This tale took place in my first year of drawing caricatures at Six Flags Great America in Gurnee, IL, in the summer of 1985. Disclaimer: This was before I’d met my future wife, The Lovely Anna.
This was only the second year that the company I worked with, Fasen Arts, had the concession at this park, which was one of the biggest in the Six Flags family at the time. Fasens originally were from Minnesota and had an operation at Valleyfair outside Minneapolis, so their venture into the Chicago area park was staffed with nothing but artists from Minnesota. They transplanted us down there for the season sharing a couple of town homes in commune-like fashion. Actually it was more like college living, because all of us were young guys (no ladies that season). Several like myself were under 20.
In the world of theme parks, at least in those days, being someone with a “talent” based job was like being a rock star. Shows people were definitely like that but so were the caricature and airbrush artists. We were all from out-of-state, young, employed for our talents and made a lot more money than your standard employees… and we threw outrageous parties all the time. We had Six Flags employees hanging around our booths a lot, especially the ladies. Life did not suck.
For a good part of that summer, one of the shows people who walked about dressed as Daffy Duck constantly came up to our booth and would sort of molest us…. that’s the only way to really describe it. Daffy would hug us and rub his… uh… wings up and down on our chests. If we weren’t drawing, he’d sit down in front of us and strike some pose, then jump in our laps. Sometimes he’d throw his leg over the railing and shake his tail. It was weirdly uncomfortable. The characters are not allowed to talk, by the way, so he never said anything. Daffy did this most days, but not all days. Sometimes he’d just saunter by and maybe wave like he would do to everybody. We all assumed it was one person who played Daffy who thought he was being funny making us squirm.
This went on all summer. We figured eventually someone would fess up about being “Gay Daffy”, but for the most part the shows people didn’t hang out at our place or pal around with us, so we didn’t know who was up to these antics. We speculated on a couple of scrawny shows guys in the lunchroom, but never confronted anybody. It was harmless… just really, really annoying.
At the end of the season we threw the party to end all parties. Kegger, quarters tournament, the lot. There were many people there who had never been to one of our parties before. One of them I got into a conversation with was a shows person. After a bit I finally told him the story of “Gay Daffy” and asked him who the hell that was rubbing their tail feathers over us all summer long.
He started laughing. “Oh, THAT Daffy! That Daffy is here at this party right now!”
“Really?” I said. “Point him out.”
“Sure, right over there by the keg” He said, pointing his finger at the kitchen doorway.
The person he pointed out was an absolutely knockout, voluptuous blonde girl we’d all been staring at all night whom we’d never seen before. My jaw hit the floor.
“The Daffys are always girls,” he said. “Only they have the legs for it in the tights.”
All I could think of was it would have been a very different summer had I known it was a hottie in that duck suit every time Daffy jumped in my lap.
It just goes to show you, never judge a duck by its feathers.
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929 New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550
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