The larger the audience the better it seemed. 40k at a Pistons game in Detroit. Sole entertainer at two NBA All-Star games (Denver and Indianapolis in 1984 and 85) and eventually inducted into the Hall of fame. The Gorilla was known for improvisational humor and set a high bar for sports entertainment yet to be matched (even with mini-tramps!). No gymnastics! Just comedy, satire, dancing and visual comedy and audience engagement. Every timeout The Gorilla was trying to tell a story or communicate comedic plot in 90 seconds without uttering a word. The fans were his friends and his props. The Gorilla was the first team mascot to be invited to other teams arenas. He was invited to take his comedy and satire to Europe representing the NBA and won the acclaim of players, executives, media and even officials.
I was the Original Gorilla for the Phoenix Suns, the early years of the Sacramento Kings and NBA freelancer. They say "The Gorilla" was a legendary character. (I Think it might be because there's very little video from back then!) The story grows bigger each time its told) Nevertheless, how It happened and why I left became the unique and unlikely story I've told to many audiences around the country from churches and colleges to keynote speaking at corporate luncheons and conferences. Speaking to youth, families, celebrities, and professionals at retreats and conferences I've met so many just like me, who seek heart wholeness and meaning. I discovered that wearing a mask is a common thing. While we all wear the mask of the roles we play and the false self that we create to relate to the rest of the world, I wore both that internal mask and a literal one that allowed me to breath comfortably only when I was applauded.
My work as a spiritual director has been informed and inspired by the difficult decision to walk away from a lot of money and popularity. (To begin a something seems challenging. Walking away from something much more difficult.) A walking away from the mask. Leaving who I wasn't to discover who I am. Over the last 25 years after The Gorilla gig, the story has become a reference point for those struggling with addiction, abuse and self-consciousness. That would be all of us. It's the human condition. The one we evolve from. As a pastor I have also seen spiritual abuse in the name of God. There is nothing Christian about evangelical fundamentalism. God gets a bad reputation and I can't blame others for doubting that this mystery even exists. It is my desire to help God out with his reputation! My prayer is that my life, words and laughter be the inspirational kindling to start your fire of transformation. The inspiration needed to walk away from what has enslaved you.