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The Untold Truth Of American Pickers Icon Prince Mongo

Some reality TV show people become stars because of their personalities. Others don't even really need TV to be stars, because their personalities bend reality around them. Prince Mongo of "American Pickers" is a stellar example — and possibly the sole representative — of the latter category. Though he's technically just one of the many eccentrics who passingly feature in the show, there's something about this metaphorically and physically colorful Memphis character that commands far more attention than your average reality show one-episode wonder should have any right to do. 

The untold truth of "American Pickers" isn't exactly short of curious characters, from "Mole Man" Ron and "Hobo Jack" Sophir to, one might argue, the titular pickers themselves. However, Prince Mongo is one of those people who warrant the extra attention, seeing as he's led the kind of life to back up the interest his colorful appearance piques. Let's take a closer look at the untold truth of Prince Mongo from "American Pickers." 

He has political aspirations

Robert "Prince Mongo" Hodges is a veteran of the Memphis political scene — or, rather, a veteran of trying to become a part of said scene. As the Memphis Current notes, the good prince has been a fixture in many of the city's and Shelby County's Mayoral campaigns for a good four decades. While he has never won, or even been particularly close to victory, he's occasionally been able to get enough attention to arguably affect the course of the election in question.

In his first Shelby County Mayoral election in 1978, Prince Mongo was able to convert his notoriety to nearly 20,000 votes — a little under 10 percent of the entire haul. This, the Memphis Current argues, may have turned the tide of the election in favor of the winner, Bill Morris. In 1991, his candidacy may have helped Willie Herenton become the new Mayor of Memphis in a similar fashion, though the race was much tighter and Mongo's vote haul much smaller than in 1978.

On the whole, Mongo's popularity as a polician seems to have been on the dwindle over the years ... which might or might not have something to do with the fact that he once promised to give everyone an Uzi if he won, and has been known to call for things like public hangings (via Daily Memphian).

He's held on to his Planet Zambodia story for a long time

Prince Mongo has been known to claim that he's a 333-year-old alien from Planet Zambodia (per the Memphis Current), and has insisted on this in both political campaigns and hearings with the Memphis Alcohol Commission (via Memphis Flyer). This is a story he's been telling for quite a while, and it can get quite elaborate.

"I'm here on a mission to save Earthlings, and I will in due time," he said in 2000. "The Earth is self-destructing and when the time comes I will save a few people and take them with me. People don't realize how much I've already saved them from. I saved them from the earthquake, tornadoes, hurricanes. I've used my energies to divert those things."

Perhaps the self-professed alien in Prince Mongo is responsible for his very particular aesthetics which, according to the Orlando Sentinel, have caused him to decorate the front yards of his various properties with traffic cones and other assorted objects — often irking both his neighbors and the powers that be with his peculiar piles of debris. 

He used to run controversial nightclubs

If you think that Prince Mongo looks like the kind of guy who might enjoy owning a nightclub, you're absolutely correct. According to the Memphis Current, in fact, he's operated no less than two. From 1984, his Prince Mongo's Planet attracted young revelers and constant complaints from nearby residents. Its lawsuit-riddled existence received a particularly damning blow when tragedy struck in 1992, and two inebriated teens had a fatal motorcycle crash after leaving the club. 

After this incident and the ensuing multi-million lawsuit, the authorities paid close attention to the club, which ultimately folded in 1995. Prince Mongo, on the other hand, kept on trucking. At this point, he'd acquired the castle-like Ashlar Hall, which he promptly turned into a club known as The Castle. By 2000, however, he was in seriously hot water with the authorities — as well as his neighbors — for underage drinking and various public disruptions, often of the nude variety (per Memphis Flyer). There was also the small matter of him operating what was quite clearly a dance club without the applicable permits, even though he tried to argue that the "dancing" was actually exercising. In the end, The Castle's beer license was revoked. 

He's had troubles with his neighbors

The idea that a guy like Prince Mongo might have an issue with neighbors who disapprove his aesthetics isn't exactly shocking. However, as ABC News notes, even if you discount his nightclub antics, things have occasionally gotten a little more serious than the occasional noise complaint or some tut-tutting from the next door neighbor. 

Around 2010, a dispute about a wooden deck that Prince Mongo claims the local homeowners association made him dismantle — though a representative of the association said it was actually a building inspector — caused Mongo to protest by setting up a bunch of clotheslines with a permanent underwear installation. Antics like this, his signature front yard debris, and his alleged tendency to entertain the kinds of guests that disrupt the neighborhood, caused plenty of tension between him and the other residents of the area ... or would have caused, if they'd dared to confront him.

"It starts getting to the point when folks cannot live their lives," one representative of local homeowners said. "Folks had been able to get out and walk around the block and have a beautiful loving community here. They are now afraid to come out of their homes."

Meanwhile, Prince Mongo didn't exactly ooze sympathy at his neighbors' plight. "I don't care how they're disturbed," he said. "I'm disturbed that they have ganged up against me."

He hasn't owned that castle in a long time

Robert "Prince Mongo" Hodges and his equally peculiar castle seem like a match made in heaven, but as Action News 5 tells us, the building is not quite as much his as you might assume these days. In fact, Prince Mongo and the castle, the real name of which is Ashlar Hall, were a pretty rough pairing from a property maintenance standpoint. In fact, his tenure as its owner — and nightclub operator — was pockmarked by controversy and court dates. 

Eventually, Prince Mongo called it quits with Ashlar Hall, and in 2014, he turned it over to a businessman called Kenny Medlin. Per Daily Memphian, however, Ashlar Hall remained in a fairly dire state until construction company owner and professional renovator Juan Montoya acquired the building for $59,000 in 2016. As of 2020, Montoya was in the process of restoring Ashlar Hall to its pre-Prince Mongo glory.