$30,000 Millionaires: Douchebags in the Mist

The $30,000 millionaire is accustomed to instant gratification.
The $30,000 millionaire is accustomed to instant gratification. Manuel Dohmen, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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Fancying myself an intrepid, if boozy, anthropologist, I tried to find out as much as I could about these beings. My hope: to make this urban legend a reality by observing Homo sapiens douchebagus in its native environment. Dallas, with its low cost of living, plentiful jobs and affinity for the flashier, finer things in life, is the $30,000 millionaire's ideal habitat. Exclusive clubs­—ultra lounges—offering bottle service and supposedly airtight guest lists make it that much easier for the $30,000 millionaire to convince himself he is living large.

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.

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.

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Andrea Grimes
Contact: Andrea Grimes

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