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East Texas auctioneer to shine on 'Storage Wars: Texas'

By Robyn Claridy rclaridy@news-journal.com
Dec. 5, 2011 at 11 p.m.


When East Texas auctioneer Walt Cade, of Hallsville, got the call from A&E this past year asking him to audition for the A&E network's "Storage Wars: Texas," he thought it was a joke.

"It's not every day that you get calls saying, 'Hey, I'm from A&E and we want you on one of our shows,'" Cade said. "My first thought was, 'Yeah, okay, have a nice day."

The call was real, and he was cast as the auctioneer for the series that premieres tonight; Tyler business owner Victor Rjesnjansky was cast as one of seven buyers this season.

The show features the main buyers and crowds of others who are drawn to the auction to bid on the contents of storage units whose renters were delinquent on payments.

Cade said while the show has made storage unit auctions more popular, he has been drawing hundreds to such auctions across East Texas for about three years.

"I got into the auction business because that's the kind of people I like to meet, but I found out I really enjoyed auctioning storage units," Cade said. "My auctions built up quite a following, because I like to cut up and people started coming out to watch."

He said his followers must be what helped A&E find him for the show.

"All I can figure is the people on the show started searching for people whose name popped up a lot, and they found out I was really active and enthusiastic about storage units," Cade said.

Crews started filming "Storage Wars: Texas" in July and traveled to several places around Texas, including Longview, Tyler, Gilmer, Dallas, Fort Worth, Mesquite, Garland and Denton.

Rjesnjansky, who started buying from storage auctions in New York more than 20 years ago, said while the experience has been overwhelming at times, he enjoys being a part of the show.

"Between the hand shaking and knowing a lot of people are going to be seeing you, it's a lot," Rjesnjansky said. "You want to be well liked, but there are always going to be people, no matter who you are, that are going to hate or like you. Sometimes your hating audience is your big audience."

Rjesnjansky, who owns The 31 House in Tyler, said he doesn't expect the fame that comes with the show to change him much.

"It's been fun. After the commercials started airing, I've had a few people recognize me and want to take pictures. It's nice to be recognized though, so I don't think it'll be that big of a problem; I like to talk to people," he said.

Rjesnjansky said viewers should know, "I am the way I am."

"There's no acting involved in the show. I'm crazy and over the top. If you can't have fun at your job, then why bother doing it?"

He said he doesn't bid on just any unit.

"When you open a unit, you can just smell that there's something worth buying. I've been burned a lot, but now I don't just buy anything," Rjesnjansky said.

The men said they're excited about the premiere.

"It's a lot different than I'm used to," Cade said. "But I've made a lot of friends and I'm trying hard to remember where I came from. This is just a television show. A reality show doesn't mean you're a movie star, it's about normal, every day people doing what they do. It hasn't changed me and I hope it doesn't."

"Storage Wars" launched December 2010 and since has been named the top-watched nonfiction series on A&E and ranks the No. 1 series of all time among adults between the ages of 25 and 54, said network spokeswoman Gina Nocero.

In addition to Cade and Rjesnjansky, "Storage Wars: Texas" features cast buyers Ricky Smith and his nephew Clinton "Bubba" Smith, of Lampasas; Lesa Lewis and Jerry Simpson, both of Crockett; Moe Prigoff of Dallas; and Roy Williams.

They have filmed 16 episodes and are expected to film 10 more to complete the season if the show is a hit.

The show premieres at 9:30 tonight on the A&E cable network.

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