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"Are you nuts?" Mike asked me after I finished telling him my idea. "No one in their right mind would ever get involved in something like that, you've got to be out of your ever loving mind to even consider something like this!"
Mike was not only my long time agent, he'd become my very best friend. But I knew his concern for me was more out of financial worries as opposed to our friendship. I had played the role of Dr. Peters on a daytime soap opera for several years now. I had honestly enjoyed the fame that had come with it, garnering over a period of time quite a following by the number of letters I'd received over time, most of which had been from women of course, though somewhat surprisingly, even a few men. I had even had to use the line on more than one occasion when someone had approached me actually seeking advice.
"Sorry, I'm not really a doctor. I just play one on TV."
During the course of the series, I had had several ongoing affairs with many of the nurses, along with one or two of the female doctors who I worked with. One of which had nicknamed me Dr. Dick in the show, something the producers found funny, so they'd actually used that in more than one episode. None of it had been real of course, I hadn't had any affairs with any of them, an affair as I looked at it as being with someone who was married. I had had several liaisons with those who weren't however, once again giving some justification to the nickname, Dr. Dick.
Needless to say, after nearly fourteen years, imagine my surprise when I learned I was to be replaced by a much younger new Doctor. Even those with whom I worked with found it to be shocking news, I really did have a following, and there was concern that by writing me out of the show, there'd be repercussions.
I actually hoped there would be. Even if they killed me, which was entirely possible, it was also just as possible they would find a way to resurrect me if I got enough support for them to do that. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. Not that people didn't yell scream and complain, they did. But the producers of the show didn't budge. They felt it was time for a change.
And though I hadn't exactly splurged needlessly, and still had a bit in the bank, I knew I couldn't continue on with my lifestyle the way I had been either. Either cut backs would have to be made, or I'd have to land some other role in a different series, or perhaps find away to branch out into primetime, though I had done a few commercials. Just enough to keep a little extra money coming in. At the moment however, neither one of the other prospects looked too promising, which had caused me to look into an entirely different direction.
After several weeks of waiting around hearing nothing, I began to suspect he was right. I finally started to worry until I got a really interesting letter in the mail. At first I laughed it off, but then weeks later I got a second one from an entirely different person, after that, I began to give things some serious consideration, which had led to the discussion we were having now.
Even only having two letters suggesting the idea, hinting at it, I honestly believed there were probably a lot more who were thinking along the same lines. Once we'd actually gotten the word out, who knows ... it might actually turn into something.
"You're nuts!" He said once again shaking his head.
"Why? Just because no one else has actually done it?" I asked.
"For one, you're not really a Doctor, even if you sort of look like one, or are you forgetting that?" he asked me. I had graying temples now, quite naturally of course, that did tend to give me a very distinguished professional sort of look, along with my deep-set, piercing blue eyes. "You don't have a license to actually be practicing medicine. Either!" He added. "And secondly, you can't run a doctor's office like you are a physician, that's absolutely insane! If not totally illegal!"
"I wouldn't really be practicing medicine," I explained to him for the fourth or fifth time. "I wouldn't be subscribing any sort of medications, except perhaps for some placeboes or even possibly candy pills that we could pretend are. And only if that was something in the fantasy of our patient that they wanted me to include. Whatever examinations or procedures I'd perform in the office, in the examination room, wouldn't include anything that would even remotely come close to actually practicing medicine, just a lot of pretending. Something I am good at and used to do every single day. I can use a lot of technical jargon, and even make some of it up if I have to. Just enough to make it believable, fun and exciting for my ... patients," I said grinning.
Mike just stood there shaking his head in disbelief that he was actually listening to me.
Once again I read him both letters I'd received, paraphrasing.
"I personally think it's a crying shame that they took you off the series. I for one, would actually pay to come and see you, even though I know you're not really a doctor. I would still love to set up an appointment with you, and come in and pretend I had some sort of illness that needed to be treated, if nothing else, than to just have you examine me. Seriously ... think about it. A very dear and long time fan ... Shirley."
"I don't know Steve," he said, though I could tell he was softening.
"Call me Dick, or at least Dr. Dick," I said joking back with him, at least forcing him to cast a smile. "Listen to this one, it's even better," I said reading once again.
"It's been a long time fantasy of mine to one day play the role of a nurse, or even a patient. And though I know the impossibility of ever really doing that on a TV series, I'd actually be willing to pay to feel like I was. To come into a set that seemed real, to pretend I had some reason or purpose for being there, and then to be examined by someone such as yourself, or even work side by side with you while examining someone else, is something I am and would be, prepared to spend a great deal of money for. So please ... think about it. I implore you!" Sincerely yours, Joan Stevenson."
"Hey, maybe she's even "the" Stevenson, the old matron herself!" I wondered joking around with Mike. There was a very well to do family in the area, with that very same last name, who had more money than I'd even know what to do with. "You don't suppose?" I wondered.
"I doubt it, but even if she is related, she'd have to be your patient every single day to make it worthwhile, and I seriously think you'd get bored rather quickly with examining the same horny old lady every day ... or would you?"
I had to concede that point, I probably would. But what I wasn't willing to concede was the fact that I felt like there'd be a lot more like these two who were out there, who were actually willing to pay money to make appointments to come to a real looking office and get examined by the well known Dr. Dick. As wild as it might sound, I actually believed we could do it.
"Listen Mike ... I honestly believe there's enough people out there who are more than willing to do this. There won't be a single illegal thing about it either. We present it as nothing more than an adult fantasy role play, in a real setting, in a real office, with a very believable, and well known actor/doctor. Simple as that. We'll even interview them all before hand, like casting for a part. We'll hand out questionnaires, we'll get an idea of what types of things they're into, what they are, or are not willing to do. Then we have them sign release forms, legally binding release forms prior to setting up any examinations or appointments. For those who we feel would help us in setting up a real or seemingly real environment, we offer up slightly different contracts, give them a feel of being a part of something with a percent of the take on the side. A small percent perhaps, but hell ... one advantage we would have, we could always fire anyone if they started getting too big for their britches!"
Mike actually laughed at that one.
"Ok, I still think you're insane. But ... I'm willing to do this. Lets at least contact everyone who has written you some sort of a fan letter, and pass this by them and ask for a response. Based on that, we'll have a much better idea if this is truly feasible or not. If you'll agree to that, and give this up if we don't get enough of a response, then I'll go along with it for now. Deal?"
"Deal!" I said.
Neither one of us had any idea at the time how big this would really turn out to be. The response was overwhelming. We seriously had no idea.
.... There is more of this story ...