A beast RV known as Bad Brains chugs down to pick me up at the VICE office. The door swings open and a man with braids named Keith Cecere tells me to come on in. I do and I start having a very nice time immediately, even though he is not wearing a shirt and has a tramp stamp. There are only three out of the five dashing young men of the new IFC internet series Funnel of Darkness, but in retrospect I think that was more than enough. Rich Ruggiero and Brian Sachson who sincerely loves his girlfriend and is considering dual-euthanizing if one of them gets sick were also present. I quickly begin to understand why Keith is shirtless: it is 90 degrees outside and the RV doesn’t have air conditioning. The entire thing is carpeted in heinous shades of brown and tan, making it a mobile desert. They no doubt use this vehicle for picking up ladies but their PR guy told me I would probably be the only girl to ever step foot inside. It was an honor.
The show follows five men as they try to get the perfect shot of a tornado. It is a joke but certainly not a mockery of storm chasing because the guys actually know what they are talking about. Keith was the technical director of Storm Chasers on the Discovery Channel for three years, and I'm not sure what other credentials the crew claims to have, but you better believe they exist. The amount of charisma in the shit mobile was outstanding and I was quite enamored with them all by the end.
Keith (who is driving): So what we’re doing right now is a) looking at the weather and b) checking out hot tail and c) just trying to kill time before beer o’clock. Right now we’re just out doing press, which is cool because we have the most obnoxious vehicle known to man and you can’t not look at it.
Rich: It’s from ’84 but it looks like it’s from ’77, right? The thing is, RV style hasn’t caught up with the rest of culture so it’s always seven years behind.
Vice: Where did you get this?
Brian: We got it upstate, off eBay.
Do you get a lot of chicks in this?
Rich: This is kind of a date-rape van.
Brian: I suggested boarding up all the windows with cardboard to make it more enticing to women.
Rich: (squeals) Keith! Keith!
Rich: You were like this far (makes a hand motion to represent an inch more or less) from that car.
Keith: I know, but I didn’t hit it. You know how I roll, I roll tight. Tight!
Brian: I’m the driver on the show but ironically enough I got a DWI so now I can’t drive. Not during the show, but I’m currently on trial. I only have a conditional license so I’m trying to drive as little as possible.
Rich: But he’s really good at driving.
Brian: I’m a kick-ass driver.
I was watching the show and I find it kind of confusing.
Keith: What confused you?
Rich: Whether we were acting or not? In the show we are sometimes [acting] and sometimes it’s just kind of how we are. It was a scripted thing but we also shot a lot randomly.
Brian: You know what it is? We were playing characters and it was scripted but it was very much off the cusp. Cup? Cusp? Off the cup.
Rich: A lot of it was very unscripted.
I didn’t think it was funny at all.
Brian: I don’t think women are going to.
I think maybe someone will.
Brian: Some. One.
What demographic are you trying to reach?
Brian: I think men ages 18 to 90. Except 36-year-olds. In all honesty, I think the show is definitely geared towards men. There’s sex in it, some violence, there is chasing. There is drug use, alcohol abuse.
For the next five to seven minutes they talk about chest and pubic hair. It is not worth transcribing. Keith demonstrated what it was like to shave down there for men. It was foul.
How many episodes are there going to be or is it just a five episode kind of deal?
Rich: This is really our pilot.
Have you actually seen a tornado?
Rich: You want to see some footage? (He whips out his computer and shows me about five tornado videos and I say “wow” a lot.)
Keith: We [him and Rich] filmed tornadoes for the Discovery Channel for three years and that’s how we got this job.
So then why is this a joke? Why can’t you just be serious?
Keith: It is serious. Chasing is serious.
Brian: The problem with a storm chasing show is that it’s just a bunch of geeky nerdy scientists that are doing this and doing that and you cut back to an interview with somebody who was in it and the scientist is like, “That was a very intense four but I’ve seen more serious ones, we had high velocity winds.” We wanted to make a show where it’s just a bunch of alcoholic renegades. So then the architects over here put it together and IFC liked it so that’s what we did. It’s a good change from other shows that rely on real people that suck.
Keith: Yes, we film tornadoes seriously, we’ve been hit by tornadoes, we’ve been as close as you can be and all the funny stuff happens right off camera and it can never be used for Discovery because they are a very serious network. They focus on the science.
What does your GF think of all this?
Brian: My GF?
Brian: Oh, I thought you meant my grandfather and I was going to say that he is dead. My girlfriend likes it.
I think we are breathing a lot of fumes.
We step outside and they all climb on the roof. I see a dog and make a new friend. When we go back inside Rich shows me the T.A.R.D.
Rich: This is the T.A.R.D. It stands for Tornado Audio Recording Device. So what we have here is a lavalier mic—it’s a production type mic. We want to capture the sound of the tornado but cut out all of that wind. This dome acts like a microphone diaphragm so it blocks the wind out but it’ll still resonate. You can get the essence of the tornado without the wind. We can transmit the signal to inside Bad Brains. That’s the T.A.R.D. We get video with the device back there. We’ve got a handy-cam going to a VCR powered by a car battery that is inside the case.
They begin to show me the logistics of how the RV can sleep five. A bed comes down from the ceiling, two of them have actual beds, Brian sleeps on the couch, and that only equaled four so who knows where the other one beds down.
Brian: You know what? Everyone on the crew from the fucking director down to the PA and everyone in between got hotel rooms except for the fucking talent. We all slept in the fucking RV.
It would have been bullshit if you didn’t.
Brian: We’re fucking real. Hehe.
Keith: We’re method.
Rich: It was two weeks of craziness. I fell off a 30-foot cliff.
Brian: And then hooked up with one of the actresses afterwards. We’re shooting this ending bonfire, eating mushrooms scene.
Rich: We’ve got a farm, we’ve got beer, we’ve got food. It’s a party.
Brian: So we’re shooting it and people are getting fucking drunk. Rich is hammered.
They talk about hooking up with lasses and I stop listening.
Brian: [Rich] went out to smoke a cigarette and there was the edge of the cliff and down below is a river. He stands out there and the earth must have just completely—
Rich: It was dirt ledge. Yeah, and it just totally collapsed and I tumbled head over foot 30 feet into the river. I was really drunk. Apparently when I got to the bottom I still had my beer in my hand.
Brian: We shined a flashlight down there and Rich was all bleeding all over his face! And on his arms and his legs. And he sprained his ankle. One of the girls went back with him—
Rich: And iced my ankle. Luckily it was the last night of shooting so I didn’t have to walk around after that.
Keith goes into La Superior to get tacos. Everyone gets very jolly in anticipation. We talk about how IFC should be throwing them a party and I advise them both to be infinitely more demanding. We talked more about their demographic and I produced an equation from the depths of my mind that computed their true demographic: 12-year-old tweens. “We are not pushing a positive message…at all. I feel awesome about it. I am promoting drugs and alcohol and sexual promiscuity. And good driving even though I got a DWI and I am not condoning that to the youth of America," says Brian.
Rich spills taco juice on the carpet. “God damnit Rich we can’t take you anywhere,” scolds Keith. In truth the RV was pretty clean but that’s why tan carpet is so tricky—it absorbs every spill and conceals all stains. My only complaint was the overbearing gas leak. When asked if I would sleep in here or go on a trip, I said sure, but there is no way in hell I would travel in that death machine. Then they started about bitches and getting hit in the back of the head with skateboards. It is almost as if Keith is constantly performing impromptu slam poetry that flows from his soul. “Did you know that Keith has played Jesus in multiple movies? A music video and a documentary. He looks like Jesus,” Rich says. I used to think God was made of clouds so I do not think that Keith looks anything like God or Jesus and Rich thought that God was made of candy, which is very telling of the type of person he is.
I take myself on a more detailed tour of the RV while Rich shows me some of his musical instruments and the shower that is used to store the drums. They have a band and their most famous song, featured in Episode 4, "Anarchy in the O.K." I believe it is called “Coke Dick.” I told them I would put it on my music blog and I may because it is actually quite good. First I needed to know how they planned on fitting into pop culture.
If you guys were the Backstreet Boys who would be who?
Keith: Rich would be the player.
That wasn’t one of the Backstreet Boys.
Keith: I would be the ethnic dude, Brian would be the dancer, James would be the rocker, Rich would be the sensitive one and Mike would be Mr. Business.
When not chasing storms, Bad Brains spends the better part of its life residing under the BQE. No one touches it because why would they want to? Unless they want to steal the T.A.R.D. If you want to steal the T.A.R.D. you could snag it under the BQE pretty much without hassle. “People know us around here. Nobody is fucking with our shit,” says Keith. They plan on opening their “hang machine” to the homeless after Bad Brains dies.
The series debuted Monday on Daily Motion. I think I will actually try to watch it now because I am in love with all three of them but when a man chases storms for a living your heart is destined to be broken.