This was a big night for me, as not only had I never met a governor, I'd never met a professional wrestler, or anybody who appeared in the 1987 action film Predator. I was going to check all three of those things off my list all at once.You can't blame me for being excited.
The Governor pulled up at the Noho studios of Livestream at 9:45pm to prep for the 11:00pm chat. He walked in from the rain with Michael Braverman, who works as an investigator on the show. The Governor was wearing a tour jacket given to him by members of the Rolling Stones and was sporting a Navy SEAL baseball hat.
Both men were polite and pleasant, although obviously tired, having done press and interviews all day long. Conspiracy Theory was to debut at 10:00pm, so the plan was to watch the show and then dive right into the live video chat. Unfortunately, Livestream's cable TV was on the fritz, so we couldn't watch. Governor Ventura was disappointed at this news, as he hadn't seen the final cut of the episode. As a joke I asked "anybody want to go watch it at a bar?"
Unfortunately for me, everyone assembled seemed to think this was a great idea, so Michael and I, along with truTV's Kathi Palminteri, headed out into the rain to find a bar that would be willing to host the former Governor of Minnesota. We split up and I walked into Soho Billiards, a cavernous, multi-leveled pool hall.
When the stocky host of the place asked how he could help me, I said "This is going to sound kind of weird, but I'm working with Jesse Ventura, and he's around the corner. He's going to be on television tonight, and I was wondering if we turn one of of your video monitors to truTV?"
The host's face broke into a wide smile.
"Jesse Ventura?" he said "Yes- I like him a lot!"
I got on the phone, and was told by our producer that Kathi and Michael had already found a TV, the Governor was with them, and they were at the Mexican Restaurant Gonzalez y Gonzalez. I broke the news to the host, who seemed crestfallen. He had probably never met a governor, wrestler and actor from the movie Predator all in one shot either.
I felt his pain.
After thanking him, I walked into the Mexican place and spotted the Governor and our crew sitting around the bar, where Jesse was regaling the starstruck bartender (who had been a wrestling fan as a kid) with stories about his career in the WWE, as well as his experience shooting the episode that dealt with HAARP, the massive government research project in Alaska. It was striking how easily Ventura could segue between talking about the theories he had researched from the show to reminiscing about acting or wrestling, and all in a way that included everyone in our party.
At about 5 minutes to 11:00, we headed back across the street to the studios to get ready for the chat. As the Governor was speaking, (live and without notes) he answered question after question addressing issues including the legalization of drugs, the 9/11 attacks, 2012, gays in the military, and much, much more. As he was speaking, I tweeted some of his more pithy statements, including:
You can watch the entire chat here:
All in all it was a fun night with a charismatic, thoughtful, down-to-earth guy who has lived the American dream and walked a pretty unique path to get there.
Hopefully, one of those days, that path will lead him into Soho Billiards.