The time the Hells Angels came to visit...
During the early months of the show on Channel 20, the shows were broadcast live - we sat in the studio late one evening a week, and worked the show from there. We'd call for commercial breaks directly to the crew, and timed our chatting as best we could to fill up the time allocated.
One evening, as our fame had started to grow a bit, we had a few visitors in the studio. Generally, the folks who visited the studio were well-behaved, and sat on the floor between the two cameras. This time, one of our visitors started to light up a joint following one of our commercial breaks. Since the studio cameras were off, I stepped forward and addressed the young man.
"Pal, do me a favor - either put that out or take it outside, will you?"
Either he'd already had a few, or he was just the sort to not take a polite request. He started to argue gently with me, asking me if I had a problem with what he was doing.
Well, in a way, I did. We were already on the ragged edge of what the FCC considered acceptable, and, while a little beer or wine in the studio wasn't exactly allowed, management cast a blind eye toward such activities provided there was no fallout. By tacit agreement though, drugs and hard liquor were forbidden. Although we had developed a pretty significant following, neither Andy nor I had any illusions about what would happen to us (and the show) if we were discovered with drugs in the studio, even if they belonged to a fan.
Well, time was starting to run out. The commercial break was about to come to an end, and our stubborn guest hadn't put out his joint yet. Then, from the darkness in the back of the studio, a huge figure moved toward our dope-smoking friend. This guy was huge: well over 6 feet tall, and built like a grizzly bear. He spun the (much smaller) fan around, grabbed him by the neck of his shirt and his belt buckle, and lifted him several inches off the floor. This motion naturally moved their faces together, so our large new friend took the opportunity to issue a very direct order to the pot-smoker: "He said put it out!" Now, smoking marijuana may cloud your judgement, but apparently this guy's self-preservation instincts were intact. He dropped the joint, which our large friend ground into the tile. Our big friend set the goof down, and he quickly departed from the studio.
We jumped back to our seats just in time for the end of the commercial, chatted a bit, and got the movie started again. As the movie was rolling, we came out into the studio to thank our new fan/enforcer. He introducted himself as "Red", a higher-up member of the local chapter of the Hell's Angels, and a self-described "big fan". We thanked him for his help and invited him to return to the studio the next week as our guest, an offer he enthusiastically accepted. The rest of that night's show was completed without incident.
One Week Later
Our first inkling that there might be something wrong came when Andy and I arrived at the studio the following week. Channel 20's parking lot was full of motorcycles - it looked like a used Harley lot! We were met by one of the production assistants at the door, who breathlessly summarized the problem for us. "Gary, Andy, you guys gotta get in there! A bunch of bikers have moved into the studio, they say you invited them! They even took everyone's lunch out of the fridge and put their beer in there!"
We entered the studio, and were greeted as celebrities; handshakes and smiles all around. We found Red, who was enjoying new-found status as The Guy Who Knows The Old Sourdough and Wachikanoka. We pulled Red aside for a little chat.
"Red, what the hell?! We don't care if you bring a few friends, but... damn!"
Red shrugged, and made a few mumbles about some friends inviting other friends. He assured us that everyone would behave themselves. Since we didn't want to risk a riot in the studio with only a little time before we were supposed to go live, we had no choice but to take Red's word and press on with the show.
Well, it wasn't exactly a riot, but the show that evening wasn't our smoothest effort. The crew had their hands full keeping our guests from wandering into view of the cameras, and Red's "old lady" kept trying to distract us while we were on the air by lifting her t-shirt to show us her tattooed...um...assets. Try as we might, Andy and I sometimes couldn't control the guests well enough to keep the show moving. Each time things got out of hand, we'd go to a commercial break, earlier and earlier each time. During one particularly chaotic moment late in the show, we called for a commercial break, only to be told that there were no commercials left! We'd run through the entire supply of commercials before the end of the show! We asked for the evening's movie to be resumed, only to be told that it was finished! Things were definitely getting uncomfortable now... "How much time do we have left? Twenty-two minutes?!" This was definitely not good. We had twenty-two minutes of time to kill before we could leave; we were out of commercials, out of movie, and had a studio full of bikers...
I don't remember much about the rest of that show, but I do remember that being one of the longest nights of my career!