Remembering Colye and Sharpe, groundbreaking comedy duo
Coming to you from my house in Los Angeles. It's Bullseye. I'm Jesse Thorn. So they call it a man on the street interview. Vox Pop Fox population. Seen at one hundred times reporter goes out onto a busy sidewalk asks passers what they think of the President or the economy or address. Somebody wore on an awards show and then while. La have a news package and maybe a hundred more times. You've seen that idea used for comedy. Maybe on the daily show or Jay Leno doing jaywalking. Eric Andre I could obviously go on coil in sharp basically invented that Jon. Rao Comedy back in the early nineteen sixties and they pretty much perfected it to these two guys Jim Coil and Mal. Sharpe would walk the streets of San Francisco in conservative suits with a tape recorder. Sometimes it was hidden in a briefcase. Sometimes it was out in the open and they approach people with usually an absurd proposition. Like let's rob a bank together or you should rent your child to a stranger or let's become one person the three of us. I've I read about coil in many years ago. In the beloved Counter Cultural Zine Research They made a book about Pranks and Colin Sharp. Were the highlight of it. They were called heroes. One of their records was reissued by Henry Rollins. They were beloved on the legendary form radio station. Fm You but they weren't very well known outside of the folks who'd listen to them on the radio in the early nineteen sixties. It was an incredible story. Mel Sharp was basically a San Francisco. Bohemian Jim coyle was maybe an actual conman. Even mouth didn't seem to be entirely sure what his story was. Their work. Predated the sixties as we think of the sixties. Now I mean. They weren't hippies they were. I mean you see Mao around town in a beret from time to time. If you're wondering what kind of guy he was but it was a world before people were on the lookout for someone acting crazy and tricking them. And so these really straight people would get roped into these insane schemes. I mean truly mad schemes because their radio show was daily they just had to generate a huge amount of insanity and the more insanity. You make the more insane. Your insanity gets what the ended up with was something that was almost avant garde in. It's total madness again. Long before the sixties were the sixties. I remember the first time I listened to their recordings. And what blew me away? Was that something that was then. Forty years old could feel so vividly hilarious but also like it was from another world. I mean I was born and raised in San Francisco. I was not born and raised in this San Francisco. Mel went on to become a bay area broadcasting and advertising legend. He had a public television show in San Francisco. He had a band that played regular gigs North Beach. He had a public radio. Show playing hot jazz on 'em in San Mateo. He was a bon vivant of North Beach. But at the time. I didn't know any of that stuff. I was just listening through a hole in time to the craziest thing I had ever heard in my life. Anyway I was doing college radio at the time and somehow I found mal. Sharps email address was in. All actress. I think he kept that. Aol address through his life. And I sent him an email and invited him onto my college radio show. He was already in older guy but he was glad to do it. He was always glad to talk about his work with coyle and Sharpe very proud of it and it was an incredible conversation. In fact I think it may have literally been the first interview I ever did in my life anyway. The reason we're talking this week about coil in sharp is that Mao passed away a couple of months ago at the age of eighty three. It was a great loss for comedy and for the Bay area alternative culture community especially in North Beach but enough time has passed. Now that I feel like I can remember him as the bright genial light in my life and in the lives of so many others that he was anyway. Here is a little bit of one of the greatest coyle and Sharpe bits of all time. This was not a hidden microphone. This was the two of them with a portable recording kit that was Lexi the size of a backpack and they walk up to somebody on the street. This is someone they've never met before in their lives. They always said that. They like to go to Union Square in San Francisco and look for people wearing long wings shoes because they were the most likely to be serious incredulous. This is mel sharp with another in the series job opportunities. Every day I bring an employer out onto the street and half him offer a San Franciscan an interesting novel job. Now I have James P. Coil with me our employer of the day and I just stopped the young man who were offer job to I M James Coil. And I'm very glad to meet you. So the nature of the job is. It's a little unusual just like anything else. There are certain risks entailed in your would be working down in a pet In I have created through scientific endeavor I have created intense flame. People throw objects in the flaming pit. You go through your pick them up They name the object. You pick them up and I charge them admission. That'd interested in something new and exciting. You know lack of say the reason I ask. I had an employee before and I will tell you this directly and honestly He was a little careless in in cautious. I gave him specific instructions and he perished now. I want you to understand this before we get any further. He did perish. Understand what states can happen. Sometimes now as I understand that the death index on this job they give us a death. Index is about ninety eight percent in other words. If you took this job the chance of your actual perishing would be ninety eight percent in favor of your perishing suggests. I like to take tests. What we're trying to do really is to create a living. Hell HAVE HAVE PEOPLE PAY ADMISSION DOWN IN THE PIT. They see you down at the flames. Were all around you. There will before maniacs and you've got control them now without staying there you say four maniacs. Yes and Mean I got to tell them what to do. We'll try to keep them together or something like that. Exactly Control and see that. They don't interfere with you because they will. That's what they're going to try and do Iffley Costume Nick fully protected and they're going to be attacking and This is part of the trench. Sounds very interesting. Have you worked with maniacs? Before no no. Have you worked with flame before no not necessarily one other Aspect large bats fly through the air. You've seen bats. These very large bats with Say extremely large teeth from the photo. Izhak there'll be swooping down over your head with the bats at all deter you from doing your job no. I don't think so I had a job to do. I try to do it regardless of the bad in about is now I am mile. Explain the situation to start with. I WANNA be sure you can handle a job. I M paying forty six dollars a week initially disagreeable so house. Okay and I am offering Not only the forty six dollars but during the twelve hours. You'll be down in the pit every day. I will provide nourishment to your in other words. I will provide one meal during a twelve hour. Period WILL NOT BE SATISFACTORY. So okay have you ever consumed. That's no I haven't what you look forward to the idea of actually consuming batch. Yes you're so in other words your lunch you go down and open up your little brown paper bag that Mr Coyly prepared and inside there there would be a bad and then you would just prepare it down on the flames. Oh No why at well I if you cook it for me Allen Matt eating it with Abet but as long as I didn't see it cooking you know I think I could divide. Have you ever had any experience with snakes? Large snakes no see the bats. The bats actually their foes down in this pet. The reason why the bats are there is because there are snakes in the pet bats attack the snakes and snakes will curling around your feet as you're trying to handle the maniacs stakes watch. I'm not scared of snakes. Are you at all and be honest? Are you at all afraid of the maniacs? No not really what are you? GonNa do with them as they start attacking you fight them up and this is what the people pay for the people who are looking down in the pit. Pay To see you surrounded by flames picking up objects that they throw down to you. You'll be attacked by the maniacs and the bats the snakes will be crawling at your feet this understand. This is what the people pay for us. Jim Mothers were now. Jill What I'd like to know is that you fully understand the job. Can you and your own way recapitulate. What I've told you about the job so that we know that you do have an understanding of that says me you want me to work in some kind of a bit as you say you trying to develop a living hell and In the speed our some a uniform and it'd be a lot of flames and I have to work with Maniacs Watch alphabets flying around and I'll get one meal a day being for hours and a bat and you will take the position. I like to turn. That was coyle and Sharpe interviewing passer-by for a job working with maniacs in a living hell gonNA play a little bit of my first ever interview with Mal Sharpe now. This was one of the first one of the first interviews of any kind certainly for broadcast that I had ever done in my life. This is two thousand and two we think according to the labels on the CPR where we found it. I was in college. I show was called the sound of young America back ban and Was Co hosted by my friend Jordan Morris with whom I still podcast today and our friend. Gino Neil so you'll hear their voices as well. Mal was calling into Santa Cruz ks. Ese The heavyweight eighty-eight from his home in Berkeley. So I think the question that leaves immediately to mind is if you're if you're living in Lyndon B Johnson's America. How how does it come to your mind? That what you're going to do for a profession is walk around with a hidden microphone or in this case. Suppose a non hidden microphone. Well you know probably much like you. Three folks there. You know you kind of get out of school. You're desperate for something to do. But you don't want to have a real job you know. I said a sense that you guys aren't going to pursue normal. You are surely has us peg. I was I was just kind of want a job where I don't have to wear pants exactly. I mean I met this guy call you know. I love to put people on you know and and hang out with them here in San Francisco and and and we kind of went back to New York and you know He. He just couldn't stop putting people on and so. I had a little broadcasting background. I mean that's what I'd done school so I could run a tape recorder. He couldn't so we decided to see. If we could just do this and make a living it you know which Which instead of taking jobs and And so we put about three years of time. Walking around San Francisco accumulating sequences like this before we finally got a record contract and then show cage. Yeah were you doing in the meantime while you were Spending all your time walking around San Francisco with a tablecloth eating peanut butter sandwiches. I played trombone in Dixieland ban on Broadway in North beach and I made seven dollars on Saturday night. I I don't know how I I really don't know how I survived. You know things are a lot cheaper than you know. We're talking about nineteen sixty one or something you know so you around with about sixty bucks and you know sometimes Lo and behold MOMS check showed up. You know something. I don't know you know it was It was one of those things where you just give it all up to try and do some crazy thing. You know that That you you know you're on a mission. I can't explain it. You know when you were when you were setting out to do this. How did you formulate the ideas that you used in your interviews? Well that one there we I mean we would get up in the morning. We'd meet and some coffee shop like North Beach and San Francisco and we would. We would premise. Is We would come up with ideas. But a lot of it was just conceptualizing. You'd look around the room and you'd see a clock on the wall and we write down in our envelope Be a human clock you now and we just need a note like that a human clock or or tree head or or You know I don't know coffee instead of blood you know and we would stop people on the street and we would have this list of things and and You know you know he would say well Have you ever thought of being a tree you know and then the person would start talking to us and then we would just kind of extemporised and some of the things like that thing we just heard? Was that kind of common saying we were constantly trying to get people down in pets with animals and fighting and killing birds and ravens attacking them just so so you know once we got op in that direction. You know. Each of us would just Was good there. Were two of us because we could kind of piled things on one after another and think of stuff you know as we were there. So this will this whole thing didn't ex- this whole business of coyle and Sharpe did it last for an exceptionally longtime. Now you've still managed to not have regular jobs for the rest of your life. Yeah so can you tell us about those not regular jobs well you know coil coil and I yeah. We've kind of crashed and burned. You know we went down a Hollywood. I mean that's the whole story but we did a television positive show and then I I don't know we we kind of Split I got a job Writing kind of producing in creating very creative radio commercials on Hollywood. It was a really interesting job but I kept getting calls for the man on the street things especially from commercials and So finally I could make enough money doing that. So I was kind of off on this man on the street thing again but without coil and Without Him I wasn't so much into the put on stuff. It was more just kind of using real people in the street. Kind of having fun with them in a way I mean it was. It was slightly different approach but So I did a lot of that and I did a lot of short films when I lived in. La and and Just kind of freelance. And then I moved back to San Francisco and seventy nine and just kept getting commercials and then I went to work for cameo. The camel was called a rock and roll station as a as a man on the street reporter and they sent me. The things like super bowls and political conventions. It was a great job. Well how do you feel about this sort of cult status that your work has only just very recently achieved through some sort of? I mean know you had some sort of connections with W FM you which is a famous freeform radio station in New York and or actually specifically in New Jersey. How does that feel to you to have had records that have you know? They sold fifteen thousand copies of peace. And you're a popular radio personality in San Francisco but now all of a sudden you've gained some sort of underground national prominence. Well you know I. I don't really feel that way. You know for me personally. I don't walk around feeling I can ride or anything. It's just kinda weird. You guys like you call up. You know what I be like. It's not like you know Inside addition you know an Oprah are ringing my bell every day you know. It's Kinda actually people. Call us the Oprah of Santa Cruz the collective oprah tedious each of us combined with the other two makes Oprah. Yeah exactly exactly exactly as Oprah on my driver's license. Yeah right yeah so I don't know I mean it's nice to to to to Have this stop kind of recognized and among certain kinds of people. It's you know it's nice to know that like the writers for the the Saturday night. Live or something like that. Zane about this stuff. You know that you know the actual people on the street most Americans I. I don't think we have a lot of top ED awareness but I mean after so many years I mean. The steph sat in my basement for like thirty years until I got this call from Henry rollins about six years ago and and Henry was really the guy who Reissued the first coin shop. Cd on the kind of brought it back. You know in a way. Well let's hear one more piece of where we're almost out of time but we'll hear one more piece so you're a pinker deal. Can you give us an estimate of what a particular job would be? It would cost about a two story house. I'm not a PAINTER PRINTER. It's hunting down. It's a not too far from here about five blocks any painting now. It says you misunderstand. Not a huge building. It's a small. It's a duplex type structure right here in the neighborhood and we have the color scheme laid out. I don't do printing you don't do printing. I mean I don't do painting painting you WANNA painter don't do printing don't want any printing at all but we have no desire you said you don't do printing. Wow you got me. All confused. Half of the building is concrete and they said to us a few years ago when we got it. Don't worry you know these things last year. Not that near the ocean and all the pain is starting to chip off the front of the building now and it really explain what hasn't been at all resistant to the elements. I don't do painting and we don't read you. Could you come down. Let's say in an afternoon. Just give us an appraisal painter painting houses or anything I on paper. What do you paint? I don't paint anything where you got. The idea that says print shop here doesn't think paintshop what is the chance of your printing the place if you don't do paint that's all ridiculous doing with houses or anything like that. I mean on paper envelopes letterhead. Didn't this card. Well could you send a painter? Oh I see you even interested in painting all all right. Would you be able to come down? Oh sometime tomorrow afternoon just to get an idea of what it would be like. There's nothing to do printing on it. If they would be Trenton. What are you going to the house? You said no and Oh capital printer not a painter. That's one of my favorite pieces. Are we really bugged guy? Thanks for coming on the show. This is the best interview I've ever been involved with. I really appreciate you guys when you interviewed a lot of crazy people think it went so well because we're all drunk show sounds perfect. I mean it really. It's really I think it just sounds great. I think this kind of radio is disappearing and I hope you guys stay at mouth. Sharp from two thousand and two. We have another interview with Mal and even more comedy from coyle in sharp coming up after the break. Stay with us. It's Bullseye for maximum fun dot org and NPR judge. John Hodgman win a webby. The comedy podcast category after ten years of production. Judge John Hodgman has won the Susan. Lucci of Webbie's what is judge? John Hodgman comedy writer and Television Personality. John Hodgman settles disputes between Friends Family Coworkers Partners. More machine gun. A robot should have grown adult. Tell his parents about his tattoos. Should a family be compelled to matching outfits on vacation? Listened to Judge John. Hodgman to find out the answers to these disputes. More if you haven't listened to judge John Hodgman now is a great time start. Judge John. Hodgman is available on Maximum Fund Dot. Org and wherever you get your podcasts. Let's close our eyes. Take a deep breath. Let it out and listen to. Npr's all songs considered it's a music podcast but it's also a good friend and guide to find joy in troubled times here. All songs considered with new episodes every Tuesday and Friday. Wherever you listen to podcasts. Welcome back to Bullseye. I'm Jesse Thorn this week. We're doing something a little different. We're looking back at the work of COYLE and Sharpe. They were a comedy duo. A series of hilarious and bizarre man on the street put on so in the nineteen sixties. Jim coyle died in. Nineteen ninety-three Mal Sharpe. Who is a friend of mine? Died this past. March? He was eighty three. I got to interview Mao twice for my show. We're about to hear another one with him. But before we do that. I WANNA play another bit of Coil in charm. This bit is another classic. They find a random guy on the street and they approach him with a pretty straightforward proposition. Are you willing to give up being an individual and to join coyle and Sharpe to become one collective person? They say that they call this belief. Three ISM is me. Can we take a moment of your time? Where we'd like to do is acquaint you with the concept of three of them. Are you familiar with us? Three years through go. I'm not free. People get together and merger identity as one. Would you ever consider giving up your identity as an individual to be a third of one person? Is this a religious religious concept? No it's just a spiritual Idea that we have conceived some other people I have to know more about it. We give you a demonstration of three ISM Right now yes. I'm kind of in a hurry. I have an appointment at seven o'clock and I haven't eaten yet. Could we accompany you to your meal and show you? How three isn't work. We will help you. Make the selection of your food. There is nothing we will do. That will not be a unit decision groner. Now it's against one for meeting my brace. Dinner's ready. We're my place. We can eat dinner at your home and can I ask you. What are we having for dinner? I don't know yet. And how will you introduce us to whoever else is in the House? Hamas supposed to introduce us. How would you introduce us? These two thirds of my personality. Would you do it on a permanent basis quality for the rest of my life right exactly? We're asking you make that decision. Now you asking me to make the decision right now. Yes well I can. I declined. You'll know there were three of us right now. If we could stay together we'll be so much better. Let us go away one now. No more personal decisions on your on your part. Hey why are you walking away q walking away? What did you say we don't want to be with three and said we're out of our minds this just because you don't understand the concept you have been exposed to? What are you doing getting an officer? I'm looking for the bus. Let's go to railroad giant channels. That's your counci a better life. You turning down opportunity for four years you are in our destiny you Wanna. Who told you that you are the tertiary person that try? It's an awareness of the meaning and the destiny of three of them. Thought up this three of them. We wanted this begin last week. We'll tell you WANNA sleep. It came to us and we accept it. There's there's my buzz I we're going with you. May We go with you. We HAVEN'T EATEN. We haven't eaten in a long time is now. We're getting on the bus with the gentleman. Are you gonNA pay the faster fifteen cents now? We're walking down the aisle of the bus with the triad person. Could we stand together as he tried here in the bus? I'm tired now. Is the first example three right suddenly instead of yourself alone? Getting on the bus or three of us on the bus right. Isn't that true true? And we're riding to your home. What buses this six masonic and it is it so bad. Is it so bad. There's a lot of people on the was but there's three of us together in the US. This guy's is close to me as you are. He didn't speak with us. We haven't chosen him as a three Est. You've chosen me. You have come into our destiny and you'll show remain thus fourth henceforth from the six masonic bus to your home and forevermore you shall be with us is that not true. Answer thou to try companions waiting for the answer. No tell you something. This is a joke. That was coyle and Sharpe pitching them. To a hapless passer-by it appeared on their album audio visionaries street pranks and put on the second time. I talked with Mel Sharp on the show was two thousand. Six Mal had recently put out a box set featuring three of them which you just heard and a bunch of other stuff after Mao was on the show that first time we would check in with each other over email every once in a while he was just that kind of guy not just not just like an all American dad type but also someone who is curious about what people were up to. I think is curiosity. Was what made him such a great man on the street interviewer. He and his daughter Jennifer had done the work of digitizing their huge archive of coyle and sharpe recordings and at the dawn of podcasting. They have been kind enough to share them with me so that I could make a podcast out of them. It was not a particular moneymaking proposition. They were glad to get a little promo for the box. Set that Mal had put together and in as a great box at by the way And I was glad to have a little content to make into a podcast because podcasts were new and we just did whatever we thought was thing you know and I thought it was something anyway. Let's get into my two thousand six interview with Mouth Sharp Malcolm to welcome back to the of young America. How are you great so what I want? Let's let's do this a little bit chronologically before you are in coil in sharp before you met James P. Coil. What were you doing with your life? You're graduated from schooling and you'd moved out to the bay area. Yeah I'd had like six months to kill Because of Son fashioned will say this. Now that I had to go in the army I'd been in our TC in college. Because I didn't want to be an enlisted man run through you know fields in Korea unfortunately but anyway so And and so I was. I went out to San Francisco. There was kind of beat generation. Seen going on out there and I really didn't know anything about the BAY air anything. Just kinda borrow some money from some Loan Company and in Lansing Michigan and blue across America and arrived in San Francisco kind of a blank slate. Did you see borrowed some money from some loan company? Yeah the EGO Loan Company in Lansing. Michigan. I you know I got money to get a ticket on a Boeing seven. Oh seven this is like a company. Advertising loans for potential beat Knicks or something. Yeah Fly beat Knicks. Go to San Francisco. Yeah right yeah come in you know. Four percent per year we'll invest in your career and performance poetry right. Yeah anyhow. I don't know I needed the money and barred from this alone company and flew out to San Francisco. I was at you know what what were you doing when you first of all. How old were you asked about? Twenty two or twenty three. I got a job in macy's you know Mr Sharp and the sporting goods department and Kinda just you know looking around you know on the road in my own way. I guess a lot of people are on the move in and And heading west out to the west coast. This was still. This was still in the fifties right. Is this like fifty fifty nine? Yeah that I and then I came out to San Francisco was the city like in in in that time. Well you know before the hippies and kind of the beatnik thing was going on but that was kind of in certain parts of town North Beach. San Francisco was kind of a a simple. We were just talking about this. The other day there was still as kind of naivete to San Francisco. It wasn't in any way like a hip or big league city. You know if you want to really do anything you had to leave here and go to. La Or New York Lee advertising agencies said you know little accounts but all this stuff was bubbling under in San Francisco. You know the whole Lenny. Bruce Mort Saul thing and the Kingston trio and And day Brubeck and Paul Desmond. All that stuff was was kind of going on in this. Very kind of sunny foggy innocent atmosphere in a way. It's kind of a breeding ground. I guess but you know. Somehow you didn't even know it that much you know. Things didn't have that kind of media. Buzz like Whoa. There's a happening place or anything. It was just kind of a sleepy place in a way. So how did you end up meeting? Jim coyle well. You know you could I didn't have much money and you could move into these a you know. They were called residence clubs. They were like boarding houses That even that term trauma gone now from the American psyche but they were like these mansions that have been turning. He's rooming houses for young people and You could move in and provide eighty bucks a month. You got a little room you know when these Old San Francisco Mansions. They were fantastic. But they almost were in this hughes so you could have a room and Two meals a day For about eighty bucks a month which was a great deal and In Li life instead of renting an apartment which would have been a hundred and forty dollars a month. You Know Jim coyle was was living there as well. Yeah I went down South for one night and Saturday you'd sit sit down some table. And I don't know he was going on and on and he was telling these two young women about I belong to some religion or something like that and they went out to to Marin on the weekend and they would lay on these rocks and the sun like turtles or something and commune with nature in the Sun. I don't know some weird thing and I said what is this guy up to? This is such but he was so convincing in these girls. Josh were dropping you know and I mean I was Kinda convinced by him to you know but I I was also intrigued. Went up to his room where he was reading. Ruckman Mahler I mean listening to Bruckner and Mahler on his record player Reading Nici. It would probably be even more impressive if he was just sitting around. Reading Muller Yeah Right the score had frozen and he was like one of the things that I was thinking of is. I was watching the the DVD. That's included in this set. Is that the credulous -ness of Jim. Coyle he's so sincere that it's almost like there's almost like something terrifying about it. At least there was for me like I was like Whoa. This is weird. Yeah Jim he's kind of a confessional looking guy but he kind of had a thing Andy Coffman. Had you know where Andy Coffman like? Get so believable that it's Kinda scares you. You're like is he really yelling at the audience or is he really antagonizing these people or is this a joke know? Don't you think I mean yeah mean watching it? I was thinking you know I was looking at you and I was thinking well this this makes sense to me. You know because you're a you're really you're you're very you're very genial guy you know similarly regular looking to Jim Coil and I was thinking you know i. I can see why people would would relate to this guy and then I'm I'm looking at a coil and I'm thinking man you know like I think that I would accept whatever he told me was true because almost because I would be worried that like if he that I see a combination of convinced that must be true and sort of like concerned that even if it wasn't true if I somehow pierce to the the bubble of truth he was creating that he would explode. Can I can. I get a copy of that paragraph very true you know that's very true You Know He. He glad you picked up on that I mean he he was selling he was so. I mean he would walk in the door and sort of look like what in those days the typical IBM executive. It was like the model American citizen. Irish and kind of ruddy complexion and kind of ordinary looking guy to a certain degree. But then yeah this intensity would build up you know and he would sweep you into his aura And Yeah that's what he would do with people and of course Jim call was a guy. He was kind of a harmless con man but he lived to put people on. You know this was not just something that as an act which was kind of more my thing. I kind of enjoyed being with them. And doing all this Jim almost compulsively wherever he went if he went with you to a party. You know he was going to go over and start in the hostess and it was Kinda even get uncomfortable. Maybe you know you know. He was one of those people. Can we have your name please? Yes Walter Schwartz. Walter Arm Darus was a person of medical background here in the bay area has come up with a rather interesting theory. He claims that the head the actual size of the head including The current limitations that exist because of the ramifications of the bone structure the actual size of the head can be expanded to accommodate. I actually spatial dimension. Not only for increased brainpower but for many of the activities in the body. Which would if they took place in the head be more efficiently perform. Would you go along with this idea? Certainly I would go along with this idea if it would serve any fruitful purpose individually collectively or for the good of society. Do you think people are participating in experiment are gonNA feel self conscious. Their heads won't be around to. The heads are actually along. Gated in some cases Two or three times the size of the head as it is today. In other words it becomes very high end. Narrows his Brisard Concept? Yeah yes They may some may feel self conscious and some may even desired because of sort of a status seekers Ideologically by that well. They may feel slightly superior that they've gone through an operation and now they have great potential in the average other citizens. In other words you think perhaps some snob appeal with developed with the elongated head. It could Appeal to some people in this way that they would have An elite society expanding the head size. Would you yourself be willing to submit your head for such purposes? If I thought then was convinced that it would serve any useful purpose either to myself. individuals Collectively our society. As a whole. I most certainly would. And you wouldn't feel embarrassed set your head would be elongated. Perhaps as long as your body no no I wouldn't I don't believe I would at this time. If you were staying in France and you had this elongated head. You've got a hotel room and the bed. Most of the French people a little shorter than the average Americans. The bed was rather short. Would you and your and your head. What's was the same size as your body. Which would you place on the bed? Your body or your head. One section would be dropping onto the floor of the hotel. Which sex would you place on the bad place? My head on the bed and the rest of the body a hangover and straddle on the floor or whatever our chairs or whatever it'd be necessary that's made came in in the morning if you're still sleeping. She opened the door asleep on the bed. That my head what what was the. What was the appeal of being with somebody like that to you? Who who was at the time you know like maybe a little counter cultural but otherwise a pretty regular guy. Yeah I always kind of dangerous. I mean he had such a sick sense of humor. He was so bright It was just very funny and He was also very intellectual and You know he did read. Nietzsche schopenhauer and all this stuff. Kind of drew you in. He almost had like acolytes. Didn't have a lot but there was always one or two other people around there were Kinda held in his sway in a weird way. You know so but to go out with you. Know to go out with him and you know He. He turned his collar around. Look like a priest and we go to movie theaters. And they'd say oh father coyle come right in and you're just conning you know somebody at the Colorado out of a box of popcorn but there was still something He just loved playing the part of a priest or something like that. I can't explain it. Just hanging out with a guy like that was was really fun. What led the two of you into thinking that this could be something besides just something that you did as a goof. Yeah I think we both wanted to You know have jobs do something to make a living you know I mean. Even though he conned his way into job he always had some jobs and one time even flu is a co-pilot and a training program for Twa But you know we kind of thought. These things are kind of funny. You know we. We went in the army. I was stationed in Long Island city. And I lived in Greenwich Village because they didn't have an army post. I was at the way they made army training films and I went and lived in Greenwich Village in this room and one day. I bumped in a car on the street. He had come back from San Francisco. We weren't even in touch but so we hooked up again and Greenwich Village. And you know we'd stand on a street corner and try and sell people toasters or we would go to you know weird social events and we were just having a good time you know and we finally decided well what if we could go back to San Francisco be out in the sunshine again and record this stuff and and do something. We just thought it was so funny and and you know at least we enjoyed it. You know so that's I was kind of. It was vague. But you know Kinda thing young people do we have you names as Mrs Pat Paulsen Can we ask you a question? Would you yourself approved the idea of a commercial agency and the purpose of which is to purchase children from homes and then redistributed. These children to other homes on a lease basis for profit might not be a bad idea. Of course no I would miss mine for much. There's a group here in the city which actually is getting children there. We're not sure of the source yet. They're getting children. They have between fifty and seventy five children. And they're renting them out to people in the area. Yes how how can they do that? Well they have actually purchased these children from the parents. They purchased these children. The parents have gone along with an idea with by the children are turned over to these people permanently. For instance if somebody wants A little nine year old boy in his or her home for a weekend is a set fee. You'll prove us. No I wouldn't have proven that. I think any child infants. Oh no would be unhappy. Even if it was getting a percentage of the profits from the organization in other words if the child newly is going to get twenty five percent rally stayed with a group of people to a child I think the happiness of their own is more important than any money. You don't think that it might be helpful to a child to have a very commercial attitude in regard to himself at an early age. He's being least everything is to commercial. This is This is the whole world. Today is to commercial. We are ourselves involved in this agency and we have two of the children with us today. We'd like you to meet them and tell us whether you think they're happy or not. Would you do this the right here? The right would you meet them? Yes I'll meet them but I don't think that they could give me a reaction right now. What what do you names? Boyce I. I'm Ronald how old are you Ronald Thirteen and what is your name and We've been sending you around to different homes in the community now for about four and a half months. Would you describe yourself as on on happy or happy? I feel fine about it. I think that's good and Your little friend here once it can. How old are you nine? You have a little goes on your face there. How many homes have you been to in the last three years about fourteen? You spent a fourteen home and you can see cancer. Wouldn't you say from looking at them? They're happy but they look campaign. Now stay bag candy. That's enough to make any child have exactly we've given the candy to them? We're taking care of them and you will host this. Oh my opinion. You aren't taking proper care of them. They should be home eating a carrot stick instead of the baggage candidate now this afternoon normally these follows. They're actually brothers. Normally we rent them on a weekend basis for seventeen dollars a day. Now you've shown some interest in them. You think they should be at home this weekend. Could we let you have them for ten fifty? The two brothers running Indian. You're on this weekend. I have to my own. That's enough as a trial. Don't you think if you had running an andy in your home over the weekend you'd be able to determine whether they're happy? I don't see any normal boys ten street corner talking to strangers saying that they were been paid money. Go with somebody would be happy to ask Ronnie running and Andy. Would you like to go to this lady's home this weekend and you know it's the discount rate you won't be getting your twenty five percent doesn't matter how about you go into this lady's Ronnie? Tell us what was the last home. You're in like a very very nice home. Some some nice people who are really had three children already had children Could we place them in your home this weekend? And we give them some sedation. So they aren't too wild. This is one of the reasons why they're willing to go out teaching these players how to play baseball instead of spending on this street trying to sell them. One of the really remarkable things about this story is that The fact that it happened all in in the early nineteen sixties was very fortuitous. Because this was really sort of the first period in time that technologically. You could do this as anything more than the you know. Running illegal con games that you could do a prank and documented. Well enough that it could be something that could entertain others. Who's this was the first time that you know there was actual portable tape recorders among other things. Yeah exactly I mean. That's a really good point and we didn't think of that at the time but you know I've been interviewed by by the BBC. They consider us like you know historical figures and and this sort of thing but yeah it for the first time they were small tape recorders. Not What we have today but still smaller and they were used by Mostly private is. It was a famous private. I in San Francisco. How how lips get or something like that. is movie the conversation. Kind of I think was based on his career but but we went down and we went hanging out with hang out with these. Private is at this at this at this store. That Brooks Camera. But they also had in this camera shot. They also had a miniature tape. Recorders and microphones and we'd be up there with the private eyes and they'd be stopping them in briefcases and stuff and that's what we did. We were kind of the first entertainers. Probably that. Walked around with this gear in a in a briefcase was this did you. Did you actually have a a job doing this before you went out in? Bado a tape record that fits in a briefcase or did you buy a tape recorder that fits in a briefcase in in order to think that you could get a job doing it now. We bought that we bought the tape recorder. I mean we. We had the tape recorder and this little gear for probably two years before we ever made a sense. I mean we just we just bought this thing instead of walking around San Francisco and we watch around San Francisco for two years every single neighborhood. You can imagine we'd be in in neighborhoods we didn't even know existed things like the excelsior district and we didn't know where we were. You know we would get up every day and just go on a street. That was different. Had A bunch of stores. We hadn't been in the day before because we walk in the stores with this hidden. Stuff than teak stores and printing printing shops. Or you know whatever the next star was we'd stand outside for a second try and come up with the premise. And if nobody else was in there and the guy was and now available you know we'd Strut in you know and suits and propose something to you. Know what were you? What were you doing with this tape? Recording I mean as like did you have like a a where you creating your own. Best of inviting girls over to listen to them or what? Now we weren't Interesting Concept No I we would just collecting this stuff. And ultimately we got a contract with and we would edit them. We'd sit in Jim's house with early. Editing splicing tape which has gone and razor blades and we put these things together and make a little demo tapes and go around to radio stations and ultimately here in San Francisco. We got a record contract with fantasy records which which they throw us out though after about six months but Yeah you know. We were just collecting the stuff you know. It's some dream. You know that the venture would go someplace. I'm day no explain it. Haven't you done something like this Jesse this on this show but Yeah I don't know we just did it. I don't know why we just thought it would work out. We'll have more with my interview with Mal. Sharpe after the break plus more bits stick around its Bullseye for Maximum Fund Dot. Org and NPR. Hey I'm Janet Varney hosted. Jv Club podcast. School was at a time of adventure and discovery or ton of angst disappointment and confusion. We're all tied together by four years of trauma at this place but enjoy adulthood. I guess the truth is it was both so join me on. Jv Club podcast. Where I invite some great friends like Kristen Bell Angela Kinsey Oscar Nunez. Neil Patrick Harris and Keegan Michael Key to talk about high school. The good the bad and everything in between each mood swings or getting harder to manage the JV club find it on maximum fund. How do we reinvent ourselves? And what's the secret to living longer each week on? Npr's Ted Radio Hour. We go on a journey with Ted speakers to seek a deeper understanding of the world and to figure out new ways to think and create lesson. Now welcome back to the Bulls Eye. I'm Jesse Thorn Right now. We're replaying my two thousand six interview with the late model sharp in the early sixties mal and his friend Jim Coil. Basically invented hidden microphone pranks they'd roam the streets of San Francisco and talk with random strangers about absurd hilarious propositions they were called coyle and Sharpe. Jim coyle died in nineteen ninety-three claimed it was in a skydiving accident. Mel died earlier this year. Let's get back into our conversation. What were the things that you created at the at the very beginning well? I'm this new this new box. Set these two men are imposters? I have a bunch of unedited early stuff that we did. I found some stuff and some draws and things like that that had never been used before you know on these big reels of ten or eleven inch day and things like we go down in the Marina district in San Francisco. There'd be an apartment for you can hear US kind of walk. In and one of these tacky Kinda landlords lived in the building. You know like a supervisor. Yeah and we. Would you know the hidden tape recorder? Be clunking away. We'd be walking up the stairs with him and he chose the apartment and like in this particular thing. That's on the in the CD. We Jim then explains that he doesn't really care about the rooms that it's the closets. He lives in the closet and he doesn't want any light in the closets. And so then the guy's all involved as well. I'm at your coming this around. This is kind of a dark room. And maybe if you get a clause in here you'd like to live in you know things like that Wandering into you know apartments for rent We did a lot of things in mortuaries. Where we walked. In and told them mortician the gym and had unsuccessful life and he wanted to be buried and dug up again to renew his life to start again. And and the tape-recorded be on the the briefcase on the guy's desk and would all be kinda tense and and You know he would be coming to this. Funeral was always several of our friends and one animal highlight for us would say what kind of animals it was. It was always wolverines at all saying that would have to be tied up. That might attack. Probably wouldn't you know it'd be this whole feed of place some graveyard we very coil. But it'd be you know we'll try to get out of them and stuff like that and it would be. It would be like that antique stores. You know where we get a lot of things involving death for some reason but antique stores where we are. Our uncle died and without signing a document That would have given us a lot of money and if we could dig him up and bring his body into the antique store that that particular story kind of furniture that was in his home he'd be comfortable and we could. We had a way of getting his arm to move document. You know we bring the body and that night you know stuff like that we they would call a cops a lot you know. We'd end up jumping on buses to get away from the sirens and things and there's tape of you and you guys getting arrested on on that third CD that you mentioned right. Yeah that's another thing. That particular tape was the last two years and And we had signed an agreement with the judge when we were going up for trial that we would never play it anywhere but I figured since it was forty years later. I mean we had been out in the avenues in San Francisco and we'd stopped some guy some guys suit. He was walking toward his car. We asked him if we could borrow his car for the weekend We wanted to go over to Moran go out to eat some outdoor restaurants and things like that we bring it back on Monday and he didn't WanNa lend it to us and you know 'cause he didn't trust us and of course we always would explain. That wouldn't inexperience like this. If if we got the car back on Monday wouldn't he realized that he could trust them and being? I don't want to be a very learning and growing experience for him. You know official all the time. Of course we were talking. We were growing more suspicious deliberately. So so it turns out. He wouldn't do it and he got his car and drove away and we walked down the street. And we were interviewing some kid on the street corner and the COP car pulled out. The guy was in the back and it turned out. He was a cigar salesman or something. You'd been collecting all those money. A lot of money on them and he thought we were setting them up. Rob Him you know. So he got the cops and they grabbed the briefcase out of my hand with a hidden tape recorder and recorded the whole arrest and this was in the days before the Miranda thing where they to tell you riots and ultimately we were GonNa Salaun. They called me out because they suddenly discover the tape recorder and they didn't know how to turn it off and we had a trial they had a they had a jury was jury selection day at the holidays in San Francisco and they called us in the back room. And the judge said this ridiculous and If you sign this waiver never play this tape of the arrest again. You know you guys can go home and we were happy to do that. Would be clothing arm this particular car Mazda plain ordinary simply just smaller car. This would be. It'd be the chance of When you finish with this evening we're taking a spinach rather heart I Live Way Down Cobra week ago with you now and then when you get done tonight they could just go up around. Why don't we get you home and say something like that until we take it? Stand in it just not very other. That's what do we look no evil or something. Just a company owned car allowed intimating steal a car. No let's forget the company policy. Sit in the back seat. We'll take it out for spin. Thanks you can bring somebody with them. We draw the Golden Gate Bridge. Now I just ask why so willing to stand just totally against company policy. I'm sure if you go right down here they'll let you drive anyone sample bars if you're interested in. We wanted to drive on. Somebody's already had really wanted to drive your car. We got a nice little car. Good we have it over the weekend. I'm sorry toy Saturday and Sunday. No really it you WANNA RUSH. Yeah going on you walk down the street here frequently enough. Yeah Okay we'll see deal. Excellent figures here the police and we go out of your pockets great. Thank you started the car we wanted to you right to do. The experiment police station wanted to remember the rest of before. No arrest records here learn any other state. Here's save a life size. You all talk station one thing. We liked the precision instrument. I think to tell you what were you. Were you learning anything doing these? These I mean before you were even before you were even on the airwaves. You were doing this for for two years. Where you like refining techniques. Yeah I think we. We developed a lot of premises. A lot of rap poor Yeah a lot of shops. That even to this day is very useful to me. You know creating things. I'm sizing having concepts in your head before you walk into a situation. We learned a lot. You know human nature who the good subjects that we had to get people with good voices. I people spoke up. We'd love to get chuck drivers. Probably says we call them. Good parolee types. You know but You know get these truck drivers they yell and scream at us. You know. Construction Workers So it was a good kind of human interest learning experience You know for us. How did you? How did the two of you dissolve your partnership? That's that's a good question. Jessie we the television pilot that you were mentioning earlier. the impostors for a company in La. We finished that. We couldn't get another radio job and The partnership was getting a little frayed. Much is a lot of partnerships and marriages and things begin to get a little bit of pressure on them. Jim was kind of very very eccentric. I extremely paranoid. It was hard for me. Sometimes the deal with this and But anyway he was married. I was married then and we were living in West Los Angeles and One day I went over to his house they kind of do something and no one was there and the landlord told me that they had left him and his wife. Naomi got in his car and taking off at gone to New York and that was the last time I didn't see him then but I didn't really talk to them again for eighteen years. You know he just split and I was over and it was kind of a relief in some ways that it was over because it was getting to be a bad marriage you know I mean I can only imagine that you know. This relationship must have been kind of seriously intense. I mean I I honestly. I can't imagine anything dealing with demand that I see on the television screen as not being intense. I imagined like eating a grapefruit with him would be intense it. Does you know and I think when we were both single and we would just you know drifting around San Francisco and sitting on curves and eating sandwiches and and and having these adventures I. It was a great adventure. You know. It really wasn't great adventure. I I think in a way why I've attached to this stuff my whole life and I've even put out this box set. I could let stuff go a long time ago. But kind of almost represents some kind of youthful exuberance and stupidity and intensity that you can only have when you're twenty four twenty three you know and and I don't know I don't know where we started this question because I'm lost been a lot of different thoughts here but but yeah ultimately it was it was probably too intense. You know it was too intense. You went on to basically make your career out of doing this kind of thing and you eventually became known as the sort of the man on the street guy both both locally in the both locally here in the in the bay or excuse me not here in the bay area. I live in Los Angeles now both locally in the bay area and Nationally was it. How is it different to work to be working by yourself for for so long? After having this kind of catalyzing you know five or ten year relationship with a with a partner. Well you know I I said a left doing the thing with him. I went to work kind of the company in La. The created radio commercials. And I really enjoy that where we creating in the middle of the Sixties Beatles. Were happening and southbound got really interesting. The mood synthesizer And and This whole thing sprung up and I loved creating this stuff and making it but I kept getting calls for man on the street interviews and So slowly I started taking these things and develop a style. It wasn't as antagonistic You know as intense as my thing with Jim and ultimately that kind of fell into my own style which was a little more friendly a little more drawing people out bringing out their humor have time with them on the street and So was rather different but still very enjoyable to me and compared with other jobs I could have had even the when I had at this production company. It was great being outside all day. You know walking around the tape recorder it was I like meeting people and engaging them and having a good time with him so it turned out pretty some weird reason nothing. I've ever ten intended to do in life not to be a really. Nice career mal sharp of coil in sharp from two thousand six. I want to send you off with one more classic coyle and Sharpe. According this is Wolverine Football. What is this what games they play football you participating again coach noise to blame that's buddies and my Blaise thea from hanseatic zoological leave? I ask you a question. The half of his ourselves a group of animals that we have brought from our country and Vive would like to have some to things that people can do. You knows the game. You know it's a football. Would you be able to take the animals and train them to play? Make a team of them to play these boys. Animals yeah what kind of animal be have some animals. Sacha would Say fierce behalf little for res which very fast you see. We are keeping very hungry so that they remain vicious in a game. A bigger the wolverines say as big as all how you say a great Dane but civilians we have all the way over three hundred pounds you have towards the full brings foot soccer We have one more soccer team and we have taught the world rings to run under two hind feet but now the fish for America to see she asks Wolverine Playing also human beings in American sports. Baseball's this is Out of Sebastian coaches around assistance. And I know there'd be They'd be all eager to work with wolverines. Some that nobody ever done before we kind of a challenge could run up. The wove rains running on his hind. Legs has beaten us in a foot race. How do they throw passes? How do they send her the ball like that kids doing right now? How how did they get through the four legs and throwback to dog behind this the Habsah King will who teaches is by example he issued? She is most fierce and he would be best problem. He has been elected to captain. Bisazza were very powerful against humans. In football this is what now would be bad. You say before trouble centering. Football will between the leg. Just the the center right. He'd have to sign that ball back between his legs. Let us bring to you to your home von Osama animals. You keep it this you live in the city. Yeah You keep on backyard. No backyard and apartments and I will bring in an apartment. You could keep those turn out best. I live in a five room flat and no backyard and no backboards. What do I keep? All the teams V have a wolverines on a chain. We have them on a chain linked together. You just bring them in. You have a small Spike in your living room and you will not cares. There may be some bodily harm to you because bite says set Something like this takes time. You don't the night take animals. You don't take beasts. Make some athletes if you could train them. So well he has in a game plays Boys Yeah Wolverine a terrible part. You say they were vicious you. Keep them hungry. Y'All all right. And they got they got a they have to Either tackle the play or does the players who tacos who put the Wolverine it out to grab them or either you know either pause or with the jaws which suggests certainly the guy had the ball and Wilbur in China to get him. Probably take a hunk out of his fanny but catching what would be the first Fundamental joy teach wolverine after. Teach them how to stand still in lineup. Y'All that's the first thing Ya then. What then that's it didn't get that part and I'll teach them the rest coyle and Sharpe Mel sharp away in March. He was eighty three years old. I can't begin to express my gratitude to mouth for the kindness that he showed me through my career from when I was clueless. Nineteen or twenty year old until the day. He died but to be honest he was just that kind of guy. I think one of the reasons that when they revealed it was a prank at the end of every coyle and sharpe recording which they did every time the person almost without exception laughed was because Mell was the kind of person who would make you feel comfortable in any situation even when he was pitching you Wolverine Football Anyway thanks. I'll be remembered. Why don't we read the credits? Over one? Of his recordings his music recordings his band was called the big money in jazz band and they were a mainstay in north beach for decades. Take it away Mallon Company. That's the end of another episode of Bullseye. Bullseye is recorded out of the homes of me and the staff of maximum fund in and around Los Angeles California Here's an update from Jordan. Cowling my colleagues home. She and her roommates through a clue slash clueless party at their house where they dressed like the cast from the movie. Clueless to play. The board game clue. Our show is produced. By speaking into microphones. Our producer Kevin Ferguson. Hey Soussan Brosio is our associate producer. We get help from Casey. O'brien the aforementioned Jordan Callie are interstitial. Music is by Dan. Wally also known as Dj w our theme song is by the go team thanks to them and their label Memphis Industries for letting US use it our special. Thanks this week not only to the late. Great now sharp but to his brilliant daughter Jennifer sharp who is a public radio colleague of many many years and put huge amounts of effort into preserving her father's legacy without which none of what we just played would have been possible. So thank you to Jennifer. She's wonderful lady and I know she. Hurting cushing washed her down we loved him to Jennifer and thank. You can keep up with Bullseye on facebook twitter and Youtube. Just search for Bullseye with Jesse. Thorn and I think that's about it just remember all radio. Host had a signature sign off Bullseye. With Jesse. Thorn is a production of maximum plan dot org and is distributed by NPR.