Behind The Scenes: The Voice vs. Mayhem

by Michael Schiavello

On Friday July 30, HDNET will premiere the next installment of “The Voice Versus” series when Michael Schiavello goes head-to-head with the host of Bully Beatdown and MMA star Jason “Mayhem” Miller. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at shooting this special HDNET presentation.

It’s 11am and I’m clad in an apron, sitting in a high chair at the front of Mark Munoz’s Reign Gym in Lake Forest, California. Ideally this is not how I’d like to be seen. I feel like a Macy’s display in the gym’s front window looking out onto the neighboring offices and car park, but the make up artist Judith insists this is where the light is at its best. Who am I to argue with Judith? She’s made up the faces of some of Hollywood’s elite for the better part of thirty years, including John Cleese, so I figure anyone who can make his face presentable can do wonders with my mug.

There’s a constant flow of gym members coming and going. Every now and then a few will stop, take a second look at me getting my face air-brushed and I’ll hear them whisper, “Is that…that is…the Voice.” I don’t need any blush because my cheeks turn dark red from embarrassment as Judith plucks a rogue hair from between my eyebrows. I’ve never considered myself a television presenter who brings any degree of machismo to the job, but this is emasculation pure and simple.

“So what’s this guy like?” asks Judith, as she tells me to close my eyes and runs the airbrush over my forehead. “Why do they call him Mayhem?”

I giggle. She tells me to stay still.

“What’s so funny?” she asks.

“Oh, you’ll see. You’re about to meet one of the true characters of the fight game,” I say to her.

“With a name like Mayhem he sounds a bit crazy. Is he one of those crazy fighters? Is his nose all mashed up and one eye sits a bit lower than the other? Is he going to want to do his make up here in front of everyone? Is he going to want to do make up at all? Should I be worried?”

I giggle again. She tells me to stay still.

“I don’t think he will have any problem doing make up out here, Judith. His nose isn’t too mashed up and his eyes are aligned just fine. In fact, I think you will fall in love with him. He’s loud, a bit crazy, totally unpredictable but a helluva great guy.”

“You think I’ll fall in love with him? A fighter called Mayhem? Really?”

“I guarantee it,” I assure her. “My girlfriend fell in love with him instantly. He’s a lovable type of guy.”

“And his name is Mayhem?” she asks, looking at me as if I’m taking the piss out of her.

“Indeed,” I grin.

“Well, I trust you then,” she says, sharing my smile. That is until Krystof Soszynski walks past bare chested and drenched in sweat, his torso a canvas of ink.

“He doesn’t look like that, does he?” Judith whispers. “Good God, how would I make him up?”

I laugh out loud. I guess the front of a fight gym is the furthest from the red carpet sixty-something Judith has ever plied her trade.

I finish make up and head into the gym where the crew is setting up an intricate three-camera shoot with half a dozen lights and a dolly. They have fancy names for all the equipment and throw around words like “hot spots”, “lamps”, “cookie” and tell each other to “Hollywood this” and “New York that.” It’s a big step up from the almost guerilla shoot that was The Voice versus Joe Rogan in February, in which we shot with just one camera and one light crammed into my hotel room.

“It looks great,” I tell my HDNet producer, Chris. He’s a go-getter and one of the most enthusiastic and forward-thinking producers I’ve worked with. Last night he delivered an enormous cardboard box to my hotel room full of props I requested for the shoot. They ranged from photos of certain fighters to a series of toys and novelties — including some not entirely legal to carry through airports — to use as visuals for certain questions. As I fished through the box and examined each prop with a cheeky grin, Chris shook his head and simply said, “I don’t know how I’m going to explain all this stuff to accounting.”

It’s just before noon and Mayhem bounces into the room. He’s operating on a level that he always seems to operate on — somewhere between hyper and atomic.

“Quick, hide the props,” I say to Chris, throwing the toys and pictures into a bag. “I don’t want Mayhem to see them until the camera is on him. His reactions have to be spontaneous. When the viewers see the props for the first time that is when Mayhem has to see them for the first time.”

Mayhem greets me with a hug. He’s excited.