$30,000 Millionaires: Douchebags in the Mist

Venturing into the Dallas jungle in search of the elusive $30,000 millionaire: Is he myth or fact?

Live capture may be rare, but sightings are not uncommon, especially in the areas of North Texas where douchebagus is believed to make its nest, forage for food and search for mates. The anthropologist looking for $30,000 millionaires should begin in Uptown, Knox-Henderson or Addison.

Anecdotal evidence, gathered over 2.5 years of shopping, drinking and partying in Dallas, provided me with a basic sketch of the $30,000 millionaire. The creature is predominantly nocturnal. He is occasionally spotted during daylight hours in close proximity to brunch buffets and build-your-own-Bloody-Mary bars. More intelligent than many experts give him credit for, the $30,000 millionaire is highly social and characterized by easily identifiable plumage: wildly spiked, occasionally faux-hawked and usually frosted hair atop the head. About the torso, look for brand-name adornment in the form of shirts stamped with cheeky slogans or printed with a great deal of over-designed crap. There will be man-jewelry.

Indeed, members of the species douchebagus are overwhelmingly male. This is not a problem, as they have no need to procreate and, in fact, are averse to it. The rare female of the species is closely related to Homo sapiens gold-diggus and can be recognized by her exorbitantly priced footwear and surgical enhancement in the chest and facial regions.

The sexy ultra lounge life is filled with beautiful women and the men who love leering over their shoulders. This is Wish, where spiked hair and whisker-washed jeans are de rigueur.
The sexy ultra lounge life is filled with beautiful women and the men who love leering over their shoulders. This is Wish, where spiked hair and whisker-washed jeans are de rigueur.

But barroom conjecture and blurry, late-night observations do not a proper study make. I needed an expert, someone who could help me find hard evidence. Luckily enough, the world's foremost authority on all things Homo sapiens douchebagus lives in Dallas. His name is Jay Gormley, and most will recognize him as one of the faces of KTVT-Channel 11's nighttime newscast. Gormley is the writer of an independent film called, appropriately enough, $30,000 Millionaires. No one has spent more time trying to understand Homo sapiens douchebagus.

When I meet Gormley at his pleasant cottage in Southern Dallas, he is hardly the martini-hating, fashion-loathing lunatic with poor hygiene I expected to encounter. When a student travels to the outer reaches of the world—in this case, Oak Cliff—to find her mentor, she hopes to be rewarded with an aged, wizened teacher conducting bizarre rituals with smelly, holistic beverages. To the contrary, the tall, gangly Gormley is an agreeable 41-year-old single guy, and he makes a fine cup of coffee.

Gormley says he identified the $30,000 millionaire immediately upon moving to the city in 1997 as a cub reporter. After living on a shoestring budget in cities such as Los Angeles and Philadelphia, the 32-year-old Gormley was pleased with his reporter's salary in Dallas and ready to start looking into grown-up things like 401(k)s and home ownership. He still went out a couple of nights a week, though, and was shocked by what he found at local bars and clubs.

"I'm noticing people five, six, seven years younger than me," Gormley remembers one morning at his home just south of Kessler Park. But these drinkers weren't at dollar beer night, or five-dollar pitcher night, the way Gormley remembers his 20s. "They were partying at $12 martini night."

Gormley initially thought Dallas was just filled with wealthy young people, but closer inspection brought a revelation. "They were sales managers at J. Crew!" The memories are fresh in Gormley's mind as he throws up his hands, acting out his frustrations: "You dress nicer than me! You drive nicer cars than me! But I think I get a little bit more money from my job!" Gormley is honest about the source of his frustration: "It was out of jealousy."

Gormley channeled that negative energy into writing a screenplay. $30,000 Millionaires is a romantic comedy in the vein of Wedding Crashers and Swingers, about the over-sexed, under-funded escapades of five 20-something Dallasites who live by a mantra Gormley coined: "You fake what you don't make."

The film has yet to be made, but Gormley has secured a distribution deal and had an offers sheet—a preliminary contract for a role—approved by Jon Gries, who played Uncle Rico in Napoleon Dynamite. Today, the movie has become both Gormley's greatest dream and worst nightmare. Initial interest in the film was strong, and it looked like Gormley and his filmmaking partner, John Venable, would be overnight successes in the manner of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.

The Dallas duo launched the film's Web site, 30kMillionaires.com, on February 1, 2006. By the end of the month, their site had garnered nearly 40,000 hits and e-mails were pouring in from around the country and across the globe. Alongside woeful confessional letters from self-professed $30,000 millionaires, Gormley found e-mails of interest or Web hits from Warner Bros. and Fox's comedy development department. Investors were wrangled. Money was promised. And then, nothing. Bigger projects came up, and $30,000 Millionaires was pushed to the backburner.

Today, the film is in limbo. But passion for the $30,000 millionaire remains strong, evidenced by the continuing popularity of Gormley and Venable's Web site and the e-mails they still receive. If anyone can take credit for popularizing, if not originating, the term "$30,000 millionaire," it's these two.

"After I wrote that script and launched that Web site two years ago, it took off," Gormley says. His knowledge and understanding of these financially challenged creatures is unparalleled. He owns what is probably the world's largest archive of writings collected directly from Homo sapiens douchebagus, amassed in an e-mail folder on his personal computer.

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