Enter Poorman

Life's a (bikini) beach for KDOC's returning late-night host

Because this episode will tape at Knott's Halloween Haunt, a key question asked of all girls is whether or not they have a problem with horror makeup, as they will be turned into "vampiresses." All say that will be fine. Given that the auditions go for three hours, with prospective bikini babes constantly walking in and out, the Poorman has to be careful to ensure that all of them get to hear his basic spiel, like the part where he describes the upcoming Knott's antics as "a bikini-contest-fashion-show-slash-skit."

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Trenton first became the Poorman as the author of a book, The Poorman's Guide to Gourmet Dining for Under Six Dollars, which received a favorable notice from Art Buchwald. (During one of our interviews, he claimed he wrote the book in his teens; asked to confirm this later, he responded, "I don't tell anybody my age. Put whatever you want.") He maintains the tradition somewhat with a section on his website, Poorman.com, titled "Cheap Eats." But it's laughably small: Only seven restaurants are recommended, among them Denny's, KFC and El Pollo Loco.

It wasn't until he got a DJ job at KROQ in 1983, where he would work for 10 years, that the moniker truly became famous. Initially host of the station's morning show, he soon became best-known as the creator and host of Loveline, a call-in show that offered comedic and serious advice for listeners with love and sex problems. Originally co-hosted by DJ Swedish Egil, the show really caught on in 1984, when the Poorman brought in a med student named Drew Pinsky, whom he met at a party, to give the show some serious credentials. Pinsky became accredited as a doctor a few months later and has since shot to fame as "Dr. Drew," having appeared in movies opposite the likes of Tim Allen and the Olsen Twins, as well as on TV news and opinion shows as an expert on addiction.

The Poorman's not without his own cinematic credentials. At the height of his KROQ fame, he appeared in Heathers playing himself, more or less. "I didn't like it, to be honest with you," he says. "I couldn't even watch it all the way through; I couldn't even get to my scene. I just thought it was too weird."

The conservative Pinsky and the rowdy Poorman made a compelling on-air odd couple, though outside the station, the Poorman says, "We were best friends. We were in each other's weddings." But struggles with management would ultimately bring the gig to an end. As the Poorman tells it, he was upset that by doing Loveline five nights a week, he lost the chance to make personal appearances, which paid good money. To spite the higher-ups for not duly compensating him . . . well, let's let him tell it.

"Our bosses at KROQ also were Howard Stern's bosses, and I wore a shirt that said, 'Howard Stern' with a big, 800-pound woman's ass, and it got published in a radio magazine. I got suspended for poking fun at the teacher's pet, Howard, which is hard to believe." Later, he would get in trouble again for walking out of the Loveline studios when Pinsky tried to press him on-air for details about his divorce.

Now on some seriously thin ice, the Poorman got pranked by fellow DJs Kevin Ryder and Gene "Bean" Baxter, who sent a character named Michael the Maintenance Man to the Poorman's house at 6:30 a.m. to wake him up. "KROQ was built on pranks," he says, "and I said, 'The master's gonna show you how to do a real prank.' So I got on Loveline that night and said I was gonna have my birthday party at a celebrity's home. I found out where Bean lived and told people to meet me at the station, and we caravanned to his front lawn at midnight on a Thursday, and 300 people showed up. We were live on the air, his wife opens the door, and she's just freaking out. The chants are going: 'KEVIN AND BEAN SUCK!' That was the last day I worked at KROQ." He says he's never listened to a minute of the station since.

When asked for comment by the Weekly, Baxter e-mailed back: "I can't speak for any of my colleagues, but no comment here."

Trip Reeb, KROQ's former general manager who's now working for Magic 92.5 in San Diego, disputes the notion that a T-shirt was the sole reason for the Poorman's initial suspension, saying that "if that happened, it predates me." Though he declined to get into specifics, Reeb told the Weekly that there was no one reason for the suspensions or the firing, saying only that "he was difficult to work with" and it "was not the result of any one act" (referring to the Bean incident). Though Reeb admits the FCC never disciplined KROQ for anything the Poorman said or did, "that is not to say that there weren't some things that, if they had discovered them, would have gotten us in trouble."

The Poorman concedes there's some merit to the "difficult" rap. "If you're doing a talk show two hours a night, and you're No. 1 by over double the No. 2 station in the market, and you've got to be live and funny no matter what's going on in your life, it's a lot of pressure!" he says. "Quite honestly, I probably was difficult, and I realize that, and now that I've sat on the sidelines for a couple of years, maybe I could have been a little less difficult . . . but I don't know if that warranted me losing my career. I did a lot of good things for people, too."

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