After our commune/collective unwound in the early 80s, and most of the Zeebers wandered out into the real world, Richard, who had been doing a talk show at a radio station up the road in Glens Falls, moved to Lakeland, Florida, where he started his own teevee talk, “The Richard Shanks Show.” The station’s signal covered most of Central Florida, from Saint Petersburg to Tampa to Orlando. This is about a Zeeber who became world famous - briefly anyway.
Richard (in His Own Words):
The story about this incident appeared in over 300 newspapers around the world including the Front page of the USA Today, which is where my mother found out about it. In fact, even Johnny Carson and Carl Reiner talked about it a couple of days later on the Carson Show. I became famous with my butt of all things.
A student in High School was accused of mooning on campus and then suspended just before graduation and put in an ‘alternate’ school’. This school was for problem kids…kids that brought guns to school and punched their teachers. He was a good student and had never caused any trouble. Turns out he was ‘off campus’ across the street for the school and he wasn’t really mooning, he and his friend were showing each other their butts to see who had the most hair on their rear ends and a teacher saw them from the school yard.
To show how innocent I thought mooning was, I decided to walk out in front of my desk and drop my pants live on camera.…just a few seconds actually…but I didn’t have any underwear on that day, so my balls hung down, and that showed up on everyone’s TV. Remember this is 1987 in Florida and the ‘Christians’ thought it was the End Times and went berserk. They even tried to get the Florida State Attorney General to arrest me for Obscenity…but after he watched a tape of the show, he decided it fell under “1st amendment rights of free speech.” He was cool about it. They even protested to the FCC in Washington, but the FCC said no problem with nudity and didn’t do anything. The station management backed me 100% for doing this, but privately thought I was nuts for doing it.
After so many newspapers picked up on the story and I was becoming notorious, ratings soared. But sponsors were being boycotted by Christian groups. Even though new sponsors were coming in because of the publicity and ratings, it became too much for me to be able to conduct my regular show with other guests after this. About 4 months later I decided I needed to move on and resigned from the show and that was the end of 22 years in the media.
As we mentioned, Richard used to do a talk show at a radio station near here, and with all the national (and international) publicity, the locals in this upstate area were downright delighted. It was like, “Hey, look, that’s one of our boys!” They were so proud of him. Quite amused too.