Enter Poorman

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

If the Poorman expected Dr. Drew to stand by him, he was mistaken. Pinsky stuck with KROQ, and his stock kept going higher, first with Riki Rachtman as his new co-host, and later with Adam Carolla, with whom he would take the show to MTV and co-author a tie-in book. The Poorman still talks about Pinsky with the kind of anger that can only come from a place of lost camaraderie.

"It's funny seeing [Pinsky] on TV now," he says. "He's suddenly become his dad, with his gray hair and his self-righteousness. And the thing that'll always be in the back of his peanut is the fact he had to use somebody else's show to get his career going. Am I bitter about it? I will never not be bitter—it'd be like somebody getting their car stolen and watching 'em drive in front of your house in your stolen car every single day. I invented the whole concept, and anybody could host it. I call it the rhesus monkey theory: A rhesus monkey used to be able to pilot spaceships—you can put anybody in there, and they'll be able to glom off the publicity. It's an automatic publicity machine."

The Poorman sued KROQ for his legal due, but the station moved for a summary judgment, and the case never went to trial. "I had a really bad lawyer," the Poorman says.

The Poorman. Photo by Jack Gould.
The Poorman. Photo by Jack Gould.

Dr. Drew could not be reached for comment for this article, but a Los Angeles Times article from August 1993, shortly before the Poorman received his walking papers, hinted at some tension between the two, with Pinsky quoted as saying of his co-host that "the reason I am lucky enough to be welcomed into this environment and listened to by these kids is because I tolerate the impish child [the Poorman]" and that he was "very uncomfortable" with the show's tone. The article implied Pinsky martyred himself for the show in hopes of doing good, describing his voice as being "filled with anguish" while discussing the show and saying he "puts up with the show's shenanigans because he believes in Loveline as a place for young people to turn to on their own turf, free of charge, paperwork and embarrassment."

*     *     *

It's a cool Friday evening in Newport Beach, and in keeping with expectations, the Poorman is 45 minutes late. In the lot opposite his house, a massive tour bus is parked, driven by a tall, Goth dude who goes by the name Chris Motion. This was supposed to be the "Bikini Bus," but only one of the bikini girls, a busty model named Charlene, has shown up; the rest decided to drive their own cars, possibly uncomfortable with hanging in the back of a bus with an all-male crew. But Charlene isn't intimidated, and the crew are courteous; the Poorman's regular director—25-year-old Dorian Coss, who met the Poorman when he was trying to get his band's CD some airplay—may look like a ladykiller, but he has a regular girlfriend, so hitting on the bikini babes isn't an option.

It's dark by the time the Bikini Bus heads for Knott's, with exactly one bikini babe, the Poorman, a small crew of kids who can't be older than their early 20s ("If you put my personality with their head, then I'd probably be hookin' up more," says the Poorman) and one Weekly reporter. Perhaps they should rename this vehicle the Jockstrap Jaunt.

We enter Knott's via the back way, parking beside a slatted fence beyond which one can glimpse inside a horror maze full of strobe lights, eerie music and a monstrous mad scientist periodically emerging from the darkness to snatch at passersby.

The girls gradually arrive, having braved all kinds of traffic—one stays just long enough to take one of the free bikinis offered by a TV sponsor, then leaves without explanation. "It's the bikini flake factor," explains the Poorman. "I think what you see with a lot of girls, they just want to be pampered models. I mean, to me, with Bikini Beach, they gotta show some character. That's why it doesn't work with everybody." He has hired seven girls for the night with the expectation that maybe five will stay. We're already one down, and another has not shown up yet.

It took KROQ a decade to fire the Poorman, but his subsequent employers proved to be much quicker on the draw. Power 106, Star 98.7 and KIIS-FM were among the major LA stations to hire and fire him—though the latter only dropped him as part of a mass layoff of Rick Dees' staff. During his KROQ days, the Poorman used to insult Dees, branding him "Dick Cheese," but he changed his tune when a steady paycheck as Dees' sidekick was offered. "I'm sort of a hooker for the business," he admits.

A casual observer might assume the Poorman has had a career death wish, but, he says, if he did, it wasn't conscious. "While I'm doing it, I'm like a little kid on the mic, and you don't really think about all the people listening—you're just having fun. Off the air, I'm a mellow, relaxed guy. Just get a mic in front of me—I don't know what happens. It endears me to people who follow my career, but it's a double-edged sword."

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