Jeff Ragsdale

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Jeff Ragsdale
Born Jeffrey Charles Ragsdale
Bellingham, Washington
Education University of Washington
Occupation Writer, actor, filmmaker
Years active 1999–present
Notable work Jeff, One Lonely Guy, Hotline (2014 film),[1][2] The Best American Nonrequired Reading, 30 Nights with a Call Girl[3]

2009 US Game Show Champion

2012 Book of the Year

Jeffrey Charles "Jeff" Ragsdale (/ræɡsˈdl/) is an American author, documentary filmmaker,[3] actor,[4] stand-up comedian,[5] and national game show champion.[6] He is best known for his starring role in the 2014 award-winning documentary, Hotline (2014 film),[1][2][7] and his 2012 book Jeff, One Lonely Guy, which was selected by Dave Eggers for inclusion in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012,[8][9] and it was a GQ 2012 "Book of the Year".[10]

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.[11] 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.[12][13] During high school he lived with the actor Jim Caviezel and family for a period. Ragsdale was friends with the actress Hilary Swank at Sehome High School. In 2000 Ragsdale received a Bachelor's degree in English from the University of Washington.[14] 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. In 2009 Ragsdale competed on Whoopi Goldberg's Head Games, winning the competition.[15][16]

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.[17] The resulting protest, organized by Ragsdale, helped contribute to the closing of The Falls bar in New York City.[18]


Critical reception for Ragsdale's book, Jeff, One Lonely Guy, has been very positive,[19] with Bret Easton Ellis praising Jeff, One Lonely Guy: "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." [20] Ellis writes on Twitter: "The most powerful reading experience I've had in the last year is Jeff, One Lonely Guy by Jeff Ragsdale".[21] 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.”[22] Literary critic, JW McCormack, writing for Bookforum, describes it as "revolutionary".[23]

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, 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".[24]

In 2013 Ragsdale shot a pilot for the reality show, Being Noticed, which was produced by David Hurwitz (producer of Fear Factor and Million Second Quiz).[25]

Ragsdale stars in the 2014 award-winning documentary feature film, Hotline (2014 film), directed by acclaimed 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][26][27][27][28][29] Hotline premiered in Toronto at Hot Docs in April 2014, where it was an official selection and audience and jury favorite.[30] On August 9, 2014 Hotline won First Prize for Best Feature Documentary at the Rhode Island International Film Festival.[7] On May 9, 2014 the Brooklyn Film Festival announced that Hotline had been selected for inclusion in its prestigious feature film line-up.[31]

In 2014 critically acclaimed writer and journalist Amitava Kumar included portions of Ragsdale's book, Jeff, One Lonely Guy, in his newly released book, A Matter of Rats: A Short Biography of Patna.[32] Kumar previously interviewed Ragsdale and wrote about him in The New York Times.[33]

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.[34]

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.[35] Pictures of the flyer went viral after they were posted to the Internet,[36] which resulted in Ragsdale receiving thousands of phone calls, texts, and voicemails from people from all over the world.[37] This prompted him to collect several of the messages and conversations in a Postsecret-esque book, which he entitled Jeff, One Lonely Guy.[38] Ragsdale compiled the messages into several themes, releasing the book on March 20, 2012.[33] The book was well received by many news outlets and authors and was a GQ's 2012 "Book of the Year".[10][39][40]

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.[41]

Ragsdale recorded an episode (#54) of [1] Other People with Brad Listi podcast on March 21, 2012, in which he discusses his early life in more detail.

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

Ragsdale was interviewed on NPR on March 21, 2012.[42]

Ragsdale was interviewed by Nick Flynn in August 2012.[43]

Ragsdale was featured on CBS WINS (AM) Ten-Ten Wins on April 2, 2012.[44]

Ragsdale was featured on CBS Man Cave on March 30, 2012[45]

Being Noticed: Reality show[edit]

In June 2013 Ragsdale was approached by Hollywood producer David A. Hurwitz (Fear Factor, Million Second Quiz, Bam's Bad Ass Game Show). Hurwitz was interested in developing a television show based on Ragsdale's social experiments and conceptual art projects. In fall 2013 Ragsdale and Hurwitz teamed up, wrote, and shot the pilot for the reality show, Being Noticed.[25] 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.

Hotline: feature-length documentary[edit]

Ragsdale stars in the award-winning 2014 documentary feature film, Hotline (2014 film), which The Daily Beast calls "brilliant".[1] The film is directed by acclaimed MTV producer and director, Tony Shaff. Shaff and his film crew followed Ragsdale around New York City for weeks as Ragsdale worked his "Lonely Guy" hotline.[1][2][26][27][28][29] Hotline premiered in Toronto at Hot Docs in April 2014, where it was an official selection and audience and jury favorite.[30] On August 9, 2014 Hotline won First Prize for Best Feature Documentary at the Rhode Island International Film Festival.[7] On May 9, 2014 the Brooklyn Film Festival announced that Hotline had been selected for inclusion in its prestigious feature film line-up.[31]

Immersion documentary[edit]

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]

Behind the Glitter: a documentary[edit]

On May 17, 2015 Ragsdale appeared on the most popular Australian talk show, Sunrise (TV program). Ragsdale made a documentary of the events leading up to the interview. In Behind the Glitter Ragsdale famously gives the viewer a backstage pass to what it's like to go on a famous talk show today, from the green room to the glitter.



Film & Television
Year Title Role Notes
2015 Behind the Glitter Director, writer Shot in Los Angeles, California. Documentary.
2015 Sunrise (TV program) 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[27][29] Himself Feature-length award-winning documentary
2014 Being Noticed[25] Himself Reality show pilot, co-creator with David Hurwitz (producer of Fear Factor, The Million Second Quiz)
2013 30 Nights with a Call Girl[50] Director, writer Shot in Alberta, Canada
2013 Interviews at a Bordello Director, writer Shot in Alberta, Canada
2013 Sister Italy[4][51] Dr. Gerodi Feature film
2012 Inside Edition[52] Himself TV Series (episode: "Episode dated 19 July 2012" - aired July 19, 2012)
2012 The Jeff Probst Show[53] Himself TV Series (episode: "The Loneliest Guy in America" - aired September 19, 2012)
2012 CBS News Sunday Morning[54] 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)[55] Himself TV Series (episode: "Episode dated 21 March 2012" - aired March 21, 2012)
2012 FOX[56] Himself TV Series (episode: "Episode dated 25 July 2011" - with Joyce DeWitt - aired March 22, 2012)
2012 Lorraine (TV programme)[57] Himself TV Series (episode: "Episode dated 18 June 2012" - aired June 18, 2012)
2012 BBC World News[58] 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[59] Himself TV Series (episode: "Episode dated 24 March 2012" - aired March 24, 2012)
2012 Yahoo![60] 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)[61] Himself TV Series (episode: "Episode #1.1" - aired October 11, 2009)
2010 The Early Show[62] Himself TV Series (episode: "Mending a Relationship Hurt by Jealousy" - aired February 25, 2010)
2009 NY1[63] Himself TV Series (episode: "Episode dated 16 August 2009" - aired August 16, 2009)
2009 The Morning Show with Mike & Juliet[64] Himself TV Series (episode: "Ask the Experts: Friends and Foes" - aired March 2, 2009)
2009 Chronicles of the Beyond[65] Det. Brogan TV Series
2009 Death Daily Friend Short film
2009 Legalized Mafia[66] J.R. Short film
2009 Ironic Odyssey[67] Joe Feature film
2009 Married Life Sol Short film
2009 Group Therapy With Dr. Paul Jacoby Paul Jacoby Short film
2009 Throttle[68] Andy Short film
2009 The Homeowner Pete Reynolds Short film
2006 At Large with Geraldo Rivera[69] Himself TV Series (episode: "Mummy Murder Mystery" - aired March 13, 2006)
2006 Catherine Crier Live[70] Himself TV Series (episode: "Match in Imette Case" - aired March 13, 2006)
2006 WPIX[71] 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[72] 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[73] Lead actor Commercial for Old Spice luffa bathroom sponge
2010 Mercedes Benz[74] Lead actor Industrial commercial shot at Mercedes Benz of Manhattan
2010 Catholic[75] Lead actor Catholic Diocese promoting safe sex virtues
2009 The Art of Fong Lead actor Web Commercial for Fong equipment


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External links[edit]