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Amazing Interview with AMAZING!! Mascots, Inc.

MascotInsider is pleased to bring another interview this time with the owner of AMAZING!! Mascots, Inc. Kelly Frank Let’s begin..

1. How did you get your start being a professional mascot and creating
mascot costumes?
 
As a sports fan, I was always interested in mascots. I grew up in South
Florida and in the late 80’s/early 90’s we had some of the best mascots
(Burnie-Miami Heat, Billy-Florida Marlins, Stanley-Florida Panthers). While
in high school I got an internship with the indoor soccer team. That lead
to part time positions with the Arena Football and MLS team.  While in
college I worked as a parade performer at Walt Disney World, a seasonal
“scare-actor” and costume technician at Universal Studios, served as my
college mascot for a year, interned with the WNBA team as their mascot, and
performed across the country as JJ Jumper, the official mascot of NCAA
Basketball.
 
While in college, in order to gain more experience, I learned how to make
costumes with the help of some mascot makers and my friend’s mother who was
a seamstress. To help perfect my craft I approached a couple of teams and
offered a low cost costume if they paid for materials. It helped me learn
how to make costumes and led to my first big sale, a $3,000 suit to the
Miami SOL of the WNBA. That was a lot of money for a college kid, and I’ve
been hooked ever since!
 
2. What are some of your favorite things to do as a mascot?
 
There are so many things: dancing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJQwC8_DOG,
celebrating a win http://i.imgur.com/060aN.jpg>, hospital visits, nailing
a skit, player interaction http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i60XoQfL1M0, meeting
celebrities http://i.imgur.com/bc7o4.jpg and more. But I think my
favorite thing is subtlety. Conveying something minute, non verbally, and
making people laugh. It might be a simple turn of the head, a pause, or an
on time reaction. It’s not something the whole stadium sees, but for the
people who see it it’s hilarious, and adds so much depth to the character
and performance.
 
3. You’ve been a mascot for many different sports teams. What sport is
your favorite to mascot?*
 
Baseball. In my opinion is the perfect venue for a mascot. There is
plenty of down time and usually a lot of places to position yourself to be
seen. I call it “a long conversation.” You can pop out, do something during
the start of the game, and come back later and call back to your prior
shenanigans. Do to the pace of the game, people really watch you when
you’re out performing.
 
Arena football is just crazy, unadulterated fun. It’s just a non stop show
and a great venue for a mascot performer. I used to literally be on the
field during play (while it was at the other end) and could run and be
center field constantly. The players and refs don’t take themselves too
seriously and you have a ton of fodder for humor. Having players and
officials that are willing to play with you makes for a much funnier
performance.
 
I love hockey as a fan, but as a mascot I found it challenging. It’s hard
to be center stage and the game is so fast you have to wait for the whistle
to try and entertain, or risk annoying fans.
You can read an article I wrote about performing in different venues on
Gameops.com http://www.gameops.com/essay-writers/mascot-tips
 
4. Are there any mascots you looked up to when you began your career?
 
The Phillie Phanatic, of course. I remember the first time I saw one of
his performances. I was like “Oh, this is what a mascot can do!” He was
just always on, never out of character, and almost every moment was
funny. Clutch of the Houston Rockets http://www.youtube.com/user/nosuchthing
was another inspiration. He was edgy, hilarious, and cute all at once as
well as the ultimate businessman.
 
Erin Blank, who was Paws of the Detroit Tigers at the time, also helped
get my career going by offering a ton of advice. But I think my favorite
had to be the original Burnie for the Miami Heat. He was just such a true
clown, always pushing it, always making me laugh. I modeled a lot of my
character attributes after him.
 
5. What kind of advice could you give someone who wants to become a
professional mascot, but doesn’t know where to begin?
 
Get training by attending a mascot boot camp. Keystone Mascots and Raymond
Entertainment offer them as well as the United Cheerleading Association.
Call local teams and see if they need a backup or mascot assistant. Some
teams offer internships for mascots. Audition for your high school or
college mascot. If you’re near a theme park, get work as a costumed
character. Enhance your skill set by taking dancing/acting lessons. If
possible, learn gymnastics. Practice tricks such as juggling, unicycling,
and stilt walking. If you can’t land a mascot position with a team, try out
for their promo squad and learn how to be an out of costume entertainer. If
no jobs are available, consider purchasing or making your own costume and
volunteer at community events to get experience.
 
A great way to learn is by watching other mascots. Thanks to
YouTube http://www.youtube.com/amazingmascotsinc,
it’s easier than ever to watch other mascots. Mimic what you see your
favorite performers do and add your own personality traits to develop your
character. Video tape yourself as much as possible and watch the footage.
It helps you learn.
 
I also advise new performers, in this age of litigation, to think before
they act/react. A simple mistake could lead to someone getting hurt, and
the performer being liable. This is why getting proper training is key.
 
6. How do you deal with a crowd that lacks energy?
 
It’s rare that this happens. The only time I’ve run into crowds like this
are small crowds at sponsored events, where there are only so many people
to interact with. I’ll spend more one on one time with individuals that
enjoy the mascot, like children, and take breaks so the mascot doesn’t get
“annoying.” If it’s really slow, I’ll stand next to the road by the
sponsor’s sign and wave. But I’m careful to stay far away from the road to
avoid possible injury.
 
If I’m in a crowd that’s just “not having” the mascot (usually tweens
through college age) I’ll showcase my dance skills or woo them with my
giveaway items. Once you get them over the “I’m too cool for a mascot” it’s
be fun.
 
7. How do you deal with the times that YOU lack energy?
 
Even when I’m tired, grumpy, or having a bad day, when the suit comes on I
snap out of it. I’ve had days when I’m exhausted and I swear I’m going to
“tone it down” and just get through the event. It never happens. I’m
incapable of “phoning it in” as the crowd always gives me the energy to
perform, no matter how tired I am.
 
8. What are some of you favorite memories of being a professional mascot?
 
For my first regular season MLB game I got flown to Japan where the Devil
Rays took on the New York Yankees for the 2004 MLB season opener. I
remember standing behind home plate at the Tokyo Dome, looking up at
50,000+ fans, and just being in awe. The 2008 season was another highlight,
with the Rays making the playoffs for the first time ever, and beating the
Red Sox in 7 games during the ALCS. When we went to the World Series I was
standing on the field, seeing the World Series logo everywhere and thinking
“Is this real?”
 
As a hockey fan I truly enjoyed the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 2011 post season
run where they were one game away from the Stanley cup finals. The whole run
was awesome, but I really enjoyed game 4 of the Eastern Conference semi
finals they swept the Capitals. The crowd was electric.
 
9. How does AMAZING!! Mascots, Inc. compete with other mascot costume
creators?
 
Our costumes are designed with the performer in mind and we do not stick to
one “look” or production method. Our costumes truly are unique and we
construct them using whatever method is best suited for the client’s needs.
We strive to make each costume unique and fit within the client’s budget.
Also we’re the only company whose head designer is a current mascot
performer who has performed for MLB, NHL, NBA (backup), WNBA, MLS, Arena
Football, Minor League Baseball, Minor League Hockey, NCAA Basketball, and
Division 1 College Football and worked as a character costume technician at
Universal Studios Florida. I have worn countless costumes and talked with
dozens (if not 100+) performers and know the pros and cons of various
costume construction techniques.
 
We have a new production technique that takes a 2D drawing and turns it
into a 3D http://i.imgur.com/Qf8Pu.jpg model that can be viewed at all
angles http://i.imgur.com/SHFSB.jpg. The client can make changes to the
model http://i.imgur.com/Uslmv.jpg, and them we print out a pattern, and
construct the head http://i.imgur.com/P7axj.jpg. You basically get to see
the head http://i.imgur.com/QLoc9.jpg before we even start making it.
 
Plus, at AMAZING!! Mascots, Inc. we’re mascot
fans http://imgur.com/a/BrlKK#0 and we truly want you to have the best
looking, high performance, durable
mascot you can afford.
 
Thanks to Kelly Frank from AMAZING!! Mascots, Inc. for doing an interview with us today. To see the latest mascot news, videos, and job postings be sure to “Like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/amazingmascots, follow us on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/amazingmascots, and check out our new blog at http://amazingmascots.wordpress.com/



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