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When the guys from TWS came to our offices and explained the concept behind Skate & Create, there was no doubt in our minds that we wanted to be a part of it. We instantly agreed to the terms and started planning out our attack. We were the last ones to find out about the contest and the first ones in the warehouse, so with just under a month and a half to go, we got to work. We knew the riders that were going to participate: John Rattray, Corey Duffel, Shuriken Shannon, and Caswell Berry would make up the 4 pros, and Jimmy Carlin would be our am. We knew TWS staff photographer, Dave Chami, was going to be our photographer. We knew we had a $10,000 budget for materials, and we knew we had 9 days in the warehouse. We sat down for our first meeting and started brainstorming: “Let’s make everything look like it’s under water.” “Let’s make Smurf village.” Let’s make the warehouse into a jungle with real lions and tigers.” Needless to say there were a lot of “let’s,” but then creative director, Brian Reid, and art director, George Ricoy, stepped in with their PowerPoint presentation along with theme music, and as the presentation continued everyone made a few comments, which lead to a few changes, and we had ourselves a theme: The Congress of Freaks.
During the first 2 weeks of planning we learned a lot about all sorts of circus things. Did you know that you could rent an elephant along with 2 trainers for a day for only $3000? Did you know that a contortionist cost about $1000 for a 10-minute performance? There is even a place that will deliver you a circus with anything and everything you can imagine, but that was a bit out of our price range unless DVS, Emerica, and Globe were all willing to give us their budgets. We were learning quickly, and slowly everything was falling into place. After reading some random article online about a traveling circus called L.A. Circus, we hunted down a contact and they got us in touch with a company that was the mother of all circus props: Dortons Inc. We spoke with Wini at Dortons, made a little trip to Riverside, and we had ourselves a circus, and the Congress of Freaks took shape. Now all we had to do was convince the riders that this was a great idea and that for 9 days they would have to live in a warehouse full of straw, paint their faces and wear costumes.
Jimmy Carlin As The Human Projectile: Jimmy is a character even without the face paint and costume. Each day he would come into the warehouse and ask “can I put the makeup on now?”
Corey Duffel As The Living Dead: Corey isn’t wearing a costume. These were his own clothes and to top that off, he came prepared with his own face paint. I think if it wasn’t so time consuming, this is how he would dress everyday.
Shuriken Shannon As The Black Fisted Ring Leader: Every Congress of Freaks needs a ringleader, and who better than Shuriken for this responsibility.
Caswell Berry As The Man With Many Disguises: At some point in time Caswell wore and skated in every costume we had. From strongest man to bearded lady, Caswell is in a world of his own.
John Rattray As The Insane Flying Scotsman: John is Scottish, he is insane, and he does like to fly. Just check out the ring of fire picture, and don’t forget all of it was done on floor covered in straw.
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Congress of Freaks