In March of 2002, No Doubt was on tour and I caught several of their shows. I’ve known them since 1992, and often can find (or swindle) my way backstage. I was backstage after the Portland show, and told Tom (the guitar player) about how I’d been performing as a burlesque show gorilla lately. He asked if I wanted to perform onstage with them at the upcoming San Jose show. OH HELL YES.
He thusly hatched a plot: I was to come out and run around during their first encore song, “Spiderwebs.” It was to be a surprise to the rest of the band– the only people supposed to know about it were him and the tour’s head of security, John, who he would clue in ahead of time. I talked to John ahead of time too; he said that the way to do it would be for me to approach stage left a few minutes before, get his attention, and he would escort me backstage so that I could suit up. So the plan was set.
Unfortunately, the best laid plans of gorillas and men often go awry. I dutifully smuggled the costume into the show– being that it was on a college campus (San Jose State) they didn’t question a backpack. I anxiously and nervously waited throughout the show– friends there had palpable excitement along the lines of “is he really going to do it?!?” But when it came time for the encore, I went up to stage left and John was nowhere to be found.
Picture this from the perspective of the security guard on the side of the stage: here comes a guy with a backpack, frantically waving and gesturing, yelling something about how he is supposed to be backstage… not only are you skeptical of it, but you can’t even hear what he is saying over the band. I had to watch in horror as my big moment in the spotlight slipped away, note by note.
I finally was so overwhelmingly demanding, yelling “GET JOHN!” and pointing at John, far away, that the guard caved. John saw me and waved me backstage. I RAN back there– the song was halfway over– and threw the suit on in a flash. I didn’t have time to put on the gloves, and I don’t think I even had time to fasten the back. But I made it, and ran out there in time to finish the song.
Digital cameras were much worse back then, so the pictures are blurry and grainy, but they still capture one of the greatest moments of my gorilla career, and also of my life. Tony (the bass player) calmly kept asking me who I was (while he was playing). I have a picture of him giving me a high-five. And Gwen jumped on my back, piggyback style, and I ran back and forth a couple times before losing my balance, resulting in us landing in a crumpled heap on the ground… with her still singing and having not missed a single note. I remember looking out at the crowd of ~5000 people and just being stunned at what it felt like. And then it was over.
Two minutes later, they laughed their asses off when I was unmasked backstage, saying “Oh my god… it’s YOU?!?”
The next day, the emails came through: friends saying “Hey you guys, I was at that show and GUESS WHAT I SAW?” Even better, though, was when the newspaper review of the show came out the next day, I was very specifically mentioned in the write-up. The author said it “must have been an inside joke.” I emailed the author and gave him the whole backstory. That review was syndicated in several other Bay Area papers. I raided a lot of newsracks that night.
Better versions of the pics to come, but here are some for now: