Note - "Comprehensive" in this case means drank 6 beer and soaked in a few YouTube videos.
Why don’t you have a seat right over there and let me tell you a tale of predators, online cults, and dead district attorneys. Yessiree, I am speaking about the NBC ratings giant of the oughts – To Catch a Predator hosted by America’s sweetheart, Chris Hansen. Originally airing from 2004-2007, the Dateline NBC program captivated the world by luring in perverts soliciting underage girls/boys and then proceeding to humiliate them as they were caught, sometimes literally, with their dick in their hands. After the verbal shellacking by Hansen, the fellows would wander outside thinking they were in the clear and boom! They’d be hit by a wave of cops who’d haul them off to jail for their disturbing life choices.
Admittedly, this show is a guilty pleasure of mine. There is just something so satisfying about witnessing these creeps go from self-proclaimed sex gods to whimpering, pathetic mutts with a fresh case of amnesia right before our eyes. “I don’t remember sending that picture of my pulsating hog to the teenager, sir.” Gimme a break. Now there won’t be anything ground-breaking in this article, and there are plenty of great videos/write-ups online about all this already (I’ll be linking them for those of you as disturbed as me), BUT I am doing you a solid and have waded through the bowels of the internet to bring it all to you in one easy to read blog post. You’re welcome! I’ve chosen four of the most intriguing stories I scooped out of this ridiculous show and the circumstances surrounding it, so grab your popcorn and whatever you do, STAY THE FUCK OFF THOSE YAHOO CHATROOMS!
HANSEN VS. BURGER KING
Photo credit: Daily Mail UK
There are serious doubts that this show would have ever been so popular if not for its charismatic host, Chris “Take a Seat” Hansen. The dude just had a knack for making these sick bastards comfortable enough to spill their pedo beans all over national TV. If you really want to know more about him check out these two Youtube videos by Toad McKinley and DankNet, as they go into a lot more detail than I am willing to go about the man, the myth, the legend. The compressed version is that Hansen got his start as an investigative reporter in Detroit and quickly made a name for himself. He helped shine some light on the crack cocaine underworld of Michigan’s most populous city, in the 80’s, and it even led to the arguably unjust imprisonment of a teen by the name of White Boy Rick. I’m pretty sure that’s a Matthew McConaughey movie but I haven’t seen it. I also just learned how to properly spell McConaughey, so basically Wikipedia is enlightening the shit out of me right now.
Back to Hansen’s journey; he was soon able to escape from Detroit and join the big boys in Manhattan for the hit NBC program, Dateline. He got his first taste of predator catching while doing a story about child sex trafficking in Cambodia and the rest, as they say, is history. Back in America, he would soon team up with a vigilante group called Perverted Justice but, to quote the man himself, “We’ll get to that in a minute.” Hansen was killing it on NBC but nothing gold can stay, so let’s have a quick look at his tumble from the top of the mountain.
When TCAP (as the cool kids call it) was cancelled, for reasons I will cover in a bit, Hansen continued on with NBC but never really reached the acclaim he had with his iconic show. He was still doing great work but it’s like a George Constanza curse. No matter how talented you are, people are still gonna yell “Can’t stand ya” at you while you’re trying to walk your dog. It wasn’t all bad with Hansen though or maybe it was. While doing a story in Florida, he ended up meeting a sexy lass 20 years his junior (luckily NOT underage) and found himself poked by Cupid’s sweet boner. The only problem? He still had a wife up North. Next thing he knew, he found himself in the middle of a scandal and without a job or a wife. Icon down!
In more recent years, Hansen has revived the classic show with a new name – Hansen Vs. Predator that he crowdfunded himself. Unfortunately, for those who donated to the cause, with promises of some sick HVP swag, he did not deliver the goods and left a lot of angry TCAP lovers out for blood. Somehow, against all odds, he was able to smooth things over with them and redeem himself via YouTube …. but he has since fucked that up. I had no clue how active the TCAP online world actually was (again I’ll get to this in a bit) but it’s probably not wise to bomb the people who are interested in your work with copyright strikes. This is exactly what a financially destitute/beer belly havin’ Hansen has been up to lately and while he is still active on YouTube, his work is a far cry from the compelling pedo-busting work he did with To Catch a Predator. He even had a run in with the law by cashing a shit pile of counterfeit cheques. Come on, CH!
THE LOW RENT KEVIN SMITH
Now let’s get to this in a now, as I will delve into Hansen’s partners in crime – Perverted Justice. Basically, PJ would hang out in chatrooms pretending to be underage girls and boys and when adults swooped in to kindly offer them guidance in the sexual department, PJ would play along. Nothing like a nice cock shot from a stranger to get the flood blowin’. After they collected enough evidence, they would dox these creeps and shame the living crud out of them online. I should mention that, at this point, they would not involve the police, as the group’s founder was a staunch libertarian and did not want any bureaucrats muckin’ with his plan.
Let’s talk about the founder - Xavier Von Erck – who multiple people online have hilariously referred to as B-Grade Kevin Smith. Take a look at the video above and try to disagree. He was quite the character and an internet troll before it was even a thing. Again, if you’re really interested in learning more about this fellow, check out those videos, as they do a pretty deep dive into his history. In the interest of space/time saving, I will just quickly touch on the funniest shit I was able to find about him.
My favourite tidbit was when an angry critic of PJ decided to go after Xavier. This man accused him of using a picture of his son as a decoy and launched an attack on the website, since he was an experienced programmer. Von Erck responded by catfishing the ever-loving fuck out of this man by posing as a woman named Holly. This would cause intense humiliation for him and extreme hilarity for us innocent bystanders. Simply put, Von Erck is an absolute savage. Don’t fuck with him. In fact, if you’re reading this Mr. Von Erck, we’re cool right?
Von Erck and the Dude who was ruined mercilessly
By the time Von Erck and Company joined forces with Hansen, he had the decoy game down to a science. The dude seemed to have a knack for impersonating a young woman. For reasons that I am too lazy to research, he never appeared on TCAP; instead, a man and a woman named Frag and Del, respectively, represented the company. Frag stole the hearts of America with his Hawaiian shirts and frog-like appearance while Del would often act as a decoy even though she sounded nothing like a preteen boy or girl. Perverted Justice apparently was paid over a million dollars for their work on TCAP but have long since ran out of money and folded - aka the Chris Hansen retirement program. Why did the show go off the air anyways? Let’s see…
THIS NEXT PART ISN'T GOING TO BE FUNNY
Photo credit: Esquire.com (don't sue, plz)
The grand majority of men who appeared on the show did so in ridiculous fashion. Like the dude who sounded like Mickey Mouse or the dude directly below this paragraph who deduced that his quick response to the question of the opponents in the football game that afternoon absolved him of his sins. He couldn’t possibly be there to molest a 12-year-old. No way. He was there to watch football and you can cross-reference his answer with ESPN if you don’t buy his story! Yes, these men come from all walks of life from unemployed couch surfer to friggin’ Rabbi. They all had one thing in common – they foolishly showed up to a house to hook up with an underage child. Well, not all of them. Some would retreat when they sensed something was awry or some would chicken out and appear at the house at all. Each state has their own laws about this stuff and sometimes the men could still be charged regardless if they were confronted by Mr. Hansen or not.
Since I’m not a lawyer, a cop, nor intelligent, I won’t comment too deeply on these laws but apparently in Texas, the perps do not actually need to show up to be smacked by the long dick of justice. So, when Hansen and Co. realized that one of their little boy decoys had a district attorney on the horn, he was ready to expose him. The problem was that Louis Conradt never arrived at the sting house. No worries. The TCAP crew and a boatload of cops made their way to the Conradt residence to have a little chat with him. He wouldn’t answer the door nor the phone and when the cops finally ram-rodded their way in, they found a distraught Conradt holding a gun. He proceeded to take his own life, as I imagine he realized he would not receive a warm welcome in prison for a multitude of reasons.
Now this section isn’t funny at all. A dude died and a town was rocked. While it’s easy to cheer as all these creeps get what they deserve, we can’t forget about the innocent people off screen who are affected as well. Imagine getting the call that your husband is in jail for trying to bed a teenager? Or your dad? Or uncle? Or teacher? Fuck! In this case, it was the sister of Louis Conradt who had to deal with the aftermath. She sued the shit out of NBC and when all was said and done, the show was taken off the air. Now, it could be argued that with the evolution of internet technology and the overall high profile of the show, it probably was on the verge of running its course anyways. I’m not so sure. Never underestimate the stupidity of a horny loser on the web. A new one is born every day! Regardless, NBC wiped its hands clean of the show and we all went about our business.
OH MY CAWD
Photo taken from this video
That last paragraph was too morose. Let’s go out with some lulz. Now, I don’t know how deeply you’ve studied TCAP culture but I’ve been researching for a few days, so I feel pretty confident saying I still barely know a damn thing about this bizarre subculture. There are a number of message boards and YouTubers out there posting content with layers and layers of inside jokes that would take a much more comprehensive study than this to get to the bottom of. Not to mention that a lot of TCAP related videos have been removed from YouTube so even if you took the time, you may end up as confused as some of these creeps when Hansen bops out of that hallway to introduce himself.
While there are many memorable predators, I think Lorne Armstrong has had the most staying power. He spent his 37th birthday getting grilled by Chris Hansen instead of the romantic evening with a 13-year-old girl like he’d hoped. Lorne has a long history of being catfished and humiliated and as far as I can tell, he is still a leading voice in the catfish/humiliation game. When watching these videos, you do kinda feel sorry for the guys but as Hansen reads the disturbing things they say and show to an underager, any sympathy quickly evaporates. Lorne Armstrong was no exception. As he wriggled in his seat with tears welling up in his eyes, Hansen showed no mercy and pulled out the encyclopedia-sized chat log to produce some fine Armstrong quotes, such as: “Is Ms. Vagina thinking about Mr. Penis? What is she thinking?” A real stand up guy, this Lorne!
While these quotes are comedy gold, they don’t really set him apart from the other sleazeballs that have appeared on the show. Oh no. What lets Lorne surge ahead is the fact that he has an almost religious following of TCAP fans that have continued to troll him to this day. I say religious because they actually call it the Church of CAWD (based on Lorne’s exasperated cry of “Oh cawd” when he realized he would be on TV) and its followers – Latter Day Lornographers. Their bible is the 407-page chat log that Lorne had with the decoy and they “worship” the New England accented creeper for the sake of comedy. Is it harassment of the guy? Probably not since he is a slimebag and most likely shouldn’t even be allowed on the internet at all. When you dance with the preteen devil in the pale moonlight, you’re asking for trouble, Lorne! If you are dying for more Lorne content, there is no shortage of content out there so check out links like this and this.
To conclude, TCAP was a polarizing show. Most of us would agree that getting these creepshows off the streets and away from our kids is a good thing but others would disagree with the methods used. Vigilante justice will always be controversial; especially when mistakes are made and people die. Ultimately, we can hope that, at the very least, stings like these keep the pedos in check, so they stay the hell off these chatrooms. The last thing we need is more pervs ending up with their own religion named after this buffoonery. The world has always been fucked and shows like this just shine a brighter light on it. To quote the big man CH himself, “What are we supposed to make of this?” What are we supposed to make of it all, indeed, Mr. Hansen.