Pawn Star Pens Book: "License to Pawn: Deals, Steals and My Life at the Gold and Silver"

Written by:
Thomas Somach
Published on:
Pawn Stars License to Pawn: Deals, Steals and My Life at the Gold and Silver

It was inevitable.

When you've got a hit show on television--and a devoted fan base that tunes in to watch it every week--you've also got something else that's almost as valuable:

A built-in audience for a best-selling book!

The latest popular TV personality to take advantage of this publishing phenomenon is Rick Harrison, co-owner of Las Vegas pawn shop Gold and Silver Pawn and co-star of cable television's hit reality show "Pawn Stars."

Harrison has penned an autobiography titled "License to Pawn: Deals, Steals and My Life at the Gold and Silver" and the tome is now available in book stores.

The book was actually ghost-written by "co-author" Tim Keown, since high school dropout Harrison not only has never written a book before but many would question whether he's ever read one.

No matter, the autobiography is a delightful read for those who are fans of the show, and that's the target audience.

Whether those who don't watch the show will buy it is another matter.

In the autobio, Harrison regales us with tales of his growing up in San Diego with a father in the Navy, and the ups and downs and turnarounds that led them to open a pawn shop in a seedy section of Las Vegas and become TV megastars.

He suffered from a severe childhood illness that almost killed him (epilepsy), dropped out of school in the tenth grade, sold illegal counterfeit Gucci handbags, became an alcoholic and then quit drinking when his son, Corey, was born, Harrison tells us.

He also tells us many a tale of the pawn shop he co-owns with his father, Richard, located on the Las Vegas Strip in the sleazy no man's land between the Strip mega-hotels and Downtown:

*Hookers come in to pawn items, followed by nuns.

*Pimps wear lots of jewelry so when they're busted they can pawn it for bail money.

*Someone once pawned a gold tooth--while it was still in her head.

*And those degenerates who come by the pawn shop's night window at 3 a.m. to pawn their jewelry? Just the neighborhood drug addicts getting money for their nightly fix.

Harrison also dishes on his three co-stars: Richard, nicknamed "The Old Man," Corey, nicknamed "Big Hoss," and Corey's childhood pal , Austin Russell, who works at the shop and is nicknamed "Chumley," after a befuddled walrus character in the old Tennessee Tuxedo TV cartoon (it's spelled "Chumlee" in the book but that's incorrect).

For example, Harrison reveals that "The Old Man" was arrested in his youth for stealing a car and when he came before the judge, was given a choice of going to jail or joining the military.

That's how he came to enlist in the U.S. Navy, a fact that conveniently is overlooked on the show even though frequent reference are made on the program to "The Old Man's" Naval career (he was also a loan shark in the Navy, advancing other sailors on their paychecks--for a fee).

Pawn Stars," which airs on Monday nights in the USA on the History Channel (with repeats running almost every other day of the week), is the second most popular program on cable television, after "Jersey Shore" on MTV, according to the latest Nielsen ratings, which measure TV viewership.

But just how "real" is this successful and immensely popular reality TV show?

Not very, according to Harrison's book.

Although Harrison and his cast mates regularly appear on the show behind the pawn shop counter dithering for items, in reality none of them work behind the counter any more.

And why should they? They're all millionaires now.

And in a revelation that probably won't shock too many, all of the transactions shown on the program are staged, with many scenes shot and reshot numerous times.

And the scenes from the show are all shot when the shop is closed, though it's made to look the opposite on TV.

As for the seemingly "local" experts who are called in to verify authenticity of items, one of them is flown in from another state for show (as are many of the customers).

If a ghost-written autobiography about a dunderheaded con man blowing the whistle on an unreal reality show is your cup of tea, then drink up--"License to Pawn" is your license to leer.

By Tom Somach

Gambling911.com Staff Writer


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