Raleigh, N.C. — Cashmere's episode of the popular bar renovation series, "Bar Rescue," premiered on Spike TV Sunday night and introduced us to James Iadanza - dubbed by host John Taffer one of the worst managers in the show's history.
He drank. He danced. He took his shirt off. And that was all just in the first 10 minutes.
But Iadanza said things weren't all they seemed. He said his over-the-top behavior was part of a plan to help his friend, Cashmere's owner Brandon Klintworth, save the struggling bar.
"The club was in trouble," Iadanza said.
In reality TV, big personalities mean bigger ratings and Iadanza's drunken deejaying and obnoxious behavior, in addition to running up a big bar tab gave Taffer a lot of fodder.
Iadanza, who has a history working at the bar, said he played the part of the drunken manager, but says others didn't necessarily go through with an original plan to act badly. He ended up being the star of the show and the eventual scapegoat for the bar's problems.
"I said, 'Something ain't right here.' Everybody is acting like angels and they've already filmed me," he said.
Klintworth denied that there was any plan to fool the show.
Whether he was the root of the bar's problems or not, Iadanza said he wasn't the manager there when the show was filmed anyway. He said he left the bar in February and was asked by Klintworth to come back when the show decided to film there.
"(He said),'They won't do the show without you,'" Iadanza said.
"James hasn't worked there in a while," said Leda Fazal, who appeared on the show as a cocktail waitress at Cashmere. "They needed him for the show."
Klintworth said Iadanza was "kind of a general manager" at the bar.
Iadanza said the show was more "coached reality" with producers encouraging him to behave badly
"They said, 'Make sure you get crazy tonight. Make sure you take your shirt off,'" Iadanza said. "I had some fun and took it up a notch."
Fazal also joined the fun.
"I am like James, so we definitely played off of each other. It was for TV, so we know what they are looking for," she said.
"It is a TV show. They know how to get what they want out of it," Klintworth said. "I am pretty sure he hammed it up for the cameras."
During the "stress test," which is designed to test how good the staff is at handling a large number of people with limited resources, Iadanza said he was sober and trying to do his best.
"I was the only one getting the heat. You are trying to be your best and you can't do nothing right," Iadanza said.
Iadanza said he felt like he was being set up to fail.
When he realized that the show was likely going to be based on him, he decided to walk away.
He wasn't the only one. Fazal decided to walk away after the stress test as well.
Fazal said it wasn't hard to leave since she didn't work there anyway. A longtime friend of Klintworth and Iadanza, she said she was brought in as a cocktail waitress as production started on the show. She said she was never actually employed with Cashmere and is in fact as independent hair stylist with 6 Salon in Raleigh.
Klintworth said they had to bring in cocktail waitresses, but that everyone was legally employed with them at the time of the filming.
"Bar Rescue" transformed Cashmere into Dual Ultra Nightclub, a club featuring dueling deejays, food and signature cocktails.
Since the filming, Klintworth said the bar hasn't been as busy as he expected. Based on conversations with other owners who have been "rescued," he expected business to pick up after the show's airing.
Garner's Characters Quarters also got the Bar Rescue makeover. The episode featuring Moonrunners is expected to air Aug. 11.