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<i>Rags To Bitches:</i> The Little Reality Show That Couldn’t, or Didn’t, But Should’ve

Rags To Bitches: The Little Reality Show That Couldn’t, or Didn’t, But Should’ve

Munk's Junk (Everything Else), Television

Elisa and David sizzle reel

In the aftermath of my involvement as an original cast member of the Sundance Channel/World of Wonder reality show Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys, people have occasionally asked me, “Whatever happened to the show or a follow-up?” so I thought I would take a minute to tell the story (to the extent that I understand it myself) and take the opportunity to share the sizzle reel (or “demo”) for the follow-up, Rags to Bitches.

After the first season of Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys (or GWLBWLB) ended in January, 2011, my partner on the show, Elisa Casas, and I eagerly waited to hear about season two. Naturally after Sundance’s huge marketing initiative (buses! billboards! posters!) and frequent assertion that GWLBWLB was an unqualified success and the network’s top-rated program, why wouldn’t we be confident in its renewal?  Plus the Facebook page for the show had over 300,ooo fans, a figure that suggested a modicum of transparency, as opposed to the Sundance Channel’s perplexing admission that they were too small to formally get ratings.  The show getting picked up for another season was paramount for us because only a second season would enable us to begin to capitalize on the show’s success through ancillary marketing endeavors and, perhaps, even a reasonable payday (this would be the appropriate time to note that the fee for the first season was so bad it wasn’t even called a “fee,” but an “honorarium” which, in addition to being an incorrect use of the word, is also a fancy way of saying “we don’t pay our talent.”)  Then, a somewhat surprising thing happened…nothing happened.

Berman Braun Sizzle
On the set of “Rags to Bitches” – 2011

Actually, that’s not exactly true. Something did happen, but it was something weird.  Instead of continuing with the show in the city where they claimed to be so successful, they moved it to Nashville where I can only assume that it failed since there was never a third season. So either the show wasn’t so successful in the first place or Sundance fucked it up.  This is a question for which the answer may have to be relegated to my “things I will never know for sure” file.   Perhaps Sundance made the somewhat understandable mistake of thinking that the cast members were less important than the concept itself, or the related but unforgivable mistake of thinking Nashville is as interesting as New York.

After processing the disappointment, I spent the entire next year first writing then shopping a new treatment for us and putting a deal together with a different production company to produce a sizzle reel—ostensibly our follow up to GWLBWLB.

Berman Braun reality show
With “Rags to Bitches” co-star, great vintage collector and all-around character Lee Herling

Like anything creative, corporate, and speculative, putting together a TV project is at best distressingly slow but mostly just distressing.  Throughout the spring and into the summer of 2011 I was still working with Elisa at Chelsea Girl Vintage in Soho and simultaneously putting together the pieces for our next vehicle.  The first thing I did was go into an editing room and cut together the best bits of our work on the last show.  We had hoped that this would be enough to get something else going, but it wasn’t.  Our agent set us up with all of the New York production companies but the reaction was always the same: you guys are great, but we don’t know what to do with you.

I decided we had to spell it out for them so Elisa and I came up with a new  and quite simple concept: a docu-soap set in our crazy, wacky world of vintage clothing, with extra emphasis on how we resource and merchandise the store and the characters that inhabited our day-to-day lives.  Reality TV people are extremely trend-based and that year docu-soaps were hot, or so we were told.  This seemed intuitive because Elisa and I had been essentially living a soap opera for decades at that point and we didn’t have to pretend, lending something quite unique to a reality show—reality.  My brother Rob came up with the snarky title Rags to Bitches and we were on our way.

After finding a new attorney, we were introduced to a Los Angeles—based production company called BermanBraun who had a first-look deal with NBC.  They liked us and the idea.  By now it was August.  They committed to filming a sizzle, reel which is, by the way, not a small investment.  They found us a first-tier director, Kathryn Takis, and we prepared a shooting schedule that included the requisite trip to the flea market to shop (we had done this on the Sundance show), a field trip to collector Lee Herling’s house outside the city to buy inventory (big hair, big personality=good TV) and, finally, an extended sit-down interview where we would explain our personal history and our process for resourcing the store.  Of course, we planned on filming extensively in Chelsea Girl.  The shoot was scheduled for September.

David Munk reality show
Shooting the sit downs in Elisa’s loft

Meanwhile, the shit hit the fan at the store.  We had come home from L.A. in late August and our landlord, Adam Horovitz of the Beastie Boys, told us the building that had housed the store for many years (also his house) was being sold and we basically had four weeks to clear out.  Disaster.  We sheepishly went back to the production company and told them that we were looking for a new location, but we would have to shoot a reality show set in a store without a store.  Curiously this did not deter them from making the trip or following through on their investment in us.  Though it definitely created tension between Elisa and myself, it was not the good kind of tension that we could use on camera and got us on TV in the first place, but the bad kind of tension that you have to pretend doesn’t exist.

Surprisingly, the shoot went very well considering the fact that there was no longer a store and the finished product seemed, at least to us, better than so much of the stuff you see on reality TV.  We had one more set back when the “key man” who had championed the project at the Berman Braun got promoted, which left us in the hands of someone else we knew less well.  This may or may not have affected the outcome—probably not.  They had a few meetings with networks, got turned down and by New Year day 2012, it was over: the arc of a project over a single year, from birth to death.

But maybe there’s life after death.  It does seem such a shame that after all that work and money spent, the production company essentially gave up after three meetings.  So here it is, back from the dead, our sizzle reel for Rags to Bitches, the little reality show that couldn’t, or didn’t, but should’ve.  Let me know what you think.

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7 Comments

  1. corinne
    November 6, 2013 at 5:22 pm
    Reply

    hahaha….hi david …just gave this a look/read….fun! (and what is really funny, is that uncle tony is at 7:30 sitting in the background….michael’s uncle….a lovely man with a good eye for jewelry.) miss you. c.

  2. Michele
    November 7, 2013 at 3:32 am
    Reply

    I absolutely loved it!!! Sad it didn’t make it. I believe it would have been a huge hit.

  3. ProfLitty
    November 17, 2013 at 12:07 am
    Reply

    So many cable channels where this would be doable and watchable.

    • David Munk
      November 18, 2013 at 9:12 pm

      Thank you. I agree but that doesn’t seem to make it any easier to push anything through the system.

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