We finally caught up with our Money Hungry winners, Mission Slimposible. In our first interview , Mark tells us about his weight gain since the show, why the talk of spending his winnings in Vegas was just that: talk, and the fantastic story of his friendship with Joe that started in the HOV lane of the Staten Island Expressway and took them all the way to winning $100,000 on national television.
First of all congratulations on winning.
Oh, thank you. I appreciate it.
I can’t say your victory was surprising, as you’d dominated virtually every challenge in the game.
Well you also gotta remember towards the end of the stretch, we were down to the last maybe 20, 25 lbs. that we needed to lose. Anyone who’s tried a weight loss regimen knows that those are the hardest pounds to lose. I mean, granted we were two fat guys, we definitely could’ve lost another 40, 50 lbs., but at that point in time, working out as hard as we were, eventually we were probably gonna hit a wall. And you know, [the Regulators] were just tremendous. All the weight they lost is like throwing a lounge chair off the Titanic. They’re so big. To them losing 15, 20 lbs. is nothing. They get a good sweat on, they take a s*** or a piss, they could lose 10, 15 lbs.
That’s a good point – do you think your relative smallness was a disadvantage?
Not really. Listen, I was a fat bastard. I was 265 lbs. I’m five foot nothing. That definitely took its toll on me. If you look at me from the first episode, I was a pouf. I was a fat roly poly, so anybody saying that I didn’t deserve to be on the show…when you’re wearing a size 42 pants you deserve to be on the show.
What did you think about your portrayal?
Listen, it’s a reality show. It’s only us 24/7. During that course of that time I’m the happy guy, the safe guy, the mean guy… I’m anything that you need me to be. However they wanna slap it together in 45 minutes, I’m gonna be whatever they want me to be. I’m not saying it was all edited. To be honest with you, I think I play the bad guy a lot better than playing the good guy but it is what it is. Am I competitive? Yes. Am I determined? Yes. Did I wanna win? Of course. Was there any means necessary? No. I tried to do a little bit of class.
What did you think of The Godfather-inspired music that would accompany a lot of your scheming scenes?
It’s tongue-in-cheek. Listen, I laughed about it. Am I gonna say we were stereotyped Italians? To be honest with you, no. Whatever the viewers thought were entertaining is fine with me.
I know you briefly touched on it during the finale, but what was the thought process behind giving Grading Curves back their entry fee, despite them not earning it?
I was mad. I don’t wanna accuse the Regulators of being cheaters…they played the game, they were fierce competitors but you can see in the bonus footage where before their weigh-in, they were actually working out and they were wearing plastic bags under their clothes. Anybody who knows anything about weight loss knows that, especially if you have any background in wrestling, if you need to cut weight, that’s a surefire way to cut weight. You put on a plastic bag, you run on a treadmill for three hours, it’s gonna take off 6, 7 lbs. So I didn’t agree with that. I wasn’t into it. It’s dangerous what they were doing. I thought it should’ve been ruled out. Unfortunately it wasn’t. So I thought that the girls really didn’t get a fair shake because they could’ve both been in the gym wearing plastic bags like Dave and Po. But they couldn’t because Tricia was in the hospital. That really upset me.
Did you think the Regulators shouldn’t be able to do the plastic bag technique because it was dangerous or just unfair? Or is it something else? Where are you drawing the line? I feel like somebody else could say, “Oh well you guys hid your weight with water. That was unfair.”
Hiding your weight with water is not cheating. When you’re safe, you’re safe. It’s simple arithmetic. Putting a plastic bag on your body and seeing the amount of weight before you go onto a scale, that’s not real weight loss. That’s not weight loss. What we did was we hid our weight loss with the water. I would say it was strategic; it was smart. I would say we weren’t trying to kill ourselves. We were just playing the game as smart as you could play it.
Who came up with the water idea?
That was me. Everyone was saying, “It’s a trick, it’s a trick.” No, it’s not a trick. It’s not like we were cheating. It’s common sense. Why would you disclose your weight when it’s a weight loss show when it goes by body percentage when you don’t have to do it? I’m not a genius. I’m not the smartest guy in the world. I wish I was born smarter. I was just born good looking.
Yeah. Have you been losing weight since the show?
Nah, I been eating like I’m going to the electric chair. Actually I’ve put on about 25-30 lbs.
Oh, how do you feel about that?
The weight with me was null. It was a little bit of an issue but it wasn’t anything that was holding me back in life. Maybe I couldn’t fit into the jeans or the shirt I wanted to fit in. Maybe a couple times at family parties I would look at the pictures and be like, “Wow I’m a fat bastard.” But I’m married for 13 years. I just wanted to get a little bit of help here. And that’s what I did. I kept off a couple of the pounds. I lost 56 lbs., I put on 30 so I’m still down 26 lbs.
Have you been working out?
I was but unfortunately, this is the real reality. You got bills to pay, you have to get up and take care of the kids, you’ll have a lot of outside interference whereas on the show house we had zero outside interference. Maybe the phone calls I would get back from home count as “interference,” but other than that, my job was to wake up in the morning, go to the gym, eat a little something, go back to the gym, eat, go back to the gym, go back to sleep. Then, I’d wake up the next morning, and do it all over again. My job was the gym and we took it all very seriously.
So you just dropped all those good habits when you got home?
I mean, we were all on the show for a reason: we were all a bunch of fat, lazy bastards. I don’t care what anybody says about metabolism and genetics and this that. If you shove food down your fat face, you’re gonna get fat. Everybody wants to make an excuse. Yes, some people do have slow metabolisms, but you know what the key to that is? Don’t eat as much, you fat f***. Just get the f*** up and go to the gym. If you sweat, you’re gonna lose weight. That’s it. There’s no genius in trying to figure it out, there’s no 100 scientists in the lab, Aristotle and all these philosophers, it’s just simple math. If you eat too much, you’re gonna get fat.
Are you letting yourself go?
You could say whatever, but life happens. I’m not selfish. I put my family first and that’s my main concern. My main concern is waking up in the morning and figuring out how I’m gonna provide for my family. It’s one thing to work out in a house for two months, but then you’re putting in that you got car insurance, you got life insurance, you got health insurance, you gotta take the kids to school. It’s constantly growing. I bought myself a pair of sneakers, I had them for three years. I’m a size 12 for the last 15 years of my life. I buy my son a pair of Jordans that were $170. Three weeks later, they barely fit them. They just grow. It’s a totally different ball game. And that’s the most important thing. My family – my wife, my children are the most important thing to me. I gotta provide for them.
What did you do with the prize money? Did you go to Vegas?
No, we didn’t even get the money yet.
Oh, that makes sense. Are you planning on going to Vegas?
No, no. We were just saying that. We started becoming characters and we just stayed in character.
On the finale, were you actually seeing spots or was that strategy?
No, I was really f***ed up, bro.
Is there anything you want to talk about that we didn’t?
I just wanted to touch base on Joe, my partner.
The guy’s amazing. And whenever I was down he lifted me up and vice versa. And I couldn’t have picked a better person to go on the show with. The guy really is a great guy.
How long have you two been friends?
A little over two years? We were actually coworkers. This is a funny story: I was a branch manager at a construction company. I went from outside sales, inside sales, to actually becoming the manager in a couple years, so I needed to find somebody to replace me. I live in Staten Island and the commute from Brooklyn is a f***ing nightmare. Everyday I’m sitting through traffic from 45 minutes to an hour, and next to me is the HOV lane. Everybody’s flying by, listening to music and everybody’s happy in the HOV lane. It’s like a Nestea commercial, but here I am stuck in traffic. So when I put out a job listing, I got probably 350 applicants. I’m going through all of these and all of a sudden I see an address in Staten Island, which is right around the corner from me. I took all the other resumes and I threw them in the garbage. I called Joe 15 times to give him that job so I could go to the HOV lane to get home everyday. He finally walked in, and I didn’t even make eye contact with him. He goes “Hey, I’m Joe, I’m here for the job blah blah.” I took my ears out and said, “You’re hired. Sit down, I’ll give you all the paperwork.”
It seems that things worked out well for a decision based on traffic.
Yeah. We worked together for about a year. Our sales went from 1.4 million to 400,000. I had about 15 guys working for me and slowly but surely I was laying everybody off, and it finally came down to us. Joe and I got laid off on the same day. I was on Craigslist probably about a week and a half later, looking for work, looking for a job. I saw an ad that said, “Lose weight and win money.” I said, “I’m a fat f***, and I could definitely use money.” It mentioned I’d need a partner, and I figured, who else is better suited for this except Joe? He kinda worked like me, and he’s a fat bastard like me. I said, let me just send it in. I sent him an email, they gave us an interview that Saturday, and then a week and half later they called us up and said, “You guys are on the show.”
And to think it all came from the HOV lane.
If it wasn’t for the HOV lane, I never would’ve lost 60 lbs., and won $100,000. But that’s not even the whole story: when the casting director for the show, called us up and said we were on the show, he asked if we had our $10,000. Right when he called us, I was in Atlantic City, I just hit the $10,000. I said, “Hold on a second, what’s your cell phone number?” I snapped a picture of Joe with the $10,000 and I sent it out to him like, “Yea, we got the money now we just gotta get the f*** out of Atlantic City with it.”
It sounds like fate.
Yeah, you couldn’t have made something like this up. The only thing I could say about the show is that I wish they depicted me a little bit more the way I am ‘cause I’m a nice guy, a family guy but I’m driven and I’m competitive. That’s really about it. Oh, and right now Joe and I, we’re in negotiations. Another network’s trying to sign us to a development deal. The only thing we gotta try to get out of our VH1 contract. I can’t say what network it is but I could tell you it has something to do with food. Hopefully, you haven’t seen the end of Mission Slimpossible.