Jeff Ragsdale

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Jeff Ragsdale
Author Jeff Ragsdale speaking at launch of "Jeff, One Lonely Guy"
Jeff Ragsdale (2013)
Jeffrey Charles Ragsdale

Bellingham, Washington
EducationUniversity of Washington
  • Writer
  • actor
  • filmmaker
Years active1999–present
Notable work
Jeff, One Lonely Guy, Hotline (2014 film),[1][2] The Best American Nonrequired Reading, 30 Nights with a Call Girl[3]
Awards2012 Book of the Year

Jeffrey Charles "Jeff" Ragsdale (/ræɡsˈdl/) is an American author, documentary filmmaker,[3] actor[4] and stand-up comedian.[5] In 2011 he posted a flyer in New York City as a "social experiment", stating his phone number and asking people to call him, describing himself as "Jeff, one lonely guy". He was overwhelmed with thousands of calls after photos of the flyer were posted on the internet. The experience led to his 2012 book Jeff, One Lonely Guy, and indirectly to a 2013 pilot episode for a reality television show, Being Noticed, and a starring role in the 2014 documentary Hotline.[1][2][6]

Jeff, One Lonely Guy was selected by Dave Eggers for inclusion in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012,[7][8] and it was a GQ 2012 "Book of the Year".[9]

Early life[edit]

Ragsdale was born in Bellingham, Washington. He is the second of two children born to a Roman Catholic mother, Dolores, and father, Milton. His father was of Czechoslovakian (paternal) and German (maternal) descent, while his mother was of Irish and German descent. His parents operated a real estate developing business in Whatcom County.[10] As a child he won the Presidential Physical Fitness Award, signed by Ronald Reagan. Ragsdale attended Sehome High School and starred on the school's basketball team.[11][12] During high school he lived with actor Jim Caviezel and his family for a period. Ragsdale was friends with actress Hilary Swank at Sehome High School. In 2000 Ragsdale received a Bachelor's degree in English from the University of Washington.[13] He studied in the Columbia University MFA Writing Program in 2000. In 2001 and 2002 Ragsdale lived in Guadalajara, Mexico City, and San José del Cabo.

"Jeff, one lonely guy"[edit]

In October 2011 Ragsdale posted a flyer in New York City as a social experiment. The flyer stated that he wanted to talk to people about anything, and listed his name as "Jeff, one lonely guy".[14] Pictures of the flyer went viral after they were posted to the Internet,[15] which resulted in Ragsdale receiving thousands of phone calls, texts, and voicemails from people from all over the world.[16] This prompted him to collect several of the messages and conversations in a Postsecret-esque book, which he entitled Jeff, One Lonely Guy.[17] Ragsdale compiled the messages into several themes, releasing the book on March 20, 2012.[18] The book was well received by many news outlets and authors and was a GQ's 2012 "Book of the Year".[9][19][20]

Critical reception for Jeff, One Lonely Guy was very positive.[21] Bret Easton Ellis stated: "The symphony of voices here is an overwhelming reading experience. This short book is also a verification of a legitimate new form of narrative; it's the definitive document so far of where our medium is heading. I've never read anything like it."[22] Ellis writes on Twitter: "The most powerful reading experience I've had in the last year is Jeff, One Lonely Guy by Jeff Ragsdale".[23] He continues, "What I mean about a new art form: Jeff, One Lonely Guy by Jeff Ragsdale is really the first example of successful post-Empire reportage yet." Dave Eggers writes, "I love this—a great idea, and so deftly put together. A telling mosaic of modern loneliness and almost-connectedness." Poet and critic Nick Flynn asserts: "We have crossed over the threshold [with Ragsdale's new collage form], and are now—strangely, terrifyingly, beautifully—in this transformed world."[24] Literary critic JW McCormack, writing for Bookforum, described it as "revolutionary".[25]

Ragsdale's publicity tour for the book included interviews on NPR,[26] 10-10 WINS,[27] CBS's Man Cave,[28] the podcast Other People with Brad Listi[29] and by Nick Flynn.[30]

In 2013 Ragsdale shot a pilot for a reality show, Being Noticed, which was produced by David Hurwitz (producer of Fear Factor and Million Second Quiz).[31] The show was based on Ragsdale's social experiments and conceptual art projects. Ragsdale and Hurwitz wrote the script for the pilot together.[31] The pilot was shot in Hollywood, Santa Monica, Venice Beach, Malibu, as well as various locations throughout Sherman Oaks. The cast and crew numbered in the dozens and the pilot was shot over the course of several weeks.

In 2013 New Museum in New York City launched a street exhibit inspired by Ragsdale's flyer. New Museum posted 5000 flyers around the city instructing people to call a phone number to connect.[32]

Ragsdale starred in the 2014 documentary Hotline, directed by MTV producer Tony Shaff. Shaff and his film crew followed Ragsdale around New York City for weeks as Ragsdale worked his "Lonely Guy" hotline.[1][2][33] Hotline premiered in Toronto at Hot Docs in April 2014, where it was an official selection and audience and jury favorite.[34] Hotline won First Prize for Best Feature Documentary at the 2014 Rhode Island International Film Festival.[6] It was also screened at the 2014 Brooklyn Film Festival.[35]

In 2014 writer and journalist Amitava Kumar included portions of the book Jeff, One Lonely Guy in his book, A Matter of Rats: A Short Biography of Patna.[36] Kumar previously interviewed Ragsdale and wrote about him in The New York Times.[18]

Other career[edit]

In 2009 Ragsdale competed on an episode of Whoopi Goldberg's Head Games, which he won.[37]

Ragsdale's work has been featured in The New Yorker, The New York Times, New York Post, New York Magazine, The Daily Beast, CBS News, O, The Oprah Magazine, Huffington Post, BBC News, Glamour Magazine, The Examiner, The New York Observer, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Daily Mail (UK), Capital New York, The Rumpus, The Millions, The Advocate, among others. The New York Times asserts that Ragsdale's "work sometimes involves blurring lines between reality and performance".[38]

In 2011 Ragsdale published the book-length essay "Rage", which was run in The Seattle Review, and in 2012, he became a contributor to the online culture magazine The Nervous Breakdown.[39]

Ragsdale appeared in a supporting role in the feature film Sister Italy in 2012.[4]

During 2012 and 2013 Ragsdale lived in Canada and produced, shot and edited an "immersion documentary" in which he accompanied Canadian sex workers on hundreds of calls over a span of months.[3]

On May 17, 2015 Ragsdale appeared on the most popular Australian talk show, Sunrise. Ragsdale made a documentary of the events leading up to the interview, titled Behind the Glitter.

Personal life and activism[edit]

Ragsdale is an activist, participating in and organizing several protests and demonstrations for causes, one of which was prompted by the murder of Imette St. Guillen.[40] The resulting protest, organized by Ragsdale, helped contribute to the closing of The Falls bar in New York City.[41]


Film & Television
Year Title Role Notes
2015 Behind the Glitter Director, writer Shot in Los Angeles, California. Documentary.
2015 Sunrise Himself TV Series (episode: "Episode dated 17 May 2015" - aired May 17, 2015)
2014 Good Morning America Himself TV Series (episode: "Episode dated 18 March 2014" - aired May 18, 2014)
2014 Hotline[42][43] Himself Feature-length award-winning documentary
2014 Being Noticed[31] Himself Reality show pilot, co-creator with David Hurwitz (producer of Fear Factor, The Million Second Quiz)
2013 30 Nights with a Call Girl[44] Director, writer Shot in Alberta, Canada
2013 Interviews at a Bordello Director, writer Shot in Alberta, Canada
2013 Sister Italy[4][45] Dr. Gerodi Feature film
2012 Inside Edition[46] Himself TV Series (episode: "Episode dated 19 July 2012" - aired July 19, 2012)
2012 The Jeff Probst Show[47] Himself TV Series (episode: "The Loneliest Guy in America" - aired September 19, 2012)
2012 CBS News Sunday Morning[48] Himself TV Series (2 episodes: "Episode dated 13 May 2012" - aired May 13, 2012 & "Episode dated 5 August 2012" - aired August 5, 2012)
2012 Channel One (Russia)[49] Himself TV Series (episode: "Episode dated 21 March 2012" - aired March 21, 2012)
2012 FOX[50] Himself TV Series (episode: "Episode dated 25 July 2011" - with Joyce DeWitt - aired March 22, 2012)
2012 Lorraine (TV programme)[51] Himself TV Series (episode: "Episode dated 18 June 2012" - aired June 18, 2012)
2012 BBC World News[52] Himself TV Series (episode: "Episode dated 28 December 2012" - aired December 28, 2012)
2012 CTV National News Himself TV Series (episode: "You Could Sing the Anthem at a Leafs Game" aired September 13, 2012)
2012 Sistema Brasileiro de Televisão[53] Himself TV Series (episode: "Episode dated 24 March 2012" - aired March 24, 2012)
2012 Yahoo![54] Himself Web Series by Yahoo! "Broken News Daily" (episode: "Jeff Ragsdale" - aired September 13, 2012)
2010 Last Comic Standing Himself TV Series (episode: "Episode #7.4" - aired June 21, 2010)
2010 Head Games (game show)[55] Himself TV Series (episode: "Episode #1.1" - aired October 11, 2009)
2010 The Early Show[56] Himself TV Series (episode: "Mending a Relationship Hurt by Jealousy" - aired February 25, 2010)
2009 NY1[57] Himself TV Series (episode: "Episode dated 16 August 2009" - aired August 16, 2009)
2009 The Morning Show with Mike & Juliet[58] Himself TV Series (episode: "Ask the Experts: Friends and Foes" - aired March 2, 2009)
2009 Chronicles of the Beyond[59] Det. Brogan TV Series
2009 Death Daily Friend Short film
2009 Legalized Mafia[60] J.R. Short film
2009 Ironic Odyssey[61] Joe Feature film
2009 Married Life Sol Short film
2009 Group Therapy With Dr. Paul Jacoby Paul Jacoby Short film
2009 Throttle[62] Andy Short film
2009 The Homeowner Pete Reynolds Short film
2006 At Large with Geraldo Rivera[63] Himself TV Series (episode: "Mummy Murder Mystery" - aired March 13, 2006)
2006 Catherine Crier Live[64] Himself TV Series (episode: "Match in Imette Case" - aired March 13, 2006)
2006 WPIX[65] Himself TV Series (2 episodes: "Episode dated 16 March 2006" - aired March 16, 2006 & "Episode dated April 18 April" - aired April 18, 2006)
2006 WCBS-TV[66] Himself TV Series (episode: "Episode dated 29 November 2006" - aired November 29, 2006)
2006 WBZ-TV Himself TV Series (episode: "Episode dated 1 December 2006" - aired December 1, 2006)


Year Title Role Notes
2010 Old Spice[67] Lead actor Commercial for Old Spice luffa bathroom sponge
2010 Mercedes Benz[68] Lead actor Industrial commercial shot at Mercedes Benz of Manhattan
2010 Catholic[69] Lead actor Catholic Diocese promoting safe sex virtues
2009 The Art of Fong Lead actor Web Commercial for Fong equipment


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  16. ^ Susannah Cahalan (March 18, 2012). "'Lonely guy' Jeff Ragsdale got 65,000 calls after posting fliers around New York with his phone number". Retrieved August 3, 2012.
  17. ^ Greene, Jay (May 22, 2012). "How Amazon is changing the rules for books and movies | Internet & Media – CNET News". Retrieved June 20, 2012.
  18. ^ a b Kumar, Amitava. "What Happens in Patna Stays in Patna". The New York Times. Retrieved May 12, 2012.
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  23. ^ "Twitter / BretEastonEllis: The most powerful reading". Retrieved August 3, 2012.
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  40. ^ "Imette St. Guillen – Biography". The Biographicon. Retrieved October 22, 2010. Within days after the revelation of the alleged lying of Dorrian in St. Guillen's disappearance, Jeff Ragsdale, a New York City writer, organized a group of people to start a demonstration in front of The Falls bar.
  41. ^ Village Voice, Tuesday, March 21, 2006 (March 21, 2006). "Letters – Page 1 – News – New York". Village Voice. Retrieved October 22, 2010. I am thankful for Jeff Ragsdale's protest and commitment to getting the Falls shut down. I wish I could be there to join him.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
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External links[edit]