Harris: It was several months back that we met Scott Kerman on our show. Scott wrote a book called No Ticket, No Problem in which he told about his exploits, going all around the country, getting into any event he wanted without having to pay for a ticket — by scamming people, basically. He had done it many times at the Cap Centre, the US Air Arena, RFK Stadium, and many times at the Yards up in Baltimore as well. We were talking to him and asked him — I think it was in February — “So what’s your next big hit going to be?” And he said, “Oh, the Academy Awards again,” which he had done last year. But Scott ran into a little problem on the night of Monday, March 24. That’s when he tried to go to the Academy Awards. Actually, I think it was the day before, where they slapped the handcuffs on him. And for all these months we have not been able to have Scott come on our show and tell the story because he’s been under the judicial thumb. However, now the charges have been dropped. So joining us from L.A. now, here’s Scott Kerman. Scotty, how are you?

Kerman: I’m okay, how are you doing?

Harris: I’m doing fine. Was it the day before that you were nabbed?

Kerman: The day before, on Sunday. And the scary thing was that I had a legitimate press pass this time.

Harris: That’s right, because in the past you had done it illegitimately. This time, you had the card and they still took you away.

Kerman: They still took me away! Here it is, I’m dressed in a tuxedo at 3 in the afternoon on a Sunday. I walk through the security. Pinkerton Security lets me through. I take 7 steps into the Academy and all of the sudden I’m grabbed by 7 security guards. One guy from Pinkerton handcuffs me and the first thing he says to me is, “How are book sales?” You know you’re in trouble!

Harris: Yeah! And so they took you to the jail in South Central. Is that right?

Kerman: First of all they kept me in handcuffs in the Shrine Auditorium for three hours as they organized the media outside. At one point, the producer of the show, Gil Cates — clearly he’s not busy enough, for some reason — he comes in with the Academy Awards photographer, as if this is some prison wedding or something. I was wondering, “What is he doing here?!? Shouldn’t he be worried that Billy Bob Thornton is going to steal some party favors or something?” So, he’s there for five minutes. By the time I left and was put into the cruiser — and I was brought out by six police officers, because you never know what a trespasser might do…

Harris: Yeah, you’re a hardened criminal at this point.

Kerman: That’s right. There’s 150 cameras waiting for me, so it was on every news story possible. In fact, it was the opening story of the CNN Oscar special.

Harris: So they dragged you off to the South Central jail. What is that like?

Kerman: I spent eight hours in a South Central jail — basically, this is the hood — in a tuxedo. Basically, I’m dessert to these guys. I’m like an after-dinner mint. At one point, the 11:00 news goes on. We can hear it from the cell and I’m with about eight felons. The lead story is about me getting arrested at the Oscars. This guy says to me, “Is that you?” and I say yes. The second story is about a guy who was arrested for a series of drive-by shootings and he says, “That’s me.” I’m like, “Oh, great, all we need is the weather guy and here we have the whole broadcast!” It was just unbelievable. Of course, at one point, the police officer, as I was being processed, asks if I have any scars, tattoos, or other marks. I’m thinking, “What, is this going to be like a before and after picture?” It was unbelievable spending eight hours in there dressed in a tuxedo.

Harris: I’m guessing that you get no sleep on a night like that.

Kerman: In fact, they give you a dirty sheet and blanket, but naturally I wasn’t using it. At one point, a guy who was a member of the Crips gang asked me if it was all right if he used the bottom bunk and for me to use the top. I said, “Don’t worry about it. I don’t think I’ll be horizontal tonight at all.”

Harris: Why couldn’t you bail yourself out? Didn’t you have some money or someone that you could call?

Kerman: Isn’t that the worst story? This is the story that goes over the AP wire the next morning, “Mr. Kerman is still in jail being held on $250 bail.”

Harris: I know, Scott! You make some money, don’t you?

Kerman: They had a money machine in the jailhouse, if you can believe it.

Harris: An ATM right there?

Kerman: They have an ATM right there, but the guy wouldn’t let me go there. He said, “Why should I let a guy who wrote a book like yours go in and get the money?” So I sat there until I could find a bail bondsman the next day who would post the $250 bail. Naturally, I was hanging out with all my friends at the South Central jail.

Harris: Unbelievable! By the way, what is that part of South Central like? Is it the party atmosphere that we imagine it to be?

Kerman: It’s unbelievable because at one point you have to give them your possessions so you don’t hurt yourself or hurt others. You have guys having to take off their spiked shoes or their chains. I hand them a bow tie and a cummerbund!

Harris: “I beat a man to death with a cummerbund once. That’s how tough I am, pal. Back off!”

Kerman: It’s so funny because at one point, eight police officers are struggling with this one guy, trying to get him in. He’s screaming that he’s going to kill everybody. They breathe a sigh of relief as they put him in my cell. They have a pay telephone and I’m trying to get a hold of it. I tried to call an escort agency at one point, figuring that they’d already have a few girls down here and they could get the $250 and I’d just pay their normal fee, but it didn’t seem to work.

Harris: Once you got out of there, you had to go to court, right?

Kerman: I had to go to court because the Academy — let me just mention that we have this all on videotape. The arrest is all videotaped. There’s a tape of me walking in and everything. I didn’t mention that they followed me for three days, if you can believe it. For three days the Academy spent thousands of dollars following me to as far away as San Diego.

Harris: That’s just because you’re a hardened criminal.

Kerman: That’s right. You never know, I might end up sitting in a seat that Dom Deluise is supposed to be seated in.

Harris: [laughing] All of this because you wanted to get into the Academy Awards for free.

Kerman: And I wanted to do it legitimately! They gave me a free pass! The Academy, which has the power in L.A., dragged out the charges. They didn’t even charge me with trespassing, but with discharging a liquid substance.

Harris: What?

Kerman: I don’t know. I don’t even drink soda.

Harris: By the way, that’s not a phrase you want to be hearing in jail, either, “Discharging of a liquid substance”. Back off, Bubba!

Kerman: After you’re fingerprinted, the guard goes, “Go over near the sink in the cell and clean your hands up with some jelly.” I’m looking over there and there’s a huge tub of jelly right next to the sink in the cell. I’m thinking, “Oh, great, I’m in a tuxedo and there’s a huge tub of jelly next to it. What, do they supply condoms next?”

Harris: But everything turned out okay. All of the charges got dropped and you’re in the clear again, right?

Kerman: I’m in the clear again and we’ll be going to get the Academy and Pinkerton in another courthouse.

Harris: Oh, you’re going to sue them?

Kerman: Oh, yeah! That’s the reason that the janitor opens the civil court doors! We’ll be getting them. Oh, yeah!

Harris: How much are you suing them for, Scott? How much green are we looking at here?

Kerman: Let me see, how much does Shaquille O’Neal make in a year? Needless to say, I was in with a couple of Shaquille O’Neal’s friends.

Harris: But here’s the important question, Scotty. Will you be going to the Academy Awards next year?

Kerman: Not even if I’m a nominee will I go! I’ll hang out with Woody Allen and play my saxophone somewhere!

Copyright 1997, Paul Harris.
Transcript by Danny Guzman.