Updated November 10, 2003 11:09 AM

Jerry Springer got to see himself Monday night in the sold-out London West End stage premiere of “Jerry Springer: The Opera” at the Cambridge Theatre following a hugely successful run at the National Theatre, reports PEOPLE.

Among those who watched along with Springer: “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell and his girlfriend, TV presenter Terri Seymour.

Gross taste, foul language and extreme behavior figure into the stage production, just as they do on Springer’s TV show. During the first act, Jerry’s “warm-up guy” pleads with the on-stage audience not to heckle, throw things or throw up. They, meanwhile, yell: “Bring on the losers!”

The stage Springer (played by Michael Brandon, a dead ringer for the contentious talk-show host) brings on his first guest, an obese man who boasts that he has been cheating with his fiancee’s best friend, as well as with a she-male.

After a commercial break (“Have some fun, buy a big gun,” goes the ad jingle) the next guest is a big girl who movingly shares her dream of becoming a pole-dancer. The name of her song cannot be printed here. A gang of tap-dancing Ku Klux Klansmen bring Act I to a close.

After Act II, which also features 37 tapping Springers, the real Jerry was brought on stage, where he told the crowd: “I’m sorry.”

The show, which will open on Broadway eventually, was born after the writer, Richard Thomas, decided he “might as well try to realize the stupidest idea I had ever had,” he says.

And how does Springer, 59, himself feel about watching himself on stage, portrayed as an exploitative host, pushing his guests to tell all for their “Jerry Springer moment”?

“The show doesn’t exploit people,” he said at a press conference. “People come on the show because they want to be on the show. We are human beings, we are social beings. The problem is, when a show has run for as many seasons as mine has, behavioral patterns tend to emerge because people play up to it, they know what the audience want. Sometimes that can come across as fake.”