When the offers of backstage passes and bikini pics started blowing up his phone, Jonathan Nichols knew something was up, writes columnist Nicole Brodeur.
The first text came not long after Jonathan Nichols got his new phone.
“Check this guy out,” it said, with a link to a YouTube video of a guy making beats out of a synthesizer.
It was good, Nichols thought, but couldn’t have been meant for him. He was a law student at Seattle University who had just switched to a local number to prepare for the job search ahead.
“That’s pretty cool,” Nichols, 33, texted back. “But you clearly have the wrong number.”
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Then he started getting phone calls from luxury-car dealerships — Ferrari, Lamborghini, Jaguar — all asking if a Mr. Anthony Ray would like to come out to the dealership and take one or two of their cars for a spin.
“I’d love to,” Nichols would tell the very polite salespeople. “But I think you have the wrong guy. I’m a broke law student.”
Then he started getting pictures of women in bikinis in various states of raunchy repose. So many that Nichols told the sender, “You need to stop.”
Finally came the day in August when Nichols was at a softball tournament and his phone started “blowing up off the hook.”
Photos of women with lips pursed. Texts that said “Love you,” and “Happy Birthday.” A photo of a bottle of “Big Bottom” whiskey. More women. More lips and kisses. And one telltale reference to the 1992 rap hit “Baby Got Back.”
No way, Nichols thought. After the tournament, he and his friends Googled Seattle hip-hop legend Sir Mix-A-Lot.
His real name? Anthony Ray.
His birthday? Aug. 12. That very day.
“That’s when it all made sense,” Nichols, 33, said one recent afternoon.
The phone number he had picked out at the Verizon store just because it was easy to remember had a previous owner no one could forget: Sir Mix-A-Lot, the man behind “Baby Got Back,” “Posse on Broadway” and founder of Rhyme Cartel Records.
“Are you serious?” Mix said when I called him — on his new number — to tell him about Nichols. “That is hilarious. Poor fella.”
He was down in Las Vegas at the International Consumer Electronics Show. A single guy with no kids in Vegas. Sounds fun.
“Ah, it’s a sausagefest,” he said, clearly disappointed.
What would he have told Nichols before the technological torch was passed?
“Don’t check any text messages in front of your wife,” Mix advised. “That would be the first thing. And don’t answer any texts by saying ‘Yes,’ because people take ‘Yes’ differently with me. And usually you end up opening your wallet.”
Like with the car dealerships.
“That’s why I’m telling him, ‘Don’t say yes.’ ”
Nichols, a public-interest attorney with Moriarty and Associates who lives in Magnolia, has been tracking his adventures in Mix-land on his Facebook page. Friends have suggested he start a blog with a sampling of the texts:
“Hi Ray (Minista) pls info if u attending freestyle explosion and locale details. Thanks in advance.”
Nichols didn’t respond, then got another text: “O.K. silence got it brush.”
Another: “What up bro this is SupaSam. I’m having a morning show in-studio Christmas party. I need you to come through!”
There have also been offers for free concert tickets and visits backstage, which Nichols has found tempting. Why not just show up at the appointed place at the appointed time and see what happens?
“My boyfriend tells me, ‘Yeah! Get tickets! Get backstage passes!’ But ‘no false representations’ is one of the rules of the bar.”
Nichols has saved only one voice message, from a woman with a New Jersey area code. He found it on his phone and handed it to me for a listen.
“This used to be Sir Mix-A-Lot,” a woman says with a smile in her voice. “You get someone calling you talking about they be Snoop Dogg, they really are. Lucky you.”
Nichols got the new number so he would be local when he started looking for a job.
But it turned out to be a secret weapon, a way to stand out and be cool by pure coincidence.
“When interviewers have asked me, ‘What’s something interesting that no one else knows?’ or when people I meet working political campaigns tell me about meeting Bill Clinton, I always say, ‘I have Sir Mix-A-Lot’s old phone number.’
“It’s a total mic drop.”
And one that comes with one very specific responsibility, according to the previous owner.
“Tell him any really sexy pictures — little in the middle, and if she’s got much back — give them the new number,” Mix said with a laugh, then paused.
“But not the car dealerships.”