Hey all, I posted the first draft of this to the original wiki and was directed here.
I wrote this several months ago, to be truthful, and only now had gotten the courage to post it here. I received some nice pointers on the original wiki and hope that I get equally nice tips here as well.
I’m a frequent visitor of the late night hours. It started when I was maybe 10 or 11 years old. I fell asleep once at noon and woke up at around eight at night. I wasn’t able to fall asleep at bedtime so I stayed up until 4 am when my father yelled at me to go to bed. Since then, my sleeping patterns have been unnatural. I was tired in school, and even though I managed to pull through and get good grades, I was still having trouble paying attention in class and would be frequently found napping in the unused baseball field during recess. When I started college I had to take classes online because of this. On the weekends my parents didn’t care much that I slept throughout the day, although I was gotten up if it was really important.
Sorry to ramble, this story isn't about me or my life. Since there isn’t much to do late at night, what was a 10 year old supposed to do? My toys got boring quickly. Books and comics could only be read so many times before I could recite them from memory. This was the 80’s, so it’s not like I could have browsed Reddit or Facebook on a smartphone and our computer was in the living room so I couldn't have gone in there to play games. My game consoles were in the basement, which my paranoid mother locked the door to at night and I wasn’t allowed to move them upstairs because my parents didn’t like the sound of them anyways. Going outside was out of the question, of course. So, I was confined to my room until daylight.
So what did I occupy my time with? Well, unlike many kids on my block, I had my own television. This was because my parents liked to keep the living room tv on news 24/7. I figured that if I kept the volume low and kept an ear and eye out for my mother, I could get away with watching all the juicy things that happened on late night television.
Before I go any further, let me explain the concept of The Box, for the younger readers. You see, back in the day television channels were limited to a certain few. Those limited few channels were also limited if you weren’t subscribed to a whole lot of them. Those that you weren’t subscribed to were scrambled. Made unwatchable and sometimes just plain not there. Those were usually R rated movies, porn, and other exclusive content. Many of my friends have fond memories of tuning in to the scrambled Playboy channel, and sitting in front of the TV naked trying to guess if that lump was an elbow or a boob. I, however, did not obtain such memories.
So, television networks would switch frequencies at some point in the day and the only way to see these programs was to get The Box. The Box was a wonderful, magical device. You would hook it up to a television and it would unscramble the channels for a subscription fee. However, these things were easy to make, and many people used them to watch these programs for free, which was illegal. So it was basically stealing television. Kind of like in the mid 2000’s when you would hook up your TV to the neighbor’s Comcast or Dish, or today where you connect your computer to your neighbors unprotected WiFi. My father bought one of the illegal boxes off of a friend of his but since he and my mother didn't stay up late enough to watch some of the stuff it unlocked, he hooked it up to my television for whatever reason, thinking I’d get more of a use out of it and trusting me enough to stay away from the more adult content. Of course it wasn’t until later on in life when I realized I could watch unscrambled porn and broke that promise, but that’s an entirely different story.
Now, obviously I couldn’t watch cartoons late at night. We didn’t have 24/7 cartoon channels back then, and kid’s networks usually signed off and turned into static or test bars or some other network until they signed back on. There were other channels that did this too. There used to be such a thing as late night TV. Today they just show infomercials. Though, I guess everyone’s definition of late night TV is different. For me, it was some of the most interestingly eerie shows and commercials I’ve ever seen.
Late at night I was flipping through the channels, looking for an inkling of either a leftover cartoon or a violent movie. When I came across an obscure channel. It was somewhere up high, wedged between a few sports channels. It looked very professionally made, it even had a name. Hehe TV. (Pronounced “Hee-Hee” like laughing) Hehe TV consisted of mainly 3 sitcoms, 2 game shows, and occasionally one talk show. They were interesting, but also unnerving. I’ll try to recollect them the best I can.
The only sitcom I remember was simply called “Mike.” They played this one the most. Mike was about a 13 year old boy named, well, Mike, and his family of his mother, his father, his older sister, and baby brother. The main joke in this sitcom was that Mike’s family hated him. But it wasn’t in a funny sort of way, they actually hated him. Here was another thing about Hehe TV, it was uncensored. Before I discovered it I had never actually heard the word “fuck” on television. And that word was said by Mike’s father to Mike a lot. I remember they actually showed Mike's parents hitting him, like punching him in his arms and chest hard and pushing him hard enough to send him falling over. His sister would straight up smack him in the face and even pull his hair. His baby brother seemed afraid of him and usually cried and ran away when he was around. At one point there was an episode where the first five minutes were Mike crying and calling out his family and the rest of it was Mike’s family continuing to do their everyday things while the cameras avoided Mike. Everything was played for laughs, as usual.
The commercials were also equally odd. They were always for products or companies that seemed to never exist at all, and they were always in any other language but English, so I couldn’t understand them, unless they were in Spanish, which they rarely were. The one they played the most was a minute long and depicted a woman sitting in someone’s living room holding a blue, unlabeled pill bottle and talking about what I assume was whatever was in the bottle. She was speaking in what I now know to be Italian. Near the end it abruptly cuts off. This, I think, was the only thing on the channel that wasn’t shot professionally. Someone, maybe the woman, maybe someone else, set up a camera in their house, recorded it, and sent the tape to the station.
Another one I remember was for, what I’m guessing, some kind of life insurance company. It was in French, and started off with a kid, no older than 7 or 8, skateboarding down a sidewalk until he falls off the curb. For a few seconds, it showed the boy laying in the middle of the road with fake blood pouring from his mouth. A man then stepped on screen and started talking until the commercial ended. What I thought was the strangest thing about this commercial, it never showed a phone number, or an address, or any way to contact the company. A little green bar popped up at the bottom where one should be, but the information never showed. Also right at the end if you looked closely you could see a glimpse of the boy actor being led offstage by a woman.
There was also a PSA for eyeglasses that showed a woman who was unable to read the walk/don’t walk sign walking into traffic and getting hit by a car, then an ambulance carries her off. It only had one line of dialogue, which was in Spanish, it said “Don’t be a fool, get your eyes checked.” The injuries in this commercial looked real, though it could have been really clever makeup artists.
Moving on, the game shows that were on Hehe TV. There was one called “Stuck.” I was interested in it as a kid but, looking back on it now, it was disturbing. 8 people, 4 men and 4 women, volunteered to be stuck in a small executive type office for a chance to win $50,000. They would have food and drink delivered to them through a dumbwaiter, and they also had a bathroom to use. The object of the game was to be the last one in the office, anyone could bail out at any time and would receive a consolation prize of $1000. Every Wednesday, from 10pm to 2am, they would show live, uninterrupted, uncensored footage of the game.
The contestants would go insane, and the game could go on for sometimes a whole two months. In one broadcast the contestants figured out that one of them, unsurprisingly an overweight man, was hoarding all of the food and water delivered to them. They had to have some of the crew members take him out before he got beaten to death.
In another, there were five contestants left, two men and three women. One woman was crying in the corner while the other two holed themselves up in the bathroom, which one of the men was banging on and yelling at them to come out. The other man laid there on the office desk for two hours before the contestants figured out he had died from an aneurysm in his sleep and two crew members had to carry him out.
There was also a multitude of other things you could never get away with showing on television. Such as contestants having sex, which happened frequently. Once, a man blocked the door to where crew members couldn’t get in and then killed himself by repeatedly stapling his neck, all office supplies were removed after that. Another time, a woman figured out that the windows could be opened and she jumped to her death along with three other contestants, the windows were permanently locked after that. The most disturbing thing I can remember was another woman crushing herself to death trying to escape through the dumbwaiter. Her muffled, panicked screams as the crew members and other contestants tried to free her will forever haunt my dreams, they replaced the dumbwaiter with a delivery guy afterwards. I believe they ended the show when a guy drowned another guy in the toilet.
The other one was called “What would you do for one million dollars?” and how it worked was that the contestant had to answer questions until they got one wrong. When they did, they had to throw a dart onto a spinning dart board with various humiliating tasks on it. There were mild things like running naked through a mall or dressing as a baby and having Nanny Nancy, who was a man in drag who spoke with a fake corny British accent that frequently appeared on the show, push them in a stroller. They were the only two activities that never changed throughout the show.
But there were some that weren’t so tame. Originally I figured that the activities were switched out because a lot of them were too much, but when I started seeing them again on newer episodes, I realized that there were many different ones that were switched out every episode. Again, though, they were pretty dangerous, malicious, and even illegal.
Jumping into ice cold water naked, getting chased by an unfriendly dog, and punching a police officer in the face are only some of the things people were made to do. The scary thing was that of course there were people who did them, many unwillingly, but those who didn’t were treated to something much worse.
If you refused to do the activity, you had to choose a family member to do it or decide to do it yourself. If you refused to do either, then the host would pick for you. Usually if the host got to pick he would always pick a child if the family had children. The rest of the family was then forced to watch. The sad part is, you weren’t allowed to opt out of the show.
The one talk show that appeared on the channel on Fridays was called “Late night with Moe.” Moe was a middle aged man with curly blond hair that stayed in a sort of softball sized afro at the very top of his head and a beard that reached his mid chest. Every episode he would wear striped tee shirts with black slacks held up by bright yellow suspenders and a pair of navy blue sneakers. Moe was not right in the head at all and did and said things a man of his age shouldn’t. The talk show consisted of mainly interviews with at large serial killers, rapists, and pedophiles, who talked about why they do what they do in graphic detail. I rarely watched much of it because of that reason.
When I was 15, I got more interested in the unscrambled Playboy channel, so Hehe TV was put on the back burner for awhile. Or at least until my mom caught me and told my dad to block out all the porn channels. I had no choice but to channel surf again, and that’s when I rediscovered Hehe TV. I had tuned into their last broadcast unknowingly.
It was a live showing of WWYD, some kind of anniversary celebration, and it was crazier than usual. All the activities on the board were the shows most dangerous, malicious, and illegal things that have appeared over the course of the show. The contestant was a man who kept getting questions right until a particularly hard one came up, which he got wrong. The man took the dart in his hand and landed on “Steal a baby in broad daylight.” However before the man started the activity he turned to the host and pulled out a badge, he was an undercover cop. He said that the host was under arrest. Several other audience members who were also undercover cops instructed the host down on the ground and started ushering the audience out of the building before the channel cut to test bars. For the next three weeks I tuned into the channel, but Hehe TV was no more.
My mom offhandedly mentioned “That channel you used to talk about you were a kid” recently, and I wondered if there was anything about the channel online. There was nothing, no Wikipedia article, no TV Guide listings, no news reports, nothing. I asked around and have, thankfully, met a few people who remember Hehe TV, and one who was a crew member. The crew member said that the hosts of WWYD and Moe were apparently the owners of the channel and had been arrested for, well, it should be obvious how many things they were arrested for. Many of the crew members were also arrested, but the one I knew thankfully wasn’t because he was conned into working for the channel and was miraculously let off on a technicality. He jokes that he bought a lottery ticket that day because of the sheer luck. We were all surprised that the channel lasted as long as it did. According to the crew member, it had been around since the early 70’s.
So there it is. I may post more thing here someday but I figured I'd start with this. Thanks for reading and tell me what you think.
I guess I should explain that most of the creepiness kind of comes from how that channel managed to stay on for so long, thus the wham line at the end.