your child watch a movie where a famous actor blows away 100 people with an M-16?" When asked if she felt her character is degrading to women, Sable responded, "I feel I'm being a strong, stand-up woman. People don't have to like what I do or agree with what I do because they don't have to live my life. I would much rather my daughter when she grows up, do what she wants to do because she wants to do it, not because of what someone else thinks." When asked about turning heel recently but still not getting booed, Sable pointed to her chest and said, "Why would they boo this?"
The idea with Jim Ross acting like a heel lately is because they want to transition him into being Steve Williams' manager and also because they're trying to transition Michael Cole into the new main announcer for Raw. However, Ross' promos had the opposite effect and got over huge and he got big cheers. So they've dropped the heel act but the plan is still for him to do the talking for Steve Williams and there's no plans for him to replace Michael Cole anytime soon.
Remember that hotel and casino that WWF bought in Las Vegas? Well, the plan is to tear it down and rebuild since the building isn't right for what they want (they want to be able to hold shows in it, but the structure isn't built for it). Anyway, whenever they do finally demolish it, there's been talk of turning it into a wrestling angle and having Austin press the button, with the storyline idea being that Austin just destroyed a multi-million dollar piece of property that Vince owns (didn't happen but that would have been awesome).
Someone writes in and chastises Dave for being so mean to WCW. The guy basically says, yeah WCW sucks right now but do you have to keep ridiculing them for it? Someone else writes in and shits all over Mick Foley, saying he's a glorified stuntman and doesn't belong in a wrestling ring and he hates this new era of jumping off cages and crashing through tables and all that stuff. He wishes someone with a lot of money would come along and promote wrestling the way it used to be in the good ol' days. He signs his name "Duane Mason" but I know a Jim Cornette letter when I see one!
MONDAY:WCW Uncensored fallout, a look at how many world titles Ric Flair has actually held, Shane Douglas and Flair take shots at each other in interviews, and more...
“I can't believe this is my eighth studio album and I know I keep telling you that it is my most personal record yet, but its true and I'm really proud of that”
This quote from The Legendary Miss Britney Spears would most likely haunt her for the rest of the career, especially because it came in the eve of the release of her infamous 2013 album Britney Jean, whose title anticipated a rare introspective look into a star with over a decade on the spotlight (most of the times for the wrong reasons)… also, it came right after her previous album, 2011’s Femme Fatale, became her first full-length effort without any songwriting input from the Princess of Pop, although a Japanese bonus track features a co-writing credit from her. Of course Britney Jean deserves most of the criticism it receives and yet, it also deserves way more than just being outright ignored even by most of Britney’s diehard fans: Britney Jean is more than just Work Bitch and 13 b-sides, is more than Brit’s most dated-on-arrival release… Britney Jean is a case study of what was pop in its time, what changed and why it stopped being as popular as it once was….
POP BEFORE BRITNEY JEAN
https://preview.redd.it/p5ecdbd9ce221.png?width=1500&format=png&auto=webp&s=d0662fd24b364cf6cf25b1961e9d15f98d9d39b6 Early 00s pop music was being left aside by the general public during the heydays of gangsta rap, Timbaland/Pharrell-infused R&B and rock/nu-metal… at least until around the period between 2007 and 2009, the start of the Golden Era for popheads: The anthemic choruses, the prominent synths, the light and care-free nature of the lyrics, everything was there to pump you up and make you dance… however everything would change in 2013, when streaming was finally introduced to the Billboard formula. After the satirical K-pop track Gangnam Style by Psy took the world by storm, it was noticed how in the United States the song was blocked from the top spot by the inconsequential One More Night by Maroon 5, even if Stylehad the lead in sales for most of the 12 weeks it stayed at the Top 10 (as you might have guessed, radio had something to do with that), pushing Billboard to update their methodology and add streaming to the mix. The first song that benefited from the change in the tracking methodology would prophetize what would come next for the charts in general: Harlem Shake, a nearly-instrumental meme song debuted at the top spot and stayed there for 6 weeks total. Another novelty song, Ylvis’ The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?) would visit the Top 10 later in the year based on virality alone. Although rap, indie music and more traditional pop music found their way during this year, the presence of outliers like Lorde’s Royals, genre-defying tracks like Avicii’s Wake Me Up! (a country/folk tinted EDM anthem) and Florida Georgia Lane’s Cruise (considered the grandfather of the bro-country genre, made popular on pop radio thanks to a tackled-on rap feature by Nelly), and the aforementioned viral hits not only showed that general audiences were craving something new, but their success would pave the way for a big change in pop music.
BRITNEY BEFORE BRITNEY JEAN
"Sometimes you don't need to use words to go through what you need to go through, sometimes it's an emotion you need to feel when you dance, that you need to touch. And the only thing that can touch it is when you move a certain way." Britney Spears on the For The Record documentary, one of the rare glimpses she gave us on her life before Britney Jean
Britney, of course, was partially a pioneer and a tail-rider of the maximalistic electro sound of the era, as proven by the influence and cult following of what most people consider her magnum opus, or at least her more direct and honest album, 2007’s Blackout, which is ironic considering that Britney only has two writing credits in the whole project and how even The Unstoppable Danja called it ‘impersonal’. After Blackout, Britney would continue to ride the same sonic palette with her follow-up, 2008’s Circus and then move onto Femme Fatale, which, in spite of its “forward-thinking” nature (as described by the label-appointed producer and current persona non grata Dr. Luke) and slick production, it was heavily criticized for its anonymity and lack of input of the singer in the record, which led to Britney to defend herself stating, rightfully, that she had nothing to prove.
THE MAKING OF A PERSONAL ALBUM
https://preview.redd.it/tzfh8fqsce221.jpg?width=600&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=2e7bf1a1a7f9469be632470e1d6bb53397ff2f62 The mastermind behind Britney Jean was none other than hitmaker will.i.am, whose involvement on the record came as a surprise to no one given how they have collaborated twice at that point and get along really well (you can read more about it in this post I made a couple of months ago), however, the Black Eyed Peas frontman doesn’t deserves all of the credit for the record as Britney herself decided that she would be more involved and had a pivotal role into the making of this record. Although the early stages of the album pointed towards a more hip-hop release, will.i.am’s involvement and her chemistry with Britney put her forward into the recording and making of the album. Realizing that she wanted a more straightforward release that wasn’t as bouncy and genre-hopping as her predecessors, Britney searched with will.i.am a series of collaborators that could help her bring her ideas to life, as she didn’t wanted to sing impersonal songs that her team just happened to receive; this, unfortunately, ruled out the involvement of the Saint Patron of pop production Max Martin, although it relegated Dr. Luke to a sole bonus track so that’s a win in my book. Britney Jean is her only release in which she’s credited as a co-writer in each track, including bonus tracks… her closest before that was In The Zone in which 9 of the 14 (including bonus) tracks sported a Britney co-write.
THE PERKS OF BEING A PERSONAL ALBUM
I have been through a lot in the past few years and it has really inspired me to dig deeper and write songs that I think everyone can relate to […] I want to show you the different sides of Britney Spears. I am a performer. I am a Mom. I am funny. I am your friend! I am Britney Jean. Britney Jean Spears
Britney has never been the kind of performer that would pour her soul into her lyrics, and even have occasionally distanced her private life from her lyrics (she famously rejected the Timberlake-bashing Sweet Dreams My LA Ex, later given to ex-S Club 7 member Rachel Stevens as her debut single), although in the few glimpses we have gotten from her real persona (the stunning Everytime and the dubious My Baby for example) have always leaved her fans with the idea of her getting more involved with the subject matter of the tracks… I mean, the exploration of fame in tracks like Circus and Piece of Me are great, but what about explorations of who is Britney? Britney Jean is her first album released in her 30s, and after finally deciding to get this involved in the songwriting department 15 years into her singing career was no fluke: chalk it up to coincidence, to the fact that it was long due given her background (Britney had lived A LOT of unwanted stuff during her career, married twice, had two kids, survived the most public mental breakdown unimaginable and more while being one of the most successful female performers currently working… also, that year she had ended her engagement with her manager Jason Trawick) or to misogyny (if you wanna go there) but female singers seems to go personal and/or mature in their 30s, with some popular examples including Madonna’s Like A Prayer (described by her as being "about my mother, my father, and bonds with my family"), Mariah Carey’s post-divorce genre-bender Butterfly (if her birth year is believed to be 1969), Beyoncé’s whole post-Matthew Knowles era (4 was released three months before she turned 30), Nicki Minaj’s back-to-my-roots release The Pinkprint and Katy Perry’s purposeful woke pop release Witness (Katy, I love you but 💀) among others. Another thing to consider is that doing “personal” songs have always being interpreted as tracks with stripped-away or piano-driven arrangement, something that Britney, who had sung about being on the club or having sex (or even both on the same track) so many times it kinda become her trademark, is not something she’s might get allowed to do, especially when the current-at-the-time pop scene and Britney’s then-current sound were a far cry from the kind of sound these “confessional” tell-all songs normally have.
(this was a real hashtag that was worldwide trending topic on Twitter in September 2013) With the anticipation of what a Britney-fied personal record would sound like, anticipation was in an all-time high among fans… so it was natural that her most introspective record would be anchored with an EDM song called Work Bitch. In Britney’s defense, will.i.am pointed out almost immediately how the braggadocio track didn’t represented the album but it was rather about Britney Spears herself. Promoted with what was heavily rumored to be a 6.5-million-dollars budgeted video which was supposedly heavily sanitized from its originally sexed-up original version (more on that later), the video itself represented most of the promotion the whole album received, as the album’s second and final single (Perfume) was left to rot in negligence after the album’s release. Outside of a couple of TV appearances (not performances, just interviews), including one to promote her then-upcoming “2-year” Las Vegas residency Britney Spears: Piece of Me, and an E! documentary about the making-of the album and said residency, no actual promotion took place for Britney Jean, which led to the inevitable.
BRITNEY UNLEASHES HER MOST “PERSONAL” ALBUM
https://i.redd.it/1no6q6iqce221.gif Britney Jean was unleashed to the world on December 3rd of 2013, one day after the Princess’ birthday, and was a big commercial disappointment, debuting at number 4 on Billboard with sales of 107,000 copies (a little bit more than a third of the sales of Femme Fatale), even lower than those of her debut album …Baby One More Time; 3 years after its release, BJhad sold less in the United States than FF in its opening week, although it was eventually certified Gold by the RIAA… this February. Internationally, the release didn’t fare any better and debuted at record-low positions for her releases in most international markets, including missing the Top 30 in the UK. As most of you already know, reviews we’re nasty all around, the worst of Britney’s career. Because of the somewhat mean content of some of those reviews, I would instead resume what are the biggest perks critics had with the release:
The album’s production (carried mostly by will.i.am protégé Anthony Preston, who hasn’t done anything ever since) was considered monotone, repetitive, dated, backward-thinking, overproduced and by-the-numbers. The album, full, on EDM beats and synthesizers, doesn’t really have that much of a breathing spot as there’s not that much of musical variety.
Lyrically, the album was considered a disappointment considered its nature as a “personal album”, with the lyricism being considered somewhat superficial given the self-titled naming and Britney’s hype surrounding the content itself.
Vocally, Britney Jean was ripped apart by critics and even some listeners. When the opening track’s autotune-less “warm up” vocal sessions leaked in 2014, critics complained about Britney’s (lack of) vocal talent and added fuel to the debate about wherever she’s actually talented at all, accusations that the song producer William Orbit dismissed.
SING A SONG OF SIXPENCE, MISS BRITNEY SPEARS
After one of the songs leaked ahead of the album’s release, there were accusations that backing vocalist Myah Marie (who had appeared on Brit’s previous two albums) was the lead singer not only on said leaked track but also in a large portion of the album (this is what she sounds like), accusations that Marie herself denied as well as Britney’s reps. Her representatives claimed that Marie wasn’t involved in neither Perfume nor Passenger, the tracks that were the source of most of the controversy, and ultimately she wasn’t credited in none of those songs, although she’s credited as a (not background) vocalist in several of the other tracks of the album (mostly the Preston-produced songs as Work Bitch, Tik Tik Boom, Til It's Gone, Chillin' With You and Now That I Found You), including Alien (in which she’s not credited), who had a vocal steam leak in 2014 which showcases how uncanny is Myah’s impression of Britney is. A credited background singer is Sia in her co-composed single Perfume, which was the source of a weird misstep when Britney was caught lip-syncing to a version of the song with Sia’s vocals forefront in the mix. A lot has been said about how Britney’s signature singing ‘baby’ voice is not her real one, how do they compare and how much damage has done to Brit’s current vocal chops, and even though she can still sing wherever she wants to, it’s quite obvious that she’s not that comfortable with it and, as such, she prefers to enhance her voice with the use of technology and some studio trickery… also, she might have gotten used to it considering how effortless and vivid were her earlier performances… here’sI’m A Slave 4 U at the 2001 VMAs just because how iconic it is.
BRITNEY JEAN… BY BRITNEY JEAN SPEARS
"People can take everything away from you, but they can never take away your truth. The question is: Can you handle mine?" Britney Spears in a song that’s not from this album and not originally from her
Described by critics as “a concept album about the loneliness of pop life”, Britney Jean actually open with quite a promise with Alien, a mid-tempo, melancholic, airy, ethereal dance pop opener that works as a more teenage-sounding version of Ray of Light, which is not surprising considering the involvement of said album’s mastermind (the aforementioned William Orbit) and that sonically picks-up where FF closer Criminal left off, but lyrically is quite different, as it portrays Britney having an intimate and personal realization that she, after years of tumultuous and erratic events, has lost grip of who she was and how she felt like an extraterrestrial in her own world; however she realizes that she’s not longer alone as she looks at the glow in the stars as a light to guide her home away from her insecurities of the past, and to feel safe and finally finding comfort in her true skin, as the chorus repeats the catchphrase ‘not alone’ “until it is pitchshifted up like a departing space ship” Originally intended to include Gaga in the song (and also supposed to be released as a single, which unfortunately didn’t happened), Alien was considered the conceptual and musical highlight of the project by critics, and is easily the most personal, vulnerable and my personal highlight of the project… which made everything that came afterward a hard pill to swallow. Before that, I can’t help to mention THE GLITCH (2:14 in the song), which was apparently, as everything wrong with music of the period, will.i.am’s fault. https://preview.redd.it/sqy5pdvjce221.jpg?width=1200&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=fc818c3624856731e041c2380840004b0c8edea6 Work Bitch (alternatively known in censored form as Work Work, or in the explicit version as Bitch Bitch) is a hard hitting EDM smasher and heavy mood-whiplash, which was definitely not co-written by Sebastian Ingrosso, in which Britney gently asks us (over a basic club beat which grows more overloaded as the song moves forward) is we want a hot body, an European luxury car (either a Bugatti, a Maserati or a Lambo skirrt skirrt skirrt) or to sip martinis while partying in a big mansion in France, only to disappoint us by calling us bitches and telling us to better work as if we were supermodels and she was RuPaul. WB is, if you wanna practice some mental gymnastics, more ‘personal’ than its given credit for, as Britney details how much benefits she gets from hustling all these years, and inviting us to dance with that smashing wall-of-sound-laden beat that drowns most of the track. Way more forward-thinking and exciting that everything that comes after it, WB has become somewhat of a new classic for the Princess of Pop, and is pretty much deserved of said designation. Perfume, co-written by Sia, is another album highlight (actually Britney’s favorite from the album) and one of the finest ballads of Brit’s late-catalogue. Written about her ex-fiancé Jason Trawick, the song deals with Britney’s insecurity about a current relationship, with Britney singing with some of her strongest vocals in years about how she believes that her partner is cheating on her and how she puts on her perfume in order to mark her territory. Released with a tie-in with her perfume Fantasy, the song kinda flopped worldwide and halted all of the promotion of the album, however it still remains (alongside the rawer Dreaming Mix, included as a bonus track) as one of the most interesting songs in 2010s Britney catalogue. The music video, directed by known troll and middling talented videomaker Joseph Khan, has an unreleased director’s cut in which the straightforward concept of a cheating partner is changed to that of Britney playing the Angelina Jolie role in a gone-wrong version of Mr. and Mrs. Smith sans the boyfriend who is also an assassin. It Should Be Easy finds Britney’s voice drown in both the auto-tune setting used by Kanye for the Runaway coda and the vocals of guest-star will.i.am in the chorus, all while produceco-writer David Guetta rehashes Swedish House Mafia (which originally broke up the same year in which BJ was released). The song, about Britney imagining a bright-normal-future with a man who had stolen her heart, stating that love “shouldn't be complicated”. Although I like this song, and her team obviously likes it to as it commissioned remixes to be serviced to clubs, it signals when things start to go somewhat downhill. Tik Tik Boom, the T.I.-assisted fifth track, was always dubbed as a potential third single (remixes were commissioned but nothing official ever came up), and it’s not hard to see why: as one of her rare collaborations with a rapper, the static-y, dance-floor ready production presents Britney teasing a male partner with a night of… well… tik tik boom… that means sex, doing so while serving some circa-2001 sexy vocals as T.I. raps about treating her like an animal up to the point that PETA (which hates Britney) should be called in response. It’s fast, it’s straightforward and yet, it’s kinda forgettable and also very disappointing coming from or Princess Urbanney. Guetta comes back with Body Ache, another outdated EDM bop in which Brit (accompanied by vocoder and several dozens of vocal distortion treatments) sings about the kind of ‘I wanna dance so hard it gonna turn you on’ anthem which Miss Spears can do on her sleep, with a backtrack that sounds straight out of the EDM will.i.am was doing with the Peas during the Beginning/E.N.D. era. Also it ends in a somewhat anticlimactic way. Personal Britney makes a return with this track that wouldn’t be too out of place in FF: The Guetta co-written Til It’s Gone, in which Brit realizes that, after losing the love of her life (Trawick), her life would never be the same, or how “you never know what you got 'til it's gone”. Coming some two years to late sonically, in terms of lyrics the track it’s another story, as some interesting imagery pops here and there and it’s nice to leave the dance floor behind, especially when talking about a woman who (at least in the previous albums) rarely shut up about them. Katy Perry arrives on the record but not as a feature, but as a writer, in the Diplo-produced, Sia-co-written and Prism outtake Passenger, in which some interesting EDM beats moves out of the way after the opening (they come back, don’t worry) to reveal a refreshing and very welcome electropop rock song with some great Britney vocals about letting someone to guide her after she’s willing to let herself be his ‘passenger’. Great lyrics, daring production, good vocal performance… it’s not hard to see why critics loved this track so much, and it’s a shame it gets buried among so much underwhelming stuff. https://preview.redd.it/hkdoktqmce221.jpg?width=970&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=b349cd2e99a44dc732760b6f131be7dc3be1da38 Chillin’ with You, the album’s most infamous moment, finds Britney dueting with her sister, ex-Nickelodeon star and attempted country singer Zoey Meredith Brooks, about hanging out together and drinking wine (Brit likes red, Chase Matthews' ex likes white wine) while, as the southern white suburban moms they are, they feel they have nothing else to worry about. Although the lyrics are… well… cute, and the subject matter is decidedly novel by Britney’s standards, the mixture of country and EDM doesn’t mash as well as the producers might had expected… also, the fact that their vocals were so obviously recorded in different sessions (as showed by the kind of chemistry you only see in cheesy 70s movies starring John Travolta and Lily Tomlin) makes the whole ordeal so surreal. The album closer in the standard edition is Don’t Cry, a FUCK YOU MR. TRAWICK song in which Britney reassures his man that it’s not worthy to cry as their relationship was always directed to end no matter what they do, and how she’s gonna go to not see him all tear eyed. The bouncy but subdued dubstep back track by pop goblin and producer will.i.am enhances what is arguably Britney’s best vocals in the whole album and some really nice lyrics which still doesn’t work as an album closer. Sia comes back in the first bonus track of the deluxe edition, Brightest Morning Star, and she brings with her current pop Pariah (that would be Dr. Luke, but he’s only in this track) to the mix, on a track about God (or maybe about her kids, according to Dr. Puke), or at least one that implies to be one; in Sia’s words: ‘Britney was extremely sweet. She came in with the title ‘Brightest Morning Star’ and told me that’s how Jesus found his way. She wanted to write a kind of gospel song that wasn’t ramming it down your throat’. Despite the good intentions, BGS is no Jesus Walks and it gets short in the musical department, with a surprisingly weak instrumental which doesn’t do any good service to the song. Britney continues her religious quest with Hold on Tight, a mid-tempo ballad that in which Miss Spears details how God comes into her dreams (or it might be an Incubus?) showing her the path to righteousness, even when the road is not as friendly with her, and… to be honest, this is my least favorite song on the album, it’s just so forgettable even if it’s quite refreshing in the context of BJ. To end the evening, Britney continues her unintentional audition to become a gospel singer with Now That I Found You, a shameless EDM track (with early-10s euphoric drop and everything) about how incomplete she was until she found Him (to be honest, this could also be another love song, but after two bonus tracks about God it’s easy to see where she was pointing towards with the vague lyrics) and how everything is better now. Unlike the forgettable predecessors, NTIFY is fun (dated? Sure… but also fun), it’s bright, it’s colorful, it’s happy, and one of my favorite songs on the record… even if co-writer Guetta basically ripped off his own hit Without You from 3 years before.
Britney Jean is not an autobiography, it’s not a tell-all gossip-venting machine, it’s a clean, overproduced product of misdirection and lack of focus… and yet it’s actually fascinating in several ways: it’s arguably the greatest resume you would find of how pop music sounded in between 2008 and 2013, it’s a great bridge between the impersonal heavily-polished Femme Fatale and the serviceable and engaging Glory, which saw Britney leading the way on how everything would sound from the start. It’s quite ironic how the album’s naming (taking a cue from Janet Jackson’s Damita Jo, her actual middle name) plays against it, as self-titled releases (unless they are debut albums) are associated with being in control of your output or reinventions (pop examples includes Paramore as their first release as a trio, Beyoncé to fit the minimalistic sounds and Janet Jackson’s janet. to showcase independence from the Jackson family) and unless you’re Led Zeppelin, Peter Gabriel or Weezer, the idea of having a second eponymous release usually means that audiences should expect to experience the performer in a never-seen before way. 2001’s Britney was the album that give a meaning to the phrase “I’m not that innocent” spurred in her previous effort, with lyrics talking about womanhood and sexuality being complemented with R&B vibes and rock/hip-hop elements. Britney Jean, when compared to Femme Fatale, is way behind the difference between Britney and Oops!... I Did It Again, which in retrospective is even worse as the relative freshness and reinvention of Glory leaves the ‘openness’ and ‘variety’ of BJ in shambles. One of the album’s biggest mistakes is in its sequencing: the first three tracks are the obvious highlights, the next three are basically DOA EDM songs, the next four are the most “adventurous” musically speaking and the bonus tracks are all about God. Taking out some of the ‘pure club’ anthems could theoretically create an album more deserving of its ‘personal’ label, going full Spinal Tap and amp up the production values to do something crazier might have given us something that was at least digestible in a single listening. The album, as it is, is not perfect, but it’s far from the dumpster fire more people called it, including some of the most interesting Britney songwriting in years (or even her career) and some tracks that are already started to show signs of cult classic. The only positive thing most people seems to agree with is how short it is: with the alternative mix of Perfume included, BJ is ‘only’ 50 minutes long (the standard edition is just 36 minutes long), which is something most performers (even today) seems to struggle with. Also, she didn’t came to play games with the art cover and aesthetics this era, the album cover and the booklet is her most gorgeous to date, with the former having her most flattering front picture of any of her albums and the neon typography creating a very pleasing contrast with her elegant black-and-white imagery (in the deluxe edition) or the elegantly, milky pastel coloring of the standard edition.
THERE CAN BE 100 LISTENERS IN THE ROOM AND 99 LEAVE BUT ONE... - BRITNEY JEAN THE DAY IT DEBUTED
https://preview.redd.it/hpjl86hfce221.jpg?width=1024&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=a01c8129a31203474b2bafbc17ea994d5f83e132 Britney and her team gave up quite easily on Britney Jean and, honestly, they shouldn’t be blamed: the offer to have a Vegas Residency with a salary of $15 million dollars per year seems like the kind of offer a pop star and mother of two with enough money already for several timelines would accept, with the album itself being more of an afterthought. Britney was originally slated to remain on the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino for two years but ultimately extended her run for another two years, before finally touring overseas (without an album attached to the performances) during 2017 and 2018. Because of the lack of promotion, Britney Jean underperformed when compared to Miss Spears’ previous releases, with estimated worldwide sales (as of April 2018) being close to 1.3 million copies, less than a third of Femme Fatale’s sales. Truth be told, BJ flopped hard… HOWEVER, not everything would have turned out that terrible (not even in a million years it would have sold as much a FF but at least the downfall could have been smaller) with some actual promotion and interest from Brit herself.
SOME REACHING… I MEAN… THE SIGNIFICANCE OF BRITNEY JEAN
BJ is, in my opinion, a compilation of the era, the resume of “in the previous episode of” that you get on serialized TV shows, a farewell to the bombastic era of synth-heavy EDM club anthems with gratuitous drops and interchangeable lyrics. During the genre’s opus, some performers tried to bend this sound (and their equivalents) to their benefit, either mixing it with their style or playing with the boundaries of the sound: it could be a Taylor Swift doing a We Are Never Getting Back Together to get a broad crossover hit, a Lady Gaga mixing multiple genres to create a sonically complex pastiche called Born This Way, or even straight-up jumping almost seamlessly from rap/R&B to club bangers like Nicki Minaj did in Roman Reloaded. Britney in Britney Jean did almost the opposite of that. Britney Jean is, in some ways, a time capsule of the era in its rawest and purest form (some might differ and replace those buzzwords with generic and bland), with the average user being able to trace mostly any track to a style, influence, sub-genre or even performer. Listening to BJ is like watching a 70s movie in VHS in an old, square TV, basically an unintentional period piece that reflects the volatile, bombastic and extravagant style of those golden years of 2008-2013, which, within the mindset of Britney Jean sounds kinda tired and bland, surprising no one when that branch of pop went back into obscurity and irrelevance almost as fast as grunge music did when Kurt Cobain died. Britney Jean came up in a time of transition of popular music, with streaming showing the kind of power it had on the charts and more subdued, minimalistic music taking the world by storm. Popular music, as you might already noticed, evolved into a slower, more melodic, calculated, numb, almost anticlimatic entity which was more fitting with our current social and political climate. To paraphrase Todd in the Shadows: 2013 had a hit literally called Happy and 2018 had both a hit called SAD! and another called Happier with a video about a dog that dies. In terms of Britneyology (both the study of Britney Spears and the religion dedicated to her persona), BJ is also a glimpse into Britney the full-fledged artist. Britney has never been the kind of performer that gets heavily involved into her music, with Britney’s role being generally limited to the choice of songs, sequencing, development of sounds and themes with her assigned team of writers and producers, and performing of course; sometimes Britney gets involved into the heavier portions of her music (the classic Everytime is a great example of it) but most of the time she remains quite anonymous, with her voice and choice being overwritten by the men on charge, something that became quite apparent during and after the Dark Ages (2004-2008) with the cancelling of the legendary Original Doll, her lack of songwriting credits in both Blackout and Circus, and her much-criticized anonymity in Femme Fatale. BJ was Britney deciding who does want to work with, what does she wants to sing and even how to equilibrate her musical and visual persona. Britney has always being in control of how is she portrayed on official media, most famously rejecting an animated concept for the video of …Baby One More Time in favor of a Lolita-inspired take on catholic school girls, and then the slow process from jailbait to grownup woman. During the post-production of the Work Bitch video, she clashed with director Ben Mor over the kind of content the video should show, as she was a mother in her 30s now instead of an unreachable male gaze fantasy. With BJ, the Legendary Miss Britney Spears showed us how much she has changed since that controversial 2003/2004 period (the last time she was that involved with an album) in which she received the Kiss of Death from Madonna, suffered her infamous accident and, of course, married twice in a calendar year. This new Britney was a much-different person, and her voice deserved to be heard, and even if the results weren’t the greatest, it was a step into the right director for Britney to get what she always wanted: being a full-fledged artist capable of taking her own decisions and learning from her mistakes.
POP AFTER BRITNEY JEAN
https://preview.redd.it/382f3hucce221.png?width=1500&format=png&auto=webp&s=b270179e2de3c085b7dd38ea838588f2f45d9e4b Coincidentally in 2014 most of the ambassadors of the dominant pop sound of the early 10s were either taking a musical break, flopping or changing lanes, so that year paved the way for the transition of what do we define as popular music, with the winners of the evolution race being trap (Fetty Wap’s Trap Queen), meme music from awful people (Bobby Shmurda’s Hot Nathans) or untalented losers (T-Wayne’s Nasty Freestyle, Silentó’s Watch Me), trop pop (OMI’s Cheerleader, Justin Bieber’s entire Purpose era) or whatever outlier track dared to pass through those filters. What happened afterwards is a horror story most of popheads tells in fire camps a la Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Summary of Pasquale Rotella's AMA -- Questions & Answers inside!
Questions and answers (and follow up questions and answers) below! I will be updating this until it's a full record of the Q&A, as well as any that Pasquale feels like answering later tonight. AMA Link here
Q: Will you be walking around during edc orlando interacting with fans?Link
A: It's something that I love to do and always find time for. Hope we cross paths at EDC Orlando!
Q: What are your plans for fixing the insane wait times (4-8hrs) and under-utilization of speedway roadways for campEDC check-in? also on the topic of campEDC, is there a plan sell RV pumpout/fresh water passes ONLINE alongside the RV camping pass purchase? (the wait at the general store was brutal.....). Maybe have 2 general stores if online purchase isn't an option?Link
A: Last year's wait times were unacceptable. Fixing that and other processes is one of our main focuses for Camp EDC. We've had many planning meetings just about this. We will have a revised entrance plan that includes more lanes with more people working, check-in staff will be more experienced, and we'll have better processes all around without sacrificing the safety of you, the Headliner. We're also extending check-in hours to spread out the traffic ingress.
Q: Can we have a Pasquale DJ Set at EDC or any insomniac events?Link
A: No plans this year but I'd like to dust off my crates as soon as I get time.
Q: What ever happened to the giant electric Daisy 🌼 and will it ever return????Link
A: I loved that daisy, the artists did an amazing job! I have imagined bringing it back many times. Thank you for the motivation to work on it. No guarantees though as it was a collaboration between Insomniac and the artist troop that we commissioned the piece with. I will definitely reach out to them and work on it!
Q: Out of all your festivals, what has been your favorite stage design?Link
A: The kineticFIELD Cathedral but that might change after next years EDC.
Q: What is your ultimate favorite EDM genre? Also, your ultimate favorite artist (that you never get sick of)?Link
A: I bounce around a lot and can’t listen to only one genre of dance music, but I do gravitate towards drum and bass, house, techno, and I’m also really loving a lot of the bass house that’s coming out right now. I would say CamelPhat, Redlight, Dombresky and Fisher are the guys are the guys that I’ve been playing in my car for the last couple days.
Q: Can you give a clue as to who is headlining DOTD?Link
A: It's ZEFINITELY gonna be fun.
AP2: Oh, and we're dropping the lineup today at 4:30. Keep an eye out!
Q: Would you ever consider making a second part, that included some more stories and more experiences? If so, how would one get cast? Also bring back EDC ColoradoLink
A: I think one day we will do it again. No plans on how we would cast it and no plans for an EDC in Denver although we do love it there.
Q: What change are you most excited about for EDC 2019?Link
A: There is not any one change that gets me excited, improving all aspects of the event is the most exciting goal. I'm always looking to improve and make things better. Camp EDC is a focus, new stages, new lineup, new art, creative aspects we've been working on that finally come to fruition, better processes, better logistics, and just an overall better experience. It's all equally important to me.
A: We weren't going to be able to produce and event that measured up to our standards when it comes to experience and safety. If anyone has a unique situation where they've been effected beyond just having to get a ticket refund, I'd like to know more about it personally. Please have them email [email protected] and in the subject line write Sacred Valley/Reddit AMA. Myself or another Insomniac will get back to them. I can't guarantee that we can satisfy everyone, but we will do our best.
Q: Are there any plans to bring EDC back to Europe?Link
A: Yes, I'm excited to say I'm in the middle of planning that now
Q: I found out that my mother in law used to be close to the Insomniac family. She was mamá Irene's hairdresser and claims she taught her how to DANCE🕺 She said she used to be best friends with your sister Nicole. Do you remember Dimpna?Link
A: My mom was very social, loved to get her hair did, and she was always trying to learn new dance moves. She did have some of her own as well. I don’t recall meeting Dimpna, but that doesn’t mean much because my mom would introduce me to fifty new people every time I was with her.
Q: Serious question, are all the stage names and/or designs all related to Physics? For example, Kinetic field- kinetic energy is the energy of motion (people dancing). Circuit grounds, the stage had large screens all around with bars connecting each screen(like a circuit). Quantum valley, a bunch of box shaped screens on stage and the quani’s movement was first discovered in a box. Am I crazy or am I catching on to something?Link
A: You're catching on to something and maybe you should work here!
Q: How are experiences going to differ from GA+ and VIP this year?Link
A: We wanted to introduce a midway point between GA and VIP. GA+ elevates your festival experience with expedited, dedicated GA+ entry and special access to premium, air-conditioned restrooms. We're always pushing to enhance the VIP experience every year and VIP amenities can be found at edclasvegas.com/VIP.
Q: Hi Pasquale have you considered doing an EDC Passport for all the EDC’s in a year?Link
A: We're planning something super unique that we’ve never done before, and I’m very excited to announce it before the end of the year. It includes what you’re describing and much, much more.
Q: Would one be able to refund their EDC ticket or pay the remaining balance between their EDC ticket and said potential 'Passport'?
A: The program is still being developed so I don't want to dive too deep into details, but anything we do will not apply to EDC Las Vegas 2019.
A: They will be evenly spread out along the strip and downtown. Most will be the same as last year, with the exception of Tropicana, but we are working on a replacement for the south strip as well as adding more locations.
Q: I have been taking my 60 year old mother to EDC the past two years now, this upcoming EDC will be her third! She absolutely loves it! Besides ADA accessibility do you have plans to help accommodate older ravers? Example: she had a hard time walking to the shuttles/parking lots and we did not want to spend $40 for someone to bike us out to our shuttle/car. I would love to see insomniac help older ravers during those times.Link
A: First of all, I love you for bringing your Mom to the festival! I want to see more generations enjoying this beautiful culture and community. I welcome all ideas on how we can encourage and support all the seasoned ravers who want to continue attending our events. If you have ideas hit us up at [email protected].
Q: Is there anything you wish you could offer or provide your event attendees that isn't possible currently?Link
A: The ability to help them with real life problems, but I'm working on it!
Q: How far in advance is EDC planned? Like does Insomniac already have a theme set for say the next 5 EDCs or do you all just kind of go with the flow?Link
A: There is a flow to what we do but we definitely plan in advance. We started planning EDC Vegas 2019 before 2018 even happened.
Q: Do you already have big surprises planned for EDC 2019? If so, can you give even the slightest hint of what we're in store for?Link
A: Yes, there are many surprises! Right now, just because I was working on it earlier this morning, I have to say the kineticFIELD stage might be the most epic stage we’ll have in the history of EDC.
A: I want Middlelands back but we can't bring it back unless we have the right venue. I'm never gonna give up, I'm not giving up on that. We're going to find a venue we just haven't found it yet.
Q: What’s your favorite part about edc even after so many years?Link
A: How much value it brings to people's lives
Q: How many total fireworks do you set off over the 3 days?Link
A: Over the course of three nights, around 15,000 fireworks are shot off.
Q: During security check at festivals, a lot of the security guards have been groping and using unethical forms of search. How can we protect ourselves from this?Link
A: We take this issue very, very seriously, and we ask that anyone who experiences something like this immediately take note of the guard's jacket number and reach out to a supervisor or an Insomniac staff member to make us aware. You can also reach out to me on my personal socials and our Insomniac socials. We're always listening.
Q: Any chance to get the DJs from my hay day such as Richard Vision, DJ Irene, Bad Boy Bill, just to name a few?Link
A: If you want to check out DJ Irene, she's actually playing the Freshjive event going on at Bodega this Saturday which we're involved with and supporting!
Q: What is one thing at EDC that you think most attendees miss out on during the 3 days there? Or what is something every attendee should do while at EDC?Link
A: I think one of the things people are missing out on is Camp EDC. Aside from the entrance experience that is going to be fixed, the energy and vibe there was so unique and I was really excited about it. At EDC itself, I would say checking out the nooks and crannies like the saloon and the live band in there. Of course, seeing an amazing DJ at the big stages is cool but I really think looking out for artists you've never heard of or up-and-coming DJs is something everyone should do.
Q: I've been to Nocturnal 3 times, and it definitely is my favorite festival, the camping experience makes everything better. That being said, I've never been to Camp OG till this year. It blew my mind! It felt like a 90s rave (from what I've seen in videos of old raves) and some jungle, dnb and breakbeats after the rave feels sooooo freaken good. Why isn't Camp OG promoted a little more?Link
A: Thanks for sharing your experience. I also love those guys. They're the first group of people that supported Insomniac and have been loyal supporters since 1993. It very much does have that old-school vibe. We don't promote it because it's renegade and underground. Stumbling on it is part of the fun, and there's no guarantee that anything will be going on at any given time.
Q: Are there any plans to update EDC's streaming coverage? It is pretty unsatisfying to see 15-30 minutes of a set and feel that limiting it to two or three stages permanently would be far better viewer experience than getting chopped up sets. If you do go that route, Neon Garden has to be one of them!Link
A: We are planning to do multiple channels which will allow multiple stages and full sets to be streamed
Q: What are your thoughts on having drug test kits available at your events?Link
A: I’ve actually had DanceSafe at our events a while back, but when the venue, the local authorities, and the insurers are opposed to it, you won’t have that city or location as an option. It’s already hard enough to find venues where I can organize events. Unfortunately some people view partnering with DanceSafe or other harm reduction groups as endorsing drug use rather than keeping people safe, and that can prevent producers from getting locations and organizing events.
Q: What type of team does it take to put together an event on this scale? Who designs your amazing stages year after year?Link
A: There are about 100 Insomniacs here in the office working on the festival year-round, but we actually subcontract out thousands of staff during the festival. I personally work on all of the stages with the creative department here at Insomniac HQ and we also collaborate with outside artists, which changes from year to year depending on the stage and event.
Q: My group and I will be first time EDC attendees in 2019, do you have any tips for us?Link
A: Wear comfy shoes, stay hydrated, plan a meeting spot with your crew, and dress up to contribute to the atmosphere (that's always appreciated). When you walk through the gates imagine walking through a portal that allows you to leave all judgement behind and open your heart, be your best self, and put out the best energy you have.
Q: Is it a possibility artists can use their own visuals on Kinetic this year?Link
A: It's always possible. We've done that before and it's better when its a collaboration so it's not a bunch of flashing logos and instead it is art that ties into the stage and theme.
Q: How would I go about trying to get my foot in the door with Insomniac?Link
A: I appreciate you having interest in working at Insomniac. When there are job openings, they become available on Insomniac.com. In addition, there are also opportunities with on-site teams including Ground Control, Customer Experience, and our Merchandise department. Keep an eye out for more information!
Q: Can you consider having more places to sit and relax at EDC? There seemed to be only one local area with picnic tables and fake grass but it was pretty filthy and limited in seating.Link
A: I agree with you about the cleanliness of Carnival Square. We're demanding that the clean-up company we used last year perform better. If you're looking to chill, the art areas on either side of cosmicMEADOW are awesome. And one of the best views in the house is on the grandstands where there are lots of seats.
Q: I am devastated to hear about you and Holly. You two were the “goals” couple hands down. What is the best relationship advice would you give?Link
A: Thank you for the nice note. I hope that Holly and I can still inspire people to have amazing relationships even when they change. She is one of my best friends and you’ll still be seeing us roaming the grounds at EDC Las Vegas. Honesty, communication, and a strong connection are all things that support healthy relationships.
Q: What do you do now for fun that you did as a child?Link
A: Surf, rave, sleep, and eat.
Q: What is a food/drink you HAVE to have at least once a week?
A: Mint chip ice cream.
Q: When are you gonna headline the mainstage at EDCLV?
A: That's super flattering but I don't ever see myself headlining MainStage .Maybe on an art car one year.
Q: What do you think your kids will listen to when they get older?
A: I feel like my kids will listen to a little bit of everything because they're exposed to so many different kinds of music that they wont limit themselves.
Q: What would you do if they liked country?
A: I would take them to Stagecoach and on the way we'd continue to listening to Night Owl Radio.
Q: Favorite movie?
A: There is so many but off the top of my head I like the original Dogwtown movie, Boogie Nights, The Godfather, The Breakfast Club, Braveheart, Saving Private Ryan, Back to the Future, Casino, and so many more
A: My first rave was in 1991 in downtown Los Angeles on Oak Street in a place called La Casa. I didn't know the name of it because I didn't even know where the hell I was going. My friends took me!
Q: Would you ever consider bringing back a seperate stage for the discovery project like in 2014?Link
A: We will do this again, no plans right now. At EDC, we still have an art car that hosts these artists for a night.
Q: Last year you mentioned some form of Insomniac Production museum filled with stuff from the events. Any update on that?Link
A: Still working on it. It's one of many goals and it's going to be a while. I envision the museum being at a permanent festival site and that's not easy to come by, we're always looking for a potential place.
Q: I loved that you guys added a green laser above rainbow row. It was beautiful. But why not take it up a notch, and have a laser show at the top of the hour? Maybe Lasers from different directions/places in the speedway will overlap the entire venue. This could probably be during fireworks tooLink
A: Thanks for the creative suggestion! It sounds like something we could really have fun with and we’ll definitely explore this.
Q: How do you plan on expanding from the success of the shuttles this year?Link
A: Thank you for sharing. I'm so glad to hear the experience was better for you. The plan is to continue to push forward and enhance things that have room to be better. If there's something specific you believe we could improve upon, I'd love to hear about it.
Q: Who are your top 5 favorite artists to book?Link
A: I’m grateful for any artist being there who we know will put their heart and soul into their set and rock the stage. Some characters that stand out to me are Fisher, Zomboy, Carl Cox and Tiësto.
Q: Will we ever see Insomniac return to Texas?Link
A: We love Texas! There are no events planned right now, but we'll stop by with something every so often.
Q: Is there any sort of timeline when we might see a redesign for Wasteland?Link
A: Next year will be the last year we use that particular centerpiece where the DJ performs. We will reconfigure the containers and there will be some enhancements, but it's not going to get a new design until 2020.
Q: How come DNB has been slowly phased out of festivals? It used to get its own stage and now we’re lucky to have 5 artists for a 2 day event. And they’re all on early in the night. Why don’t we get the same range of artists as the other genres?Link
A: I am a huge fan of drum and bass and continue to push it at the festivals. The reason why there’s not as many artists as I would like and not always playing at peak times of the festival is because when we’ve done it, the turnout is low. You drum and bass heads should posse up and support and when we see it’s packed for them, we will add more artists and give them even better time slots.
Q: What do you think will be the next big thing in terms of productions at festivals? The fire, smoke, fireworks, fountains, and lights all tap into our senses and I'm curious what could be used additionally to create a total immersion at events.Link
A: Technology is changing but Insomniac is always keeping an eye out for what's next. We've explored VR, AR, and holograms, and we'll continue to feature those technologies in impactful ways. We're always looking for new ideas and new ways to enhance the experience. All I know is, EDC Las Vegas 2030 isn't going to look like EDC Las Vegas 2020!
Q: What do you guys look for in new artists that are trying to play EDC Las Vegas 2019?Link
A: We’re looking for artists who have the skillset to produce amazing tracks on their own as well as a sound that is unique from what other artists are doing. It’s always a bonus if they’ve already put themselves out there and people in the dance music community are excited to see them.
Q: Is it possible to create a no fly zone for Helicopters over the campground this year?Link
A: Thanks for making me aware! That sounds pretty annoying. We'll talk to the FAA and Nellis Air Force Base and see what we can do.
Q: What would you say was your biggest success last EDCLV?Link
A: I was very happy with the improvements to the shuttle operation and my negotiation with Mother Nature definitely paid off. Although there were challenges, I was happy with Camp EDC and the way the Kinetic Love stage turned out. With that said, everything can always be better.
Q: I’ve been going to EDC for years now and I absolutely loved the stage designs in 2013. The giant caterpillar at Beyond, the grim reaper at Escape, and the giant owl opening up at EDC with all the flowers and mushrooms around it. Would you ever bring anything like that back?Link
A: Those are some of my favorite stages, too. There are certain things that limit what we can do, but we'll surprise you with new stuff all the time.
Q: Is there any chance of actually doing a live VR experience for headliners at home? I heard this was a possibility a year or two ago, but what ever happened with it?Link
A: We’re still closely watching how the technology advances but I don’t feel that it’s there just yet to really have it to be a main focus, but we’ll continue to watch.
Q: Will the megastucture ever come back? Can Quantum Valley be in the megastructure? Can Neon Garden be a tent again? Will there ever be valet parking again? Can the bars start selling whole bottles of wine? Can beers please not be $15 each?Link
A: First off, I love you. Keep spittin' those question! Maybe the megastructure will come back, but not as the circuitGROUNDS. quantumVALLEY has been considered but that's not the plan for right now. We're trying something else. Before considering going back to a tent for neonGARDEN, we're looking at making 2018's experience better. There were a lot of logistical challenges with valet at EDC, so until those are figured out that's not something we'll be offering. I haven't asked the venue if they have the ability to sell boxed or large containers of wine, but that's an interesting idea. We don't set the prices for food and beverage at EDC Las Vegas. I always ask the Speedway to bring the prices down -- and will continue to ask -- but it's difficult because we don't operate that aspect of the festival.
A: We use third party ticket agencies that charge fees for their services to cover the cost of their expenses which include staff being on hand to support your purchases and making sure the website doesn’t crash. There’s also taxes and handling associated with each order that have to be covered. I hope this answers your question!
Q: What is your most memorable encounter with a fellow headliner?Link
A: I have so many! The most recent would be my phone call to a father and daughter that participated in #myedcmoments. Hearing their stories made me tear up it was so heartwarming. It felt really good to make sure they're going to be able to attend EDC Las Vegas 2019. I'm actually going to be posting that video soon. Look out for it.
Q: Any chance on having craft beer at any of the San Bernardino events?Link
A: The food and drink experience is very different from one venue to another, and some venues need more improvement than others. Whether that's pricing, variety, or quality, I agree it can all be better. The challenge is that venues usually dictate/operate this side of the festival experience. I am constantly pushing them to be better -- and there have been improvements -- but the progression is slow. I will continue pushing because I want you to be able to enjoy a quality brewski...and much more.
Q: Quick question, my dad tried surprising me with my EDC ticket this year by purchasing the early release tickets (which was awesome!) but he didn't really know what he was doing and accidentally purchased GA+ not knowing there was a difference. How do we change that to a regular GA pass so he's not over spending on what I'll be using?Link
A: Please reach out to support.frontgatetickets.com to inquire about making a switch!
Q: Are the CampEDC tickets separate from the regular tickets? If so, do the camp tickets have layaway plan as well? Will last years be the same as this years (I’ve read the CampEDC thread and just want to be sure).Link
A: Hello! EDC tickets go on sale Friday, with Camp EDC info, pricing, and tickets coming later. EDC tickets and Camping Packages will be sold separately. We recommend getting your EDC ticket early, and planning for camping to go on sale at a later date. Layaway plans will be available for both tickets and camping.
Q: Do we get hooked up with tickets for posting our edc moments on reddit?Link
A: Share your #MyEDCMoments on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook!
Q: The Camp EDC pool party was epic! Any changes you’re considering or anything you thought could have been better? Camping again without a doubt. Loved it!Link
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