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Peter, Hot Oil, Ashton Kutcher, and Reality TV
Peter Tatara - August 18, 2007

Not many weeks back, I was at Anime Expo, America's largest Japanese Animation convention. The general sentiment is that this year's event was an example of unapologetically poor planning, and my recollection of the weekend is mostly of standing in lines for concerts that ended up not happening. It wasn't a total wash, though, as I walked away with stories like the one that is written below. What follows is a true and accurate recollection of events.

On my first day at Anime Expo, I was dressed in baggy corduroys and an oversized New York Comic Con T-Shirt, and the California weather particularly disagreed with my hair. It's safe to say I didn't look my best. Of course, had I attended in the pressed pants and blazer I'm wearing currently, I would have in no way fit in. So, dressed undercover as an otaku, I walked about the Exhibition Hall.

It was at some point in the early afternoon, having just left the FUNimation booth, a man pulled me aside.

"I want to put you on TV," he told me.

I narrowed my eyes a bit and inquired more. He repeated himself and told me that I was "perfect." Excellent, but I still had no clue what he was talking about. He went on a bit more, excitedly wanting me to come back to his studio. Still not sure what exactly the gentleman was walking about, I asked him for the basics, and he gave me his card.

He was part of the staff of a Reality TV show and wanted me to compete. The show? Beauty and the Geek. I kinda stood there, just looking at the man's card, not knowing if I should be flattered or insulted, but before I knew it, he was snapping a photo of me and sending it to Ashton Kutcher. He wanted to know my availability. He wanted me to meet Ashton Kutcher. He wanted me to live in Laguna Beach for a month with a big-breasted blonde named Tiffany.

I smiled and gave the man my card. Conference Manager for the New York Anime Festival and New York Comic Con. I let him know I'm from New York City, have a full time job, and -- most important of all -- have a girlfriend. He didn't seem to care and told me we would work around it all and started arranging my meeting with Ashton. He left me with his cell number and said he'd call me shortly with more information.

I scratched my head as he left and called up my boss, telling him about what just happened. I pitched him the idea of me being a contestant on Beauty and the Geek. While, sure, I'd be out of work for a solid month, every moment I was on TV, I'd be whoring the New York Anime Festival and New York Comic Con. But as much as I thought this publicity was genius, my boss felt my productivity was more important -- and I would be none too productive during my time on Beauty and the Geek with my schedule fat with hot tub rendezvous and hot oil massages with Tiffany. He wasn't entirely supportive.

I then called my girlfriend and explained the situation to her. She didn't laugh. She didn't sigh. She didn't respond with any emotion in her voice at all.

"Do whatever you want," she spoke in a single, uninterested breath.

I asked her opinion. I wanted her input. While sure, I'd be spending a month in a hot tub with another woman, there was the potential for a giant, novelty check for an obscene amount of money. My girlfriend didn't have anything to say. I pressed her a bit more. I could feel her rolling her eyes on the other side of the country.

"You already know what you're going to do," she said. And she was right. I knew what I'd do before I called my boss or my girlfriend. I knew that as big as Tiffany's boobs would be, they'd be fake. I knew that as skilled a practitioner of hot oil massages as she most certainly was, I wouldn't want to know how or where she learned her technique. I knew I had a job and a girl waiting for me in New York City.

I spoke to the man from the Reality TV show again. He had plans to take care of my travel and said Ashton was eager to meet with me, but I let him know I couldn't participate. We chatted more on the phone, talking about maybe involving Beauty and the Geek with either the New York Anime Festival or New York Comic Con. It may happen, but the dude was deflated. He really thought I was "perfect." I thanked him for the consideration, but I was only going to use his show to schlock my conventions, and I'd miss my girlfriend too much. And she, well, she'd kill me the moment I returned. (It'd probably be slow disembowelment on the kitchen floor.)

So, I gave up my 15 minutes of fame, hot tubs, and happy endings for my job and a girl I'm sometimes afraid will murder me in my sleep. It's a touching story, but it's not the real point of all this.

There are a lot of Reality TV shows -- more every time I turn on my television -- and the one that wanted me is Beauty and the Geek. I could take this one of two ways. The first is that I'm totally, incredibly, absolutely a geek. What does "perfect" mean? Was I exactly what the show wanted because of my oversized New York Comic Con T-Shirt and uncooperative hair? I don't want to think so. No, I think it was -- while I was incognito as an otaku -- the man from Beauty and the Geek saw that I could be cleaned up. He could see that when shaven and in a suit jacket, I look fabulous. (My girlfriend refutes this point.)

So, there's my story. I was pursued by Beauty and the Geek to appear beside a reformed prostitute and teach her about the finer things in life, like the New York Anime Festival -- December 7-9, 2007 -- and the New York Comic Con -- April 18-20, 2008. But I won't be appearing in the show. Instead, I suppose, I'll watch it, pointing out to my girlfriend repeatedly that "that could be me." I never said our relationship was healthy, but it works.

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