Among Janks’ other hijinks was his clever sidestepping of a bevy of operators and screeners before making a pro-Howard Stern comment to Jerry Lewis during the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon, prompting Lewis to call him "a schmuck" on the air. ("I wear that as a badge of honor," Janks says now.) Last fall, Janks created his biggest stir yet when, after the Al Gore-Ross Perot debate on Larry King Live, he called national news outlets and, claiming to be a CNN audio technician, played a dummied-up tape purporting to prove that King staffers masqueraded as the show’s callers in an attempt to guard against Howard Stern calls. When the news ran in a number of major newspapers, CNN president Tom Johnson held a press conference to refute the charge.
Janks, aka Tom Cipriano, is a 27-yearold Army veteran who spends an average of $400 a month spreading the word of Howard Stern to every call-in radio and TV show he can think of. He owns a 16-setting voice modulator to get past canny screeners and producers. All told, the $40,000 he’s pocketed up front from his album deal has finally gotten him out of debt, even though he recently lost his job as a shipping clerk at a medical laboratory.
"Basically, however people feel about Howard Stern, they take it out on me," he says. "That’s what my boss did to me. I figured, fine, because I knew I was getting the record deal, anyway."
And, it’s turned out, it’s a good thing he’s unemployed, because spreading the gospel of Howard Stern is full-time work. Stern’s entrance into more markets has spawned at least one Janks imitator in every major city, like the Today Show caller in the summer of 1992 who asked a dumbfounded Ross Perot if he’d "mind-melded with Howard Stern’s penis." Rather than feel threatened by these Janks-Come-Latelys, Janks has taken them into the Wack Pack fold. Reaching them by phone or through the Howard Stern Newsletter — written and disseminated by Kevin Renzulli of West Orange, New Jersey, another of Stern’s true believers — Janks coordinates group operations, such as Larry King being hit by three consecutive callers shouting "Howard Stern" and "Baba Booey" — Stern’s nickname for producer Dell’Abate — while interviewing Donny Osmond.
When Stern told Janks on the air that he would buy a CD collection of Janks’ best work, it was an endorsement of the highest order. Janks began calling the heads of major recording labels and found that to be seen all he had to say was "Captain Janks wants to have a meeting to discuss a record deal." After six months of shopping around, the deal with Atlantic was struck.
Now, as Janks stands in the back of Thee Doll House, he is asked the obvious:
Why does he do it?
"Because Howard is my mentor," he says passionately. "From the minute I heard him, I knew he’d be the full inspiration behind everything I do. It’s an honor to be on his show."
At this moment, Kallenbach’s attention zeros back in on Janks. It appears that he is about to react to Janks’ tribute. "I got to take a major piss, dude," he says.