The reality television world we’re in right now is one where nearly every single business, lifestyle, or personality type has its own show. It might feel like shows about pawn shops, storage spaces, towing companies, or trucking are scraping the reality TV barrel, but, in fact they are providing some of the most salt-of-the-earth programming on TV today.
Case in point: TruTV’s “Hardcore Pawn,” which in its third season has been averaging 1.7 million weekly viewers. The series takes a look at a Detroit family-owned pawn shop, American Jewelry and Loan, and puts a mirror on society’s financial woes in these tough economic times, leaving viewers cringing at the desperation of the clients, crying at the humanity, and laughing at the absurdity. (Hello, someone tried to pawn their dentures!)
We chatted up the father son team of Les and Seth Gold at the Reality Rocks Expo in Los Angeles this weekend to find out more about this popular show…
Explain how you were first titled “Pawn Star,” but History’s show of that name came out first.
Les: We were actually approached by Richard Dominick through [production company] Zodiak. They wanted to do a TV show about a pawn shop. We are the premiere pawn shop. There is no doubt in my mind. And, we are a family run business. And we gave them the show they asked for.
Seth: It was called ‘Pawn Stars’ and the sizzle reel name was Pawn Stars, so when the production company took it out and delivered it to network, it was under that name. I guess somewhere down the line it got slipped through the cracks and we were second to bat. It is what it is. Our name is better anyway.
Les: Hardcore Pawn is definitely better than Pawn Stars.
Creepy Pawn: See A Clip From History’s “Pawn Stars”:
How is “Hardcore Porn” different than History’s “Pawn Stars”?
Seth: We complement each other. They look at one end of the business and we do ours. And we are more representative of what a pawn shop actually does on a day-to-day basis, in my opinion.
Why is America addicted to pawn – like my pun?
Seth: [Laughs] Good…
Les: It’s a business that a lot of America didn’t know much about. We’re showing people who need to feed their families and pay their rent. It can be very heartbreaking. But it’s real. People who come in need $20 and that’s what you see on our show.
What are some of the strangest items people try to pawn?
Seth: We see dentures, alligators, and prosthetic limbs…
Les: When people are desperate, they try anything. You see 1,000 people walk through the door that indicates how the economy is. Business is booming for us now.
Seth: A guy came in with an Olympic torch that he really ran with in 2002. He brought it in because he needed the money.
Les: It’s really not for sale. It’s living in Seth’s office. We paid $500 for it.
What’s the most heartbreaking story you’ve seen?
Les: There was one show we did where this woman came in and her father passed away and she couldn’t bury him and she came to us. That was one of the heart wrenching stories we did. We helped her and her family bury her dad. It’s real life, every day, in Detroit.
“Hardcore Pawn” airs Tuesday on TruTV at 9 p.m.