I RECEIVED a phone call recently from The Washington Post requesting I write a short article on what I consider to be my most successful promotin as director of public relations at the Capital Centre.
Several thoughts popped into my mind, including the infamous "jiggle jump." This was a promition for our annual Summerfun Carnival and Midway where 50 adults jumped into 800 gallons of sloshy, gooey, sticky jello in an attempt to win a sports car.
Once I had Byong Yu attack five building bricks with his forehead to help promote an upcoming karate championship in New York.
And who could forget the time Jack Walsh, billed as the world's strongest man, attempted to lift a bull elephant with his back in promoting the Oriental World of Self-Defense in New York? He tried but failed miserably. As you may suspect, there I was with an egg all over my face. However, I did succeed in having the best media turnout in many a day for that promotion.
But the grand-daddy of all promotions, my finest hour since I started in the business 18 years ago, was in promoting the Moscow Circus at Capital Centre in December 1977.
As is the case with most family shows coming to Capital Centre, I previewed the Moscow Circus in Atlanta prior to its Capital Centre engagement. By seeing the show before it appeared at Capital Centre, I attempted to create feature ideas for the newspapers, stunts for the media, promotions for the radio stations and other assorted PR devices.
During the trained bear act, I noticed there was a bear fashion show with one of the bears modeling a swimsuit, another one an evening gown, and still another with a bride's gown on. The thought struck me that it might be a good stunt if we could get a second bear dressed as a groom married to the "bride" somewhere in Washington.
My adrenaline started flowing, but first I had to get permission from Rustam Kaseyev, the bear's trainer. He agreed to outfit a second bear in a tuxedo and indicated he would perform the "ceremony."
With that verbal agreement, I discussed the thought with a friend in the Parks Department about how I could get a permit to have the bears married. He suggested I not specify that two bears were to be married, but only indicate that I wished to have a marriage ceremony performed. Requests of this nature, I was told, had never been turned down in the past. In my formal application for a permit, I mentioned the first names of the bears, Channel and Malysh, but the surnames were original creations by me, and in a few days I received the permit.
My stunt was now rounding second base and I proceeded to have engraved wedding invitations sent to the media, with the east side of the Reflecting Pool set as the location. I arranged for a church setting with aisles, bouquets of flowers, even a simulated altar.
My next problem was a means of transportation for the bears. A truck, I felt, was too tacky. All "PR types" nevetr like to spend money, so I offered a ticket trade with the Admiral Limousine Service in exchange for two limousines. They were in agreement with the trade, but when they learned bears were actually going to ride in the limousines, they had some second thoughts. They finally agreed to go along.
Another concern was the weather, but what can you do about that? We had the Sylvan Theatre penciled in as an alternate site for the ceremony and up until the day of the promotion, it was pouring rain. But the sun was shining on Dec. 14, 1977.
The media blitz, as you can well expect was unreal. All the magazines, television stations -- even one from Baltimore -- wire services, plus Newsweek and Time magazines were all in attendance for the opportunity to photograph, and hopefully interview, the fortunate couple.
The wedding was a huge success, with Channel and Malysh exchanging jars of honey. The ceremony lasted about 30 minutes, followed by the reception.
The reception was held in grandiose style with cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and two trays of liver pate in the form of two bears, compliments of Duke Zeibert. In fact, Duke and Mel Crupin, his manager, are still looking for the trays the pate was delivered on. The wedding bouquet and the garter were tossed to the single bears in attendance. Later, both Channel and Malysh departed (in separate limos) for their honeymoon backstage at Capital Centre since the show, as we all know, must go on.
As a side note, prior to the wedding, the original groom, Channel, got into a fight at Capital Centre with another bear and was clawed seriously enough that a third bear had to wear the groom's tuxedo. This was not made known to anyone that day. In reality, an illegal ceremony was performed, and I guess by now the marriage has been declared null and void.