Wednesday, June 19, 2013

HARDCORE PAWN, Episode Ten: Big Bets, 'Major Savings' and Naked Guy

"In the heart of Detroit's 8 Mile lies the city's biggest and baddest pawn shop...."

I am Michiganian by birth, Detroiter by heart. I spent more than 30 years in the Automotive Capital of Earth, became a man and a professional there, so shows that are set in Detroit or attempt to capture a slice of life in the Motor City are especially dear to me.

Hardcore Pawn is an amazingly successful, largely unsung Detroit TV wonder. Shot inside the now-iconic American Jewelry and Loan on Eight Mile Road, Hardcore Pawn is truTV's most consistently successful series: its season seven premiere last March 26 drew the cable channel's largest audience ever in the coveted demo of adults 18-49. It's basic cable's No. 1 unscripted program in its 9 p.m. (EST) Tuesday time slot, spawned a spinoff series in Hardcore Pawn: Chicago and, if it weren't for the unbelievably whacked-out string of belligerent, ignorant, foulmouthed customers it spotlights, would be a continuing source of pride for Detroiters.

Moreover, I have grown to know series stars Les and Seth Gold and Ashley Gold Broad personally. I've written several stories on the family-owned business, including this feature for HOUR Detroit magazine. I've even patronized the place: the wristwatch I wear every day was purchased at American Jewelry and Loan. So for its lucky seventh season, I've selected Hardcore Pawn as a series to review here on a weekly basis. Here's a recap of Episode Ten, aired on June 18:

Before we go to this week's episode, first we have BREAKING NEWS: Les Gold tells TMZ that for the right price, he would purchase the poop-filled diapers of Kim Kardashian's baby if he could make a (very) fast turnaround for profit!

Or something like that. You know how TMZ loves to ambush people with stupid questions. Anyway, here's the video, from the TMZ website:


The reality that everybody except network TV programmers seems to understand jumped up and bit me in the backside: When you break up a show's string of new episodes with several weeks of reruns, viewers drift away. They forget. They fall out of their routine.

So it was that when truTV interrupted the flow of our favorite pawn-shop series a few weeks, I ended up missing the coverage of a first-run episode or two. Or three. Hey, I got busy. Sorry. So before we take a close look at this week's show, allow me to bring the Hardcore Pawn storyline up to date.

Les strikes a handshake deal with Gary, a watch broker with whom he'd done business before, to walk out the door of American Jewelry and Loan with a $50,000 Breitling wristwatch (negotiated down to $42,500) he was to show to an interested buyer. He left Les with an IOU scrawled on the back of a business card.

Ashley and Seth, to no one's surprise, assault their dad with howls of outrage, but Les uses the deal as a teaching moment: you have to have trust in your fellow businesspeople, he explains. Gary will be back the next day with the money, as he promised, and a high-end item will be off our sales floor.

(Side note: While this is going on, the backwoods witless wonder in Episode Seven who pulled merchandise off the showroom floor, tried to sell it back to Les, then called Les a "bucktoothed, bald-headed m----r f----r" when he wouldn't take the bait, catapulted himself into the pantheon of Top 5 Best Customer Ejections of the Year. See below.)

Of course, Gary becomes the Invisible Man. He's going out of town on business, he'll get back to Les soon, don't worry about the watch or the money. The Critical Kids are giving Dad major league grief. Security chief Byron announces that a big delivery has arrived for Les, who's unavailable, and asks Seth to sign for it.

Why, it's Gary's payment for the watch. Not in cash, but in kind – 40,000 watchbands!

Credit: Mark Hill/Turner
As Seth and Ashley prepare their sharpest insults and scramble to find a dunce cap for Dad, Les remains unbowed: Surveying boxes filled with watchbands stacked two stories high, he reasons that if he sells them all at $2 apiece, he'll walk away with a handsome profit for the Breitling. He becomes obsessed with doing just that and sticking his kids' wisecracks down their throats, going so far as to dress  dependable Bobby J in a sandwich board and have him waving watchbands on Greenfield Avenue.

Ultimately Les resorts to hawking the watchbands out of the box, Old School-style, to American Jewelry and Loan customers inside the store, for $1 each. He makes $40 for his fevered effort and Ashley and Seth are ready to swoop in for the verbal kill, but Les has something up his sleeve besides a watchband – a purchase order from a wholesaler who's agreed to buy 39,500 of them at $1.50 each, more than $20,000 profit! "Ashley and Seth need to learn: DON'T QUESTION THEIR FATHER!" Les pronounces.

By Episode 10 the watchbands have shipped out and things are back to normal at AJ&L – well, as normal as things get, anyway – in one of the most entertaining half-hours of the season.

Fans of the show may be talking about this week about Ashley losing a coin toss to Seth and prancing around the store as an oversized green dollar-bill mascot named "Major Savings." But they DEFINITELY will be jabbering about the scruffy lunatic who knocked over a floor lamp and broke it in plain view of Byron and Bobby J, then not only denied doing it but tried to place the blame on Byron.

After the man refused to pay for the lamp and was shown the front door via Byron's firm hand, he decides that if Byron wants a piece of him, he can have every piece. He tosses off all his clothes and proceeds to run around the parking lot completely naked, shouting "I make you horny bitches!" (whatever that means) and flashing everyone in sight, including Les, Seth and Bobby J who have gathered outside to watch.

"I know Byron is not going to apprehend this guy," Bobby observes. "You just let him go." And so they did, running out of the parking lot and into Hardcore Pawn Season 7 lore.

"I guess he didn't have any money for the lamp," Byron deadpans.

Pegasus (
Ashley sees her chance for revenge on the "dancing dollar" humiliation when Don, a regular customer, walks in with a large metal "Pegasus" symbol, the red flying horse that was the trademark of Mobil Oil for decades in the early 20th century. Don wants $3,000 for the antique; Seth counters with $700. They negotiate. Seth comes up as high as $1,000, but Don eventually takes his flying horse and walks.

Ashley believes that Les always overpays for a vintage item with Detroit connections, and bets Seth $100 that Les would have paid more than $1,000 for Pegasus. "This is a prime opportunity to make Seth look like an idiot," she delights.

She calls Don back to the store. He shows Les the horse. The highest he'll go is $550. Drat! Seth wins again! Five $20 bills, please.

Seth lets Les in on the bet, and Les is perturbed that he wasn't let in on the action. Never takes long for another wagering opportunity to come along at AJ&L, however: A pilot is outside who wants to sell two first-class airline seats – not tickets, but the actual seats themselves. Ashley goes outside to take a look. No way will she make an offer on airplane chairs, Les declares. Seth proposes a new bet: This time, the loser will have to take over Larry the housekeeper's job and vacuum and clean the store.

The pilot seeks $800 for his seats. To Les's shock, Ashley counters with $150. And...she makes the deal!

Les was running his mouth; now he's running a vacuum cleaner, as a relaxing Larry looks on.

"You missed a spot," Larry notes.

*          *          *

Looks like it's "skin to win" when it comes to our ongoing ranking of Top 5 most outrageous Hardcore Pawn ejections of the season. As mentioned above, the belligerent bumpkin from Episode Seven who tried to sell Les stuff that he watched the fool pull off the pawn shop shelves has vaulted onto the list, not necessarily because he had the balls to attempt such a brazen stunt, but because his balls were about the only thing we didn't see when Byron "escorted" him to the exit.

"Time for your ass to be thrown out," Les orders. Literally, as the village idiot's jeans tumbled past his knees. "And what an ass that was," Les notes.

But if he makes the list for his pants falling off, how can we deny Naked Guy from this week's show who bared it all? Well, we can't, and our Top 5 has been thrown into upheaval as a result. The rankings now are as follows:

5. Lamp-breaking Naked Guy from Episode Ten.

4. The sentimental fool from Episode One who tried to pawn one of his late grandmother's rings in the same breath he mourns her recent death. His verbal and physical assault on Ashley sparked Les's rage, because NOBODY insults his daughter in his store. It also brought Ashley to tears.

3. "DogMan," the tall computer genius with anger management issues in Episode Two who orders Les to retrieve the hard drive from his pawned PC and calls everybody "Dog." "Who let the dog out?" asked Les, who unleashed his first "MF" of the season. "Byron let the dog out!"
2. Bare Butt Bonehead from Episode Seven, and,

Continuing its all-season reign at No. 1:

The boy genius from Episode One who came in looking to buy a portable generator and asked, "It doesn't run on electricity, does it?" When he demanded to bring the generator to his home to test it out and is denied, he got the Byron Bounce and ended up humping one of the tall front-door pylons on his way to the parking lot!
Mamas, don't let your sons wind up working the pole.


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