“I can’t believe that Danielle found a potential buyer for the elephant head so quickly!” is how this video begins.
“And I can’t believe it’s Jack White!” the man continues.
“If he’s really interested in the elephant head, then the huge risk I took is gonna pay off. If not, I’m gonna be out almost 10 grand!”
This is a great reality TV hook—10 thousand dollars are on the line, and it all hinges on eccentric celebrity Jack White!—in this special episode of History Channel’s American Pickers.
Mike and Frank go to meet their “potential buyer,” famed musician Jack White, whereupon they are transported into a wonderland of taxidermy and Day of the Dead dolls. Jack White immediately introduces the Pickers to “Miss Tempest Storm, the oldest burlesque dancer in the world!” he explains (she’s 84!).
The unveiling of elephant head in question is a truly morbid moment—I don’t think I expected such a grisly sight—and even Jack White is momentarily taken aback. Then he grins like a little kid. “That is the weirdest-looking giraffe I’ve ever seen,” he finally manages.
The men waste no time with piddling negotiations. Now, I realize this is reality TV, and certainly Jack White was always willing to buy an elephant head for $12,500 even before the cameras got there, but I also sincerely believe that Jack White might be the type of man who unhesitatingly drops 13 grand on an elephant head whenever the mood strikes.
But then Jack White decides to make the deal a little more interesting, and he offers to make a “trade on a couple items.” This is where the magic happens, you guys.
“I got a few contraptions, I wanted to pull a couple things out when you guys were coming down,” Jack White tells them, “so I want you to go take a look at a couple these things.”
YES. This is how you make great television.
First, a photo booth from an old Woolworth’s in Detroit, which figured prominently in a Dead Weather music video. It’s up for grabs.
“This is my first jukebox I ever owned!” White says next, indicating the old machine next to the photo booth.
This is how Jack White negotiates his cash balance all the way down to $6000. It’s kind of darling, really: while Jack White was always eager to spend the amount Mike and Frank were asking, he maybe tossed in his personal belongings anyway, all for the love of the game of haggling. In the meantime, Mike and Frank are thrilled.
Through the magic of editing, Jack White’s personal belongings immediately materialize in a high-end resale boutique, Antique Archaeology, in Nashville. (I take this to be Mike and Frank’s new store.)
“This is Jack White’s photo booth!” one of the men tells Danielle. “Shut up!” she replies.
About the elephant head: In an early aside, Jack White emphasizes that he’s “never hunted—I don’t think I ever could,” but does appreciate the “majesty of taxidermy.”
I can totally get down with this sentiment. I don’t enjoy having to defend my own deer head, Stephen, to friends who visit, but in truth Stephen is probably older than I am (a peeling label on the back of the mount tells me he is from Wisconsin). And since Stephen is mostly made from fiberglass, I think of him as less a deer, more an anthropomorphized leather jacket. Then there’s the way I actually obtained my dear deer Stephen; Stephen is extra special to me.
I’ve joked that I could have easily turned into a real eccentric hoarder, one of those self-made Robert Ripley/Crispin Glover types. A friend thought this was hilarious, and he told me to definitely start watching Oddities. Now, I had never even watched a full episode of American Pickers before, but if every show is like this I might have to start.