“Oops.I Banged A Tranny” was the name of the Jerry Springer episode that aired on Nov. 11, 2009. Eight Castleton students crowded around the 25-inch TV in the corner of the common room in Haskell suite 101 pointing and laughing at their own faces smiling back at them on the screen.The eight students had departed from the warmth of their beds five weeks earlier at 4:30 on a Tuesday morning. Four men, four women, one Toyota, one Subaru, and four and a half hours to Stamford, Conn. to see the phenomenon known as “The Jerry Springer Show.”
With Dunkin’ Donuts pulsing through their veins, the former long-term inhabitants of the two cars power-walked their way to the studio at the corner of Broad St. and Atlantic St. And smiling down at them was a 20-foot photo of the man himself, Jerry Springer. They had arrived.
The Studio waiting area was dull with some posters here and there of Jerry, his former security member, Steve Wilcos, and Maury Povich, but it was classy. The people inhabiting it, however, were a different story.
“Half of these people look like they could be on this show,” said Mike Campbell to his friend Adam Desautels, the man who orchestrated the trip.
“I called and asked if they could give tickets to a group of eight Vermont college students,” said Desautels remembering his phone call. “The lady said the biggest party they do is four, and then she put me on hold. When she came back she was like, ‘We can do fifteen?’ I was like ‘sure!'”
The eight friends received their tickets and were ushered to the front of the line when the show was about to begin taping. They were V.I.P.’s and when they entered the studio, they were put in the front row in front of the floor seats.
“Dude! Jerry’s going to be walking right in front of us!” Desautels said to a fellow student.
“It looks a lot bigger on TV,” said Amanda Payea to her friend, Jennifer Gabriel, who shared a look of agreement. The two had stopped to ogle the set. It consisted of the crooked “Jerry Springer” sign synonymous with the show, spindling stairs to a catwalk, which the eight of them and 200 other audience members would watch Jerry walk across to begin his show, and a stripper’s pole that he would slide down to commence the program.
The director, Todd, stood to the side of the stage and gave the audience cues to stand and applaud, chant and taunt, and of course shake their fists while saying, “Jerry, Jerry, Jerry.”
The cheering and applauding began and the eight students rose from their seats to watch Jerry go through his “stunts” and come across the their row to shake each of their hands.
The first guest was a woman whose man had been cheating on her with what she thought was a woman. The person strutted on stage in a dress and makeup, and the theme that would go on for most of the show began. Pushing, shoving, grabbing, hair/wig pulling, and all other forms of fighting unraveled before the eight pairs of eyes.
“I did have sex with your man!” the person told Jerry’s first guest. “And another thing, I’m also a man!”
Following the first wacky story came a lesbian who cheated on her lover with her lover’s brother, a cowgirl whose cowboy boyfriend was sending naked pictures of himself to another woman, and a “redneck” whose wife was too fat and wouldn’t stay with him until he erased his debt. Jerry spent his time during commercial breaks joking with and making fake passes at audience members.
The part of the program that the eight friends had all been waiting for had arrived. All the guests were brought on stage and Jerry took his microphone around to various audience members to make fun of the guests. Whoever had the best joke got to go on camera and say, “We’ll be right back with Jerry’s final thought,” and won a free t-shirt.
A larger man with brown hair to his shoulders called one of the lesbians Queen Latifa in his joke, and she returned his statement by calling him, “the Fat Jonas Brother,” to the delight of the audience.
Before the friends realized what had happened the microphone had found its way into Desautels’ hand and he too had something to ask the same guest as before.
“When you two go to family reunions, do you pick up chicks together?” he asked the woman and her brother nervously. He was stuttering almost too badly to understand, and some didn’t.
“Man! Sit your ugly-ass down!” she told him.
He sat right down.
Three seats down sat Kyle Bennett, who had been told earlier by the director to stop chanting, “Boobs, Boobs.” He took hold of the microphone and without appearing nervous looked straight at the topless cowboy.
“Hey Brokeback Mountain,” he said pointing at himself with his thumb. “You want real muscles, you should take some notes.”
“Let’s see it,” the cowboy returned.
Five weeks later, every person in Haskell 101 is laughing hard enough to keel over. They are watching their friend remove his button-down shirt and undershirt and begin flexing to cameras, guests, and audience members.
Bennett was laughing as well. He had a smug look on his face and the free t-shirt he won that day on his back.