Repo man Ron Shirley is about as happy as a short-legged pony in a high field of oats, to borrow one of his own colorful "Ron-isms."
This week, the owner of Lizard Lick Towing & Recovery and star of truTV's ready-to-rumble reality series Lizard Lick Towing witnesses the re-publication of his autobiographical book of short stories and witty cornpone sayings, Lizard Tales: The Wit and Wisdom of Ron Shirley. After first being self-published, it has now been retooled and revised by the author for wide release by Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House. The new version features a blurb on the cover from comedian Jeff Foxworthy, who offers this blessing: "Ron Shirley makes me laugh."
Recently, Shirley talked to Indy Week during a hectic day of filming new footage for his TV show with his wife, Amy, and the whole Lizard Lick Krew. The printed version of the interview is abridged by necessity—Ron Shirley is a talker. See the sidebar at right for the audio file of our full interview.
Indy Week: What's your production schedule like now? What season are you on? I've kind of lost track!
Ron Shirley: Brother, you've got me! [Laughs] I think it's Season 3, I believe, but don't hold me to that. [TruTV organizes its] seasons really funny. You'll see 13 shows, and they'll come back and do 13 more, and they'll call that one season.
Do you have any idea what the air dates will be for some of the stuff you're doing now?
We're filming right now. They haven't said that there's going to be another season. They haven't guaranteed another season. So basically we're just kind of filming in the dark.
The ratings have been good, right?
Oh, the ratings have been phenomenal. And our fans are unbelievable.
Congratulations on the wider release of your book. How did that come about? Did Random House approach you, or did a book agent hook that up?
I guess, just through the show, and through everything that's gone on, Random House came and said, "We'd love to do a book." So we sat down and came up with a book. It's kind of funny, because they gave me almost 100 percent freedom. They pretty much allowed me to be me. I've always wanted to be a writer. I've always been a poetry buff—always into Edgar Allen Poe and Walt Whitman. So many people, man, that influenced me growing up were poets and short-storytellers.
Do you have any more book releases planned in the near future?
They're already talking to me about writing some more books, and I really want to. They're talking about Amy doing a book. I think TV has just opened up a door, and there's so much about our life that I wish people knew. I definitely want to come back and write a Christian book, because I am an ordained minister, and I definitely want to put something in the Christian market.
People always want to know if your TV show is "real." Like the stabbing incident in that fight with bikers in one episode. Do you ever see writing a book that tells the behind-the-scenes story of Lizard Lick Towing and sets the record straight?
You know, I've thought about doing that, to be honest with you. It's kind of funny, because we're the only show on TV that has no scripts and has no writers. We're not eligible for any awards. There's nobody sitting at a desk saying, "Do this, do that." So I know a lot of stuff gets outlandish and crazy, but maybe one day, we'll reveal all that. It's going to blow people's minds, how much of it's real.
Did your brother Jason read Lizard Tales, and if so, what was his reaction to the story about him accidentally drinking pee out of a beer bottle when you guys were seniors in high school? According to the story, he did proclaim that the incident should never be spoken of again.
Yeah, dude, the first thing he said was, "I can't believe you told the entire nation I drank a bottle of piss!" [Laughs] He actually took it all with a grain of salt. He laughed, he joked. I guess because the stories are true, they kind of let him re-live his past a little bit. He was real good about it, Bo. That story went over like a pregnant pole-vaulter, but Jason did the best with it.
How do you see your future in television? Are there other TV formats you'd like to explore after the reality show runs its course?
You know, Bo, I think Amy has a great future in television. I think Amy is just such a phenomenal person and I think she has so much to offer women in America. I mean, you're talking about a girl who's a licensed mortician, she's a mixed-martial-arts fighter, she's a world-champion power lifter, she's a mother of four, she's a small-business owner. I mean, you're talking about the quintessential modern-day Wonder Woman. Me, dude, I'm old. I'm 40. I'm headed down the backside of my life. I'm gonna do some huntin' shows when this is over. I've already got that lined up.
This article appeared in print with the headline "Call him Shirley."