It’s probably been a while since you thought about O.J. Simpson, who was sentenced to 33 years for kidnapping and armed robbery in 2008. But get ready to, because we’re coming up on the 20th anniversary of the original not-guilty verdict (complete with an FX miniseries starring Cuba Gooding, Jr.). This week, This American Life profiled a lesser-known footnote in the O.J. Simpson story, Simpson’s 2006 pay-per-view prank video, Juiced.
This was, yes, a Punk’d ripoff starring O.J. Simpson, from XEG, the video company that also brought us Backyard Brawls and Extreme Chickfights, among similar titles (“The chick-fight market is huge and growing,” CEO Rick Mahr told Hustler in 2005).
Juiced‘s video description reads, in part:
The Outrageous & Shocking Hidden Camera Comedy Starring The Most Notorious Celebrity On the Planet: O.J. Simpson! Move over Punk’d, because here comes the new catch phrase that everyone is talking about: “YOU’VE BEEN JUICED!” In fact, no one is safe because THE JUICE” is loose… Again… and now is your chance to see it ALL caught on camera in this one-of-a-kind totally UNCENSORED DVD!
NPR producer Nancy Updike, who owns a rare copy of Juiced (which was shelved after the If I Did It outcry, but will, of course, be re-released soon as a special edition entitled “O.J. Simpson: Ungloved”), talked to Harmon Leon, the comedian hired to be Simpson’s Dax Shepard in the video. Leon also wrote about the experience for a VICE piece about a year ago, where he recounts some of the most sleazicomic moments:
Later, one of the women we’d pranked screamed, “When the ad says I’d make $750 per day, that pisses me off!” Clearly she was not happy with the reward of a free Juiced T-shirt. […]
…while wearing a disguise and pulling a prank in a tropical-fish store, [O.J.] tried to be suave with a girl by asking, “If I were O.J., would you try to go out with me?”
The frightened girl replied, “I’m only 17.”
O.J. coyly retorted, “If you were 18, I’d try and go out with you!” […]
O.J. was nowhere to be found. The crew, who were putting in long hours for little pay for OJ’s big comeback, impatiently waited. “It’s pretty weird, you know, because of the murders,” commented the sound guy. “But he is pretty funny,” he added.
“Pretty weird, you know, because of the murders” really puts a fine point on it.
The video apparently consisted of a series of increasingly pointless pranks, from Leon stealing people’s golf balls on the golf course while O.J. was there (“I thought they were going to kick Harmon’s ass,” O.J. laughed afterward. My eyebrow raised as O.J., in a reflective moment, shared to the camera: “That guy was mad. He was like O.J. on alcohol.”), to O.J. playing a pizza-delivery guy, finally culminating with O.J. posing as a used-car salesman trying to sell a white Bronco with a bullet hole in the side. Which O.J. tells the customer has “great escapeability.” Har har.
Throughout, there are interstitial scenes of O.J. with topless strippers and back-up dancers, a midget, and even, apparently, a rap song.
Simpson is performing in his first-ever “gangsta rap” video entitled “Get Juiced,” complete with inane lyrics like “Don’t you know there’s no stopping the Juice / When I’m on the floor I’m like a lion on the loose / Better shoot me with a tranquilizer dart / Don’t be stupid, I’m not a Simpson named Bart.” (Via MRC)
Sadly, most of the clips from the video once available on the web have been pulled, and until XEG puts out the big re-release (and it would be hard to feel good about giving them money, now matter how novel), there are fewer than 100 copies floating around. In any case, it’s nice to remember this strange chapter in our history, if only to put Donald Trump and the Kardashians in perspective. Things may be f*cked up now, but not as f*cked as the ’90s and early 2000s.