Being personable is the key to getting what you want, says the series star.
By TERRY MORROW
Skyler Stone has a steel-trap mind when it comes to elaborate con jobs. He has mastered the art so well, he claims, that he doesn't have to spend a dime when he takes his girlfriend out for dinner, drinks and a show.
"I always wanted to get things in life that I couldn't get. I learned at a young age you just have to have confidence and go out and sell yourself," says Stone, who reveals the tricks of his trade on the new reality show "Con," debuting 10:30 p.m., Wednesday on Comedy Central.
A struggling actor, Stone moved to Hollywood three years ago from Michigan to jumpstart an acting career. He found his lifelong conning skills to be quite handy, especially when money was tight.
The 26-year-old St. Louis native says he has been able to get into the security-heavy Academy Awards and elite Hollywood parties. He estimates the tab of his cons, over his lifetime, comes to $500,000 or more.
Any swindle, he says, requires the player to be confident and personable. "When a lot of people try to pull a con, they are just serious the whole time. You've got to remember to be personable," he says.
Stone pitched the idea for "Con" to Comedy Central after making a DVD of his scheming.
"Skyler is, in this series, a Ferris Bueller with a punk-rock edge. You want to be with him on this journey," says Rick De Oliveira, the show's executive producer who has also overseen "Real World/Road Rules Challenges" and "Making the Band 2" for MTV.
"He has to be likeable the whole time. So everything that we do is not rooted in mean-spiritedness. Skyler is put out on that ledge mostly himself, and as he jumps off and does the seventh-inning stretch, we do get that boost."
Unlike "Punk'd," where Ashton Kutcher creates elaborate scenarios to pull the wool over stars' eyes, "Con" sees Stone sweating it out up until the plan comes together.
He does get caught, at times, but he admits his "batting average is getting good." Most of the show's marks take it all in stride.
"Con" also enlists the help of Stone's friends to get the job done. If need be, he will also assume a disguise to blend into the con.
Stone still pulls a con almost daily. During the day of this interview, he talked about the free subscription to Playboy he's been getting for two years. He was able to snag it, he said, by calling the Playboy mansion, memorizing the list of employees off an automated list, and then calling the magazine.
He pretended to be an assistant to one of the mansion's employees and ranted how his boss was not getting a complimentary magazine subscription that he had requested for his best friend. The magazine hopped on it, of course, since Stone sounded so convincing and knowledgeable over the phone.
Wanting a nice trip to the salon but not being able to afford the prices, Stone called a high-end place in Hollywood and told them he was a TV producer working on a show called "Extreme Homeless Make-over."