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How Billy Corgan Came to Star in the Weirdest Furniture Commercial We’ve Ever Seen

Billy Corgan isn’t a stranger to doing unexpected things, but even so, the sight of him in a commercial for a furniture company raised more than a few eyebrows when it appeared on the web yesterday. The commercial is for Chicago furniture retailers Walter E Smithe, and features Corgan and the company’s three Smithe brothers in a game of musical chairs that devolves into a free-for-all featuring Corgan’s pro wrestling team. The question that arises out of all this is: how in God’s name did Billy Corgan end up in a furniture commercial? We spoke to the company’s Tim Smithe — who was also the Great Pumpkin’s co-star in the ad — to find out.

“I was thinking,” ponders the genial middle Smithe brother over the phone from Chicago, “you know, ‘How do you incorporate Billy Corgan, three nerds in suits, and a wrestling team into an advert?'”

How, indeed? And more importantly, why? According to Smithe, despite the apparently incongruous nature of the whole thing, it was, in fact, largely Corgan’s idea: “I’m not sure you can convince Billy of anything,” he laughs. The two met when they were guests on a TV show called The Mancow Experience, and bonded, predictably enough, over wrestling: “I knew Billy had just bought a wrestling team. We both grew up in Chicago, and we both used to love watching wrestling on TV when we were kids… and we just started talking about it. [Then] we started talking about my furniture business. We’re pretty well-known in Chicago — we have 11 stores and we’re about an $80m company. Bascially the idea was, ‘Let’s do something fun together.’ He was like, ‘Oh, I’ll have someone call you in a couple of days.’ Afterwards, I was driving home and thought to myself, ‘Wait… this is never gonna happen.’ But five days later, someone from his office called and said, ‘Hey, we sent over a script.'”

The duo formulated a simple, if bizarre, concept. “We came up with the idea of a bit of a fantasy, like Billy Corgan’s musical chairs competition: we get to the final round, he wins, I give him a shove, and he snaps his fingers and these three giant people jump into the ring and we wrestle. And as a nod to the furniture, the chair he’s holding is from my new collection.”

The result is the curious all-in wrestling extravaganza you see above, a spectacle that was apparently as chaotic to make as it is to watch. “It was a little over two hours of non-stop wrestling, because no matter who the spotlight was on, the others had to be wrestling too so that when we went to editing, we wanted the continuity to be that there was complete chaos in the wring, and the only way to do that was for everyone to be wrestling.”

Corgan himself stayed out of the ring (“He’s not going to break his guitar fingers,” Smithe chuckles), preferring to focus on the film-making process. “He understood the filmmaking, he understood the staging… You could tell he was thinking one step ahead.” The brothers, however, took something of a pounding: “That one move where the guy in the mask flies across the ring and lands on my brother, that was a one-taker. He offered to do a backflip and do that, but once we saw the raw footage of that jump, we were like, ‘No, that’s great.’ My brother was a high school wrestler, so he’s not new to this, but he totally got the wind knocked out of him. A guy flying 18 feet and landing on you… That’s gotta hurt.”

As with Corgan’s other recent ventures — the wrestling, the tea house, the idea of dating Tila Tequila — the response from fans and the media has been a mixture of amusement and bemusement. There’ve already been the predictable accusations of selling out — the top-rated YouTube comment on the video is the catty observation “The world is a paycheck” — and Smithe is at pains to emphasize that no money changed hands for the commercial: “It was just a real simple win-win… We didn’t exchange any money… things just worked out.”

In any case, you get the sense that these days Billy couldn’t really care less what people think. Smithe agrees: “His real fans get that this is fun, you know? He has many interests… his fans know he has lots of interests apart from music, and this is just another side of Billy.”

And will there be more Billy Corgan furniture commercials? “I hope to,” says Smithe. “We would love to work with him again, for sure.”