The infamous Jeffrey Dahmer comic probably got Hart a million dollars worth of publicity judging from all of the coverage and the lawsuits that resulted. This week he recounts how he dealt with all of the media attention along with the stress that must have resulted from the court cases.
By Hart Fisher
Hart on Larry King
Hart: For most people I’m sure the weight of the press, the condemnation, the stress of the lawsuits, sure, I think it would have crushed most people. But they’re not me and what you think of as being stressful… you don’t know the half of it. Play that old Who song “Behind Blue Eyes” and that’s exactly what it was like during the storm. I was living in Champaign Illinois. This was a small college town. People saw me on the news all the time. I had death threats all the time. Written and phoned in. I had a woman stalker who was threatening to have her biker friends kidnap me and a gay stalker that lived in town. He started stalking me after meeting me at a goth club called “C Street”. He used to tell me it would be a shame for my pretty face to get uglied up like his. I’d grunt, laugh, tell’em “Yep, sure would be a shame.”
There was the copy shop I did all my fliers and promo stuff at that stopped doing business with “my type of person.” There was the the protest march where the police came to my house and told me to leave town for the weekend. My landlord echoed those sentiments, but these colors don’t run. There was the time in 1993 right before shooting The Garbage Man, I was in Los Angeles for a big Fangoria convention. While I was gone, the news outlets in town were all broadcasting that I was out of town. Gee, wasn’t long before someone robbed my house. A camera crew from CBS came to my house and found the front door kicked in and all of my stuff gone, like, all of it. Six months before that a bunch of Junkies robbed my house.
When I did talk shows, I was the villain. When I did my first talk show appearance, it was stunning the level of hate directed at me by total strangers when I walked out on that stage. I was 23 years old when the press came gunning for me over the Dahmer book. I was naive. I learned so much about the manipulation of truth by the mass media, or news as commodity. I got my clock cleaned the first six months of it. I was getting killed on Entertainment Tonight. At first I thought it was fun. The camera crew would come out, shoot at my house, or I would do the interviews at my father’s house. It was a brutal learning experience. They would ask me questions, and then re edit my answers. They would match up the answer to one question with another.
Hart Fisher on DAYONE
That did not occur to me and it was embarrassing the first couple of hatchet jobs. I went to my father when it first hit and I had an appearance on A Closer Look With Faith Daniels. That was the last time I ever asked him for advice on dealing with the media. I went on the show with my hair slicked back, wearing a fucking suit… it was horrible. I thought doing the talk show format would be better because they couldn’t re edit my responses. I was never paid to appear on ANY of the shows I did. They brought me on the shows to be the villain. That was my role. But I saw these talk show exchanges as verbal combat and I prepared myself accordingly.
At this point in my life, I had been training in Tae Kwan Doe for four years and took that training to the shows. After the Faith Daniels debacle I sat down with the sharpest guys I knew and we sat in a room and picked apart my appearance. We watched the show a couple times and brutalized myself. Then we formulated a plan on how to manipulate them all to do what we wanted. The protest march on my house? We baited them into doing it on the Sally Jesse Raphael show. We plotted all of their tired arguments that held no water and just shot the shit out of them. I turned the audience around so much on my Jerry Springer appearance that they turned the volume down on the audience applause to my answers when they aired it.
When my girlfriend, Michelle, was murdered during shooting of The Garbage Man… that was what fucked me up. I was handling all of the press, best I could. To me, it was just another fight in the ring in a lifetime of fighting. That’s all it was to me. But when Michelle was murdered, the wheels came off and I went nuts. I was a functioning maniac. LIterally. I drank myself to sleep every night and fell apart. I gave my guns away to my friends because I couldn’t trust myself around them. I went insane and the press pushed it further. In Champaign, this whole thing was a rating bonanza. Michelle was raped and murdered at the Charter House Inn by a 20 year old Black Male named Eric Daniels. My horror film was about a black serial killer obessed with killing white women. Strange, right? The media loved it and the news got ugly.
And I have been a take no shit kind of guy my whole life. I don’t back down unless it’s stupid to fight. Now I was an enraged, hurting, highly aggressive anger sorrow machine. Now if the media fucked with me, I bumped dicks right back. I stormed into the studio’s of the local CBS affiliate and threatened to maim the news director if he didn’t make some changes in his coverage. That earned me a stop over from the police. They talked to me, said there were plenty of people who wished they could kill the news director. I laughed about that and told them I never threatened to kill the guy, I threatened to have him maimed. I told them he didn’t anger me enough to kill him. They really didn’t know how to take that, but that cocksucker changed his news broadcast so her mother would not have to see what they were broadcasting again.
After 1993, things get blurry and really, really ugly. I sought out good times, good laughs, good people, and raised as much hell as I could. I was angry, so goddamn angry. I still am. And it didn’t end. I went through 3 different murder trials trying to keep that piece of shit off the street. This is what made me crazy. Forget about the stress of news coverage. I could write a fucking novel and you still wouldn’t quite know the weight of it all. From 1993 to 1994, crazy, crazy, crazy.
Still with us? There’ll be more next week. It’s just as crazy.
In the meantime you can find out more about Hart on his MySpace page, his company page,
Crime Pays Inc., his comic company Boneyard Press and his You Tube Channel