But, like most reality series that win a devoted fan base comprised of the viewers who are returning in droves for the second season of 'Storage Wars,' the show really owes its success to its "characters," the guys (and woman, in the case of Brandi Passante) who keep rolling the dice on finding treasures amongst others' forgotten storage lockers.
No one is a bigger, funnier or more endearing character than 60-year-old Barry Weiss, the cool cat collector (he's been described as "Robert Evans-meets-Jack Nicholson") who frequently annoys his fellow 'Storage Wars' stars with his antics (he's brought a psychic and a little person on stilts to help him ferret out locker contents) and his nonchalant 'tude toward the storage locker game.
AOL TV talked to Barry about his approach to 'Storage Wars,' his much-debated ties to Hollywood and the many women who, according to his Facebook fan page, have caught Barry fever.
One of the biggest questions fans have about you, Barry, is what you do for a living. The rumor is that you are or were a Hollywood producer ... true?
(Laughing) No, no, I'm not. Actually, I've been an antique collector my entire life, and I was in the produce business for 20‑25 years, and I retired about four years ago. I just was traveling around the world and enjoying life, really. The way this opportunity came along was a close friend of mine, Thom Beers, who is the creator of the show, was over one night. I don't know, we were having a few drinks. He said he was working on something with these storage lockers, and would I like to be a part of it? And basically that's sort of how things unfolded.
What did you do in the produce business?
Wholesale fruits and vegetables. I owned a produce company, and we exported and imported, my brother and myself. I did that for years.
People also thought you were in the entertainment business because Brad Whitford from Aerosmith appeared with you on the show this season.
Oh, yeah. No, Brad is just a friend of mine. You know, I did an interview once and I mentioned being in produce, and I think sometimes people just don't listen and assumed it was producer.
Is collecting something you do to make money? Do you sell a lot of the stuff that you find in the storage lockers or do you keep most of it?
Well, that's my problem ... that's why I don't make as much money as the others, because if it's cool, and I enjoy the item, I'm going to keep it ... if it looks as if I don't take (the business) as seriously as the other guys, it's probably because I don't. The other guys do it for a living, and they should take it seriously. But I don't actually do it for a living. So to me, it's just more fun.
How much of the rivalry that we see between you guys on the show is genuine?
Well, as they say, I don't want to sound overly sensational, but all of it and more. The reason I say that is because these other guys, they don't get along in a lot of cases, they just don't. They knew each other ... all of these guys knew each other prior to the show. Again, I don't want to sound sensational, like it's poured on, but the other guys, I think, they spend a lot of time bickering and what not, even when the cameras aren't on. I've seen those guys come close to blows when there's not even cameras on. So there's a high level of angst there.
Are you now hearing Dave Hester's 'Yuuup!' in your sleep?
(Laughing) I certainly am! It's kind of funny though ... I'll give him credit for that, because little kids are going, 'Yuuup!' and middle-aged people, older people ... it's kind of caught on.
I noticed he has it embroidered on the back of his hat now.
Honey, he's got it embroidered on a lot more than just his hat.
People must be approaching you, too. You have your own Facebook fan club, and there are women proposing marriage to you there ...
What are you talking about, women? I'm unaware of all this.
Yeah, you've got to see your Facebook page. There is a 'Barry Weiss Storage Wars Fan Club' on Facebook.
Somebody told me that, and I really don't have much part in that. But I'll take it. So tell me, update me, what's going on there? There have been a lot of offers, you're telling me, from women?
Yes. They're asking to meet you, they're offering to marry you ...
Wow. Marriage proposals, huh? It's gotten to that point.
It's gone there.
Good deal! Listen, I joke around a lot, but I really do appreciate all the people who have supported this show, because it's really been mind‑boggling. The people that enjoy this show ... I've had people come up to me, 5 or 6 years old to 66 years old. And the wide appeal of this show is something that we're really pleasantly surprised and real appreciative about.
Fans also comment a lot on your style, your cool glasses, the shirts and shoes, the skeleton gloves ... has that always been the Barry style?
Yes, I've really never changed my style in terms of the way I dress for the show. That's one of the great things about this show ... everybody is pretty much -- it's really how they are. And that's just how I was. And it's flattering and whatnot, it really is.
And the cowboy Cadillac ... it's a custom-designed car, right?
Yeah, I've been into those custom cars for a lot of years. Basically, it's a 1947 Cadillac that has had the top chopped and extended. And the body's had a bunch of alterations. To me it's just a big piece of rolling art. I've had that particular one for about eight years, but I've had others that were similar, yet much different.
It looks like a car that should be in a Batman movie ... has it been used in movies or on TV?
Yes, we've actually had that car in videos and what not. It was in a really great video four or five years ago, 'Roses,' by OutKast.
We've seen you use a psychic, a little person on stilts, night vision goggles and your pal Patch's one good eye to try to get a better idea of what's in the storage units. Any other imaginative Barry methods we'll see this season? Oh yeah. We're going to expand it a little bit this year, and I got a bunch of good stuff cooked up. And I can't wait, because my mission, really, on that show, is to disrupt and annoy. And I'm going to continue to refine that. But, really, unnerving my competitors is something that I get the most kick from.
You really do look like you're having more fun than anyone else on the show.
Yeah, are you kidding? I really am, and as long as I continue to have fun I'll continue to do it.
OK, so, for your Facebook ladies, I have to ask ... are you single? Do they have a chance?
Well, if they forwarded a photo, that would help. I don't have any plans on marrying again. I've had a couple of kids, and I've been married. And now I've actually been single for probably the last 28 years. But sure, they'd have a chance.