August 18, 2011 in Washington Voices

Training camps shape high-energy roles

Piah@Spokesman.Com, (509) 459-5427 (509) 459-5427
 
J. Bart Rayniak photoBuy this photo

Popular Spokane Indians superhero Recycle Man poses for pictures with a young recycler before a recent ballgame. “You, too, can be a hero if you recycle,” he says.
(Full-size photo)

For the purpose of this story he is simply Mascot Man.

To thousands of fans he’s Recycle Man at the Spokane Indians games – throw in other mascots like Wattson, the Energy Watchdog and the occasional stint as the Spokane Indians’ OTTO and Mascot Man does about 200 paid gigs a year. We caught up with him earlier this week:

Q. How did you get started as a mascot?

A. “I was working at Red Robin and applied to be the robin. I was too tall but they let me do it a couple of times and they loved it.”

Q. How did you transition from burgers into sports?

A. “I was Skitch the Sasquatch at Spokane Community College for two years, and I went to mascot training camp on the East Coast.”

Q. Mascot training camp, really? They have those?

A. “Yes, I went to Dave Raymond’s camp – he’s the original Phillie Phanatic. It was pretty intense.”

Q. What do you do at mascot camp?

A. “First day we did ‘how to run a mascot as a business’ – then we did performance, and the last day we did skit revue. It was very cool. I did the UCLA mascot camp last year.”

Q. Between Recycle Man and the other mascots you cover some very different characters; how do you get ready for a performance?

A. “I listen to a lot of music. You have to be able to dance to everything, so I’m pretty much up on the top-50 stuff. I try to cater whatever the mascot is geared at to the audience.”

Q. How do you get ideas for new skits and dances?

A. “I tell people I’m a You Tube-ologist – that’s one way I try to stay up-to-date on everything.”

Q. How much do you interact with the sports team?

A. “I try to leave them alone, unless they initiate the interaction. They are there to play a game – they have other things to worry about.”

Q. So, Recycle Man is kind of a nerd?

A. “No, not really. I tell people he’s like Buzz Lightyear meets Iron Man. I’m dressed kind of like Captain America, so you can see my face. People interact with him a lot when they are having a good time at the Indians games.”

(Recycle Man is in charge of the Pepsi recycling races, a promotion held between innings at the Indians games.)

Q. Does Recycle Man get heckled?

A. “I get a lot of, ‘Hey, come get my bottles!’ from the audience. But I’m nearby or up in the stands all the time and I dance a lot. I wore out a pair of brand-new running shoes in 14 games.”

Q. How do you interact with the audience?

A. “With Recycle Man I can talk and that’s fun. And I use a lot of gestures. I’m really good at charades.”

Q. Does Mascot Man have a wardrobe staff?

A. “No. I take care of the outfits myself. I mend the outfits and patch them when needed. And my laundry can get ridiculous. One time there was a cape, a tail … and some feet hanging on my clothesline. And Under Armour, lots of Under Armour.”

Q. Do you have something to keep you cool inside the outfits?

A. “Not really. You can get ice vests, but they only last for about 20 minutes or so. That’s not long enough when I’m going full-speed for a whole game. You can add 20 degrees to the temperature outside – that’s how hot it gets inside my suit. I try to take breaks so I don’t overheat.”

Q. At least you don’t have to worry about smiling if your face is covered?

A. “Well, yes I do. At Raymond’s camp they had us stand in front of a mirror and try to do ‘happy’ with a neutral face. It shows. It’s not the same as when you smile, even if people can’t see your face.”

Q. So, you get a lot of love?

A. “Yes I do. People want their pictures taken with me, I get thank you cards and notes – that is very cool. I put the cards up in my dressing room at the stadium.”

Q. Baseball season is pretty grueling with lots of home games; you must be very high energy?

A. “I am active. And it takes a while for me to ‘come down’ after a baseball game. Sometimes I can’t sleep until 1 in the morning.”

Q. Would you like to go pro as a mascot?

A. “Yeah, I would love to. I admire Benny the Bull, the mascot for the Chicago Bulls. His costume is really cool and his personality is great. He’s great with the public and with dancing.”

Q. Do you like what you do?

A. “I love it. It’s a blast. It’s a lot of hard work and you have to be in good shape to do it. And you’ve got to have fun with it. If you don’t have fun with it, the audience won’t have fun with it either.”


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