Shortland Street's Ben Mitchell and his mates were sitting down to a fresh round of drinks when a call went out for volunteers. Hands, Mitchell's included, went up quickly. They came down just as fast when it was realised what they were being invited to enter: the Mr New Zealand competition. It turned out the Hamilton heat, being held at their watering hole, Hamilton's Outback Inn, was short on numbers.
"Go on bro," Mitchell's mates urged, "you think you're the man ... " The daring ramped up until the then personal trainer and aspiring boxer surrendered - a decision he regretted the moment he went backstage. Guys were lathering on tanning cream, posing in front of mirrors and fussing with their suits.
"All I had was my own gear. I mean it was supposed to be a night out with the boys, it all seemed kind of random and I had no idea what I was supposed to do ..."
Then someone asked what he'd be wearing in the swimsuit section. Togs? The 20-year-old checked to see if his Calvin Klein boxers were clean and said he'd be sweet.
Next thing he knew, his name was called and he was out under lights shaking his rear and generally playing up to the screaming women - and he won the 1999 Hamilton heat of that year's Mr New Zealand.
Everyone rejoiced and once his hangover had faded Mitchell forgot about it, that is until the call came reminding him of the upcoming Waikato final.
That is the thing with dares and bets, they can take on lives of their own and be very difficult to escape. But more than that you always know any potential pay day is balanced by an equal and opposite disaster so all you can do is hope to come out on top or keep your losses to a minimum and your trousers on.
In Mitchell's case he found that increased stakes meant proper rehearsals, where a local model was called in to teach him how to walk. If that was weird, he had no idea how to react when some of the finalists tried to psych him out.
He just kept on grinning until he'd won.
Next up, the nationals and this time the bar tab prizes gave way to modelling contracts. If he couldn't take that prospect seriously his family and friends certainly did: "Everyone started to say that this could turn into something for me and after a while I was thinking "Yeah, why not?" I reckon there are tipping points in life when everything can change, you can take a new direction, even if takes you way outside your comfort zone. This was mine."
So with eight weeks to go Mitchell was hitting the gym twice a day, sorting out a dance routine, and generally getting his act together.
But if he wanted to win, most of his opponents were desperate to and their commitment almost threw him off his game. "After meeting some of them I have to admit part of me wanted them to win too. I mean I never wanted to be a model, I was just trying to enjoy myself doing something I'd have never imagined doing. Ever."
Then he won again.
Now he was off to Manila and the 6th annual Mr World Manhunt International. The joke was over. At their first meeting, the other 42 finalists were swapping portfolios, framed photographs and career stories while the young fella from Hamilton wondered what the hell he was doing there. Mitchell's only previous overseas trip had been to Australia for a boxing match, so he was all wide-eyed and ready to party when everyone was hitting the gym and fussing about their makeup.
"I didn't feel part of it at all, I just wanted to muck around and I started to feel like I'd ripped the people back home off, like I was phoning it in ... I mean those guys were so into themselves and I was still thinking bar tab. Nah, it wasn't for me."
But a switch had been flicked and what started out as a boozy dare spun out into a new and entirely unexpected life when a brief brush with modelling led to some acting opportunities which eventually led to his ongoing role as Shortland Street's Dr T.K. Samuels.
Now 36, he'd do it all again if he could.
"If none of that had happened I have no idea what I'd be doing now. It takes some bravery to step way out of your comfort zone and have a crack, but I'm a 100 per cent advocate now. Have a bloody crack. I mean we've all got our little worlds, but there's so many different options out there. Life isn't a dress rehearsal, smash it, smash it down."
But what about the dare that appears to have no up side?
Australian Peter Lynagh, for example, took up a friend's bet that he couldn't go a year without sex. It seems Lynagh's flatmate had tired of his moans about the partying and anonymous sex that came with his single lifestyle, so he offered him A$2000 if he'd shut up and give up the shagging for 12 whole months.
The bet attracted attention as well as popular support and he eventually raised A$50,000 for charity. It was far from easy and he came very close to jacking it in after a few months, only to have the plug pulled by the very woman he was attempting to woo. Lynagh still supports taking dares, but says he'll be a lot more choosy on which ones he accepts in future.
Then there's our very own Danielle Hayes, Kawerau's most famous export since John Rowles.
Danielle Hayes still prefers not to talk about her experience on New Zealand's Next Top Model. Photo / NZME.
She was living a quiet life in the Bay of Plenty town when was entered TV's New Zealand's Next Top Model in 2010 as a dare, along with some of her mates. From the start it was clear she was the fish out of water, that like Mitchell's experience, it was joke that had got way out of control in the most public way possible.
Yet she, too, won. Even if she felt like she hadn't and four years later it remains an experience she prefers not to talk about.
Through her Australian agent, Philip Darley, she says she's disassociated herself from the show, but he did email a few comments on the consquences he'd seen from her dare.
"When she came to me last year she'd had two years off. The experience of NZNTM was not great for her. She was torn down and made to feel inadequate, her faith in the industry almost non-existent.
"Promises were not kept and she was left to flounder. Where Danielle is now is from hard work and dedication after the fact of having renewed faith from someone that believed in her look and ability. Danielle was retrained in walking and skills, refined then introduced to a network overseas most of which were not even aware of her winning the show. They booked her on her looks alone. Danielle has matured well beyond the series and continues to grow and find her way on her own merit and I think, moving forward, it is good that she feels that this is why she has success and opportunity."
So it would seem it's all worked out for her in the end. All the very best, Danielle.
However, some people aren't so lucky, especially some people like Dunedin man Mr Full Metal Havok More Sexy N Intelligent Than Spock And All The Superheroes Combined With Frostnova.
If the name sounds oddly familiar, it's because back in March last year, Mr Frostnova had one of the most famously stupid names in the world and journalists everywhere were racing for his story while news sites got cracking on asking readers to dob him in. For a while it was nothing more than embarrassing, then his email account was discovered and he started to receive threats telling him what would happen to him if he didn't go public.
Not long out of the University of Otago and only recently employed in his chosen profession, he felt his career prospects were in jeopardy, so he covered his online tracks and went into virtual hiding. Which is where he's remained ever since.
The witch hunt and the worry that it might all kick off again have left him a very angry man and he agreed to talk to Canvas only if he remains completely anonymous.
Taking a punt can be life-changing he says, but never imagine you can control how it'll pan out.
His problems began in early 2010, when, as a first year-student keen to make friends, he'd joined a drinking club called the Gentlemen's Club and one night he and six other members (two close friends, two international students and two mutual friends) were enjoying a drunken poker session. The party eventually moved to one of their flats, where the stakes got increasingly silly until someone suggested the loser get a tattoo. "But I decided to make things ultra-interesting because I was big on bets in a daring sense and I'm really good at poker ... "
The loser, he declared, would have to change his name. Only he lost the bet.
"I felt good about the bet, but I felt bad about losing." Although no hands had been shaken, he was not allowed to forget his commitment. Then the following Friday, four of the seven met for a drink and at some point they all decided to go down to Dunedin's Internal Affairs office to complete the deed.
It took half an hour to come up with the name (even then they fell one short of the maximum 100 characters), then they had a whip-round to cover the ($127.70) bill. "In all honesty, I didn't even think a name like that would go through, as I've heard of other names, like the Hawaii Tula [sic] girl, being declined."
Then, like Mitchell, he promptly forgot all about it until early this year when he renewed his passport and got a response addressed to his new name, "which not only confused me, it angered me, because that was the first I'd heard of it. I'd had no letter of confirmation that my name had been changed, so shock was the first thing that came to mind." It seems the lads hadn't read the bit on the Internal Affairs website saying applicants had to pay a further $26.50 to get a name change certificate.
Anyway, it might have been the shock, but his first move was to log on to a little-used chatroom on a bodybuilding site and post the letter, with his old name blanked out. He let the resulting discussion ramble on for about five pages before he deleted it. Again, he thought that was the end of it, he'd change his name back before anyone knew what had happened. But someone claiming to be his friend had already reposted it on news and networking site Reddit, where readers voted it on to the front page, kicking off a barrage of inquiries on the bodybuilding chatroom looking to identify him.
Fortunately the gaming alias he'd created as a teen had saved him. No one, he says, uses his real name and of his poker buddies, the two who know his real name have been sworn to secrecy. Still, the search to find him had been stressful - he got a death threat from someone who said he had shamed Dunedin - and it had been kept alive by several false stories which were fed to the media (including the New Zealand Herald).
All he could do was go deep and wait until the fuss petered out.
"It all got way too big, I mean it's just a name-change, there are more pressing matters in the world. All I'd say now is don't make bets when you're drunk, especially silly bets that could affect your life to the degree mine did. After all the trouble I've been through, it's just not worth it."