Tips for new mascots, part 1

Recently I posted a question on our Facebook page: “When you first started as a mascot, what’s something you didn’t know that you wish you did?” Their answers, and my feedback, is below.

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  • That no team would ever clean the suit and I would have to do it all myself….”
    • This is unfortunately very true. Most minor league, collegiate, or corporate employees in charge of the mascot program are not experienced in costume care. They think that costumes are complex (some are) and they are afraid to clean them. Also they have multiple other job responsibilities and the mascot is far down the list. Even on the occasion I’ve had a team provide a clean suit it was always damaged/fried because someone put the fur costume in the dryer.
    • Do yourself a favor and take it upon yourself to clean the costume. You can read “How to clean a mascot costume” by clicking on the link. Think of the mascot costume as your work uniform and that it’s part of your job to keep it presentable and clean.
    • Ask your team/organization to reimburse you for cleaning costs. This includes the laundry detergent, the use of the washing machine, and your time. Professional costume cleanings cost $75-$400 so you will be a more cost effective option.
    • If you cannot clean the costume, and you know someone else will be wearing it, do your best to hang it up, spray it with the 50/50 mixture of water/amber mouthwash, and put a fan on it so at least it’s dry and somewhat disinfected for the next user.
  •  What it takes physically. Still working on getting in shape.”
    • Being a mascot (at least an entertaining one) is strenuous work. A new mascot performer should focus on safety first. He/she needs to try on the costume and get used to the heat.
    • Heat sickness/stroke can be deadly. It’s important to know the signs of heat stroke and make sure you don’t put yourself at risk. When you are first starting out it’s best to limit yourself to 15-30 minutes outdoors, or 20-45 minutes indoors. If you feel you need a break, TAKE ONE. You’re new. It will take awhile to get acclimated to the heat.
    • Being in shape makes mascot work much easier. Many mascot performers have fitness routines that allow them to build up their endurance. Dan Meers, who has been performing as the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs mascot for 27 years told the Indy Star how he keeps doing 450 events a year: “There’s one thing, and it’s called conditioning,” Meers said, “and it’s no fun.”
    • You should considering getting a sports physical before you start as a mascot to make sure you are healthy enough to handle the rigors of mascot performance.

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  • “Wearing under costume clothing that breathes and pulls moisture away instead of collecting it.”
    • Over the years there have been developments in moister wicking athletic clothing. There are many options to pick from. Yo can find plenty of shorts, shirts, and event underwear and sports bras. Find what works for you.
    • I alternate between moisture wicking material and good old t-shirts. In some cases I found the moisture wicking material pulled away too much sweat, which then dripped into my costume. The t-shirt absorbs the sweat, and requires frequent changing. It’s all your personal preference.
  • “Commit. Commit to the character and commit to the schtick-anything short of  will look boring or strange in costume.”
    • I take this as meaning “be in character the whole time.” You should not have moments of standing/sitting around idly. If you’re waiting for a promotion, you can always wait somewhere out of sight. Any time you’re out, you should be in character. So even if you’re sitting down, watching the game, waiting for the 7th inning stretch…be in character! React to the game, “chat” with the people sitting next to you, try and steal someone’s popcorn, etc.
    • If you find yourself sitting/standing around doing nothing, ask yourself “what could I be doing that’s fun?” If you can’t think of anything, perhaps it’s time to take a break.
  •  Watching film/video of yourself is one of the best teachers. Portraying emotions in suit doesn’t always read outside, it’s good to study yourself”
    • Watching video of yourself truly is the best way to learn, and now it’s as easy as using your smart phone. Try to have your handler or a friend film you will you’re in costume. Watch the tape and remember how certain movements look to others. Eventually you will build a nonverbal vocabulary that you can use for various common interactions.
    • Watching video of other mascots is also a great way to learn. I like to watch videos of Orbit from the Houston Astros, Benny from the Chicago Bulls, Clutch of the Houston Rockets, Stuff from the Orlando Magic, and Harry the Hawk from Atlanta.

That’s all for this post. I’ll cover more in Part 2, coming soon!

 

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About Kelly Frank

Kelly Frank has been designing and performing as professional sports mascots since 1998. She spent 5 seasons as "Raymond" of the Tampa Bay Rays (MLB) and parts of three seasons as "Thunderbug" for the Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL). She has also performed as a mascot for the WNBA, Major League Soccer, Arena Football, NCAA Basketball, and minor league baseball. She incorporated AMAZING!! Mascots, Inc in 2007 to provide unique, performer friendly, custom mascot costumes. "Stay fuzzy my friends."

Posted on July 25, 2017, in how to be a mascot. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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