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Cowboy Delmar Smith Plays Not My Job

Real cowboy Delmar Smith plays a quiz about a tailor who catered to rhinestone cowboys.

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PETER SAGAL, Host:

And now the game where we invite on people who know one thing and we ask them about something else entirely, it's called Not My Job. We're in Oklahoma. What's big in Oklahoma? Rodeo is big in Oklahoma. The road to being a world champion goes through our guest, Delmar Smith. He is a longtime gate-man at the Lazy-E steer roping finals. He is a Clem McSpadden Pioneer Award winner for his lifelong work in rodeo. He is also a world-renowned birddog trainer and a lifelong Oklahoman. Delmar Smith, welcome to WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! It's great to have you.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: So you're an Oklahoman, born and raised?

DELMAR SMITH: Purebred, can be registered.

SAGAL: There you go.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: You got into rodeo as a young man.

SMITH: I was born in it.

SAGAL: You were born in a rodeo?

SMITH: Yeah.

SAGAL: So did you compete in rodeo as a...

SMITH: I did, but not very well.

SAGAL: No, really?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: So what you've been doing for many, many years is - you have to explain this because I'm from New Jersey, what do I know? You're a gate-man.

SMITH: Well, a gate-man is what I'd like to call the cowboy over there, when he nods his head to rope the steer or the calf, I let the calf out.

SAGAL: You let the calf out and the calf runs out and then the cowboy comes out and ropes the calf.

SMITH: Ropes him and ties him down. And the fastest one does the winning.

SAGAL: Right, okay. So what's involved in doing this correctly?

SMITH: Well the real way to do it for the cowboy...

SAGAL: Yeah.

SMITH: ...is for him to be sure his horse is ready.

SAGAL: Yeah.

SMITH: Seeing he's got his mind ready and watching the calf there. And then to have his eye on the calf and be sure the calf's got the eye on him.

SAGAL: Yeah.

SMITH: So they'll get a good breakout. And most of them boys that can do that is the one that takes the purse home.

SAGAL: I understand.

MO ROCCA: Where the cowboy and the calf are looking at each other?

SMITH: You bet.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: That's actually kind of romantic, from across the whole...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: Is it their eyes meet and then they're destined for each other.

SMITH: Well when they meet and they get it done out there, they're all in love with each other.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: So what skills, what native skills do you need to have to be a good rodeo cowboy?

SMITH: The want to.

SAGAL: The want to.

SMITH: Mm-hmm.

SAGAL: All you got to do is want to.

SMITH: Sure, it's want to.

SAGAL: So if I wanted to be a rodeo cowboy, I could do it?

SMITH: You could do it. But you may not be one of the top ones, but you could do it.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I'm somewhat disenheartened by your lack of confidence in me, sir.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SMITH: No, I think you'd make a good one.

SAGAL: Oh, really?

SMITH: Because you really got the want to on this other stuff.

SAGAL: I do.

SMITH: If you've got that much, you could be a good one.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: You could do it. You could.

SAGAL: If I could just apply the intensity of which I bring, say, to wanting to eat lunch on a daily basis. So let me talk to you a little bit about dogs. I understand that you have trained all over the world. That you were once training in the Queen of England's kennels.

SMITH: Well, I visited her kennels, spent a couple of days there.

SAGAL: You were training her little Corgies not to yip? What were you doing?

SMITH: No, I was there with her trainer.

SAGAL: Yeah.

SMITH: Visiting with her trainer there but with the Labs.

SAGAL: The Labs. These are her hunting dogs?

SMITH: Yes.

SAGAL: Does the queen hunt birds?

SMITH: You bet.

SAGAL: She does?

SMITH: Yeah.

SAGAL: Does she shoot them herself?

SMITH: She shoots them herself.

SAGAL: Yes.

SMITH: And she rides the horse and...

SAGAL: Does she really?

SMITH: Yes.

SAGAL: Have you met the queen?

SMITH: No.

SAGAL: No.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SMITH: But I met all of her equipment.

SAGAL: You met her equipment.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

ROCCA: Have you touched her bridle?

SMITH: You bet. And her saddle.

ROCCA: And her tack?

SAGAL: Oh, yeah. So it seems to me that you're a man who actually has spent his whole life working with animals.

SMITH: That's right.

SAGAL: Now, was that by choice? Did you say to yourself at one point, you know animals, people, animals, people, I'll choose animals? Or did you just have an affinity for animals?

SMITH: Well, I wasn't smart enough to do anything else.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: What they say about you, Delmar, is that you have a particular flair for understanding what animals are thinking and feeling. Is this the case?

SMITH: I work at that every day.

SAGAL: Yeah.

SMITH: Now, all the time.

SAGAL: Yeah. And so you've been doing it for a while. Have you figured it out?

SMITH: Yeah. Just like I'm watching you, I'm watching your neck.

SAGAL: Oh, really? All right.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Is it like a twitch in the neck that means they're stupid...

SMITH: You have it.

SAGAL: And I have that twitch in the neck.

SMITH: You have a twitch in the neck and also you have some movement up and down the neck.

SAGAL: Yeah, I do. And what does this tell you about me?

SMITH: That you're setting on ready.

SAGAL: Really?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Okay. All right. Hold on, stop. Is that a good thing? I was proud for a second, but what does that mean?

SMITH: That's why I told you, you could be a roper.

SAGAL: I could be a roper. I'm setting on ready. I'm ready to go.

SMITH: Yeah, you're setting on ready.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SMITH: Well, you want to come out. The national final steer roping will be in November out at the Lazy-E. It's the national finals, the world champion.

SAGAL: The world champion. So rodeo, cowboys from all over the world. And are there foreign cowboys?

SMITH: Yes, they are.

SAGAL: That come in?

SMITH: There are some in Australia and Canada.

ROCCA: Do any bull...

SMITH: I tell you, there's a lot of people over in Germany and Spain.

SAGAL: Really?

SMITH: Yeah, just last month we went over there for seven weeks with the rodeo in Spain and had a rodeo in all the bull rings all the way around.

SAGAL: Really?

SMITH: Yeah.

SAGAL: And what did the Spanish people think of that?

SMITH: They liked it.

SAGAL: Really? Because were they like, oh, come on, kill it now. What?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SMITH: No. I forgot what they say, but they say it a whole bunch.

SAGAL: Ole.

SMITH: Ole.

ROCCA: Ole.

SMITH: Ole, ole, ole.

ROCCA: Yeah.

SMITH: And they just keep on saying it.

SAGAL: Yeah, they do. They don't stop.

SMITH: Yeah. And you just have to stay and wait until pretty soon they'll - about an hour, hour and a half, they'll leave.

SAGAL: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I mean, you're 84, 85 soon, you do you're - you're going to be pulling the gate at these next world championships, you're going to be training birddogs. You ever look forward to a day when you can retire?

SMITH: No.

SAGAL: No, not at all?

SMITH: No, I've never had a job, but I have no job to retire.

SAGAL: If you retired, you'd have to go get one.

SMITH: Yeah.

SAGAL: Yeah.

SMITH: And I don't know what I could do.

SAGAL: Yeah. Besides...

SMITH: Reckon I could do something like you're doing?

SAGAL: Let me put it this way...

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Let me put it this way...

SMITH: Would you put in a good word for me?

SAGAL: You said earlier that I could be a pretty good rodeo cowboy.

SMITH: Uh-huh.

SAGAL: You doing this job would be more likely.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Much more likely. Well, Delmar Smith, we are so delighted to have you with us. We have asked you here to play a game that this week we're calling...

CARL KASELL, Host:

Nudie Cohn Rodeo Tailor.

SAGAL: You're a real cowboy, born and raised. But there are some posers out there, rhinestone cowboys. We're going to ask you about the man who made their clothes. Nudie's Rodeo Tailor Shop in Los Angeles for 50 years outfitted the most glamorous and discerning celebrities with outrageously gaudy western wear. We're going to ask you three questions about the life and times of Nudie Cohn, and if you get two right, you'll win our prize for one of our listeners, Carl's voice on their home answering machine. Carl, who is Delmar playing for?

KASELL: Delmar is playing for 12-year-old birthday girl Erin Sims of Oklahoma City.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: So, Nudie Cohn was a Jewish ex-con tailor born in Kiev, Russia who was credited with making the first rhinestone encrusted singing cowboy suit. According to the family's website, he got the idea from doing what? He got the idea for the first rhinestone cowboy suit from doing what? A, he got it from seeing the mirrored spinning ball on those old Guy Lombardo telecasts. He got it from the spangled G-strings he once made for showgirls in Times Square. Or, C, from the sparkling lights he always saw because of an eye disease?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SMITH: I'd say the first one.

SAGAL: You say the first one? That he saw the mirrored spinning ball and he said I'm going to put those little mirrored lights on a suit?

SMITH: Yeah.

SAGAL: Actually, it was the G-strings.

SMITH: The G-strings?

SAGAL: The G-strings. Nudie's first store was in Times Square. It was called Nudie for the Ladies and he sold a lot of spangled G-strings. So when he started making cowboy suits, why not the same approach?

SMITH: There probably wasn't much sparkle there, wasn't no fabric.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Although it was impressive when you got to see it.

SMITH: I see.

SAGAL: You have two more chances here. The next question, Nudie went on to make a gold lame suit for Elvis and many other snazzy suits for performers, including what famous suit for the country rock singer Gram Parsons? Was it, A, the Nude Nudie Suit, which was made of transparent plastic with strategic buckles placed here and there? B, a Nudie suit featuring pill bottles, pot leaves, and naked women? Or, C, a Nudie Suit that had pictures on it of Nudie Suits, which had little pictures of Nudie suits, which had pictures of Nudie suits, et cetera.

SMITH: That's pretty hard, because I've always been out in the country and I haven't seen many of those Nudie things.

SAGAL: No, no.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SMITH: So I would...

SAGAL: These are fabulous looking, but real cowboys would not wear one of these.

SMITH: I'm going to have to just guess. I'd say well just two.

SAGAL: You're going to go for two, the second one?

SMITH: Yeah.

SAGAL: You're right, sir, very well done.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: These Nudie suits - and they were called Nudie suits. It had pill bottles and stuff. It was the one that Gram Parsons wears on the cover of the Flying Burrito Brothers record, "The Gilded Palace of Sin," by the way.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: All right, this is very exciting. This is the last question. If you get this one right, you win. In addition to flamboyant clothes, Nudie loved to customize cars. The famed Nudie cars they were known as. He would decorate Pontiac Bonneville land yachts, those big old '60s cars, all kinds of crazy ways, including which of these? A, he would cover the entire car with ostrich feathers? B, he loved to attach dozens of guns to the cars, as handles, as chrome, or just sticking out the front? Or B, he covered an entire car once with horsehide, with hooves on the side and a horse head in the middle of the hood?

SMITH: I'd say two.

SAGAL: You're going to go for the guns? You're right.

(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: He's right. How did you know? How did you know?

SMITH: Well, it'd be hard to get them horse's hooves on there.

SAGAL: Yeah. Very good, yeah, no, it's true. You're right. He had a letter from the LAPD giving him permission to be driving around with so many guns. And to this day, Nudie's cars are collector's items. Carl?

KASELL: Yes, Peter?

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

PIERCE: Oh, my goodness. That was so fraught.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: How did Delmar do on our quiz?

KASELL: Delmar had two correct answers, so he wins for Erin Sims. Congratulations, Delmar.

SAGAL: Well done.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

SAGAL: Delmar Smith is a longtime rodeo gate-man and a true cowboy. Delmar, thank you so much for joining us on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

SMITH: You bet.

SAGAL: Delmar Smith, ladies and gentlemen.

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