You can’t create a “reality show” without the ability to be flexible with what you consider reality. For producers of the most of the shows you see on television, the reality they want you to believe in is the one they put in front of you.
It doesn’t matter if what appears on the screen is rehearsed or manipulated; nor does it matter what happens when the camera isn’t filming. In the world of reality TV, much like pro wrestling, the only thing that matters is what happens in front of the camera.
It’s ironic that the real drama for the cast and producers of Storage Wars seems to happen when a camera is nowhere to be seen. There could be another entire show just based on the truths that producers have worked hard to stamp out. Thankfully, in today’s world of the Internet, secrets are impossible to keep in Hollywood.
The concept of Storage Wars is simple: deadbeats who can’t pay for their storage lockers forfeit them by law after a certain number of days. The contents can’t be examined, but they can be auctioned off. Sometimes, when people buy the locker, they find hidden gems worth a lot of money. That seems to happen all the time, but again… reality. Let’s inject some actual reality into the proceedings and examine 15 Dirty Secrets of Storage Wars Producers Don’t Want You To Know About.
15. Dave Hester spilled a ton of secrets when he sued
One of the main bidders on the show, Dave Hester, sued producers in 2012 for a variety of charges, although most seemed to believe it ultimately had to do with the payday he was getting from the show, which we’ll get to in another entry. Hester said that the show was portrayed as a game of skill and was covered under most of the antitrust game-show laws that came into being after the game show scandals in the early days of television. In his lawsuit, Hester spilled a ton of secrets about the production of Storage Wars. The biggest, yet least surprising, was that producers were “salting” units by adding valuable items for bidders to discover, thus making the show more interesting. Of course, after the suit was dismissed and Hester was forced to pay the producers’ legal costs, they invited him back to the show because, after all, he’s entertaining, and that’s what it’s all about at the end of the day.
14. Brandi won a lawsuit against a p–n company
If you’ve seen the adult video of Storage Wars’ Brandi Passante online, you didn’t actually see her. It was just a lookalike actress that p–n website owner Hunter Moore paid to pretend to be the female energy of the show. When it was discovered and brought to Brandi’s attention, she didn’t just take it lying down (no pun intended) like most celebrities would. She didn’t want fans to think she was the kind of woman who would make a sex tape, so she sued Hunter, looking for $2.5 million. Well, she won. Technically. The judge said that it was certainly not her on the website but also said Brandi had failed to show how she had been harmed, so they only allowed Brandi a judgment of $750. It was probably never about the money, but it had to sting when she didn’t even get enough to buy a decent storage locker.
13. Barry Weiss doesn’t need a big score
Whereas Brandi and Jarrod go through every last thing in a locker, assigning even the smallest of values to what they find in hopes of selling it in their second-hand store, early-season favorite Barry Weiss would just climb over piles of junk, hoping to find that one magnificent piece to bring to the appraiser. Despite the fact the show has made everyone who appears on it very rich, Weiss was already well-off heading into filming for the first time. He made millions in the fruit-and-produce wholesale business in Southern California before anybody had ever seen him on television. While he’s no longer a regular on the show, producers liked him enough to try a couple of spin-offs.
12. Was it really “budget cuts”?
There are plenty of rumors online that while Dave Hester is the biggest jerk on the show, the most difficult to actually deal with when it came to cooperating with the production were Darrell and Brandon Sheets, the overweight father-and-son team who can claim the biggest score ever on the show in hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of art. Heading into Season 10 in 2017, ratings were good, but not like in the early years. That means commercials can’t be sold for as much, yet the cost of making the show continued to go up. When producers decided someone had to be cut, they dumped high school dropout, Brandon, to save a few bucks. The show was much better with Brandon because he served as a foil for his father’s often pie-in-the-sky sayings (“That’s a $100 bill all day long!”) and provided his father with perspective when he got too high or low.
11. Jarrod Schulz did time in jail
When you look at what Jarrod Schulz was into about 20 years ago, it’s an amazing turnaround that he’s now a millionaire appearing with his hot girlfriend (he and Brandi still haven’t tied the knot despite being together for over a dozen years and having a couple of kids), has owned a couple of second-hand stores, and owns a small t-shirt company. In 1997, he got busted for meth possession and was given a 60-day sentence. It wasn’t too long before, while on probation, he was busted for driving under the influence. That time, he was given a 16-month sentence in state prison. For him, prison was rehabilitation. In an interview, he said, “Living alongside the murderers and rapists made me realize I was going down the same path. I’m not a bad guy. I went through a dark few years there, and drugs were at the root.”
10. One cast member killed himself
When Dave Hester left after two seasons because he was suing the producers and Barry left after three seasons, it became clear to those in charge that the popularity of Storage Wars was going to far outdistance the desire for some of the cast members to remain. So, during seasons 3 and 4, producers tried a lot of potential bidders in small recurring roles. They eventually went to Ivy Calvin and the team of Rene Nezhoda and Casey Lloyd. One of those who didn’t get chosen for a regular spot was Mark Balelo. It’s hard to say exactly what caused him to relapse after six years, but he was arrested in 2013 on meth possession charges. Balelo, who was clearly auditioning for one of the “bad guy” character roles, killed himself by carbon monoxide poisoning only days after his arrest.
9. The Dotsons met and fell in love attending auctions
Dan and Laura Dotson serve as the auctioneers/moderators/hosts of both the live storage auctions and are usually the first people seen driving to the auction every episode, setting up where they’re headed in Southern California, what kind of socio economic area it is, and what that means to potential discoveries in the lockers. The couple met when they were both regulars on the auction scene in the mid-1990s. Laura kept seeing Dan and recounts saying that she knew he was the man she was going to marry. The two were true California hippie types, and Laura became pregnant only four months after they had started dating. The biggest question we wonder is who wears the pants around the house. We’re guessing it’s Laura, and she probably even makes Dan turn over his check from the show, saying, “Don’t forget to pay the lady!”
8. And they’re fighting over $50 for a storage locker?
When it comes to reality shows, one of the most closely guarded secrets is how much the participants are paid to appear. While they don’t make the kind of money mainstream actors do, the shows would have you believe they don’t get a dime. After all, how can the average Joe at home relate if they know that the participants are all millionaires? When Dave Hester sued producers, he divulged the kind of money he was making early in the series. During the second season, he was contracted for $25,000 per episode with a minimum of 26 episodes. He was also given a signing bonus of $25,000 and an expense account of nearly $125,000 for the season. Don’t worry; we’ll do the math. It totals just under $800,000 for one season. Why would anybody making that much sue producers?
7. Pay the lady Dan’s life insurance check
That was almost the scenario back in 2014 when Dan Dotson had a massive health scare when he had a double brain aneurysm. While many people survive a traditional aneurysm if tended to fast enough, very few people can claim that they made it through a double and still remained a functioning person afterward, but you’d never be able to tell Dan cheated death. Even more amazingly, Dan was only in the hospital for about a week following the successful surgery to take care of the aneurysms. Quite often, there’s very little one can do to prevent such an emergency, but clean living has been proven to result in fewer of these kinds of issues. Taking heed of that knowledge, Dan quit smoking once he was back on his feet. That 40-year habit was a smaller secret producers probably never wanted revealed.
6. Hester sees the light? Yuuuuuuuuup!
If there’s one thing that we can learn by looking at the criminal records of the cast members of Storage Wars, it’s that drug problems and driving while intoxicated is something that a lot of people get in trouble for before they get famous. Thankfully, those kinds of charges have also been the kind of things that have helped turn their troubled lives around, and Dave Hester, despite relishing playing the role of the jerk, had an epiphany when he was doing community service on a DUI charge in 2005. He was working at a Goodwill Store and saw how many people needed good merchandise but could only afford second-hand things. He was a furniture store owner at the time but decided that he could both make more money and help more people if he converted his business into a thrift store.
5. Darrell threatened to quit over what he was being paid
Let’s be honest: of all of the regular cast members who have done most of the seasons of Storage Wars, Darrell Sheets (who appeared in most seasons with his son, Brandon, at his side) is among the least charismatic. He doesn’t have the couple thing going like Jarrod and Brandi, he wasn’t an eccentric old man like Barry, and he didn’t have the detestability of Dave Hester. He’s just kind of there being a big, goofy, sweaty guy. As appearance fees continue to rise over the years, producers keep looking for places to cut, and in 2015, he almost walked off the entire show when he heard rumors that producers were going to slash his salary by 50 percent and only invite him to participate in about a quarter of the episodes that season. While he never was demoted to recurring character status, we have a hard time believing it would’ve had any negative effect on the ratings.
4. Trey Songz and Dave Hester exchanged lawsuits
Here’s one you probably missed and one that you’ll shake your head at. We have a lot of issues in this world that can only eventually be solved in a court of law. The American legal system is meant to be fair and just to those with disagreements and disputes… even when they’re absolutely stupid, such as in this case. While people go hungry and homeless in this world, R&B Singer Trey Songz and Storage Wars star Dave Hester got into a legal showdown because both of them thought they had the rights to the catchphrase “Yuuuuuup!” Because there’s such a crossover between the audiences, each camp thought that if the other was allowed to use the catchphrase, it would be taking out money out of the other’s pockets. Crazy. Thankfully, cooler heads eventually prevailed and both dropped their lawsuits.
3. We vote “It’s Creepy”
Human chemistry is an interesting thing. It’ll bring together two people who are almost identical yet also make them find out they can’t live with or stand each other. It’ll bring together two people who are more different on paper than oil and water but will allow them to live a long and happy life together. Chemistry is just one of those things you can’t ignore. But, on the other hand, stalking laws are one of those things you can’t ignore either. When Darrell Sheets saw a woman he felt attracted to, he listened to chemistry and not rules about following people. He saw Kimber Wuerfel driving in her car, and instead of just thinking, “That’s a pretty girl” and leaving well enough alone, he followed her for miles. Finally, he pulled up next to her car and wrote down his phone number on a piece of paper and held it up to her window. It worked, but if it’s a matter of that technique being creepy or not creepy, well, you know our vote.
2. How did it take this long?
If there’s one thing we’ve always wondered, it’s how fistfights never erupted. Granted, it’s a bunch of rich people pretending to be poor, but they’re all proud people, and their egos are one of the reasons the show works so well. Well, it finally happened in 2015 when, during a taping, auctioneer Dan Dotson missed a bid someone made. Allegedly, one of the producers of the show told Dave Hester to explain to Dan that he had missed it. As he often does, Dan simply ignored Dave, who didn’t seem phased, but producers kept pushing Dave to the point that he lost his cool and things turned physical. Although nobody was hurt in the fracas between Dan and Dave, Laura was knocked to the ground. In a video shot by someone on the scene, Laura started swearing a blue streak and ordered that Dave be kicked off the shoot. He left, heading to the hospital for a tetanus shot because Laura drew blood by scratching him. Producers didn’t have a comment about creating the mess in the first place.
1. Barry is only popular in small doses
If there’s one thing we can count on when it comes to television, it’s that when a show is successful, a bunch of others will try to copy it, and the people who did the original show will try to create spin-offs with the characters to try and duplicate success. Well, there once were a lot of copycat storage shows on television, but they’ve all pretty much failed, except the original. How different is Container Wars really going to be? As for spin-offs, the producers of Storage Wars have produced eight shows off of the success of the first, with none of them coming close to the original. While many have been straight up knock-offs, just in different locations, like Storage Wars Texas, others have featured original cast members, like when Brandi and Jarrod got their show, Married to the Job. That one lasted only one season. Barry holds the record with two failed spin-offs. First, there was Barry’d Treasure in 2014, followed the next year by Storage Wars: Barry Strikes Back. Neither were tolerable beyond the five-minute point.
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