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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"Auction Hunters" Uncensored: "You can imagine the mayhem that's going to ensue"

When I realized that my column would need to come to an end, I wasn’t sure how I was going to end it. What show would get the spotlight?

But then everything fell into place and I was able to once again speak with Allen Haff and Ton Jones, Spike TV’s “Auction Hunters.” The show is going live tonight and if the episode is anything like our conversation, heaven help us all.

These guys are so much fun and it was a perfect show to go out on. Here is our interview in its entirety, except for any words I might have missed because I was laughing so hard, or coughing from laughing so hard. The guys talked about the live episode, the upcoming episodes in Alaska and about the two of them coming to blows this season. I honestly can’t tell you what is true and what isn’t here, so I’ll just let you decide for yourself…

And you can see the live episode tonight (Wednesday, March 21st) at 9 p.m. on Spike TV…

Me: Hi guys, it’s great to talk with you again.

Ton Jones: How you doin’?

Oh, you know. Hangin’ out. I know you guys are busy.

TJ: Keepin’ busy like always.

So Ton, that’s you. Allen, are you there?

Allen Haff: Yeah, right here.

Well, you were being quiet so I wanted to make sure.

AH: Sometimes I find it’s best if I’m quiet and then Ton thinks he’s going to get a word in edgewise. Then I just take the thing over. I’m kidding. We’re going to do an experiment this time. We’re going to let him carry it and I’ll chime in here and there. How about that?


AH: Last time I was a real pig, so I owe him this one. Those West Virginians love Ton. They’re a little ambivalent about me.

Alright, Ton, then I’ll ask you. How do we think this whole live thing is going to work? What’s the gameplan here?

TJ: Actually, you probably know as much as we do. It’s for charity and it’s going to be live. We actually don’t know what’s going to happen yet.

How long does it actually take for everything we see in a show to happen?

TJ: From start to finish, an episode usually takes anywhere from four to eight days.

AH: The one thing that people do not realize when they watch our 22-minute show is all the work that Ton and I do. Most of it doesn’t make the cut of the show because it’s really not that sexy. It’s not that interesting. There’s a lot of sweaty, hard work and the camera crew has already gone home and we’re still there cleaning up the mess. What you see on TV is maybe 20 percent of what our business is. I can’t even tell you. We just found a really cool vintage boat that we went out on. Ton and I made a sale, we got to go out on the boat and the cameras weren’t there. We have an exciting life…But most of it doesn’t make the cut. As hard as we work in those 22 minutes, believe me it’s a lot harder in real life.

So Allen, how are those four to eight days going to get condensed into one single episode?

AH: I don’t see that happening. It’s going to be an hour so that will be important. Literally, it’s one of those deals where we understand it’s invitation only. It’s the first time I’ve ever been invited to anything in my life. I was always picked last in kickball. So this is new. But for charity, and for vets, Ton and I will be there. We will do what we do. But other than that, we really don’t have a lot of the information…We know that that night, that day, we’re going to be at that auction and hopefully, we’ll see something worth bidding on.

Hopefully, or it’s going to be short.

AH: Yeah, well, Ton and I can always do our vaudeville act. That’s pretty terrific so if this auction thing doesn’t work out, we’ll just start doing our musical numbers. I’m kidding. We don’t actually have a vaudeville act. I know you were probably thinking, wow. But no, we don’t. Thank you for laughing. Yeah, so we’re going to tear it up. I can’t tell you that it’s going to be awesome, because truthfully, a lot of what we do isn’t that awesome. It’s a lot of hard work…I tell you what I will guarantee. You’re going to get a glimpse of Ton you’ve never seen before. Because he is wonderful on the program, but in real life, he doesn’t have an editor. So I guess the one exciting thing is that you’re going to get a taste of Ton—the viewers are going to get a concentrated taste of Ton—that they have never seen before. He is a very different person.

TJ: I’m not disagreeing with anything he’s saying.

AH: Thank you. All of his rough spots get ironed out in editing. But you know what? You’re going to see them.

TJ: Shoot, yeah.

AH: He may go crazy. I may offend him in some way. We might actually come to blows, which happens in real life, but never makes the cut of the show. So we’ll see what happens. I can’t control him…Look what I’ve got. I’ve got the greatest show on Earth, come step right up. Give me your two bits. And then all of a sudden, Ton breaks free. He’s going to break free from his chains. Someone’s going to get hurt and the cameras are going to be there to see it. I think it’s very ill advised. I’m having second thoughts. I think I’m coming down with a cold. I’m not sure I’m going to be there. We’ll see what happens.

Ton, please jump in here and defend yourself.

TJ: I can’t. He didn’t tell a lie…I’m just praying to God for an eight-second delay.

Is that when you’re thankful you’re on cable and not broadcast?

TJ: We have a lot of fun and I do not have an edit program in my mind. Things usually come out whether they want to hear it or not. No one ever has to ask me what I’m thinking because I’ll tell them…This could get bad.

So is that your number one concern, Ton, or do you have other concerns about what might happen or not happen?

TJ: The bad thing is none of it concerns me which is the way I am. It’s a concern for everybody else. For me, it’s another day at work. They wanted to film Allen and I digging storage units and doing what we do. That’s what they’re doing. They signed up for it. Now they’re going to have to live it.

AH: The thing I worry about is we agreed to do this live event for Spike because the pitch was we were going to be able to help some of our vets from Afghanistan and the wars in Iraq. So, of course, we’re in for that. What I’m a little bit worried about, what I’m stressed about is we don’t always make money. Sometimes we just get back what we invested. For all I know we’re going to end up sending a George Foreman grill over to the vets instead of the kind of money I’d like to be sending them. So that kind of puts the pressure on. If we weren’t doing it for someone else, we’d just have that awkwardness of digging into Geraldo’s vault. I could live with that. I’m not ashamed of that because it happens in our business. But I’m going to feel like I let the guys down and that’s going to kind of bug me. So I hope that this auction is as high-end as we’ve heard and that there’s stuff worth bidding on so we can make some serious money for these guys. So I guess that’s where my pressure is. That’s what I’m worried about. Will it be entertaining? Yes. Ton and I laugh, we entertain the crap out of each other all day long. So as long as we’re having fun, I think the audience will enjoy it. But can I guarantee you this is going to be the best TV you’ve ever tuned into? No. But I guess that’s what’s exciting about the whole idea.

There are probably going to be some people who watch the show just to see what happens, Ton, what are you hoping to show viewers that they’ve never seen? Or what do you hope that they’ll see that they won’t see in some of these other shows that sort of do what you guys do?

TJ: Most of all, don’t get me wrong. I love to get new viewers. It helps out ratings and it helps us out in the long run. But this is for charity. And at the end of the day, I would like to make as much money for the charity and I’d like the viewers to also think about it and take a step back and realize there’s others with a lot worse problems than us like everything from Vietnam vets all the way to the Afghanistan vets to the Fallen Heroes Fund. All of them. And all I hope is that at the end of the day is all the viewers take a step back and say hey, I have an extra five bucks that I can donate to one of these funds. And hopefully make a difference.

AH: Wow. I like that too. What he said. See what happens when I don’t suck all of the oxygen out of the room?

That was pretty good.

AH: You’re not going to get that on the show. The editors would have cut that right out…So tell me about, if you don’t mind, I want to hear about your publication. Where are you based because I know West Virginia a little bit. I spent some time there. I dated a girl from WVU and I have to say that I survived two Pitt weekends. So I feel like I know a little about the area.

Well, we are from the Marshall community. So we don’t claim WVU. Huntington, West Virginia. The home of the Thundering Herd.

AH: You’re not from there originally, are you?

I’m from right across the river in Southern Ohio.

AH: I know Ohio because I’m a Michigan guy and I worked at Cedar Point, so I got you.

You worked at Cedar Point?

AH: I did that for three summers. I really enjoyed that. That was my happy time.

Were you one of those barkers that said, step right up and all that stuff?

AH: A little bit like that, yeah. I drove paddle boats and told jokes…You take the big boat out and you’re like Captain Allen and you do your thing. What a fun job. I’ve had a lot of fun jobs. This isn’t one of them I have to tell you. It was hard before, but with TV cameras, it’s even harder because we have to deal with production now. So it’s more challenging.

Once you guys get the live episode under your belt we’re going to see a lot of other really cool stuff that you guys have already filmed. So Ton, give me a little teaser about the rest of the season.

TJ: I’m not sure if I’m allowed to tell you—

AH: I’ll tell you. Ton fights a dwarf. I’ll tell you that right now. And the outcome is shocking. Also, we go to Alaska right away, which is amazing. Totally wild country. We loved Alaska and didn’t want to leave. We spent a lot of time in Alaska and some of those episodes are going to show up right away and I am telling you they are wild. Great people, great characters, and I am telling you we went head to head with some bad, bad people. I really think the Alaska episode is the funnest thing we’ve ever done. When I look at that, if you like the show so far, you’re going to love these because it’s like “Auction Hunters” on steroids. I really love what they capture and what we had the opportunity to see in Alaska. Those were special.

Ton, would you agree with his assessment about Alaska?

TJ: Alaska was awesome. I want to go back.

AH: Did I mention Ton also fights a grizzly bear? You can print that. I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true. You know that, right?

Seriously, Ton, is this what Allen does to you? You guys go some place and he just looks for something for you to fight?

AH: Yes, that’s right. That’s what happens…He’s a feisty guy. He does not take any disrespect from any man or grizzly, for that matter. And no man is too small to incur Ton’s wrath. Oh, let me tell you something. This is a fact. If you watch this next season, Ton punches me. I swear to God, he punches me and it’s on camera. He’s very abusive normally, but he takes it to a whole new level this season and let’s just say we come to blows. And maybe or maybe not, I punch him right in his face.

TJ: Oh, who swung first?

AH: Who swung first. The fact that there’s a second swing after that tells you all you need to know about that fight. So, we’re tearing it up.

I’m sure that if Ton swung at you, you deserved it, Allen.

AH: Why would you say that? That was terrible. Now, I’m really going to have to think about this. But yeah, I had a feeling that if they caught that fight, that some people would be rooting for Ton to whoop my tail pretty bad. All I’ll say is that I can hold my head up high. I won’t say it was a decisive victory on my part, but I definitely, I held my own in this.

TJ: Not bad.

AH: Thank you. That goes a long way toward my healing. I appreciate you saying that. We’re still friends. Let me put it that way.

But Ton, I’m right. If you guys came to blows it was because he deserved it.

TJ: I would never swing without someone deserving it.

AH: Let me say you guys get to see the edited version of Ton. You have no idea what he’s capable of. Please, consider this a warning. I’m telling you, this guy’s an animal. And they put him on TV so I think that some people think he comes off like a sweet guy. And he is capable of being one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. But he is also capable of being one of the most horrific atrocities ever to curse the Earth…Ton you’re not upset that I said that, are you?

TJ: No, I enjoy the fact that you think I’m not an angel, which I am…I’m a sweet guy. Watch the shows.

You guys are so awesome. I love talking with you. I have to tell you guys something. I actually have another job so you guys are the last show to be featured in my column.

AH: Aww, congratulations on your new job. Thank you.

I’m going back to the world of PR, so this will be my next to last column. I’m going to give a mushy goodbye next week, but you guys are the final show to be featured in my column.

TJ: Aww…

AH: Thank you. That is really sweet, thank you. We could use somebody like you. As you can tell, Ton and I could use a little PR. So if they don’t treat you right at your new place, give us a call, will you?

I don’t think I could control you guys.

AH: No, there’s no controlling really. That’s why you need the editing program. So you can imagine the mayhem that’s going to ensue when they go live with us. You know, with me, you’re going to get what you get, but with Ton, honestly, he’s unpredictable. I’m just trying to warn everybody that this isn’t going to be what they bargained for. Whatever you think it is, it’s not like that at all…Finally, America is going to see how he really acts and maybe you’ll change your mind about me deserving a beating or any of that. Truthfully, it’s a different situation in real life than it is on that cut of the show. They pick very carefully what they show you.

TJ: Whatever.

AH: We have our problems like anybody else who works together. We have a lot of stress with what we do when we’re doing it correctly. I’m going to try and enjoy this whole live thing. I don’t know how they’re going to fit a day’s worth of work into an hour. That’s their problem. God bless ‘em. They’re going to be really stressed out. Ton and I are going to have a good time. Quite possibly, there will be alcohol involved. Ton says a lot of alcohol. I’m going to hold you to that, Ton, because honestly we’ve had a hard run. We’ve been buying and selling. I don’t even want to think about how many things have gone through our hands this year that were turned into money. But we’ve been at this thing now for like 20 months. So this is kind of like our fun. It’s a graduation night kind of deal. I’m excited about the new episodes, so anything that we can do to point people in the right direction with what we’ve done with our new episodes, awesome. I’m down with it.

I’m very much looking forward to this. You’ve really whet my appetite about what kind of mayhem you guys might be ensuing.

AH: I’m telling you it’s on. I was telling Ton today. Remember there was an actor who had a rant—Christian Bale?...And he goes on for like three minutes. You remember that? That’s happening. That is happening. We don’t know who. We don’t know who is going to suffer the brunt of our rant, but I will probably bust it out on somebody else in good fun. I look forward to the opportunity. I understand they hired some poor guy who considers himself a host to try and wrangle us. That’s hilarious. I can’t wait to see this guy. If he doesn’t get locked in a storage container by the end of the night, we’re just not doing our jobs correctly.

TJ: He’s going down.

AH: I’m serious. If this nerd thinks he’s going to come over and try to, ‘Well gentlemen, how are you feeling about this?’ when grown-ups are working? I feel bad for the little guy, honestly.

TJ: Call him victim.

AH: Oh, he calls him victim. Fair enough. I can’t wait to see what they’re going to try to do to us. But it’s on.

You guys are awesome. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. I wish you guys the very best of luck.

AH: Okay, so in conclusion, your headline, spoiler alert, is like, somebody is getting punched in the mouth…It may be me getting punched in the mouth, but somebody is getting punched in the mouth. I promise you that.

Thank you guys so much.

AH: Well we appreciate you spending your dwindling hours thinking about us and our little program. Thank you for that.

Photos Credit: Spike TV