Friday, March 29, 2013

Cal Arts and the Easter Gorilla

At Easter of 1985, I was living in the CalArts dormitory of heathens when I hatched an idea: I would borrow the Bo-Peep dress Kevin Lima made for the pagan holiday of Halloween - yes, the director of Tarzan went as Bo-Peep - then I'd put on my gorilla mask and go through the dorm giving out....uh...potatoes.   Easter spuds.  Ha!

I called upon first grade memories to create little baskets using construction paper and staples, baskets just big enough to nest a potato. On  Easter morning, I got dressed, gathered my potato baskets and set off to bring joy to the sleepy student body.  Surely this gag would be a gasser!

At the first answer.  They were either still out from last night or a heavy sleeper.

From behind the second door, a mumbled  "Whaaaaaat?"

"Easter Gorilla!"  I said cheerfully.

"(Indecipherable moan)"

"I've brought you an Easter spud!"

There was a groan followed by a creaky voiced "Fuck off, Easter Gorilla."

Don't you know, that was the response I got at every door I knocked?  Even Brenda Chapman - sweet little Brenda who would win an Oscar 28 years in the future - even she told me to fuck off.  I had made one major miscalculation:  that CalArts students had a sense of humor at 7AM on a Sunday.  With this realization, the gag went from "classic prank" to "animator making a fool of himself".  I did not so much as pass someone in the hallway.  My gag was going totally unwitnessed.   If a clown falls in the forest and no one's around,  does it honk?

My last stop was the girls next door - Becky,  Ellen, and Claudia.  Like the other stops, there was a long pause, followed by "Who is it?".  But instead of saying "Fuck off, Easter Gorilla."  the door actually opened.  A very bleary eyed Becky took one look, shrieked, slammed the door and locked it.  My second miscalculation: the sight of a guy in a gorilla mask, even with a Bo-Peep dress, could be seen as a threat.  I had no idea it was even possible to shock a CalArts student.

The door reopened.  Becky had figured me out - the hairy legs and Chuck Taylors did it.  At last I got to do my schtick, a dance around the room, and handing each of the nice little girls (if their kids only knew...) an Easter spud.  They played along very nicely, then as I left I heard Claudia say, "Who was that?"
Ellen and Becky - the girls next door - with Tim Hauser at the dorms, 1984.
A few months later, I graduated and lost touch with a lot of the CalArts gang. The Easter Gorilla story was stored away in a box with the gorilla mask next to the Arc of the Covenant.  In 2009, I reconnected via FaceBook with Ellen Showalter and Becky, er, Rebecca Davis - the girls next door.  The first thing Becky mentioned was the Easter Gorilla.  She remembered!

When asked for comment for this post, Becky said, "The Easter Gorilla was both terrifying and endearing.  It was equal parts frightening and celebratory.  Oh, and really fucking weird. And scary. And funny. And bizarre. And awesome."

And Ellen said, "OMG that was some funny shit!"

No photos exist of the Easter Gorilla.  Only three witnesses.  At least  two of them remember and can laugh about it today.   So was it worth it?

Hell yeah!

Happy Easter!

-The Easter Gorilla

Becky reminded me: "You forgot about the part where the Easter Gorilla grunted gorilla-like noises and jumped all over the furniture - including the beds on which we were lying. Havoc Gorilla."

Oh yeah.

No comments:

Post a Comment