Introduction to series “Super ‘70s and ‘80s.”
Introduction to subseries “Sea World superheroes show” (including list of interviewees).
SWSH = Sea World superheroes
How did you get the job with the SWSH show?
I auditioned at the Dade County Youth Fair for Maxwell Associates at one of their high dive tank shows (26’ diameter and 9½’ deep). A good friend of mine was going to defend his title as Acapulco Cliff Diving Champion and he gave me an opportunity to fill in for him at the fair in Miami. The producer of the show, Norma Maxwell, liked how I dove and thought I’d fit in well at Sea World where she had a contract to provide high divers to the ski show. At the time they were at the end of a two year run of doing the superheroes show. I got there in April, just in time to learn the Green Arrow part before we redid the show [to a] new [non-superhero] show called “Almost Anything Goes.”
What was your training/water skiing background before taking the job?
I was a gymnast in high school and on the diving team at Rutgers University.
How long was the training for the SWSH show?
My part was pretty simple so it only took a day. I already knew how to high dive from 80’!
How would you describe the training?
I learned how to be a showman and play to the crowd with large gestures.
How did you feel dressing like a superhero?
Loved it. It was the biggest stadium I’d ever performed in up until that time. The superhero costume allowed me to express my alter ego.
What exactly did you do in the show?
Triple somersault from 80’ into a flaming pool of water.
What, if any, mistakes or accidents happened during a show?
If there was no wind, I’d be in the flames longer and sometimes my eyelashes and eyebrows would get singed.
How much time did your group of SWSH performers spend together both professionally and personally?
Putting our lives on the line every day brought us together. We ate together, huddled together when it got cold, rained, or lightning threatened us. We shared apartments, lifted weights, trained, partied, dated, and generally looked out for each other. Nineteen seventy-nine was my first summer away from home and it was one of the most memorable summers of my life. I felt so blessed to be getting paid to do something I loved. I fell in love that summer, too, and we’re still friends to this day.
How many SWSH performers have you been in touch with continuously since the show ended?
Only a few, but via Facebook I’ve reconnected with at least 18 of the SWSH performers and probably another 60+ who performed at the same theater after SWSH ended.
Did you feel like celebrities at the time? If so, only at Sea World or also around town? Were you ever recognized on the street or in line at the store?
Are you kidding?
If a comic book/pop culture convention paid your way, would you attend and sign autographs for fans?
Did you portray any other characters besides superheroes at Sea World or elsewhere?
Recently I performed as Spider-Man, in Cirque Du Chimelong, in Guangzhou, China, although they didn’t refer to my character as Spider-Man. The Chinese are famous for imitations, as you know! I dropped into the stadium from an 80’ perch in the ceiling, upside down, then did a flip into a flaming moat that surrounded the stage. I then disappeared under water, swimming the length of the moat under water until I was behind stage.
Have you had anything to do with superheroes since (read comics, see superhero movies, superhero Halloween costumes)?
I’ve seen most of the blockbusters.
What do you do for a living?
Health and fitness consultant, personal trainer, strength & conditioning coach, and high diver! I graduated from UCF in Orlando, married, had two children, and had my own business until 1994.
Where do you live?
How old are your children?
I have two children who live in Florida. Danny is 18 and Tori is 20. Tori’s married and gave birth to my first grandson, Lux, [in 2009].
Do your children water ski/perform?
My daughter was an Olympic-bound gymnast for ten years until injury derailed her in 2003.
Do you think you guys could get back in the water and do any of it again now?
I sure could! Name the place!
How do you look back at your time with SWSH show?
One of the most exciting times of my life. Fortunate to have participated for the short time I did.
Do you have a favorite memory about the SWSH show?
Meeting Sarah Christina Ashley in the hall. I caught her checking me out the first day, and I was smitten. She played Catwoman and Wonder Woman and looked really hot in her costumes!
Next: the skiers (almost 40 of them!), part 1 of 10—the training.