By Francisco Alvarado
By Trevor Bach
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
"R-r-r-roll," he urged. "Put your tongue to the tip to the top to the tip." The crank punchlined when the supervising operator claimed to have a speech impediment.
A former schoolmate, James Jacoby, recalls that WKPX sponsor JoAnne Boggus, who was then an administrator at Piper, gave Biganski leeway to perform his antics on the air: "He was able to persuade Mrs. Boggus to allow him to do a show where he could play any type of music, because he was far above everybody else who was a DJ at that radio station. He was the most professional, both with production and on-air personality." Although Boggus, who recently retired as principal at Fort Lauderdale High School, did not confirm the decade-old details of this story, she remembered Biganski with an amused fondness: "He was an extremely talented person, and I'm happy that he's still doing this."
While still in high school, Biganski found an innovative way to distribute his work: He got a 1-800 number with a voice mailbox and recorded his cranks as the messages. He says, "I would have, like, ten-minute messages. That number got spread everywhere. Before I knew it, I was getting messages from all over the United States." Creating this voice mailbox, which provided the origin of the name Blackout's Box, was his way of overcoming technology insufficient to accommodate his vision. Looking back, he says, "Now, if you're a teenager in school, you can have a website, you can have all your shit up there, all your music up there, all your e-mail. You can have this massive computer database of whatever you want, and I kind of wanted that when that didn't really exist."
About the same time, the Y-100 (WHYI-FM, 100.7) morning program, the Y-Morning Zoo with Bobby and Footy and Captain Y, held a "Do Something Outrageous Contest," and Biganski put his filmmaking ambitions to the test. He won the contest two years in a row: 1992 and 1993. In his first film, which he lost in a 1998 house fire, he played Y-Man, a character who claims that he, and not the Y-100 morning radio personality Captain Y, is the real Y-100 superhero. In his second film, Y-Man Returns,Biganski performs a real-life stunt -- think Jackass --in which, wearing a mask and cape, he runs into the Sawgrass Mills Mall with a blow-up boat, shouting at the top of his lungs, and flops into the fountain.
After it was over, the police dragged him to a holding cell and yelled at him. But that was a small price to pay for the trip he won to the Hedonism resort in Jamaica.
Y-100 DJ Footy, real name John Cross, vividly recalls Biganski and his films, saying, "I remember that contest. He was a Y-100 superhero or something. He was a cool guy. He was insane. He was the kind of guy who was willing to take chances."
In the ensuing years, Biganski performed in several local theaters. While a student at Broward Community College (he is still a few credits shy of his associate's degree), Biganski performed the role of Trevor in Alan Ayckbourn's Bedroom Farce." A review in the student paper, the Observer,described his performance as "brilliantly executed." A review of his portrayal of Gus in the 1996 production of It's Only a Play pronounced: "Michael Biganski's facial expressions and overall behavior are excellent."
It was on the set of Bedroom Farce that Biganski met another young comedian, Flip Shultz.
Through Shultz, he became involved in Mixed Nuts,an improv-comedy troop that performed at Uncle Funny's and other local venues. The two put on a series of two-character sketches, Shultz recalls, in which Biganski played a homicidal little girl named Melinda who would make unwelcome passes at Shultz's geeky character, Herbert. In one sketch, Melinda horrified Herbert with a poem about ripping a bird's head off. In another, she aggressively serenaded him and then ripped his clothes off, thwarting his plans to hook up with their baby sitter.
In 2000, Biganski landed a television gig. He hosted a Tricom Pictures product-marketing show called Twenty-Something that broadcast in the middle of the night on PAX. In one clip, he mocks Mentos commercials as he interviews the company's spokesperson. In another, he jibes uptight military personnel at NORAD, an Air Force satellite-tracking facility in Colorado. Of these animated interviews, Biganski says: "I would go beyond the script and do improv. At first, they thought I was crazy, and they tried to tone me down. By the end, they weren't writing scripts for me anymore."
Mike Ledy, a producer at Tricom, now Mirage Studios, confirmed these details. "Michael was really great to work with," Ledy said. "We would just let him do his thing for a couple of takes. Then we'd reel him back in and tell him if there was anything else we needed." For the first time, Biganski says, his acting career was going somewhere. "I was making, like, $400 a day doing something that I loved. They flew me to Colorado, Georgia, and the Virgin Islands." He filmed a season's worth of episodes in short spurts of time, earning roughly $30,000 a year -- which was serious money for him.