Joe Pugliese Spins 100 at The Price Is Right
\The Price Is Right is an American staple not just because it’s been around for forever, but because every episode feels just like the last with the same excitement, same games, and a deep vein of authentic joy running through every minute. It’s immediately recognizable to anyone who’s touched popular culture even on a surface level, and that’s one of the reason that Joe Pugliese chose to highlight the shoe as a part of his ongoing collaboration with LA Magazine. They’ve invited him to serve up a new library of Los Angeles themed images every month and this month it focuses on that incredible show. “I’m coming up with all the ideas of iconic, lasting, but not necessarily cliché LA institutions,” explains Joe. “The Price is Right is like the most lasting symbol of Showbiz to me. There have been a lot of strong icons in that world but not any that have lasted this long. It’s literally unchanged since 1972.” The show’s recognizable icons, like the colored set and graphic name tags drum up inside each and every viewer a pang of nostalgia that will never go away.
The games are fun, and Drew Carey has been a magnanimous replacement for Bob Barker, but the show is really about one thing: the folks in the audience. “It’s all about the contestant on that show so the crowd is the draw, so I thought it made perfect sense for a portrait series to give us a cross-section of who is attracted to that part of Hollywood,” Joe explains. The Price Is Right isn’t just visual nostalgia, but also reminds us of a different kind of Hollywood that has since disappeared except for on The Price Is Right. It’s an era where daily heroes were plucked out of obscurity and showered with riches, in cash and prizes, thanks to good luck and a little bit of skill. We still have other shows like Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, but The Price Is Right somehow feels more possible, more accessible. Somehow it feels both an inevitability and an impossible dream.
To get these richly full portraits, Joe looked to the audience and asked them to have the experience of the show in front of his camera. “I picked people out of the crowd and had them come over to a makeshift studio we set up just outside the line so they came into our little hut that was private,” Joe explains. “And then I would ask them about what brought them here, or what are they going to do if they picked, or how excited they’ll be if they say your name and ‘Come On Down!’ Everyone was just so jacked up that they had no problem reenacting their reenaction.” Joe stood in for all of us in these moments, witnessing the boundless energy that comes with tapping into the emotional history of the show. The Price Is Right is such a unique microcosm in American life, one that is at once immediately recognizable and just out of reach for all of us.
Joe, to his credit, gives us a piece of that impossibility.