'Disaster dating' is WHS alum's specialty

Article Published: Jul. 1, 2010 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
'Disaster dating' is WHS alum's specialty

Cupid beware, Watauga alum David Harris is part of MTV's Disaster Date ensemble.

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Watauga native David Harris gets paid to date.

Sort of.

Take last year.

"I was out with a girl, and we knew she was into guys who were driven and motivated," he said.

So Harris had her believe he was a professional businessman. That's when the game started.

"Midway through we find out in the date that I'm into confectionery goods ... then we realize I actually just own a bicycle ice cream shop," he said. "Then I start actually making sales on the date, just really embarrassing her."

No, this isn't a Craigslist date, it's part of an MTV reality show. Harris is one of several paid improvisational actors, who, in the vein of past MTV hits like Punk'd, play elaborate practical jokes on the unsuspecting singles crowd, all in view of hidden cameras.

"We stage these dates with these real people and then, for whatever reason ... (we) screw it up and the date goes horribly wrong," Harris said. "We film real people and their reactions."

And it's hilarious. So hilarious, that even the actors can't watch the pranks without cracking up. While the victims get paid a dollar for every minute they lasted on the date, they're not always amused. Harris understands. After all, he's been on his share of bad dates, including his first-ever date while a student at Watauga High School.

"I was fifteen ... I wasn't really totally into the girl, but she had sent me a love letter," he said.

"Literally hours before the date, my buddy gave me the worst advice ever. He was like, 'You have to kiss her. You have to find some time to kiss her in the movie.'"

While Good Will Hunting isn't known for its lust scenes, Harris found his moment, regrettably.

"It was so strained and forced ... I just turned over and asked this girl, 'Hey, can I kiss you during the kiss scene in the movie?'" he said.

Since his time at Watauga, he graduated UNC-Chapel Hill, and has spent the past five years in Los Angeles, Calif., home of Disaster Date. The show's third season premiered last week, and earlier this month, Harris himself came to Boone, promoting the show in his old stomping ground.

Harris was one of several WHS alumni in town for the "Last Curtain Call," the last show at the old Watauga High School. And, while he's moved on to arguably sunnier skies and coastal pastures, Watauga will always be his home. After all, it's where he decided he wanted to be an actor.

"Without (WHS), I would have had no outlet for all this stuff I wanted to do in high school," he said. "Not every high school has this kind of program that's dedicated, where you can even have a drama class."

The former "Moonfaced Martin" in WHS' rendition of Anything Goes hopes the new Watauga High School will inspire the next generation.

For more information or to catch Disaster Date episodes online, check out http://www.mtv.com/shows/disaster_date/series.jhtml.

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