Fast Confession - president of the Man of the Year contest David Novotný: I don't just organize competitions, I also treat people with covid
He lives to help people. David Novotný is a well-known name in the Czech show business. He is the man behind many events frequented by famous Czech personalities, as well as events where new personalities are born. What’s even more important, though, is that every event organized generates money that David donates to charity. Probably the most famous one is the so-called men's beauty contest Man of the Year. In an interview for LP-Life.com, David talked about organizing a competition during the coronavirus crisis, about the money associated with each such occasion and, surprisingly, also about medicine, to which he devotes himself to such an extent that he is able to treat his loved ones himself.
You are famous for having organized the Man of the Year competition for 25 years. Last year, it took place without spectators, what was it like?
When I first entered the hall, it was a sad sight for me. It was also difficult to obtain all the hygiene permits required, to make an epidemiological plan for the event, for example, we had to have only packaged food and drinks there, everyone had been tested. When I walked into the hall, I felt like crying. It's a hall that can hold 600 people, now there were seventy. But I was glad that it worked out, with all the performers and finalists. Karel Voříšek was there, as well as a number of well-known faces, such as Natálka Grossová, Tereza Mátlová, Zuzka Bubílková and others. I was actually grateful that it we were able to do it at all that year.
Weren't the performers afraid to participate? Last year the fear was great, we didn't know much about covid yet. Did you have to talk someone into it, did someone refuse to participate?
I postponed the final evening from August to October. Ten days before the final evening in October, I had to cancel it, even though posters were already hanging and tickets were being distributed, advertising campaigns were running. I had to do it in December because there was no other option. Only the performers and the jury were present at the event; it was broadcast by the media. A lot of personalities were afraid, but it was more like when I told them that everyone would be tested, they felt safe and believed everything would be fine.
You have a lot of registered candidates next year. Have you already made the selection?
No, I haven’t. Castings will begin early in May.
Have you registered less interested in the competition? Or, on the contrary, more interest, because people are longing to participate in something during these times?
I would rather say that there are more questions about how their safety will be guaranteed. If we are going to be testing, if they’ll perhaps need to be vaccinated. At this point, I think we will, of course, test everyone involved. But as far as I know - I got the information from international organizations - winners who fly to international competitions have to be vaccinated. Whether it is Mister Global, Mister International, Mister Supranational, Mister Universe, Man of the Year. I have already been notified by all organizations that international events are taking place in the second half of this year and that everyone has to be vaccinated.
How do you plan to arrange the vaccination of the winner? Even seniors aren’t vaccinated yet.
I believe there will be plenty of vaccines during the summer. I believe that ninety percent of the population will be vaccinated.
How much did it cost to organize last year's competition with all those restrictions? And how much money did you make, considering you donate to charity?
Last year I actually had to borrow money, due to the October event, which I had to cancel. Under normal circumstances, the proceeds amount to around one hundred thousand crowns, which I donate to charities or private individuals. I always want to have all costs covered, which wasn’t the case last year.
You had to borrow money to make the Man of the Year happen?
Yes. In October, I had the posters and tickets all printed and didn’t receive any form of state support. Firstly, I didn’t cancel the event, only postponed it, and then there were events connected with it, such as the training camp or the Day of Good Deeds, which had taken place in September, when the world was still turning. So state aid didn’t apply to it. Testing alone cost me over a hundred thousand crowns.
Didn't you feel like pulling the plug?
I did, but I couldn't give up. The finalists had their disciplines ready - they couldn't present them, because it was forbidden, but they were prepared. They had a choreography finished, they were doing language courses, I couldn't just go and cancel it on them. Personalities like Kateřina Macháčková or Míša Dolinová and many others were looking forward to it, it was the only event they could go to. Some of them are still writing to me and remembering it. Back then I’d gotten a permit, the hotel opened for us, in the evening we all met there and talked. It was a very pleasant atmosphere and no one was afraid of anyone because they’d all been tested earlier that day.
You are incredible, you borrowed money so as not to spoil the competition for the boys and create a pleasant meeting for your friends.
Last year was a terrible year for culture, so I wanted to fulfil my commitments to partners, sponsors, finalists and everyone else. There was also a photoshoot for a calendar, a press conference, everything. The anxiety about getting all the permits was terrible, I would like to thank the mayor of Náchod, Jan Birke, who helped me as much as he could. Without his support and help, I definitely wouldn’t have all the paperwork, permits and notices. Thank you so much, Honza!
You've been doing this for a long time, can you tell us about your beginnings? Today you’re dropping the names of famous people you’re friends with left and right, but how did you get to meet them? How did you make them attend your first events?
I was fifteen and in my first year at a private business high school in Náchod. I was in charge of the Christmas party. Until then, I was unpopular with my classmates, such a teacher’s pet. I sat in the first row, I was in charge of attendance and the like. At that time, bingo was getting popular, and my class teacher and have come up with the idea that we would do bingo for our classmates. Everyone had a ticket, the teachers were drawing lots, I talked people into giving us Christmas T-shirts and some prizes. That was my first event for my classmates that I organized.
Then I saw a documentary about disabled children and adults, showing that they don't have much fun in their lives and are locked up in facilities. I wanted to change that, do something for society, something nice and pleasant for everyone. So I organized my first real event. Back then, there were no computers yet, I typed letter for Eva Jurinová, Honza Musil or Pavel Zedníček on the typewriter, I didn’t have any contacts. I got three contacts, which I exchanged for other contacts, it was like exchanging bubble gum stickers.
Eva Jurinová wrote back, and I still have the deepest respect for her. She said she would come, and she was a huge star on Nova in the main TV news at the time. The same Honza Musil, who presented Áčko and a number of other programs, Pavel Zedníček was a megastar. And they really came. I organized it in Sokolovna, where our school was located. It was my first event, where almost 50,000 crows were raised - 25 years ago, that was a huge sum of money.
What kind of event was it? Another Bingo?
Bingo and a fashion show.
Who walked the runway, your classmates?
No, I booked models through an agency in Hradec Králové. And local boutiques.
Was the money raised from playing Bingo?
Yes, exactly. Money boxes were also passed around, it went to a certain foundation. Then I started organizing the Evening for a Good Cause, and I stuck with it for twenty years. This year, the Day of Good Deeds will be held for the twenty-fourth time, the Man of the Year for the twenty-second time. I donated a lot of money to hospitals, children's homes, various institutions. Of course, those children and adults also participate in the program.
Where did it come from that you decided you would help someone like this at the age of fifteen?
I admit that I was not very talkative until then, my classmates had to read my essays for me. It was a really big jump into wild waters for me, when I decided I wanted to help. It benefited me a lot, I started talking and communicating. I had to get the money and gifts that were needed. I remember it very fondly, and those personalities have actually stayed in my life till these days.
How did they look at you as a fifteen-year-old boy? Did they even know you were only fifteen?
When I called Pavel Zedníček back then, he asked me how old I was. I said I didn't have the money to pay him to attend, that I was fifteen, but I'd like to make it happen and asked if he would be so nice to come. When we talked about it later, he told me that he hadn’t believed me, that he’d thought someone was making fun of him, and he was very careful. He claims I talked him to it.
And where did your passion for healthcare come from? You do events for the field of healthcare, but you’re also quite knowledgeable in it yourself.
For many years I was doing the Best Nurse event, but last year I came up with a new competition Angel Among Paramedics. It will take place in Náchod on August 28 this year. It will be expanded to include not just nurses but also a number of other medical disciplines, because doctors, paramedics, pharmacists, medics and carers also deserve our thanks. Last year, thanks to covid, I thought to myself that we should thank more fields in healthcare.
What prices are you planning?
For example, last year's winner received 100,000 from the Miloš Zeman Endowment Fund for the Rescue Service of the Capital City of Prague, because the winner was the 77-year-old František Ždichynec, who has my deepest respect. He has been the director of the rescue service of the capital city of Prague for many years and still works as a coroner for rescuers. He received a car for a year from the Autobond Group, and a number of other prizes. One of them is a role in the Blue Code TV show. He said he was afraid he would mess it up, that he was a rescue worker, not an actor. But I believe he’ll make it.
Where did you get the desire to know all diseases, meds?
I admit that in the evenings I study various drugs in Breviary. When someone tells me that they have high blood pressure, I find what medications they should take and suchlike. I have such a pharmacy at home where I keep a lot of drugs. I also bring home souvenirs in the form of meds from my travels, because in some countries certain drugs can be bought without a prescription. I like having supplies, it makes me feel safe. I think it came about when I was sick many years ago, I wanted to get well soon. Somehow that wasn’t happening, so I started studying it on the internet, I got deeper into it and I started to enjoy it. Now I’m really into it and it’s a hobby of mine.
I thought you were the picture of health. Do you use anything from your pharmacy at all?
I do, and I like treating others. When a friend calls me and says she has inflammation in her eye, I immediately give her antibiotic drops, Tobradex, Lutein and I know that she will get better. Recently, I’ve had twelve covid patients in my "intensive care unit" that I cured and they didn't have to go to the hospital.
With my meds.
Can you be more specific? Don't tell me you have ivermectin there.
No, I’m not using it, but I should be getting some soon. I’m expecting a delivery. I also know that some doctors say that the antiviral drug Isoprinosine doesn’t help, but I must say that it has helped everyone around me. I prescribed them Panadol for fever, Erdomed for cough, large doses of vitamin C and D. In most cases it worked.
Were they in critical condition?
They were not asymptomatic, their condition required somewhat more complex treatment.
Do you consult your activity with doctors?
I do. Some doctors told me they wouldn’t have used Isoprinosine, but I always say that it helped all my "patients". At least they don't burden hospitals. I also gave them a Prednisone-based corticosteroid called Fortecortin. I used it when they looked like there their condition was getting more serious.
Your friends clubbed together to buy you a birthday present.
Yeah, a trip to Disneyland.
Wasn't it by any chance a home X-ray?
No. They wanted me to have an MRI at home, but you know, having an MRI at home... I don’t think it would even fit in here. But I do have an oximeter, a pressure gauge, basic equipment for listening to the heart, test tubes, we can also do swabs, test ourselves. I’d say I'm pretty well equipped. I can even pre-fill a blood application.
What else are you involved in?
In previous years, we had a travelling show bout etiquette and proper behaviour called A Faux-Pas Would Kill Me with Anička Slováčková and Milan Peroutka. The main roles are portrayed by Láďa Ondřej and Míša Dolinová, and Nelly Řehořová also appears in it. It's such a fun show, we've done about 200 performances in various theatres.
We can’t do that now, so I have such a side-job, I help in the Miloš Zeman Endowment Fund. I help Miss Kateřina Zemanová, because Katka became the patron of the Angel Among Paramedics event, since she knows that I have contacts in medical and social facilities. I really appreciate her support. We’ve been, for example, in the Bulovka University Hospital, where Dr. Kristýna Herrmannová, the third angel among paramedics, works.
We’ve also been in Schroth's medical spa, where, among others, post-covid patients receive treatment; we have given them two beds donated by the company Proma Reha Česká Skalice. Katka was there too, because it’s where the second Angel Among Paramedics is from. We’ve visited other facilities, too, such as the Alzheimer's Center in Pardubice, the retirement home in Náchod or the Evangelical Medical High School, where we thanked the students who were working in covid wings during the time of crisis. Currently, we’re planning a number of other visits; we are about to visit Chomutov or Karlovy Vary and other social facilities and hospitals.
What happens during those visits?
We visit the place and get acquainted with the operation of the facility, we greet clients within the frame of current epidemiological measures, Kateřina hands over gifts on behalf of the Miloš Zeman Endowment Fund, which includes disinfectants, face masks, fruits, vitamin supplements...
Is covid still avoiding you?
Yes. I take vitamin C and D. I don't take any Isoprinosine in advance until I catch it. And I’m really looking forward to getting vaccinated.