In the 2007 documentary that explored who actually holds the highest Donkey Kong score, The King of Kong, South Florida's Billy Mitchell comes out looking like a real villain. It's a role that, in person, he seems to half-heartedly -- yet joyfully -- embrace. Vacillating between antagonist and genuinely kind guy, he sweetly bought me and our camera guy bars of chocolate from a little kid raising money for some school thing.
But upon first seeing MItchell last Saturday night arriving to much buzz, backlit and imposing through the backdoor of Arcade Game Sales, I was deeply intimidated. He is a Donkey Kong master, the first person to achieve a perfect score in Pac-Man, and here he was, in the flesh, making a special appearance at this first Retro Arcade Game Night at its new location on Oakland Park Boulevard.
Mitchell stands about a full foot taller than me. He's got longish, slicked, black hair, a suit garnished with an American flag tie and matching pocket square. Also a restauranteur, he came clutching a box of his special Rickey's hot sauce under one arm.
After passing out a few bottles to "VIP"s, he exchanged jabs with the owner of the spot, Tempest superstar Robert Childs, and the night's promoter Steve Kleisath, drummer of many bands including Further Seems Forever and the number two highest scorer of Mario Bros. and Ms. Pac-Man Turbo (he's still working on reaching that number one slot).
Old friends, they were all game (if you will) to introduce this new arcade experience to the world in a video with New Times. Mitchell assured us that he doesn't often do interviews, but for his two friends and the future success of this legit cool, interactive, and inexpensive ($12 all you can play) night, he made an exception. We spoke with the three about prepping the space possibly for a Twin Galaxies gathering, Childs' celebrity clients (from Rod to Ross), and then we challenged these master gamers to a fight to the virtual death. Watch the video to see who clobbered whom.