People Get a Kick Out Of Pawn Stars!
metro.co.uk has a great article on our own Pawn Stars as well as some info regarding a new TV show in Europe! Pawn Stars UK!
Every recession has a silver lining and, for Rick Harrison, business is booming. The force behind The World Famous Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, he acknowledges that the economic downturn is a key factor in making him a TV star.
‘A lot of Americans have had a hard time these past few years,’ he says. ‘So the idea that you could have something tucked away that’s worth something – that’s a hopeful kind of feeling.’
Harrison, a dead-ringer for The Shield’s Michael Chiklis (no, you wouldn’t mess with him) is the frontman of Pawn Stars, second only to Jersey Shore in audience figures for American reality TV shows.
A canny mix (in British parlance) of Antiques Roadshow and Flog It, and now in its seventh season, Pawn Stars is at the forefront of the History Channel’s move away from academia to a populist brand.
It’s now screened around the world, from Britain to Japan and South America. The cult appeal has been cranked up a notch as celebrity fans, including Bob Dylan and Steve Carell, ‘drop by’ the store.
Tucked away on the corner of an anonymous Las Vegas side-street, away from the glitz and kitsch hotels, Harrison’s store is where last night’s less-than-successful gamblers come to fund the next day on the fruit machines and card tables. It’s a treasure trove, much smaller than it appears on TV, where the shelves heave with everything from Evel Knievel’s driving licence and world championship boxing belts to a 7lb silver bar and a Brazil World Cup winner’s medal.
These days, the store is more packed with tourists than players – it’s the city’s biggest non-casino attraction. That’s down to a mix of hard bargaining and oddball comedy, with shop assistant-cum-cult hero Chumlee vying with three generations of Harrisons for air-time. It’s a character tradition that’s very Vegas.
‘Las Vegas doesn’t have a long history but the history it does have is really good, really colourful,’ says Harrison. ‘I met a guy recently who told me all about a brothel here in town back in the day. He told me how Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr would be down there for days on the lash.’
Harrison is a curious mix, a bookworm and autodidact full of crazy facts (‘Did you know the lions in Trafalgar Square have dog’s feet because they were modelled on Great Danes?’) while also being, in his own words, a ‘media whore’ who pitched the idea for Pawn Stars to several channels because he’d always wanted to star in a TV show.
His first love is history. ‘Don’t ask me anything about popular culture,’ he says. ‘When the producers said: “We really want you to meet Adam Levine,” I hadn’t got a clue.’
He’s also eager to dismiss the idea that pawn is a rip-off game. In one deal, a customer came in with a Fabergé Black Widow Spider: she wanted only $1,000 but he paid her $15,000 and sold it for $23,000.
‘I think the real secret of the show is that it’s about kismet. The biggest compliment I get is that people watch because they get a kick out of guessing what something is worth but that they know that they’ll learn a lot of stuff from it too. That makes me happy.’