Regis Francis Xavier Philbin, elfin television presenter and former sidekick of Rat Packer Joey Bishop, exited the closed set of our world on July 24th at the tender age of 88. Regis was unique in that he was genuinely beloved by a broad range of people, and was an ebullient, welcome presence on the small screen for literally decades.
I am now in the unique position of confessing that in 1996, I secretly attempted to form a cult around him.
There is an unspoken rule in life, to which the layman remains unaware; you can only lead one cult. In 1991, I officially established Poddism, the Science of Practical Hedonism (formerly The Official Cult of Mike the Pod), expanded from comic strips I drew as a high schooler. Five years later, I got greedy, and under heavy influence from SubGenius literature, I tried to pull it off again.
Despite my considerable efforts, it didn’t take.
So. In the cowtown days, when internet use was uncommon and generally alien, how did one ratify a new cult? Simple. You got out your typewriter, hammered out a manifesto, cut and pasted it into a barely-readable collage (mixed with clippings from the Weekly World News), and hit Kinko’s at 4 in the morning to churn out a big stack of pamphlets. You wanna know why the kids in Fast Times at Ridgemont High huffed the dittos they were handed? Because you could catch a buzz off the fumes of hot copy-machine toner. If you own anything I self-published from 1991 to 2004, you can bet your bottom dollar I sniffed it like a coke fiend as soon as it landed in the paper tray.
To chair this exciting new movement, I
created employed the mysterious James Dean Papadapolous, so that matters would not be tainted by my sardonic presence (and I could shirk any and all legal repercussions engendered by the Foundation). I allowed Mr. Papadapolous to bang away at my old Brother typewriter, until the ethos of our new cult was made flesh.
You see, JDP endured a harrowing experience in 1982 that changed his life forever. Here, I’ll let him tell it, in his own inimitable way.
Fourteen years ago I was the victim of an ALIEN “ABDUCTION”: but whereas other “abductees” have deluged you with science-fiction flights-of-fancy, I will offer you the TRUTH! I was not vivisected, or experimented on, or sexually abused; instead, I was the unwitting guest of an alien “BACHELOR PARTY”! I was dragged through the SLEAZIEST BARS in the GALAXY by my drunken, party-hearty alien hosts on a BENDER TO END ALL BENDERS!!! It was towards the end, at a gay bar near Alpha Centauri, when a nearly comatose alien (the “groom”, I believe), in a liquored-up stupor, confessed to me their HIDDEN AGENDA FOR THE ENSLAVEMENT OF EARTH!! I was, luckily, returned to Earth unharmed, save for a colossal HANGOVER that allowed me to “SEE” the ALIEN SIGNALS- AND PASS THE SAVINGS ON TO YOU!!
Picture yourself checking into an East Coast hotel room in the latter half of the 1990’s. A harsh travel experience has driven you to the dependable solace of the Gideon’s Bible nestled in the top drawer of the nightstand. Desperate for spiritual guidance, you open this holy book, only to discover a triple-folded goldenrod ditto stuffed there by some insane asshole who draws cartoons and is attempting to birth an anti-television organization based around the co-host of Regis & Kathie Lee.
Baffled and exhausted, you struggle to parse the opening passage.
DON’T throw this pamphlet away- it is the most important piece of text your human eyes will EVER READ! Make 1000’s of copies for your loved ones- before this information is STOLEN FROM YOU!! Put it in your bathroom- EVERYONE retains what they read on the TOILET!!
Most folks don’t know this, but in the early days of the “zine revolution”, trades were de rigeur; you didn’t so much sell your hard work (unless you were Jim Goad or John Porcellino) as swap it, for other people’s zines. If your review in Factsheet 5 specified “trades accepted”, you would receive dozens of hand-printed booklets from people all over the world as advance payment for your wares. This is why, since the ’90’s, my file cabinet has been crammed to bursting with hundreds of homemade tracts ranging in quality from “competent” to “the ravings of a dangerous psychopath”. I utilized my experiences as a “zinester” to imbue the REGISt manifesto with the ring of authenticity.
I mean, James Dean Papadapolous did. I was just some douche-bag behind the music counter of Media Play in 1996. I can’t emphasize that enough.
So; what is the truth?
THE TRUTH: Your mind is being GANG-RAPED by ALIENS- and you probably DON’T EVEN KNOW IT!!! That’s right- these aliens haven’t appeared overhead to whomp us, as in the summer blockbuster “INDEPENDENCE DAY”; they’re much SNEAKIER than that. They’ve come to us in a form that’s FAMILIAR- namely, in the form of TELEVISION PROGRAMS!!
Buckle the fuck up, suckers. This is as real as it gets. If there’s one walk of life where I don’t mess around, it’s founding a cult. You wanna spook your buddies with a ludicrous mythos? I got you, fam.
?WHAT?: Did you ever wonder why you HATE OTHER PEOPLE? Why men and women CAN’T form FULFILLING RELATIONSHIPS? Why you buy the FOODS YOU EAT? Your every move is puppeteered by ALIEN SIGNALS: encoded in your FAVORITE TV SHOWS! It’s the “GREEN AGENTS”, men from another reality, long thought to be “GREYS”, or “LGM”! They’re using your TV to turn you AGAINST one another, weeding humankind out into two distinct “breeds”; the strong, or the “WARRIOR ZOMBIES”, whom the aliens will wield as their foot soldiers; and the “BRAINDEADS”- couch potatoes, human livestock to be auctioned into slavery on IMPERIAL-WORLD!!! They’ve been crushing your will and influencing your behavior from their RECREATIONAL SAUCERS high above Earth for DECADES- but one fateful day soon they’ll play their TRUMP CARD- no doubt in the form of a SCHLOCKY MINI-SERIES!! We must rally the human spirit, steel ourselves against MEDIOCRE TELEVISION!! (Who else could be responsible for “BEVERLY HILLS 90210”- but ALIENS who SEEK to NULLIFY YOUR FREE WILL?!) And as for Non-Watchers… not even they will be spared- they’ll be used as TARGET PRACTICE when the SAUCERS LAND!!!
I alienated a co-worker who took offense at my no-win anti-television agenda here. Full disclosure: at the time, I was living in a cinderblock shack in rural South Carolina, without TV. For entertainment before and after work, I resorted to my humble collection of VHS tapes. During this era I injured my penis from feverishly masturbating to Lucy Offerall flicking her nipples in 200 Motels. If I wasn’t the right breed of creep, I couldn’t have pulled this off as adequately as I did.
Oops; again, I mean the other guy. Not me. I wore a shirt and tie and helped elderly women locate obscure classical music CDs. I didn’t have the spare time to pull a discount L. Ron Hubbard routine.
I know by now you’re probably thinking, “What in the almighty fuck does any of this baloney have to do with Regis Philbin?” Oh, honey. You’re gonna wish you never asked that question.
?SO WHAT DOES REGIS PHILBIN HAVE TO DO WITH ALL THIS?: It’s simple: REGIS is but a HUMAN SHUCK, a HOST-BODY for a “RED AGENT”!! The “RED AGENTS”, long thought to be EXTINCT, are the benevolent SUPERINTENDENTS of the Lost Dimension, who seek to DEFEND EARTH from the Green Agent THREAT!! REGIS is our ONE AND ONLY SALVATION!!! His sacred messages are encoded as well, and the code changes constantly to avoid detection by Greens. I decoded the major imperatives by writing down every third word REGIS spoke during his MORNING SHOW, then UNSCRAM
XBLED THE LETTERS. (Originally it was thought that the same effect could be achieved by “reading” hardened nipples on “Baywatch” as a sort of Braille, but this is most likely hogwash.) As for KATHIE LEE GIFFORD- we believe that she is a GREEN AGENT- why do you think she and REGIS BICKER so much?
Oh, the deep end? I have a summer home there.
?ARE YOU SAYING BOB DOLE IS RIGHT, AND TELEVISION IS BAD FOR YOU?: CENSORSHIP HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH IT!!! Not ALL TV shows are encoded (“BAD”)- but did you ever notice how all the GOOD SHOWS- the ones you REALLY LIKE- get CANCELLED?! NOW YOU KNOW- AND KNOWING IS HALF THE BATTLE!! And REGIS’s show is not the “BEST” show- it just happens to be the show the RED AGENTS are using. We- the REGISTS- don’t want TV abolished, per se- we want it the way it was BEFORE the Greens got their FILTHY TENTACLES on it. (Which wasn’t for very long- television was more or less INVENTED as a GREEN AGENT TOOL. Remember “GREEN ACRES”? It’s all making SENSE NOW, ISN’T IT?)
I honestly envy you for getting to read this for the first time. From now on, your life will be split into two disparate eras; before you knew about “The REGISt Foundation”, and after. You can never go back again. Now you know too much. I wish I could tell you that I’m sorry, but I’m not. This is for the best.
?WHAT ABOUT “MTV”?: The largest concentration of GREEN MIND CONTROL can be found on “MTV”. Think about it- MILLIONS of DUMB KIDS watch “MTV”- EASY PREY!! And once these Green dupes grow up, well… it’s TOO SCARY TO EVEN CONTEMPLATE.
WHERE’S THE LIE, HUH??? YOU TELL ME– WHERE’S THE LIE???
?IF THIS IS AN ALIEN CONSPIRACY PLOT, HOW DOES “AREA 51” FIT IN?: “AREA 51” in Nevada (aka “DREAMLAND”- a COINCIDENCE?) – long rumored to house saucers from the Roswell incident- is in fact the main “BROADCASTING STATION” for the EVIL SIGNALS. It is manned by Greens and humans- most of whom are on the fabled “GOLD LIST”- the list of people to be SECRETED AWAY in the event of a GLOBAL HOLOCAUST. Wrecked saucers WERE indeed found in New Mexico fifty years ago- another party of GREEN AGENTS on an interplanetary BACCHANAL!!! Do YOU want this disreputable bunch RUNNING THE SHOW?? I DON’T!!!
“The Earth is a farm. We are someone else’s property.”
You know what- I may have brought you into this a bit too cavalierly. Somewhere in my storage unit rests a dogeared paperback of Regis’s 1995 autobiography I’m Only One Man!, riddled with passages highlighted in yellow by yours truly. From this, the REGISt doctrine was gleaned. This rabbit hole is too deep for you. There is no bottom.
!GULP! ?WHAT CAN I DO?: You can become a REGIST and follow REGIS’s word: but remember, HE’S ONLY ONE MAN!! Correspond with us, and we will ALERT you to TV programs with the most threatening level of GREEN AGENT PROGRAMMING. WE WILL DEPROGRAM YOU, UNDO the damage the aliens have done, and in turn YOU can expose their hideous methods on your OWN! Annotate TV GUIDES!! It’s FUN!! But you MUST ACT NOW- WHILE YOU STILL CAN! TOMORROW WILL BE TOO LATE!!!
Imagine it, folks; a secret network of people mailing marked-up copies of TV Guide, policing an unaware humanity against a sinister alien menace. “Decoded” videotapes of Regis Philbin, highlighting every third word out of his mouth*, revealing hidden precepts of a benevolent dogma in which rests the very fate of mankind. It coulda been pretty swell. Alas, some things are just not meant to be, often with damn good reason.
[*As for whether this draws inspiration from Tony, who doggedly watched reruns of CHiPs to decode messages from light intermittently glinting off Erik Estrada’s teeth, as seen in Roy Tompkins’ seminal comic book Trailer Trash; no comment.]
In 2004, Regis Philbin set the Guinness World Record for “Most Hours On Camera”, at 15,188 hours. Five years later his record was updated to 16,540.5 hours. He was endearingly baffled by technology and didn’t own a cell phone until 2008; ironically, mere months after I myself capitulated to owning one. If ever there existed a golden example of a television personality, it was Regis Philbin. He was tops, and our galaxy is all the poorer having lost him.
We are left to gaze into the night sky’s infinity, and with the right kind of eyes, one can see him smiling down upon our little blue world, the star that shines brightest. Adieu, old friend.
For the brave or curious, here is the original “REGISt Foundation” pamphlet reprinted for your convenience. The “Scream”/Energizer Bunny mashup was reused for the cover of the Mike The Pod Semi-Annual in 2004, and I took the liberty of blocking out
my dad’s James Dean Papadapolous’s P.O. box. Feel free to print out and make copies to baffle and annoy your friends.