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THE SUNDAY CONVERSATION

With Joey Greco of 'Cheaters'

Beware unfaithful lovers. He's on the case, camera crew in tow.

December 13, 2009|By Greg Braxton
  • CAUGHT IN THE ACT: Joey Greco, host of the syndicated "Cheaters," says Tiger Woods should follow David Letterman's lead and fess up.
CAUGHT IN THE ACT: Joey Greco, host of the syndicated "Cheaters,"… ((Wally SKalij / Los Angeles…)

"Cheaters" host Joey Greco has not, repeat, not been chasing down Tiger Woods the last few weeks. But he has been increasingly fascinated by the unfolding scandal surrounding the golfer's alleged infidelities.

Catching unfaithful lovers in the act is a dirty job, but someone has to do it so everyone else can watch on national television. Enter Greco, dressed in his trademark black ensemble that is his uniform for the syndicated series.

Since becoming host of the program in 2002, Greco has been pushed, punched, stabbed (he recovered nicely, thank you) and gets routinely threatened as he interrupts secret rendezvous and even weddings to expose infidelity.

As the series celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, Greco, an aspiring actor who has degrees in psychology, education and counseling, discusses the troubles facing Woods, the show's underground popularity, and his status as the "Dark Knight" of reality-show hosts.

Everyone seems to be caught up in the Tiger Woods story, but it must be the Holy Grail of cheating stories for you.

When David Letterman made his announcement about his affairs, the hoopla was pretty much over after a week. But that's not happening here. I understand the hesitancy of speaking out, but handling it like Letterman did probably would have been a better option for Tiger. Look at what his wife has gone through. As the number of women continue to pile up, at what point does someone start to lose faith in the person they thought they knew?

Have you ever heard anyone else use the gentler term "transgressions"?

Yes. You can call it anything you want. At the end of the day, it still has the same meaning.

Are you surprised it's become such a huge story, even though he asked for privacy?

Not surprised. He had an image that everyone looked up to. People who achieve exceptional things are encouraging to us. We place them on a pedestal because we want to emulate what they accomplish. . . . Everyone can make a bad decision once. Twice is a trend. Three times it's evidence.

When people see you coming, they must totally freak out. You're like the Mike Wallace of reality-show hosts.

What usually happens is a camera gets there before I get there. Their initial thought is "What's going on?" unless they know that they're with someone that they shouldn't be with. Then when they see me . . . well, at this point, we've been around long enough so they know why we're there.

So who is this Joey Greco character? The voice, the black leather jacket.

A long time ago I said, "Guys, please, can I wear something else?" But it's the nature of the show. They once said, "OK, we'll let you get a little color in" and they didn't like it. So back to black.

You know, I'm not serious, but I have a serious side, and that's what comes out during the show because these are sensitive situations. [Laughs.] We have to be responsible because obviously we're very instrumental in someone finding out something that is very difficult to learn. I try to be as delicate as I can, and that comes from my counseling training.

But many people who watch "Cheaters" are watching it for the sensationalistic aspect. How does your serious persona play into that? There seems to be a fine line.

It took me a couple of years before I really felt comfortable in that situation. It's hostile therapy, it's a hostile intervention. Things get crazy, but I have to be the anchor, the one who says, "Let's try to be responsible." We're not there to be judgmental, but we're saying, "Why couldn't you treat someone you profess great love for with a little bit more respect if you weren't happy?"

In addition to being sensitive, you also have to be in pretty good shape.

I am quite confident that I can extricate myself from any situation in record time if necessary. [Laughs.] If I have to get tough, I'm sure I could, but I'm a whole lot tougher with 30 people around me, including the bodyguards.

You also run, you're moving so fast. The adrenaline has to be incredible.

It is, and what makes it even more so is that we never know what's going to happen. I can't take any credit. I'm what everyone sees, but a lot of camera guys go into the situation before I get there. We have eight cameras running at one time -- one is on me, one is on the suspect. As soon as the vans land, I'm walking with the client, another camera is running to the suspect and the third party, and they always get on the scene first.

Nothing is set up or fake?

I will tell anyone if they want to come along with us, they're more than happy to come along and judge for yourself. If anyone wants to come to court with me next time I have to go to court, they can come along there as well.

Does being in harm's way make you think "I'm the wrong line of work"?

I'd be lying if I didn't say that hasn't crossed my mind at times. What happens during those moments is that I have to refocus on the matter at hand. We get a chance to give a voice to someone who doesn't have one. We all like . . . the underdog.

How has it affected your career?

It's given me a great platform to do more things as an actor. It's gotten me into more doors than I would have otherwise, doing things with Jay Leno and on "George Lopez."

When you do those other gigs, are you cheating on "Cheaters"?

We have an open relationship.

greg.braxton@latimes.com

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